template dao

lovely blue and brown leaves over small storied house, look on top floor man gathering paints, first floor, men unwrap large scroll, admire; outside man walking over small footbridge to visit

template Chinese characters for "template"

Must you see nature as a machine?
Is your only learning chemistry, physics, and
What if poetry was your template for life?
Can't you know Tao by the feeling of mud in
your sandals?
Thus are the sages called silly:
They have given up their prejudices.

The world appears as you perceive it. It is not that your perceptions are wholly shaped by a so-called objective world. The habit of interpretation is interactive; we do things to test our hypothesis until we have created a complicated web of sensory input and centrifugal manipulation. By the time we are "mature," we have created innumerable layers of interpretation and biased perception that become our templates for living. Of course, we could have some fun with this situation. We could change the templates that we use to interact with the world.

What if we used poetry instead of science? What if we substituted spirituality for politics? The results of such experimentation are often fresh, happy and unusual. Unfortunately, when carried to their logical conclusions, they are just as futile as any other method. Templates are essential for beginners, a hindrance for veterans. True followers of Tao give up all templates and are without prejudices. They return to the actions of infants. Thus they are called silly. But because they view the world with their inner eye, they transcend all the sorrows of life.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

enjoy paintings under parasol tree
Enjoy paintings under parasol tree
by Fu Bao Shi

a member of her family for Caldonia
we loved you but a short time
.... you will be with us always.

We have received a donation to the Heifer Project of a flock of Geese.
Add to that another flock (or any donation), and we will be sending
two flocks of ducks to families in need around the world!
(I am matching every two donations) will get you to the main catalogue is the duck spot!
and for the folks who would rather not send animals, there is a special gift of knitting basket or bees!
receive a full HTML copy of the daily meditation sent directly to your inbox, please send a note with the words "subscribe tao" in the subject line to duckdaotsu to unsubscribe or take a vacation, contact me with specifics at the same address!

May God Bring...

‘May God bring peace to Iraq and the world’
(Emad Hajjaj, 3/25/03)


December 18, 2004

ITHACA, N.Y. – Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.

Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.

While researchers said they were not surprised by the overall level of support for curtailing civil liberties, they were startled by the correlation with religion and exposure to television news.

Associated Press
( '? they probably polled anyone who voted for shrub ( '?

URGENT ACTION: Woman to be Buried Alive and Stoned to Death

Iran: Woman to Be Buried Up to Chest and Stoned to Death In The Next Five Days

An Iranian woman charged with adultery faces death by stoning in the next five days after her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co-defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members are now writing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped.

According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000.

The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones”.

All death sentences in Iran must be upheld by the Supreme Court before they can be carried out. In November 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Hajieh Esmailvand but changed the lower court's verdict from ‘death by hanging’ to ‘death by stoning’. Reports suggest that the Supreme Court has ordered that the remainder of Hajieh’s five year prison sentence be annulled so that the stoning sentence can be carried out before 21 December.

Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:
"This is an urgent case. Hejieh could be killed in the next five days if we do not act quickly. Our members here in the UK are writing to the Iranian authorities, imploring them to stop this brutal execution. Campaigners in Iran are also taking action. But we need more people to stand up and be counted, to tell the Iranian authorities that this is not acceptable.

"Every day, thousands of women across the world face repression and violence, just because they are women. From the battlefield to the bedroom, women are at risk. Violence against women is a human rights atrocity and one we must tackle immediately."

The news follows reports of a 19-year old girl, "Leyla M", who has a mental age of eight, reportedly facing imminent execution for "morality-related" offences in Iran after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.

Leyla M was reportedly sentenced to death on charges of "acts contrary to chastity" by controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and giving birth to an illegitimate child. She is to be flogged before she is executed. She had apparently “confessed” to the charges.

Leyla was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, according to the 28 November report, and was raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at around the same time. At the age of 12, her family sold her to an Afghan man to become his “temporary wife”.

His mother became her new pimp, “selling her body without her consent”. At the age of 14 she became pregnant again, and received a further 100 lashes, after which she was moved to a maternity ward to give birth to twins. After this "temporary marriage", her family sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, married with two children, who had Leyla’s customers come to his house.

One in three women around the world suffer serious violence in their lifetime, at home, in the community or in war, just because they are women. Amnesty International is running a global campaign to 'Stop Violence Against Women'. The human rights organisation is calling on governments to repeal laws that permit and encourage violence against women, and on communities to challenge attitudes that allow violence to continue. For more information visit:

Background information

Amnesty International is aware of at least one case in which a sentence of execution by stoning has reportedly been issued this year. According to a report on 8 January 2004 in the Iran newspaper, a criminal court in the city of Qazvin sentenced an unnamed man to 80 lashes and 10 years'’ imprisonment to be followed by execution by stoning. It is not known whether this sentence has been carried out.

Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the most extreme form of torture. It is a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

It is clear that the punishment of stoning is designed to cause the victim grievous pain before leading to death. Such methods of execution specifically designed to increase the suffering of victims are of particular concern to Amnesty International, as the most extreme and cruel form of torture.

For details of how to help stop the executions of Hajieh and Leyla M, please go to:

[ Hajieh Esmailvand (f)
An unnamed man (aged 17 when accused)

Amnesty International fears that Hajieh Esmailvand is at risk of imminent execution after her death sentence for adultery was upheld by the Supreme Court in November. She could allegedly be stoned to death as early as 21 December. Her unnamed co-defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging.

According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000.

All death sentences in Iran must be upheld by the Supreme Court before they can be carried out. In November 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Hajieh Esmailvand but changed the lower court's verdict from 'death by hanging' to 'death by stoning'.

Reports suggest that the Supreme Court has ordered that the remainder of Hajieh's five year prison sentence be annulled so that the stoning sentence can be carried out before 21 December.

The unnamed man, with whom Hajieh had the affair, has been sentenced to death by hanging. It is reported that he is awaiting official orders to be hanged in public, suggesting that the death sentence may have already been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Background Information

Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the most extreme form of torture. It is a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

It is clear that the punishment of stoning is designed to cause the victim grievous pain before leading to death. Such methods of execution specifically designed to increase the suffering of victims are of particular concern to Amnesty International, as the most extreme and cruel form of torture.

The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used.

Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones".

In December 2002, the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, reportedly sent a directive to judges ordering a moratorium on execution by stoning and for alternative punishments to be used instead. However, legal provision for execution by stoning remains, and in September 2003 a law was passed listing regulations for the implementation of particular sentences, including stoning.

Since the reported moratorium, Amnesty International is aware of at least one case in which a sentence of execution by stoning has reportedly been issued. According to a report on 8 January 2004 in the Iran newspaper, a criminal court in the city of Qazvin sentenced an unnamed man to 80 lashes and 10 years' imprisonment to be followed by execution by stoning. It is not known whether this sentence has been carried out.

As a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under 18 years old.

The Iranian authorities are now considering legislation (the draft law on the Establishment of Children's Courts) that would prohibit the use of the death penalty for offences committed under the age of 18. Iran has executed at least three child offenders in 2004. In addition to this, at least eleven other child offenders are believed to have been sentenced to death.

Recommended Action

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, English, French or your own language:
  • stating your unconditional opposition to the death penalty, as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and violation of the right to life;
  • expressing concern that Hajieh Esmailvand is reportedly facing imminent execution by stoning for adultery;
  • asking for the trial details of the case against Hajieh Esmailvand, including details of any appeals against her convictions to be made public;
  • urging that the death sentence against Hajieh Esmailvand be commuted immediately;
  • seeking clarification about the status of the moratorium on stoning reportedly ordered by His Excellency Ayatollah Shahroudi in December 2002;
  • expressing concern at reports that the unnamed co-defendant of Hajieh Esmailvand has been sentenced to death for an offence committed when he was a 17 year old minor;
  • asking for details of the exact charges against the unnamed individual, including details of any appeals against his convictions to be made public;
  • urging that the death sentence against him be commuted immediately;
  • expressing concern and dismay that Amnesty International has recorded 10 executions of child offenders in Iran since 1990, three of them in 2004, and calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately halt further executions of child offenders and to pass legislation removing the provision for the execution of child offenders, thereby bringing Iran into line with its obligations under international law.

Leader of the Islamic Republic His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: 00 98 21 649 5880 (please mark
'For the attention of the Office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei, Qom)

[Salutation: Your Excellency]

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice,
Park-e Shahr,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: (mark 'Please forward to HE Ayatollah Shahroudi')
[Salutation: Your Excellency]

Please send copies of your appeals to:

His Excellency Mr Morteza Sarmadi,
Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran,
16 Prince's Gate,

Fax: 020 7589 4440


Centre for Women's Participation
Dr Zahra Shojaei
Head of the Centre of Women's Participation and Advisor to the President
128 Shaheed Labbafi Nejad Street
Tehran 13156,
Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: 00 98 21 640 3038 Email:
(please mark for the attention of Dr Zahra Shojaei)


This is an Amnesty International news release published on 17th December 2004

War Brings Death

War doesn't bring freedom and democracy. It brings death. (By Haroon, 3/28/03).

Political Cartoon from the start of the war on Iraq

Iraqis have been waiting for this moment for 7,000 years.
Finally, democracy is coming. They will enjoy it in their graves.
(Al-Ahram, 3/31/03).

Pinochet May Not See the INside of Prison After All...

Ex-Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet Suffers Stroke; Decision Pending on Human-Rights Indictment

Dec. 18, 2004 - Gen. Augusto Pinochet was hospitalized after suffering a stroke Saturday, one day after an appeals court delayed a decision on whether to uphold the former dictator's indictment and house arrest on human rights charges.

Doctors say Pinochet has suffered several minor strokes since 1998. The 89-year-old former ruler also has mild dementia, diabetes and arthritis, and uses a pacemaker.

On Friday, the Santiago Court of Appeals postponed until next week a decision on whether to uphold his indictment and house arrest for the alleged kidnapping of nine dissidents and the killing of one of them during his 1973-90 military regime.

Pinochet's health problems rescued him from trial three years ago on other charges.

"Gen. Pinochet suffered a new brain vascular accident with loss of consciousness," Santiago's Army Hospital said in a communique Saturday. He has developed moving and neurological problems, "but he has evolved with stable vital signs," the hospital said.

Pinochet's spokesman, retired Gen. Guillermo Garin, said the former ruler was rushed to the hospital after "he felt bad during breakfast as if he would faint, and doctors decided to take him to the hospital."

Pinochet's motorcade entered the hospital in the upscale Providencia district under heavy guard. Minutes later, his wife, Lucia Hiriart, and army commander Gen. Emilio Cheyre also entered, along with several other Pinochet relatives.

Pinochet had an unusually active day Friday. He left his country residence at Los Boldos, where he would serve out his house arrest if the court upholds the order by Judge Juan Guzman, and traveled the 80 miles to Santiago, where he visited his office, saw his dentist and later met with supporters.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

A Flood of Mentally Ill Soldiers Coming Home From Iraq

Contrary to the NY Times reports by Scott Shane today, psychologists at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California have said that approximately 30% of the marines returning from Iraq have serious mental problems. Shane writes of 1 in 6, those psychologists who spoke with me said it was more like 1 in 3--twice what the NY Times is reporting. But then again, we know the NY Times has been soft on the Bush team in its reporting about negative matters pertaining to the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Elaine Cassel and I wrote an article about this, "When the Killers Come Home," back when the war in Iraq started, because we knew what kind of brutality our leaders were urging the military to train into our soldiers. This brutal training, pushed especially by Wolfowitz and the generals under Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and in the field, went, and continues to go against, the decency most of our soldiers were taught in their churches and in their homes. This attitude of treating Iraqis as "ragheads," "satan's soldiers," "worthless pieces of shit," and "the enemy, destroy them all," has made our soldiers into animals on the kill--that's why they are killing so many innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another factor in this equation that no one in the major American media will touch, but the British journalists like Robert Fisk, Patrick and Alexander Cockburn, do speak about, is the Israeli presence and influence on American troops through their new influence at the Rumsfeld Pentagon. Many ex-Israeli officers, Mossad, and South African Israeli trained mercenaries are directing and training American troops in "urban warfare," and torture methods. This Israeli posture on behavior is contrary to the best of American values of decency and humanity.

An example of how our homecoming troops have been damaged can be seen in the case of Jeffrey Lucey who was so upset with his recollections of the war that he hanged himself shortly after returning from Iraq.

Another case is Robert Brown
“Robert E. Brown was proud to be in the first wave of Marines invading Iraq last year. But Mr. Brown has also found himself in the first ranks of returning soldiers to be unhinged by what they experienced. He served for six months as a Marine chaplain's assistant, counseling wounded soldiers, organizing makeshift memorial services and filling in on raids. He knew he was in trouble by the time he was on a ship home, when the sound of a hatch slamming would send him diving to the floor. After he came home, he began drinking heavily and saw his marriage fall apart, Mr. Brown said. He was discharged and returned to his hometown, Peru, Ind., where he slept for two weeks in his Ford Explorer, surrounded by mementos of the war." (NY Times, Dec. 16, 2004)

Thus, the mental breakdowns in our troops because they were being taught to behave in ways that were contrary to everything they'd been taught as they grew up in a more humane America. Our military, with the influence of the Israelis has created this problem, has sickened our soldiers, some unto death. Now, these soldiers and their families, and all the rest of us, must live with these mentally sick people--many of whom have already violently attacked their wives and children or taken their own lives. There is little word on how the women have behaved on their return, but I'm sure it is not good. Many have wondered what transformed Ms. England from a "down home girl" into the person she became in Iraq at Abu Ghraib.

Also, we, as citizens, will be paying the financial bill for these soldiers and their mental disabilities for years, according to psychological experts in and out of the military. Add to this the long term illnesses these soldiers will sustain, as will their deformed children, from the Depleted Uranium they have lived in since the invasion began.

Also, to be dealt with in another article in the near future, is the psychological damage our invasion of Iraq has visited upon generations of Iraqis, old to the very young--as well as the physical injuries the Iraqis sustained from our incessant bombings and the long-term illnesses from Depleted Uranium. Also, remember that the whole world has seen our cruelty on the Iraqi and Afghan scenes--this has turned not only Muslims and Arabs against us, but also over 80% of the citizens of the world (regardless of what their governments may say in England, Poland and Australia).

All I can say is that the worst is yet to come. Perhaps then, the American citizenry will awaken to the truth about Bush,Rumsfeld,Cheney, Tommy Franks, General Myers, Wolfowitz, Sanchez and General Abizaid--that they were the enemy of America and its people, they were the ones responsible for the poisoning of American soldiers with D.U. and the mental breakdowns because of the brutality they forced on our soldiers, not the Iraqi or Afghan civilians who were traumatized, maimed and killed.

