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Archive | October, 2008

The Cost of Slumber

Iraqi civilians lie dying after US helicopters open fire on crowds celebrating around a burning US vehicle. Baghdad Iraq 2004. (Photo: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad)

Iraqi civilians lie dying after US helicopters open fire on crowds celebrating around a burning US vehicle. Baghdad Iraq 2004. (Photo: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad)

Long before I discovered the mysterious mix of pain and relief that writing from the heart brings, I was pursuing a Masters in English Literature at Central Washington University in the small town of Ellensburg, Washington.

I was broke, like most grad students, and supported myself by working for two individuals confined to assisted living situations. One of them, Larry, was completely paralyzed. He was unable to speak, and could only blink his eyes. He had been in prison when the ill effects of an operation he undertook there had gone wrong, and were then compounded by an error by the anesthesiologist. His sustenance came from gulping small spoonfuls of food blended with milk. Never in his life would he ever again “enjoy” a meal. He would never be experiencing the simple actions of walking, singing, dancing, swimming, driving, fishing, wandering …

He may have been unable to speak, but Larry had a lot to say. He communicated by blinking his eyes. I would sit beside his prone body on the gurney and slowly recite the alphabet until he blinked on a letter. “C?” I would ask. Another blink. C. Recite again,”A?” Another blink. A. Recite to N, another blink. I would ask, “Can?” Another blink, “Yes.” “Can” would eventually become, “Can I have a drink?” I would get him some juice, or water, depending on what he would spell next.

It was laborious to communicate with him and it took patience and stamina. He lacked neither, for he had a book to write. We would spend three hours to produce half a page of text.

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“We Have to Share This Pain”

PORTLAND, Oregon — Veterans from the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Iraqis, Afghanis, Vietnam veterans, and family members of U.S. military personnel converged in this west coast city over the weekend to share stories of atrocities being committed daily in Iraq, in a continuation of the “Winter Soldier” hearings held in Silver Spring, Maryland in March.

At the Unitarian Church downtown, some 300 people gathered to hear the testimonies, which left many in tears. The five-hour event was comprised of three panels; Voices of Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, The Human Costs of War, and Building Resistance to War.

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Dahr Jamail in Portland

From the Portland Oregonian:

I had a good conversation today with a journalist I admire, Dahr Jamail, who has zigged where other journalists have zagged, traveling to Iraq to work an unembedded freelancer, committed to telling stories through the eyes of ordinary Iraqis. You can keep up with his reporting at his web site, where you can subscribe, as I do, to his emailed dispatches.

Read the rest of the piece here.

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Martin, TN

University of Tennessee at Martin, Humanities Room Sponsored by the History Club and the American Democracy Project

Contact: dbarber@utm.edu

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