Kendall Clark | 1 Feb 18:17 2003

A Shuttle Exploding Over My Head

First reaction to hearing the breakup of the space shuttle over my head.

A Shuttle Exploding Over My Head
By Kendall Clark

I live in Dallas (with my wife, Hope, and our cat, Lucy), about 2 miles east
of downtown. Earlier this morning, while enjoying a late Saturday morning in
bed, I woke up to the sound of a very loud sonic boom over head, which
lasted about 10 or 12 seconds. It rattled the windows of our old house.
Since I've been working lately on an essay about the likelihood of the US
using tactical nukes in Iraq, my very first reaction was "I wonder if that's
some kind of ballistic missile?" When nothing seemed to explode or burst
into flames, I rolled over and went back to sleep for 30 minutes.

As probably everyone knows by now, the sound I heard was the sound of a US
space shuttle breaking up over my head -- the debris trail goes from
Palestine (where my lifelong friend Collin Williams has family) all the way
out to Nacogdoches (where I spent my first semester in college, at 18) to
the Louisiana border and beyond.

Damn... this really sucks. I find myself hoping that this disaster was the
result of mechanical failure, not malign human actions. If it's the latter,
rather than the former, I suspect that the Israeli astronaut aboard having
participated in Israel's strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981
won't turn out to be a coincidence.

The TV is warning us not to touch any suspected debris because of very
likely health hazards (rocket fuel is very nasty) -- I think we would have
figured that out on our own, but you never know.

(Continue reading)

Paul Ford | 1 Feb 19:07 2003

Re: A Shuttle Exploding Over My Head

Hey, Kendall,

"In a twist of nomenclature that would seem implausible in fiction, a 
craft carrying Col. Ilan Ramon of the Israeli Air Force apparently broke 
up over an East Texas town called Palestine." -

It seems, somehow, more of a sad accident than the Challenger crash, 
which felt like a tragedy, a pit-of-the-stomach horror, especially as a 
kid. But in the time since, there has been the lingering spectre of 
Challenger, there have been too many major airplane crashes with 
hundreds dead, and then September 11, and those are just the American 

The dimensions of American "tragedy" have changed for me. Watching the 
television, I feel terrible to see such failure and the loss of life, 
but I'm going to go about my day instead of stick to the TV; there's 
nothing I can do and there will be no explanation for what went wrong 
for months, or a year.


James Murray | 4 Feb 00:40 2003

bush's "racist" slur

I think you are misguided on the issue of Pakis - someone has been feeding you
with misinformation. While some many consider it offensive, many of the pakis
themselves use it "proudly" to describe themselves. Just near where I work
there is "paki rule" written on the wall. Also, check out which
is a website about pakistan - would they REALLY chose a name that was
derogatory about their own race? I think not.


James Murray

angelina | 4 Feb 20:10 2003

Re: bush's "racist" slur

Hiya ...

I am married to a Pakistani, and he does occasionally use the 
derivative "paki" at times, but not to describe a person, but 
rather, say, food.  But in England, I was told (actually, I 
was upbraided) that it has a derogatory connotation, like 
calling someone a "wog" which has little meaning in the U.S. 
but is a slur across the pond.  Many Pakistanis living in 
U.S., Canada and elsewhere do consider it extremely 
derogatory.  So it's safer to not cut corners and to 
use "Pakistani."


Kendall Grant Clark | 4 Feb 20:33 2003

bush's "racist" slur

>>>>> "james" == James Murray <jsm@...> writes:

  james> I think you are misguided on the issue of Pakis - someone has
  james> been feeding you with misinformation. 

It would be nice if such claims were be accompanied by some evidence.

         While some many consider it
  james> offensive, many of the pakis themselves use it "proudly" to
  james> describe themselves. 

That's a difference which makes all the difference in the world. The moral
and political logic of what a group chooses to call itself -- especially
when it is trying to rehabilitate hateful terms -- is different than what
other groups call it. In other words, there simply is no disputing that in
the UK (and in the US, but more recently) "paki" has been used as a
derogatory term for Southeast Asians of all kinds, often accompanying
racial violence, harassment, discrimination, and the like.

So if some Southeast Asians, including Pakistanis, try to rehabilitate
this term -- in the same way that some African Americans try to
rehabilitate derogatory terms in the US -- that doesn't imply or give
permission for majority groups to use the term.

         Just near where I work there is "paki rule"
  james> written on the wall. 

Great, but that's in the UK, where things are slightly different than in
the US, particularly about linguistic usage corresponding to different
patterns of immigration and the like. As we say in the article -- a point
(Continue reading)

Sims4ppl | 10 Feb 08:51 2003

Book: <i>The Fire Next Time</i>, James Baldwin

what dose mr. baldwin mean by labyrinth of attitudes?
the fire next time
Dru Oja Jay | 14 Feb 03:09 2003

Invading Iraq or Courting Calamity?

A second look at the humanitarian consequences of war in Iraq, and an argument for deterrence instead of preemption.

Invading Iraq or Courting Calamity?
By Dru Oja Jay

Many people who support the anticipated US war on Iraq say that Saddam
Hussein's government is a menace to many of the 22.5 million Iraqis over
whom he rules, and is a threat to the security of the United States and the
stability of the middle east. As a result, a "regime change" will be
beneficial not only for anyone who worries about being attacked by Iraq, but
for the Iraqi people. The US will swoop in, unseat Hussein, institute a
democracy, and everyone will be better off in the long run. Right?

For those who believe this, the anticipated effects of an invasion of Iraq
are worth a closer look.

The Pentagon's current plan is to drop over 3,000 bombs on targets within
Iraq over two days, destroying political and military headquarters, and
essential infrastructure, according to the New York Times. The aim of the
attack, according to Pentagon officials, is to "shock" the Iraqi army, and
"break its will to fight".

The plan is reportedly based on "Shock and Awe", a strategy developed by the
Pentagon in the early '90s, which calls for a barrage of 800 cruise missiles
over 48 hours. In an interview with CBS, Harlan Ullman, one of the authors
of the plan, compared the psychological effect to that of dropping atom
bombs on Japan. "Rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima," the effect
would be to make Iraq's army give up immediately, he said. "There will not
be a safe place in Baghdad," predicted one Pentagon official.

Ullman imagines the attack: "You also take the city down. By that I mean you
get rid of their power and water. In two, three, four, five days they are
physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted." It is widely
estimated that 100,000 Iraqis died in the first Gulf War, but documentation
of suffering, starvation and exhaustion is not available. According to the
Pentagon and the British Ministry of Defense, electrical systems on which
essential sanitation and water purification systems depend would be

Due to the collapse of Iraq's economy from sanctions and bi-weekly bombings
for the last ten years, "the bulk of the population is now totally dependent
on the government of Iraq for a majority, if not all, of their basic needs",
according to a UN report quoted in the Washington Post. If the US invades,
over ten million Iraqis--including two million refugees and homeless--will
be left with diminished or nonexistent access to food and medicine, leading
to starvation and outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, in "epidemic if not
pandemic proportions."

The first Gulf War resulted in over two million refugees. Iranian officials
expect more than one million refugees to cross their borders alone, and UN
officials fear that other neighboring countries could close their borders to
those fleeing an invasion, escalating what would already be a major crisis.

Ironically, it is the sanctions that have robbed half of the population of
Iraq of economic self-sufficiency, leaving them dependent on Hussein's
regime and less likely to revolt than at any other time. The last time that
Iraqis overthrew a (US-supported) tyrant and instituted a democratic
government, in the revolution of 1958, the existence of a large, educated
middle class was widely acknowledged as the primary cause. If the US does
want a real democracy in Iraq, it is largely to blame for strengthening
Hussein's grip on Iraqi society, leaving a violent and immanently disastrous
"regime change" as the only option.

This probably stems from a desire to have a US-friendly regime in power.
When Sunni Muslims in southern Iraq and Kurds in the north began a major
rebellion during the Gulf War, they asked for the US to provide them with
arms captured from Saddam Hussein's army. Not only did the US refuse, but US
air cover mysteriously disappeared at the critical moment, allowing Hussein
to crush the rebellion with gunships. (US support for Hussein goes all the
way back to 1963, when the CIA sponsored the coup that eventually put him in
power. After an interlude where Iraq was a "terrorist state", diplomatic
relations were reopened in 1983--by none other than Donald Rumsfeld--just in
time for US companies to provide Iraq with materials for chemical weapons
and nuclear reactors, nerve gas, and military helicopters, which were used
in the Iran/Iraq war.)

But if an invasion won't be good for Iraqis, it isn't clear that it will be
good for the US, either. Besides facing a long ground war with thousands of
US casualties (something that the US public is, paradoxically, sensitive
of), the US may make itself more, not less vulnerable to terrorist attacks
by attacking. As a CIA report quoted in the New York Times said, "Should
Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he would
become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions." Hussein's son,
Uday, recently threatened the US publicly. "If they come, September 11,
which they are crying over and see as a big thing, will be a real picnic for
them," he said. A "terrorism expert" recently quoted in the Globe and Mail
said that "if Saddam knows he's going down, he'll use everything he's got."

Even assuming that Hussein will give up so quickly that he won't have a
chance to use what he has--if he has anything, it's anthrax and vx nerve gas
that US companies sold to him in the 80s--there is still a much greater
danger of any weapons that exist falling into terrorist hands during an
invasion. If, for example, chemical agents are being hidden in the homes of
scientists, they will cease to be under Hussein's control the moment that
bombs begin to fall. Perhaps they will find a new home through the black

If the American government's goal is to prevent terrorism and help the Iraqi
people then two courses of action seem necessary. First is acknowledgement
that the threat of retaliation, rather than "pre-emptive" invasion, is a
much more effective means of keeping Saddam Hussein from using his weapons,
if indeed he has them. Second is an understanding of the long history of US
intervention in Iraq and the 1.5 million lives it has cost. If we want the
Iraqi people to be free from Saddam Hussein's rule, are we really willing to
unilaterally inflict an atrocity many times the magnitude of September 11th
in order to achieve this? Who, exactly, is the US to play such number games
with human lives when it is its own policies that have caused such
unspeakable horrors in the past?

Posted on Monkeyfist at

Dru Oja Jay | 16 Feb 01:48 2003

f15 poster

Since today was pretty much the biggest global coordinated protest in the 
history of the planet (5 million is a very conservative estimate), I made 
a two-page poster out of the list of 603 cities listed as 
participating--to commemorate the very many events that took place, and 
to point to what the mainstream media will inevitably do a good job of 

(200k, pdf file)

Easily printable. Suitable for home, office, or public use.


Dru Oja Jay     dru@...

Dru Oja Jay | 18 Feb 20:34 2003

War in Iraq: Selected Articles

War in Iraq: Selected Articles

The following is a selection of relevant and poignant articles that I 
have found, or that have been recommended to me while researching the 
history and motivations of US involvement with Iraq. I have tried to 
highlight articles that refer directly to primary sources or first hand 
experience, while representing a solid alternative to the mainstream 

Please send any addition or comments to dru@...

* * *

Prof. Marjorie Cohn:
UN Resolution 1441: Blackmailing the Security Council

Sunday Herald (Scotland):
How Did Iraq Get Its Weapons? We Sold Them

Internal UN document:
Likely Humanitarian Scenarios

William Polk in NYRB:
Iraq: A New Leaf

Michael Parenti:
Defying the Sanctions: A Flight to Iraq

Elias Davidsson:
Illegality of US planned attack on Iraq

Scott Ritter:
Is Iraq a True Threat to the US?