Sam Hamod writes on international and domestic affairs; he edits, ; he published and edited 3rd World News in Wash,DC . He may be reached at

By Sam Hamod Al-Jazeerah, December 17, 2004

Syrian driver to sue US for alleged torture in Iraq

Driver sues: Two French Reporters Remain Missing

PARIS, Dec 17 (AFP) - The Syrian driver of two French journalists taken hostage in Iraq in August is suing the US army for torture and ill-treatment, his lawyer, Jacques Verges said Friday.

The driver, Mohammad al-Jundi, was captured with Radio France Internationale reporter Christian Chesnot and Le Figaro journalist Georges Malbrunot on August 20 south of Baghdad and found in a house in Fallujah Nov. 12 when US troops invaded the city. The two French reporters still are missing.

Verges said that after being found by American troops, al-Jundi was taken in handcuffs to a military base where he was beaten and kicked.

Verges said al-Jundi claimed to have been thrice threatened with mock executions and tortured with electric shocks.

He alleged his client had been denied medicines and forced to sleep on a pile of plastic rice sacks.

Al-Jundi came to Paris under French protection, and Verges said he had the same rights as any French citizen to sue the US authorities.

Al-Jundi had lived as a refugee in Iraq for several years, and had worked as both driver and interpreter for the French journalists, the longest-held Western hostages in Iraq.

12/17/2004 18:52 GMT - AFP Copyright © 2004 Agence France Presse

"People have the misconception that everyone goes to war and gets killed,"

Guard Reports Serious Drop in Enlistment

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 - In the latest signs of strains on the military from the war in Iraq, the Army National Guard announced on Thursday that it had fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the last two months and would offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000.

In addition, the head of the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, said on Thursday that he needed $20 billion to replace arms and equipment destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan or left there for other Army and Air Guard units to use, so that returning reservists will have enough equipment to deal with emergencies at home.

The sharp decline in recruiting is significant because National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers now make up nearly 40 percent of the 148,000 troops in Iraq, and are a vital source for filling the ranks, particularly those who perform essential support tasks, like truck drivers and military police.

General Blum said the main reason for the Army National Guard's recruiting shortfall was a sharp reduction in the number of recruits joining the Guard and Reserve when they leave active duty. In peacetime the commitment means maintaining their ties to the military with a weekend of service a month and two weeks in the summer.

Over the last 30 years, General Blum said, the Guard has counted on these soldiers with prior military service for about half of its recruits. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, however, many of these soldiers have been hesitant to join the Guard because of the increasing likelihood that America's citizen-soldiers will be activated and sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for up to 12 months. Indeed, many of the active-duty soldiers the Army would like to enlist in the Reserves have recently fought in Afghanistan or Iraq, and some have no inclination to do so again.

In an effort to halt the slide, the Army National Guard this week approved recruiting incentives that triple the enlistment bonuses to $15,000 for soldiers with prior military experience who sign up for six years (tax-free if soldiers enlist overseas), Guard officials said. Bonuses for new enlistees will increased to $10,000 from $6,000.

The Guard has already said it intends to increase the number of recruiters to 4,100 from 2,700 over the next three months, the first large increase since 1989.

"We're in a more difficult recruiting environment, period," General Blum told reporters in disclosing the new figures and the new incentives. "There's no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard's participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult."

There are 42,000 Army National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq and Kuwait, and 8,200 serving in Afghanistan. Since Sept. 11, General Blum said, there have been about 100,000 Army National Guard troops activated for duty at home or abroad at any given time.

General Blum's remarks come just a few days after the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that the Army Reserve recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that if unchecked could inspire renewed debate over the draft. General Helmly told the newspaper that he personally opposed reviving the draft.

For the first two months of the fiscal year 2005, which started Oct. 1, the Army Reserve has also stumbled, falling 315 recruits short of its goal of 3,170 soldiers, a drop of 10 percent.

In November, the Guard recruited 2,902 enlistees, about 26 percent below its target of 3,925 recruits. In October and November combined, the Guard recruited 5,448 enlistees, nearly 30 percent below its goal of 7,600. At full strength, the Guard has 350,000 soldiers.

In the 2004 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the Guard missed its overall recruiting target of 56,000 soldiers by more than 5,000, the first time it had missed its yearly goal since 1994. The active-duty branches of the armed services all met their recruiting goals last year.

As a result, General Blum said, the Guard has lowered its reliance on recruits with military experience to just 35 percent of its overall total and will seek a much larger pool of recruits with no military experience.

"We are correcting, frankly, some of our recruiting themes and slogans to reflect a reality of today," he said. "We're not talking about one weekend a month and two weeks a year and college tuition. We're talking about service to the nation."

General Blum expressed confidence that the nearly $300 million in recruiting bonuses in this year's budget and the increase in the number of recruiters would propel the Guard to meet its yearly goal but said that probably would not happen until August or so. "I think we'll recover," he said.

Some military personnel specialists offered a much more pessimistic forecast and said the lower recruiting numbers were the harbingers of tougher times to come.

"I don't think this is an aberration," said David R. Segal, a military sociologist who directs the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland. "I think we're going to see significant shortfalls in recruitment, and I think we're to begin to see retention problems. We're also going to see increasing concerns at the state level about how the Guard will man itself and perform its state missions."

The Guard's woes do not end with recruiting. General Blum said the Army National Guard needed $20 billion over the next three years to buy additional radios, trucks, aircraft, engineering equipment and other materiel that have been wrecked or left behind in Iraq or Afghanistan..

"Otherwise, the Guard will be broken and not ready for the next time it's needed, either here at home or for war," General Blum said.

A spokesman for the Florida National Guard, Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, said Guard units in the state, which mobilized some 5,000 troops to deal with the three hurricanes in August and September, were already experiencing some shortages.

"It could hinder us to some degree," Colonel Tittle said. "But we adapt and make do. We'll accomplish the mission."

2004 The New York Times December 17, 2004 By ERIC SCHMITT

Yoni Brook/The New York Times photo credit
caption: "People have the misconception that everyone goes to war and gets killed," said Sgr. Daniel Mak, an Army Guard recruiter in Brooklyn.

Soldier Accused of Asking to Be Shot

this was stuck at the bottom of a story in the NYTimes, on the "print only" page

Soldier Accused of Asking to Be Shot

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 16 (AP) - A soldier on leave has been accused of having his cousin shoot him so he would not have to return to Iraq, the police say.

The soldier, Specialist Marquise J. Roberts, 23, of Hinesville, Ga., suffered a minor wound to his left leg from a .22-caliber pistol on Tuesday, the police said. Specialist Roberts was treated at a hospital, then arrested after he and his cousin admitted having made up a story about the shooting, the authorities said.

After giving differing accounts of the incident, "they just broke down and confessed that they concocted the whole story so he didn't have to go back to the war," Lt. James Clark of the Philadelphia police department said on Thursday.

Specialist Roberts, who was visiting family members in Philadelphia, was charged with filing a false report. His cousin, Ronald Fuller, was charged with aggravated assault and other charges.

- lisbeth at duckdaotsu media

Hezbollah TV loses satellite feed to U.S

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Al-Manar, the television station of Lebanon's Hezbollah militants that has glorified suicide bombers, lost its satellite feed to the United States on Saturday after Washington put it on a list of terror organizations.

The exclusion from U.S. TV screens came less than a week after France banned its broadcasts, but al-Manar's troubles airing its anti-Israel message abroad don't seem to hurt its popularity in the Arab world. The station till enjoys the support of the Lebanese and Syrian governments and a broad and sympathetic Arab audience.

The station, which ranks fourth or fifth among Lebanon's nine stations, has drawn protests from across the globe for airing anti-Israel programs that include videos glorifying Hezbollah and other Arab suicide bombers who target Israelis, describing the attacks as "heroic martyrdom operations." Its presenters refer to Israel as "the enemy."

"We are sorry to lose our audience in France and America. We will work to change that. Meanwhile, we still have our faithful viewers elsewhere," said Hassan Fadlallah, Al-Manar's news director.

The United States placed Al-Manar on its list of terrorist organizations Friday, dismissing freedom of speech objections and accusing Al-Manar of inciting violence in the Middle East.

"We don't see why here or anywhere else a terrorist organization should be allowed to spread its hatred and incitement through the television airwaves," said U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.

Fadlallah told The Associated Press, "This is a blatant attack on press freedoms and an exercise in intellectual terrorism against the voices that are opposed to U.S. and Israeli policies. It is part of an organized Israeli campaign against Al-Manar to keep it from transmitting the facts of the Arab-Israeli struggle."

Lebanese authorities have threatened to reciprocate against French channels for the ban. Lebanon considers Hezbollah - a militant Shiite Muslim group high on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations - to be a legitimate resistance organization fighting Israeli occupation.

Al-Manar's broadcasts to the United States through satellite operator Intelsat, were halted Saturday, Fadlallah said. French authorities banned satellite television broadcasts by the station on Dec. 13, soon after a Nov. 23 program that quoted someone described as an expert on Zionist affairs warning of "Zionist attempts" to transmit diseases such as AIDS to Arab countries.

Al-Manar - the self-proclaimed "Channel of Resistance and Liberation" - airs documentaries, dramas, political talk and health shows - but even some of its entertainment programs are centered on "the struggle" against Israel, with some of its game shows featuring questions on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Youssef Fawaz, a 42-year-old grocer, said he watches Al-Manar and will continue to do so "because it speaks for all Arab people." He rejected accusations that Al-Manar incites violence, saying the station "shows facts on the grounds. They (Americans) are the violent ones, they are the terrorists. Look what they've done to Iraq."

The station is widely seen in the Palestinian territories for its interviews and quick coverage of events affecting Palestinians. It is also popular with Shiite Muslims, believed to be the largest group in Lebanon.

"Al-Manar is committed to the truth, and the Americans are afraid of the truth reaching the public there," said Ali Sharefeddine, a Lebanese student.


On the Net:




Fallujah assault still exacting heavy toll on mental health of US marines

NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) - Nearly six weeks after US marines stormed the rebel enclave of Fallujah, military psychologists are still seeing a steady stream of service personnel traumatised by the long days and nights of ferocious street fighting.

In the macho culture of the US Marine Corps, it is sometimes hard for its personnel, male or female, to admit they have a problem and some try to ride out the symptoms, only seeking help after weeks of suffering in silence.

The warning signs can range from irritability to extreme apathy, says Lieutenant Erryn Simmons, a trained psychologist who runs a combat stress management unit in this US base just outside the western Iraqi city.

Her colleague Lieutenant Thomas Fearing nods in agreement. "They are coming to us predominantly for sleep-related problems, such as insomnia or nightmares, bad dreams," he says.

"After the offensive began, we had a lot of patients, then there was this lull, and it has picked up again recently with people trying to sit on their symptoms."

The marines lost more than 50 dead and hundreds wounded, some of them seriously, in the huge assault launched on November 8, the largest since last year's invasion.

The US-backed government put rebel losses at more than 2,000, although unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed, and ruined homes across the city attest to a strategy of overwhelming force.

The marines who seek help can be haunted by the sight of appalling injuries, the screams of wounded comrades, the fear of death, or simply the chaotic hell of combat, the psychologists say.

"We get mostly enlisted men, because they represent the bulk of our troops, but we also get a few NCOs and officers," says Simmons.

"We are here to prevent the combat stress symptoms from turning into post-combat syndrome disorder," she says.

"One technique is the listening experience, where we try to make them realise what really happened, how it happened, and why they display symptoms of stress because of this.

"We also have relaxation strategies or we can use sleep medication."

Fearing says most of those seeking help have been treated successfully through counselling, although one or two have needed more intensive therapy.

"All went back to duty, except for a few worst cases... we had a couple of them staying a few days with us," he says.

Given the difficulties of getting marines to seek help in the first place, it is perhaps understandable that the corps's press officers refused AFP's requests to interview some of the servicemen and women who were receiving treatment.

The marines were the last of the services in the US military to acknowledge that the stresses of the combat could undermine its fighting capacity and to recruit psychologists to provide counselling and other therapies.

"You are talking about a very macho, masculine environment, where there is a stigma attached to looking weak or in fear," says Simmons, one of a growing number of women in the corps.

"But I guess there's been a real shift to admit that somebody suffering from combat stress is not necessarily deranged or crazy."

At the moment the unit is treating five or six patients a day. Most return to active duty after a short series of 45-minute counselling sessions.

Simmons says that oddly it is more effective to treat traumatised personnel within their units rather than sending them home to families, who can often struggle to understand what their loved ones have been through.

"It's better if we can keep them with us, because we can provide support," she says.

"Maybe, it's better for them than to be sent back home, because, for some, their stronger family is here not there."

Posted: Saturday December 18,2004 - 09:47:00 am
(from rss feed

OUTED: The REAL threat to the life of the nation. It ain't Muslim...

Unlawful discrimination
Britain's highest court rules that the unlimited detention of foreign terror suspects is "the real threat to the life of the nation."
By Clare Dyer, Michael White and Alan Travis

Dec. 17, 2004 | A scathing judgment by the House of Lords, Britain's highest court, condemning the indefinite detention of foreign terror suspects as a threat to the life of the nation left anti-terrorist laws in tatters Thursday. The ruling by an 8-1 majority held that the indefinite detention without trial at Belmarsh and Woodhill high-security prisons was unlawful under the European Convention on Human Rights. Constitutional lawyers called it one of the most important decisions from Britain's highest court in 50 years.

But 24 hours after David Blunkett, the law's sponsor, was forced to resign as home secretary, Downing Street and the new home secretary, Charles Clarke, decided to tough it out. They said they would study the judgment, but made it plain they are more likely to renew the controversial laws than modify them. Lord Hoffmann ruled that there is no "state of public emergency threatening the life of the nation" -- the only basis on which Britain is entitled to exercise its opt-out from Article 5 of the European Convention, the right to liberty. It was the anti-terror laws introduced by Blunkett that posed a threat, he declared. "The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these."

The judgment adds to the clutch of election-sensitive law-and-order problems in Clarke's in box. No. 10 signaled it is "clearly minded to renew it," and Clarke chose to stress continuity with Blunkett's policies.

On Channel 4 News Hazel Blears, the police minister, said judges who authorized detentions had seen intelligence data that the law lords did not. "This is a matter for Parliament to decide" in line with the European Convention. "Our overriding concern is the protection of this nation."

Sixteen Muslims have been detained under the anti-terror legislation, with 10 still held in Belmarsh, southeast London, and Woodhill, Bucks, and one in Broadmoor mental hospital. They are certified as "suspected international terrorists."

The law lords' ruling said the state should decide whether a state of emergency existed. But they argued that the government's response breached the human rights convention because it went further than required. It was a disproportionate interference with liberty and equality and unlawfully discriminated against foreigners because British terror suspects thought to pose a similar risk cannot be locked up without charge or trial.

Lord Scott described the regime under which suspects can be detained indefinitely on the say-so of the home secretary with no right to know the grounds for detention as "the stuff of nightmares, associated with France before and during the revolution, with Soviet Russia in the Stalinist era, and now associated, as a result of Section 23 of the 2001 Act, with the United Kingdom."

The judgment does not oblige the government to release the detainees immediately, but under the Human Rights Act the government must take steps soon to remedy the situation. These could include legislation -- for example, making evidence obtained from telephone tapping admissible in a criminal court -- that would make it easier to try detainees. Another option would be measures allowing them to be released under constant surveillance and monitoring.

Clarke is expected to produce new proposals in the new year, and until then the detainees will remain in Belmarsh and Woodhill prisons. Gareth Peirce, solicitor for eight detainees, commented: "The government has to take steps to withdraw the legislation and release the detainees."

The judgment puts Clark under huge pressure to devise a solution or face the prospect of more embarrassing court defeats in the run-up to the general election. The detainees' solicitors could take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, if the government drags its heels. Lawyers said another possibility was an application in the English courts for a declaration that it was unconstitutional for the home secretary to continue to detain the men in breach of a House of Lords ruling.

The case was heard by an almost unprecedented panel of nine law lords, instead of the usual five, because of its constitutional significance. The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, who argued the case for the government, had tried to persuade the judges that they were "undemocratic" and should defer to the will of elected representatives.

Jeffrey Jowell, professor of public law at University College London, said: "It establishes that, even where the government claims national security is an issue, the court has authority to delineate the proper boundaries of a rights-based democracy."

Krugman pens third column against Bush plan

In his third straight column railing against Bush's plans to "convert Social Security into a giant 401(k),"Paul Krugman says:
Buying Into Failure

As the Bush administration tries to persuade America to convert Social Security into a giant 401(k), we can learn a lot from other countries that have already gone down that road.

Information about other countries' experience with privatization isn't hard to find. For example, the Century Foundation, at, provides a wide range of links.

Yet, aside from giving the Cato Institute and other organizations promoting Social Security privatization the space to present upbeat tales from Chile, the U.S. news media have provided their readers and viewers with little information about international experience. In particular, the public hasn't been let in on two open secrets:

Privatization dissipates a large fraction of workers' contributions on fees to investment companies.

It leaves many retirees in poverty.

Decades of conservative marketing have convinced Americans that government programs always create bloated bureaucracies, while the private sector is always lean and efficient. But when it comes to retirement security, the opposite is true. More than 99 percent of Social Security's revenues go toward benefits, and less than 1 percent for overhead. In Chile's system, management fees are around 20 times as high. And that's a typical number for privatized systems.

These fees cut sharply into the returns individuals can expect on their accounts. In Britain, which has had a privatized system since the days of Margaret Thatcher, alarm over the large fees charged by some investment companies eventually led government regulators to impose a "charge cap." Even so, fees continue to take a large bite out of British retirement savings.

A reasonable prediction for the real rate of return on personal accounts in the U.S. is 4 percent or less. If we introduce a system with British-level management fees, net returns to workers will be reduced by more than a quarter. Add in deep cuts in guaranteed benefits and a big increase in risk, and we're looking at a "reform" that hurts everyone except the investment industry.

Advocates insist that a privatized U.S. system can keep expenses much lower. It's true that costs will be low if investments are restricted to low-overhead index funds - that is, if government officials, not individuals, make the investment decisions. But if that's how the system works, the suggestions that workers will have control over their own money - two years ago, Cato renamed its Project on Social Security Privatization by replacing "privatization" with "choice" - are false advertising.

And if there are rules restricting workers to low-expense investments, investment industry lobbyists will try to get those rules overturned.

For the record, I don't think giving financial corporations a huge windfall is the main motive for privatization; it's mostly an ideological thing. But that windfall is a major reason Wall Street wants privatization, and everyone else should be very suspicious.

Then there's the issue of poverty among the elderly.

Privatizers who laud the Chilean system never mention that it has yet to deliver on its promise to reduce government spending. More than 20 years after the system was created, the government is still pouring in money. Why? Because, as a Federal Reserve study puts it, the Chilean government must "provide subsidies for workers failing to accumulate enough capital to provide a minimum pension." In other words, privatization would have condemned many retirees to dire poverty, and the government stepped back in to save them.

The same thing is happening in Britain. Its Pensions Commission warns that those who think Mrs. Thatcher's privatization solved the pension problem are living in a "fool's paradise." A lot of additional government spending will be required to avoid the return of widespread poverty among the elderly - a problem that Britain, like the U.S., thought it had solved.

Britain's experience is directly relevant to the Bush administration's plans. If current hints are an indication, the final plan will probably claim to save money in the future by reducing guaranteed Social Security benefits. These savings will be an illusion: 20 years from now, an American version of Britain's commission will warn that big additional government spending is needed to avert a looming surge in poverty among retirees.

So the Bush administration wants to scrap a retirement system that works, and can be made financially sound for generations to come with modest reforms. Instead, it wants to buy into failure, emulating systems that, when tried elsewhere, have neither saved money nor protected the elderly from poverty.

© 2004 The New York Times

Rummys Head on Chopping Block

Iraq fears put pressure on Rumsfeld to quit
Strong messages show Rumsfeld that he might not have the JOB “you might want or wish to have at a later time”
Donald Rumsfeld is at the centre of a Republican firestorm over his handling of the war in Iraq, with pressure appearing to mount in Washington for him to quit as defence secretary.

Although Republicans have publicly stood by George Bush's decision to go to war throughout the growing death toll among US troops and spiralling violence on the ground, the acerbic Pentagon chief has become a focus of anxieties about the conduct of the war and about the future of Iraq. Unease about Mr Rumsfeld reached critical proportions when the former Senate majority leader, Trent Lott, told businessmen in Mississippi that the defence secretary should be replaced in the new year.

Mr Lott is from the centre of the Republican party, and was a powerful figure until forced to step down as Senate leader in 2002. "I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," he told the Biloxi chamber of commerce. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers." He added: "I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so."

Earlier this week, Mr Rumsfeld was the object of a withering attack by the editor of the Weekly Standard, the in-house organ of the neo-conservative movement, accusing him of "arrogant" buckpassing. "Surely Don Rumsfeld is not the defence secretary Bush should want to have for the remainder of his second term," said William Kristol.

Last spring, at the height of the scandal over the Abu Ghraib prison abuse, President Bush resisted calls for Mr Rumsfeld to stand down.

He reaffirmed his faith in the man after his re-election victory, keeping him on as Pentagon chief, and it is unlikely that the White House will want to signal a change of heart before Iraq holds elections next month. "The president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a great job, and that's why he asked him to continue serving during this time of war," said the White House spokesman, Scott McLellan.

But the latest crisis over his temperament and management style may prove difficult to brush off, when many Republicans are wondering aloud how US troops are going to manage to stabilise Iraq in the coming months. Mr Rumsfeld's critics in Congress are on their way home for the holidays, where they will meet families of soldiers serving in Iraq who are outraged by duty-tour extensions made necessary by troop shortages, and by complaints of lack of armour and weaponry on trucks and other "soft" vehicles used by support troops who face guerrilla attacks unforeseen by Pentagon planners.

