Saturday, September 10, 2005

Faulkner's Nobel Prize Speech

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work--a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Let My People Go! Trapped In New Orleans

by WesternDem
Fri Sep 9th, 2005 at 17:34:43 PDT

Under the headline, "Cops trapped survivors in New Orleans," Shaun Waterman writes for the UPI news wire. His article documents the City of Gretna Police (Gretna is across the river from downtown) shutting down the primary dry exit from the flooded city to foot traffic.

More below fold...

* WesternDem's diary :: ::

In defence of the decision, UPI reports that Police Chief Andrew Lawson said that the city was "a closed and secure location." He was worried that the survivors might harm his city. He is now bragging about how it escaped looting.

This article is not being published by any major news source online, however, after finding it printed at a website called "Monsters and," I subsequently found it on Lexis Nexis (one of the nice things about being a college student). It is indeed a real UPI wire story. I am shocked that I has not been picked up. It is pretty damning. I am going to quote the entire story below since it is not otherwise posted in any accessible way online. If you would like me to have Lexis Nexis email you the article directly, I can do that. Just leave your email in a comment (for those who don't know, Lexis Nexis is the primary online academic database of printed media).

Here's the story:

"September 9, 2005 Friday 10:48 AM EST

LENGTH: 804 words

HEADLINE: Cops trapped survivors in New Orleans




Police from surrounding jurisdictions shut down several access points to one of the only ways out of New Orleans last week, effectively trapping victims of Hurricane Katrina in the flooded and devastated city.

An eyewitness account from two San Francisco paramedics posted on an internet site for Emergency Medical Services specialists says, "Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot."

"We shut down the bridge," Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International, adding that his jurisdiction had been "a closed and secure location" since before the storm hit.

"All our people had evacuated and we locked the city down," he said.

The bridge in question -- the Crescent City Connection -- is the major artery heading west out of New Orleans across the Mississippi River.

Lawson said that once the storm itself had passed Monday, police from Gretna City, Jefferson Parrish and the Louisiana State Crescent City Connection Police Department closed to foot traffic the three access points to the bridge closest to the West Bank of the river.

He added that the small town, which he called "a bedroom community" for the city of New Orleans, would have been overwhelmed by the influx.

"There was no food, water or shelter" in Gretna City, Lawson said. "We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people.

"If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged."

But -- in an example of the chaos that continued to beset survivors of the storm long after it had passed -- even as Lawson's men were closing the bridge, authorities in New Orleans were telling people that it was only way out of the city.

"The only way people can leave the city of New Orleans is to get on (the) Crescent City Connection ... authorities said," reads a Tuesday morning posting on the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, which kept reporting through the storm and the ruinous flooding that followed.

Similar announcements appeared on the Web site of local radio station WDSU and other local news sources.

"Evidently, someone on the ground (in New Orleans) was telling people there was transport here, or food or shelter," said Lawson. "There wasn't."

"We were not contacted by anyone" about the instructions being given to survivors to use the bridge to get out of town, he said.

The two paramedics, who were trapped in the city while attending a convention, joined a group of people who had been turned out by the hotels that they were staying in on Wednesday. When the group attempted to get to the Superdome -- designated by city authorities as a shelter for those unable to evacuate -- they were turned away by the National Guard.

"Quite naturally, we asked ... 'What was our alternative?' The guards told us that that was our problem, and no, they did not have extra water to give to us.

"This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile law enforcement."

As they made their way to the bridge in order to leave the city "armed Gretna sheriffs (sic) formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads."

Members of the group nonetheless approached the police lines, and "questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge ... They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City.

"These were code words," the paramedics wrote, "for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans."

The authors say that during the course of that day, they saw "other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated."

Efforts to contact the authors of the Internet posting were unsuccessful, but UPI was able to confirm that individuals with their names are employed as paramedics in San Francisco.

Lawson says that his officers "acted in the manner they were instructed to" and defends the order to close the bridge as "the right decision."

He said that in addition to his security concerns, an unmoored vessel on the river "raised the threat that it might crash into and breach the levee, which would have flooded Gretna."

He says that his officers did assist about 4000 people who "arrived at the doorstep of (Gretna City)" either by crossing the bridge before it was closed or approaching from another route.

"We commandeered public transit buses and we took them to higher and safer ground" at the junction of Interstate-10 and Causeway Boulevard where "there was food and shelter," he said.

LOAD-DATE: September 9, 2005"

Authenticity VS Greed

I've been following the Bushies in their endless quest for good Public Relations and Capital Advancement. I realize...and slowly, that you cannot serve two masters..either you serve God, or Mammon. I believe Christ said this. So...the inauthentic Man (woman) is the one who believes that Money alone will save him(her)...this is a revelation that I had not expected. I no longer can point fingers. Who among us is authentic, besides the sad, sorry, poor folk of New Orleans? Only those who minister to the people who suffer. Only the Mother Theresas of the world. Authenticity, I'm afraid, means "give away all you have and follow me."....this is a hard teaching.

Vultures Descend on Carcass of New Orleans

September 10, 2005
G.O.P. Sees Opportunities Arising From Storm
HOUSTON, Sept. 9 - Republican leaders in Congress and some White House officials see opportunities in Hurricane Katrina to advance longstanding conservative goals like giving students vouchers to pay for private schools, paying churches to help with temporary housing and scaling back business regulation.

