Stoned to Death for Having Unmarried Sex in Somalia

8 11 2009

33-year-old Abas Hussein Abdirahman, who confessed to adultery in an Islamic court, was stoned to death on 11/7/09 in Somalia for having sex with his girlfriend. She will be stoned to death after she gives birth to their baby. The BBC reports that an eyewitness…one of 300 to the stoning…said that Abas Somali Al-Shabaab - Credit BBC“…was screaming and blood was pouring from his head during the stoning. After seven minutes he stopped moving.”

The BBC reports that this is the third time this year that Al-Shabab, an Islamist insurgency group in Somalia, has stoned a person to death for adultery. Two men were stoned to death last month after being accused of being spies.

According to the BBC, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed “has accused al-Shabab of spoiling the image of Islam by killing people and harassing women.” Ahmed also had this to say about the Al-Shabab:

Their actions have nothing to do with Islam. They are forcing women to wear very heavy clothes, saying they want them to properly cover their bodies but we know they have economic interests behind – they sell these kinds of clothes and want to force people to buy them.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government in 18 years. Ahmed was sworn in as president in January after UN-brokered peace talks. Ahmed has said he wants to implement the Islamic Sharia law, but the Al-Shabab say he will be too lenient.

One of my most-read posts is Remembering 13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow from Somalia. She reported being gang-raped as she walked to her grandmother’s and was stoned to death, accused of being an adulterer.

Surely God would not condone killing a soon-to-be father and mother who physically expressed love for one another and a child who was gang raped. Stoning them are not acts of honor and love for God. These are acts of terrorism under the guise of religion. They are about instilling fear in people in order to control them. They are senseless acts by people who use God’s name to harm others in order to assert their own power.

I lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia years ago and I understand that in Muslim countries, religion and law are combined in a way we don’t experience in the U.S.  We must be respectful of the laws and traditions of people different from us. Still, I wonder how long Muslims will stand by and allow this to happen in their religion’s name. How long will the world stand by and quietly condemn these acts while they continue?





GHOST: Counterterrorism Agent Fred Burton

16 07 2009

A 12 year stint as a special agent (and later deputy chief) of the Diplomatic Security Service of the Department of State’s counterterrorism division began for Fred Burton on February 10, 1986. A former Maryland police officer, he Fred Burtonhad some experience working in the shadows and with the dark strands of society. His life totally changed on that cold Bethesda day and became consumed in finding and disarming those all over the world whose purpose is to cause harm and destruction and to strike fear in the hearts of innocent people.

I heard Fred Burton speak at the Texas Book Festival right before the election last year. I found his talk intriguing and bought and read his riveting book Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent. In it, he tells stories of how the initial office of himself, his boss Steve, and another agent (and later additional agents) investigated many international incidents to determine if they were terrorist attacks. These incidents included the following:

  1. A bomb on TWA Flight 840 from Athens to Rome
  2. A bomb at a German disco in West Berlin
  3. The Beirut hostage crisis
  4. The airplane crash that killed Pakistani President Zia
  5. The first World Trade Center bombing

Mr. Burton is a true American patriot. He kept a suitcase packed and was ready to go anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. He often was gone for weeks and his wife would have no idea where he was; he couldn’t tell her for security reasons. He rarely got a full night’s sleep as he would either be awakened with an emergency call that necessitated him going into the office or would lay awake anticipating such a call. He rarely even had a weekend morning to himself. He was always on call, always on the ready, always working to keep Americans and people all over the world safe.

Since 1998, Fred has worked for Strategic Forecasting (STRATFOR) in Austin, Texas, a company that does “geopolitical intelligence and economic, political, and military strategic forecasting.” He is currently VP of Counterterrorism and Corporate Security. There he and his counterterrorism team “watch overseas threats, analyze them, and report our findings to our clients.”

Mr. Burton was kind enough to send me a note when he saw that I listed on my blog that I was reading his book. I said I’d love to read another book by him and he replied that “My next book is MANHUNT and centers on my 25 year quest to capture a Palestinian terrorist who gunned down an Israeli secret agent in the DC area.” That sounds like another riveting book and I look forward to reading it when it is released in April 2010.

When you go to bed tonight, your thoughts may be on an argument with your spouse or a slight from your boss, but most of us won’t have to worry about whether we are safe or not. Eight years into his stint in counterterrorism, Fred Burton made these observations:

Do the people around me have any idea of the ruthless depths of the world they live in? Do they have any clue what lurks around them? I certainly didn’t eight years ago. Perhaps that ignorance is a good thing. Living life in perpetual fear is not a life at all. In truth, there are moments where I miss that blissful ignorance. Knowledge and a top secret clearance do not equal happiness. I’ve found that out the hard way.

