Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in Iraq

Merry Holidays!

I just wanted to wish everybody a merry christmas. We're having a grand ol' time here in sunny Iraq. We're here watching Elf, eating candy canes and christmas cookies, and drinking cocoa. Santa just came by and we have an abundance of candies and snacks around here. The mood is overall slightly joyous though most of us have spent 4 out of the last 5 christmas's deployed so their spirit is low.

But we're definately making the best of the situation. Yesterday we had a dove hunt and we got maybe 40 birds. We've been playing christmas music, wearing santa hats and eating joyously. For dinner yesterday we had stuffed pork chops and bacon wrapped dove. Though I didn't partake in the bacon wrapped dove for obvious reasons, the pork was excellent and we got to watch Jingle All The Way during our meal. We topped of the evening by bringing hot cocoa to the guard positions around the base, where some soldiers were standing there freezing their cojones off.

Now, with most regular activities on hold for the holidays, my main duties are to ensure plenty of cocoa and coffee is available, and shuttle in helicopters carrying VIPs who want to wish us happy holidays.

I even have my own christmas tree set up in my room surrounded by presents. It's christmas, I think I shall open them.

Take care all and enjoy the holidays.


And yes, I've introduced my comraderie to Dominic the Donkey.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And it shall come to pass
the mountain of the LORD's house
shall be established in the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say,

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths:
for out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among the nations,
and shall rebuke many people:
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks:
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye,

and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach Children's Choir

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas In Fallujah - The Original Recording

Another song entitled “Christmas In Fallujah,"
recorded by Jefferson Pepper in 2005.
Jefferson Pepper is a songwriter who
"writes and sings Country music for people who hate Country music…”
“In 2005, Jefferson Pepper took out a second mortgage on the modest, wood-sided home he built in the hills of rural south-central Pennsylvania in order to finance the recording of his debut release, 'Christmas in Fallujah'. His inspiration was David Maples, a 21-year-old neighbor kid, a kid Jefferson and his wife had watched grow up; a kid who went along on family vacations; a kid who caught lightning bugs and frogs and played games in the backyard on warm summer nights. David was a dimpled dreamer with aspirations of becoming a doctor. With no money for college or medical school, David joined the Army to train as a medic. David was shipped off to Iraq…”

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Christmas In Fallujah"

This is the clip (after an advertisement of course) I heard on TV this morning that inspired me to write down a few lines of what might be a song. I was troubled when the celebrity reporter said:

“It’s …controversial… because it’s Anti-War. Do you worry at all about the message you’re sending to the troops?”
You can see it here:
When they cut to a commercial, I wrote this down:

“While burning homemade Christmas Cookies
and homemade Christmas CDs
Heard the woman talking
In the other room on my TV.

She asked the young singer
If he was afraid
About his anti-war message that
The troops would take the “wrong way.”

(I guess she meant)

A lack of support
In a time of war
That same old accusation
I’ve heard a million times before

Christmas in Fallujah
I don’t know the song
But hasn’t “Peace on Earth” been
The Christmas message all along?”

I was busy in the kitchen, almost late for work, listening for the song.
I almost heard him play it, and I’m not quite sure I heard it all, but I could be wrong.
I think they cut off the end of the song, went to a commercial break….

So I searched a little this afternoon and found out it’s a Billy Joel song…

Billy Joel introduces Cass Dillon before their first live performance of "Christmas In Fallujah" in Chicago:

"Christmas In Fallujah"
Billy Joel & Cass Dillon

It's evening in the desert
I'm tired and I'm cold
But I am just a soldier
I do what I am told

We came with the crusaders
To save the Holy Land
It's Christmas in Fallujah
And no one gives a damn

And I just got your letter
And this what I read
You said I'm fading from your memory
So I'm just as good as dead
We are the Armies of the Empire
We are the Legionnaries of Rome
It's Christmas in Fallujah
And we ain't never coming home
We came to bring these people Freedom
We came to fight the Infidel
There is no justice in the desrt
Because there is no God in Hell

They say Osama's in the Mountains
Deep in a cave near Pakistan
But there's a sea of blood in Baghdad
A sea of oil in the sand
Between the Tigris and Euphrates
Another day comes to an end
It's Christmas In Fallujah
Peace on Earth
Goodwill to Men...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

I often recieve emails from Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Christian Palestinian Peace activist I first met at a Students for a Culture of Peace event at Naugatuck Valley Community College.
He used to live 4 or 5 miles from the little town of Bethlehem - near Jerusalem.
I live 4 or 5 miles from the little town of Bethlehem - Connecticut.

He sent me this last year, around this time:

"Christmas Reflections/Greeting 2006"

by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

"Born in Shepherd's Field near Bethlehem to a Lutheran mother and a Greek Orthodox father, I grew up feeling lucky because we celebrated two Christmases. The Christmas season was a time of family gatherings around kerosene heaters where our fingers were cold but our hearts were warm and stomachs full...

...Since 2002, Bethlehemites have faced the enormous human costs of a massive, concrete segregation wall. During my visit last July, I noticed that the route of the wall zigzagged around Bethlehem, placing fertile Palestinian agricultural lands on the "Israeli side" of the wall. The wall went straight through centuries-old villages - separating Palestinian families from each other and from their jobs, hospitals, schools, churches and mosques..."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


"The charges are too serious to ignore. There is credible evidence that the Vice President abused the power of his office, and not only brought us into an unnecessary war but violated the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to hold impeachment hearings..."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Up the Road

“Almost 4,000 U.S. Troops have died in the war in Iraq, and for what "noble" cause? Honor our fallen and demand answers and a safe return for the remaining U.S. Troops in Iraq. The holidays may be the toughest time of year for our troops on the front lines and the families and kids they've left behind.

Please consider making a donation to the USO to help get a care package to a G.I. in Iraq this Christmas.” d=571-- Ava Lowery

Ava Lowery is the teenage peace activist from Alabama behind the website,, and has received an amazing amount of attention. Ava's animations show the multidimensional tragedy of the Iraq war- losses of brave young soldiers to American families, and loss of innocent civilians in Iraq. Poignant and raw, Ava's youth and sincerity has attracted support from a broad base of both soldiers and activists.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


What I actually said (over the phone, to the LCT reporter) was something like "My best and most selfish reason (for standing for Peace on the green etc.) is that I have three nephews in the military and one of them, my nephew Lucas, is in Iraq right now. I especially want him home with his family."

Friday, December 14, 2007

In Bethlehem, Calling For Peace

By: Daniela Forte

"BETHLEHEM-They have stood quietly on the Bethlehem Green every Sunday since 2002. Some have held signs, while others allow their very beings to represent a protest against the war in Iraq and violence in general. If the Bethlehem Peace Watch has spread an underlying message over the course of five years and some 260 Sundays, it might be that wars come and go but peace should be forever.

"We are witness to the possibility that something can be accomplished without violence and with communication, and periodically share information about subjects that are directly related to this conflict and the whole idea of peace and justice," said member Maureen McDermott. According to Ms. McDermott, the group has about 11 core members and four to five of them are present every Sunday. During special events, particularly around the holidays, the group has had 40 people show up and bear witness to the horrors of war and possibilities of peace. "For myself, I have no objection standing solo, but it certainly does become more encouraging and more motivational when there are others that are joined with the same general purpose," said Ms. McDermott.
The group's founder, Al Avitabile, said that since the beginning of time humans have sought to resolve conflict by engaging in warfare. In the 21st century, he believes that all religious and educational institutions should be working to move nations away from resolving conflict by engaging in warfare."It seems inevitable, either by accident or by design, [that war] is going to end this planet as we know it ... ," said Mr. Avitabile. "We should never have gone [into Iraq] and it's like old history. It was sold on false premises; there were no weapons of mass destruction."Mr. Avitabile has been a resident of Bethlehem for 42 years and was raised in Waterbury. This is not his first protest. During the Vietnam War, he was an activist. A retired University of Connecticut biologist, Mr. Avitable has for 17 years owned Columbine Gardens greenhouse in Bethlehem.

According to Bethlehem Peace Watch member Tim MacSweeney of Woodbury, his reasons for being a part of the group were simple-he wanted to exercise his right to stand up and say he opposed the war, and to underscore the argument that it is not a solution to any of the country's problems. "My best and most selfish reason is (that) my nephew (Lucas) is in Iraq right now. I want him home and I want him with his family," said Mr. MacSweeney. "I take comfort [in being] with people who feel the same way who aren't afraid to voice their opinion."

"To fight terror you need plenty of intelligence, which involves money, but you do not need mass killings to win the war on terror," said peace watch member Eva Gierat. Ms. Gierat is a Polish immigrant who came to the United States in 1951. She is an active member of the Friends of the Bethlehem Library and the senior citizens group. She has contributed to charities such as Amnesty International, a world-wide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. She has also been active in Covenant House International, which provides shelters and other services for homeless and runaway children.

The peace group has recently begun a blog through which people may communicate their thoughts on the war and on violence in general. The site also consists of various links to different charities and organizations and has been up and running for just a week. The online address is Beginning in January, the group will meet the first Sunday of every month instead of every Sunday."

©Litchfield County Times 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth is a 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon short subject directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated by animals...”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bruce Springsteen "Bring Them Home" - San Francisco 2006

"If you love this land of the free

Bring 'em home, bring 'em home

Bring them back from overseas

Bring 'em home, bring 'em home..."

Bring Them Home (If You Love Your Uncle Sam) – by Pete Seeger
Live performance in 1969:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Between The Lines
Between The Lines History
"Since 1991, non-commercial, listener-supported WPKN Radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut ( has produced a weekly, award-winning public affairs show called Between the Lines. A four-time winner of the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcast Award for Best Feature in the non-commercial category, this syndicated, half-hour program provides a platform for individuals and spokespersons from progressive organizations generally ignored or marginalized by the mainstream media. Between the Lines covers a wide range of political, economic and social topics.
Each program begins with a five-minute summary of some of the week's under- reported news stories gathered from the alternative press. This summary is followed by three five-minute interview segments focusing on significant international, national and regional issues..."
Our Goal is to Encourage Activism
"Between the Lines offers our audience timely information on how to become active on the issues featured on each week's program.
Every interview segment includes phone numbers and Web sites to facilitate contact between listeners and activist groups, that are taking a stand on critical issues of the day.
Our site also offers text summaries, transcripts of selected interviews and audio archives of BTL programs, and links to additional resources..."

Dear Mr. President

Pink and the Indigo Girls
Just one of many homemade slide shows using the song as background...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jackson Browne Live – “Lives in the Balance” Mar, 17, 2007

On a day when more then 50000 Los Angeles area residents gathered in Hollywood to march for Peace, and to stop the war in Iraq, a gathering that was sponsored by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, Jackson Brown performed Lives in the Balance. He was accompanied by Shavonne Morris and Elisa Mills, two gospel singers from the Crenshaw area of LA.

And a live solo performance as soundtrack to a video:

Dec. 9, 2007

Recent Events
from: Iraq Body Count

Documented civilian deaths from violence
78,085 – 85,072
Recent events:
Sunday 9 December: 23 dead
Baghdad: mortar attack kills 1, al-Rashid; 5 bodies. Baquba: 3 killed in clashes. Mosul: 3 killed by US helicopter fire in separate incidents. Hilla: police chief and guards killed by roadside bomb. Muqdadiya: 6 bodies. Wassit: head found.
Saturday 8 December: 26 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb, shooting, kill 2; 3 bodies. Baiji: suicide bomber blows up truck, kills 11. Numaniya: rocket kills family of 4; gunmen shoot dead contractor working for US forces. Mahmudiya: mortar attack kills child. Suwayra: 2 bodies.

(Above:) Bethlehem CT - Dec. 9, 2007

U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:
DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Dec 05, 2007

Fatality Details:
View Fatality Names and Details
Deaths out of Theater
Search By Last Name
US Casualties
U.S. Fatalities confirmed/pending
U.S. Fatalities State Map
U.S. Fatalities By State
U.S. Fatalities By Month
U.S. Fatalities By Service
U.S. Fatalities By Base
U.S. Fatalities By Division
U.S. Wounded by State
U.S. Wounded Month
U.S. Wounded Month and Service
Some of the Wounded
U.S. Fatalities: A Four Year Retrospective
Fatality Metrics
Hostile/NonHostile Deaths
Coalition Deaths By Country
Coalition Deaths By Year and Country
Casualties Trends Since Fall of Baghdad
Coalition Deaths By Province Map
Coalition Deaths By Province Year, Month
Female Fatalities
Deaths By IED
Cumulative Fatalities
Iraqi Security Force and Civilian Deaths
Attacks on Iraqis
Other Deaths
An Incomplete List of Contractors Killed in Iraq
Journalists Killed in Iraq
Operation Enduring Freedom Fatalities
External Links
Coalition Fatalities By Location Across Time
Iraqi Body Count
The Lancet Study (PDF)
The Brookings Iraq Index

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Jackson Browne “Casino Nation”

Two Christmas figures appear in this briefly...

In a weapons producing nation under Jesus
In the fabled crucible of the free world
Camera crews search for clues amid the detritus
And entertainment shapes the land
The way the hammer shapes the hand

Gleaming faces in the checkout counter at the Church of Fame
The lucky winners cheer Casino Nation
All those not on TV only have themselves to blame
And don't quite seem to understand
The way the hammer shapes the hand

Out beyond the ethernet the spectrum spreads
DC to daylight, the cowboy mogul rides
Never worry where the gold for all this glory's gonna come from
Get along dogies, it's coming out of your hides

The intentional cultivation of a criminal class
The future lit by brightly burning bridges
Justice fully clothed to hide the heart of glass
That shatters in a thousand Ruby Ridges
And everywhere the good prepare for perpetual war
And let their weapons shape the plan
The way the hammer shapes the hand

Jackson Browne

Friday, December 7, 2007

Code Pink

December 6, 2007
Dear Tim,
Thank you for signing our December holiday pledge and committing to taking action with our 10 Ways to Have a Peaceful Holiday Season in 2007. With so much heartache and bloodshed in Iraq, political uncertainty in Pakistan and millions of displaced Iraqi refugees, the world needs us to stay aware and awake during a time when it's so easy to get swept up in holiday madness.
This week we encourage you to take action with two of our creative and engaging holiday choices.
The first way is to shop until you drop - ONLINE, that is, and buy peaceful gifts at the CODEPINK store or sustainably-made green gifts at Global Exchange. Whether you buy PINK or GREEN, these gift ideas are some of the best ways to spread the message of peace around the world.
You can also make a difference by creating rather than buying gifts for everyone on your list.
Having a crafty peace party is a fun option to get friends together to make gifts AND discuss how to create a more peaceful world. CODEPINK Sacramento, California, had a peace party last weekend--click here to read about it and see photos. Not only was this party wonderful; it also raised money for local and Iraqi women.
Shed light on the crisis in Iraq and Pakistan:
Currently there are about 8 million Iraqi refugees displaced from their homes because of the Bush administration, but we don't hear about their plight in the media--you can also fulfill your pledge this month by bringing their stories to light. When you educate the people in your life--family, friends and neighbors--peace and change will ripple out from your community.
Along with the refugee situation, you can inform people about the political crisis in Pakistan and discuss the dangers of attacking Iran. Click here to learn more and then pass the information along!
You can also share a more personal connection to what's happening in Pakistan by discussing the bravery of CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin and Tighe Berry who recently traveled to Pakistan to support the rule of law. Find out more about their journey here (including their dramatic arrest at gunpoint)..
Be sure to tell family and friends how important their own voices are, and invite them to take action this holiday and sign the pledge. Who knows, you might win a trip to D.C.!
Gifting and Talking Peace Everyday,

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hey There Mister President

This is a Music video by Dave King, who is a really good guy and a singer-songwriter who plays about ten thousand musical instruments.

Download the FREE MP3 at:

"The shots of the protestors in my video was taken at a similar event (to the Bethlehem Peace Vigil) in Danbury. Friends of mine are there every Saturday morning from 10am - 12pm," Dave wrote to me the other day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This is a MySpace Bulletin from Dennis Kucinich:

Dec 4, 2007 5:56 PM

You have to be a registered voter to take part in this poll.

Copy and paste the following to your browser:


Anita Stewart

Deputy Director of Virtual Outreach

Kucinich for President 2008, Inc.

Christmas in the Trenches
(John McCutcheon)

My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung
Our families back in England were toasting us that day
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.
I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, ``Now listen up, me boys!'' each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.`
`He's singing bloody well, you know!'' my partner says to me
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war
As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent`
`God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen'' struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was ``Stille Nacht.''
``Tis `Silent Night','' says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky`
`There's someone coming toward us!'' the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one long figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shown on that plain so bright
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men
Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night`
`Whose family have I fixed within my sights?''
'Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost, so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore
My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War I, I've learned its lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Five years, and they’re still there

The Bethlehem Peace Watch

First Post

An article from the Waterbury Newspaper:

Five years, and they’re still there

Peace group unites weekly in Bethlehem


BETHLEHEM — A local group has braved the elements every Sunday to hold a vigil on the town Green to bring an end to the bloody conflict in the Middle East. Now that group, the Bethle­hem Peace Watch, has reached a milestone, as Sunday marked the fifth year that at least one of its members has stood on the small grass island at the town’s center. On a typical Sunday, mem­bers huddle in a circle and string a brightly colored ban­ner printed with the word “PACE,” which is the Italian translation of peace, said Mau­reen McDermott, a group mem­ber. “The goal is the war ends and we don’t get into another one,” she said. See VIGIL, Page B2

VIGIL: Group hears both cheers and jeers

Continued from B1

On Sunday, members shared the latest progress on an at­tempt to establish a federal De­partment of Peace, which sup­porters hope would be a bal­ance to the Department Defense. Members believe people are tired of the U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and elsewhere. But group members admit that it’s difficult to measure their ac­complishments over the past five years. Wars continue and violence persists. “There has to be some kind of commitment or else nothing is going to happen,” McDermott said.

One of the group’s first mem­bers, the late Bernice Sherlock, was a U.S. Army nurse in Japan during World War II. She wit­nessed the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in Nagasa­ki. That sight left an unforget­table impression on her that led to her involvement in the group and the eventual growth of what it is today.

Most Sundays the group con­sists of four or five members. But near the holidays they can draw a crowd of about 40.

McDermott recalled a Sun­day vigil in January when rain soaked through her clothing. Accompanied by another mem­ber, Ewa Gierat, the women were cold and shivering, but they were there. And that’s the key purpose for the group — their presence.

The occasional passing mo­torist will let out a honk to show support; the group will wave back. Members have also suffered the occasional insult along the way, including being labeled as terrorists and communists. There was even one man who would drive by and yell obscen­ities out his window. But mem­bers try to take the guff in stride. “You can’t afford to take um­brage,” said McDermott. “It would be counter to what we are doing.” Visit to comment on this story.

Copyright (c) 2007 Republican-American 12/03/2007

Some photos from the last five years: