January 11th, 2006

Minotaur: How to greet a Minotaur

Ali Fadhil: 'The night the Bushists came'

I am excerpting from The Guardian for the purpose of education.


The night the Americans came

Ali Fadhil
Wednesday January 11, 2006

Last weekend an American special task force unit raided my house. It was precisely the kind of terrifying experience I have had described to me over and over again by Iraqis I have interviewed in the past two-and-a-half years. My wife, Zina, described it as like something out of a Hollywood action movie.

It began at half past midnight on Saturday when explosives blew apart the three entrances to my house. We thought we had been caught in a bombing, but then a rifle sneaked round our bedroom door and shot a couple of bullets blindly; suddenly our room was filled with the wild sounds of US soldiers.

My three-year-old daughter Sarah woke to this nightmare. She pushed herself on to me and shouted "Daddy, Americans! They will take you! No, no, not like this daddy ..." She tried to say something to one of the soldiers but her tears stopped her from speaking. Instead of blaming the soldier I could see she was blaming me. I tried to calm her down but as I did so the soldier threw me on to the ground and tied me.

They then took me downstairs and made me sit in the living room while they smashed every piece of furniture we have. There were about 20 soldiers inside the house and several others on guard on the roof. A blue-eyed captain came to me holding my Handycam camcorder and questioned me aggressively: "Can you explain to me why you have this footage?"

I explained. "These are for a film we are making for Channel 4 Dispatches. There is nothing sinister about it."

But that was not good enough. He seemed to think he had found very important evidence. Hooded and with my hands tied I was taken to an armoured vehicle.

I was then driven to an unknown destination. I spent the entire journey thinking back on what has happened in the past two years of the occupation. I have so often heard of such things happening to others. But now I was experiencing it myself, and I too could feel the shame and humiliation. It is this kind of disrespect for the privacy of the home - that tribal people regard as a terrible humiliation - which Sunnis in the west of Iraq see as legitimising resistance.

When the journey eventually ended I found myself in a small room, two metres square, with wooden walls, a refrigerator and an oval table in the middle. Soon two men came in, civilians, wearing vests. "Do you know why you are here, Mr Fadhil?" they asked me.

I replied: "To be interrogated?"

With a broad smile, one of them said: "No. There was a mistake in the address and we apologise for the damage."

So that's it. They blew three doors apart with explosives, smashed the house windows, trashed all our furniture, damaged the car, risked our lives by shooting inside rooms aimlessly, hooded me and took me from my family who didn't know if they would ever see me again - and then, with a smile, they dismissed it as a small mistake.

So was this intimidation or just a typical piece of bungled repression? I don't know and cannot tell, though I have yet to have my tapes returned. I do know, however, the effect it has had on my daughter. Sarah hates all soldiers and calls them Americans even if they are Iraqis. There is no way she will change her mind about them after that nightmare. There are many Iraqis - Iraqis who welcomed the fall of Saddam - who feel exactly the same today.

· Dr Ali Fadhil's investigation for Guardian Films will be shown on Channel 4's Dispatches later this year.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Too bad I don't get so-called 'Channel 4'.

It shouldn't really require my saying it, but of course resistance is legitimate in Iraq. This is without consideration of the particular goals of factions in the Resistance, but the legitimacy of a Resistance as such seems obvious. Just imagine it was your country invaded, occupied, and treated like toilet paper.
Food: oranges

Picture-verse: Mi vidis cervon

Mi vidis cervon Mi vidis cervon

This, of course, is an Esperanto version of the English picture-verse/verse-picture posted earlier. The translation preserves prosody better than meanings, of course; it's quality as Esperanto verse is unknown to me. Here's the English for it:

I saw a deer, or did I not?
The observation existed—
But it would be according to habit (or custom) that
I should daydream repeatedly (or continuously) about a deer.