We can be grateful for people like Fred Burton who are willing to give so much so that we can live blissfully and ignorantly safe lives. Here’s Mr. Burton in February discussing his book:





The Tortured Gitmo 14: Americans Unknowingly Paid for This

6 04 2009

Stripped naked for weeks. Deprived of food. Chained with hands above the head while standing for days on end. Denied sleep for days. Beaten brutally.

Credit: Antiwar.com

Credit: Antiwar.com

Kept in solitary confinment for months and years with no knowledge of where they were, no contact with anyone except their masked interrogators, and no news of the outside world. Denied access to a toilet. Suffocated by water.

Repeatedly slung against a wall with the collar they were forced to wear. Threatened with being infected with HIV…or the arrest and rape of their families…or of being sodomized…or of being electrically shocked…or of being brought close to death. Doctors monitoring the torture and even participating in it.

This and more is what happened to 14 “high value” detainees that the International Red Cross was allowed to visit at Guantanamo and interview in October and December of 2006. The complete February 2007 “Strictly Confidential” report of what they saw and heard entitled ICRC REPORT ON THE ON THE TREATMENT OF FOURTEEN “HIGH VALUE DETAINEES” IN CIA CUSTODY was published today online on the New York Review of Books website by Mark Danner, a long-time contributor to the Review and author of the book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror.

If you want to know more, I wrote about Mr. Danner’s article with more details of the Red Cross report in the post (with the same name as the article) U.S. Torture: Voices from the Black Sites.

Why were Bush and his cronies allowed to stay in office when it was so clear that they lied when they said they weren’t torturing, broke the law, spit on the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, and egregiously took away human rights of detainees? Read the International Red Cross report. The Bush Administration is guilty of torture. It is time that Americans demand that Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Yoo, Addington, Rumsfeld, etc. be brought to justice. They need to be held accountable so the world can begin to heal from the harm they did.

I urge you to contact Attorney General Eric Holder and ask him to take action on this. You can contact him at AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.





U.S. Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

15 03 2009

Chilling. In the tortureds’ own words. US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites is the name of the cover article in the April 9 issue of the New York Review of Books. This is a must-read article by Mark Danner, a long-time contributor to the Review and the author of the book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror.

Mark Danner - Source: NYBooks.com

Mark Danner - Source: NYBooks.com

Mark Danner contributed an OpEd to the 3/14/09 New York Times about the article. He talks of how on September 6, 2006 President Bush first “…informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists. He says that President Bush’s remarks included the following:

“In addition to the terrorists held at Guantánamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. At these places, the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.”

In that speech, Bush also said that 14 “high-value detainees” would be transferred from overseas Black Sites to Guantanamo and that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would have the opportunity to meet with them.

In the Review article are excerpts from a secret ICRC report that details how the U.S. tortured prisoners at the Black Sites. The press release for this article includes this description of the kind of torture that was authorized by President Bush:

This “alternative set of procedures,” as President Bush characterized them in a White House speech, including extended “sleep deprivation,” prolonged forced nudity, bombarding detainees with noise and light, repeated immersion in cold water, prolonged standing, sometimes for many days, beatings of various kinds, and “waterboarding” – or as the report’s authors phrase it, “suffocation by water.” These interrogations are described in chilling first-person accounts gathered confidentially by ICRC investigators and made public here for the first time.

You can hear a podcast of Mark Danner speaking on this at the New York Review of Books website.

Danner’s article backs up what Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has also written about in her excellent book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.”  I heard Jane speak about this book at the Texas Book Festival on 11/2/08 and read her excellent book. It is eye-opening.

I believe that every American should educate themselves on the crimes that Bush, Cheney, Addington, Woo, Rumsfeld, and others committed during the Bush Administration. These people were authorizing and justifying (with bogus legal documents) torture in secret while denying it in public. Senator Patrick Leahy is urging Americans to join him in calling for a commission to investigate abuses during the Bush/Cheney admninistration. Please visit the website at http://www.bushtruthcommission.com and sign the petition. No one should be allowed to so denigrate the office of the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, the United States, the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the honor of the American people and totally walk away without any consequences. No one.





The Chimp Cartoon and Rampant Hatred

19 02 2009

The chimp cartoon in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has caused a tremendous outcry and outrage. It is hateful and seems to incite violence against our president, who is depicted as a chimpanzee. African-Americans have been deridely depicted as monkeys over the years so this seems to be an outright racial slur. Rupert Murdoch is a billionaire who launched ultra-conservative Fox News amongst many other ventures. Fox News repeatedly spews hatred and racism (especially on Sean Hannity‘s show) such as during the campaign calling Michelle Obama a “baby momma” (a racial putdown), saying that Stalinists worked on Obama’s campaign and that Obama might have been a sleeper agent, likening Obama to a heroin pusher, and the list goes on and on.

Cartoon in NY Post Feb 18 09

Cartoon in NY Post Feb 18 09

Ann Coulter is one of the biggest spewers of hatred on the planet. She thrives on it. She advocated for a white supremacist group (they exist to hate) in her latest book. She repeatedly referred to Obama as B. Hussein Obama during the campaign as part of her repeated attempts to link him to terrorists.

Coulter wrote in her book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” that a group of New Jersey widows whose husbands died in the World Trade Center act “as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them.” She calls four 9/11 widows “self-obsessed broads; millionaires – reveling in their status as celebrities.” This quote from Coulter is just beyond hatred and is the one that sticks out in my mind as one of her most vile, vomited utterings:

I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much . . . And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and radio host Rush Limbaugh are also at the top of the list of hate spewers. Limbaugh even had the audacity and stupidity to say recently on his radio program that he hopes that President Obama fails.

Look at what Sarah Palin did in the election. She whipped up mostly white men who attended her rallies into near lynch mobs with the hatred she spewed. One man yelled “kill him” in reference to Barack Obama during her speech.

I have had the most controversy over my post on corporal punishment in schools of any I’ve written. It has been written about on other forums that promote spanking in schools. One such forum said that many teachers who do it enjoy it. Where does this hatred come from that teachers are so sadistic that they enjoy beating (and if you saw the photos of the damage it does to many children, you’d concur it was beating) children they are charged with educating?

Why do people do and say these things? Why do they hate their fellow men, women, and children so much that they would want to hurt them, ridicule them, incite and encourage violence against them, and encourage others to hate?

We worry about destroying and/or stopping terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. so they won’t come to our country again. We fail to see that we have terrorists who live amongst us. People who practice hatred and incite it in others are a form of terrorists. They terrorize others with their dangerous words and actions. They may not be actively recruiting suicide bombers, but they are recruiting others to hate, which can and does often lead to violence.

We need to wake up to the danger in our own country of allowing people with a platform and the means to act out in hatred and speak in hatred. Yes, we have the First Amendment and it is a free country, but freedom also means that we are free of threats from dangerous people who encourage, incite, and practice hatred.





Iraq War: The Cost of Bush Lies and His Influence of Not Being Accountable

1 02 2009

UPDATED 3/15/2013

From a Reuters report on a Watson Institute study:

NEW YORK, March 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

See the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/iraq-war-cost-more-than-2-trillion_n_2875493.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009.

ORIGINAL POST I WROTE

George W. Bush reasons for the Iraq War: WMDs, Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda, and liberate Iraqis from Saddam Hussein and create a democratic government. His refusal to accept or admit any accountability for the results of his misleading the American people have had tremendous cost to Iraq and to the U.S.

I just finished reading the riveting “War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq” by Richard Engel, NBC News Middle East Correspondent. Richard says none of those reasons for starting the war are true, and that the war in Iraq “…has always been more about geography, religion, and power than democracy. If you see where Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds live, it’s easy to understand their struggles for dominance.” Bush never understood that…and frankly didn’t care. He did what he wanted to do and what he wanted to do has been…and continues to be…extremely costly.

Here are some statistics on what the Iraq war (taken from think tanks such as the Brookings Institute and from the media) has cost the U.S. as of 1/21/09 due to Bush’s folly of inserting us in the middle of a civil and religious war:

  • 4,231 U.S. soldiers killed; 30% of them younger than 22 years old
  • 30,984 U.S. soldiers injured, with 20% of them having serious brain or spinal injuries
  • 30% of U.S. soldiers develop serious mental health problems within 3-4 months of returning home and suicide rates in the U.S. Army hitting an all-time high in 2008
  • One TRILLION DOLLARS (that’s $1000 billion) through  October 2009 in U.S. taxpayer money (this figure was updated 10/25/09)
    • $390,000 per year to deploy just ONE U.S. soldier
  • 142,000 – 148,000 (depending on whose statistics you use) troops in Iraq currently
  • 513,000 U.S. troops deployed since 2003; 197,000 of those more than once and 53,000 more than 3 times
  • According to February, 2007 Congressional hearings (and that was two years ago so the number is probably much higher now) an estimated $10 billion wasted and mismanaged in Iraq

Now add to those staggering numbers the impact on the Iraqi people:

  • An estimated more than one MILLION Iraqi citizens killed as of August, 2007 (according to the Opinion Business Research survey); the official documented number around 100,000
  • 2.25 million Iraqis displaced inside Iraq and 2.25 million Iraqis who are now refugees in Syria or Jordan as of May 2007; an additional 840,000 people displaced since May 2007 – a total of well over 5 MILLION Iraqis displaced
    • A note: Syria has refused to allow the 1.5 million who came there to work so many of the refugees have been forced to send their daughters – even as young as 5 or 6 – to clubs to dance to get money unofficially, becoming the family breadwinners. The girls make usually $20 to 30 per day in the clubs and the fathers of these girls act as pimps for work outside the club. These girls and their families are casualties of the U.S. War on Iraq.

Bush used the fear that the Iraq War would disintegrate into chaos to get re-elected in 2004. The cost to the American people of having four more years of Bush as president has been immense. He used fear again to continue to justify the now $12 billion per month the U.S. spends to keep our troops there. This is triple the burn rate of what we spent in the early years of the war. John McCain used fear about the war to try and get elected president and said he would never take our troops out until we had won. Only Barack Obama seems to understand that we are in a war we should never have started and that we cannot win.

The fear the Republican warmongers have perpetuated is that Iraq would descend into civil war if we leave. It has been happening for years now. Richard Engel cites countless atrocities that Iraqis have committed against other Iraqis during the Iraq War, continuing the torture and violence of Saddam Hussein:

  • A father’s beautiful 17-year-old daughter is kidnapped. The father talks to the kidnappers and convinces them to let him speak to his daughter. He asks her if she has been violated and she says yes. He tells the kidnappers to keep her…that he doesn’t want her back in that condition. The kidnappers execute the girl.
  • A family refuses an order to move from their home and their two-year-old boy is kidnapped, split open, stuffed with rice, roasted, and delivered to their doorstep.
  • People are executed and thrown in the streets as a warning to others to not cross the executioners.
  • Body parts are everywhere, bombings are commonplace, and women in particular hide in their homes in fear.

Some infrastructure improvements have been made since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Phone subscribers have increased from 800,000 to over 14 million. Internet users have increased from 4,500 to around 850,000. Those improvements do not negate the fact that the cost of the Iraq war has been very high…for the U.S., other countries, and especially for Iraqis.

Bush’s lies have caused unbelievable destruction, death, injury, harm to the U.S. reputation around the world, increase in terrorists and terrorism, U.S.-sanctioned use of torture, and money. And we wonder why our country is in the place it is now. We had an immoral, destructionist, lying, and above-the-law president who felt he was accountable to no one. The American people followed suit…we felt we could do anything and not pay a price. We are paying now…both as a country and individually.





Yeah, I Said It – We’re All Responsible for What Happened in Mumbai

29 11 2008

The U.S. has a hand in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Congolese insurgents savagely raping and murdering their own people, the refugees in Darfur and throughout the world, and more. Not our fault, you say? What have we in the U.S., in our warm and safe homes, done to make these things happen half-way around the world?

  • Look at the hatred, vitriol, and near lynch mobs stirred up particularly by Sarah Palin during the election. People post signs now in convenience stores and children chant on school buses to murder our president-elect because of what Palin and McCain did all under the guise of winning an election. These things go unpunished and are allowed in the name of free speech and people being cowardly to do anything about them.
  • We hear about the atrocities committed in Darfur and the hopelessness of the people there ever having a life and yet our own president does virtually nothing. Instead, he pours $10 billion a month into an Iraq war on false pretenses.
  • Our own president authorizes and orders torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and at many other secret locations around the world of supposed terrorist prisoners while stating publicly that the U.S. does not torture. The United States is looked up to by the rest of the world and we are committing some of the worst human rights crimes imaginable.
  • We are greedy, spending, spending, spending money we don’t have, going into more and more debt. We are all about having THINGS instead of focusing on how we can be loving and kind. Yesterday’s trampling of a Wal-Mart employee as shoppers rushed into a New York store and two men shooting each other dead in a Toys R Us store are examples of how greed and trying to outdo others can turn into violence.
  • We have equated being a Muslim with being a terrorist. There was sheer hysteria during the election (and it still continues) at the thought that Obama could be a Muslim (which he is not). Muslims make up one out of every four people in the world. Our minimizing and/or portraying them as people to fear and hate has got to stop.
  • We glorify having guns and having the right to use them. Many of our soldiers think it’s fun to shoot people.
  • What do many of our youth (and even adults) value? Bling-bling $200,000 necklaces on a hip-hop star’s neck, calling women “ho’s” and “bitches”, violent video games, and other degrading stains on our culture.
  • Our government doesn’t prioritize education and our children are getting less intelligent with each generation.
  • Men who rape and/or batter women or children get little to no jail time and usually are not even brought to justice.
  • We still pay men one-third more than women for the same job.
  • Our government sanctions killing people (death penalty).
  • And on and on.

