05
31
06

Our Allies

The story of the Haditha Massacre has been developing for months now, but exactly what happened after a roadside bomb killed a US Marine in the Iraqi town of Haditha now seems clear: Marines went on a vengeful rampage, killing two dozen Iraqi civilians including women, children and babies.

In Memories of a Massacre, Ellen Knickmeyer from the Washington Post relies on witness accounts for the story of the killings:

[O]ne of the Marines took charge and began shouting, said Fahmi, who was watching from his roof. Fahmi said he saw the Marine direct other Marines into the house closest to the blast, about 50 yards away.

It was the home of 76-year-old Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali. Although he had used a wheelchair since diabetes forced a leg amputation years ago, Ali was always one of the first on his block to go out every morning, scattering scraps for his chickens and hosing the dust of the arid western town from his driveway, neighbors said.

In the house with Ali and his 66-year-old wife, Khamisa Tuma Ali, were three of the middle-aged male members of their family, at least one daughter-in-law and four children — 4-year-old Abdullah, 8-year-old Iman, 5-year-old Abdul Rahman and 2-month-old Asia.

Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots — in Ali’s house and two others — were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha’s hospital said.

A daughter-in-law, identified as Hibbah, escaped with Asia, survivors and neighbors said. Iman and Abdul Rahman were shot but survived. Four-year-old Abdullah, Ali and the rest died.

When reports first appeared about the massacre, the US military denied them, accusing one reporter of buying into enemy propaganda.

Although this incident is remarkable for its ferocity and its death toll, it is far from isolated. In fact, indiscriminate killings by occupation forces in Iraq are commonplace. The Iraqi ambassador to the US said yesterday that US forces in Iraq killed his cousin in an interview with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: [...] you lost a cousin at Haditha in a separate battle involving United States Marines.

[IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO US] SUMAIDAIE: Well, that was not a battle at all. Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them.

His mother, his siblings were there. He led them into the bedroom of his father. And there he was shot.

BLITZER: Who shot him?

SUMAIDAIE: A member of the Marines.

BLITZER: Why did they shoot him?

SUMAIDAIE: Well, they said that they shot him in self-defense. I find that hard to believe because, A, he is not at all a violent — I mean, I know the boy. He was [in] a second-year engineering course in the university. Nothing to do with violence. All his life has been studies and intellectual work.

Totally unbelievable. And, in fact, they had no weapon in the house. They had one weapon which belonged to the school where his father was a headmaster. And it had no ammunition in it. And he led them into the room to show it to them.

BLITZER: So what you’re suggesting, your cousin was killed in cold blood, is that what you’re saying, by United States Marines?

SUMAIDAIE: I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe that he was killed unnecessarily. [...]

In Afghanistan, less than two weeks after American warplanes bombed an Afghan village, killing at least 16 civilians among the Taliban, riots have claimed the lives of 20 people in Kabul.

The riots started after a deadly crash where a US truck smashed into a row of cars, killing up to 5 Afghans. Fifteen people died after US troops opened fire, a remarkable death toll given the US military’s first claims that the firing was over the heads of the protestors.

The US is now investigating what happened, with military spokesperson Col. Tom Collins saying it is possible US troops fired to “defend themselves” against people throwing rocks:

Though no U.S. soldiers were hurt in the riot, [Collins] said this did not mean they were not in danger. “Deadly intent on the part of the aggressors can be a rock caving in the side of your head. Our soldiers felt threatened,” he said.

These are our allies.

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05
28
06

Raise the Hammer, May 26 Issue

Another issue of RTH is out, and it’s a feisty one. Ryan McGreal blasts Hamilton city council and their close ties to Hamilton’s developers. Mark Fenton has a wickedly entertaining piece called A Lot in an Empty Lot that I think you’ll get a chuckle out of. And I’ve got an article on net neutrality and government surveillance and where they intersect.

There’s lots more of course, so check it out.

05
25
06

No loss of production

I was chatting with one of my favourite in-laws last night about work. He’s a skilled tradesman, and he told me this story:

A few years back, I was working on a big job with a whole bunch of guys. The foreman on the job had left the company, so management was looking for a new foreman to oversee everybody.

They picked the most incompetent fool out all of us to be the foreman. The guy was a complete idiot. No clue at all about what he was doing.

So me and my buddy went to speak to the guy in charge about his choice of foreman. “Why’d you have to pick this guy?” we asked. “He’s a lazy fool!”

“Well yeah,” replied the manager. “But we’ve only got a limited number of guys working on this job. Picking him as foreman means there’s no loss of production.”

Remember this the next time you work your butt off to get a promotion!

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05
24
06

The Amateur Propagandists

Right-wing bloggers and their supporters perpetuate myths about Iran in a push for war

In and around May 19 (it’s hard to remember the exact date and the article has since disappeared from the web), the National Post ran a front-page story by neo-con writer Amir Taheri about Iran. It claimed Iran was passing a law that required religious minorities like Jews and Christians to wear colour-coded badges identifying their religion.

The article was soon picked up by major news organizations, causing outrage among columnists, bloggers and prime minister Stephen Harper, who said, “We’ve seen a number of things from the Iranian regime that are along these lines…It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany.”

But the story wasn’t true.

Regardless, in a phenomenon reminiscent of Iraqi WMDs, just because it isn’t true hasn’t stopped people from believing it. Small Dead Animals posted the story when it broke, quoting Bernard Lewis as saying “I feel it’s 1938 again”. But SDA and friends are not backing down, posting a lame response by the original author who says he “raised the issue not as a news story” and in general making the case that regardless of whether or not the story is true, Iran is evil/needs to be bombed/needs to be invaded/etc.

Michelle Malkin also posted about the story, although she has since qualified the story with a link that says it “may not be true” [emphasis mine]. Malkin is popular among conservatives, and her post alerted numerous conservative bloggers who proceeded to feature the story. Not all of them have informed their readers that the story is false. Here is a sampling:

Iran might as well put different colored bullseyes on Jews and Christians backs instead.

When will the Ayatollah come out with a small mustache and goose step to Wagner?

Westerners have no clue of the barbarity that followers of Islam have toward their fellow man.

No one took Hitler seriously back in the 30′s.

Iran Needs To Be Taken Out

In the comments on Right Voices, we’ve got: “We shoud put bullseyes on muslims…”; “Mohammed was no saint. He was a pedophile, plain and simple.”; “Islam is evil on earth, mohammed mass murdered millions of people”; and more cheerful musings.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad IS a madman, whether you want to admit it or not. As many others have mentioned, the parallels between this lunatic and Adolph Hitler are very similar.

I agree there are parallels between Nazi Germany and today. Parallels such as aggressive nationalism, patriotic jingoism, and rigid right-wing ideology. Plus, a vast propaganda apparatus, with one remarkable difference between then and now: then, the apparatus was operated by the state. Today, the state merely needs to give a little shove in the right direction, and legions of amateur propagandists take over.

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05
18
06

“We call it life”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative Washington-based organization funded in part by Exxon Mobil, Ford, the American Petroleum Institute, and other major American corporations, and that exists to fight environmental legislation and regulation, has released two new commercials.

The commercials, which coincide with the release of An Inconvenient Truth, the Al Gore-inspired film about global warming, portray carbon dioxide as “life” with hilarious results. You can watch them on the CEI website.

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Adrian Duyzer
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