The manpower problem in the National Guard is so acute that it has upped its signing bonuses and tripled re-enlist ment bonuses. The chief of the National Guard Bureau, Lieutenant General Steven Blum has asked for $20bn (about £10.3bn) over three years to replace equipment destroyed in Iraq. "Otherwise, the guard will be broken and not ready the next time it's needed, either here at home or for war," he said.

On Thursday, Mr Rumsfeld was rebuked by a member of the Senate armed services committee, the moderate Republican Susan Collins, over the Pentagon's failure to provide sufficient armoured Humvees.

The latest crisis to enfold Mr Rumsfeld was provoked by his airy response last week to a member of the Tennessee National guard who complained about having to forage in scrapheaps for armour for Humvees. Mr Rumsfeld replied that countries go to war with the army they have, "not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time".

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington Saturday December 18, 2004 The Guardian

Chinese crackdown extends to editors: affects duckdaotsu web site

( '? duckdaotsu has been personally affected by recent actions in Chinese propoganda watch. Our site was mirrored at a very secured web location in China and is no longer available to our readers in China. We continue to have a mirror site in Saudi Arabia however... ( '?

"Radio hostess found dead in deputy mayor's bed" and "Female students ordered to dance with officials" are not the headlines Chinese Communist Party officials like to see.

Now, it seems, they won't have to, after a sweeping change of editors ordered by the Communist Party propaganda department at two of the country's raciest newspapers.

The replacement of top editors at the China Youth Daily and the new tabloid (New Weekly) comes as the party begins a crackdown that has included the arrest of several writers and internet activists as recently as this week.

In the first case, Li Xueqian, editor-in-chief and president of the China Youth Daily - which is controlled by the Communist Party Youth League, the stepping stone to power for current President and party chief Hu Jintao - resigned earlier this month and now has a routine job in the youth league.

His replacement, Li Erliang, previously edited a drab trade newspaper belonging to the main party organ, the People's Daily.

The Youth Daily had been daring in exposing cases of corruption by government and party officials, most recently revealing how the deputy party secretary in the southern industrial city of Shenzhen had required local university students to buy tickets for a movie that his daughter directed, produced and starred in.

The party official, Li Yizhen, was forced to make a humiliating public apology.

In the second case, Xin Zhou Bao suddenly announced a three-week shutdown after only seven weeks in publication because of "office relocation" while its president, Feng Xiaoping, and editor-in-chief, Zhao Shilong, both resigned.

It was not clear which articles were the cause of the closure, which could become permanent. The two headlines quoted above are examples of the stories that attracted national attention, but the moves signal a widening campaign by the powerful party propaganda department against dissent.

On Monday, police arrested at least three leading writers and social critics - Yu Jie, Liu Xiaobo, and Zhang Zhuhua - and questioned them about their recent internet postings. They were later released.

Another writer, Shi Tao, was arrested several weeks ago. According to the website, Mr Yu underwent 14 hours of continuous interrogation and was made to sign copies of his articles that had appeared on various websites, including one sponsored by the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

Police said the articles attacked the party leadership and were thus illegal. The website quoted Wang Yi, an intellectual recently included in a media ban issued by the propaganda department, as saying the arrests showed the "authoritarian anti-rightist ideology emerging after Hu Jintao's ascension".

In the southern province of Guangdong, next to Hong Kong, the Pyongyang-educated party secretary Zhang Dejiang continued a tough approach to the region's innovative media, with the sacking in October of Xiao Weibin, editor-in-chief of the magazine Tong Zhou Gong, which had run an interview with a retired provincial party secretary who advocated political liberalisation matching economic freedoms.

Earlier this year the editor of the popular newspaper Southern Metropolis News, Cheng Yizhong, spent five months in jail under investigation for embezzlement. His offence was "revealing attempts to cover-up blame at high levels for a death in custody".

By Hamish McDonald China Correspondent Beijing December 16, 2004

"Bush has two daughters. Let them go over and fight"

US military sees sharp fall in black recruits

Dolly Wilson's father proudly served in the Second World War and her husband in Vietnam. But her children will not join the military if she has any say in it.

"We don't want our kids to go into no war for nothing," said Mrs Wilson, snatching a cigarette with colleagues outside her Washington office.

Marines listen to George W Bush at Camp Pendleton"Bush has two daughters. Let them go over and fight," she added, to a chorus of "That's not our war" from the others.

James Golladay served in the US coastguard, but would discourage his two teenagers if they came home talking about enlisting. "I wouldn't want them to experience anything like that," he said, as he passed a US army recruiting office on 14th Street, Washington.

Constance Allen's husband, grandfather, uncle and son all served, but she would "never" let her grandson join up.

Mrs Wilson, Mr Golladay and Mrs Allen are not typical of America as a whole. But their views are enough to give the Pentagon cause for alarm. The reason? All three of them are black.

For years, black Americans have formed the backbone of the all-volunteer US army, filling a quarter of its ranks, though blacks account for only 13 per cent of the population. Blacks are more likely to treat the army as a lifelong career; a third of senior sergeants and non-commissioned officers are black. Suddenly, that is changing.

Apart from a sudden fall in the past two months in recruiting for the part-time National Guard, army recruitment as a whole has held more or less steady this year, with the help of increased enlistment bonuses and an early call-up for some youths originally due to enter basic training next year.

But the proportion of black recruits into the army was only 15.6 per cent, down from 22.3 per cent in the fiscal year 2001. In the part-time army reserve, the drop is sharper.

Army officials decline to speculate about the collapse in black recruiting, instead noting what they call a positive development, that army numbers will now reflect the make-up of society better.

Behind the scenes, there is more concern, according to Prof David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland.

"If there are fewer blacks coming in - and it is blacks who stay in and become NCOs - then six, seven, eight, nine years down the road, you can anticipate a shortage of sergeants," he said.

Prof Charles Moskos, an expert on the military and race at Northwestern University in Chicago, said the drop-off began even before the Iraq war, with the election of President George W Bush in 2000 in the face of overwhelming black antipathy, an attitude that lingers to this day.

That hostility increased exponentially with the invasion of Iraq, which was opposed by a large majority of black Americans, amid suspicion over the reasons given for toppling Saddam Hussein and anger at billions of dollars spent overseas, rather than at home.

Mrs Allen pointed to the rain-lashed streets of Washington, a large, poor, mainly black city that also happens to be the nation's capital.

"You've got so many homeless people here, they were in the military, half of them. You look at that, people ask, 'Why should I go fight the white man's war when there's nothing for us here?' " she said.

Mr Golladay said blacks tended to join the military for stable employment, college scholarships and the chance to learn valuable skills.

Pentagon statistics from 2003 back him up, showing that 67 per cent of black soldiers served in support or rearguard units, working as technicians, medical assistants, clerks or cooks. Only 16 per cent of black soldiers were in combat units.

Asked why blacks chose rear-line units, Mr Golloday answered: "People looked to the military as a way of receiving benefits. People want to transition into a civilian life later. Being a chief gunner isn't something that people will pay a lot for." Then he laughed, and added: "And they don't want to die."

Crucially, among older generations there are also sharp memories of the Vietnam War, in which blacks were seen as bearing an unfair burden of casualties. Martin Luther King spoke of it being fought by people of colour against people of colour in the interests of whites.

Kayla Roach, a black woman, said: "I know families whose kids want to join the military, and their parents are saying no. Maybe they have just one or two children and it's scary to them."

The perception has spread among black Americans that in the war on terrorism, rear-line units are as vulnerable as front-line infantry squads.