CrudFactory roach transparent

ScrapBook tags

Is it just me or did the Tags feature of ScrapBook quit working correctly for everybody a couple of weeks ago or whenever? Also I've been unable to do fine tuning on styles, though I haven't tried it today. It all looks to me like a programming error that got installed during an upgrade. I haven't submitted a report, but I'm starting to get more seriously annoyed.
Food: eggs (White Leghorn)

The Global Warming (La Tergloba Varmado) threatens everything


Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 by Knight Ridder

Rapidly Shrinking Arctic Ice Could Spell Trouble for the Rest of the World
by Robert S. Boyd

WASHINGTON - Alarmed by an accelerating loss of ice in the Arctic Ocean, scientists are striving to understand why the speedup is happening and what it means for humankind.

If present trends continue, as seems likely, the sea surrounding the North Pole will be completely free of ice in the summertime within the lifetime of a child born today. The loss could point the way to radical changes in the Earth's climate and weather systems.

Some researchers, such as Ron Lindsay, an Arctic scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, fear that the polar region already may have passed a "tipping point" from which it can't recover in the foreseeable future.

Others, such as Jonathan Overpeck, the director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona in Tucson, think the Arctic ice pack is nearing a point of no return but hasn't reached it yet.…

The concern has heightened because last summer brought a record low in the size of the northern ice pack. "The degree of retreat was greater than ever before," said Ted Scambos, chief scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. Previous lows were set in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Since 1980, satellite observations taken each September, the warmest month of the year in the Arctic, show that the ice cover has been shrinking by an average of almost 8 percent a year. During that time, the polar ocean lost 540,000 square miles of ice—an area twice the size of Texas, Scambos said.

As a result, ships were able to sail freely, without the usual aid of an icebreaker, across the northern rim of Siberia last summer. Polar bears and Inuit natives found it harder to hunt and fish on the dwindling ice.…

That's a pleasant way of saying that the polar bears are starving to death; they also are drowning while swimming in search of ice. Presumably also seal mothers are having trouble finding ice in which to keep their offspring, in the little 'caves' where polar bears were used to finding them, but where also it was possible to raise them.

In addition to covering a smaller area of the ocean, the remaining ice is getting thinner. Submarine measurements indicate that the central ice pack thinned by 40 percent from the 1960s to the 1990s, Lindsay reported in the November issue of the Journal of Climate.

Scientists say the great Arctic thaw will have effects all over the world, not just in the frozen north. It will magnify the global warming trend that's been recorded for the last quarter-century. It'll reshape the Earth's weather systems in unknown ways. It could alter the pattern of ocean circulation, drastically changing Europe's climate.

"Loss of ice on land is also taking place at an accelerating rate, and this means sea levels will rise globally," Lindsay said. "Places like New Orleans will become even less viable."…

Most sea level rise will be due to thermal expansion of seawater, I think, though a significant amount will be due to addition of water from land ice. Sea ice displaces its own mass, so its melting doesn't raise sea levels.

There are two main reasons for the loss of Arctic sea ice, one external and one internal.

The external cause is the rise in the Earth's temperature, aggravated by increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases, which trap the sun's heat.

Since 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed seven times faster than the average warming trend in the southern two-thirds of the globe, John Christy, the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, reported last week.…

The internal cause for the loss of sea ice may be even more alarming. Scientists say the polar ice pack will continue to be in trouble whether or not global temperatures continue to rise.

"Even if temperatures and conditions went flat from this point forward, we anticipate that Arctic ice would eventually disappear," Scambos said.

The reason is that ice and snow, like any light-colored surface, reflect heat from the sun. As the ice shrinks, it leaves more open, darker water to absorb the sun's heat. More open water slows the formation of fresh ice in the fall and leads to a still earlier, more extensive melt the following summer.…

Last year's record ice loss "provides further evidence that the system is on a track to this new state," said Jennifer Francis, an Arctic expert at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University in Highlands, N.J.

They couldn't find someone at a reputable university?! :)