Tuesday, January 27

Transit Comment Forms => Letters To Politicians

I'm getting a lot better about writing letters and making phone calls to politicians.

I think it helps that my bus company put out free-postage comment cards that I've made a habit of writing on every single time they overcrowd the bus (by putting one of their smaller buses on a high-volume route) or undercrowd the bus (by putting one of their larger buses on a low-volume route), as well as when they do a good job by matching the bus design to the route volume.

That's a lot of writing.

But the problem pisses me off enough to do it.

Space is limited on those comment forms, so it's gotten me used to writing short blips and being okay with a short blip instead of a well-researched thesis (because I know I'll be writing again).

Which has helped me a lot to write things like this appeal to President Obama on Pakistan.


Write President Obama About Pakistan

Here's my text on stopping US-military-caused civilian death in Pakistan. Writing him is easy--just click here!

Dear President and Commander In Chief Obama:
Please halt the firing of missles into Pakistan (whether by soldiers or by drones). I read at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hkiMxbHNH0BqgpWA2ZG6VD6wVTmAD95TKGK81 today that civilians were killed in Pakistan. Please order all firing of missles into Pakistan to stop. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 20

Will We Get There? Will We? Even If After I Die?

I have to hope, because only hope leads to action out of love, but sometimes it's hard.

At the inauguration-watching gathering I attended, I heard 2x as much applause after the Star-Spangled Banner than after Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction.

That's the kind of thing that made me cry while listening to Rev. Lowery’s benediction and makes me start to cry each time I write this.

I can easily start crying when I wonder if we ever will manage to achieve the things Rev. Lowery talked about in his benediction.

How can this country turn into a country of people who, as a majority, turn tanks into tractors, and act out of love instead of hate for "different" people, when, in a small sample in an average room, the majority claps more after hearing about nationalism during bombs bursting in air than they do after hearing about the idea of turning tanks into tractors, about a good life for people who, by policy, have had it unfairly tough, and about guiding our actions as a nation (that is, "policy") out of love instead of fear/hate?

(How can I learn to write without a run-on sentence?)

How To Forward Abu Aardvark's Suggestions To The President Obama Team

A few minutes ago, I asked those who agree w/ Marc Lynch's "4 suggestions" to write the Obama team.
I just wanted to show you how easy it is! My letter (typed into "Your Ideas" on his contact form):

Dear President Obama,
PLEASE enact Dr. Marc Lynch's "Four Suggestions" with respect to Middle East policy. You can find them on his blog (formerly known as "Abu Aardvark," but now hosted by Foreign Policy magazine) at http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/01/19/what_now.

However, I've reprinted them here (however, his links and typeface emphases won't show up in this copy, so please still see his blog. Thanks.)


Dr. Marc Lynch says:
Contact President-Elect Obama early and often: http://change.gov/page/s/ofthepeople

Abu Aardvark - What To Do NOW wrt The Middle East

It's been a while since I've linked to Marc Lynch! (a.k.a. "Abu Aardvark") But he's just as brilliant as ever.

I like his "four suggestions for the new administration" post from yesterday. He's been saying this kind of stuff for a long time, but it's nice of him to put it in a concise form.

Me--I'll be forwarding this excerpt / this post of his to the Obama White House.

I encourage you to do the same if you agree with his ideas. They claim to be listening to us. Well, if "us" agrees w/ other writers' good ideas, then "us" should forward them en masse.

Now, without further ado, from Marc Lynch:

  • Give the order to begin drawing down forces in Iraq.  The importance of an immediate, public and dramatic removal of sizable number of U.S. troops from Iraq can not be overstated -- for establishing the credibility of Obama's commitments, for helping ensure the passage of the SOFA in July's referendum, and for pushing forward Iraqi reforms and political accommodation. I explain why here.

  • Talk to the Muslim world...and listen.  The idea of a speech in a Muslim capital in the first 100 days is a good one. But don't wait. The enormous excitement about Obama's election throughout the Muslim world has been palpably eroded by Gaza. He should try to recapture that sense of hope and possibility by engaging from the outset with a world desperate for a change from the Bush administration. He should lay out a vision of America's relations with the Islamic world, as he is so uniquely qualified to do.  But engagement doesn't just mean talking -- it means listening,  learning, and treating others with respect rather than simply as objects to be manipulated. That should include a forceful defense of liberal freedoms in Arab countries, including our allies. Obama's administration should seek out ways to reach out, early and often, to a wider range of Arabs and Muslims than usually get heard...and to take them seriously. 

  • Engage on Gaza right away. One of the most glaring aspects of the Gaza crisis was the near-invisibility of the United States. Many people in the region saw this as the logical conclusion of eight years of disastrous American disengagement.  It isn't going to be easy for Obama to pick up the pieces. In the short term he should make clear that he expects the cease-fire to stick, and take the lead in offering significant reconstruction aid to the people of Gaza.  More broadly, he needs to demonstrate that the U.S. is re-engaging with the Arab-Israeli conflict on new terms.  Not grand but empty promises -- Bush promised the Palestinians a state by now, remember.  And not Clinton-era peace processing --  it's hard to imagine a situation less "ripe" for resolution, the current Palestinian leadership is in no position to deliver anything, and the Gaza war will leave deep scars. Instead, focus on the realities on the ground as they are, not as we would like them to be, and put U.S. diplomatic and material support into building more solid foundations for a renewed peace engagement.   

  • See the whole, not the parts. Reports suggest that Obama and Clinton will appoint a collection of special envoys to deal with Iran, Arab-Israeli affairs, and other issues. But that model runs a real risk of losing a sense of the inter-connectedness of the issues.  For example, dealing with Iraq in its regional context requires serious engagement with Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and the Gulf. But if the special envoy on Iran isn't talking to the special envoy on Arab-Israeli relations (with the Syria file), and neither is talking to the Iraq team, then important opportunities will be missed and policy could end up working at cross-purposes.  Obama should sit down with all the special envoys and make clear their role in his overarching regional vision.  And then the National Security Adviser and the Secretary of State should work closely together to makes sure that the envoys are working off the same playbook with regular, close communication and coordination.

Saturday, January 17

Politicians, Ambassadors, And Administrators - Contact Information

U.S. Government

President: George W. Bush

Phone (comments): 202-456-1111
Fax (comments): 202-456-2461
TTY/TTD (comments): 202-456-6213
E-mail: comments@whitehouse.gov

Congress/Senate: [Yours]

Phone (switchboard): 202-224-3121

Secretary of State: Condoleeza Rice

Phone (general): 202-647-4000
Phone (comment): 202-647-6575
Phone (Sec. Rice’s assistant): 202-647-7098
Phone (Sec. Rice): 202-647-5291(/-5292?)
Phone (Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs): 202-647-7215
Phone (Israeli & Palestinian Affairs): 202-647-3672
Fax (Sec. Rice): 202-647-2283
E-mail: secretary@state.gov
Web: http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

President-Elect: Barack Obama

Phone: 202-540-3000, ext. 2
Web 1: http://www.change.gov/page/s/ofthepeople
Web 2: http://www.change.gov/page/content/contact

Future Secretary of State: (Sen.) Hillary Clinton

Phone ("friends of" org.): 202-595-2620
Web ("friends of" org.): http://www.hillaryclinton.com/feature/state/?sc=2545
Phone (senate, D.C.): 202-224-4451
Phone (senate, New York City): 212-688-6262
Phone (senate, Albany): 518-431-0120
Web (senate): http://clinton.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm?subj=issue

Former President: Jimmy Carter

Phone (Carter Library general): 404-8654-7100
Phone (Carter Library?): 404-331-3942
E-mail (Carter Library general): carter.library@nara.gov
Phone (Carter Center general): 404-420-5100
E-mail (Carter Center general): centerweb@emory.edu

U.S. Permanent Mission to the U.N. Ambassador: Zalmay Khalilzad

Phone (general): 212-415-4000
Phone (Khalilzad?): 212-415-4050
Fax (general): 212-415-4050
E-mail 1: usa@un.int
E-mail 2: usunpublicaffairs@state.gov

The U.N. in General

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Phone (general): 212-963-1234
Phone (Ki-moon?): 212-963-5012
Phone? (Ki-moon?) Fax?: 212-963-4879
Fax?: 212-963-7055
E-mail (general): inquiries@un.org

Contact information for various members of the Security Council:

see http://www.unscburma.org/UNSCContactList.htm

Stopping The U.S. Shipment Of 3,000 Tons Of Extra Ammunition To Ashdod, Israel

Ship name: Wehr Elbe (owned by a German company) - See http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/arms-embargo-vital-gaza-civilian-toll-mounts-20090115 for details.

