Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The bridge, the sacrifice, more

For three years no one had crossed the bridge, which was closed in 2005 after an infamous day when Shiite pilgrims panicked and stampeded after rumors broke out about a suicide bomber in their midst. More than 900 people died.
"We are all Muslims -- Sunnis and Shiites," men chanted as they danced on the newly opened span. "We will not sell out this country."
The two neighborhoods were separated by blood for years. But on Tuesday, the blood on the bridge was in celebration. Two sheep were slaughtered in honor of the opening as a ritual sacrifice. The meat later was distributed to the poor.
Baghdad is still largely segregated by religious sect, and many people fear driving through neighborhoods of the other sect where they were once killed for being Shiite or Sunni. However, the bridge opening was taken as a message that Shiites and Sunnis could venture into each other's neighborhoods again.

The above is from Laith Hammoudi's "Opening of bridge reconnects Shiite, Sunni Iraqis" (McClatchy Newspapers) and the bridge is seen as a 'big story' with all the outlets that regularly cover Iraq filing on it. Usama Redha offers "Reopening of Iraq bridge symbolizes renewed unity" (Los Angeles Times) which probably does the best job on recent history:

For the Iraqi public, question marks remain despite the relative calm of late. Most of Baghdad is still sectioned off by a maze of concrete barricades aimed at separating long-feuding Sunni and Shiite armed groups. Violent acts such as roadside bombings and assassinations are still an everyday occurrence.
On Monday, for example, a triple bombing claimed the lives of 31 people in east Baghdad. Another bombing on Tuesday wounded six.
And then there are the memories, including those of that fateful day in 2005 when the bridge was briefly reopened for pilgrims heading across the Tigris River to a gilded shrine in Kadhimiya to mark the anniversary of the death of a Shiite saint, Imam Musa al Kadhim. After rumors of a bomber sparked panic, hundreds of pilgrims were trampled to death in the stampede or drowned when they jumped off the bridge to escape.
It was the highest death toll in any single incident since well before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
After the stampede, Kadhimiya and Adhamiya, with its tomb of the revered Sunni cleric Abu Hanifa, were again closed to each other. During the worst violence, the districts traded mortar fire across the Tigris.

From Mary Beth Sheridan's "Long-Closed Baghdad Bridge Reopens" (Washington Post), we'll note this section:

Rana Jassim, a 30-year-old mother of two who lives near the bridge on the heavily Shiite Kadhimiyah side, noticed the crowds streaming onto it Tuesday morning and realized the rumors of its reopening were true.
As she strolled across the span with her family, she began clapping and dancing, she recalled later. It had been two years since she had been in mostly Sunni Adhamiyah on the opposite bank.
"The situation was bad," said her husband, Samel Lafta, 35, a government employee. "Not because of the regular people of Adhamiyah. It was some foreign people. Foreign terrorists -- they tried to destroy the relations between us."

Yes, there are Iraqi women. Imagine how much different their fate would have been had the Go-Go Boys of the Green Zone bothered to pay them the slightest attention in the early days of the illegal war? To read Dexter Filkins and John Burns back then was to assume that Iraq was an all male prison. (As opposed to the co-ed prison the White House has turned it into.) In the New York Times today, Stephen Farrell's "Baghdad Bridge Reopens, Restitching a Divided Area" stands out mainly for this: "But on Tuesday, the only blood in sight was of sheep slaughtered in celebration as hundreds of people marched with politicians and clerics from both sides to meet in the middle." Gotta be a sac-sac-sacrifice, as Tori sings ("I I E E E" off Tori Amos' From The Choirgirl Hotel). And on the op-ed pages, Maureen Dowd plays out the stereotype of spinster aunt in the final stages of dementia as she attacks Sarah Palin yet again. Maureen's become a public embarrassment (and any writer who would open a sentence with "Calling Tina Fey . . ." really has past their expiration date -- not even Thomas Friedman would be so damn cornpone). Rebecca will tackled Crazy MoDo tonight. But it needs to be noted right now that while liars pushed the myth that Palin was shooting animals from a helicopter, they've been sacrificing in Iraq for some time at every official ceremony and the pseudo PETA brigade hasn't acted at all alarmed. That's the US-occupied Iraq. And don't offer some garbage about 'religon' because this is fundamentalism and the US has encouraged it, has rewarded it and has seen it grow.

