Tuesday, May 27, 2008



By Kevin Stoda

NEWSWEEK magazine (May 20, 2008) kicked off the story last week that a 370-page government report reveals the FBI has been putting together a case of War Crimes against other departments and the Bush-Cheney Administration.

The NEWSWEEK reporters, Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff, wrote, “The long awaited 370-page Justice report on the abuse issue may be the most authoritative public account yet on the fierce internal struggles within the Bush administration over how terror suspects should be interrogated. The report states that one FBI agent who witnessed the CIA's interrogation of Zubaydah in the spring of 2002 was so upset that he protested it amounted to ‘borderline torture.’ But when Office of Inspector General investigators in Jan. 2007 sought to question Zubaydah (who by then had been transferred from an overseas agency ‘black’ site to Guantanamo Bay), the CIA's acting general counsel, John Rizzo, refused to let them do so, the report states.”

These NEWSWEEK authors had opened their piece by stating, “The CIA last year refused to permit Justice Department investigators to question a key Al Qaeda detainee about what happened to him in the agency's custody, including reports that he was subjected to ‘waterboarding’ and other abusive interrogation methods.”

In summary, that NEWSWEEK article, entitled “Borderline Torture”, sought to make a statement that there exist a “fierce internal struggles within the Bush administration over how terror suspects should be interrogated”.

The announcement of the release of this government report sent sparks of interest through the internet last week.


Within days of the government’s report being issued, the buzz on the net had reached fever pitch with GOOGLE searches claiming the key words “War Crimes Bush Cheney” had reached 3,080,000 hits and YAHOO running even higher as 12,100,000.

Much of this heavy traffic was from blogs, but this one news article from the WORLD SOCIALIST WEBSITE was a fairly well written summary of the FBI-related report and general war crime interest in the USA. The piece has been copied widely on the web. It is entitled, “Terror: Watch: FBI Files Indict Bush, Cheney and Co. as War Criminals”.


Bill Van Aukin was the author of that piece who noted:

“Consider the account of the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian national who was arrested by his own government, turned over to US forces and brought to Guantánamo in 2002:
“He was left alone in a cold room known as ‘the freezer,’ where guards would prevent him from sleeping by putting ice or cold water on him...
“He was subjected to sleep deprivation for a period of 70 days by means of prolonged interrogations, strobe lights, threatening music, forced intake of water, and forced standing.
“He was deprived of clothing by a female interrogator;
“Two female interrogators touched him sexually and made sexual statements to him;
“Prior to and during the boat ride incident, he was severely beaten.”
In addition, the document says, he was “led to believe he was going to be executed, and urinated on himself,” and was told that his mother and family would be detained and harmed.”
Author Van Aukin rightly stated that this report was just the tip of the iceberg and then related several similarly well-known cases involving Canadian and German nationals as examples of the numerous of counts on which the White House, the intelligence agencies and the executive branch need to be held accountable.
Currently, if one puts in the five key words “War Crimes Bush Cheney Impeachment”, YAHOO shows nearly 6 million hits. Meanwhile, Google hits number almost 1,700,000.

The time appears to be ripe to take the media’s focus this summer of 2008 to Washington D.C. and aim for impeachment now.

The NEWSWEEK authors indicated clearly in their piece on the recently released federal report that there is furious infighting among and within branches of government by many officials in key positions who have monitored the comings and goings of the White House and intelligence branches --operating from its sphere.

This means that if proper war crimes cases are filed immediately, there will be numerous government officials ready to pass on findings and research on war crimes carried out under the watch of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.


Isikoff, Michael & Hosenball, Mark, “Borderline Torture” , http://www.newsweek.com/id/138000

Van Auken, Bill , “FBI Files Indict Bush, Cheney and Co. as War Criminals”, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/may2008/fbi-m23.shtml


Saturday, May 24, 2008



By Kevin Stoda

As a lifelong progressive for peace (with great leanings towards non-violent action rather than war to solve conflict issues), I have been concerned for decades as to how one-sided or biased both the American family and its educational communities—not to mention the media—have been in brazenly glorifying America’s military power platforms for pressurizing less blessed nations around the globe.

My concerned has turned to dismay at times, especially, as I received a copy of the AARP’s article entitled: “When Wounded Vets Come Home”. http://www.aarpmagazine.org/family/when_wounded_vets_come_home.html?NLC-WBLTR-CTRL=F1-52308


I have shared elsewhere how in the months leading to the Coalition Gulf War with Iraq in 1991, I was astounded that my own high school students were being recruited in the hallways and cafeteria of that Kansas high school (where I taught 1990-1991) to join ROTC as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

Meanwhile, other students’ parents, who had been serving in the Kansas National Guard (which was headquartered across the street from that same high school), had already been mobilized themselves and sent to Saudi Arabia by October 1990.

I had been raised America during the Vietnam era, and I knew how heavy the toll that that particular war had on culture, community, economy, and family’s. Meanwhile other youth I grew up were still suffering with parents untreated from war-related trauma from the military police action in the Koreas in the early 1950s.

Admittedly, in the days just after President Jimmy Carter and his administration activated mandatory selective service enrollment for males, I personally spent my own high school senior year (1980) considering whether I could or should join the military and still be able to carry out (or live out) my democratic ideals and make sure that no My Lai massacres ever occurred again in my lifetime.

Note: Carter’s call to have selective service started up in the USA in January 1980 came only weeks after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

I decided to enroll in the selective service only under pressure from my family in January of 1981. However, I continued to ponder and rue my decision to enroll under family pressure for at least 2 months.
Finally, in March 1981, I wrote the Selective Service and asked that my name be taken off the selective service registration list.

By writing that letter, I knew that my desire to one day work in the U.S. state department or as an ambassador for peace working with my own government had become very limited by my having written such a letter. (In short, I have always wanted to serve my country and make it more of the Beacon on the Hill that history has at times has called it to be.)

The Selective Service agency did not answer my letter in the affirmative, but the staffer did write that they recognized receipt of the document. (They discouraged me from having others make a similar request.)

In short, although I have studied pacifism and non-violent action, including Gandhi’s Satyagraha techniques, I had myself separated myself from potential employment of these skills in a job with the U.S. military or with the U.S. state department because I felt any young person had to do what he could in 1981 to keep things like those that followed from happening:

-Series USA’s supposedly covert wars in Latin America in the 1980s
-Bombing deaths of over 200 marines in Lebanon in 1983
-Bad economic spending decisions on military hardware and budget over the past 3 decades
-Privatization of American military and Intelligence Agencies
-Invasion of Panama in 1989
-Coalition War with Iraq 1991
-Military quagmires in Somalia (1991-1993), in Afghanistan (2001 to Present), and in Iraq (2003 to Present)
-Bad management of Peace in Israel and the Middle East in general from the Reagan administration onwards since 1981

Alas, the state department and U.S. government agencies find me—and others like me—to be unemployable.


In the aforementioned, piece from American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) on the burdens that veteran victims of war are importing home to their families, the author, Barry Yeoman, notes that it is “estimated 10,000 recent veterans of these conflicts now depend on their parents for their care. Working unheralded, these parents have quit jobs, shelved retirement plans, and relocated so they can be with their injured sons and daughters. Many have become warriors themselves, fighting to make sure this new wave of injured veterans gets the medical care and rehabilitation it needs.”

In the main human interest tale introducing the topic, a frustrating tale of a women name Cynthia and her son, it was noted that the main character’s son had entered the military only because in the two years prior, the economy in her family’s region of the country was doing so poorly, i.e. jobs were lacking.

I understand this. My own brother joined the navy during the Reagan recessions of the 1980s.

However, I wonder how many young unemployed or underemployed young Americans will come home injured now and in the immediate future?

In doings so, I also wonder how many of those entering national military service will feel that between (1) joblessness, (2) entering the U.S. military or (3) joining its private military contractor, signing the recruiter’s paperwork is a no-brainer?


The AARP article states, the “Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, has a 96 percent chance of survival. He or she can sometimes be stateside within 36 hours of the injury. As a result, there are just 6 deaths for every 100 injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared with 28 deaths per 100 in Vietnam, and 38 in World War II, according to Linda Bilmes, a researcher at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.”

This means that many more vets will be making it home alive—albeit in bad condition in the hot wars America has volunteered to send its sons and daughters into this decade—and for decades to come according to Republican leadership in the White House and in Sen. John McCain’s camp.

A lot of American and international press interest in recent weeks has been on the topic of how many mental and brain related injuries Americans will have suffer 2001 till all the troops come home and during the ongoing run-away Wars on Terror.

In April 2008, the RAND corporation put out a monograph on psychological problems cause by armed conflict. This recent document is entitled Invisible Wounds of War,” Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research, 2008. http://rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG720/

That RAND monograph declares, “Since October 2001, approximately 1.64 million U.S. troops have been deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) in Afghanistan and Iraq. Early evidence suggests that the psychological toll of these deployments — many involving prolonged exposure to combat-related stress over multiple rotations — may be disproportionately high compared with the physical injuries of combat. In the face of mounting public concern over post-deployment health care issues confronting OEF/OIF veterans, several task forces, independent review groups, and a Presidential Commission have been convened to examine the care of the war wounded and make recommendations. Concerns have been most recently centered on two combat-related injuries in particular: post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. With the increasing incidence of suicide and suicide attempts among returning veterans, concern about depression is also on the rise.”

Meanwhile, there are other long lasting physical wounds from these Wars on Terror that will be the main cause of stress for families and the soldier’s care-givers for decades to come. There are paralyzed veterans. There are those who have lost eyes and limbs—not to mention certain potential job prospects and earnings in certain areas of the global and US economy.


As many young people did at the Vietnam War-era, I once picked up the classic WHEN JOHNNY GETS HIS GONE as I was a high school student.

JOHNNY was written by the Coloradan, Dalton Trumbo, who was one of the original 10 blacklisted writers in Hollywood. Trumbo had written the work, WHEN JOHNNY GETS HIS GONE, in 1939, i.e. prior to America’s entry into WWII. Trumbo later rued his decision to publish it as he came to support the USA-UK-Soviet Union and their fight against fascism in 1941-1945.

Also, Trumbo eventually was sent to jail in the midst of the early 1950s anti-communist hysteria as he later refused to name names or tell on others who had joined the Communist Party during the WWII period—i.e.when the USA and the Soviet Union were allies

JOHNNY was later made into a film (1970) during the hey-day of the anti-Vietnam War mobilization in the USA.

According to one recent reviewer, Tom Joad, WHEN JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN “is the story of a young man, who like many others, goes to war because he is told by the leaders of his country to go to war. He is injured in that war as a bomb explodes next to him. He has lost both his legs. Both his arms. His hearing is lost, his eyes cannot see, his mouth cannot speak. He has no face. But, strangely he lives, if it can be called that, in a military hospital. The nurses pump the food into a hole in his stomach, they clean him, and he exists in his own world for years with no real communication with anyone. He then comes to realize he can communicate by Morse Code. By moving the stump of what is left of his body he can communicate to the world in dots and dashes. And finally there were people who understood what he was doing. A message is tapped on his stomach; he is asked “what do you want?” After reflecting on how he can have a meaningful life outside the virtual prison of this hospital, he comes to realize he has a special mission.” http://www.tomjoad.org/johnnygothisgun.htm

If readers want a taste of this book on line, they can go to this web pages: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/General/JohnnyGotHisGun.html

One interesting thing about Trumbo’s didactic anti-war monograph is that it has two main tales: (1) The horror of war mixed with the sweet memories of youth and family and (2) the messianic vision of a world where war is over—possibly due to the bloodbath of a major war killing off all of us.

Turning toward the military industrial complex and those leaders, like the current U.S. President and Vice-President, who would send thousands or millions to their deaths (or to their dismemberment), the messianic victim-protagonist in Trumbo’s book, says to the powers that be: “We are men of peace we are men who work and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace if you take away our work if you try to range us one against the other we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us we will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a no-mans-land that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.”

Unlike the more famous, RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane , Trumbo leaves the readers clearly running away from war, rather than joining in a final battle of potential death or dismemberment in a long and bloody series of battles that make up longer wars.

Yet, it is the RED BADGE OF COURAGE, which is almost always universally read in high schools around the world as an example of American literary genius.

Why not require readings, like WHEN JOHNNY GOT HIS GONE or the biographical BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY by Ron Kovic?

In other words, parents across America and on DOD bases around the globe need to demand a more balanced view of war in school than they are receiving now—from both social studies, history, and English courses.


Obviously, another area where both parents and youth need to be educated is in the political economics of war.

The area of focus in political economy should be on families and the real costs to family and societies posed annually by the USAs dependence on the intelligence & defense industries in the USA--as well as posed by decisions made by & in life in America’s DOD (Department of Defense).

There are now millions or even tens of millions of Americans who are rather directly dependent on the U.S. military- or intelligence communities for jobs for them--and salaries for their families.

There are even multi-generational military families across the continent (and stationed around the world), such as was the case for presidential candidate, John McCain, and his father’s family. (This was also certainly true for Jim Morrison, a contemporary of young John McCain, and who was also the son of an admiral.)

This means that many Americans have grown up in a military muscle flapping world all their lives and think relatively little of it—until a loved one comes home in a box, severely traumatized, or is dismembered in war.


Many of you know the legacy of such military families. The image of them was tragically (and comically) portrayed by the Lt. Dan figure in the film, FORREST GUMP.

I know fairly well one such multigenerational military family who finally persuaded their son into finally signing up for a military career in the midst of 1990s. Let me explain, 8 years earlier that son had left the military family’s base home in Georgia at 18 and had rebelled against signing up for the Army (and following the path of his parents),

They were able to do this within a year after the 1991 Gulf War because of the 1990-1992 recession. They also succeeded in persuading their rebellious son to join because of the cultural and educational contexts within which many Americans have been cocooned or embedded since WWII.

However, now with nearly 96 percent of those victims of war coming home alive from major theater hospitals in war zones this 2008, America’s traditional military parents (and non-military families) of brave- and dependent- American soldiers stationed around the globe need to ponder the possibility that they will one day have to take care of their kids and their loved ones for years.

Let’s count the costs Americans!

What kind of future do we want for ourselves and children?

The AARP article ends with a touching tale and photo of Marine Sergeant Shurvon Phillip and his mother, Gail Ulerie, 48. The author, Yeoman reveals, “Before he was injured in Al Anbar, Iraq, Marine Sergeant Shurvon Phillip told his mother, Gail Ulerie, 48, not to worry about his safety. ‘Everything is gonna be all right, Ma,’ he told her. ‘I’m reading my Psalms.

“Then, in May 2005, Shurvon’s Humvee hit an IED. The resulting brain injuries left him quadriplegic and unable to speak. Gail, an immigrant who came to the States from Trinidad, had to quit her two jobs so she could take care of her 27-year-old son. Initially, the work overwhelmed her. “Lord, I don’t think I can do this,” she cried out one day while bathing Shurvon.

“But today, having coped with his many surgeries and infections, Gail has accepted her new life caring for her son. Her time is now spent ferrying Shurvon between hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and their home in Richmond Heights, Ohio. She keeps him clean and helps exercise his arms and legs. And because he is prone to frequent vomiting, she always stays near him to make sure he doesn’t choke. The VA pays for eight hours a day of home health care. The rest of the time Gail is on her own. As many parents in Gail’s situation find, the stress can be crushing. Gail struggles to concentrate; occasionally she binge eats. She wears a hairpiece to cover the thinning hair on her scalp. Without a job, she cannot afford treatment for the cataracts doctors say could blind her. But she continues to resist moving Shurvon into a long-term care facility. ‘Nobody can take care of Shurvon like I can,’ Gail says.”

The even sadder thing is that many military families are not currently physically and economically able to take care of their injured veteran offspring over the long haul.

More importantly, America, from a family and economic perspective, who will take care of these elderly parents ?


Invisible Wounds of War,” Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research, 2008. http://rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG720/

Tom Joad, WHEN JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, http://www.tomjoad.org/johnnygothisgun.htm

Yeoman, Barry, “When Wounded Vets Come Home”. http://www.aarpmagazine.org/family/when_wounded_vets_come_home.html?NLC-WBLTR-CTRL=F1-52308

WHEN JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/General/JohnnyGotHisGun.html


Wednesday, May 21, 2008



Dear Americans,

I’m in the midst of job hunting (possibly to flee Kuwait), but I have to take a moment to ask you and the Democrats along with the few sane Republicans in Congress to start impeaching President Bush and Cheney TODAY.

Two days ago it was revealed that Bush is going to give Saudi Arabia enriched uranium—just as his administration is fighting to take away from Iran.

See the story here: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/20/as_us_threatens_iran_over_enriching

According to Democracy Now news and interviews, “The agreement [to give potential nuclear weaponry to the Saudi Arabia] came out of President Bush’s visit to the Saudi kingdom last week, during which Bush also pledged new US assistance in guarding Saudi oil reserves.”


Now, we learn that on the weekend there was an “Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term.”

See the denial of the Army Radio New and report from the Jerusalem Times here: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1210668683139&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Since many of my friends and relatives are in the army (or employed there--or in the air force--) , I would say that despite White House insistent denials or claims that the U.S. Army Radio lied, Americans and soldiers will have to do more than simply try to deny the White House call to war this time.

Too many old-vets and current military personnel knew and have stated publicly that over half-a-year before the March 2003 U.S. Invasion of Iraq it was widely felt in military and intelligent circles that the Bush Clan’s plan to have a war was a done-deal.

Which military personnel will call Bush a liar when it comes to threatening and carrying out war?

Not many U.S. personnel in- or outside Iraq will put it past The Commander and Chief to lie or deny his real intentions with the largest drums out of Israel and Washington playing so loudly for war.


