The night before the attacks on 9-11, I went to my local neighborhood party store to buy cigarettes just before they closed. This was my habit, because they had been robbed in the past, and I always went to their store at closing to add a body there for security. I worked at that place when I was just 14, 2 owners ago. I'm loyal.
The new owners were Iraqi, immigrants from the early 1970s when Hussein came into power in Iraq. I spoke with the old guy at length about the Arab world because he had been recruited at one time by our CIA. He knew the history of the rise of the bin Laden family and their construction business. He spoke like 6 languages. And I asked him about the Tawheed Wahabbi Muslim center being built across the street.
The old guy fled Iraq with some of his family when Hussein allied himself with his own prominent religious leaders, and because the store owner's family were Christian, their lives were put in danger back then. At the same time, Hussein himself was not a religious zealot and actually feared the Al-Qaeda movement because Iraq was a fairly westernized, modern, and wealthy country. Women were not held to the strict old-world Sharia laws which are in force in poorer places like Yemen or even richer nations like Saudi Arabia.
Anyway. The night before 9-11, I spotted this really old guy sitting in his car with the driver's door open in the store parking lot. He was crying ... weeping loud enough for me to notice. Being a normal empathetic human, I went over to ask him if he needed help. He was a WWII vet who had just went through a number of treatments for cancer.
He was dying and thinking about his life. I ended up spending the rest of the night with him, letting him tell his story to me. His major lament was when he was a leader he had to tell young kids to go out on patrol, knowing that some would likely die.
I met some random old stranger with such a compelling and obviously heart-felt story ... and at the end of his life. I sat with him, and just listened, and we drank some, and he poured his little broken heart out.
The next morning, I woke up and turned on my TV to see the 9-11 attacks enfolding live. I watched TV for almost 72 hours straight until for some bizarre reason my TV actually broke and I no longer had a TV with which to watch the nightmare.
The old military veteran and the old Iraqi friend/store owner bracketed my 9-11 experience.
Other things that I remember: contacting people in the Stihl company and asking them to donate their company's products to the people trying to rescue at ground zero in NYC. They stepped up and donated cut-off saws and blades, and pallets of water to the rescue effort.
My constant e-mail nagging paid off and they actually responded to me and sent a truckload of stuff for the people working at the world trade center disaster site.
Well, it's been five years since hurricane Katrina made landfall, wiped out many Gulf Coast communities, and caused New Orleans to catastrophically flood. U.S. news media are all broadcasting special programming commemorating (if that's the right word) the fifth anniversary of this disaster.
President Obama is scheduled to make some remarks today at 3:00 PM EST from Xavier University. Yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano jointly announced on the White House blog an additional $1.8 billion in federal funding specifically to help rebuild schools in New Orleans.
Take a few moments today reading the blog posts that I published here on Thunderstorms in the Imajica during that time. I'm sure it will bring back some memories for some people in the Blogdrive community.
Certain things stick in my mind about this disaster. As the Katrina disaster was unfolding, trying to get information was very difficult because infrastructure was being destroyed. I remember hunting for unconventional sources and highlighting people and places that had reliable or firsthand accounts of the situation on the ground. One example of that is The Eye of The Storm blog.
In the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina disaster was just realizing how huge the scope of it was. Images from New Orleans invoked obvious gawker fascination. Yet, tens of thousands of people were displaced. People unaware but searching for the fate of their own family members was heart wrenching.
The "Good job, Brownie!" comment by President Bush is iconic and I remember the blame game was very irritating for everyone.
The Gulf Coast communities are still recovering from Katrina and now dealing with the aftermath of the massive oil spill. I have fond memories of my time in New Orleans and hope I can return there again one day.
Why did I stop blogging here? Well, I got some death threats after my last entry about Israel doing its military action on Gaza on the day I picked as a likely day to hit it. My target was Iran, and Israel picked Gaza. Nonetheless, someone was angry at me.
And, I was just tired of it all. I mean, honestly, I live in SW Florida. I live a simple life. I have my own soap opera to live in, and I don't need some international bullshit just because I happen to actually read the PDF files some government agencies are required to publish ... and I connect some obscure dots correctly or not.
You know what? I don't give a frack about your life there anymore unless it affects mine. I've pulled back my interests, things that interest me.
The middle-east conflict between the Abrahamic religions -- Jew, Muslim, and Christian -- now officially bores me to tears. Any international politics involved with this idiotic belief in these religious reasons to kill people is way past my tolerance.
Things posted here will be about the future, not the past. How do we make it into the next century on my favorite spinning ball of mud that we named Earth? Solar power is more interesting than a craptastic piece of real estate in Jerusalem.
As I described in a previous entry here concerning Iran, the war mongering neocons in the United States and Israel believe the time to attack Iran is coming up against some deadlines. The Bush/Cheney regime is over in just one month.
U.S. intelligence analysts say that nearly 100 Israeli warplanes staged a rehearsal air strike against nuclear facilities in Iran. David Martin reports from the Pentagon.
National Security Correspondent David Martin ends his short Pentagon report with these ominous words:
For many countries, choosing between bombing Iran and Iran with a bomb is a tough call, but there's no doubt what choice Israel would make.
The following interview with PNAC neocon and Bush's controversial appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, was conducted during the Republican National Convention, three months ago.
While John Bolton is no longer actively serving as Ambassador to anything currently, he certainly can speak as an authority on the mindset of the neocons still in the U.S. government. This interview entitled, Bolton Suggests Israel Will Attack Iran, illustrates some of the beliefs and talking points of the neocons if one listens carefully to Bolton lying through his moustache. He is a professional provocateur.
Other pundits seem to think that the time has passed for any Israeli or U.S. attack on Iran. Daniel Levy of Prospects for Peace and The Century Foundation spoke with columnist and author David Frum about this topic on Bloggingheads.tv after the U.S. elections in October. In this short clip of a much longer interview, Frum suggests that "there is no possibility of an attack on Iran."
However, Daniel Levy doesn't simply suggest that all is right with the world just because Barack Obama will take the reigns of U.S. power next month. In a recent article published in Haaretz, Levy opines that the next president will face four foreign policy crises in the Middle East when he takes office. While I understand that Levy is writing for an Israeli readership, I might just point out that Levy didn't bother to include Iraq and Afghanistan in his list. It's not as if those two conflicts are somehow finished and our U.S. military commitments over, after all.
Clearly, after 8 years of the Bush/Cheney reign of terror, many people on our Pathetic Little Spinning Ball Of Mud Called Earth® will breathe a collective sigh of relief when the new U.S. President is inaugurated next month. Obama will certainly have his work cut out for him, that much I do know.
Is it possible for Obama to get the United States out of the corner into which Bushworld has painted us? Many pundits think that simply removing the past cowboy hubris and diplomatic obstinance might be a starting point for the next administration.
The diavlog video clip above between Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton and Stephen Walt of Harvard is a discussion of the foreign policy issues concerning Iran, Israel, nuclear proliferation, energy security and terrorism. It's well worth your time to view it. It's about 12 minutes long.
I certainly look forward hopefully to a more positive world. I'm also cautious about getting my hopes up too high or counting my chickens before they are hatched. Even in this electronic age, military tactics favor offensive strikes during a new moon as it offers the most darkness. There is just one new moon left (on December 27th) until Obama takes office.
Personally, I'm waiting to exhale. At least I'm not as pessimistic as when my great uncle once told me that "there will never be peace in our world as long as two men are still alive." I hope he is just wrong.
[lyric of the moment] Tell Sanchito that if he knows what is good for him, he best go run and hide. Daddy's got a new 45. And I won't think twice to stick that barrel straight down Sancho's throat. Believe me when I say that I got somethin' for his punk ass. – Santeria, Sublime
U.S. President George W. Bush twice nearly got hit in the face with an Iraqi TV reporter's shoes at the start of a press availability during his recent trip to Baghdad. Size 10 video of the year, FTW.
Al-Jazeera puts the incident into greater context than U.S. media sources, of course. It's an Arab perspective looking more at the entirity of Bush's Iraq War compared to simply saying that "the surge is one the greatest successes in the history of the United States military," as Bush told the audience of troops serving in Baghdad.
The International Herald Tribune reports that the 28-year-old Iraqi TV reporter, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, had once been kidnapped by al Qaeda Iraq (AQI) and also detained by U.S. forces in the last several years. Apparently, he has no love for any of the foreign influences in his country. In the eyes of many Iraqis, he is a hero for his defiant act.
I hope al-Zeidi survives the consequences of his outburst.
[lyric of the moment] Mr. Charming, did you think you were pure? Mr. Alarming, in nocturnal rapport. Uncovering things that were sacred, manifest on this earth. (Oh)Conceived in the eye of a secret. Yeah, they scattered the afterbirth. – Ozzy Osborne, Mr. Crowley