Sunday, April 25, 2004

Boy, sometimes weekends are tough! I'm a positive thinker. I'm a person who believes in "Believing is Receiving"...it's been a lifelong idea that "As I think, so Am I", but today one of my favorite Iraqi bloggers Sam at http://www.hammorabi.blogspot.com/ seemed so upset about the idea of re-hiring some Ba'athists that, at first, he didn't even allow comments, as he normally would do. The CPA in Iraq decided this week, to re-hire some teachers, engineers, and I'm not so sure who else...to help re-structure the Iraqi culture. Ultimately, Sam allowed comments, but it does make you got back and check the records, to research history....doesn't it? If it doesn't, it SHOULD!

So what's a deep thinker to do? Under these trying times, it's just tooooooooo difficult to concentrate on the topics presented...so what alternatives do we have? ROFLMAO Trading Spaces marathon! And the good news is........I finished a month's worth of ironing! Go figure!

And taking a positive note out of my idea book is Ali at http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/:
Sunday, April 25, 2004

I was discussing with some friends whom would we like to have as a president in the transitional period. And since no names were suggested so far and since this topic remains a vague one for the majority, we thought that we could help in setting some standards for the candidates that we think the majority of Iraqis agree on.
The requirements are:

1-He should not be a cleric.
2-He should be at least 84 years old with life expectancy of no more than 90 for his family.
3-Should have no criminal record.
4-He should have at least 2 chronic illnesses (organic) with no possible cure.
5-He should have NO sons.
6-He should not be able to make a speech longer than 15 minutes.
7-He should have an IQ that can be measured
8-His birthday should not be known.
9-He should not have been seen wearing a military uniform.
10-He should have no interest in nerve gas, mustard gas, abdominal gas…etc.
11-He should have no experience whatever with guns.
12-He should NOT be a war hero.
13-He should not have a history in using words like conspiracy, historical, mother of all …., the day of days…..etc.
14-He should speak at least 6 languages beside Arabic AND English (French, German, Russian and Chinese are NOT needed)
15-He should feel comfortable with living in one house for a long time.
16-The applicant should show documents that prove that he’s hated by the majority of Palestinians, Saudis, Egyptians and ARABS in general.
17-He should have been criticized severely by Arab media, especially Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

Anyone who thinks he can meet the above standards, please e-mail us with attached CV.
A draw will be performed and the name of the winner will be announced prior to the 1st of June (I'm serious).
Several contests are expected to be held at different sites and areas in Iraq and the final candidates will be presented to the UN and the CPA to choose THE ONE.

By Ali.

// posted by DagneyT @ 4:35 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Awesome Story!

Sorry, this is a proverbial "cop-out", but I just had to post this story. It can be seen at www.mysa.com if you want to "join"...I hate that! But the San Antonio Express News is owned by the New York Times group! They want to know who "we" are!

Hands of friendship
Web Posted: 04/18/2004 04:03 PM CDT

Amy Dorsett
San Antonio Express-News

HOUSTON — For nine years, the seven Iraqi businessmen have worn the scars of Saddam's brutality.

Each has a cross carved between their eyes, and their right hands are crudely lopped off at the wrist.

Bahram Mark Sohbani
Hasan Al Gareawy looks closely at a statue of a Roman goddess on a visit to the Museum of Fine Art Thursday, April 13, 2004 in Houston. Al Gareawy and six other Iraqis are in Houston to receive prosthetic hands.
Now this one-handed band of brothers have come to Texas, where they are receiving high-end, bionic prosthetics that will let them once again complete ordinary tasks with ease, without stares from strangers.

Their unlikely journey, with its happy turn in Houston, began horrifically on the other side of the world.

In 1994, with the Iraqi economy faltering, Saddam Hussein decided to make an example of businessmen he accused of trading in international currencies.

After trailing suspects and tapping their phone lines, Saddam's secret service rounded up nine men whose livelihoods ranged from real estate to jewelry sales, swept them away from their workplaces, and took them to jail.

The men waited five months for a cursory trial with mute defense lawyers. Then they were sentenced to having their right hands amputated.

Bahram Mark Sobhani
Iraqi amputees demonstrate for doctors their arm mobility several days after an operation to prepare their arms for prosthetics Friday, April 16, 2004 during a visit to Dynamic Orthotics and Prosthetics in Houston.
The fate carries special significance in Muslim society, where right hands are cut off for only the most egregious crimes, and those who lose them are ostracized.

Crowded in a cell inside the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, where they had to take turns sleeping because of the limited space, the men waited another three months.

And in March 1995, just after finishing their morning prayers, they were taken to a makeshift clinic and anesthetized.

They awoke to searing pain and the realization of their fate. Their sentence had been carried out.

A member of the secret police delivered to Saddam evidence of the men's punishment in the form of a videotape of their torture and their severed hands, preserved in jars.

Eight years later, a surprise turn of events would start some of the men on a restorative journey to America.

Don North, a documentary filmmaker and former network correspondent whose war coverage experience goes back to Vietnam, got a copy of the videotape.

Bahram Mark Sobhani
Hasan Al Gareawy laughs at a joke as he stretches out his arm during a visit to the prosthetics specialist
North had ventured into Iraq as an embedded journalist and documentary maker and stayed to teach journalism skills.

One of his students, a TV station employee who had been forced to make copies of the amputation video secretly made a copy as evidence of Saddam's torture tactics.

He gave the rare tape to North, who was shocked by what he saw.

"I thought it was one of the most inhumane crimes in the annals of man's inhumanity to man that I'd ever seen," said North, who has reported from the front lines of 15 wars. "I felt this had the makings of a dramatic documentary that would expose the nature of Saddam's cruelty and his regime.