Enough is enough.

Americans cannot finance endless war in the Middle East with economic powers in Europe and Asia arising.

Every time unlimited war is threatened this century the oil price gets shakier and the American economy lurches into a sputter. Already Kuwaiti papers are predicting Oil could hit $200 a barrel within the next year or so!


That is, without even the possibility of war with Iran being realized, oil prices will cause Americans to pay over 6 to 8 dollars a barrel soon.

As the lengthy U.S. Democratic Party presidential primaries have stolen the show in the news in America over the recent half year, there is still a sizeable call for impeachment.

My research shows currently that there is only a response of 7,270,000 hits under the search phrase: “Impeach Bush Cheney”. There was over 8 million a few months ago.

However, the number of hits for key words concerning the GOOGLE search phrase “Impeach Bush Cheney” have still inched 9% higher than they were in December 2007.


I think we need a clock put up on the web showing how much the presence of Bush and Cheney are costing Americans on a second by second basis.

Tell me when you put it up guys, and I will share it with the world.

If Bush and Cheney can continue to play with men and women’s lives in Middle Eastern i.e. through continued war expansion in drumming up a war with Iran by the end of the year, we Americans can drum harder and demand impeach NOW—no more waiting.

Remember that George Bush, Sr. took America to a war in Somalia only 5 weeks before leaving office in 1992—the precedent is there!

Take the guns out of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s hands today!!!!!!


“As US Threatens Iran Over Enriching Uranium, Bush Promises to Give Enriched Uranium to Saudi Arabia” , http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/20/as_us_threatens_iran_over_enriching
Evans-Pritchard, “Oil Could Hit $200 Super-Spike”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/05/07/cnoil107.xml
“White House Denies Iran Attack Report”, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1210668683139&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kuwait Marks 45th Anniversary as UN Member by Trying to Deport Bangladeshi Workers and by Harassing only Ex-Pats going on Holiday

Kuwait Marks 45th Anniversary as UN Member by Trying to Deport Bangladeshi Workers and by Harassing only Ex-Pats going on Holiday

By Kevin Stoda

Two weeks ago, on May 1, the International Day of Labor, Bangladeshi laborers who had not been paid in many months held a second strike for non-payment of salaries and for the fact that their employer had allowed their Kuwaiti visa to expire without renewal. This means that without wanting to be so, hundreds are currently illegal in Kuwait.

Many local news agencies noted the plight of these laborers. I also published the story of their two strikes in an Op-Ed News article.

Less than two weeks later and coinciding with the 45th Anniversary of Kuwaits entry into the United Nations, several Kuwaiti ministry personnel working in cahoots with the illegally operating Kuwaiti-owned firms (who hired the aforementioned Bangladeshi cleaning personnel and not paid them), have decided to export these same workers—who had only struck after over 8 months of not receiving pay.


Kuwait’s official news agency, KUNA, noted that this week is the 45th Anniversary of Kuwait becoming the 111th member of the United Nations. At the end of the government announcement KUNA stated, “Kuwait will always implement the resolutions of the UN and be an affective state working for international peace and security.”

Strangely, Kuwait is breaking several humans rights rules this week in celebration of this 45th Anniversary event. The first case is the one of deporting—without pay—i.e. striking workers who had previously been cleaning Kuwait public schools for past months for free.

It was employees at the state at the Kuwait’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor who had determined to try and deport these under-paid laborers prior to the government’s judicial branch finishing its investigation of the illegally-functioning Kuwaiti owned cleaning firms.

In response to the governments nearly obscene recent actions, human rights activist, Dr. Faris Al-Wiqayan “censured a memorandum sent by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor” upon hearing of the action.

In it, Dr. Al-Wiqayan stated, “This constitutes a direct violation of human rights.”

The ministry’s confusing and somewhat illegal action apparently contravenes many legal procedures by the government.

One other human rights voice issued a similar statement, “The decision to deport the striking workers exposed the fact that officials are in league with officials of those defaulting companies. He also wondered why the Labor Ministry did not intervene in stipulating the salaries of those laborers that apparently does not exceed KD 20, reported Al-Qabas.”

Twenty Kuwait Dinar (KD) is worth approximately 75 dollars. It is against the law in Kuwait for a company to pay less than KD 35 as a minimum wage. That is, some of the cleaning crews were being paid nearly 40 percent under the minimum wage.


Why is such bad governance happening in Kuwait and why are people’s human rights being ignored?

One possible explanation is that the ongoing Kuwaiti elections have to do with it. In other words, these illegal and inhuman deportations were to be carried out so quickly by certain ministry personnel--and without real government oversight of the matter—because of a pay-off of some sort among ministry officials and certain candidates running for the nation’s parliament.

This occurs in Kuwait because at election times, all kinds of Kuwaitis receive bribes and gifts from those with the right connections.

That is, quid-pro-quo’s by supporters of certain candidates may find insiders in the ministry to carry out such dastardly deeds in the thick of elections.

Another possibility is that a royal family member may own one of the companies involved in not paying laborers properly. Recently, upon the death of the Father Emir Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah, a day of morning was called. At least some of the companies owned by royal family members breached this law and continued production.

One example of these firms is AquaSan, a porcelain manufacturer operating in Mina Abdullah. AquaSan is owned by a man named Sabah. This particular company has breached various labor laws in recent years with great regularity & without the proper government ministries ever carrying out even one investigation.

For example, this company, Aqua San, forces laborers to give up pay upon renewing their contracts and also cuts housing allowances and overtime pay quite regularly .

In short, there is a lot of impunity carried out by companies and with some government acquiescence in the form of behaviors manifested at numerous government ministries in Kuwait. This has led annually to a constant state of breaches of employment agreements and breaches of Kuwaiti health and labor laws—not to mention laws related to supporting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


In supposedly the Gulf region’s best democracy, Kuwait ministries have recently begun to create new laws targeting only expatriates.

I recently wrote of how two Syrians were deported from Kuwait for driving through red lights—while dozens of Kuwaitis do this and other illegal driving maneuvers with impunity each and every day.

Another new law targeting foreign laborers-only in Kuwait has to do with forced payments at the airport of electricity and water bills. “The legislation states that expatriates who have not cleared their bills will not be permitted to exit Kuwait either through Kuwait International Airport or border checkpoints.”

Paying one’s bills may sound reasonable enough but with a dysfunctional billing and metering system—not to mention an ill-functioning postal network—Kuwait makes it both hard to receive and to pay one’s bills.

In an article on the topic, Ben Garcia of the KUWAIT TIMES, illustrates a typical expatriate’s experience in living in Kuwait:

“Abu Hussein a Jordanian national said he has not paid his electricity and water bills since the last two years. The reason? No one from the ministry comes to his residence to take the meter readings. Hence he does not receive any bills to pay. The likes of Abu Hussein are now being targeted through the issuance of a new legislation. All expatriates will now be barred from leaving the country, on vacation or otherwise, without settling their electricity and water bills first.”

Later, in the same article, Hussein added, “It's unfair. We've been residing in Kuwait for the last 35 years and we used to receive a bill every three months. And if we didn't pay the bill by the following month, they used to automatically disconnect the power supply. But now, we have not been receiving any bills for the last two years, and they are going to punish us for that. Why doesn't the ministry do its job according to a schedule just like us? How do you expect me to pay any bill without knowing the meter reading, without receiving a bill? The new system is completely absurd and unacceptable.”

Most of the country’s 2 million expatriates note that, from what they have witnessed over many years, it is mostly the Kuwaiti landlord and villa owner who doesn’t pay their electric and water bills anyways.

There are also certain Kuwaiti-owned firms who refuse to pay their bills and employees --and who seem to act with impunity in Kuwait, i.e. one of the world’s richest nation states.


“Dr. Al-Wiqayan censures Labor memo to Interior,” KUWAIT TIMES, May 14, 2008, p. 4.

“Expatriaes decry new clearance legislation”, KUWAIT TIMES, May 14, 2008, p.7

“Kuwait marks 45th ‘versary of UN Membership”, KUWAIT TIMES, May 14, 2008, p.7

Stoda, Kevin, “Kuwaiti Kalleidescope”, http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_alone_080503_kuwaiti_kaleidescope.htm


Friday, May 16, 2008



By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait

Recently, the International Herald Tribune (May 6, 2008), published on its front page a story by Robert F. Worth entitled, “Democracy Becomes the Fall Guy in Kuwait”. Since on 17th of May, Kuwaiti voters are participating in national parliamentary elections, it is certainly an appropriate time to analyze Kuwait Democracy and how it is performing at this junction in history.

Worth began his piece on Kuwait democracy by citing the comments of Ali al-Rashed, who recently gave a speech during his campaign for the National Assembly of Kuwait, in which he said, “’Kuwait used to be No. 1 in the economy, in politics, in sports, in culture, in everything,’. . .‘What happened?’”
The focus of Worth’s article from that point on is about whether having too much democracy in Kuwait is really the reason why international investors and others do not bet on much progress in Kuwait in 2008. This is contrasted with the high levels of foreign investment and hope in the future found in the Qatar and United Arab Emirates, where Dubai and Abu Dhabi are located.

Neither Dubai, Abu Dhabi, nor Qatar have a particularly strong history of democratic development as compared to Kuwait, which was the first country among the small Gulf states to elect its own parliament nearly 50 years ago.

Worth writes that in recent times, “Kuwait has been overshadowed by its dynamic neighbors - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar - where economies are booming under absolute monarchies. Efforts to reform Kuwait's sclerotic welfare state have stalled in its fractious and divided Parliament, and noisy scandals led the emir to dissolve the chamber last month for the second time in less than two years, forcing new elections yet again.”

Moreover, Worth notes that “despite vast oil reserves - the world's fifth-largest in a country smaller than New Jersey - many Kuwaitis complain that their bloated public sector has long neglected the country's public hospitals and schools. Problems with the power grid caused brownouts last summer. Although parts of Kuwait were rebuilt after the Iraqi invasion of 1991, much of it looks faded and tatty, a striking contrast with the gleaming hyper-modernity of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. There are few opportunities for private investment. A self- deprecating motto has gained currency here: Kuwait of the past, Dubai of the present, Qatar of the future.”


Having lived for over 5 years in the Persian Gulf, I feel that certainly the description of Worth’s on Kuwait being at once unbelievably rich and at the same time comparatively underdeveloped is often accurate.

On the other hand, I do not quickly fall into the fascist-, communist- or simply misguided- paradigm of blaming democracy for the country of Kuwait’s underdevelopment and mismanagement of the past 5 decades.

That would be like blaming democracy for the malaise in Egypt or even of the current Civil War in Iraq we are observing today. It would be like blaming democracy in America for the current regime’s mismanagement of society and economy at all levels.

In fact, Worth, too, admits that most Kuwaitis do not blame democracy for the country’s malaise and bad management, especially in the areas of (1) lacking economic investment in a variety of sectors, (2) the poor standard of health care in the richest per-capita country in the world, nor (3) the poor educational standards achieved at primary, secondary and tertiary levels to date.

Despite its many shortfalls, as one university business student, Nawaf al-Mutairi, has pointed out, "[But] we know democracy is our last hope. The problem is just that democracy is incremental.”

As well, there are some facets of society and some people in the ruling Sabah family who do not like parliament. The 1961 constitution had reduced the power of the Emir.
This distrust among some Kuwaitis and its parliament has been very strong at times.

In the last 47 years, the parliament has been shut down by the ruling family’s chosen Prime Minister on six separate occasions--and sometimes for many years at a time.
However, having parliament shut down by an unelected official says more about the lack of mature democratic development than it says about democracy being unworkable in this or any other Arab Gulf state.

In a nutshell, this is what I see as one of the problems that Kuwait needs to deal with and soon. The parliament, known as the National Assembly, has never wielded as much power as it needs to be able to oversee mismanagement in the ministries and other parts of government.

Nor has the parliament ever had enough clout to be able to stop the flagrant crony capitalism which stunts investment for the majority of people here and abroad—while filling up the pillows of a few wealthy and well-connected insider Kuwaiti wheeler dealers.

Unlike in other democratic lands, the Kuwaiti parliament can’t vote out the prime minister—who in Kuwait is chosen by the unelected members of the various factions of the royal family. In short, in these ways, the Kuwaiti system is not much different than the one which functions in Saudi Arabia.


On the other hand, very unlike in Saudi Arabia and in the various other emirates in this Gulf region, “The ruling Sabah family acquired its position not through conquest, but with an agreement among the coastal traders of the region in the mid-18th century. After gaining independence from the British in 1961, the emir approved a written constitution that sharply limited his power in relation to Parliament.”

For this reason, Worth rightfully notes, “In some ways, Kuwait is the most democratic country in Arab world, aside from Lebanon. There are Arab republics - in Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Iraq - but despite their democratic forms, these countries have generally been more autocratic and repressive than the region's monarchies. Even in Lebanon, democracy is limited by a sectarian system of power-sharing.”

One Kuwait University Political Science Professor, Ghanim al Najjar, claims, “This ruling family is different from any other ruling family in the region ….They are part of the political process, not on top of it.”

Nonetheless, it is quite obvious to any political observer (esp. political scientist) that the Kuwaiti National Assembly has never had the constitutional tools to properly run the country and allow for more than the currently mediocre political and economic system, i.e. which 21st Century Kuwaiti’s have inherited today.

One of the favorite activities of ardent royal family supporters in and out of parliament has been to always blame the National for its own disintegration and failures.

On the one hand, this can be true.

For example, a very conservative parliament was elected in the late 1990s and again early in this decade. Suddenly, the public schools and all universities were made segregated by the new parliaments. In other cases, women’s working rights were curtailed, e.g. women were not allowed to work after 8pm in the evening

These sort of conservative innovations by the male-only parliaments up to now have, in fact, hurt all levels of education and economic development in the country by demanding, for example, two sets of teachers for the boys and the girls classes--as well as unnecessarily having required new sport halls and classrooms to be built all over the land. This requires some students at the university level to wait several years for required courses to be offered for his or her gender.

Other parliaments did other economically horrible and populist things, like having the state take over the debt of billions of dollars of debt from its citizens—some citizens who were already quite wealthy. [This kind of abuse happens in the USA and the UK, though, too. There have been debt forgiveness for Savings & Loans and investors in recent years which even aided Bush family members, like Neil Bush.]

The most recent time this debt forgiveness scheme occurred in Kuwait was back in the early 1990s, i.e. just after the Gulf War.

However, there were also representatives in the most recent parliament demanding 1000s of more dollars as outright loan forgiveness by the government in 2007 and 2008. [The emir opposed this plan.]

Worse still, many parliamentarian demagogues in the last (2006-2008) parliament, i.e. the one that the Emir closed down in mid-March, were also trying to get more and more money to simply give away to citizens for doing nothing at all. [I guess we would call this a tax rebate in the U.S.A. but Kuwaitis don’t pay taxes.]

Those same populist Assemblymen were doing these pork barrel maneuvers or simply attempting to humiliate members and friends of the royal family, i.e. who served in the Emirs cabinet, rather than taking on issues like (1) improving education,(2) increasing government spending transparency, and (3) creating a much better health care standard in this extremely wealthy oil state.


The problem is not democracy.

In Kuwait, the problem is a fear of changing the status quo in politics by calling for a new constitutional convention or even by calling for a new social contract.
On the other hand, America (where I come from) is also a land which in general is afraid of rewriting its constitution or nervous about the thought of calling out for democratic reform and advances through new constitutional conventions.

Therefore, while there is much to criticize in the functioning of Kuwait’s democracy today, it certainly does have the potential to improve itself.

However, risk aversion—fear of change—is the real malaise in a country where connections are everything. That is, many Kuwaitis say, “The ministers and those who work in the ministry’s currently are our relatives.”

Or, if they are outsiders, they say, “Perhaps we can join another tribe, and get more qui-pro-quo jobs for our families with the next National Assembly.”

In short, it is the short-term thinking of the current political-social and economic
culture that is bad for Kuwait.

Similarly, short-term thinking and planning are hurting America and its obvious need for reform in 2008 as well.


Worth, Robert F., “Democracy Becomes the Fall Guy in Kuwait”, International Herald Tribune (May 6, 2008), pp.1, 4.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Uranium and Led--Kuwaiti’s Sand Heads for Idaho

Uranium and Lead Kuwaiti’s Sand Heads for Idaho

By Kevin Stoda, in Kuwait

Over the past two weeks, for the first time, news was shared in Kuwait that sand that has been contaminated since the 1991 U.S. Coalition War in Kuwait has now been shipped to U.S. soil and is currently heading to Idaho.

The sand’s contamination resulted from U.S. military vehicles and munitions combining in a combustive accident at the end of that war.

The shipment was undertaken somewhat in stealth after Kuwait first asked for its removal some years ago. The U.S. military had refused to agree to pay for the shipping.

Finally, Kuwait has apparently contracted to have the contamination shipped out.

According to one KUWAIT TIMES article, “The sand coming to Idaho from Camp Doha, the US Army base in Kuwait, was contaminated with uranium after military vehicles and munitions caught fire during the first Iraq war in 1991. Depleted uranium, twice as dense as lead, has been used as a component in armor plating to protect tanks and for armor-piercing projectiles.”

According to American Ecology, the U.S. company subcontracted to ship and store the 6700 tons of led and uranium contaminated sand, “Radiation from the uranium in the sand has been measured at about 10 picocuries per gram. The Idaho facility is permitted to accept material with more than 16 times that level, or 169 picocuries per gram. In a letter to Army officials on Sept. 13, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission deemed the radiation levels ‘unimportant quantities’ and approved the plan to dispose the sand in Idaho.”

One official, working for the storage area in Idaho, noted, "We've received tens of thousands of tons from the US military that has higher radioactive levels than this shipment."

On the other hand, at least one Idaho government employee was annoyed when the shipment arrived in the states.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director, Brian Monson, stated “The company is permitted to receive the material and contacted his office three months ago. ‘They always give us an alert if it's something out of the ordinary.’”

According to the KUWAIT TIMES, “the company notified Monson again this week when military officials tested the sand and found traces of lead. ‘It was only until the last hour we realized we might be dealing with a hazardous material,’”


The U.S. military has international commitments to bring home its contaminated garbage from bases all over the world.

In this recent shipment of 6700 tons of led and uranium contaminated sand, most officials see more danger to American soils caused potentially by the large amounts of lead—rather than the lower amounts of uranium.

Currently, State Department of Health personnel are at the American port in Washington state “to test radiation levels and to ensure none of the sand spills.” American Ecologly representative Chad Hyslop said.

“U.S. Customs agents also were on hand to inspect the cargo,” Hyslop continued.

“The sand became contaminated with low levels of depleted uranium following a fire at Camp Doha during the first Gulf War in 1991,” according army sources and Hyslop, “The Army then discovered potentially hazardous levels of lead in the shipment.”

Last week, the U.S. Senate candidate in Idaho, Larry LaRocco, requested that Idaho’s Governor, C.L. (Butch) Otter, and the Lt. Governor, Jim Risch, halt “the 150 rail cars loaded with radioactive sand from entering Idaho. His staff hand delivered letters to each office.”

One Boise magazine cited that same U.S. Senate candidate as arguing, “Accepting this waste in the United States is poor public policy and environmentally unsound for Idaho.”

In his letter the governor, LaRocco wrote, “Let’s not turn Idaho into the world’s dump.”
According to the NEW WEST magazine, “LaRocco also notes past leaders, former Gov. Cecil Andrus and former Gov. Phil Batt, took firm stances against bringing hazardous materials to Idaho. He urged Risch to put aside partisanship and follow their examples. In November 2007, American Ecology’s PAC gave $2,300 to Jim Risch’s Senate campaign. The PAC had previously given $1,000 to Risch’s 2006 race for Lt. Governor. Since 2002, the AE PAC has given more that $20,000 to the campaigns of Otter, Risch, Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, and Reps. Bill Sali and Mike Simpson.”
LaRocco claims to have personally called the company, American Ecology, dozens of time but has not been allowed to even speak to the company’s communication director.

Snake River Alliance is a nuclear watchdog group in Idaho.
According to one statement on its website, the Snake River Alliance executive director, Andrea Shipley has claimed, “The fact that this was shipped [from Kuwait] with hazardous levels of lead and this was not exposed until it came to the port in Washington is a major concern. Idaho authorities, particularly DEQ, must continue adequately monitoring this waste to know exactly what will arrive in Idaho. Safe and responsible clean-up is critical to safeguard the health of Idahoans and our environment.”
Shipley continued, “Depleted uranium is both a toxic heavy metal and a radioactive substance creating health risks that may be far more varied than is recognized in federal regulations today. When depleted uranium is exposed to the elements it becomes volatile, so the safest and most responsible clean-up is essential.”

Finally, the executive director of the Snake River Alliance noted, “Most importantly, the use of depleted uranium in armor piercing shells and bullets shows an inextricable link between the reusing of nuclear waste and warfare. There is no viable solution for nuclear waste at this time.”
Here in Kuwait, it is interesting to note that once-again neither the Kuwaiti government nor the U.S. military are willing to share how expensive the contract was to ship 6700tons of uranium and lead waste back to the USA.
On the other hand, many in Kuwait have now publicly and privately voiced relief that some of the depleted uranium left-over from the 1991 war, known in the U.S. as “Operation Desert Storm”, have been taken away.
Most Kuwaitis don’t speak openly about depleted uranium these days, but if prodded, most have worries and seem to concur with the view shared by doctors who visited the Gulf in the early 1990s and noticed the high rate of birth defects and deformations.
One writer, Cynthia Arbuthnot, had shared in Scotland, that she finds governments everywhere cover up or stonewalling her on her calls for more data and information.
Arbuthnot wrote in 2001, “Since I discovered that depleted uranium weapons had been used, every attempt to find out the truth has been met with a wall of lies. Many of those who have investigated this - and this includes the top experts in the world - have been threatened, shot at and fired from their jobs. I have been receiving death threats for five years now, some of them imaginative, some boring.”
Referring to her visit to Iraq and Kuwait in 1991, Arbuthnot reminisced, “When I arrived in Iraq, doctors were already reporting a rise in congenital abnormalities in the newborn and a threefold rise in cancers and leukemias, especially in children. Birth defects and illness were also affecting Gulf veterans. Their search for answers and treatment has been met with bureaucratic stonewalling and lies. As they have attempted to find answers for themselves and for the sick and dying, their homes have been raided by the Ministry of Defense Police. Computers, disks and documents have been removed.”
Just a few months prior to the shipping of 6700 tons of contaminated sand from Kuwait in April, a contact of mine here in Kuwait (i.e. someone who has researched this issue of DU weapons for years) had met with a Harvard researcher who has claimed that Kuwait was suffering no damage from after-affects of depleted uranium.
The contradiction between this so-called expert’s statement and two governments’ willingness to ship 6700 tons of sand to Idaho screams for more research and public accountability in the USA and Kuwait
Is the U.S. doing enough research on this matter?
Is the USA publicizing the research or scrawling it away in the Bush Presidential Archives in College station, Texas—which will not be open to the public or researchers for another quarter of a century?
In the meantime, here is one website, which follows the DU issue. You can get recent reports of DU base and DU testing site closures, etc. at DU CURRENT ISSUES:


Arbuthnot, Cynthia, “Depleted Uranium: My Battle for the Truth”, http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0114-02.htm

“Contaminated Sand from Kuwait Heads to U.S.”, http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MzgwNTU1MTUz

Kuraitis, Jill, “LaRocco to Otter, Risch: No Contaminated Sand to Idaho”, http://www.newwest.net/city/article/larocco_to_otter_risch_no_contaminated_sand_to_idaho/C108/L108/

Olsen, Erik, “Crews Moving Contaminated Sand from Ship to Rail”, http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/04/29/area_news/doc4816651072f72767559743.txt

“Snake River Alliance”, http://www.snakeriveralliance.org/News/Articles/tabid/122/ctl/ArticleView/mid/471/articleId/2826/Tons-of-Waste-Shipped-to-Idaho-from-Kuwait.aspx


Wednesday, May 14, 2008



By Kevin Stoda

I came across an article from Beliefnet author, Frederica Mathewes-Green. The author has had a journey through Hinduism and later turned back to Christianity in the form of Eastern Orthodoxism.

In her article, “Loving the Storm-Drenched”, Mathewes-Green writes to a largely Christian audience who is not enamored with the era of culture warring that we witness around us today. I think that a lot of what she shares has to do with good common sense for progressive audiences of all shapes and backgrounds, too.


Mathewes-Green asks us all to take a longer view, i.e. by not simply hitting back when attacked.

She speaks about our tone of voice. She states that the tone which “we adopt from the culture: sarcastic, smart-alecky, jabbing, and self-righteous. We feel the sting of such treatment and give it right back; we feel anger or even wounded hatred toward those on the ‘other side.’ But God does not hate them; he loves them so much he sent his Son to die for them.”

Moreover, Mathewes-Green charges, “We are told to pray for those who persecute us and to love our enemies. The weight of antagonistic and mocking big-media machinery is the closest thing we've got for practicing that difficult spiritual discipline. If we really love these enemies, we will want the best for them, the very best thing we have, which is the knowledge and love of God.”

In other words, we have to ask ourselves whether we are getting knocked off balance constantly and can no longer walk the walk that we talk?

The author, Matthewes-Green, correctly notes that in terms of the language of interpersonal communication, “Smart-alecky speech doesn't even work. It may win applause, but it does not win hearts. It hardens the person who feels targeted, because he feels mocked and misrepresented. It increases bad feeling and anger. No one changed his mind on an issue because he was humiliated into it. In fact, we are misguided even to think of our opponents in the ‘culture wars’as enemies in the first place. They are not our enemies, but hostages of the Enemy. We have a common Enemy who seeks to destroy us both, by locking them in confusion and by luring us to self-righteous pomposity.”

Whether one is Christian progressive, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu, one needs to recall: “Culture is not a monolithic power we must defeat. It is the battering weather conditions that people, harassed and helpless, endure.”


In order to make her case, Mathewes-Green talks about Hollywood and Christians’ relationship to cinema over the past 80 to 90 years.

Among numerous ebbs and flows of culture, religion and politics over the decades, Mathewes-Green notes that it was not the (WTCU) Woman's Christian Temperance Union which dealt a near death blow to the media tradition of exalting at someone’s drunkenness or drunken behavior.

Instead, it was an awareness by the 1970s of how many lives had been destroyed or hurt by alcoholism—not only on the nation’s highways, but in homes and public space, too. This national awareness led both to television and Hollywood making ever more less light of the town drunk.

In such an example, a “so-called prudish point of view on alcoholism” had become a reality in Hollywood and in education in the evolving American cultural landscape in the decades after Prohibition was ended in the early 1930s.

As Mathewes-Green pointedly adds, “when the WCTU is mentioned today, it's still seen as a bastion of prudes and squares. They were not vindicated, even though they turned out to be right. And it may be the same with us. We may always be seen as prudes and squares. Despite this, sexual common sense is likely to re-emerge. . . .So sometimes cultures shift for the better. When so-called fun hurts enough, people stop doing it.”

In Mathewes-Green is stating that perhaps when enough families have been wrecked, enough abortions taken place, and enough lives destroyed, society will move on to a more appropriate equilibrium in dealing with sex in the public and private spheres of America—an equilibrium which we observe more in European states today than we do in Hollywood these days.

Referring to a quote from Mark Twain, Mathewes-Green notes that “everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. I think much of our frustration is due to trying to steer the weather, rather than trying to reach individuals caught up in the storm.
She adds, “It's possible to influence weather within limits, to seed clouds for rain, for example. And it is right for us to consider what we can do to provide quality fiction, films, and music, and to prepare young Christians to work in those fields. We can do some things to help improve ongoing conditions. But it is futile to think that we will one day take over the culture and steer it. It's too ungainly. It is composed of hundreds of competing sources. No one controls it.”
The good news is that we often don’t have to steer the ship.
Mathewes-Green points out that often a culture “is already changing—constantly, ceaselessly, seamlessly—changing whether we want it to or not, in ways we can't predict, much less control. If you take the cultural temperature at any given moment, you will find that some of the bad things are starting to fade, and improvement is beginning to appear; simultaneously, some good things are starting to fall out of place, and a new bad thing is emerging.”
I think the discussion on rap and hip-hop lyrics in the past few years have been an example, whereby those in the music industry and the listening community have begun to reorient the language, the message and inadvertent messages of the genre. (This has occurred after two decades of trends in the past which promoted fairly no-holds barred exploitation of this medium among the target audiences.)
With time and age, things do shift within and without one’s culture and community.

One suggestion for all of us is to occasionally refer to older books, classics, film and material—rather than getting caught up in a tit-for-tat cultural war today. Mathewes-Green discussed how one of her own favorite classic films was the 1935, “It Happened One Night”.
By referring to that classic film from today’s perspective, the author could recognize all kinds of cultural and gender biases in this film--which those of the 1930s audience scarcely took note of.
The point, Mathewes-Green is making to us all—i.e. of whatever political or social or religious preference is: “Sure, you can make yourself read the contemporary magazines and authors you disagree with, but even they share the same underlying assumptions. It's as if we see our ‘culture war’ opponents standing on the cold peak of an iceberg. From our corresponding peak, all we can discern between us is an expanse of dark water. But underneath that water, the two peaks are joined in a single mass. The common assumptions we share are invisible to us, but they will be perceived, and questioned, by our grandchildren.”
Mathewes-Green warns all Christians of the need to get a hold of some older books—preferably 50 years and older—in order to really get a perspective on how our culture is today and how the cultures of our grandparents were.
We may discover that we are closer to our so-called cultural enemies today than to our grandparents. Likewise, we might gain a whole new perspective on the problems of our day by looking at how these elders of earlier generations faced the world and interpreted it. Or, we may simply find nuggets of truth that we were unaware of or had long-ago forgotten about.
Mathewes-Green cites C.S. Lewis who wrote, “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”
I for one am happy that Upton Sinclair’s works have made a return to Hollywood.
Sinclair’s 1920s book, OIL was made into a well-done film just last year. During his lifetime, Sinclair’s fictional works were translated into 75 languages by the 1930s—yet most Americans living today have never read a single one of his many works.
Sinclair tells an American multi-cultural story that is very reminiscent of the world we face today.
In turn pacifist and counter-culture Americans have not read classics, such as Daniel Berrigan and Robert Coles’ THE GEOGRAPHY OF FAITH. Others have not read Ghandi or other classic thinkers of faith, progressive action, communities of sustainable development, and peace.
I’d like to encourage readers now to take time, comment, and share below in the comments section which classic books, film and media should be known today—i.e. recognized as a corpus of classic materials that people of this and subsequent generations need to know about in our struggles—whether cultural struggles, activist oriented ones, or more introspective in nature.
Simply, state the genre, the material or media’s name/title/author/director and to whom it would be beneficial!


Mathewes-Green, Frederica, “Loving the Storm-Drenched”, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/march/10.36.html?start=5

Stoda, Kevin “Book Review of a Classic: Daniel Berrigan and Robert Coles’:
THE GEOGRAPHY OF FAITH”, http://the-teacher.blogspot.com/2007/04/book-review-of-classic-geography-of.html

“There Will Be Blood: How Upton Sinclair Inspired the Acclaimed Film”,


Thoughts and Comments, Anyone?--on GOD LIVES UNDER THE BED

I am not the Kevin referred to in the writing below from Kelly Adkins. It does remind me of “special” people I have known or volunteered with over the decades. I want to take time and share this with you and encourage comments below.

I live in an Arab and Muslim country, Kuwait, where the same message can be shared with those who practice Islam, i.e. “Christianity” as shared in one of the last paragraphs.

In Kuwait and in some Arab lands, like UAE’s Sharjah have been active in promoting awareness on the needs of the handicapped in their society. Alas, centuries of biases need to be overcome to a much much greater degree in months and years to come.


By Kelly Adkins

Don't start reading this one until you've got more than 3 or
4 minutes to just "scan" over it. It deserves some time for

I envy Kevin. My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his
bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped
to listen,

"Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see.
Under the bed..."

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's
unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But
that night something else lingered long after the humor. I
realized for the first time the very different world Kevin
lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of
difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's
6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a
7-year-old, and he always will.
He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed,
that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our
tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky
because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different.

Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the
disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his
favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he
hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with
her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied.

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a
day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the
stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to
gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays!
That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a
soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on
the destination of each passenger inside.

"That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps
his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and
he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats.
His needs have always been met, and he never worries that
one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he
is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the
carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does
not leave a job until it is finished.
But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His
heart is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be
kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is
not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry.
He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts
Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to
Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to
really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an
"educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity
I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.

It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some
divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the
handicap . . I am.
My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they
all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn?
After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of
innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness
and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we
are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts,
I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who
believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

When you receive this, say a prayer. That's all you have to



Monday, May 12, 2008

Zainab Al-Suwaij Speaks at the AWARE CENTER on “A Special Model for Muslim Women in a Modern Society”

Zainab Al-Suwaij Speaks at the AWARE CENTER on “A Special Model for Muslim Women in a Modern Society”

By Kevin Stoda

Speaking on the topic, “A Special Model for Muslim Women in a Modern Society”, Zainab Al-Suwaij visited both Kuwait University and the Aware Center Kuwait this first week of May, i.e. just 10-days prior to national elections, when Kuwaiti women are hopeful of gaining their first seats in parliament.

At the AWARE CENTER, Al-Suwaij was introduced as co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress (AIC), an organization founded in the wake of 9-11 to give a voice to Muslims and a basis for intercultural communication & dialogue in the USA. Al-Suwaij is also very active in the development of women’s awareness and democratic training in Iraq.

An American citizen, Al-Suwaij had had to flee Iraq in 1991 after taking up arms against Saddam Hussein, alongside others from the Basra region in the wake of the First Gulf War.

Besides working for a women’s empowerment program in Southern Iraq, she also writes articles for the New York Times and other popular dailies in the U.S.A.


Zainab Al-Suwaij began her lecture at the AWARE CENTER in Surra, Kuwait by noting that regardless as to whether the topic is “Islam in East or West” or “Politics in the Middle East” today, “The discussion always turns to women.”

She added, “The same goes for the topic of Human Rights, which also turns to the status of women.”

“Western Scholars definitely have a different focus than do Scholars in the East, though,” Al-Suwaij continued, “Islamic scholars look to (1) women’s issues in the Sharia and in tradition, (2) our religious book, and (3) how we deal with women.”

In contrast, “in the West women’s rights and concepts of universal rights, fall into one pile when we are discussing women’s issues.”

In Iraq, meanwhile, discussions of these issues often fall into matters, like headscarves and ‘Islamization’ today. Al-Suwaij explains, “This is because as far as ‘feminism in Islam’ is concerned, there is in Islam no feminism [in the Western sense], simply women’s rights.”

On the other hand, as Al-Suwaij has many female Kuwaiti friends involved in electioneering in Kuwait and other Gulf countries these days, she notes, “Women in the Muslim world are becoming more and more integrated into the political realm. The Era now seems to be one where women are seeking rights without respect for how it affects Islam and culture.”

