Thursday, September 18, 2008

BOOKS-IRAQ: "We Blew Her to Pieces"

MARFA, Texas, Sep 16 (IPS) - Aside from the Iraqi people, nobody knows what the U.S. military is doing in Iraq better than the soldiers themselves. A new book gives readers vivid and detailed accounts of the devastation the U.S. occupation has brought to Iraq, in the soldiers' own words.

"Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupation," published by Haymarket Books Tuesday, is a gut-wrenching, historic chronicle of what the U.S. military has done to Iraq, as well as its own soldiers.

Authored by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and journalist Aaron Glantz, the book is a reader for hearings that took place in Silver Spring, Maryland between Mar. 13-16, 2008 at the National Labour College.

"I remember one woman walking by," said Jason Washburn, a corporal in the U.S. Marines who served three tours in Iraq. "She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with the Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled, we realised that the bag was full of groceries. She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces."

Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement in Iraq, and how lax they were, even to the point of being virtually non-existent.

"During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot," Washburn's testimony continues. "The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond."

His emotionally charged testimony, like all of those in the book that covered panels addressing dehumanisation, civilian testimony, sexism in the military, veterans' health care, and the breakdown of the military, raised issues that were repeated again and again by other veterans.

"Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry 'drop weapons', or by my third tour, 'drop shovels'. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent," Washburn said.

Four days of searing testimony, witnessed by this writer, is consolidated into the book, which makes for a difficult read. One page after another is filled with devastating stories from the soldiers about what is being done in Iraq.

Everything from the taking of "trophy" photos of the dead, to torture and slaughtering of civilians is included.

"We're trying to build a historical record of what continues to happen in this war and what the war is really about," Glantz told IPS.

Hart Viges, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army who served one year in Iraq, tells of taking orders over the radio.

"One time they said to fire on all taxicabs because the enemy was using them for transportation...One of the snipers replied back, 'Excuse me? Did I hear that right? Fire on all taxicabs?' The lieutenant colonel responded, 'You heard me, trooper, fire on all taxicabs.' After that, the town lit up, with all the units firing on cars. This was my first experience with war, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the deployment."

Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, running over corpses with Humvees and stopping to take "trophy" photos of bodies. "An act that took place quite often in Iraq was taking pot shots at cars that drove by," he said. "This was not an isolated incident, and it took place for most of our eight-month deployment."

Kelly Dougherty, the executive director of IVAW, blames the behaviour of soldiers in Iraq on the policies of the U.S. government. "The abuses committed in the occupations, far from being the result of a 'few bad apples' misbehaving, are the result of our government's Middle East policy, which is crafted in the highest spheres of U.S. power," she said.

Knowing this, however, does little to soften the emotional and moral devastation of the accounts.

"You see an individual with a white flag and he does anything but approach you slowly and obey commands, assume it's a trick and kill him," Michael Leduc, a corporal in the Marines who was part of the U.S. attack of Fallujah in November 2004, said were the orders from his battalion JAG officer he received before entering the city.

This is an important book for the public of the United States, in particular, because the Winter Soldier testimonies were not covered by any of the larger media outlets, aside from the Washington Post, which ran a single piece on the event that was buried in the Metro section.

The New York Times, CNN, and network news channels ABC, NBC and CBS ignored it completely.

This is particularly important in light of the fact that, as former Marine Jon Turner stated, "Anytime we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions changed drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the book."

"To me it's about giving a picture of what war is like," Glantz added, "Because here in the U.S. we have this very sanitised version of what war is. But war is when we have a large group of armed people killing large numbers of other people. And that is the picture that people will get from reading veterans testimony...the true face of war."

Dehumanisation of the soldiers themselves is covered in the book, as it includes testimony of sexism, racism, and the plight of veterans upon their return home as they struggle to obtain care from the Veterans Administration.

There is much testimony on the dehumanisation of the Iraqi people as well. Brian Casler, a corporal in the Marines, spoke to some of this that he witnessed during the invasion of Iraq.

