The Site

It’s time for a little retrospective. The site has been live since approximately 10:30PM EST Sunday night.

We just passed 340 registered users. The site has had 112,021 hits in less than 6 days.

We have added a RSS feed, moved the regional threads so that the West is on the left, added links at the bottom of diaries so you can pop back up to the top of the thread or the top of the diary.

Plus a few other things. There is a suggestion box diary. Please use your brains to come up with ideas to make the site even better.

It’s been almost two years

Since November 2002 I’ve participated in over 200 protests and vigils for peace and against dubya’s war. 231 to be exact – and the number of participants has ranged from 1 to over 2000.

I last held a vigil on our campus in April almost a year ago. I last participated in one of the regular Kansas City protests this past June. We stopped doing so in the period after that because we all had work to do toward November 2, 2004.

It’s been almost two years since the start of the war. Tomorrow is the anniversary of “Shock and Awe”. Not a very auspicious occasion. Not with 1521 American dead and more than 11285 American wounded (as of today). This anniversary weighs heavily on those of us who spoke out against this war. I wonder if it weighs as heavily on those who implemented it.

As the anniversary approached my good colleague asked me if I would participate in a vigil at our old spot in front of the First Amendment plaque next to the flag pole on the Quad.  This, for both of us, for the first time in almost a year.  I replied that I would not organize it (we have to notify our campus police of “public speech activities” 24 hours in advance), but I would attend – the thought of starting in again conjured up the memories of the last two years.

I had received word from another colleague that a student organized peace group was going to stage a peace rally in front of the Student Union on campus from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. today. I decided to attend. My colleague later called me to say that instead of standing vigil on the Quad he would attend this student run event.

It was breezy and cool today, though the sun was out. I arrived a few minutes before the start of the event and met one of the organizers – a student who also happened to be an Orthodox priest. The students distributed flyers and black ribbons with pins to passersby and participants. I affixed one to my sweater.

It was a quiet event, fitting for the anniversary it marked. The war crowd didn’t seem to be around or aware. Several speakers addressed a small crowd of the interested, the curious, and passersby that didn’t exceed twenty in number at any one time. This is a triumph of sorts on our campus. And, it is a good sign that students organized this event.

On Sunday we will attend the commemoration at the J.C. Nichols fountain in the park at 47th and Main in Kansas City. It’s the least we can do.

[UPDATED] Businessman charged with genocide for selling US chemicals

Cross-posted at Daily Kos. Also: I have excised the section on Goss and Latin America, and will cover that in a separate diary.

Update [2005-3-18 13:43:51 by susanhbu]: At the end of the diary, learn about the victims’ actions as well as additional suspicions about this case.

Today’s BBC reports:

Prosecutors in the Netherlands have formally charged a Dutch businessman with complicity in genocide for selling chemicals to Iraq’s former regime.

Frans van Anraat, 62, is accused of selling US and Japanese chemicals which were used to produce poison gas … said to have been used to kill more than 5,000 in a 1988 attack on the Kurdish Iraqi town of Halabja.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the Dutch find it possible to charge one of their own with a war crime for selling chemicals made in the U.S. while U.S. politicians and executives get promoted for their war crimes.

God bless gay-bashing Rev. Fred Phelps

AT TIMES I feel really worried about the growing theocracy movement and what that means, particularly for the groups they have targetted for demonization.  I wrote this diary in November and am cross-posting it to remind myself and any others that there are signs of hope too in the darkness.

God bless gay-bashing Rev. Fred Phelps. Why? Because his hatred and bigotry against gays has united a very conservative church and community in Oklahoma to rally around a 17-year-old gay man, Michael Shackelford.

The story here at the Washington Post should give us all hope that American progressive values of tolerance and “Love thy neighbor,” shared by Christians and atheists alike, are alive and well even in the red-state heartland.

I Want My Kids to Grow to be Outstanding Adults

[promoted to the Front Page by BooMan]

Doesn’t everyone?  I look around and I find a real lack of leadership, a lack of empathy in my part of the world.  My parent’s generation was inundated with messages that the “big one” was coming, made to line up with textbooks on their heads in the halls of their schools to prepare for the inevitable atom bomb attack by the Russians.  Their fear was devastation brought on by nuclear war.  My fear is apathy.

How do I teach my children to be kind to their neighbors? They are subjected to an ongoing onslaught of violence. Cartoons aren’t safe, nor are fairy tales–full of death and deprivation, anger and humiliation.  We’ve scaled back what the kids watch–my three year old was running through the house trying to hit the five year old in the head with a bat–courtesy of Tom and Jerry.  Were we warped by such as children?  Are the old stand-bys truly so unsafe?

more on the flip: