Sunday, November 30, 2008

HUMAN CRISES STEMMING FROM SEIGE IN AIRPORT IN BANGKOK By Kevin Stoda, a regular Thai tourist and SE Asian Traveler “An estimated 6-7 million Filip


By Kevin Stoda, a regular Thai tourist and SE Asian Traveler

“An estimated 6-7 million Filipinos, a good 10% of the population, live and work abroad. Most are in the Middle East, although large numbers work in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Western Europe, and elsewhere.”


On Friday morning last week, I was surprised to see a Filipino friend of mine, Pong, still in Kuwait attending church with his friends.

Although it was nice to meet Pong again on my day off from work, I was certainly not expecting to see him on the last Friday in Thailand. Let me explain! Pong had been planning to fly the prior evening (November 27) to the Philippines.

Sadly, Pong and thousands of others of his Filipino countrymen (working all over Asia and Europe) had been booked on a Thai Airways, Kuwait Airlines and other Asian flights via Bangkok to Manila in November and December 2008. The Suvarnabhumi Airport near Bangkok is the 13th largest airport in the world and the second biggest in south and southeast Asia.

However, a week ago, several thousand political fanatics financed by some very wealthy anti-government bigwigs in Thailand have taken over this largest of airports in Southeast Asia in recent weeks.

Possibly, more than one million people will have been stranded within before the Airport Sieges ends (hopefully some time) in December 2008.


Just as over millions of other Filipinos (Pinoys) leave their homeland each year, Pong has had to abandon his home and family for a steadier and more lucrative job than the suspect-, almost always-corrupt, and under-performing Southeast Asian government of the Philippines affords most of its citizens.

Because so many Filipinos are forced to work abroad, one quickly has to admit that a large portion of the Filipino economy each year depends on the infusion of Filipinos’ labor in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and North America.

Because, as a whole, Filipinos have better English skills than do some other South Asian peoples, such as the Bangladeshis or Indonesians who come to the Middle East, the Pinoys have developed a market niche in some global communities, such as the wealthy Gulf States.§ion=0&article=105556&d=11&m=1&y=2008

This has enabled and encouraged the Filipino government to occasionally defend its victimized workers abroad more diligently in the Gulf Region than Indian nationals have experienced in recent decades.

For example, the government of the Philippines has recently stated that no more Filipinos will be allowed to work in the Persian Gulf till Gulf countries as maids until wages are improved for the Filipina than has been the case to-date.

While this is good, the Gulf states which exploit cheap Asian labor on a regular basis have, in turn, threatened Filipinos and their government with labor and visa restrictions.

Besides many maids and other Filipinos have to work 7 days a week and suffer a lot working in Kuwait and other Gulf States.§ion=theuae&xfile=data/theuae/2006/December/theuae_December695.xml

For example, in 2007, there was originally a new GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) call to restrict Filipino labor.

The reason given by the GCC in 2007 for such restrictions targeting Filipino laborer was obviously a backlash response to Filipinos attempting to get fair-pay for good labor in the UAE and in other neighboring lands: “The GCC may ban Filipinos from coming to the Gulf to work due to regulations passed by the Southeast Asian country’s government aimed at improving the standard of living for its citizens working in the region.”

Other Filipinos serve on ships around the globe and have been among those nationals kidnapped by Somali Pirates in 2008.

My friend Pong is one of the thousands of Filipinos in Kuwait who take jobs subcontracted to the large military base south of the Kuwait International Airport.

NOTE: Officially, the Philippines forbids (as stated in its passports) Filipinos taking jobs in Iraq during the current occupation, but this does not stop unscrupulous recruiters in, around, and working out of U.S. military bases from recruiting Filipinos and other nationals from working as subcontractors in Iraq.

Pong is on call 7 days a week and has severe restrictions on his ability to leave Kuwait to visit his family.

So, the current take-over of the Suvarnabhumi Airport is not only ruining the economy, Christmas, New Years, and Hajj for millions of Southeast Asians, but it is keeping hundreds of thousands from their families--before they are forced to return to their jobs in Kuwait in a few weeks.

Pong has already lost a good portion of his holiday. (Some Southeast Asian workers in Kuwait only get holidays every two or more years.)


Since the Siege of Bangkok’s two airports began one-week ago over 100,000 people have been stranded in Thailand alone.

This evening (November 30) here in Kuwait, I called Pong’s cell-phone and learned that Thai Airways has been able to have him placed on a Qatar Airways flight to the Philippines for December 3—arriving nearly a full-week after the original departure day (i.e. December 5).

Meanwhile, wealthier Kuwaitis and American travelers have been transferred and been brought out of Bangkok on special Kuwait Airlines (and other countries’ national and private airlines) flights in the past few days. Meanwhile, travelers from countries, such as the Philippines have often had no such means of getting their landsmen back home in a timely manner.

Similarly, thousands of Muslim Filipinos and other South Asians who have been intending to come to undertake the Hajj in the Gulf this 2008 (scheduled for next week) are also feeling abandoned by the authorities in Bangkok.

This is because many officials in Bangkok have not been fully willing to retake their airport from the well-funded Thai protestors, who appear to have no other goal than to topple the present government—despite the fact that the government(however-corrupt) was legally elected twice in recent years by popular vote, the last-time less than a year ago.


Imagine if, in America, some political forces were to take-over a pair of U.S. airports and declare they are doing so in the name of the peoples who live in the largest cities, i.e. those who have traditionally ran the country!

This is the audaciousness these 3000-plus protesters of Thailand as they appear to the world while they continue a somewhat unpopular siege of the main national and main international airports now in November and December 2008.

The peoples of most of Thailand, i.e. outside of Bangkok, as well as travelers and investors from around the world today ask the King of Thailand to speak out and end this nonsense before his birthday this next week, December 5, 2008.

Consider poor travelers and citizens throughout Thailand and in South Asia. Consider the billions of dollars being lost each week due to trade endangered by fanatics who have no real political agenda but to topple things and government—i.e. not to build society.

These protesters are not revolutionaries with a vision; they are just revolutionaries of terror and anger—men and women without plans for how to build a better Thai society.

Finally, give Pinoy Pong and others in Southeast Asian an opportunity to enjoy the holiday Season--as your supporters are doing this December.

NOTE: The author has traveled in or through Thailand regularly since December 1992.


Bowman, Dylan, “Gulf May Ban Filipino Laborers,”

Clarence Henderson Consulting, “Leaving on a Jet Plane, Expatriate Filipino Workers”,

“More Maids Facing Abuse”,


Saturday, November 29, 2008



By Winter Soldiers Testifying this week on Capital Hill by America’s Finest

I, Kevin Anthony Stoda, who have relatives, and children of friends of mine in Iraq conducting the U.S. military occupation this Thanksgiving 2008 feel the need to reprint one of many charges made by several of America’s finest soldiers and officers now testifying in Washington D.C.

I have chosen this particular narration and sets of charges against various U.S. Generals by Army Captain Luis Montalvan, who has worked extensively with General David Petraeus over many months in Iraq.


“I wrote countless memoranda to my superiors requesting more resources and personnel, but they went unanswered. In Iraq, I witnessed many disturbing things. I witnessed waterboarding. I was given unlawful orders by superiors to not offer humanitarian assistance to refugees caught between Syrian and Iraqi borders. I disobeyed those orders. I witnessed and participated in countless massive operations led by American commanders whose metrics for success were numbers of detainees apprehended without regard to the real effects: tribal, ethnic, sectarian strife conducted by American taxpayer-uniformed and–equipped militias the US military calls Iraqi Security Forces.

Most reprehensible was that we have never had close to the amount of troops we needed in Iraq. Yet from 2003 until today, General Sanchez, Casey and Petraeus, among others, did not heed the requests of their subordinate officers for more resources and more troops. Instead, they perpetually painted a rosy picture of the situation to the country, while the country fell into civil war. These generals consistently overstated the strength and number of Iraqi Security Forces to Congress and still do. The misrepresentation of the facts should be grounds for courts-martial and criminal indictments.

I lost many friends in Iraq, American and Iraqi. Many Iraqi friends continue to suffer as refugees inside and outside of Iraq. As a matter of fact, an Iraqi friend, whom I consider a brother, named Ali, is meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Jordan today to process his application for asylum under the United States Refugee Admissions Program. Recently, Ali contacted me through my website asking for help. As a result, a few of my comrades in the US Army sent him letters of support, since he frequently risked his life to help us in 2003 and 2004. I pray that Ali and many others are quickly helped.

I wish to focus this letter, Ted, on things we struggled—we both struggled with enormously: negligence, dereliction of duty and corruption. You believe Generals Joseph Fil and David Petraeus were negligent and committed dereliction of duty. So do I. In the note you addressed to Generals Petraeus and Fil found by your body that the Army says is your, quote, 'suicide note,' you stated, quote, 'You are only interested in your careers and provide no support to your staff, no mission support, and you don’t care. I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human rights abuses and liars. I am sullied no more. I didn’t volunteer to support corrupt, money-grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves.' The members of your family believe this note is a part of a journal entry that was removed and placed near your body. Moreover, they told me that they have not received your journal, among other personal effects.

