In Baghdad, Organized Destruction
by Cathy Breen
Two days ago an email came from an Iraqi doctor in Baghdad in response to a brief greeting I sent to her for the month of Ramadan.
“Thanks so much for remembering us…In fact, we are the same if not worse. Our hearts are broken at the organized ruining of our country. We are targeted by those criminals and gangs coming from everywhere, even from the west, who are all witnessing this drama and, if not supporting it, are keeping silent. We wonder what sin we committed to face this gloomy black fate. In fact, what is going on is beyond words.”
This courageous doctor never left the side of gravely ill children despite the great exodus of doctors due to the kidnappings, assassinations, and threats to their own lives and to the lives of their families. Sadly, she reports that another of her siblings has cancer and she needs to leave the medical students for some days. This happens, she says regretfully, in “the critical time of final exams.” She herself is a cancer survivor and both her mother and sister had cancer. They have no choice, she says, but to go on and try to survive.
Another long-time friend also wrote recently. He is working in southern Iraq in a job that will soon end. He is away from his family in Baghdad, and it is dangerous for him in the south, but he has no choice with a wife and seven children to support. There was already an assassination attempt on his life in Baghdad and houses near their own have been bombed. There are nightly explosions and gunfire, assassinations and kidnappings.
I have been frantically trying to find a safe place for him and his family to which they can escape. If they could go to Kurdistan they would join the ranks of the already three million IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) within Iraq. If they could get to Turkey, they might eventually get refugee status. But it is expensive there, they don’t speak the language, are not allowed to work, and resettlement could take years.
Our friend emailed that his wife decided to send their second-oldest son, 16, to her mother’s house due to kidnapping cases. “Two kids were kidnapped two days ago.” Abdul, I will call the son, has exams and his grandmother’s house is closer to the school. When I stayed with this family for two weeks in 2013, one of Abdul’s 12-year-old friends was kidnapped and was never found.
The grandmother takes her grandson each day to school and sits against a wall under its shadow until Abdul finishes his exam. She is “old and weak,” Abdul’s father writes, “and honestly it is meaningless to think she could protect Ali as she can’t really protect herself. But I do appreciate her efforts.” Abdul told his dad that his grandmother was causing him “too much embarrassment as she doesn’t understand the rules of the exams.” She always tries to enter the exam class to give Abdul cold water because it is very hot. The first day the director of the exam allowed her to do this, but another day during the exam she tried again. This time it was not to give him water. She had cooked a rooster and told the staff that he had to eat well to do well on the exam! Abdul was a little bit angry but his love for her “let him forget the embarrassing feeling!” He is “crazy in love” with his grandmother as she is the only grandparent left.
Abdul was complaining to his father about the insufferable heat and lack of air cooling system, as well as the terrible mosquitoes. He uses a kerosene lamp for studying at night. The father was trying to encourage him by phone to overcome the difficulties saying, “No pain, no gain.” Abdul responded “Dad, since we opened our eyes in this life, we have only known pain.”
Just yesterday two civilians were killed as Abdul and his grandmother approached the school. This happened right in front of their eyes. His father emailed: “Abdul couldn’t answer [the] exam well as [sic] he saw the accident. Let us pray for his safety.”
Our friend and his wife worry excessively about their oldest boy, 18-years-old, as the militia comes to the houses seeking young men to fight ISIS, and they “will take young guys by force to do battle.” Although this son is needed to guard the house at night and help his mother, the mother felt compelled to send this son away too.
My friend concluded: “Cathy, It’s hard to sleep. Don’t worry. The family is still fine.”
Cathy Breen, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has represented Voices for Creative Nonviolence in many visits to Iraq. She lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing and the initial weeks of the U.S. invasion.
Interest groups, special and public
by Tom H. Hastings
We often hear politicians call their opponents an “interest group.” What does that mean? It can be misleading.
When the citizens of a town try to fix a bad ordinance so that their lives are safer, more productive, more prosperous and more equally just for all, should they have that right? Of course. They are acting in the public interest.
When a profit-seeking corporation tries to fix a state law so that business lowers costs at the expense of their workers, taxpayers, and the healthy cleanliness of drinking water, should they have that right? Of course not. They are acting as a special interest group, that is, a narrow elite will profit and all else will pay the costs, meaning that special interest groups are usually acting against the public interest.
Of course, there are cases that are mixtures of the two and, in a democracy, those deserve the most public discourse so that everyone can be heard and a wise decision can be made.
Is a group dedicated to equal justice for all a special interest group? According to a judge in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, yes. When a 61-year-old African American man, Roger Anthony, refused to stop riding his bicycle in November 2011, a 27-year-old white cop driving alongside him shot him with a taser. Anthony was knocked from his moving bike and his head received a fatal blow on the pavement.