"I thought the world needed to know about this tyrant."

North set out to track down the men, which proved easy, since most of them kept in close contact with each other.

North persuaded the men to tell their story after having been forced to keep silent for years. And recently he finished an hourlong documentary about their ordeal, "Remembering Saddam," with versions in English and Arabic.

North began trying to get the documentary aired. But he wanted to do more. The story was so compelling, the men so likable.

One evening in Iraq, as North loudly told the story of the men, a Houston businessman overheard him and told North that legendary broadcaster Marvin Zindler might be able to help.

North contacted Zindler, who has made humanitarian trips across the globe. And a plan to get the men new hands was put in place.

Earlier this month, seven of the men — one died shortly after the amputation and the other lives in Germany — came to the United States to be fitted and trained to use the prosthetics and to have their cross tattoos removed.

Their original amputations were so crude that more surgery was required. Last week, an additional 11/2 inches were shaved from their forearms.

Delicate nerves, overly sensitive to stimulation, were tucked into muscles, and the arms were tapered to better fit into the prostheses.

Joseph Agris, a famous plastic surgeon — one of his best-known clients is Zindler — donated his services and performed each of the two-hour surgeries at Methodist Hospital.

Before having more of their arms cut off, the men were given a choice: They could opt for a hook, but none did.

"The bionic hand makes it possible to gently pick up a baby or squeeze a wrench," Agris said. "It's an easy choice."

On Friday, the men began the fittings of their new, $50,000 hands. Donated by Otto Bock, a prosthetic company, the hands will work intuitively with muscles in the forearm. They also will serve a cosmetic purpose and will match the men's skin color.

Agris, who has worked on humanitarian missions internationally, was taken aback by the men's punishments.

"I was shocked that in the 21st century, people were still cutting hands off, and that it was done by a physician," he said. "And I thought maybe if we could send these people back to their towns with something good, they'd see Americans are like them.

"Maybe it'll save some American lives by improving the perception."

Already, the seven are praising the treatment they've received from Americans, grateful not only for the medical care, but for the support they've received from strangers.

"It's a great thing that's happening to me. I'm going to tell everyone about this opportunity that was given to me," Nazar Judi, 41, said through a translator. "It's not having the new hand that's going to have an impact. It's the care we've gotten that is making a difference — the vast, immeasurable care given to us by the American community.

"It is a beautiful, democratic country — the country of freedom. It's gorgeous."

Their shortened right arms tightly wrapped in bandages and tucked into blue slings, the group garners attention from passers-by. Some gawk, turning corners to get a better look. Many cry, having heard their story on the news.

Patti Whitmire Carlton encountered the men Thursday at Agris' office. After overhearing a conversation, she stood up and asked the men if she could shake their hands, tears welling.

"I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother, I'm just a human being. This just brings it home; it's a human drama," she said. "What's overwhelming is the profoundness of man's hatred to man — that a man could do this to another man."

Between prosthetic fittings and therapy sessions to learn how to use their new hands, the men are eager to take in all things American in their first visit to the United States.

There have been trips to the bowling alley, zoo and an art museum. They are taken by Mexican food — especially fajitas.

They are looking forward to more — baseball games and an upcoming trip to the Hill Country's Y.O. Ranch, where they'll get to spend a weekend as cowboys.

Before returning to Iraq — though some wish they could stay here forever — they will spend a week in Washington visiting legislators on Capitol Hill, Pentagon officials and the Iraqi Embassy.

At the end of May, they'll return to Iraq. Whole men once again.


// posted by DagneyT @ 5:44 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004

When Kerry proposes that he’s going to “create 10 million jobs”, I feel like we should take cover. Here’s a man who has never worked a day in his life, and he’s proposing to “create jobs”. I don’t expect him to realize that creative thought, like that of Bill Gates and Michael Dell create jobs. It is not the business of government to create jobs. Clear roadways, guard the borders and safeguard the populace are the jobs of government. Creating jobs are NOT!

How does he propose to do that? He has mentioned growing the government even larger than it is, but that’s all he can really do to create jobs. We need that like we need proverbial holes in our collective head! Instead he seems to be playing with the numbers in a way that would punish SMALL business, while rewarding large corporations like his wife’s Heinz interests. In Colorado during the 80’s, then Governor Romer wondered what the true statistics in the states largest employers actually consisted of; the phone and bank companies, or small business? He commissioned a panel of experts and community leaders to find out. What they learned was that over 80% of the State of Colorado’s populace was what the Small Business Administration describes as “small business”, i.e., companies under 500 employees. Mr. Kerry, I suspect there are other states whose economic backbone has a similar make-up. How smart would it be to choke out those businesses?

Larry Kudlow looks at the Kerry proposal’s actual numbers ( http://www.townhall.com/columnists/larrykudlow/lk20040327.shtml ). His calculations are bound to be more accurate than any I could make: “The Kerry proposal to roll back the Bush tax cuts would raise the after-tax cost and reduce the post-tax investment return on capital by more than 54.5 percent. Taking out the upper-bracket labor-income component -- which is still investment capital -- the Kerry tax hike would reduce investment incentives by nearly 47 percent and work-effort returns by more that 7.5 percent. A big hit. “

It has always amazed me how these guys in Washington want to tell business owners how to run their businesses when nary a one has ever actually owned one! If I only had this one example of my support for Bush, it’s his MBA, rather than the usual JD that sells him! (For those of you who cannot figure out how to use a voting machine, MBA is a master degree in business, and JD is Juris Doctorate, or “lawyer” in laymen’s terms.)

// posted by DagneyT @ 2:53 PM

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