"There are about a thousand churches right here in Houston, and a lot of them are helping people with housing, but FEMA says they can't reimburse faith-based organizations," Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mr. DeLay, who joined three of President Bush's top economic advisers on a tour of relief efforts near the Houston Astrodome, added that Congress should also allow students displaced by the hurricane to use vouchers to pay for tuition at private schools. Conservatives have championed school vouchers for decades.

Those are only some of the ideas being considered by Congressional leaders and White House officials that could serve the dual purpose of helping hurricane victims and pursuing broader social and economic changes that Republicans have long sought.

The Bush administration has already moved to relax a variety of regulations in areas damaged by the hurricane. Many of the changes are small, like letting people take bigger tax deductions for the miles they drive while doing charitable work. Another change, announced on Friday by Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, will give preference to investment groups from hurricane areas that are seeking tax credits for community development projects.

But other changes are more ideological and more controversial. On Thursday, Mr. Bush issued an order that exempts federal contractors working on disaster relief projects from a longstanding federal requirement that they pay workers "prevailing wages," which are usually pegged to union pay rates.

The exemption strikes at the heart of a requirement that labor unions and Democratic lawmakers have ferociously defended for years.

"There are a lot of opportunities to experiment," said Mr. Snow, who jointed Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez in a rapid trip to highlight the administration's hurricane-relief operations.

Jumping quickly through visits in Houston; Baton Rouge, La.; and Mobile, Ala., Mr. Bush's economic team emphasized the amount and speed of financial assistance being made available to hurricane victims. In Houston, at a tent outside the Astrodome where job-placement services were being offered, the number of job counselors and visitors from Washington greatly outnumbered the number of people seeking help. Thousands of evacuees are staying at the Astrodome, though the number is declining as more people are settled into apartments and other temporary housing. For the moment, administration officials said they were focusing on the immediate job of getting emergency assistance - shelter, medical care and cash assistance as well as unemployment insurance benefits and Social Security payments - to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been dislocated.

In Baton Rouge, officials said they had received 150,000 claims for unemployment benefits and predicted that the number would continue to soar. The Congressional Budget Office predicted this week that 400,000 people would be temporarily jobless as a result of the hurricane.

But beyond the immediate needs, Republican lawmakers and administration officials are contemplating tax cuts intended to draw companies and workers back to New Orleans, regulatory changes to speed the expansion of oil refineries and scores of smaller changes to improve the recovery.

Mr. Snow and other administration officials were noncommittal on Friday toward some of the ideas now circulating in Congress, like offering major tax breaks to companies that set up operations in damaged areas.

But Mr. Snow did announce a change to the Treasury Department's "new markets" program, which provides tax credits to selected investment funds involved in community development projects. About $3.5 billion in tax credits are available, and the investment funds are awarded them through a competitive process on the basis of their proposals.

Mr. Snow said the program would now give special preference to projects in areas affected by the hurricane.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Khalid in Iraq...

Prayers for Khalid...
Raed of Raed in the Middle has some very bad news. His brother Khalid of the blog Tell Me a Secret has been abducted by the new Iraqi mukhabarat.

We're all praying he'll be alright and that Allah/God gives his family the strength to make it through this.
Tell Me a Secret

As We Say... Your Secret Is In a Deep Well
Saturday, July 30, 2005
I want to thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the wonderful emails that I and my family received...
And for all the signatures on the petition...
For my lovely freinds Liminal and Najma for the blog of
For my Great friend Emigre from
Riverbnd, i can never thank you enough...
For the Committee to Protect Bloggers ...
And for for the emails that actually flooded the email account of the Iraqi embassy in the USA...
For all those who took the time to write demanding freeing me in their websites: Juan Cole and justin alexander and God knows they are so many that I cant mention them all so I hope they forgive me for that...
For all the comments on Raed's blog and the comments on my blog...
For everyone that took the effort of making a legal attempt to defend me or to motivate human rights organizations to do that...
For everyone that had me in his thoughts, and specially for everyone that made even a tiny small prayer for me...
For all of you, great deep thanks, from all my heart, I am very thankful and very grateful, and I promise to do all what's possible to free you when you are arrested for reading our blogs:)
you showed us -once again- that we humans have strong-enough bonds that no government can break, no administration can change.
again, thank you all very very much, I wish you all the best, your support means more than you can imagine to me and to my family, who really needed it through these hard days.
I hope that you will never have to face such an experience, and I want you to know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers:)

posted by khalid jarrar at 7:05 PM 122 comments
I found myself...
Sleeping in a grave-size space, defined by two walls touching both my head my and feet, and surrounded with human bodies touching me from both sides, in a way that hardly leaves any chance to move at all during the long… long night, in a 12 square meters room stuffed with 35 people trying to sleep, and to hold themselves together in order not to fight…
The whole thing started when I went to the university to pay my tuition fees, the thing is that the engineering campus is separated from the rest of the university with few kilometers, but for such administrative issues, students should go to the headquarter, and this is what I did. I entered the main campus and went to the financial department to pay money. I started the paperwork process, and then reached to a point where we needed the director’s signature to finish the paperwork, but she was in a meeting. So, the employee asked me to go and waste an hour inside the campus till the meeting is over, and I did.

What would you do in such a case? Go to the café? I tried, but was totally bored after less than 15 minutes, and then I don’t remember how an idea flashed in my head like a big light bulb: internet!
Of course, what is better than the internet to kill time?

I remembered there was an internet café inside the campus. I rarely came to this campus during the last five years. I think I came like three or four times only. Anyways, so I went to the internet café and did my regular tour: raed in the middle, riverbend, etc etc..and then I was bored again. I left the internet café heading towards the financial department again.

In my way, I was stopped by an old man, with a hateful face. “tfa`6al” he said (it means something like: “how can I help you?”) I was a bit surprised, I said “inta tfa`6al!” (meaning: “how can I help you?”) he said: where are you going? So I knew that he must be some kind of a security guy. I should have guessed from his tone, he sounds like a typical saddam-style security-man.
“to the financial department, to pay my tuition money” I said.
“where were you right now?”
“ in the internet café !”
“where is your ID?”
“at the campus entrance reception, with my mobile phone” (this is common now, in all governmental buildings you have to leave your mobile phone in the reception, you cant take it with you).

Please people; don’t be surprised because of all these questions. It used to be very common in “Saddam’s Iraq” and it’s very common in today’s Iraq.

Anyway, the old hateful man decided to escort me to make sure I was telling him the truth. Once we entered the financial office, the employees there talked to me spontaneously, so he knew I was there before and he left. I paid the money, took the receipt, and left. When I went back the campus entrance reception to take my mobile and leave, I found out that the mobiles’ closet was “mistakenly locked” as I was told. They were waiting for the guy that has the key. “He’ll be here in any moment” I was told.

I sat there waiting for my mobile phone to be freed. Then suddenly, after few minutes, someone came and asked “where is the detained guy?”

The other security guard pointed at me!!!

I was like: ehhhhh..sorry there is misunderstanding here, I am not detained, its only that the mobile phones closet is mistakenly locked!

“come with us, we have some questions please” they said, and I went with them, searching for answers inside my head…

They searched me very carefully; they took my shoes off and searched them, and even took my watch. They read every paper I had in my pockets, and asked me questions about my origin, nationality, and many other questions. Then they asked me to unlock my mobile phone so that they can check it out. At that particular point I had had enough, I said I wouldn’t unlock it except if it was in front of “the person” who is hiding somewhere in the campus, the one asking all these questions through messengers.

They didn’t like my response.

Another guy came after a while, and asked me: who did you contact on the internet?
“my mother and brothers” I said.
He didn’t look satisfied.
“keep him” he said.

Next thing I know, a very fat policeman entered the small room, asked me to face the wall, searched me again, took my money and glasses, put a bag on my head and handcuffs in my hand (I still have the marks on my hand till now). While my hands were behind my back and my head in a bag, he made me run for about a minute, till we reached a police van, where I was forced to get in. The car starting moving towards an unknown destination…

You don’t want to know the swearing and curses I heard all the way, but maybe you’ll want to know that no one beat me.

We reached a luxurious building, I could tell from the marble on the floor. The floor was the only thing I could see at that point through a very small space between the bag and my nose. Then I was led to a room after taking an elevator.

I was afraid to be taken to the torture rooms directly; I was praying to find someone to talk to, to explain to him that this all is nothing but a little silly mistake!

God answered my prayers.

Instead of being lead to some underground dungeon, I was taken to an air conditioned room with a lot of people. I could tell from their voices they were interrogating someone, I couldn’t see anything still, but they released my hands.

I understood that this person they were interrogating, (Sa’ib as I knew later, he was in the same cell with me), did a very awful thing. Sa’ib came to the ministry of interior, and went to the office of a high ranked officer, and tried to remind the officer of Sa`ib’s own father who served with this the officer long time ago, hoping to ask this officer for a favor. The Favor was to order the transferring of a friend of Sa`ib, a cop, to another governorate.

The officer didn’t remember sa’ib’s father, and refused to help him. Then he ordered his guards to take Sa’ib for interrogation!!!

Untill I left the jail, Sa’ib was still there!

They beat him a lot, “how dare you enter the office of an officer just like that?” they were telling him.

Back to the air-conditioned interrogation room, I was still facing the wall, my eyes were covered, and my brain working so fast, trying to see behind the darkness infront of my eyes.

Then it was my turn:))

“Finally!” I told myself!

They started by asking me: “What’s the connection between you and the London Bombs?” !!!
And I was like: “haaaaa???!!.”. I said: “London Bombs???! Nothing!”


A heavy hand landed on my neck, my brain was too busy to feel the pain, I felt my neck numbing for a while.

“SPEAAAK” he shouted.

“Turn around” he yelled.

I turned, facing the room now, but not seeing anything other than my nose and the shoes of the person who was interrogating me, standing so close.

“Why do you have a beard?” he asked.

“Because the prophet...” (I was trying to tell him that prophet Mohammad had one, and that I have one because I love to look like him...)


He slapped me on the face. It made a loud noise that the room became dead-silent for some seconds….

“May the prophet curse you” he shouted.

Again, my brain didn’t respond to the pain signals, I didn’t feel it.

For the next few hours, they asked me questions like “who are the other members of our terrorist cell, where does your fund come from? What operations did you have?”

“What do you have against Shia?”
I said: “nothing, my mother is Shia!”
He said” what do you have against Kurds? Why don’t you go blow yourself up and kill Kurds?”
I said: “Because God says in Quran…” (I was trying to tell him a part of Quran where God orders us not to kill any innocent soul) he interrupted me shouting, “We know Quran better than you”.
“My best friend is Kurdish!” I said.
“Of course he is, so that you can get information about Kurds from him, right?” he answered.

Nothing I said seemed to make sense to them. And nothing they said makes sense to anyone in the world.