Prof Moskos defended the US military as one of America's most racially integrated large institutions.

"The army is not a utopia but it is the only place where whites are routinely bossed around by blacks," he said.

To Mr Golladay, the military is not the problem. "People join understanding that they might go to war," he said. "But this war now, I feel it's unnecessary."

more on this subject:
4 September 2003: Britain and US overstretched by occupation
12 October 1997: We got it wrong on blacks, [British] Army chief admits
Bonus boost to bring in new guard
African Americans in the US Army - US Army Center of Military History
US Army targets black hip-hop fans [21 Oct '03] - Daily Hip-Hop News
Why I Serve - US Department of Defense

(Filed: 18/12/2004) © Telegraph LTD

WE are the facist torturers

US painted as fascist torturers
in Havana propaganda battle

war of words flared yesterday when Cuban authorities displayed a giant swastika and pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners in front of the US mission in Havana.

The propaganda stunt was in retaliation for US diplomats' Christmas decoration which highlighted the plight of Cuban dissidents.

The diplomats awoke yesterday to the sight of two huge billboards opposite the mission's entrance emblazoned with a swastika, the word "Fascists" in bold red letters, and some of the infamous photographs of American troops abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison, Baghdad.

To drum home the point to commuters on one of Havana's busier avenues, the word "Fascists" had a giant "Made in America" stamp on top.

The display was opposite the mission's Christmas decorations, which infuriated the authorities with a neon 75, a reference to the 75 dissidents imprisoned by Fidel Castro last year.

Cuba complained about the decorations to James Cason, the chief American representative, and demanded that he take them down.

The speaker of the Cuban parliament, Ricardo Alarcon, said the display, which includes a Father Christmas and white lights wrapped around palm trees, was "rubbish" and a "provocation". He said Mr Cason seemed "desperate to create problems".

The State Department defended the decorations and said there were no plans to take them down before the end of the Christmas holiday.

"It shows our solidarity with Cubans who struggle for democracy and freedom," said the department spokesman, Richard Boucher.

When the decorations went up Cuba gave warning of unspecified "consequences". Yesterday the threat became clear as America was given its latest reminder of how the Abu Ghraib scandal has delivered Washington its greatest public relations setback in years.

Mr Cason has refused to back down.

Since his arrival two years ago, to the fury of Havana he has met leading dissidents, encouraged their struggle for democracy and dispensed books and short-wave radios.

Havana has subsequently imprisoned 75 dissidents and journalists and banned Mr Cason's trips around the country. But still every month thousands of Cubans visit his headquarters where they get free access to the internet and watch cable television.

Washington cut diplomatic ties with Havana and imposed sanctions after Castro took power in 1959. The two countries retain special missions in each other's capitals.

photo caption:
A jogger passes the billboard depicting abused Iraqis

By Alec Russell in Washington (Filed: 18/12/2004) © Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.


Fuckin’ A -- The Guy is Right!!

It’s the Fuckin’ Good Time Show With Chevy Chase

By Richard Leiby
Washington Post
Thursday, December 16, 2004

xxx expletives have been filled in, making this, uhm, the normal stuff for kids to read and hear these days, so what the .

Even certified Hollywood liberals were reeling after Chevy Chase's potty-mouthed Bush-bashing Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center, where the actor hosted an awards ceremony staged by People for the American Way.

For most of the evening, Chase was his usual comedic self, delivering lines like "This just in -- resignations in the upper echelon of the Bush administration. The Bush sisters have resigned and are being replaced by Paris and Nicky Hilton. Back for more news later."

After actors Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon delivered speeches accepting their Defender of Democracy awards, Chase took the stage a final time and unleashed a rant against President Bush that stunned the crowd. He deployed the four-letter word that got Vice President Cheney in hot water, using it as a noun. Chase called the prez a "dumb fuck." He also used it as an adjective, assuring the audience, "I'm no fucking clown either. . . . This guy started a jihad."

Chase also said: "This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck . . . and we still couldn't beat him with a bore like Kerry."

People for the American Way distanced itself yesterday from the actor's rant. "Chevy Chase's improvised remarks caught everyone off guard, and were inappropriate and offensive," Ralph Neas, the liberal advocacy group's president, said in a statement. "It was not what I would have said, and certainly not the language People for the American Way would ever use in discussing any president of the United States."

Founder Norman Lear agreed, telling us: "I thought it was utterly untoward, obviously unexpected and unscripted and all that stuff. And, uh -- it was Chevy Chase. He'll live with it, I won't."

Sen. Tom Daschle, the former minority leader, looked taken aback when he went on directly after Chase. His opening line: "I've had to follow a lot of speakers, but -- "

The movie star didn't return for a curtain call or to savor dessert at the reception after the event. We were told he hurt his back and needed to call it a night by 9. Chase's PR rep told us yesterday she was unable to reach him.

Meanwhile, the other host of the evening, the newly blond Cynthia Nixon, told us she had a more gracious message for Bush: "Don't just listen to people who are telling you yes, listen to the people who are telling you no!"

dao breath

fat thick leaves show tall plant of humble beginnings, a duck sits under the lotus

breath Chinese characters for "breath"

You breathe.
Frosting mountains white,
Exciting trees to verdant flame,
Dancing sparrows on your wing,
Swirling waves into long sighs.
You breathe,
And all things live.

A central concept for Tao is breath. Without breath, there is no life. The complexity of this idea is great indeed. You breathe; that brings you oxygen. You breathe; that sustains you. You breathe; that regulates your heartbeat, feeds your brain, makes your blood red. Deeper still; You breathe, and the entire energy field of your body is sustained and set into motion. When that field, so intimately tied to breathing, is integrated with your mind, you have the power of spirituality. Breath. Don't crassly think of it as mere gas.

Just as we breathe, so too does the universe breathe. In fact, we can think of the entire medium of life as breath. When the world breathes, all things are sustained. Weather moves as it should. Plants grow as they should. Animals are made strong. The very forces of geology are set into motion. And together, a might field of energy is generated, a much larger version of what happens in your own body. Connected to that field is a universal mind.

Do you want to know how spirituality works? Breathe.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Chinese character for "lotus pool"

Lotus Pool
by Fu Bao Shi

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PTSD, one of the worst ‘four letter words’ around

A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict

December 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - The nation's hard-pressed health care system for veterans is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war, veterans' advocates and military doctors say.

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans. Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.

"There's a train coming that's packed with people who are going to need help for the next 35 years," said Stephen L. Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran who is now the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group. Mr. Robinson wrote a report in September on the psychological toll of the war for the Center for American Progress, a Washington research group.

Brown and his uncle"I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war," said Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, who served as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs from 1994 to 1997.

What was planned as a short and decisive intervention in Iraq has become a grueling counterinsurgency that has put American troops into sustained close-quarters combat on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War. Psychiatrists say the kind of fighting seen in the recent retaking of Falluja - spooky urban settings with unlimited hiding places; the impossibility of telling Iraqi friend from Iraqi foe; the knowledge that every stretch of road may conceal an explosive device - is tailored to produce the adrenaline-gone-haywire reactions that leave lasting emotional scars.

And in no recent conflict have so many soldiers faced such uncertainty about how long they will be deployed. Veterans say the repeated extensions of duty in Iraq are emotionally battering, even for the most stoical of warriors.

Military and Department of Veterans Affairs officials say most military personnel will survive the war without serious mental issues and note that the one million troops include many who have not participated in ground combat, including sailors on ships. By comparison with troops in Vietnam, the officials said, soldiers in Iraq get far more mental health support and are likely to return to a more understanding public.