"But on these convoys, I saw marines defecate into MRE bags or urinate in bottles and throw them at children on the side of the road," he stated.

Numerous accounts from soldiers include the prevalence of degrading terms for Iraqis, such as "hajis," "towel-heads" and "sand-niggers".

Scott Ewing, who served in Iraq from 2005-2006, admitted on one panel that units intentionally gave candy to Iraqi children for reasons other than "winning hearts and minds".

"There was also another motive," Ewing said, "If the kids were around our vehicles, the bad guys wouldn't attack. We used the kids as human shields."

Glantz admits that it would be difficult for the average U.S. citizen to read the book, and believes it is important to keep in mind while doing so what it took for the veterans to give this historic testimony.

"They could have been heroes, but what they are doing here is even more heroic -- which is telling the truth," Glantz told IPS. "They didn't have to come forward. They chose to come forward."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ocean Finance launches dedicated TV channel

LONDON - Ocean Finance has launched a digital satellite channel on Sky that is dedicated to promoting its financial services, such as loans and mortgages.

The self-titled Ocean Finance channel, which began broadcasting today on Sky channel 888, has been placed in the specialist category, beside Psychic TV, the Pub Channel and Audi Channel.

Today's programmes include 'Ocean Effect', which features real Ocean Finance customers sharing their experiences, and 'Ocean's Mortgages Revealed', which explains every step of the mortgage process and provides the re-mortgaging options available through Ocean.

Viewers are able to press the "red button" on the remote control to access further information about Ocean's products.

Ocean Finance is owned by US insurance giant AIG, which is the shirt sponsor of premiership football club Manchester United.

Benecol appoints agency for CRM

LONDON - Benecol has hired Chemistry to handle its customer relationship marketing programme.

The agency was hired following a four-way pitch against undisclosed rivals. Benecol has tasked Chemistry with the development of a programme intended to inspire existing consumers of the brand's products to use them more regularly to help lower their cholesterol levels.

The programme, which will comprise both online and offline work, will include healthy-heart recipes and information on healthy living. Communications will also include anecdotes from the brand's country of origin, Finland.

Earlier this year, Benecol, whose range includes drinks, spreads, cream cheese, yoghurts and yoghurt drinks, agreed a one-year deal to sponsor Classic FM's weekday Requests programme. The show also airs on Saturdays for two hours.

In addition to on-air marketing, which adopts the strapline 'Take control of your cholesterol with Benecol', the functional-foods brand has leveraged its association through online activity.

The deal followed Benecol's first foray into TV sponsorship, in which the brand sponsored The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV in a six-figure deal that included online and mobile sponsorship rights.

Benecol also runs a 'Women against cholesterol' programme, which aims to educate women on maintaining a healthy heart through reducing their cholesterol. As part of the scheme, Benecol provided free cholesterol testing across four cities in June.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mobile Beat — a DJ industry-related magazine—has been compiling surveys since 1992 on the most popular songs that people dance to at special events (i

Mobile Beat a DJ industry-related magazine—has been compiling surveys since 1992 on the most popular songs that people dance to at special events (i.e.: wedding receptions, corporate functions, etc.) by asking mobile DJs nationwide to submit the top 25 songs for which they get requests. The result was The Top 200 Most Requested Songs of All-time, published in 1992.

The following is the most recent Top 200 — released in 2006.

All of the music we play is "Radio Edited". Although some of the songs may be listed in the Top 200, we reserve the privilege of not playing certain music due to the content.

Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Electric Boogie - Marcia Griffiths
Brick House - Commodores
Y.M.C.A. - Village People
Love Shack - B-52's
We Are Family - Sister Sledge
Build Me Up Buttercup - Foundations
Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
Dancing Queen - ABBA
What A Wonderful - World Louis Armstrong
Celebration - Kool & The Gang
Old Time Rock & Roll - Bob Seger
Shout - Otis Day
Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
You Shook Me All Night - AC/DC
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
C'mon 'N' Ride It (The Train) - Quad City DJs
Staying Alive - Bee Gees
Gettin' Jiggy Wit It - Will Smith
Twist - Chubby Checker
Respect - Aretha Franklin
Cha Cha Slide - Mr. C - Casper
Yeah! - Usher
Get The Party Started - Pink
Kiss - Prince
Twist And Shout - Beatles
My Girl - Temptations
Funky Cold Medina - Tone Loc
Unforgettable - Natalie/Nat King Cole
Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
Bust A Move - Young MC
Footloose - Kenny Loggins
Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley
Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
Mony Mony - Billy Idol
December '63 (Oh What A Night) - Four Seasons
Amazed - Lonestar
Friends In Low Places - Garth Brooks
The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
At Last - Etta James
Let's Twist Again - Chubby Checker
Macarena - Los Del Rio
Super Freak - Rick James
Get Down Tonight - KC & The Sunshine Band
Grease Megamix - O. Newton-John/ J. Travolta
Have I Told You Lately - Van Morrison
Hey Ya! - Outkast
I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown
Crazy - Patsy Cline
Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
Wild Thing - Tone Loc
Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-A-Lot
Dropped A Bomb On Me - Gap Band
That's The Way I Like It - KC & The Sunshine Band
It Takes Two - Rob Base
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett
Push It - Salt-N-Pepa
Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers
When A Man Loves A Woman - Percy Sledge
How Sweet It Is - James Taylor
You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
Boot Scootin' Boogie - Brooks & Dunn
Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex
Gonna Make You Sweat - C+C Music Factory
Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
Everything I Do - Bryan Adams
Hot In Herre - Nelly
Soul Man - Sam & Dave
Bootylicious - Destiny's Child
Don't Know Why - Norah Jones
Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
When You Say Nothin' At All - Alison Krauss
Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
Chicken Dance - Emeralds
From This Moment On - Shania Twain/Bryan White
It's Your Love - Tim McGraw/Faith Hill
1999 - Prince
Conga - Gloria Estefan
Whatta Man - Salt-N-Pepa
Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
Don't Stop Till You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
Sitting On The Dock Of Bay - Otis Redding
Hokey Pokey - Ray Anthony
Holiday - Madonna
New York, New York - Frank Sinatra
Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Who Let The Dogs Out - Baha Men
Can't Get Enough Of Your Love - Barry White
Copacabana - Barry Manilow
Swing The Mood - Jive Bunny
Do You Love Me - Contours
Funkytown - Lipps Inc.
I Love Rock And Roll - Joan Jett
In The Mood - Glenn Miller
Boogie Shoes - KC & The Sunshine Band
I Saw Her Standing There - Beatles
I Swear - John Montgomery
In Da Club - 50 Cent
The Wanderer - Dion
Mickey - Toni Basil
California Love - 2Pac
This Is How We Do It - Montell Jordan
Time Of My Life - Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes
Walk Like An Egyptian - Bangles
Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra
I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack
You'Ve Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Righteous Brothers
Addicted To Love - Robert Palmer
Beat It - Michael Jackson
Because You Loved Me - Celine Dion
Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes
Great Balls Of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
Fight For Your Right To - Party
I Cross My Heart - George Strait
Jump Jive An' Wail - Brian Setzer
Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera
Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
Under The Boardwalk - Drifters
Miami - Will Smith
Get Down On It - Kool & The Gang
Moondance - Van Morrison
Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner
Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy) - Big And Rich
Tootsee Roll - 69 Boyz
Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles
Let Me Clear My Throat - DJ Kool
Lets Get It Started - Black Eyed Peas
Man! I Feel Like A Woman - Shania Twain
Walk This Way - Aerosmith
Shake Your Booty - KC & The Sunshine Band
I Could Not Ask For More - Edwin McCain
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
You'Re The Inspiration - Chicago
Material Girl - Madonna
All I Wanna Do - Sheryl Crow
Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani
I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Aerosmith
Mambo No. 5 - Lou Bega
Joy And Pain - Rob Base
Lady In Red - Chris Deburgh
Last Dance - Donna Summer
Runaround Sue - Dion
Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray
I Only Have Eyes For You - Flamingos
Tainted Love - Soft Cell
Got To Be Real - Cheryl Lynn
ABC - Jackson 5
It's Five O'Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffett
La Bamba - Los Lobos
Loco-Motion - Little Eva
Night Fever - Bee Gees
Satisfaction (I Can't Get No) - Rolling Stones
Takin' Care Of Business - BTO
Bad Bad Leroy Brown - Jim Croce
Best Of My Love - Emotions
Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf
Just The Way You Are - Billy Joel
Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley
Shoop - Salt-N-Pepa
What I Like About You - Romantics
Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Frankie Valli
Dancin' Shaggin' On The Boulevard - Alabama
I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston
Into The Mystic - Van Morrison
Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites
Pump Up The Jam - Technotronic
I'm A Believer - Monkees
Take My Breath Away - Berlin
Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson
Devil With A Blue Dress On - Mitch Ryder
Here And Now - Luther Vandross
No Woman No Cry - Bob Marley
In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
Simply Irresistable - Robert Palmer
Through The Years - Kenny Rogers
U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Wanna Be Starting Something - Michael Jackson
I Feel For You - Chaka Khan
Way You Move - Outkast
You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
It's The End Of The World - REM
Endless Love - Diana Ross/Lionel Richie
Faithfully - Journey
Just My Imagination - Temptations
Pink Cadillac - Natalie Cole
Rock Your Body - Justin Timberlake
Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker
Rocky Top - Osborne Brothers
Start Me Up - Rolling Stones
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - Platters
Beer For My Horses - Toby Keith/Willie Nelson