Then finally I understood why I was there, after few hours. Security guards at the university had printed out all the websites I was reading while I was online there. They were accusing me of “reading terrorism sites” and “having communications with foreign terrorists”.
“Do you know what these pages are?”
I looked at them and figured out they were the comment section of Raed in the Middle!!
I opened the comments section while browsing in the university, read some comments, and didn’t even post anything. But these people don’t seem to know what the internet is, and they don’t speak English, so I was a major suspect of being an assistant of al Zarqawi maybe! Or that I have a terrorist group of my own, with foreign connections!

I was accused of terrorism, and sent to jail after they decided that I’m not helping myself because I am not helping them!!!
“Help you with what??!!”I asked “I am so willing to help you with anything you want, just tell me what exactly you want to know?”
“Tell us the name of the other members of your group, and where you get your fund from” then answered.
I entered the jail, and found people staring at me with curiosity, but with total silence.
“assalamo alaykom!” I said with a smile, and sat down on the ground, just like the others.
“alaykom assalam!” everyone said.
Then one of them couldn’t resist it anymore, so he asked: “why were you brought here?”
I told them my story, and they all looked very upset.
In the next few minutes, I learned about the stories of the other people that were there.
Then it suddenly hit me: “where are we? Do you know?” I asked curiously.
They all looked a bit afraid, I knew they had an answer but didn’t know whether they should trust me enough already to tell me or not, I have been there for a couple of minutes only.
Then someone whispered in my ears “istikhbarat il dakhliyya”, “but don’t tell anyone that we know”. Istikhbarat il Dakhliyya means the Mukhabarat, and that is the intelligence or the secret service police.
“Ohhh!!” I said “Do your families know you are here?”
They nodded with their heads: no.

There were around 35 people in that room, 4 of the arrested people in this floor were teenagers. I’ll tell you about some of their stories at the end of this post.

I made friends with almost everyone there that day, and then I slept, it was a long day, I was so worried about my family, how would I let them know that I wasn’t killed in a car bomb, or kidnapped? I’m sure they don’t expect that I ran away from the house to go party with my friends or join the circus!

Next day I was taken to interrogation again.

They asked me all the questions you can ask anyone, but they did it very fast. They took the name of my teachers, my friends, even my colleagues and the girls in my class. They asked me if I had ever had sex before, I said no. They didn’t believe me, they made fun of me and asked if I prefer men more, and I said no too.

Then they wanted me to write my “confession” finally, which is the paper that will go to the judge to decide my fate.

He asked: you are accused of attending terrorist sites (Did he say that they are sites that recruit young people for terrorism? I don’t remember) so what do you say?

I said, with my eyes covered: please write my answer “I deny that completely, I was practicing my democratic right of viewing people’s opinion about a certain topic on a site that people visit from all the countries around the world to give their opinions”
He said: what in the hell is that? Did I ask you to write me a composition? Answer my question Goddamn it! You are accused of visiting terrorist websites, what do you reply?
I repeated my answer, but I reformed it in a way that is less complicated for his simple brains to understand, they wrote something and made me sign on the paper.
I don’t know if any of them finished high school, they are uncivilized, they lack morality and education, the way they swear all the time and the words they say tells you what kind of people they are, I asked them about the things that were with me when I was arrested, they said that they have my mobile phone, and my IDs, but the fat policeman broke my glasses and stole some of my money, till now, they didn’t give me back my mobile phone or my IDs.

Since they don’t speak English, they didn’t even ask me one time about the content of the site, which my one and only crime was that I read.

The third day, I found a way to contact my family, “illegally”, to tell them that I am alive and that I am in the seventh floor of the ministry of interior affairs. By that time, my dad checked every hospital, police station and morgue in the city. He checked with the Iraqi army, the Iraqi militias, the US army, and even the ministry of interior which denied that I was there!

It was such a relief to know that my family knows where I was, I told them that I was very well, and that we eat well and sleep well and no one hurts us.

Eight days after I was arrested, I was sent to see the judge, in a court that is a bit far of the prison, when we reached the court they put cuffs on my legs too, and a chain that ties my cuffed hands with my body. I felt the humiliation to be treated like a criminal and sent to a court tied with all these chains. I cried for few seconds only, and held myself together before anyone noticed.

I was taken first to an interrogator who works for the court, where he re-wrote my confession in a way that makes it easier to be understood correctly. He said that the court will assign a public defender for my case. I asked him what did that mean and he replied “Nothing, just some formalities”. He asked me to sign the paper of my “confessions”, and then he called a big chubby man with cheap outfit. The strange man came from outside and signed on my paper: “The Lawyer I-Don’t-Know-What’s-His-Name”. Then after some waiting, I was taken to see the judge, finally.

The judge was a very elegant man in his 40s, sitting behind a fancy disk in his air-conditioned room, with a computer beside him and a cool mobile phone too, with guards outside and a secretary beside him.

He didn’t look at me in the beginning. He asked me while surfing the papers of my case: “What’s your case?”
I said: “I went to the university to pay the fees of…”
He interrupted me impatiently: “the website, tell me about the website”

I said: “It’s a forum, it’s a place where people discuss a topic written by the owner of a website. I visited it and I didn’t even post an opinion, I closed it and left the internet place, and then I was brought here.”

It seemed he was following me. He said: “Is it like chatting?”
I said: “Yes, your honor. This is more like a website than a chat room. You don’t have to sign in and be a part of what’s happening in the case of forums. I was just watching things there. For me, it was more like watch a TV with different channels; you go to a channel not knowing what will be there and without knowing the content. If you didn’t like the channel, you can change it”

He interrupted me: “ok ok I know I know.”

He had 37 translated papers of Raed’s Comments Section, that’s it, that’s my case. He asked me “What are these strange letters between the words here?” I said “Maybe the person who printed out the papers selected the wrong font, these strange characters appear when you pick the wrong encoding for the language”. He didn’t seem to be a computer expert, but at least he knows the basics.

He said “go, I will take the papers to read them at home, and will decide about them tomorrow”.

The chubby entered the room and sat on a chair in front of the judge. He was my “lawyer”, but he didn’t say a single word, not one single word. He only signed a paper that says that he is my lawyer.

I was taken back to the prison. That was my Wednesday.

On Thursday, the judge decided that I was innocent. He figured out that the papers were from a public forum, and he didn’t find any comments posted by me.
I wasn’t released till Saturday morning, after I was forced to sign a paper committing that I wouldn’t tell the families of the arrested people that they are arrested, and that I wouldn’t tell anyone about anything that happened while I was arrested or tell them what I saw inside the jail, and that I would report any case of breaking the law that I know about to the authorities (at this point I laughed and asked: even if someone drove his car through a red traffic light?), and that I wouldn’t visit terrorism websites.

I, of course, told all the families I could that their sons are arrested in the seventh floor of the ministry of interior in the hands of the Mukhabarat, and here I am telling you everything that happened with me, and I am planning to visit all kind of websites as much as I like as long as I want.

I was so lucky that I was taken to the Mokhabarat directly. Usually you have to go through a police station or a center of the national guards to get there, where the standard procedure of torturing is hanging people upside down and beating them with cables for hours, pinching their bodies with electrical drills, burning them with hot water, ripping out their finger nails, breaking bones, using acids on the wounds after whipping them, the dead bodies that are found in the dumpsters in Baghdad even had their eyes taken out of them, and a lot of these things happened with people that I know, or with people that were detained with the people that were with me in this jail, before they were brought here, and the list of torturing techniques is long, and you don’t want to hear them or know about them if you want to sleep at night.

In one of the floors in the same building, there is another prison, a bigger one called “The Palace of Hospitality” (doesn’t this remind you of 1984? The ministry of love and stuff?) Where recently a father and his son were arrested, and the son died at night because his rips were broken after they beat him, and then they spelled hot water on his body, he kept moaning of pain for the whole night, said Abo Ayid, who slept right beside him, and then he died. I’ll tell you more about Abu Ayid in the end.

The one thing in common between all the people that were there is that almost all of them were Sunnis. Interrogators told one of the prisoners during an interrogation session “you Sunnis are all terrorists” and during my interrogation, I heard a lot of racist remarks and questions. The Shia Iraqis who were there were mostly accused of non-terrorism crimes, like stealing, carjacking, etc…

If you were wondering how did we spend our time in jail… I’ll tell you.

We read Quran a lot, we prayed five times a day, we had three meals a day, and we praise God for long periods of time too. We sat all together talking and telling jokes and stories about our lives…

At night, while trying to sleep, I mostly was thinking of what I should write in my next post!

I always had the hope that I would leave that place, time goes really slow there, when I used to feel sad I would think of the nice places that I would go to when I leave, and all the other positive ideas that would keep me happy, I asked people: what is the first thing you want to do when you leave this place?
And we all sat thinking of the nice things we want to do… the things we want to eat, the places we want to visit; it was a hope-generating game.

My family played an important role to help me get out of the Mukhabarat’s jail faster than other people. Like any other corrupt system, you can get a better treatment by knowing the right people and giving the right “gifts”. My family didn’t pay anything to the judge because they believed I was innocent, they tried their best to get me a lawyer, but they couldn’t. I was freed because I was innocent, and I have the capabilities to defend myself in front of a judge.

The question is: what about the rest of Iraqis? The ones who don’t have the money or the power to leave places like that? The innocent people who were taken away from their families and loved ones and accused of false crimes? What happens to them? Who will stand for them? What about human rights? What about civil rights? What about humanity?
Here are just some of the people that were in the jail and their cases, as a sample to the cases. I hope that these people and all the other Iraqi prisoners will go back home safe. And I’ll work with my family to ask the US administration and the Iraqi authorities to improve the situation of the detention for the Iraqis. People should have the right to inform their families about their location, and they should have the right to appear in front of a judge very soon after being detained without being questioned and tortured, and they should have real lawyers in the court, they should at least know their charges!

Firas: a 26 years old light skinned guy, was walking in the street with grocery bags in his hands when a car attacked an American convoy, he ran away, in a normal reaction, so the police followed him and caught him, and beat him continuously for 7 hours with pipes while he was tied up to a chair, and when he didn’t confess of attacking the US troops or Iraqi police, his investigators wrote a report that he must have been trained in foreign terrorists camps to tolerate torturing, and sent him to this place, supposedly a place for more expert interrogators.

Mohammed: a very dull 23 year old dark skinned guy, works in a very poor traditional café in a very poor neighborhood, the owner of the café was high on drugs and reported that Mohammed killed 4 policemen and 4 national guards, Mohammed is hardly smart enough to form a sentence, he can read and write, but besides serving tea and coffee, don’t expect much of him. One minute with him and you will discover that he has a heart of a 6 year old child, he thinks that an imaginary bird comes to him everyday and tells him the news of his mother, the only family member he has. When they were interrogating him they asked him: “did you kill eight men?” He said “sayyidi ya 7aras wa6ani ya kharyan istor 3alena” hahahaJ (meaning: “me? I killed no national guard and no shit at all, don’t put me in trouble” which makes sense in English, but its extremely funny in Arabic and tells you that a person isn’t sane at all), since Mohammed is accused of killing eight men, we called him Mohammed the wolf, haha, and that was his nick name for the rest of the time, till I left, and God knows what will happen to him. All what it takes to put someone in jail is to call anonymously and claim that he is a terrorist, and that’s it, he will be tortured and put in jail for 45 days, so you, “the secret informer” can chose to come to the court during this period and swear that he is a terrorist, if so, that’s it, he will be legally accused of terrorism and might spend the rest of his life in jail, or he maybe executed, or maybe set free, its totally up to the judge to decide that, or maybe its up to the CIA, which I knew later that they occupy the floor that was above us in the building, where the orders come from.

Maysam And Nathom: two brothers, in their twenties, very poor, amazingly good looking, if there was an Arabic version of Hollywood, they would sure be Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

When I was in jail I cried twice, one of them was when Nathom came to the toilets from an interrogation session, and I was in the toilets at that time, and he started crying hard, he said that they beat him so much to the point that he had to say that his brother killed 300 people and stole many cars.

He came to the toilets while they started to torture his brother to make him confess of these crimes, I went back to the cell and cried for minutes, it was so unfair, so unfair.

That night we made jokes about it, and that since we all are supposed to be “terrorism experts” we knew that a sword can kill up to 50 people, so he must have used so many swords, or maybe he used chainsaw? How else would anyone kill 300 people with his own hands?

Yes, we made jokes about that, in prison, and when it’s such a silly situation, you learn to joke about it.

So the interrogator said: “so he killed 300 people?”
“yes sir” Nathom answered, and the interrogator writes the confession.
“and he stole an Opel Car?”
“yes sir”
“a yellow one?”
“yes sir”
And then the interrogator put down the pen and said “you son of a b****, it has been more that two years since the war and I never saw one yellow Opel car”
(And it’s true, for some reason all Opels in Iraq are grey, some are black or blue but it’s rare, but no yellow ones!) All of that interrogation happened while Nathom is hanging upside down, and being hit at the same time.

I left the jail and the two brothers where still there.

Abo kamal, and his nephews: a sheikh of a tribe, had an appointment with a friend to have dinner, and they agreed to meet in front of a well known police station in that area, so they waited there in their car, with the four hazard lights flashing, and the light inside the car turned on, on the side of the road right in front the police station waiting for their friend, and then some cops came out of the station, arrested them and accused them of killing a man, till I left, abo kamal and the others weren’t told the name of the person that was killed, how and when he was killed.

Abo ayid: you know that in our region we call people “abu something” and abu means “the father of” so for example my dad would be abu raed, cause raed is the oldest son, and if your oldest son is called james for example, you would be called abu james ok?
Abu Ayid is a nick name that is used, rarely, to call someone that is married in long time but doesn’t have children, for any reason, cause its rude to call people with their names, calling them abu – is a formal and respecting way, so if you know someone that doesn’t have children you call him abo ayid, ok?
Now abu ayid has been in prison for about three months, he was tortured a lot, his fingernails were taken out, his toes were broken, he was beaten so much, because someone thought that the name abo ayid sounds like a name of a terrorist, maybe a leader of a terrorist group, it SOUNDS like that, so they tortured him, and they are keeping him till he confesses and tells them about the other members in his group and their fund etc…

Kathom: a dark skinned man in his late 40s walking late at night passed by a governmental building while he was drunk. After a while, an explosion happened in that building, so the police picked him up walking not far of that building, and needless to say that they weren’t nice to him.
And so on, so many sad stories, sad because they are stupid, sad because they aren’t fair.
Whenever someone new arrives, I had this bad feeling in my stomach, its sick, and it keeps happening to other people everyday.
One of the guys there, Msaid, was so sad, he has been there for about 50 days, he never says a word, he never speaks to anyone, no one knows what he is accused of cause he wouldn’t talk, and I wouldn’t tell you about this if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, Msaid haven’t eat a bite since over 40 days, we all live in the same place and its easy to keep track of that, people there watch him and be him to eat every now and then, all they hear from him is: I don’t feel like eating.
Guys I haven’t lost my mind in jail, its true, and I saw it myself, Msaid drinks water only.
I really learned that yama fissign mazaleem!
Which is an Egyptian saying says that many of those in prison are really innocent.
I learned also the value of freedom, now just looking from the window or going out in the street is a lot of fun to me, I learned to appreciate freedom.
May God free everyone that is under such great injustice, and send them back home to their families and friends, about us, we will do what we can to make sure that happens, any kind of help that you can offer, any legal help or support from human right groups will be much appreciated and evaluated, we must do all we can to try to get some rights to those arrested, and being arrested in occupied Iraq, everyday.

posted by khalid jarrar at 5:46 PM 161 comments
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I am home:*)
I am in Amman, just arrived few hours ago.
will tell you more later inshalla....

posted by khalid jarrar at 7:18 PM 102 comments
Sunday, July 10, 2005
I was sleeping, relaxfuly (is there such a word?) in my bed in Amman, when mUm woke me up and told me that someone broke into our house in Baghdad.
I wanted to go back to Baghdad as soon as possible, so I thought that this would be the best God-given excuse. Conveniently, dad came just minutes after, and told me the story again, and asked me: would you like to go to Baghdad? I am sending water treatment equipment to Baghdad today, the car leaves soon, do you want to be in it? Few hours later, I was being shipped, with the rest of the goods, to Baghdad:)
when I arrived I found that the thieves, broke the metal window that protects the main window in the front of the house, and then broke the glass and got into the house, they stole my gun (which you all know cause I told you the story about me buying it, remember?) and the family AK, and also the satellite receiver, and they couldn’t take anything bigger than that, in size, cause they wouldn’t be able to take it out of the hole they made in the metal window, they made a big mess searching everywhere for hidden money, or gold (two things people usually keep in their houses, women keep gold, and men keep money cause people don’t trust banks that much, and its not that easy to deal with them too) but they didn’t find any.
They wanted to steal my two computers but they couldn’t they are much bigger than the hole, so instead, impressively, they opened them and took only the important parts from inside them! Now ladies and gentlemen, isn’t that cute? :)
Well educated thieves! Yes, they don’t exist in the government only now, but also in the streets, who said there was any lack of creativity in Iraq?
I thought at first that they only broke the computers because they thought they were boxes that we hide gold in them!!
A common mistake: do not underestimate your enemy.
Anyways, because the window was broken, and there was a sand storm after that, you can imagine how the house looked like, actually you cant, horrible doesn't describe it, un-inhabit-able is the word, it took the efforts of two persons for many hours, to clean it up, and fix the mess.
The very most important part is that, they brought kabab with them, from the nearby restaurant, ate it in the sitting room, and left some for me!
Lack of creativity? Shut up!
They made themselves so comfortable, good for them :)
Anyways, after cleaning it took few more hours to set things straight again, I changed all the locks (that would be a total of 12 locks, don’t stare, its how it work in Iraq.)
I borrowed a computer from dad's office (come on, I companied the boring filters for 12 hours, don’t I deserve this? Well there was the driver that’s right, but he didn’t talk much more than the filters) and I installed a dial up modem and brought it home, and ladies and gentlemen, yes yes yes, I am back online!
Thank you thank you for the applause, let's finish what we were talking about.
SO… The first thing I ever met when I reached Iraq, at the very beginning of the borders, and even before you reach the very first check point or human being, was….guess what?
Yes you are right! The barriers!!!
"ALREADY?" I shouted, inside my mind.
And then after finishing allllllll the legal papers concerning me, the driver, the car and the goods, we reached the American checkpoint in the boarders, three very young, nice, over friendly looking –to a goofy point- American soldiers, they didn’t know that I speak English, one told the other: "Whats these things in the car?"
Then the driver gave him the receipts of the filters, they were in Arabic, but the header said
"--------- for water treatment and environmental-----"
so the first one said
"ahhh.. Water treatment and environment… like this makes them more understandable"
I smiled inside my mind, and kept looking at them.
They sounded nice and funny; I would have stopped and chatted with them if they weren’t wearing the uniform.
Nock nock nock, the third soldier knocked on the closed window form my side
"What's this in the back?" He asked.
"Water treatment equipment, filters" I answered "
ohhh!...ok.. I was just curious!"
"Where is your passport?" the first one asked I gave it to him.
"ohhh.. You look...ehh...Well…you gained some weight! "
It was a goofy attempt to open a friendly talk, or to break the ice, but it was sincere, I felt. I laughed…inside my mind again, but smiled to him.
I don’t wanna hear the pick up lines that he comes up with the moment he sees a girl, I am thinking, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was single.
Ok, buh buy! Or was it take care? I don’t remember, they said, and we moved on…. Those guys should be having fun, somewhere back home, instead of sitting hear in the borders, which means middle of the desert, in this summer.
The other soldier I talked to lately was in the airport, when I left, he was a black young man, and he asked the driver
"who are you?"
"I am the driver "the driver answered.
"ohhh..driver! Driver ohh driver, oh driver "he started to sing, and dance!
I was like: ^_^
It's fascinating, and simple enough, to learn how similar we, human beings are.
People everywhere, I wish you a great summer!
Ps: well that’s only if it was summer where you are, if not, well, ehh, go work, what are you doing wasting your time here?

posted by khalid jarrar at 2:49 AM 117 comments
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
A family in Baghdad...
You know what you really need to do?
go check mom's blog, and see if her last post is translated yet or not, and if it wasn't, check again later, and later, and later until you find the translation, and when you do, you read it, and then read it again, and then read it another time, and then forward it to your friends, and print a copy and let your family read it, and make another copy and hang it in your office where everyone can see it, that way you know you really did something might get you into the paradise..
is this a mom that one should be proud of or what?
I am studying, my final exams are really close, wish me luck!

Bleaching New Orleans/Rep.Richard H. Baker
Some GOP Legislators Hit Jarring Notes in Addressing Katrina

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 10, 2005; A04

Some lawmakers are still struggling to find the sympathetic but diligent tone that a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina -- and the lagging government response to its victims -- would seem to call for.

The latest elected official to step into the swamp was Rep. Richard H. Baker, a 10-term Republican from Baton Rouge. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that he was overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Democrats, of course, gleefully disseminated the report, saying they detected a GOP pattern. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) recently spoke of bulldozing part of New Orleans, they reminded everyone, and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) suggested punishing people who had ignored pre-storm evacuation orders.

Baker issued a lengthy statement saying he was "taken aback" by the Journal's brief item. "What I remember expressing, in a private conversation with a housing advocate and member of my staff, was that 'We have been trying for decades to clean up New Orleans public housing to provide decent housing for residents, and now it looks like God is finally making us do it,' " Baker wrote. "Obviously I have never expressed anything but the deepest concern about the suffering that this terrible catastrophe has caused for so many in our state."

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Santorum was drawing a second round of fire, this time for saying the National Weather Service's forecasts and warnings about Katrina's path were "not sufficient." Democrats e-mailed audio links to a radio interview in which Santorum said that "we need a robust National Weather Service" that focuses on severe weather predictions. "Obviously the consequences are incredibly severe, as we've seen here in the last couple of weeks, if we don't get it right and don't properly prepare," Santorum said.

In fact, many people think the Weather Service got the Katrina prediction exactly right. They include GOP Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), who chairs the Senate Commerce subcommittee on disaster prediction and prevention. He issued a statement headlined "DeMint Gives National Weather Service 'A' Grade for Katrina Prediction."

Santorum, long at odds with the federal agency, is pushing a bill that would require it to surrender some of its duties to private businesses, some of them located in his state. The National Weather Service Employees Organization said in a statement: "We did our job well and everyone knows it. By falsely claiming that we got it wrong, Rick Santorum is continuing his misguided crusade against the National Weather Service."

Santorum's office issued a statement yesterday repeating the concern that "there are serious consequences" when the Weather Service falls short of "getting it right."

These days it seems that no Republican remark is too small or ambiguous to trigger a Democratic mass mailing. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee yesterday sent links to a Houston Chronicle blogger who had watched House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) tour the Astrodome, where children evacuated from New Orleans were playing. The blog reported that DeLay "likened their stay to being at camp and asked, 'Now, tell me the truth, boys, is this kind of fun?' " The blogger said the youngsters "nodded yes, but looked perplexed."


Ecotourism for Maine
Wednesday, September 07, 2005 - Bangor Daily News

Once there was a place that had a flourishing marine fishery, a strong agricultural economy and a vibrant timber industry, providing employment for rural families. This place was rich in cultural heritage and natural resources, with a spectacular coastline, beautiful mountains, abundant wildlife and pristine rivers that meandered through thick forests. But with time, the forest products industry began to decline and loss of agricultural subsidies led to decreased farm production. A smaller lobster catch led to tougher regulations, while fin fish stocks began to steadily go down.

This place is not Maine, but there is a valuable lesson in this tale for our State. In 1992, the tiny Central American country of Belize, smaller than Maine, was a relatively unknown tourism destination heavily dependent on a traditional economy of timber harvesting, fishing and agriculture. As these industries began to decline, Belize saw tourism's growth curve and turned to the things they had in abundance - wilderness, picturesque villages and a beautiful coast - to revitalize their economy. Within a single decade, Belize went from near obscurity to become one of the top 10 ecotourism destinations in the world, where it remains today. It is no exaggeration to say that nature drives the tourism economy of Belize - 40 percent of the country is designated as protected areas and tourism is the number one economic earner.

Maine faces similar challenges although, certainly, as "Vacationland" we have already been on tourism's map for a long time. But the tourist demographic is changing, and today's tourists want to connect to the natural environment, to be enriched by authentic cultural experiences and to enjoy a great tourism product, meaning excellent food, accommodations and service. In fact, in the past year, 55 million Americans took a nature or adventure vacation, and that is up 14 percent from previous years.

A 2003 study by the Travel Industry Association of America found that 58.5 million Americans would be willing to pay more for travel companies that strive to protect the environment. More than a third (39 percent) would choose a tourism company that protects the historical and cultural aspects of a destination, even if the cost were higher.

Nature and adventure travel have been driving tourism's expansion in the past decade and there is no sign that this will change any time soon. The World Tourism Organization forecasts that in the next 15 years, international tourism will increase to 1.5 billion visitors, twice today's total. Research conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme and Conservation International has indicated that much of that expansion will take place in and around natural areas.

It is this reality that has led to the emergence of ecotourism on the world stage. But many people confuse ecotourism and nature tourism. They are not the same thing. Ecotourism is about maximizing the positive benefits of tourism and minimizing its negative impacts. Specifically, ecotourism is based on a set of principles and practices including environmental sustainability, protection of nature and providing tangible economic benefits to local people. It is when nature-based tourism adopts these practices that it becomes ecotourism.

While Maine has traditionally promoted itself as a tourism destination based on outdoor recreation, it has lagged behind other states in pursuing the growing ecotourism market. For example, Hawaii established the Hawaii Ecotourism Association nearly a decade ago, West Virginia - another state rich in natural resources - has announced its goal to become the top ecotourism destination in America, and Vermont was awarded the prestigious World Legacy Award in 2003 for their efforts to promote destination stewardship - based on the principles of ecotourism. Yet Maine has a rich cultural and natural heritage that can stand up to the best travel destinations in America - indeed, even surpassing many of them - and is ideally positioned to become an ecotourism leader. In the process, we can and should tap ecotourism's full potential to revitalize our rural economy.

On Sept. 14-16, ecotourism leaders and practitioners from across North America will gather in Bar Harbor for the First National Conference on Ecotourism in the United States. Having this historic conference in Maine makes perfect sense. From the North Woods to the western mountains and all across the state to the rocky coast, Maine is sitting on a gold mine of economic opportunity that can be more fully realized with a tourism strategy based on responsible travel that protects nature, promotes cultural heritage and sustains the well-being of local communities - the very essence of ecotourism.

No one has ever said that a tourism destination was spoiled because the environment was still clean, the culture was still vibrant and the scenic towns and villages were still free from billboards and sprawl. Maine has a historic chance to learn from the mistakes of other tourism destinations and to ensure that those same mistakes are not made here.

By hosting the conference, Maine will be able to both showcase our potential and benefit from those with first-hand experience, and blaze our own trail forward.

Costas Christ is the executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and writes a monthly travel column for National Geographic Adventure magazine. Staff
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