We in the U.S. are seen as standard bearers by the rest of the world. When we devalue women and children, glorify war and guns, lash out in hatred toward and threaten others who are different from us, harm innocent people, and value money and things more than people, the whole world is watching and they emulate us. Think about it…those are things that terrorists do. By raising our own standards, morals, behavior, and social consciousness, we can individually and collectively contribute to lifting up the standards, morals, behavior, and social consciousness of people all over the world.





Giving Thanks in the Midst of Terrorism

26 11 2008

It’s 11 p.m. CT and terror is exploding all over the world.

  • A suicide bomb exploded at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan tonight and at least one person is dead.
  • More than 100 are dead and nearly 300 injured in Mombai terrorist attacks today.
  • 3,000 refugees in Congo have fled into Uganda in the last 24 hours joining 16,500 who fled there since August to escape rebel attacks in what Newsweek calls “the deadliest battleground in the world today.”
  • 5 million people have been killed and countless women tortured and raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996 despite 20,000 UN troops (3,000 just recently added) – its largest peacekeeping force in the world. It is what Newsweek calls “Africa’s other holocaust”, worse currently than Darfur.
  • Somali pirates are seizing ships and demanding multi-million dollar ransom booty and more than 65,000 Somali refugees have fled to Kenya due to the violence there.
  • And on and on and on.

Add to all that a worldwide economic crisis, AIDS decimating Africa, violence against women, so many other huge issues, and our own personal challenges and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, sad, frightened, and depressed.

And yet, on this eve of Thanksgiving, let us take the time to be thankful for what we have in this moment. If you’re reading this now, then one could assume that:

  • You are safe.
  • You have a computer or access to a computer and thus have a whole world open to you.
  • You have the intelligence to be able to read, the intellect to be curious about what others have to say, and the skill to have found blogs on WordPress.
  • You have the time to read.
  • You most likely have shelter as most computers aren’t sitting outside.
  • You have the ability to be connected to others, at least through the Internet.
  • You have electricity.

Even if you have nothing else to be grateful for, if you have those things, that’s more than a big percent of the world has. When I lived in Saudi Arabia years ago, many mornings we would wake up and have no water. It’s such a simple thing to take for granted, but it wasn’t there. Or, as a woman, I couldn’t drive myself or go anywhere without a man accompanying me. Again, we assume those privileges in the U.S.

I have a very close family member who is going through a really rough patch right now. My heart is heavy. I pray she is being protected. And I know that women, children, and men all over the world who are living daily nightmares are all our brothers and sisters and they need our prayers for protection – and actual, physical protection.

We are all a part of a world collective consciousness and what happens to one of us affects all of us. Neale Donald Walsch, in his new book “Happier than God,” says that:

…the powerful energy of collective consciousness – which is perhaps the most powerful creative force of all – places in all our lives unhappy experiences and tragic outcomes…outcomes to which individuals fall prey even though they obviously do not consciously choose to.

…The way to raise the collective consciousness of humanity is, of course, to raise the individual consciousness of human beings.

So in the midst of all these tragedies, consider doing your part by being peace, being love, being grateful, being kind, being a light. One by one, we can begin to lift up our brothers and sisters, whereever they may be and whatever they may be suffering.





Obama Will End the Bush Administration’s Sanction of Torture

16 11 2008

We’ve had 7 long and shameful years of torture instituted and sanctioned by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Obama said on 60 Minutes tonight that he will close Guantanamo Bay and ban torture in order to “regain America’s moral stature in the world.” Most people have heard about Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and know that we have held terrorist suspects there, but most – myself included – haven’t known the extent to which Bush and Cheney have gone to take away human rights in the name of keeping our country safe.
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