Environmental groups denounce EU Parliament attempt to boycott climate targets

Brussels, Belgium – The European Parliament’s industry committee is trying to ditch the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and to boycott 2020 climate targets, environmental groups said following today’s vote on how the carbon market should operate after 2012.

The committee voted to delay or even prevent the planned shift from a 20 to a 30% emission reduction target, on condition that an international climate deal is reached next year.

“Today’s decision backtracks on the commitments made by the EU last year. The industry committee have clearly put short-term economic interests before innovation and technology development that would lead to longer term benefits, such as new jobs and a more secure energy system in Europe,” said Sanjeev Kumar, ETS expert at WWF’s European Policy Office.

Environmental NGOs denounce the committee’s attempt to allow certain carbon-intensive industries to continue polluting largely for free, by reducing the amount of allowances they will be obliged to purchase. This decision has not been backed up by evidence proving that they would suffer undue economic disadvantage compared to similar companies outside the EU.

In addition, the vote would allow companies to have access to even more emission reduction credits from projects in developing countries, further reducing the effort required by companies to reduce emissions within the EU.

This vote allows an even higher access to external credits than the Commission proposed, which means that the cuts required domestically inside the EU amount to only around 15%. The rest of the emissions reduction effort can be undertaken through dubious projects outside of the EU. No legally binding, strong quality criteria have been imposed on external credits.

“This vote weakens the domestic emission reduction efforts required by Europe. If other developed countries followed the EU’s lead, the world would be on course for at least a 3.6°C increase in average global temperatures above pre-industrial levels,” said Tomas Wyns, CAN Europe ETS expert.

The industry committee has in effect discounted Europe’s responsibility to fight dangerous climate change. This is not only completely irresponsible but also the results of this vote will endanger the EU’s credibility at the international climate negotiations.

Environmental groups argue that it is crucial that the environment committee ignores today's disappointing outcome in the industry committee. Environmental groups call on the environment committee – which will vote in early October – to vote to improve the environmental effectiveness of the emissions trading scheme.