Al-Suwaij extrapolates, just as with most any universal faith, “Islam is adopted generally at a personal level, but no one applies every facet of it to his life [i.e. 100%].”


Al-Suwaij explained, “As the new Iraqi government and constitution were being debated after 2003, there were many different views on these matters and on the role of women. For example, some conservative women see a ‘woman’s role as teacher only’. Meanwhile other conservatives are bit more active politically. That is, while they may be retrenching [traditional roles of men], they are often still involved politically. Other women demanded the quotas of 25% for women in the new government”

However, Al-Suwaij also observed that even as some women stood on the political sidelines during the debates over the government and the creation of its constitution, many observed with clarity that they “would soon have no role in Iraq” if they didn’t more actively allow their voices to be heard.

“At first, some women had been uninterested in the process of government and elections. Many boycotted conferences on voting, empowerment and women’s issues because they only wanted their own [male] imams to lead them,” said Al-Suwaij.

So, Al-Suwaij invited the imams to attend.

The AIC speaker shares that once one imam, i.e. leader of these boycotting female teachers arrived. He then approached Zeinab Al-Suwaij and asked what she was teaching these women.

Al-Suwaij explained that she was simply discussing their rights and how they can improve their social and economic development within their communities.

That particular imam stated somewhat coldly, “Women don’t do that here. They should focus on charity work and education.”

Al-Suwaij countered, “In two of Mohammed’s[PBUH] wives, Aisha and Khadija, we find the roles of economic and political development leadership--in terms of helping women understand their rights within Islam.”

In stating her case, Al-Suwaij referred to the businesswoman whom prophet Mohammed had married. Her name was Khadija, and he actually had worked for here before and after they were married.

After Khadija died, another wife of Mohammed’s was Aisha, who was very active in carrying out the early writings, interpretations of the Koran, and on teaching Muslims how to practice or live out their lives as Muslims.

The imam then replied, “I didn’t think of it that way. Go ahead and teach them what you are doing!”


Unlike in Kuwait and in some other Gulf states, women in Iraq were involved in the writing of their new state constitution. This is how they received a 25% quota for representation in parliament.”

Al-Suwaij clarifies, “Later, as the constitutional elections came, some more women became involved. However, after the elections even more women and women’s groups began to speak out at the point when a bill was introduced into the legislature that would have thrown out Iraq’s civil code and the notion of women’s rights dating in that country to 1948. The intention of the representative was to replaced the Civil Code with Sharia or Islamic law.”

“Suddenly, both the most conservatives and liberal women joined in a single loud voice, indicating that they would have none of that!” Al-Suwaij later explained, “The civil code in Iraq requires a man to ask his first wife before getting married a second time--and thus creating a polygamous marriage.”

Women in Iraq did not want to see this right nor their other long held civil rights trampled on by a reversion to the Islamic code.

Al-Suwaij noted, “Meanwhile, both in Iraq and in Kuwait women are getting more and more involved in elections.”

Women were first allowed to vote in Kuwait as of 2006, but in Iraq they have been active for decades.


“The need to bridge the gap between Islamic and Western views is needed everywhere. Therefore, I am happy to see a place like the AWARE CENTER flourish in Kuwait.” Al-Suwaij continued, “The American Islamic Congress focuses on this—as well as teaching Westerners about Islam and Islamic issues. In addition, the AIC focuses not only on rights but negative issues, such as ‘honor killings’ and female genital mutilation. [We cannot] leave these issues in the background.”

One way the AIC in the Washington, D.C. area does this is through its monthly invitations to the various U.S. congressmen to meet with and learn from a variety of Islamic speakers.

“However, clashes continue among East and West. This is why we are inviting women to more-and-more offer their own voices and narratives in terms of presentations, speaking and writing.” Later, Al-Suwaij noted, “We hold annual contests, whereby we cull the world for young Islamic female writers to tell their story and the story of [empowering] women and rights groups in their communities. We take 50 of these articles and publish them in an annual document. Then we invite the writers for training and mentoring.”

As well, both the AIC and Zainab Al-Suwaij’s other organizational activities in Iraq and elsewhere focus on helping Westerners to move past their stereotypes of Islam and their own reality. The speaker told the story of how, when women she worked with in Iraq learned that the highest representation that women in the USA have ever held in the Senate and House has been at most 10%, they looked at each other in amazement and asked, “And, this is Democracy???”

Al-Suwaij said that men are also involved in the issues of rights and women, too.

Finally, she concluded her presentation by noting that the lack of balance in the western view on Islam and on the Middle East have left a strong negative impression which the West needs to get over.


One member of the audience, a Kuwaiti male, spoke up.

He indicated, “It has never been Islamic law that women do not hold rights. These ideas come from tribes and tribal traditions, some imported into Islam after several hundred years. Moreover, around the world, Islamic female leaders have governed in countries as diverse as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia in recent decades.”

This Kuwaiti continued, “The problem here is that it is a ‘man’s world’. In contrast, Islam, gives many rights to women!”

The speaker, Zeinab Al-Suwaij concurred, but added, “Certainly, the limitations that are put on women’s rights, whether religious or tribal, are nonetheless real ones. This is why women are now pushing for those rights.”

One female Kuwaiti-American spoke up next, “Some women in Kuwait do very contradictory things. They campaign loudly against women’s rights and vote against the rights of others. Yet, those same women are, in fact, using those rights [that they protest against].”

This Kuwaiti-American continued, “These women should shut up and go home if all they want to do is take away the rights of others—and oppose others using their rights!”

Zeinab Al-Suwaij again concurred, “All women have voices and [do] use them. Women need to recognize this. The problem is that so many women’s voices are not heard. The model I am suggesting [for women] is a more balanced model than has been common [in the West, especially].

“If we look at the women’s movement in Kuwait in the 1970s and again compare it to the movement today, we see distinctions that show a balance. In the 1970s, the women’s movement here was more affected by the language, images and clothing attire found in the West. Nowadays, the focus here is on balance among their own cultural and social identities. One sees this in the clothing and in the language used in electioneering.”

One final Arab listener spoke up and asked what Al-Suwaij advocated for younger women in Kuwaiti society today.

Al-Suwaij stated, “They need to find a voice.”

“This is one reason we collect writings from all over the world and then mentor women on how to tell their stories internationally and locally. We teach them a bit about organizing and ask them to share about their particular living and working contexts.We also promote interfaith dialogues. In Kuwait people need to ask how they can realize a balance, i.e. that would be different from how women communicate and carry out their programs of development and rights.”

“We also need to move beyond stereotypes, including such questions as ‘Do you always wear your hijab?’—a question used by profilers at the airport all the time--and [graduate to more developed] relations among the differing peoples and faiths”


American Islamic Congress, http://www.aicongress.org/

“A New Guide to Muslim Interfaith Dialogue”, http://www.aicongress.org/prog/interfaith_guide.pdf

“Zainab Al-Suwaij”, http://www.gmu.edu/departments/crdc/alsuwaijbio.html


Sunday, May 11, 2008



By Kevin Stoda

According to various reports this past weekend, the French government has been trying to reopen a discussion on the definition of “sovereignty” in order to aid the millions of Burmese displaced, injured, sick, or dying due to the recent reticence of the Myanmar government to allow in much aid and aid workers after the country was hit by the worst cyclone in Asia in 17 years.

According to the newswires, “France has suggested invoking a U.N. ‘responsibility to protect’ clause and delivering aid directly to cyclone-hit Myanmar without waiting for approval from the [Myanmar] military. The proposal came as internal U.N. documents revealed Myanmar’s government is dragging its feet on giving visas to aid workers who are waiting to help the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.”

On DEMOCRACY NOW, Jeremy Woodrum, noted last Thursday, “France made a move at the United Nations, since the regime had been rejecting international humanitarian aid. They made a move to force aid into Burma that would essentially overrule Burma’s sovereignty in this very limited circumstance and allow countries to bring in aid, food and supplies and water directly. I believe they’re going to make another try at that today. It looks like China will probably block it, but we’re hoping for the best.”

Noting that there is an ongoing security council level discussion at the UN on this topic, “French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters on Wednesday that the United Nations recognized in 2005 the concept of “responsibility to protect” civilians when their governments could or would not do it, even if this meant intervention that violated national sovereignty.”

We are currently being told that China is the lone nation at the Security Council that has been indicating that it would veto such application of the re-conceptualized definition of the UN’s “responsibility to protect” the citizens of Burma from neglect leading to death.

Kouchner adds, “We are seeing at the United Nations if we can’t implement the responsibility to protect, given that food, boats and relief teams are there, and obtain a United Nations’ resolution which authorizes the delivery (of aid) and imposes this on the Burmese government.”


Historically, the Burmese (or Myanmar’s) government has been run by a set of large military elite families for nearly 5 decades. For the majority in natural resource rich Burma, life is nasty brutish and (often) short.

