Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cat video

I came across this very funny cat video. (I'm hoping a vet was standing by during some of the scenes.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Iraq abuse as bad now as under Saddam -former PM

26 Nov 2005 (Reuters) - Abuse of human rights in Iraq is as bad now as it was under Saddam Hussein, if not worse, former prime minister Iyad Allawi said in an interview published on Sunday. "People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison," Allawi told British newspaper The Observer. "People are remembering the days of Saddam," said Allawi, a secular Shi'ite and former Baathist who is standing in elections scheduled for Dec. 15. "These are the precise reasons why we fought Saddam Hussein and now we are seeing the same things. "We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," said Allawi in an apparent reference to the discovery of a bunker at the Shi'ite-run Interior Ministry where 170 men were held prisoner, beaten, half-starved and in some cases tortured. "A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations." Allawi said the Interior Ministry, which has tried to brush off the scandal over the bunker, was afflicted by a "disease". If it is not cured, he said, it "will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government".
"The Ministry of the Interior is at the heart of the matter," Allawi said. "I am not blaming the minister himself, but the rank and file are behind the secret dungeons and some of the executions that are taking place." Allawi was Iraq's first prime minister of the post-Saddam era but failed to win January's election, which brought current Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, an Islamist Shi'ite, to power. An opinion poll in an Iraqi newspaper a week ago suggested over half of Iraqis want Jaafari to stay on in the job after the December vote. Allawi, who enjoys some support among both Shi'ites and Sunnis, came third in the poll behind Mithal al-Alusi, a secular Sunni who heads his own election list.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah

By Peter Popham, The Independent (UK)

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online website wrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988."

The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons."

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used 'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfo website said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

Photographs on the website of RaiTG24, the broadcaster's 24-hours news channel, show exactly what the former soldier means. Provided by the Studies Centre of Human Rights in Fallujah, dozens of high-quality, colour close-ups show bodies of Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whose clothes remain largely intact but whose skin has been dissolved or caramelised or turned the consistency of leather by the shells.

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewed for the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

The documentary, entitled Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, also provides what it claims is clinching evidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, a new, improved form of napalm, was used in the attack on Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows its use against military targets.

Meanwhile, five US soldiers from the elite 75th Ranger Regiment have been charged with kicking and punching detainees in Iraq.

The news came as a suicide car bomber killed four American soldiers at a checkpoint south of Baghdad yesterday.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oh Christmas Shrub

Lest I be called a scrooge, I figured I should present a song for the holidays:

Oh christmas shrub oh christmas shrub, how lovely are your ranches!
Oh christmas shrub oh christmas shrub, please don't disenfranchise us.
Each year you bring the rich delight, you take the rest away at night.
Yet christmas shrub, oh christmas shrub, still lovely are your ranches.

Oh christmas shrub, oh christmas shrub, your greed endures unchanging.
Oh Christmas shrub, oh christmas shrub, your greed endures unchanging.
Your boughs of brown, white phosphorous glow,
DU won’t fade in winter’s snow.
Oh Christmas shrub, oh christmas shrub, your greed endures unchanging.

Each year you bring the rich delight, and torture others in the night.
Oh christmas shrub, oh christmas shrub, still lovely are your ranches.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Liberal church to lose its tax-exemption?

From a CNN article:

The Internal Revenue Service has warned a prominent liberal church it could lose its tax-exempt status because of an anti-war sermon a guest preacher gave on the eve of the 2004 presidential election, church officials say.

Are we to believe that conservative churches supporting the war are also on the chopping block?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Omar al-Farouq

Doesn't this story of a top Al Qaeda member's escape sound incredibly suspicious?