Remember that visiting Bloomberg TV allows you to access Night Talk and other programs. Night Talk allows you to enjoy Katrina vanden Heuvel unhinged. It is hilarious. To get it in a podcast, click here. Mike Schneider host Night Talk. That was noted in yesterday's snapshot as was Operation Survivor: "The traumatic effects of war, left unaddressed, will have far-reaching negative consequences for service members, their families, and their communities. Based on our ten years of global experience helping survivors of conflict overcome trauma and give back to their communities, Survivor Corps founded Operation Survivor to provide the same kind of life-changing support to American veterans and service members." Both deserve a second noting. We'll note the news release on the start of Survivor Corps:

Survivor Corps Launches!
Leader in Nobel Peace Prize Winning Campaign Launches Survivor Corps to Help Survivors of War, Violence and Terrorism

Formerly the Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), Survivor Corps Aims to Expand Reach of Global Network of People Helping Each Other Overcome Trauma Caused by War and Conflict

Quick Links: News Facts | About Survivor Corps | About Jerry White | About I Will Not Be Broken | Contacts | Multimedia Elements | Additional Resources | Join Our Mailing List | Social Media | Tags

I Will Not Be Broken Survivor Corps Rise Above Give Back
Landmine Survivors Network (LSN)
is expanding its mission from serving those injured by landmines to serving all those who have been injured by the man-made epidemic of violence and war. In recognition of this expansion, the organization is changing its name to Survivor Corps and accompanying the move with the launch of a new website:

Survivor Corps was co-founded by Jerry White, who recently published I Will Not Be Broken, a memoir about his personal experiences as a landmine survivor outlining a very specific five-step program to coping with disaster.

The new Survivor Corps website will feature new social networking functionality that will allow members to meet, interact and support each other through their healing journey.

Survivor Corps is a nonprofit organization that serves victims of global conflict, by providing tools and support to help them rebuild their lives, improve their communities, and ultimately work together to break the cycle of violence in the world.

I Will Not Be Diminished Survivor Corps Rise Above Give BackThe Landmine Survivors Network has already made a large impact on awarness and policy about landmines, including:

* The Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
* The Disability Rights Treaty to end discrimination and bring equal opportunity to 650 million people with disabilities around the world.
* The Cluster Munitions Ban, being negotiated in 2008 to end the use of cluster bombs and help victims of this indiscriminate weapon.

The Campaign for Violence Prevention, soon to join this Campaign started by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Similar to work done as the Landmine Survivors Network, Survivor Corps will continue to work on three formats: peer support, training and advocacy.

Survivor Corps is also launching a new program to help American Service members who are returning home after combat. This program will help connect US military survivors to each other, their communities and to all the local and online services that exist to help them reintegrate and recover.

About Survivor Corps
I Will Not Be For Nothing Survivor Corps Rise Above Give Back

Around the globe, people are inflicting harm on one another on an alarming scale with alarming ease. There were approximately 250 wars throughout the 20th century. Today, there are more than 39 conflicts raging in the world -from armed conflicts in Latin America to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to genocide in Darfur.

More than 35 million people have been displaced from these conflicts-innocent people who have been robbed of their dignity, their homes and their livelihoods. With no hope or tools to rise above their circumstances, far too many victims lash out, seeking revenge for their plight and perpetuating the cycle of violence and suffering. Something has to be done to break this downward spiral.

Survivor Corps operates under the credo that no one is better equipped to change the world than those who have been most scarred by what's wrong with it. There is a way to break the cycle of violence, and it begins with showing survivors a new, more hopeful way forward.
I Will Not Be Powerless Survivor Corps Rise Above Give Back

What is the Survivor Corps philosophy? No one is better equipped to change the world than those most scarred by what’s wrong with it.

Whom does Survivor Corps serve? We serve people who have been injured by global conflict. Primarily through training and support of the organizations that serve victims of conflict.

Whom does Survivor Corps serve? We serve people who have been injured by global conflict, primarily through training and support of the organizations that serve conflict survivors at the local level.

Where does Survivor Corps work? Wherever communities are experiencing or recovering from conflict - currently in over 50 countries.

Why should I support Survivor Corps? We have a ten-year track record of results improving health, creating economic opportunity, and changing laws & policies for survivors of conflict.

How does Survivor Corps work? We work across the spectrum of issues and organizations that affect the lives of survivors.

Can Survivor Corps really solve this problem? Yes. We believe that by showing survivors a new, more hopeful way forward, we can help break the cycle of violence.

Survivor Corps provides the tools and support survivors need to rise above their injuries and give back to their communities. Learn more at

About Jerry White

Jerry White of Survivor Corps
Jerry White is a global survivor activist who has dedicated his life to helping victims of violent conflict. While camping in Northern Israel in 1984, he stepped on a landmine, and he spent nearly six months in Israeli hospitals learning to walk on an artificial leg. Since then, he has become a recognized leader of the historic International Campaign to Ban Landmines, co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace; and a co-founder of Survivor Corps. He has testified before the US Congress and the United Nations and appeared in hundreds of media interviews and profiles.

About I Will Not Be Broken

Survivor Corps Rise Above Give Back Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis By Jerry White Book
The loss of a loved one, a painful divorce, or a serious physical injury---we must all, at one point, face tragedy -- unavoidable moments that divide our lives into "before" and "after."

How do we muscle our way through tough times and emerge stronger, wiser -- even grateful for our struggle? In 1984, author Jerry White lost his leg -- and almost his life -- in a landmine accident. He has endured the pain of loss and the challenge of rebuilding. As cofounder of Survivors Corps, White has interviewed thousands of victims of tragedy. With this book, he shares what he has learned.

White outlines a very specific five-step program to coping with disaster; to achieving strength and hope; and to turning tragedy into triumph. In their own words, his survivor friends and colleagues share their stories. It's a group that includes the well known, like Lance Armstrong, Nelson Mandela, and the late Princess Diana, and also everyday survivors. Through their stories and the author's words, the book takes readers step-by-step through the process of not only surviving tragedy and victimhood, but going on to thrive.

For more information about I Will Not Be Broken, visit:


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2100 M St. NW Suite 302,
Washington, DC 20037

For two years we got garbage daily passed off as news. We got polls and we got fashion and so much more nonsense passed off as 'news' coverage of the presidential race. Actual news was regularly blacked out. Whether it was Hillary's proposal on breast cancer research, Sarah Palin's proposals regarding special-needs children or anything that actually matters. One example is of the black out on all genuine news was what Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney did on the last Thursday in October. This is Gloria Rubec's "Presidential candidate joins protest of execution" (Workers World):

Cynthia McKinney made history in Texas Oct. 30. Never has any politician or any candidate for public office been in Huntsville, Texas, on an execution night to join in with those protesting.

Cynthia McKinney comforts Misty Smith,
stepdaughter of Greg Wright, executed
in Huntsville, Texas, Oct. 30. " border="0">

Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney comforts Misty Smith,
stepdaughter of Greg Wright, executed
in Huntsville, Texas, Oct. 30.
Photo: Jon Axford

McKinney, the Green Party candidate for president of the United States, joined the ranks of protesters this evening, Oct. 30, and quietly introduced herself to the family and friends of Greg Wright, who was scheduled to be executed 45 minutes later.
As Wright's stepdaughter stood outside of the death house holding a cell phone in one hand and a framed photo of Wright in the other, McKinney approached her and asked about the photo. "How long has your family been dealing with fighting this execution? Did you ever think that your family would ever have to deal with the issue of the death penalty in such a personal way?"
McKinney listened to Misty Smith explain that they had been fighting to prove Wright’s innocence for seven or eight years and that never did she think she and her mother would be going through this injustice.
Then McKinney was introduced to the crowd opposing Wright's execution.
The candidate told them: "I am sad to join you tonight, those of you who have a conscience and who want the U.S. to join the community of nations that respect life, rights and the administration of justice. It’s one thing to feel politically, academically and intellectually opposed to the death penalty. It’s quite another thing to meet the family of someone who has maintained his innocence throughout his entire ordeal and yet they find themselves on the opposite side of justice.
"Most people in this country have believed in the justice system. They believe that they would never be the victims of injustice. And yet I am here in the very place where Shaka Sankofa was murdered by the state of Texas.
"Texas is the execution capital of the country. Why is it that the state of Texas wants the world to know that killing is wrong yet it engages in killing?"
McKinney continued: "Our president, George W. Bush, has engaged in killing. One million Iraqis are dead from war and occupation. How many Afghanis are dead from war and occupation? How many Pakistanis dead from war and occupation?
"The war machine is a death machine. It's a killing machine. As a leader of the Green Party, I join with the families that are here right now and say that we must end all of this killing, including the death penalty, including the use of depleted uranium munitions, and including the interminable march of the imperialistic war machine.
"Misty, thank you for allowing me to be here. Thank you for helping me to understand how barbarically this country can treat people, people who believe in it still. Thank you."
Greg Wright expressed his appreciation for the Green Party just hours before his execution when his spouse, Connie Wright, told him that Cynthia McKinney would be in Huntsville for the protest. "Well, now, you sure know who to vote for, don't you?" he told Connie. "I can't believe she will be here for me."
Music that Connie Wright and Greg Wright chose for the evening played over the sound system outside of the death house as the prison clock chimed at 6:00 p.m. Then Connie and the four other witnesses to the execution walked into the death house for the 419th Texas execution, while "You are the Wind Beneath My Wings" could be heard for blocks around.
Some 1,125 people have been executed in the U.S. since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s. Over one-third of all executions have been in Texas and over 85 percent have been in the South. Texas has 13 more executions scheduled, including another likely innocent person, Eric Cathey. Over 65 percent of those on death row are African-American or Latino.
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As Maureen Dowd bores the world with her sad attempts at pop culture ditherings (which only reveal how truly out of touch Dowd is), grasp that the garbage Dowd serves up today is exactly why news like Gloria Rubec's was ignored in the MSM.

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