There were no complaints of any criminal or suspicious activity by Anthony except for Biking While Black. This was so egregious that the District Attorney filed misdemeanor assault charges and then allowed the police officer to take advantage of a plea bargain that put him on probation. The judge agreed.
The spokesperson for the local NAACP told the media it was unjust that a any man should attack another, kill him, and never serve a day in jail. The judge waved aside those comments, telling the inquiring journalist that the NAACP is a “special interest” group.
What an interesting use of that term. If people of color want equal rights, that, to a North Carolina judge, is a special interest group. Really? What’s next? Those who want clean air are part of a special interest group? The Association of Air Breathers would probably include most humans. Justice for all seems to be a fairly universal, public interest, goal.
What of the case of a corporation that services the military? Do they get to claim public interest status or are they special interest? The Pentagon burns through approximately $2 billion daily, every day, seven days a week, and watching their massive bleed off to war profiteers is instructive. On 29 June it was announced by the DoD that, amongst many other contracts to many profiteers, Lockheed would get another $119 million to spruce up Balad Air Base in Iraq. “This contract is 100-percent foreign military sales. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition,” noted the Air Force. In other words, your tax money that you worked for going to fix a base in Iraq and no bids were taken. Does this smack of a Good Old War Profiteers Club special interest grab to anyone else?
What if that $119 million were used to create jobs for every young person willing to work in our national forests, pulling out downed wood to be used for a variety of purposes? Or perhaps it could provide some educational opportunities for STEM education for our public schoolchildren. There are so many life-affirming, infrastructural, palliative projects that need funding to give all of us a better life. In the public interest.
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, 5-4, supporting gay marriages in every state is long overdue. Those who have been married in the 36 states that previously allowed gay marriages were made to feel like second-class citizens when they visited or traveled through the states that did not have gay marriage laws on the books. No one should have to undergo that kind of injustice.
But this ruling is bound to cause many legal issues in the nation’s religious bodies. As the law stands, church corporations are exempt from having to obey the new court order, and that status has to be overturned, too.
For example, the United Methodist Church, to which I belong, has a long statement in the form of a liturgy that is read once a month in my church. This statement supports and embraces people who are gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual. Yet, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in the U.S.A. forbids clergy from performing gay marriage ceremonies in their churches, or anywhere for that matter. I remember at least one case in which a Methodist minister was defrocked for having performed a gay marriage ceremony in his church.
It’s time that the UMC and other church corporations change their stances. Conservative Christians of all persuasions argue that the Bible prohibits “man lying with man.” That particular phrase shows that gay people and others existed even in biblical times. In other words, gay-ness is more a part of nature and less a matter of choice. Some of the Bible quotations are as follows:
Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful, the conservatives argue.
Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.
Several earlier studies have found what appear to be differences between the brains of gay and straight people. In 1991, brain scientist Simon LeVay reported that the hypothalamus, which is involved in sexual behavior, tended to be smaller in gay men. Other researchers subsequently showed that the brains of gay and straight people appeared likely to respond differently to sexual images. The researchers who conducted the new study previously reported that the brains of gay and straight men seemed to react differently to suspected pheromones — odors thought to be involved in sexual arousal.
Whether we’re straight, gay, transgender or whatever, we need to realize that people who identify themselves as other than straight are our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors. They deserve the same love and consideration that everyone who says he or she is straight does. They deserve equal protection under the law.
As for the First Amendment, which says that Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion, I believe this Supreme Court ruling strengthens this clause in that it allows all people in the church to be considered equal and loved.
by Angela Collier
Carrying your cross is easy around friendly faces, but everyone has at least one person in their life that challenges us to be compassionate and loving. Here is the second half on the subject of walking out your faith in the workplace (or at home).
It didn’t take many years in the “real” world to understand why lazy or mean spirited behavior is overlooked on the job. How many bad apples are related to the boss? In a relationship with the boss? I worked at some places where everyone was related. I’m sorry, even the best person will be hard pressed to remain unbiased at times to a loved one’s issues and behaviors. Complaints raised outside the family tree may fall on deaf ears or result in arousing bitterness within the organization. Nepotism which dominates a work environment in a negative way, can lower morale very quickly. Sometimes, a bad attitude is overlooked because the individual is quite productive and performs excellently. This was the case for me in the Air Force. Three years of hell working with “Ms. C.”. Why? Because she did a darned good job, her horrid attitude was tolerated. In my third year, I finally equaled her in rank. I told her exactly where to stick it.
Twenty years later, my approach is a bit different with Jesus involved. He asks us to pray for our enemies (folks that bring us the most misery), not cuss them out. He wants us to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves” because there are many that are nice to your face, but they stab you in the back the minute they have the opportunity. There are folks that will lie about you and belittle you to make themselves look better. Jesus knows this about man. Another issue that more frequently affects social dynamics is medication or the lack thereof. Sometimes folks need help from a doctor, psychologist, and psychiatrist to get them more on the productive, sane and tolerable path. Have you ever worked around someone who needed meds? Lived with someone who refused to get help or take their prescribed meds? Been there, it sucks. Especially if you are a doormat and the excuse is “it’s her/his medication or they are off their meds…” If that is you, there is no shame in meds – take the meds, but if they are not working and you find you’re not productive, keeping commitments, or you are an absolute bear to be around- get the meds adjusted. Remember, there is a bit of lazy and mean in all of us, but regardless of the reason why- we should not be dominated or mastered by ugly behavior. We all go through seasons where we are disappointed, a bit disgruntled, and tired-and if we are not emotionally or psychologically healthy, anyone around us will be impacted for the worse. If you are that miserable soul that continually produces joy within others because you left the room, get help now and change the game! You have one life, make it the best! Be a blessing to others, not a curse. This week let me encourage you to pray for those you encounter, we never know what someone is dealing with. God can touch a heart, heal an attitude, and cure a disease. But, He has also blessed us with professionals such as doctors, clergy and other staff to help us through the hard times so we don’t make life hard on everyone else. Love yourself and others enough to want better. God is good! Always!
By: Carrie A. Blakley
When most people see a bear they kind of panic, and quite a bit of fear washes over them. They start thinking about how they’re going to get to safety. They start wondering if there’s anything around them that they can use as a defense weapon, and they may even try to scare it off by standing up as tall as they can, waving their arms over their heads and making lots of distracting noises. People from Sierra County are quite a bit different than that. When we see a bear, it’s usually in our back yards, on our properties somewhere, or just meandering about the street, or river. We rarely panic.
Moreover, although we’re extremely aware of the power even a bear cub holds within itself, the only time we actually ‘panic’ is if we see a bear charging, in which case we run like mad in the opposite direction, and take cover immediately.Even then, in the aftermath (per se) of it, we’re different when it comes to our bears. See, we realize that we live in the bear’s territory, not the other way around. As such, we stop and ponder a few things.About Black Bears
We ask ourselves: Did the bear look healthy? What color was its fur? Did it have any cubs? If so, did the cubs seem healthy? Approximately how old did the bear look? How heavy did it appear to be? How is this bear behaving? Does it seem to be unstable in any fashion? How big were the paws/claws on the bear (if they were visible)? Our conversations about bears are based on these types of questions we ask ourselves. We say things like: “Oh, I saw a bear last night in my yard”….and that is when the “standardized bear” questions start. Visitors to our area may happen upon the conversation and think we’ve all lost our minds. The truth is, we love our bears, and hope nothing but the best for them. The bears have a tremendously good food source here, even with the drought, so please….be kind to our bears. Be sure you put your garbage in our bear-proof cans throughout the town, and keep your camping food locked up tight in a cooler, as well as any toiletries and vehicle supplies. Yogi and Boo-Boo are well loved, and we’d like to keep them happy…..and most importantly, healthy.
Book Reviews –Issue 2015-6
The Book Share & Review Group met this past Thursday; here are some of the books that were reviewed:
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, by John Coates: the author is a Wall Street trader turned Cambridge neuroscientist who writes about “Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust” (the book’s subtitle). (On the shelf at the Downieville Library.)
Resistance, by Agnes Humbert: the author was an art historian in Paris during the German occupation of 1940; she helped form an organized resistance, was betrayed to the Gestapo, and spent time in prison and labor camps. This book tells her story. (On the shelf at the Downieville Library.)
If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name and Take Good Care of Your Garden and the Dogs, by Heather Lende: the author writes both the obituaries and the social column for her local newspaper in Haines, Alaska. These books bring to life the people and places of her small-town life. (On the shelf at the Downieville Library.)
Wellington and Napoleon, by Robin Neillands: subtitled “Clash of Arms, 1807-1815”, this non-fiction book tells the story of the two military commanders, Arthur Wellesly and Napoleon Bonaparte, who would meet on the field of battle at Waterloo. (On the shelf at the Downieville Library.)
The Terror Before Trafalgar, by Tom Pocock: subtitled “Nelson, Napoleon, and the Secret War”, this non-fiction work details the years leading up to the battle of Trafalgar — a story of people, politics, and secret new weapons. (On the shelf at the Downieville Library.)
The Awakening Land, by Conrad Richter: this volume consists of a trilogy of novels (The Trees, The Fields, and The Town) that explore the lives of a frontier family in the early 19th-century Ohio Valley. The third novel of the trilogy won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951. (Not currently in the Downieville Library.)
The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman: this novel tells of a WWI survivor who returns to Australia and, with his wife, takes up a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. Into their life, from the sea, comes a baby; the decision they make has repercussions beyond what they could originally imagine. (Not currently in the Downieville Library.)
The next gathering of the Book Share & Review Group will be on Thursday, August 20, 2:00 PM at the Downieville Library.
What’s New on the Shelf
A new book by a local author has been added to the Young Adult section: Clairvoyance, by Paige (Ali) Rambo. This fantasy novel was Ali’s Senior Project this year: she wrote the book and had it self-published, all the while learning about what it takes to get a book into print.
Children’s Summer Reading Program
All children are invited to join the reading program. Simply come into the library, get a “passport”, find some books to take home and read (books from home are also allowed), return to the library to report on the books read, get a continent sticker for each page of the passport, check out some more books, and keep going. A completed passport will earn a certificate. Also, an end-of-summer gathering for all Summer Reading Program participants is being contemplated. And, if the child is old enough to write their own name legibly, they can apply for their own library card from the Plumas County Library (of which the Downieville Library is a station).
A reminder that the library has internet and WiFi accessibility. Patrons can either use the library’s computer or bring their own laptops or mobile devices.
The library has a printer/copier with WiFi connection, so that library patrons can bring documents that need to be copied, or print from the computer or their own mobile devices. The library charges 15¢ per page for printing and copying.
Sierra County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Log
- Calpine dog loose with owner out of area
- Theft of kerosene from Loyalton home
- Wallet found and turned into Loyalton SO substation
- Trailers slashed on local residents trailer south of Downieville
- Internet site needs to be investigated near Verdi
- Hitchhikers throwing rocks on highway near Sagehen Summit
- USFS reports abandoned vehicle in odd location near Sierraville
- Vehicle associated with bike race cited for something Newman Point
- Civil Dispute file in Loyalton X 3
- Power wheelchair quit and rider needs assistance in Loyalton
- Civil File in Alleghany
- Injured fawn on highway near Sattley
- Subject arrested on local warrant in Loyalton
- Alarm activation in Green Acres residence
- Medical emergency in Sierraville
- Bicyclists using entire lane between Sierra City /Downieville
- Criminal restraining order issued in Downieville
- Ambulance needed for fallen husband in Loyalton
- Bicyclist down with leg injury south of Sierraville
- Overdue parties reported in Downieville
- Injured bicyclist reported by Deputy north of Sierraville
- Child custody issues in Quincy
- Neglected dog in Sierra Brooks
- Juvenile with asthma attack needs ambulance in Sierraville
- Washoe County SO needs agency assist near Verdi
- Ambulance needed for elderly female in Downieville
- Suspicious smell reported in Downieville
- Illegal motorcycle parking in Downieville
- Ambulance needed in Loyalton
- Audible alarm sounding in Loyalton
- Harassment reported in Loyalton
- Suspicious male walking on private property near Bordertown
- Plumas FS requests agency assist on PCT near Sierra City
- Subject cursing at juveniles on bikes in Loyalton
- Ambulance needed in Loyalton
- Motorcycle vs deer with no humans around near Loyalton
- People running through Stop sign in Loyalton
- Ambulance needed in Calpine
- CHP reports rocks and gravel on Hwy 49 near Goodyears Bar
- Traffic collision in Loyalton
- Lost fanny pack in Downieville
- Custodial dispute in Loyalton
- Suspicious vehicle with screaming woman near Loyalton
- Speeding motorcyclists in Alleghany
- Ambulance needed in Loyalton
- Cows reported on Hwy 49 near Loyalton
- Loud argument reported in Downieville
- Motorcyclist reported down near Sierraville
- Welfare check requested in Downieville
- Female screaming in residence in Loyalton
- Possible fire reported near Evans Canyon
- Arrest on out of county warrant in Loyalton
- Citation for illegal nunchucks in Loaylton
- Annoying noise reported in Pike City
- Parked vehicle blocking roadway in Alleghany
- Vehicle collision and fire Hwy 49 Goodyears Bar
- Ambulance for toddler in Goodyears Bar
Son of a Beeswax, I forgot to write anything about Don Russell this week, he went to visit his Mom in Detroit, so the saying “out of sight out of mine”, I said something to someone about Don today and they asked, “Don who?” Meanwhile CEO Milly, who is the epitome of what a CEO should be, kind, wise, listens to others, knows how to delegate and is not afraid to look you in the eye, at least most of the time, is carrying on in her most professional manner. So since I’m late that’s it. We miss you Don, we really do, honest we do, I think Scott and Brutus miss you, maybe Jim Roos, I saw a kid crying on the street today, but I don’t think that was about you. Anyhow have fun and come home sometime, you don’t have to hurry.
Send anything you need published to Milly, the CEO and most important person in the office, at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Milly). For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to Don Russell at email@example.com and tell him you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..