While at the port of entry at Al Waleed in 2003, among the many memoranda I submitted to my superiors was a report expressing the need for an automated tracking system for immigration and emigration. General Ricardo Sanchez and Paul Bremer sent a delegation to Al Waleed to assess the port of entry for installation of the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, known as the PISCES, to provide tracking of transnational movement of immigration and emigration. When the team departed, they informed me that the facilities would support installation of the PISCES. By the time my unit, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, left in March 2004, PISCES had not been emplaced.

In 2005, I returned to Iraq for a second tour. Assigned as the regimental Iraqi Security Forces coordinator working for Colonel H.R. McMaster, who has today been slotted for general, among my duties was to oversee the development and security of the northern half of the secured—of the Syrian-Iraqi border at the port of entry at Rabia. On June 2005, Commander Guy Vilardi, working for Multi-National Corps-Iraq, informed me that CPATT, a sub-entity, had possessed a dozen PISCES in containers located in Baghdad. He also informed me that they would install the systems in the near future.

Upon return to western Nineveh province, I informed my superiors, including Colonel McMaster. In August 2005, General Joseph Fil, commander of CPATT, visited Rabiya and briefed us—so that we could brief him on the status of the Syrian-Iraqi Border. We briefed General Fil, who scoffed at the notion of the installation of the PISCES system and stated that the system was no good, and we don’t have them anyhow. I informed General Fil of my conversation with Commander Vilardi, to which General Fil replied, ‘That’s not true, and the PISCES is no good anyhow.’

In January of 2006, shortly before departure from my second tour, Colonel Carl Lammers of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, sent an email on a secure network indicating that, in fact, the PISCES systems were in containers in Baghdad. I was outraged. As of March 2006, when the 3rd ACR departed western Nineveh province, no PISCES or equivalent tracking system had been installed in the Rabiya POE.

From 2007—from 2003 to 2007, no computer systems for tracking immigration or emigration installed—were installed along the Syrian-Iraqi border. This surely contributed to the instability of Iraq. Foreign fighters and criminals were free to move transnationally with little fear of apprehension. It is probable that significant numbers of Americans and Iraqis were wounded and killed as a result of this.

My—I see that I have one minute left, so I’ll skip down to one more important point. I witnessed contractual corruption on the point of Lee Dynamics International. I have written testimony, notes from Brigadier General—then-Brigadier General Bergner, on page four, elucidating the fact that General Petraeus and General Fil had no systems of accountability for thousands of weapons and no standard operating procedures for the procurement, stowage and dissemination of that equipment.
And lastly, I would end that, you know, for the past year and a half, myself and a number of fellow veterans of Iraq have co-authored pieces in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, among a number of other media outlets. And we have beaten our drum to try to raise the issue of the dereliction of duty committed by a number of generals who have been promoted and promoted again and continue to perpetuate the lies and paint a rosy picture of the situation of Iraq.”


The text from Capt. Montalvan’s statement comes from DEMOCRACY NOW.

Capt. Montalvan joins hundreds of rank and file American and British armed force members who have “not find dying in Iraq very honorable” over the past five years. He spoke at the Winter Soldier hearings on Capital Hill this Thanksgiving weekend. [1]

The basic message of Winter Soldier can be summed up in this statement, America. This statement came from Adam Kokesh, who cannot stand any more complicity by America in war crimes.

“At the first Winter Soldier investigation in 1971, one of the Vietnam veterans held up a similar photograph and said, ‘Don’t ever let your government do this to you. Don’t ever let your government put you in a position where this attitude towards death and this disregard for human life is acceptable or common.’ And yet, we are still doing this to service members every day, as long as the occupation continues.”

Kokesh is proud to be a Winter Soldier in America speaking up for his fellow troops--and for destroyed American dreams for us all and our country. [2]

Kokesh summarized the U.S. policy over the past 4 to 5 years as carried out by General Petraeus and America’s most expensive other soldiers, “But what it’s made clear is that this administration has chosen a policy for this country that values looking good over doing right. And as soon as you choose looking good over doing right, you will fail miserably at both. It is what we are doing as a country right now. It is what our leadership is doing. And it is what the Democratic Party has done, since it took power in 2006, when it decided that it would be more concerned with looking good than doing right, in terms of the policy towards Iraq, in order to secure an advantage for the 2008 election. My apologies to members of the Democratic Party in the room, but it is clear to me that that policy of looking good over doing right has been established firmly by this administration and has poisoned not only the military culture but our entire society and political leadership, as well.”


[1] I am referring here to a later set of statements by Winter Soldiers on Capital Hill, whereby one speaker, named Vincent J.R. Emanuele. He stated, “I could also testify to the overwhelming majority of those I served with who did not think dying in Iraq was honorable or acceptable, nor did they enjoy or want to go back to Iraq a second or third time. Unfortunately, because of personal circumstances, whether they be financial or family issues, many indeed were deployed up to three times during their four-year enlistment. In fact, many, including myself, at times did not have intention of helping the Iraqis. Because of the hostile intent, as well as the loss of lives close to us, our best friends, our unit had a general disdain and distaste for Iraqis and their country. Further, our unit, for the most part, did not trust our command and had a general mistrust and distaste of this occupation from its inception onward.

[2] For those in Kuwait who are wondering about how much depleted uranium might be blowing around the Iraqi and Kuwaiti desert, they might listen to or read James Gilligan’s statements, which include: “It was then that we drove on through the day and continued unhindered for most of the next two days, while American air power pounded the hell out of Iraqi armor and buildings with depleted uranium rounds. The amount of destruction was tremendous, and we watched once while in a traffic jam as a pair of Apaches laid rockets and gunfire into the heart of a city a few kilometers in the distance. Without a doubt, I have been in and around buildings destroyed by depleted uranium rounds, as well as vehicles, armored personnel carriers, tanks and corpses.”




By Kevin Stoda

In Kuwait , many Christians go to church on Friday because:

(a) many have to work six days a week and Friday is the only official day off for non-Kuwaitis, and

(b) getting time off to drive in traffic jams to church on Sunday evenings wears them down.

My own particular small Kuwaiti church fellowship is made up of approximately 10 percent Americans, 50 percent Indians, and 40 percent Filipinos.

As fate would have it, on this past Wednesday night as the deaths murders and mayhem began in and around the Taj Mahal hotel and environs, I was watching a cricket match of the Indian national team versus Britain at the homes of my many Indian church friends from Mumbai.

However, that particular Wednesday evening, the media from India was blacking-out news of the horrible events in Mumbai until well after the British team was trounced.

It was only after I arrived at work the next morning that I learned of the horrible things that were occurring in India .

Thursday afternoon, I called one of my church friends here in Kuwait , i.e.someone who had grown up and lived in Mumbai most of the past two decades.

His name is Pradeep and he had been trained to work in the hotels in- and around the Taj Mahal Hotel and in a hotel training school situated near there. Pradeep shared that luckily although he, himself, had walked those very streets for years, he had yet to hear any bad news from his internet contacts in Mumbai that day.


By the time my Kuwaiti Church fellows had all gathered for Church on Friday morning, November 28, 2008, the Siege of Mumbai was now nearly two full-days old--and well over a hundred had been killed at 16 different locations in Mumbai.

The particular Indian who did “the welcoming message” in our church service had also lived a great portion of his life in Mumbai—his wife and kids are still there. This Indian’s name is Hemant, and he noted that a friend of his brother’s had been buried the previous evening—after getting killed in the first moments of shooting on Wednesday night.

Hemant shared, “Sometimes we wonder after such horrors, ‘Is God in Control?’”

Hemant then chose to read from the Book of Isaiah.

By the way, Chapter 40 begins with this statement: “Comfort, Comfort my people says your God”.

However, Hemant read the more difficult portion, beginning in verse 12:

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?”

That is, the reader of Isaiah continues to hear the news that nations are but a tiny piece of sand in a bucket.

Naturally, for many people around the globe, this message is hardly comforting on one hand.

On the other hand, the message is not only rational but still spiritually comforting to others who can endure to proceed in verses 14, 15, 17, & 18.

“Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing.

To whom, then, will you compare God?
What image will you compare him to?”

In times of trauma we need to trust in someone or something. However, we also need to move on—and learn.


There are those modernists who think “the baby needs to be tossed out with the bathtub”, and there are also rationalist explanations of terror. For some, some sources are sufficient in terms of explanatory power—in-and-of themselves.

The obvious problem with a purely rationalist view of what the sources of terror are in Mumbai in India—whether political, religious, cultural or economic—is that the issues of politics, economics, society, culture and religion are not “un-wind able”.

For most of us, this approach would be like separating the heart and head (or hands or legs) etc. and only later systematically trying to put an entire body back together.

What’s the point of dissecting the parts if one misses the living whole?

We find in the Indus Civilizations lands which gave birth to two great world religions nearly 3 or more millennia go: Buddhism and Hinduism.

Ideas from Buddhism eventually made their marks on Greek civilization which thus then had its toll on Middle Eastern Western Civilization.

Likewise, less than two millennia ago both Christianity and Islam moved eastward and have left their imprint on India .

(In fact, India has also given birth to both Bangladesh and Pakistan —two large Muslim states—as well as to India and other kingdoms, including Bhutan .

While, on the one hand, the state of Goa remains mostly Catholic to this very day—even as Kerala and Mumbai have continued to have their Christian and Jewish roots to this very day.


At times, I have wondered if all the spiritualists of the different global and regional faiths could come-time-and-again to dominate their faiths whether it isn’t possible that we spiritualists couldn’t once again make progress on peace in the Asian sub-continent and elsewhere to a degree not witnessed for millennia.

Verses 25 to 31 of Isaiah 40 continue speaking to Israel at the time of Buddha and the rise of Buddhism concerning the Godhead or ultimate:

“’To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God’?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”


A week ago, a beloved Kuwaiti columnist, Shamael Al-Sharikh, began to write about the similarities among spiritualism in Islam, Judaism and other faiths.

Shamael Al-Sharikh discussed the similarities by referring to the book by Mitch Albom, TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.

Unlike in the horrible sieges in Mumbai this past week, which have found many simultaneous deaths, Albom looks at a single death of a single person to indicate how we all need to approach death and life. (Albom tells of the journey to death with Morrie Schwartz who is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.)

Shamael Al-Sharikh’s article was entitled, “Tuesdays with Morrie: A Simple Spiritual Guide to Death”. In the writing about the Jewish sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, Al-Sharikh writes that for her one realization was “One such realization is that 'Love is the only rational act,' and it means that with love, one sends out positivity and it bounces from others back to her. It is rational to love others, because they will love you back. It is the only way to ensure that we will be remembered after we're gone, because the ones who loved us will think of us and keep our memory alive. Love, therefore, is the only rational act.”

As a guide to death and life, Morrie’s life and journey towards death taught readers, like Muslim Al-Sharikh, “If you're trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you're trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”

I share Al-Sharikh’s musings because I feel too many in the West or from non-Islamic background fail to understand the utilitarianism (and at the same time spirituality) of Islam and other faiths.

Al-Sharikh writes, “As for living, another realization which, admittedly, is rooted in Islamic spirituality, is to 'Know you're going to die and... be prepared for it at any time... Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.' Once we know that we have only a few days left, we learn to really appreciate the essentials in life, and we soon realize that the individual essentials we need are not all that complicated. The day-to-day drudge stops being about acquiring wealth, seeking fame, or being a member of haute society.”

Such a focus is the starting point, I believe, for fixing our ailing world. If we cannot see that “how we live” eventually either affects how others live &/or die (as well as how we die), we cannot expect to progress as species on this earth.

This means that awareness and education of our children and of others (even of our enemy’s kids) is the appropriate response to crimes and terror.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (who was shot to death 40 years ago this year) had stated for all of us to remember—even in our times of sorrow:

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”


The communion message at church on this Friday November 26, 2008 in Kuwait was also given by a man who has sisters-in-law still living in Mumbai.

The speaker began by noting that Galatians 3:13-14 actually talks about hostages.

The speaker, named Mohan, noted, “Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.”

Mohan explained that being redeemed was like having a third party pay a ransom or a price for us. In Greek, this meeting of a hostage takers price was one of the root meanings of the word to be “redeemed”.

As at this very moment in history Mumbai residents were still being held-hostage in Mumbai the interpretation was poignant.

Mumbai residents and concerned peoples around the globe were awaiting Indian commandos to free the hostages—probably violently--whereas, Jesus purportedly intervened as a third party in our lives by his non-violent non-resistance on a Friday centuries ago.

According to Thoreau in the 19th Century, “Noncooperation of Evil is as important as cooperation with the Good is a good.”

However, “love can be revolutionary” as Martin Luther King, Jr. later said


Mujahidin of some sort, i.e. like those who had led invasions against the Soviet Rule in Afghanistan during the 1980s from Pakistan, were being blamed by many in India immediately for the attacks and murders in Mumbai this past week—even though specific large Hindu temples appeared not to have been targets at all this week.

As I heard the charges against Pakistan and Islamic groups, I thought immediately about the facts (a) that such rumors might be true and recalled (b) that back in April 1995 many Americans—including its media—had blamed Islamic radicals for the Oklahoma City bombing.

I also recognized how peoples of minority faith have often been blamed for all kinds of horrible events in recent centuries in India —and elsewhere. I mean: Jews in Europe, Christians in Asia, and Muslims in the USA .

On the one hand, I also recall my first visit to Mumbai and India back in 2000.

I, too, like many other tourists to Mumbai, had stayed within walking distance of where much of the shooting and violence has taken place in India this week.

As there is a wonderful English bookstore in the enormous Taj Mahal Hotel, situated across from the iconic Gate of India, I visited the location at least 4 times in my journeys in and around India that summer.

I also probably ate at a few of the restaurants where victims of the terrorist violence this past week had been dining. This is because at least one, Café Leopold, has been in the LONELY PLANET Guide for over a decade.

On the other hand, I also recall how churchmen I had met in several parts of India on that and on my other journey to India have reached out to serve the poorer Muslim parts of India.

For example, the benevolent arm of my church, known as HOPE WORLDWIDE, has been involved in projects from Gujarat to Bangalore to Calcutta (and around the planet), reaching out to slum-dwellers and those who have lost their home due to violence or natural catastrophes.

Specifically, in 2000 I had visited with HOPE representatives in Bangalore . On one date in July, I had visited a set of schools that had been hallowed out of the garbage dumps in Bangalore in previous years.

The community living in and around these garbage heaps are Muslims, who come from all over southern India trying to make a better world for their families. The incoming poor Muslims sift the dumps to have property to sell or to build with.

These particular school projects are fully run by local Indians who are reaching out to serve each other and even non-Christians.

AIDS awareness projects in India , as well as to other projects in Afghanistan and Cambodia are well-known and well respected.

These projects are not intended to focus on proselytizing--as was the case 100 years ago in many parts of the globe.

This has been a positive change in how religious communities can and do approach each other often—despite what radicals and crazies on the fringe approach life and living.

Another example of how small numbers of believers of whatever faith can make a difference is my own tiny church in Kuwait , which was able to sponsor Afghanistan projects, i.e. HOPE projects which had earlier simply offered medical aid to women during the Taliban days. That is, when such medical support was almost non-existent.

Likewise, in 2005 my tiny church set up an appointment for the HOPE representative from Afghanistan to sit down for a dinner visit with the Afghanistan Embassy in Kuwait . This helped both Christians and Muslims in Kuwait to lobby for more nationwide support in the subsequent “Zakat” campaign for aiding Afghanis, especially in women’s education and health, as well as in work-training. (“Zakat” is the Muslim’s giving or tithing taken normally around Ramadan each year. It is a pillar of their faith practices.)

Similarly, last month, my humble tiny fellowship in Kuwait donated to a benevolent group in Lebanon .

We sent this money to a multinational Christian fellowship in Beirut consists of Armenian and Lebanese (and other Arab) Christians. However, that church also helps support a food bank and kitchen for Lebanese of all religious backgrounds Beirut . (Since the Muslim New Year and Christmas are dovetailing again this year, December will be a great time for Christians to share with Muslim poor in Lebanon .)

In this day and age—with food prices rising, violence occurring, and economies going bust—it is essential that people, regardless of their faiths, reach out to each other in all kinds of supportive and positive ways.


During the midst of “The Siege of Mumbai” this week, my pastor—also from Mumbai most of his life—chose to begin his weekly church message with 2 Corinthians 4:1-10, which begins:

“Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God If our Message is obscure to anyone, it's not because we're holding back in any way. No, it's because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won't have to bother believing a Truth they can't see.”

Moreover, 2 Corinthians continues, “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken.”

At a moment, when Mumbai residents were and are terrorized by great forces, it is a brave message.

Even if a reader is not a Christian, I would recommend that they face the violence in the positive light of this sort of message.

That is, whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Confucianist, agnostic peacemaker, or just-plain builder-of-better-worlds, we need to recognize the power within us to change the mess- and horrors of this time in history.

This means, as the Mumbai pastor shared, “We cannot support victimization.”

In conclusion, we need not react by lashing out at others in times of terror and horror, especially non-responsible faithful of other religions.


My Indian pastor continued here in Kuwait . He asked, “Have you heard of the LAW OF THE GARBAGE TRUCK?”

This “law” was first described by David J. Pollay. Through the metaphor of a “garbage truck” has made a living and helped many other peoples enjoy happier lives.

Pollay’s anecdote has been published widely and shared in many pulpit around the globe.

My Mumbai pastor began to share the story, which Pollay first wrote some time ago:

“I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed and at the last moment the car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end. And what did we see next? The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started swearing at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face.”


Pollay continues, “And then here’s what blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, ‘Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!’ And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck™’

The taxi driver stated, “Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

The punchline is: “So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.”

Pollay notes how he began to ponder on this: “So I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home or on the street? It was then that I said, “I don’t want the garbage and I’m not going to spread it anymore.”

Pollay concludes, “I began to see Garbage Trucks. Like in the movie ‘The Sixth Sense,’ where the little boy said, ‘I see Dead People.” Well now ‘I see Garbage Trucks.’ I see the load they’re carrying. I see them coming to drop it off. And like my taxi driver, I don’t take it personally; I just smile, wave, wish them well and move on.’”

“The bottom line”, according to Pollay, “is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their day. What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more Garbage Trucks pass you by?”


As though desiring to model his interpretation of the Way of Christ on the Cross, my friend Pradeep left our church on Friday, November 28, 2008 by going to an Indian music concert, where he served as a participant.

Pradeep plays the Indian drums, the tabela, very well.

Hours later, Pradeep took the stage with two other great Indian drummers and played away on Friday evening—even as the last gunmen from the Siege in Mumbai were fighting it out with Indian security forces.

By the way, the festival in Kuwait ’s township of Daiya on Friday night was called the 6th Annual day of Kalabhavan. In the audience that night were Indian Muslims, Indian Hindus, and Indian Christians celebrating with their children music and culture.

Kalabhavan means “House of Culture” in Hindi.

In short, approximately a thousand other Indians (& my friend from church, Pradeep, along with his wife and kids and other friends from church) spent the evening of the second day of Siege in Mumbai, i.e. November 28, singing, dancing, and focusing on becoming better in living out their lives than those terrorists back in Mumbai.

That is, those who are dumping their garbage of hate and anger on others these days.


Back in the U.S.A. , on Thursday the first full-day of the “Siege in Mumbai”, the Democracy Now program in New York City determined to replay a segment of Martin Luther King Jr. being interviewed by the recently deceased Studs Terkel—recorded in the early 1960s just after King had received the Nobel Peace Prize.

I, just like my hero MLK had done 50 years ago, had come to India this decade to seek the footsteps where Gandhi had tread.

In that recorded discussion with Terkel in 1964, King makes it clear that he was deeply influenced by three men—his father, Thoreau, and Gandhi.

King, unlike the Pat Robertson’s model of a Christian in our day, knew what it was like to really try and follow the path of Jesus (and the path of Gandhi).


Besides looking at the senseless terror and violence, readers today in November 2008 must remember that there have been many a light a-shining from and in India in the past millennia —just as in the centuries of U.S. history, some Americans have actually served as beacons on the hill for others.

We can no longer look at the darkness and carry-out revenge and dump garbage on others!

That is not the way either to live or to die!

MLK noted in the aforementioned Terkel interview that his own father had made it clear to him that the children of segregationists were growing up with garbage and illnesses of the mind.

Therefore, in the midst of his learning as a child (and as a college student of Gandhi and Thoreau), MLK acquired his Dream--A dream whereby haters and victims of children of haters could sit down together—like lambs and lions

This is my dream from Kuwait to Mumbai , India —and to the world in November 2008. Follow and live out the best of your religious and progressive history—not the worst.

We all need a Dream to guide us.

It’s often fairly rough to turn one’s cheek, but it’s always correct to stand up for what is the right path to live one’s life. We need to do both.

There may be violence ahead, but we all need a vision of what earthly and spiritual harmony looks like, or we will never get on a better path or find better ways than exist today.

Gandhi and MLK have showed us where to stand…where to dream!!

Come on India and South Asia help us bury the cultural wars of our forefathers, help us build a world with a conscience and positioned to do better than what this decade’s violence has shown us.

Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, et. al need to envision having our children sit down together and we need to recall how we really need to raise them.



Law of the Garbage Truck,

Al-Sharikh, Shamael, “Tuesdays with Morrie: A Simple Spiritual Guide to Death”,


Sunday, November 23, 2008



By Kevin A. Stoda

Readers need to connect these dots, so they present this analysis in teach-ins.

Earlier in January of 2008, Dr. Paul Krugman (this year’s Nobel Laureate inn Economics) began the year by claiming, “One thing I get asked fairly often is whether the Iraq war is responsible for our economic difficulties. The answer (with slight qualifications) is no. Just to be clear: I yield to nobody in my outrage over the way we were lied into a disastrous, unnecessary war. But economics isn’t a morality play, in which evil deeds are always punished and good deeds rewarded”

Was the Nobel Laureate correct?

In order to answer this question, let’s look back over the past 10 months (or even over the past 8 years) and discover if there aren’t good clues that the current global recession has, in fact, been significantly adversely affected by the U.S. federal governments strategy of the past 8 years—(a) wage war,(b) under utilize the tax system, (c) privatize the military and (d) spend-spend-spend system.
Let’s us consider these four points.

First, the price of oil began to rise in the run-up to the Gulf War in 2002 and continued to rise through mid-2008. During this time, American borrowers had to pay higher fuel costs—money that could have been used to pay off (or to pay down) their mortgages. Is there a possible connection with the greatest financial crises of the last 70 years?

Yes, there is.

Second, the federal government refused to taxes (or to sell & raise specific war bonds) for the three front wars on terror between 2001 and 2008.

This double-failure meant that potentially the government’s borrowing significantly increased substantially over the past 8 years (as did the printing of money—even electronic money--, i.e. which is normally inflationary). This federal borrowing then would normally have led to inflation in the USA, which would have likely dampened the level of borrowing across the board in the USA over the past 6 to 8 years.

However, the Bush Administration and the federal reserve sought to counteract all the negative potential increases in interest on borrowing in the USA by intentionally lowering the federal lending rate—now to record low levels. This war-cover-up policy created an even greater disincentive to save than was the case decades ago.

Didn’t this attempt to cover-up inflation, in fact, help create the biggest Real Estate bubble in decades?—I.e. as borrowers for both homes and cars went wild borrowing, even as the country continued dancing year-after-year on the edge of recession?

I think, “Yes”.

Krugman did, in fact, share last January the following caveat to his overall rejection of blaming war in leading to an American (and then global recession):
In January Krugman admitted, “[H]igh oil prices are a drag on the economy, and the war has some — but probably not too much — responsibility for pricey oil. Mainly high-priced oil is the result of rising demand from China and other emerging economies, colliding with sluggish supply as the world gradually runs out of the stuff. But Iraq would be exporting more oil now if we hadn’t invaded — a million barrels a day? — and that would have kept prices down somewhat. Overall, though, the story of America’s economic difficulties is about the bursting housing bubble, not the war.”

I beg to differ with Dr. Krugman’s January analysis.

The bubble in oil prices continued unabated for so many years, not only because of the rise of the Chinese economy, but because speculators needed to find other ways of making money than by investing in the USA during an 8 year period when a housing bubble was rising and likely to burst.

In this case, many dollars have fled the American economy to chase petroleum and energy investments world wide. This was because the military and war-making were helping to under-serve the core industries in the United States. That is, too little homegrown investment in alternative energy production was being undertaken as banks and scammers were encourage to go for the gold in housing and financial markets because the Bush Administration was so interested in getting Americans to spend during war-time, rather than to save and invest in key national industries.

In short, war-making was covered up by a spend in crises philosophy in Washington, with the hallmark being low interest rates while the federal government was throwing money around only marginal sectors of the economy or in marginal regions of the global economy, like Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Couldn’t this be partial cause for the sudden deflation in oil prices only months after the bubbles in the USA collapsed and the government of China began to curtail energy consumption in 2008 by reducing price guarantees in its local economy?

I believe “Yes”.

This is what has happened, and if the U.S. hadn’t been so closely embedded with the Gulf Sheikdoms over the past 8 years over endless war, even the U.S. government could have persuaded or signaled the Gulf States to help reduce fuel prices two years ago already, i.e. when the housing market first collapsed and showed that U.S. consumers no longer could afford the record global prices. (The historical precedent for both Bush and the Oil Sheikhs to observe was that the Carter Administration in 1978-1980 had similarly seen such a negative impact on the U.S. economy from higher oil prices, but the high federal interest rates had put a damper on energy consumption, on investment, and on oil prices within a two to four year period.)

Finally, the ongoing cost of a three-front war on terror will continue to tie the federal government’s hands for years to come. This means that government will continue to borrow and increase spending for both (a) war and (b) non-war items. This would normally lead to inflation at some point next year—unless the Fed keeps interest rates at their historical lows.

However, that sucking sound for unheard of war deficits in a state in the midst of Depression are coming from the USA.

This means that (1) there will continue to be disincentives to save money in the U.S.A which (2) will lead to further borrowing sooner than later.

This could lead to a bubble again in various investment markets—and then we have a repeat recession or stagflation if the new Obama government allows the Federal government to incentivize savings or creates high-interest bonds to pay off the current war debts.


The lesson is don’t try and hide the elephant in the room.

If endless wars are sucking up money, let everyone know the facts, so we can handle the debacle before it gets way-out-of hand.

America must avoid any more suicidal melt-downs like the Soviet Union faced in the 1980s, i.e. when that former federal state overspent on wars on multiple fronts over decades, without paying attention to growing and building a strong home market.
China will likely learn from this crises of the WEST in order to build up and serve its own local (sometimes) pent-up demand.

Will America and Western economists (and statesmen) be that shrewd in 2009 and onward?


Krugman, Paul, “An Iraqi Recession”,


Friday, November 21, 2008

Dear Dr. Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Laureate,


By Kevin Stoda

We need to stop the horrid flood of wasted money in Washington being misspent on the so-called BAILOUT this autumn to W. Bush's cronies.

Naomi Klein has called it criminal already and W. Bush has failed to even appoint the full-legally required oversight personnel for the give-away to his cronies.

Ask Obama to have Paul Krugman and Naomi Klein to go to Washington to take over the country till Obama takes over the shop at the end of January.

Dear Dr. Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Laureate,

Please save America from the worst of what the Bush Administration has been doing to America this November. He has failed to provide the legally required oversight for the trillion dollar bailouts America is undertaking this autumn.

Naomi Klein has been out running around North America trying to create awareness of the multi-trillion dollar robbery from U.S. tax payers in the so-called bailout passed by Congress in October—i.e. a bailout that is looking daily more expensive than nationalization would have ever been in terms of cost.

We need the Nobel laureate, like you Dr. Krugman, to stand up and travel around all the news programs this Thanksgiving week shouting “Highway Robbery”—i.e.until all Americans stand up and get the Lame Duck Congress to get the long promised (6 weeks ago) new financial oversight committee monitoring the most expensive (runaway) federal bailout in U.S. and global history.

I’m sorry to take away from your family time at Thanksgiving, but this transition from Bush to Obama is going to become the most costly in American history, too, if we don’t get our teeth (and monitoring) into the poor excuse for banking personnel who have continued to pay bonuses and dividends galore with tax-payer moneys since October.

Let me explain.

In Naomi Klein’s well-written recent article, “In Praise of a Rocky Transition”, the well-known economic critical has appropriately called the October Bailout “borderline criminal”.

Please, Dr. Krugman, I know you run a great blog and column and all in The New York Times, but we Americans need more leadership than that at this moment in history. We need someone like you who can cut through all the ho--- s--- that the Treasury and Washington have been tossing our way for weeks.

Please, join Naomi Klein on the national interview circuit and save the country before Bush and the head of the Treasury spend our great-grandchildren further into debt!


Naomi Klein ended one recent interview by stating, “[T]his bailout is really not a bailout at all; it’s a parting gift to the people that the Bush—that George Bush once referred to jokingly as “my base.” You know, in one of my columns recently, I likened it to what European colonial rulers used to do when they finally realized they had to hand over power; they would loot the treasury on the way out the door.”

Klein, author of THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: THE RISE OF THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, added, “[T]he reason why there has been this dramatic change in policy just in recent days, where Henry Paulson has said, ‘OK, well, we’re not going to do what we originally had said at all,’ which is use the bailout money to buy distressed assets, to buy bad debts, ‘Now we’re going to go from these equity deals with the banks to bailing out credit card companies”—the reason for that is that that first $250 billion was essentially money down the drain. They are admitting that it didn’t do what it was supposed to do, which was increase lending. So, now they’re making it up as they go along. It’s take three, take four, take five. But we’re supposed to somehow not notice that $250 billion, an astronomical sum, was just wasted, going to bonuses, going to shareholder payouts, going to CEO salaries. And now they’re trying another method to get lending going. But it really was the parting gift . . .’”

Three weeks before the full-scale pillage began of tax-payers money by the U.S. Treasury chief, Naomi Klein predicted in her THE NATION editorial, “The Bailout” equals “Bush’s final pillage”.

Klein implied that it was all this financial bail-out talk was simply a last minute push to ensure that American’s could never pay for universal health care and that the Bush Republicans could pay off for decades the Bush family political base before leaving office—at ours and our great-grandchildren’s expense.

Last Monday, Klein was on DEMOCRACY NOW, where she noted, “[I]f we think about what this money means, and this is—you know, this crisis isn’t over, and the same people who justified this bailout, who clamored for this bailout, are the very people who are going to turn around and say to Barack Obama, ‘We can’t afford for you to make good on your election promises. We can’t afford universal healthcare. In fact, we can’t afford what meager services Americans get in exchange for their tax dollars, like Social Security payments.’ We’re already hearing this lowering of expectations now in the national discourse. So, the money—this really is, you know, reverse Robin Hood gone mad. The money has been given to the people who needed it least, and it’s going to be used to justify austerity measures imposed against those who need it most. It’s going to be used to justify cuts to food stamps. It’s going to be used to justify cuts to Social Security, to healthcare, let alone being used to justify why more ambitious plans for a national healthcare program, for green energy are not affordable. So people have to be ready for this. You know, the next shock is yet to come.”

Klein noticed clearly that what has occurred since September 2008 is that the U.S. Treasury is being privatized—is being given over to the private sector, just as our military was privatized and has been run under the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld White House.
Naomi Klein rightly critiques this as one of the worst monitored financial bail-outs in history.

She has explained clearly that what has been handed out so generously to banks in recent weeks is similar to when the George W. Bush waltzed American armed forces into Iraq--and gave away no-bid contracts running into the hundreds of billion to all his election base and cronies of all types—i.e. all at the U.S. taxpayers expense.

“The more details emerge, the clearer it becomes that Washington’s handling of the Wall Street bailout is not merely incompetent. It is borderline criminal,” says Naomi Klein.


Since I heard this interview on Democracy Now with Naomi Klein five days ago, I have been awaiting the scene of millions of Americans hitting the streets and demanding that the Lame Duck Congress take back the reigns of the bailout from the abusive Bush administration and appointees.

Where are all other leaders in America who have had it up to their necks in robbing from the poor and giving to the rich?

The silence at the crime scene in America this Thanksgiving Week is astounding.
Please Dr. Krugman, help Americans find a voice and help demand that many banks really be run right or sold to the government. Up till now we have only seen these bailed-out institutions fail to make good loans, fail to run themselves well and fail to offer decent interest rates for savers.

Meanwhile our treasury is run by banking and financial old-boys school folks who haven’t got a clue---except as to how to make a buck for cronies.

In conclusion, America doesn’t need mega-banks, impersonal banks. We need good banks that deal with us all like we are valuable social creatures that make up society.
Please, Dr. Krugman, shout out and demand a meeting with Bush and with Obama--and offer immediately to take over both the treasury and economic planning in America for the weeks until Obama takes over and enough good & trustworthy replacements can be found.

Thanks. We need one good leader and economist in Washington, DC today!! Join Naomi in her crusade to get Americans to really stop the bleeding of the American financial system, Today.


K.A.S.—an American living in economic exile till the wrongs are made right and American banks are run right


Naomi Klein on the Bailout Profiteers and the Multi-Trillion Dollar Crime Scene,

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine,


GULF WAR SYNDROM RECOGNIZED—WHAT ABOUT AID FOR US WHO LIVE HERE IN KUWAIT AND IRAQ? By Kevin Stoda Gulf War Syndrome is real but residents of the Pe


By Kevin Stoda

Gulf War Syndrome is real but residents of the Persian Gulf region --including millions of expatriates--are not kept up-to-date on medical research on a disease that bares their region's name.

Dear Kuwaiti and Iraqi residents,

I noted during this past week, the following headline was placed at the top of the front page in the ARAB TIMES on Wednesday here in Kuwait: “Report to Congress: Gulf War Syndrome is Real”.

The particular article originated from L.A. Times and can be read in full here.
The authors of the L.A. Times article, Mary Engle and Thomas Maugh state, “Contradicting nearly two decades of government denials, a congressionally mandated scientific panel has concluded that Gulf War syndrome is real and still afflicts nearly a quarter of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 conflict. The report cited two chemical exposures consistently associated with the disorder: the drug pyridostigmine bromide, given to troops to protect against nerve gas, and pesticides that were widely used – and often overused – to protect against sand flies and other pests.”

The 450-page report was presented to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake and claimed, "The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is a result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time."


Unlike this past Spring when the shipment of tons and tons of uranium and led tainted sand from Kuwaiti, i.e. from the old U.S. military base named Camp Doha northwest of Kuwait City, had created a stir in Kuwaiti newspapers and blogs, there has been next-to-nothing mentioned in the Kuwaiti media nor newspapers about the effects of the Gulf War on the local populations living here in the Persian Gulf, i.e. where longtime environmental health hazards have risen after three major wars in the past three decades.

The headline on page 1 of the ARAB TIMES on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 combined with the relative silence over the three subsequent days, leads me to make the following observation:

(1) Kuwaitis and Kuwaiti residents are worried about continuing lingering effects by the same sources of Gulf War Syndrome suffered by war victims around the world, e.g. such as experienced by American soldiers since 1990.
(2) Kuwaitis continue to desire not to make a big public fuss about their health concerns as long as it relies on the U.S. as its nuclear or military umbrella.

To help Kuwaitis, I offer this background on how to begin to investigate the syndrome. The next step would be to discuss the matter with your doctor if you have been suffering.

According to the American legion, here are some of the lasting and long term symptoms of GULF WAR SYNDROM as described by victims or patients in the U.S.A.
Symptoms of Gulf War Illnesses (according to the American Legion) include:

• Chronic Fatigue
• Signs and symptoms involving skin (including skin rashes and unusual hair loss)
• Headache
• Muscle pain
• Neurologic signs or symptoms (nervous system disorders which could manifest themselves in numbness in one's arm, for instance)
• Neuropsychological signs or symptoms (including memory loss)
• Signs or symptoms involving upper or lower respiratory system
• Sleep disturbances
• Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms (including recurrent diarrhea and constipation)
• Cardiovascular signs or symptoms
• Menstrual disorders

This is an incomplete list.

Others around the globe have been monitoring and researching the Gulf War Syndrome for nearly two decades. Here is a search of academic articles dating back to the mid-1990s (available on Google Scholar):
Brain abnormalities are among many of the other types of symptoms studied in recent times. offers this link:

Here is another site that describes the syndrome as being related to virus.

Interestingly, the U.S. report comes over five years after the UK began to recognize the Gulf War Syndrome as a real disease and, therefore, made it easier for military personnel to make claims.

I would suggest that both Kuwaiti and Iraqi residents look into these matters with their own doctors as the need or symptoms arise.

One way to keep up on the research would be to follow what the U.S. and British armed forces are acknowledging--now that both countries no longer deny the reality of the Syndrome.

By the way, the full 450-page report identified in the L.A. Times piece is here.

Perhaps, you could print it out and send it to your physician or the Kuwaiti or Iraqi ministries of health.


Stoda, Kevin, “Depleted uranium Strikes Again, This Time in the U.S.”,

Stoda, Kevin, “More than Just Bad Memories: Depleted Uranium Weapons still not Spoken about in Kuwait” ,

Stoda, Kevin, “Uranium and Led: Kuwaiti’s Sand Shipped to Idaho”,


BIG BOY RULES AND THE KUWAIT CONNECTION By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait At the end of this article is the excerpt from a Democracy Now interview with BIG BO


By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait

At the end of this article is the excerpt from a Democracy Now interview with BIG BOY RULES author, Steve Fainaru. who just won the Pulitzer Prize.

As I have lived in Kuwait for half a decade, I am quite aware of the bad business practices and firms in this country, which have nonetheless made a lot of money for Kuwaiti’s and for many North American- and Middle East-based subcontractors.

Author Fainaru spent time with the K-Marts of American Service companies based out of Kuwait and running their own little sideshows in Iraq.

Naturally, Blackwater is one well-known name as is Halliburton and friends.

Yet, other logistics firms, service companies and mercenary military companies have made over 100s of billions of dollars off of the U.S. occupation of Iraq since 2002 (when build up for the invasion began).

In both the interview with Fainaru and in reading his book BIG BOY RULES, we are shown a shocking and sickening world which American tax payers have been coughing up money for.

This sickening and lawless world includes allowing these paid mercenary firms, so-called private security companies, to shoo people for no reason at all—and to fire whistle blowers who tattle on them.

Triple Canopy is the name of one of the Kuwait based firms that Fainaru was embedded in while in Iraq and Kuwait over a 16 month period.


AGILITY used to be known as PWC (Public Warehouse Corporation in Kuwait).

AGILITY is one of the Kuwaiti and American firms which has grown to become a major world-wide logistics player due to the benevolence of U.S. taxpayers and its national defense leadership over the past 8 years.

AGILITY has managed such growth only after the Sultan family, who had created an enormous number of friendships with DOD leaders over the previous decade, began to build huge warehouses in the middle of the Desert in Kuwait about a decade ago, i.e. in preparation to successfully create numerous niches of business with the U.S. military in its oncoming invasion and takeover of Iraq.

That is, prior to 2002-2003 when the U.S. military began its huge build up for war in Iraq, PWC (now AGILITY) was a much smaller-fry in the scheme of things among regional and global logistic firms.

Recently, at the end of October 2008 (and during the week prior Barack Obama being elected the President of the United States), some local aristocrats attended a costume party, i.e. over Halloween.

NOTE: Officially Halloween is not practiced in an Islamic country like Kuwait.

In attendance at that particular costume party in Kuwait were members of the Sultan family, i.e. those who have both American and Kuwaiti citizenship and who are behind AGILITY’s monetary success (and good connections with U.S.’s DOD in Kuwait and Iraq) over the past decade.

That particular (Halloween 2008) costume party thus found the major movers-and-shakers of AGILITY wearing janitors’ costume. The inside joke is that such janitors barely earn 100 dollars a month in Kuwait, i.e. while working in Kuwait for firms such as AGILITY.

Sweeping the floor of the Costume Party, one could observe one AGILITY bigwig who had placed something new on his AGILITY janitor’s costume. On the back of the blue uniform was placed a “thumbs down to Obama”.

This Sultan family member then wryly smiled and week, “Yes, if Obama gets elected, this is likely to be the kind of job I will have to take on if Obama is elected.”

However, now Obama has been elected, I seriously doubt that this leading Sultan family and AGILITY leader will actually lose his job very soon.

Let’s pray that the American military does pull out of Iraq soon.

Moreover, let’s demand that the company’s like AGILITY are no longer allowed to earn hundreds of billions off U.S. tax payers, i.e. America must stop its dependence on either mercenary firms or soldiers to fight its wars around the globe.

These firms have been involved in underpaying foreign workers in danger zones, failing to represent American values abroad, and have cost us all too much money.

In summary, such overdependence on subcontractors and mercenary armed forces by the USA is expensive. Moreover, in both the long and short term very self-defeating as the DOD cannot really arrest and charge mercenaries with crimes in the war zones if the US DOD is over-dependent on them.


Here is the site to listen to the Interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.

AMY GOODMAN: The pact recently approved by the Iraqi cabinet that allows 150,000 US troops to stay in Iraq ’til 2011 could have a significant impact on the role of private military contractors deployed in the war. According to the Wall Street Journal, the draft Status of Forces Agreement, known as SOFA, appears to end immunity from local Iraqi law for private military contractors. If the pact is approved by the Iraqi parliament, contractors would fall under the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts and would be subject to prosecution.
This comes as top Justice Department prosecutors are reportedly reviewing a draft indictment against six Blackwater security guards who opened fire in a crowded Baghdad square more than a year ago, killing seventeen Iraqi civilians. The Associated Press reports senior Justice Department officials are said to be considering manslaughter and assault charges against the guards. The indictments would mark the first time armed private contractors from the United States face justice.
Meanwhile, the State Department is reportedly preparing to hit Blackwater with a multi-million-dollar fine for allegedly shipping as many as 900 automatic weapons to Iraq without the required permits.
President-elect Barack Obama has been a staunch critic of private military contractors operating in Iraq and is the sponsor of the leading Democratic legislation in the Senate to bring more effective regulation and oversight to the war industry. But he has stopped short of seeking an outright ban on using armed contractors in Iraq. In March, after he delivered a speech on the economy here in New York at Cooper Union, I asked, well, then-Senator Obama if he would call for a ban on private military contractors.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you call for a ban on the private military contractors like Blackwater?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I’ve actually—I’m the one who sponsored the bill that called for the investigation of Blackwater and those folks, so—

AMY GOODMAN: But would you support the Sanders one now?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Here’s the problem: we have 140,000 private contractors right there, so unless we want to replace all of or a big chunk of those with US troops, we can’t draw down the contractors faster than we can draw down our troops. So what I want to do is draw—I want them out in the same way that we make sure that we draw out our own combat troops. Alright? I mean, I—

AMY GOODMAN: Not a ban?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I don’t want to replace those contractors with more US troops, because we don’t have them, alright? But this was a speech about the economy.

AMY GOODMAN: The war is costing $3 trillion, according to Stiglitz.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: That’s what—I know, which I made a speech about last week. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, we’re joined by one of the leading journalists covering private military contractors in Iraq. Steve Fainaru, is a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, where he covered the Iraq war from 2004 to ’07. He won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his stories on private military contractors. His book is just out this week; it’s called Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq.

Steve Fainaru, welcome to Democracy Now!

STEVE FAINARU: Thanks very much. Thanks for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: What about this news coming out about the possibility of the indictments against Blackwater mercenaries and the fines against the company?

STEVE FAINARU: Well, to be honest with you, I’m quite skeptical about the indictments. You know, I want to see what they look like when they come out, exactly what—if in fact they are handed up, what do they say? What are these people being charged with? And then, how aggressively are these cases going to be pursued?
I think, from the beginning, this case has been extremely problematic. When the Nisour Square shootings occurred, the FBI took two weeks before it arrived in Iraq to investigate the case. There was limited immunity that was granted to some of the Blackwater contractors in the immediate aftermath by the State Department. And then, I think the larger question is, exactly how do you prosecute these cases? Under what law? It’s never been clear exactly what law applies to private security contractors in Iraq. And I think, frankly, that’s the biggest problem.
My understanding of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which I believe would be the law under which these guys would be prosecuted, requires the prosecution to take place in the state in which the person who’s accused resides. So, if in fact we’re talking about six separate indictments, we could be talking about six separate prosecutions occurring in six different states. And then, of course, there are issues with evidence. There are issues with exactly what the charges are going to be. There are questions of interviews and witnesses and how exactly do you do this. So I think it’s extremely problematic.

AMY GOODMAN: What are “big boy rules”?

STEVE FAINARU: Well, it’s a—“big boy rules” is an expression that I first heard when I was reporting on a story in which a private contractor who worked for a company called Triple Canopy, which shares a State Department contract with Blackwater, one of their contractors announced to three of his colleagues, who were traveling with him that day, that he really wanted to shoot someone. And that day, according to these three colleagues, they were traveling on the airport road in Baghdad, and while they were passing a civilian taxi, this contractor, according to these three guys, fired into the windshield of this passing civilian taxi. When that happened, there was no real legal mechanism by which to deal with the situation. And as I was reporting the case, I heard from other contractors that they used this expression “big boy rules.” And what it really meant was that there were no rules for private security contractors in Iraq, and they operated under basically their own system of justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Your shirt is actually hitting your mike. If you could pull it, that’s great. That’s good. I want to ask you about the group of contractors—and you made a decision to call them “mercenaries.” Do they call themselves mercenaries?

STEVE FAINARU: I did, I did. Some of them, of course, do; most of them don’t. For me, it was a very conscious decision to use the word “mercenaries,” because I feel like we should call this process exactly what it is, that when you look at the Geneva Conventions and the definition of “mercenaries,” we’re talking about people who are not part of the armed force that’s participating in the conflict. They are people who are—their primary motivation is money. They’re being paid to take place in—to take part in hostilities. And so, I think that the practice is clearly—it clearly falls under that definition. Now, many people don’t agree, but I feel strongly.

And I’ve also always felt that the term “private security contractors” never really has done justice to exactly what the scope of what’s going on in Iraq with these people. We’re talking about tens of thousands of hired guns who are running around Iraq in a war zone. They are being fired upon. They’re returning fire. They’re killing people, and they’re being killed. And the term "private security contractor,” it could apply to anybody. It could apply to a Brink’s guard. It could apply to somebody who’s standing in front of a 7-Eleven. And I never really—I felt like it obfuscated—I felt like it obscured the reality of what was happening.

AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us about the group that you were embedded with and what happened to them. This was in 2006. You were the last reporter, one of the last people to see them alive.

STEVE FAINARU: Right. Well, while I was working for the Washington Post, we wanted to find out what this culture was and why these people were there, who they were. And so, I embedded with a private security company called Crescent Security Group that operated out of Kuwait City. I traveled into Iraq with these people. We were—their primary mission was to protect supply convoys on Iraq’s main highway. And so, I traveled into Iraq. We traveled up to Nasiriyah, and then we traveled back to the Iraq-Kuwait border. I interviewed them. I found out what they were about.
And one of the things that was most striking about this company was—you know, in the book, I call it basically the Kmart of private security, where, you know, if you have Blackwater sort of at the high end of the security spectrum—traveling in heavily armored vehicles, working for the State Department, paying their contractors $20,000 a month—you had companies like Crescent Security Group, who were paying their contractors $7,000 a month, they had a lot less experience, there were enormous problems with the company.
I came home. Before I had even written my story, the people that I had spent time with were kidnapped on the same highway where we had been traveling. They were missing for sixteen months, and last April their bodies turned up in southern Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: First, their fingers cut off.

STEVE FAINARU: First, their fingers were delivered to the air base in Basra as evidence that—from an informant, that he knew where the bodies were. And then, about a month later, the bodies were delivered to the air base at Basra.

AMY GOODMAN: How did they get involved with these mercenary companies? You came to know these men well.

STEVE FAINARU: Right. Well, it’s interesting, because I really didn’t know what to expect when I got there. And one of the things that I found that was most striking—and this was striking throughout our time investigating these companies in Iraq—was that they were an incredibly diverse group, that everybody had their own sort of story about why they should be in Iraq. The primary motivation was money. Everybody was there—that was the number one reason for being there. But when you got sort of beyond that, there were all kinds of other—there were all kinds of other issues that were in play.
The main character of the book, Jon Cote, had been in the 82nd Airborne, and he had done a tour in Afghanistan and Iraq. And when he got out, he enrolled at the University of Florida to study accounting. He was like the least likely accounting major in the history of accounting. And what he found—when he got out, he found that he just simply could not cope, that his experience in the military had put him in a sort of a place in his life where he just couldn’t adapt to civilian life. He clearly had post-traumatic stress. And so, one of his—his scout leader from the Army offered him a job to make $7,000 a month driving supply convoys—guarding supply convoys in Iraq. And he took the job, just thinking that, you know, this was some way—this was a way for him to get more money for college. He had financial problems. And so, he went back.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happened afterwards? And their attitudes when they were there? And their feelings about what they were doing in Iraq?

STEVE FAINARU: Well, I think it was varied. In Jon’s case, I think he realized very quickly that he had gotten into a situation that he simply was not prepared for. The company that he was working for was corrupt. They were smuggling weapons and liquor back and forth across the Iraq-Kuwait border. They were fabricating military IDs that they were using on their—that they were giving to their Iraqi employees to get onto US military installations. They were traveling in these pickup trucks in, you know, an extremely dangerous environment. And he decided to go home, after a couple of—three months. He decided he had enough and had told his friends and his family that he was planning to go home. But before he could, it was too late.
Other guys, I found, simply thrived on the life. You know, they were adrenaline junkies. They lived for this stuff. There was another guy that I met, John Young, who—he had been in the—he was forty-four years old. He had been in the Army in the 1980s. When he got out of the Army, he sort of drifted around to different jobs, never really feeling like he was totally content. He tried to reenlist in the military and injured himself during basic training. And so, when this job came along, he did it. And even after nearly getting shot in Baghdad, he still felt like—he said, “This is me. You know, this is what I do.” And I think there were a lot of people like that in Iraq, you know, who were drawn by the opportunity. They were making maybe ten times as much money as they could have made in the United States. They were addicted to the action, and they took the job.

AMY GOODMAN: You describe one guy from, I think it was, Triple Canopy, talking about wanting to kill someone.

STEVE FAINARU: Yeah, it’s a chilling story, and I think it points up a lot of different issues. You know, he announced in an almost off-handed way—

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you?

STEVE FAINARU: What’s that?

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you?

STEVE FAINARU: When this occurred?


STEVE FAINARU: Well, I wasn’t with the individual. I heard about the story later and then interviewed the people who were—all the people who were in the truck. But he announced to his three colleagues that he wanted to kill someone, and then he went out on Iraq’s—on Baghdad’s airport road and fired into the windshield of a taxi. And I think what the case pointed up—

AMY GOODMAN: Killing the people inside, killing the driver?

STEVE FAINARU: Well, it was not clear, because they simply drove off. The car, according to the witnesses, you know, sputtered to a stop on the side of the road. The witnesses saw bullet holes in the windshield. When they got back to the base, you know, there was a lot of confusion about what to do. Ironically, there was a Fijian guy who was on this team who was paid a tenth of what the American contractors who were in the same vehicle were being paid. He went to a Fijian supervisor and told him about what had happened, because he was disgusted. But the Fijian supervisor basically was afraid to go to his American supervisors and tell them what had happened. And so, the other two guys were also not sure what to do. They were afraid to come forward. Finally, after two days, they came forward, and they told the company what had happened. And the company’s response was to fire not only them, but the man who was accused of firing into this truck—or into this taxi.
One of the things I think that case points up is that there was no legal mechanism to pursue it any further. Nor was there any incentive for the company, really, to pursue it any further. The company, Triple Canopy, went to the director of security for the Green Zone and basically told him in a very vague way, you know, what had happened: there was a questionable shooting incident that took place on Baghdad’s airport road. And that’s really basically all they told him. And when I interviewed him, he told me basically that he said to the company, you know, “Look, this is not my job. You know, this is not something that I deal with.” He brought in a JAG officer, and, you know, the case was simply not pursued.
The two guys who were fired ultimately sued in Fairfax County Circuit Court, arguing that had been fired for essentially reporting a criminal act. Triple Canopy argued that the reason they were fired was because they had not reported this incident immediately. A jury upheld the company’s contention that, on technical grounds, they were within every right to fire the two guys who reported the incident, but at the same time the jury condemned the company for what it said was its business practices and the way it conducted its investigation.

AMY GOODMAN: What surprised you most in your reporting on mercenaries in Iraq—we just have about, oh, thirty seconds, a minute—for you, as you wrote this book, Big Boy Rules?

STEVE FAINARU: Well, two things. One was the enormity of it. When I—I had been covering the military for fourteen months, and I’d see these guys around. And when I finally—when I started reporting it, you realize that there were hundreds of companies like Blackwater that were running around Iraq. I think the other thing that was really striking was that the Bush administration, because of its failure to provide enough troops, had essentially farmed out the responsibility for deciding who can kill and die for our country to private companies that were there and who had been created simply to make money off the war.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Steve Fainaru, thanks so much for being with us. Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq is his book. And congratulations on winning the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.

STEVE FAINARU: Thank you very much.




By Kevin A. Stoda

Democracy Now did a lengthy interview with Father Roy Bourgeois this past week on the surprisingly strong threat he has received from Pope Benedict to be excommunicated before this weekend if up if he doesn’t disavow his belief and support of women taking over leadership and ministry of the Catholic Church.

Democracy Now describes Father Roy as a “Maryknoll priest facing excommunication. For the past two decades, he has [also] organized the annual protest against the US Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia”.

As DN interviewer Juan Gonzales, has noted: “The Vatican has threatened to excommunicate well-known Catholic priest and longtime peace advocate Father Roy Bourgeois this Friday unless he recants his support for the ordination of women into the priesthood.”


On the one hand, it appears that there is possibly some disturbing connection between the rapid (i.e. 30-days notice) threat of ex-communication by the Vatican and Father Roy’s politics siding with the poor and victims of torture.

NOTE: Is it paranoid to ask this question, Catholics: “Could it be that some Latin American or North American Catholics are angry at the good father for his siding so often with the poor and victims of torture?

This apparent connection is because the Vatican’s response to the good father’s letter promoting “women’s calls to the priesthood” (i.e., to be supported and accepted by the Catholic church) has been extremely rapid—almost as though, marbles have long been lined up to fire at SOA Watch’s major supporting priest in Fort Benning..

In contrast to the rapid response to try and expel him, Father Roy has asserted in his DN interview, it had taken male-church leaders in the Vatican nearly 5 decades to respond to the child abuse scandals, which have haunted the Roman Catholic in recent years.

On the other hand, it is possible that the Vatican has not been tainted by adverse or poison pen reports on Father Roy over past decades. Perhaps it is truly in fact only Father Roy’s vocal-ness on women’s rights in the church,--rather than his speaking for the disenfranchised--, which has put him on a crash course with the Vatican and/orBishoprics of the Northern Hemisphere.

Father Roy explains his stand, “As a Catholic priest for thirty-six years, in conscience, I cannot remain silent about injustice in my Church. I and many have come to the conclusion that the exclusion of women in the Catholic Church is a grave injustice, and I simply must—I cannot, in conscience, accept the Vatican’s demand that I recant my belief and my public statements in support of women’s ordination. This is simply wrong.”


Father Roy has served in Bolivia and in El Salvador in recent decades with the Mary knoll community. He has shared, “Any institution, organization that’s controlled where the power is in the hands of any particular group, whether they be men or women, is not healthy. Our Church, the Catholic Church, is going through a real crisis. There are thousands of churches that are being shut down because there is a lack of priests. The sexual abuse crisis has really rocked the Church to its roots. I am convinced, of course, that if we had women priests and women bishops, that sexual abuse and the silence during those years would not have been possible. Women simply would not have been silent. I’m also convinced, if we had women priests and women bishops, there would not be such silence about this war in Iraq. I’m convinced, too, that there would be, if we had women priests and women bishops, they would have called for the closing of this School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. We need women priests in our Church for it to be healthy, for it to be complete.”

In the end the powers that be have decided to step on Father Roy as though he is an ant. The fact is, however, there are many who support women taking up their callings regardless of what that call is—to be a priest even.

In the interview with Amy Goodman, Father Roy explains further, “Well, Amy, I have poked as many—a number of beehives in my life. This is the biggest beehive I have ever poked. I’ve poked the beehive of the patriarchy. I think I and others, priests and women and bishops—I’m not alone in this—who call for the ordination of women, I think what we’re threatening at its very core is the power, is power, privilege. I mean, let’s face it, this is an all-boys’ club. And we are card—I and many others are card-carrying members. Again, in conscience, I felt I had to break my silence. I’ve broken that silence many times over the years, and I’m calling on my fellow priests and Catholics and Church leaders to break their silence.”

Father Roy continues, “But what we have here, at its very core, is the sin of sexism. And like racism, no matter how hard we try to justify it or bring in, you know, God to bless discrimination, in the end it is always immoral.”

Bourgeois concludes his charge against the Catholic hierarchy by summing up his rationale for speak up as follows, “[A]t its very core, we’re dealing with power, those in power who have had that power and control for centuries, who simply don’t want to give it up. But I have to say, they must give it up. They will be, in a way, forced to give it up. There are many similarities about, you know, what’s going on in Latin America. We’ve learned that all of these repressive militaries that have held onto their power for so long were not going to give up that power and the abuse of their power through the goodness of their heart. And I’m sad to say that the patriarchy of faith communities, like the Catholic Church and other faith traditions, they will have to give up their power because of the grassroots movement from the bottom up organizing, like in Latin America, so many saying, ‘Basta! We will simply not allow you to repress us as you have been doing for so long.’”


Sometime ago, I began to read Karen Armstrong’s the HISTORY OF GOD. In perusing Armstrong’s work, I noted that both the Western and Middle Eastern concepts of God as being masculine rose prominently only during the later years of the first millennium and at the start of the second millennium in Western Europe.

In other words, Armstrong in her well-respected history on the God of monotheism, outlines that reactionary (or male-revisionist) movements in Judaism, Islam and Christianity rose only or primarily in the last 1000 years.

In short, these male-revisionists tried successfully to turn back the clock on the calling of women. This has marginalized many women from leadership in their faiths for centuries

For example, Judge Deborah, in one of major characters in one of the earliest books in the Old Testament, served as respected main leadership of Israel, i.e. long before King David or king Solomon came on stage.

Likewise, both Jesus in his days on earth encouraged women’s active participation, and later even apostle Paul--obviously a chauvinist in a chauvinist era—often lauded the active role of women in the early church. (See last chapter of Paul’s first epistle, Romans.)

Finally, in the early years of Islam, both Khadija and Aisha, daughter and wife of the Prophet Mohammed, through their own words and influence positively effected doctrines, practices, and beliefs for all generations of Muslims.

For some of my readers, it is certainly not a new concept that practices of a monotheistic faith have never necessarily specifically banned women (or excluded them) from the role of leadership.

Father Roy clearly noted that his own decades-long review of biblical writings and practices underpinning his own faith does not rule out the role of women being called to serve in leadership roles.

As a matter of fact, many Western European countries, from Scandinavia to Netherlands to the UK have nothing in their laws of the land (or rules of the state churches) to prohibit women from being the head of the Church.

Meanwhile, in other Catholic or Orthodox lands of Europe--where queens or empresses have reigned--, these countries, too, have seen women serving as the number one defenders of their monotheistic faiths.

Some other women leaders, such as Jean D’Arc in France, have even led their armies into battle while serving as prophetess and mystics of their particular eras.
Similarly, even as the inquisitorial backlashes washed across the now-male dominated catholic church landscape of 16th century Spain, St. Theresa of Avila, showed a way for a woman to be independent and successful in faith, poetry, and life. Sor Juana in Mexico made similar permanent imprints on the church.

In short, women have served as leaders of kingdoms in faith and leaders of various states for many millennia. (Even Israel, under Golda Meier, was led again by a woman in the 1970s.)

So, in some ways, it should come as certainly surprising that an organization, such as the Catholic Church, still wishes to maintain (unquestioned) the old-Boy’s network against the logic of scriptures and real needs of the millions of Catholics short of leadership as the 3rd Millennia begins.

Let me end this writing with a caveat of my own personal walk with Catholicism and the choice of a woman I personally know eventually followed her calling by God to serve as leader, i.e. minister of a church.

Nearly 50 years ago, my father Ronald John Stoda--a serious & practicing Roman Catholic from birth, married my mother--Deloris Whisner. Both of my parents admitted to each other that at several junctions in their early lives they felt called to the ministry.

Around 1976, my mother, then named Deloris Stoda, finally decided that she had to follow her decades long calling to become a leader of a church.
My father supported her. Within a year, my mother was shepherding three United Methodist Churches in central Kansas. My mother continued in the ministry full time up until 2006.

In short, as a son of both a practicing Catholic and the son of a female minister of a church for 3 decades, I cannot fathom why the Catholic Church or Bible based churches, like the Church of Christ, and real students of Synagogues still do not permit women to lead their fellowships.

I would imagine the same introspection is needed by those in Islam.§ion=0&article=60721&d=20&m=3&y=2005

In the meantime, I encourage all Catholics to support Father Roy Bourgeois in his fight for women in the church (who are called by God) to lead.

Father Roy Biography--Inside the School of the Assassins,

Quest to become UK’s first Imam,

Sadowski, Dennis, Despite Vatican Warning, Priest Still Firm on Women’s Ordination,