Both slavery and lack of human rights are the keystone of most world citizens’ current memories or identification of Burma and the situation faced by most Burmese peoples.

Meanwhile, the Burmese military elite families run the country on the theory that “North Korea is our model for human rights and leadership”.

However, unlike North Korea, Burma is a multicultural state where a good solid majority are against the world of law-and-security as defined by the elite military leadership, sometimes known by the awful acronym: SLORC.

This multi-headed fascist regime is why Burma has been permitted to continue for decades to continue in its anti-human rights path.

This international neglect is largely thanks to (1) illegal and legal investments from abroad, (2) the silence of Thailand—plus ASEAN--and India on the most horrible acts of Burmese leadership, (3) the legal and illegal trade in natural resources ranging from lumber, rubies, to oil, and (4) continued military aid and UN support from the state, military, and industries of China.

Most neo-cons who have agreed to aggressive wars in Iraq and advocated war with Iran, generally agree with the interpretation of sovereignty expounded by the French Foreign minister.

However, the bottom line is what does the rest of the world hold to be true or believe to be true concerning the right to sovereignty today—in 2008?

I want to encourage debate on this and related topics.

Whether you are conservative, liberal, libertarian, green or pink—what should the role of the term sovereignty be for a nation state in the 21st Century?


“As Aid Delivery Arrives in Cyclone-Ravaged Burma, Fears Death Toll Could Top 100,000”, http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/8/as_1st_aid_delivery_arrives_in

“A Question of Sovereignty”, http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/a_question_of_sovereignty/


Friday, May 09, 2008



By Kevin Stoda

Dear America and Britain,

“When johnny comes marching home again
Nobody understands it can happen again
The sun is shining an the kids are shouting loud
But you gotta know its shining through a crack in the cloud
And the shadows keep falling when johnny comes marching home”—The Clash (1978)

I desire to share two videos and collection of music wrapped in collage about Pax- Americana and Pax-Britannia dating from 1978 through 2008.

As you Americans and British go through the 6th year of war in Iraq and the 8th year of the so-called War on Terrorism, it is fascinating to note that “If I Were A Terrorist: A James Pence Video!”,


, is now one of the most popular and most controversial videos in America’s heartland, i.e. the place that brought you the Oklahoma City bombings, WACO, and the Columbine High School Massacre.

People are demanding a representatives who act and represents them, especially in their calls for impeachment and relief from crony-capitalism-as-usual in the nations’ media and businesses

Unemployment and Under-employment in America, for example, has been underreported in Kansas and other Heartlands states for decades. People are on edge about jobs flying south of the border, especially high tech jobs, like those at the new Ford plants in Brazil.


Brits are now facing an economic downturn for the first time in a decade.

By the way, the e-mail which delivered that Detroit News report above included the comments, like:

“One look at this [video]and you will instantly be able to tell what is wrong with the manufacturing plants of the US car makers and why there will probably never be another American car manufacturing plant built in the US. The video also points out why more companies will go off shore to escape the spiral death grip of US unions. This seems to be sad but true. An excellent presentation.”
I think British unionists see the issues here when they observe the video from Detroit—I know Americans do.
However, I don’t think all the politicians get it.

Meanwhile the conservative Eisenhower Foundation has issued this other important report on America’s state of the commonweal:
I see in this recent report and in the two videos above that issues of the American work world & issues of chronic underemployment are present in an already overwhelmed America.

The giant sucking sound south of the border that Ross Perot spoke about may be partially—then again perhaps not. As many people from all over the globe still want to come to American and realize the American dream.



This is why Americans (and Brits) should not throw in the towel on the system but work to radically improve it in the next few months—and years.


Recently, in response to two decades of rap and hip hop dominating my radio, I have begun to listen again to the lyrics of THE CLASH and other singers from my high school and college days—i.e. the period of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when America and Britain last faced years of major recession, stagflation and deflation.

NOTE: In America, the bad economy had all actually started over a decade earlier when the spending on the Vietnam War took the USA off the gold standard and eventually made the dollar linked to petroleum prices. This is what MLK had warned America about, but instead of listening to him, he had become maligned and was shot in 1968.

Now that we are reaping the wages of the excesses of bad governance and misguided economic & development policies of the last 40-plus years (and as we are having another endless war).

Meanwhile, as part of this historical collage, it is time to talk about what music began to hit America’s airways in the late 1970s and 1980s—i.e. British moans and groans came our way. At this same junction in history, Bruce Springsteen would write his sad BORN IN THE USA.
All in all, this depressive tone is often historically to be found in the bread belt, which brought us decades earlier books, like An American Tragedy and the revolts on Indian reservations in the heartland near Wounded Knee.

That’s right!

The British pathos of the punk spin-off band, THE CLASH, hit America’s Midwest 25 to 30 years ago—just as Britain was getting tough on Argentina in the Falklands War!

Songs like the following were on the bands albums—one of the albums was even named Sandanista!

How anti-Reagan and anti-Thatcher such sounds were to our ears back then.

Yet, in all the end-of-the cold war back patting, many Americans and Brits forgot in the 1990s about the bad-old days of Thatcherism and Reaganism.

Those were the days when the prophetic ROCK THE CASBAH cried out—just before 220 U.S. servicemen died Beirut under Israel’s occupation:

Now the king told the boogie men
You have to let that raga drop
The oil down the desert way
Has been shakin to the top
The sheik he drove his cadillac
He went a cruisnin down the ville
The muezzin was a standing
On the radiator grille

By order of the prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy casbah sound
But the bedouin they brought out
The electric camel drum
The local guitar picker
Got his guitar picking thumb
As soon as the shareef
Had cleared the square
They began to wail

Now over at the temple
Oh! they really pack em in
The in crowd say its cool
To dig this chanting thing
But as the wind changed direction
The temple band took five
The crowd caught a wiff
Of that crazy casbah jive

The king called up his jet fighters
He said you better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Down the casbah way

As soon as the shareef was
Chauffeured outta there
The jet pilots tuned to
The cockpit radio blare

As soon as the shareef was
Outta their hair
The jet pilots wailed

He thinks its not kosher
Fundamentally he cant take it.
You know he really hates it.


Wow, so many tough Americans rocked to that, “Rock the Casbah”, tune as they dropped bombs, uranium tipped weapons and daisy-cutters 20 years later in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Now, in 2008, after dropping more bombs than in the whole of WWII America and its allies are still not winning many hearts and minds of people in the Middle East or in Americas Midwest.

The distant civil wars continue in Asia now as they did throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

The only contrast, is that our current image of the jet pilot, George W. Bush, (who orders dropping of bombs) is famous for having ridiculously claimed, “Mission Accomplished” half a decade ago.

This mistaken statement now echoes in incredulity across American- (and global-) memory.

Meanwhile, in America, Pakistan, Egypt, Cuba, and other countries on the globe, another CLASH song —“KNOW YOUR RIGHTS”--echoes true or at least omnisciently accurate.

“KNOW YOUR RIGHTS” sounds like this:

This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know your rights all three of them

Number 1
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

And number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don’t mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights
Know these rights

Number 3
You have the right to free
Speech as long as youre not
Dumb enough to actually try it.

Know your rights
These are your rights
All three of em
It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough!

Get off the streets
Get off the streets
You don’t have a home to go to

Finally then I will read you your rights

You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you

Listen to this


The aforementioned Eisenhower Foundation article on American’s lack of economic justice in recent decades, by the way, began like this:

“Just as American foreign policy seeks to preemptively impose the American estab¬lishment's will on other, poorer countries, so American economic policy is based on class warfare instigated by the rich and ruling class in the United States against the middle class, the working class, and the poor.

As a result, excluding the rich, most Americans are worse off economically to¬day than in 2001. Middle-class baby boomers, who are just beginning to retire, can expect their economic position to further deteriorate. The radical right's long-term objective is to continue tax cuts for the rich and massively increase military spend¬ing. This will increase the national debt still more and result in greatly diminished education, employment, and health care investments for the middle class, working class, and poor.

But will the middle class make the sacrifices that conservatives expect of them and their children? The middle class rebelled in the case of Vietnam. The need to reverse course today is all the greater because the United States cannot continue in its role as international debtor, with competitors like the dictatorship in communist China holding large portions of our international debt.”

The indecision of America’s population at unequivocally demanding the clearing of most all 3 houses (White House, Senate, and House of Representatives) in Washington D.C. does bother me.


I think….

It is time that concerned and affected Americans make a covenant to clear out the rubbish, weeds and bad leadership in our current system.

Bring the troops home and invest in American based infrastructure, aid poor families and educate America!

Get to work on this project now in your community!!!

You, Brits, should do more house clearing on your side of the pond in the next year, or so, too.


The Clash, “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS”, http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/clash/know+your+rights_20031891.html

The Clash, “ROCK THE CASBAH” http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/clash/rock+the+casbah_20031941.html

The Eisenhower Foundation, “Patriotism, Democracy, and Common Sense”,