But the duration and intensity of the war have doctors at veterans hospitals across the country worried about the coming caseload.

"We're seeing an increasing number of guys with classic post-traumatic stress symptoms," said Dr. Evan Kanter, a psychiatrist at the Puget Sound veterans hospital in Seattle. "We're all anxiously waiting for a flood that we expect is coming. And I feel stretched right now."

one of the many who will assist in transitionA September report by the Government Accountability Office found that officials at six of seven Veterans Affairs medical facilities surveyed said they "may not be able to meet" increased demand for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Officers who served in Iraq say the unrelenting tension of the counterinsurgency will produce that demand.

"In the urban terrain, the enemy is everywhere, across the street, in that window, up that alley," said Paul Rieckhoff, who served as a platoon leader with the Florida Army National Guard for 10 months, going on hundreds of combat patrols around Baghdad. "It's a fishbowl. You never feel safe. You never relax."

In his platoon of 38 people, 8 were divorced while in Iraq or since they returned in February, Mr. Rieckhoff said. One man in his 120-person company killed himself after coming home.

"Too many guys are drinking," said Mr. Rieckhoff, who started the group Operation Truth to support the troops. "A lot have a hard time finding a job. I think the system is vastly under-prepared for the flood of mental health problems."

Capt. Tim Wilson, an Army chaplain serving outside Mosul, said he counseled 8 to 10 soldiers a week for combat stress. Captain Wilson said he was impressed with the resilience of his 700-strong battalion but added that fierce battles have produced turbulent emotions.

"There are usually two things they are dealing with," said Captain Wilson, a Southern Baptist from South Carolina. "Either being shot at and not wanting to get shot at again, or after shooting someone, asking, 'Did I commit murder?' or 'Is God going to forgive me?' or 'How am I going to be when I get home?' "

When all goes as it should, the life-saving medical services available to combat units like Captain Wilson's may actually swell the ranks of psychological casualties. Of wounded soldiers who are alive when medics arrive, 98 percent now survive, said Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, the Pentagon's deputy director of deployment health support. But they must come to terms not only with emotional scars but the literal scars of amputated limbs and disfiguring injuries.

Through the end of September, the Army had evacuated 885 troops from Iraq for psychiatric reasons, including some who had threatened or tried suicide. But those are only the most extreme cases. Often, the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder do not emerge until months after discharge.

"During the war, they don't have the leisure to focus on how they're feeling," said Sonja Batten, a psychologist at the Baltimore veterans hospital. "It's when they get back and find that their relationships are suffering and they can't hold down a job that they realize they have a problem."

Robert E. Brown was proud to be in the first wave of Marines invading Iraq last year. But Mr. Brown has also found himself in the first ranks of returning soldiers to be unhinged by what they experienced.

He served for six months as a Marine chaplain's assistant, counseling wounded soldiers, organizing makeshift memorial services and filling in on raids. He knew he was in trouble by the time he was on a ship home, when the sound of a hatch slamming would send him diving to the floor.

After he came home, he began drinking heavily and saw his marriage fall apart, Mr. Brown said. He was discharged and returned to his hometown, Peru, Ind., where he slept for two weeks in his Ford Explorer, surrounded by mementos of the war.

"I just couldn't stand to be with anybody," said Mr. Brown, 35, sitting at his father's kitchen table.

Dr. Batten started him on the road to recovery by giving his torment a name, an explanation and a treatment plan. But 18 months after leaving Iraq, he takes medication for depression and anxiety and returns in dreams to the horrors of his war nearly every night.

The scenes repeat in ghastly alternation, he says: the Iraqi girl, 3 or 4 years old, her skull torn open by a stray round; the Kuwaiti man imprisoned for 13 years by Saddam Hussein, cowering in madness and covered in waste; the young American soldier, desperate to escape the fighting, who sat in the latrine and fired his M-16 through his arm; the Iraqi missile speeding in as troops scramble in the dark for cover.

"That's the one that just stops my heart," said Mr. Brown. "I'm in my rack sleeping and there's a school bus full of explosives coming down at me and there's nowhere to go."

Such costs of war, personal and financial, are not revealed by official casualty counts. "People see the figure of 1,200 dead," said Dr. Kanter, of Seattle, referring to the number of Americans killed in Iraq. "Much more rarely do they see the number of seriously wounded. And almost never do they hear anything at all about the psychiatric casualties."

As of Wednesday 5,229 Americans have been seriously wounded in Iraq. Through July, nearly 31,000 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom had applied for disability benefits for injuries or psychological ailments, according to the Department Veterans Affairs.

Every war produces its medical signature, said Dr. Kenneth Craig Hyams, a former Navy physician now at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Soldiers came back from the Civil War with "irritable heart." In World War I there was "shell shock." World War II vets had "battle fatigue." The troubles of Vietnam veterans led to the codification of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In combat, the fight-or-flight reflex floods the body with adrenaline, permitting impressive feats of speed and endurance. But after spending weeks or months in this altered state, some soldiers cannot adjust to a peaceful setting. Like Mr. Brown, for whom a visit to a crowded bank at lunch became an ordeal, they display what doctors call "hypervigilance." They sit in restaurants with their backs to a wall; a car's backfire can transport them back to Baghdad.

To prevent such damage, the Army has deployed "combat stress control units" in Iraq to provide treatment quickly to soldiers suffering from emotional overload, keeping them close to the healing camaraderie of their unit.

"We've found through long experience that this is best treated with sleep, rest, food, showers and a clean uniform, if that is possible," said Dr. Thomas J. Burke, an Army psychiatrist who oversees mental health policy at the Department of Defense. "If they get counseling to tell them they are not crazy, they will often get better rapidly."

To detect signs of trouble, the Department of Defense gives soldiers pre-deployment and post-deployment health questionnaires. Seven of 17 questions to soldiers leaving Iraq seek signs of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But some reports suggest that such well-intentioned policies falter in the field. During his time as a platoon leader in Iraq, Mr. Rieckhoff said, he never saw a combat stress control unit. "I never heard of them until I came back," he said.

And the health screens have run up against an old enemy of military medicine: soldiers who cover up their symptoms. In July 2003, as Jeffrey Lucey, a Marine reservist from Belchertown, Mass., prepared to leave Iraq after six months as a truck driver, he at first intended to report traumatic memories of seeing corpses, his parents, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, said. But when a supervisor suggested that such candor might delay his return home, Mr. Lucey played down his problems.

At home, he spiraled downhill, haunted by what he had seen and began to have delusions about having killed unarmed Iraqis. In June, at 23, he hanged himself with a hose in the basement of the family home.

"Other marines have verified to us that it is a subtle understanding which exists that if you want to go home you do not report any problems," Mr. Lucey's parents wrote in an e-mail message. "Jeff's perception, which is shared by others, is that to seek help is to admit that you are weak."

Dr. Kilpatrick, of the Pentagon, acknowledges the problem, saying that National Guardsmen and Reservists in particular have shown an "abysmal" level of candor in the screenings. "We still have a long ways to go," he said. "The warrior ethos is that there are no imperfections."

photo captions:
A veteran of Iraq, Robert E.Brown, right, with his uncle Leone Brown, an Air Force veteran, at his father's house near Peru, Ind., in November. Both veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sonja Batten, a psychologist at the Baltimore veterans hospital, says veterans often realize their troubles after they've returned home.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article.