German Ambassador to the U.S.: Klaus Scharioth

Phone (general): 202-298-4000
Phone ("administration"): 202-298-4278
Phone (Scharioth?): 202-298-4201
Fax (general 1?): 202-298-4249
Fax (general 2?): 202-333-2653
Fax (Scharioth?): 202-298-4270
E-mail: Klaus.Scharioth@diplo.de
Web: http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/Kontakt.html

German Permanent Mission to the U.N. Ambassador: (name unknown)

Phone (general): 212-940-0400
Fax (general): 212-940-0402
Fax ("political"): 212-940-0403
E-mail 1: germany@un.int
E-mail 2: contact@germany-un.org

Opening The Rafah Border Crossing Between Gaza And Egypt

Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S.: Sameh Shoukry

Phone (general) 202-895-5400
Phone (Chicago): 312-828-9162
E-mail (general): embassy@egyptembassy.net

Egyptian Permanent Mission to the U.N. Ambassador: Maged (f) Abdel Fattah (m) Abdel Aziz (l)

Phone (general): 212-503-0300
Phone (Abdel Aziz) 212-503-0335
E-mail: egypt@un.int

Thursday, January 15


No scanned contact list yet...I have to get to that...
...but blogging on a different topic...antojitos.

I think I made some type of antojito tonight.

I now have some sort of thick tortilla with refried beans in the middle, and we'll be adding tomatoes, cheese, salsa, shredded pork, and other stuff to it as soon as my baby's done with work.

I'm very happy to be learning to put together meals quickly out of whatever I have around the house.

Thank you, wonderful tortilleria that made my dough. Thank you, Seeds of Change online diaries, for telling me how to make masa dough less sticky. Thank you, butcher, for telling me how to cook and shred pork.

Bon appetit!

(P.S. I wish I could find the post/comment by BFP about the transformation of corn from something so life-giving into something central to a "bad for you" diet. It was a powerful essay, and I would like people who enjoy this food and read this post to see it.)

Ashdod-Bound Ammunition Still En Route - on the Wehr Elbe

Thank you, everyone, who stopped more munitions from going from Astakos, Greece, to Ashdod, Israel (the closest port Israel has to Gaza).

However, the ship is still en route--it's just under better secrecy now.

Let's get it stopped anyway!

I've found the name of the ship--it's the "Wehr Elbe."

Please call your representatives, members of national governments and embassies, etc. Click here for contact information if you are based out of the U.S. Please feel free to copy/paste, print, etc.


Monday, January 12

How Can I Contact The OMYLE / ΟΜΥΛΕ ?

Someone on The Daily Kos had a great idea.

The Greek port workers could do to this shipment what the South African port workers did to a shipment of additional arms to Zimbabwe last year.

The only question is--how on earth does one get ahold of "the Greek port workers" to ask them to help us U.S.-based activists have more time to get this shipment of gasoline to be poured on a flame stopped?

Apparently, in Greek, their union is called the OMYLE (the L's a delta in Greek), but I can't find a web site.

Callout through Google search terms: Αστακός Γάζα Ισραήλ Άσντοντ Ομοσπονδία Υπαλλήλων Λιμένων Ελλάδος ΟΜΥΛΕ Βοηθήστε
Παρακαλούμε να σταματήσετε την παράδοση.

Edited, in case any Greek readers stop by, to add:

(Not quite sure what it says, but it looks like a basic breakdown of the Reuters news article, in map form.)

Saturday, January 10

U.S. seeks ship to move MANY arms to Israel

The current U.S. administration is seeking a shipment that would make the bombs and shells fired at people in Gaza much more numerous.

U.S. Seeks Ship To Move Arms to Israel (Reuters)

If this doesn't bother you, okay.

If it does, call/write Congresspeople, call/write the State Department, call/write the Department of Defense, call/write the UN, etc.

Callout through Google search terms: Αστακός Γάζα Ισραήλ Άσντοντ Ομοσπονδία Υπαλλήλων Λιμένων Ελλάδος ΟΜΥΛΕ Βοηθήστε
Παρακαλούμε να σταματήσετε την παράδοση.

Friday, January 9

"Hiding Among" Civilians

Chris Floyd can really apply the English language well to explanations of logic.

"Taking cover among civilians." This is a curious locution. When you launch missiles to kill the democratically elected officials of a government -- especially when you target their private homes -- where else do you expect to find them?
Naturally, it would be far more convenient if every member of Hamas -- including, again, the democratically elected officials of the government -- painted themselves bright red and gathered in, say, a soccer stadium, where Israel could then drop bombs on them with no muss, no fuss. But we are dealing with the real world, where human beings of every description, profession, ideology and belief must of necessity live and work in close proximity to one another...

Recent headlines from the blog "Black and Missing but Not Forgotten:"