The Independent:
Kurdish leaders enraged by 'undemocratic' American plan to occupy Iraq

Afghanistan omitted from US aid budget

Dru Oja Jay     dru@...

Dru Oja Jay | 19 Feb 05:21 2003

A Coalition of the Willing?

As it turns out, only one of the countries named as supporting the US in a "coalition of the willing" actually
has a majority in support of the war.

A Coalition of the Willing?
By Dru Oja Jay

From the [1]Washington Post:

France and Germany lead European opposition to a speedy attack. But Britain,
Italy, Spain, Denmark and Portugal, as well as Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic, have firmly backed the U.S. position. On Wednesday, 10 more
European governments, in the former communist east, jointly declared support
for Washington. They were Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

A quick scan of opinion polls reveals that, while governments are supporting
the US, the people are solidly opposed to unilateral and even UN action in
all but a few countries. This can be explained by diplomatic pressure which
has, for now, had a greater influence on policy that widespread domestic
opposition to military action.

Britain: 86% say give weapons inspectors more time, 34% think that US and
Britain have made a convincing case for invasion. [2]»

Spain: 80% opposed to war, 91% against attack without UN resolution [3]»

Italy: 72% opposed to war [4]»

Portugal: 65% say there is no reason to attack now [5]»

Hungary: 82% opposed to invasion under any circumstances [6]»

Czech Republic: 67% opposed to invasion under any circumstances [7]»

Poland: 63% against sending Polish troops, 52% support US "politically" [8]»

Denmark: 79% oppose war without U.N. mandate [9]»

Australia: 56 per cent only backed UN-sanctioned action, 12% support
unilateral action. 76% oppose participation in a US-led war on Iraq.
Australian Senate voted 33-31 to censure Howard for committing 2,000
soldiers to US action. [10]»

The "[11]Vilnius 10" is a group of 9 countries that are seeking membership
in NATO and Croatia. In many cases, their future security depends on NATO
membership. In Estonia, for example, there is a tangible fear that Russia
will take over again, given a militaristic enough government and the right
opportunity (the--thankfully past--popularity of the fascist Vladimir
Zhirinovsky was a good indication of this possibility. Zhirinovsky had a map
in his office showing the borders of Russia expanded to include the former
Soviet Union and Alaska). In any case, it's doubtful that these governments
are supporting the US for any other reason than to get diplomatic points (or
conversely, not piss away their chances of NATO membership).

Taking Estonia as an example again, we find that the government has
supported war [12]without any debate in Parliament, despite 70% of the
people and major newspapers opposed to war in Iraq. When a group of young
Estonian activists tried to organize a march, they were threatened with
arrest and the possibility of never being able to obtain a US visa. The
diplomatic pressure against countries has no doubt been no less intense,
given that the US has the economic clout to make or break many individual
members of "new Europe".

Latvia: 74% oppose taking out Hussein with military force [13]»

Romania: 38% opposed, 45% in favour [14]»

Macedonia: 10% support war on Iraq [15]»

Bulgaria: 21% support war [16]»

Estonia: 30% support war [17]»

Slovakia: 60% oppose sending Slovak soldiers [18]»

Information for Albania, Croatia, Slovenia and Lithuania was immediately
available via Google news, but according to [19]this report, Romania is the
only country in the "Vilnius 10" that has a majority of the population
supporting the war.

For comparison purposes:

France: 76% against war without UN support [20]»

Germany: 55% against war with UN support, 90% against war without UN
support. 57% hold the opinion that "the United States is a nation of
warmongers". [21]»

The [22]Gallup International survey, upon which many of the figures cited
above are based, also found that of the 41 countries surveyed, "half of
[the] population is not in favour of military action under any
circumstances." Also, one in five Americans were found to be "against
military action under any circumstances." Notably, the poll also found that
people worldwide are more worried about the "gap between the rich and poor"
more than any other issue, including terrorism.


Posted on Monkeyfist at