Wednesday, August 31, 2005

more shame for jan

Congresswoman's spouse admits fraud

By Laurie Cohen and Rick Pearson
Tribune staff reporters
Published August 31, 2005, 8:31 PM CDT

Robert Creamer, a leading Democratic consultant and the husband of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal bank fraud charge for engineering an elaborate check-kiting scheme to keep afloat the Illinois consumer group he formerly headed.

In addition to the bank fraud charge involving Illinois Public Action, Creamer also pleaded guilty to a federal tax violation for failing to make income-tax withholding payments.

Federal prosecutors plan to seek a prison sentence of 41 to 51 months when Creamer is sentenced on Dec. 21. Creamer's attorney, Ted Poulos, said he hopes his client can avoid prison and instead serve his sentence another way, such as in home confinement.

After a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge James Moran, Creamer, with Schakowsky by his side, apologized for what he described as "serious errors in judgment."

Creamer said his mistakes were caused by "my burning desire to create an organization that empowered ordinary people" and that no banks lost money because of his actions.

But prosecutors said Creamer carried out the check-kiting scheme to finance his salary of about $100,000 as the group's executive director and to further his public policy goals. Creamer "stole money from banks"--more than $2.5 million--in the form of unintended, interest-free loans, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Ferguson.

Creamer's consumer-advocacy mission "brought him to a place where the ends came to justify the means, without regard to the fact that the means were violations of law," Ferguson said.

Creamer, 58, of Evanston, helped turn Public Action into the state's biggest consumer organization. The group was known for its door-to-door canvassers who sought contributions for liberal, Democratic-backed causes, like universal health insurance.

To prop up the group's perennially shaky finances, Creamer relied on fundraising techniques such as telephone sales of credit-card insurance, which triggered complaints from consumers. The Tribune first reported on the group's controversial funding practices in 1993.

The group closed its doors four years later amid mounting financial problems and a federal probe into its banking activities.

Within the last decade, Creamer melded the field organization tactics of his consumer group into a political consulting business that had many Chicago area clients.

Records show the firm netted $1.4 million over the last seven years locally, including more than a half-million dollars from Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund. Other Creamer clients included Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Ald. Joe Moore (49th), Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown and Cook County Commissioners Larry Suffredin, Forrest Claypool and Mike Quigley.

But the scope of Creamer's political consulting expanded nationally in recent years, aided by the rising stature of his wife in the Democratic congressional campaign hierarchy.

Elected in 1998 from the heavily Democratic 9th Congressional District on the North Shore, Schakowsky has been an effective fundraiser for her Democratic colleagues and a leading liberal spokeswoman. She holds the title of chief deputy whip for minority Democrats in the House.

Schakowsky said the events in federal court would not prevent her from seeking re-election next year or moving forward in her race to become vice chair of the House Democratic caucus.

"If you can't take a hit, this is not the business for you," she said. "I've withstood those things for a long time, and I can hit back too."

When Creamer was indicted last year, Schakowsky had maintained his innocence and questioned whether the charges were political retaliation for her criticism of President Bush's administration and former U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft.

On Wednesday she acknowledged Creamer had "made mistakes along the way" but said they should not "define or diminish this good man."

Schakowsky formerly worked for Public Action and served as a member of its policy board but has said she was unaware of its financial affairs. She was not charged with any wrongdoing.

In exchange for Creamer's guilty plea to one count of bank fraud and one count of failing to pay federal withholding taxes, authorities agreed to drop the other charges in the 34-count indictment. Moran had previously dismissed six of the charges.

Creamer specifically pleaded guilty to a check-kiting scheme in 1997, in which he directed the consumer group's employees to shuffle check and wire deposits among accounts at three banks, including Cole Taylor Bank, to artificially inflate bank balances.

He told workers to deposit insufficiently funded checks in automated teller machines that weren't connected with Cole Taylor, so that it would take more time for the bank to request payment on the checks. When Cole Taylor Bank froze the group's account in March 1997, there was a shortfall of almost $2.4 million.

Creamer also admitted to engaging in similar bank-kiting schemes in 1993 and 1996.

The group eventually covered its bank debts. But prosecutors contend that the banks still lost money because the scheme, in effect, gave Creamer's organization interest-free loans.

Creamer also pleaded guilty to failing to pay the government $1,892 in withholding taxes in 1998 on wages he paid to himself as president of a consulting firm. The money instead went to pay off debts of his consumer group.

He also admitted to failing to pay an additional $48,114 in withholding taxes from 1998 to 2000. All the tax debts have since been paid, the government said.

Tribune staff reporters Ray Gibson and Rudolph Bush contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

shame jan s.

Schakowsky's husband pleads guilty to fraud

August 31, 2005


A political consultant who once headed the largest public interest lobbying group in Illinois pleaded guilty Wednesday to $2.3 million in bank fraud and a federal tax violation.

Robert Creamer, 58, the husband of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., could face more than four years in federal prison at sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 21.

Schakowsky stood by his side as Creamer, former head of the Illinois Public Action group, told reporters there was "no doubt that my actions a decade ago were very foolish and placed myself, my family, the organization and many of those who worked with me at considerable risk."

"I am very deeply sorry and I offer a sincere apology to anyone who has been affected by my conduct," Creamer said, accompanied at a news conference by about two dozen of his supporters.

Schakowsky, who lives in Evanston and represents parts of northern Chicago and its suburbs, expressed doubt that the case would attract a tough challenger into her overwhelmingly Democratic district in next year's congressional primary election.

"I love my husband," Schakowsky said. She said Creamer "has worked all of his adult life to build organizations that empower the powerless, he has fought for causes that make life better for everyday people."

Creamer is one of Chicago's best-known political consultants. He has worked for the campaigns of both Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Minutes after Creamer pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James B. Moran, he and his supporters took issue with what prosecutors said were significant sums of money lost by banks as a result of three complex, so-called check-kiting schemes he admitted that he had engineered.

Creamer said in a statement that "no bank ever did lose any money as a result of my conduct in 1997 or at any other time while I was at Illinois Public Action."

Creamer admitted in his 18-page signed plea agreement that he wrote checks on accounts that lacked sufficient funds to cover them. He was able to do this repeatedly because he moved money from one account to another in three banks in 1997, playing what bankers describe as the float and thus making them believe that the accounts had more money in them than they actually did.

When the three banks realized there was a problem and froze the accounts in May 1997, there was a positive balance in two of the accounts, according to the plea agreement. But it said that his account in Chicago's Cole Taylor Bank had a negative balance of $2.385 million.

At the time, there were $370,000 in insufficiently funded checks outstanding, the document said. Prosecutors said, however, that when Creamer is sentenced the $2.385 million figure will represent the amount of the fraud. They said it took months to pay off the negative balance.

Creamer acknowledged that he had operated two other check-kiting schemes, which took place in 1993 and 1996. In addition, he pleaded guilty to failing to collect $1,800 in withholding tax from an employee of his political consulting firm. He used the $1,800 to pay a debt to a creditor of Illinois Public Action "whom I believed could not afford to lose the money."

Before Creamer entered his plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ferguson told the court that bank fraud is an offense that may not be punished by probation.

Nevertheless, veteran defense counsel Theodore Poulos told reporters he believes that Moran can fashion a sentence that would involve no incarceration for Creamer. He was asked if that meant house arrest or something similar and said it could be that. But he added later that his goal is to get Creamer a sentence that would avoid any confinement.

"This case involves a host of extraordinary mitigating factors that are rarely present in a prosecution on these types of charges," Poulos said. He said he hoped that the court would "take into account that Bob Creamer did not take these actions for personal gain, that there was never any loss to any bank, that these charges are a decade old."

Ferguson, however, maintained that the banks effectively made loans they didn't even know they were making when they honored Creamer's checks. He said in some cases it took months for Creamer to erase the negative balances and that represented a significant loss to the banks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

they should shot looters

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

moonbats attack wounded gi's


Wed Aug 2005 24 21:20:05 ET

Anti-war protestors besieged wounded and disabled soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C, a new web report will claim! is planning to run an expose on Thursday featuring interviews with both protestors and veterans, as well as shots of protest signs with slogans like “Maimed for a Lie.”

The conservative outlet will post video evidence of the wounded veterans being taunted by protesters, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Developing late...

no peace in my life time

Israel’s Deadly Appeasement Process Continues

By Alex Epstein and Edward Cline

The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is being portrayed as a wise (albeit unpleasant) move by Ariel Sharon. By addressing a longtime grievance of the Palestinians and their supporters--the presence of Israeli security forces and Jewish residents on the Gaza strip--we are told, Israel will abate the hatred that drives so many Palestinians to terrorism.

In fact, the Gaza withdrawal is a deadly act of appeasement toward Israel’s committed enemies: the Palestinian Authority (PA), its rabidly anti-Semitic Palestinian supporters, and other Arab regimes throughout the Middle East. It will only increase their hope and ability to achieve their long-standing goal: the obliteration of Israel.

Contrary to their pronouncements to Western media that they seek peace with Israel via a “reasonable” land-for-peace “compromise,” the PA and its supporters have proven by their actions--and by repeated statements in Arabic--that they seek to destroy Israel. Due to their racist, tribalist, primitive philosophy, much of the Arab world seeks the eradication of Jews--and, more broadly, Western Civilization--from the Middle East. In polls taken, 80 percent of Palestinians say they do not regard Israel as legitimate. As for Israel’s other Arab neighbors, they have attempted to destroy Israel in three previous wars.

Why have those who seek Israel’s annihilation turned from open warfare to the negotiating table? Because they have learned that this--combined with terrorism--is their most effective means of destroying Israel.

Observe what the absurdly named “peace process” has consisted of. The PA and its Arab neighbors deliberately keep the Palestinians in misery, indoctrinate them with anti-Semitism, and sponsor terrorism against Israel. They then blame Israel’s “occupation” of territories won in a war of self-defense (and crucial for Israel’s security today) for the Palestinians’ misery--and blame the Palestinians’ misery for Palestinian terrorism. The solution, they convince Israel and the West, is more land, loot, and power for the “downtrodden” Palestinians--money which the Palestinian leadership uses to fund still more attacks on Israel.

By relying on terror and unearned guilt, the enemies of Israel have been able to undermine Israel’s security and moral confidence in a way they never could by direct attack.

Consider the recent history. In response to his long record of terrorizing Israel in the name of “Palestinian liberation,” Yasser Arafat got recognition as the “legitimate representative” of the Palestinians. Under the Oslo accords, he was given billions in cash and a vast arsenal of deadly weapons for “security forces” that he would use to oppress Palestinians and terrorize Israel. Unsurprisingly, terrorism coupled with blaming Israel, having been handsomely rewarded, increased dramatically. Then, in 2000, Arafat was offered unprecedented territorial concessions; figuring he could get more by terrorism, he rejected the proposal and launched a second Intifada. The resulting escalation of terrorism, along with Arab nations claiming that anti-American terrorism stems from sympathy for the mistreatment of Palestinians, led to a promise from President Bush for a Palestinian state--and endless calls for Israel to show “restraint” in the face of a terrorist onslaught.

Terrorize Israel and blame it for the misery you inflict on Palestinians, the Palestinian leadership has been taught, and you shall be rewarded. Now, further terrorism and Israel-bashing have gotten the PA an unconditional withdrawal from Gaza--a crucial launching base for Arab wars of the past, and an easy means from which to further terrorize Israel. Smelling blood, Palestinians and their beloved terror organizations are already boasting: “Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem.”

Any further Palestinian terrorism, of course, will simply be blamed on Israel not conceding enough, and we will be told that peace can only be achieved if Israel takes more “risks for peace”--i.e., continues to give Palestinian murderers more resources with which to launch their aggression.

The only way to stop Palestinian terrorism is for Israel to identify the PA and its supporters as the evil they are--and to righteously defeat them. Not only should Israel retain Gaza, it should destroy the Palestinian leadership and do anything else necessary to eradicate the hope that drives Palestinian terrorism--the hope of Israel’s destruction.

Then, and only then, will Israel be able to adopt a new slogan of its own: “Yesterday Palestinian terrorism, today Palestinian defeat.”

Alex Epstein is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) in Irvine, CA. Edward Cline is a contributing writer to ARI. ARI promotes the ideas of Ayn Rand--best-selling author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism.

Copyright © 2005 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

cindy speaks for herself not all

She Does Not Speak for Me
My son died in Iraq--and it was not in vain.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

I lost a son in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan does not speak for me.

I grieve with Mrs. Sheehan, for all too well I know the full measure of the agony she is forever going to endure. I honor her son for his service and sacrifice. However, I abhor all that she represents and those who would cast her as the symbol for parents of our fallen soldiers.

The fallen heroes, until now, have enjoyed virtually no individuality. They have been treated as a monolith, a mere number. Now Mrs. Sheehan, with adept public relations tactics, has succeeded in elevating herself above the rest of us. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida declared that Mrs. Sheehan is now the symbol for all parents who have lost children in Iraq. Sorry, senator. Not for me.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times portrays Mrs. Sheehan as a distraught mom standing heroically outside the guarded gates of the most powerful and inhumane man on earth, President Bush. Ms. Dowd is so moved by Mrs. Sheehan's plight that she bestowed upon her and all grieving parents the title of "absolute moral authority." That characterization epitomizes the arrogance and condescension of anyone who would presume to understand and speak for all of us. How can we all possess "absolute moral authority" when we hold so many different perspectives?

I don't want that title. I haven't earned that title.

Although we all walk the same sad road of sorrow and agony, we walk it as individuals with all the refreshing uniqueness of our own thoughts shaped in large measure by the life and death of our own fallen hero. Over the past few days I have reached out to other parents and loved ones of fallen heroes in an attempt to find out their reactions to all the attention Mrs. Sheehan has attracted. What emerges from those conversations is an empathy for Mrs. Sheehan's suffering but a fundamental disagreement with her politics.
Ann and Dale Hampton lost their only child, Capt. Kimberly Hampton, on Jan. 2, 2004, while she was flying her Kiowa helicopter. She was a member of the 82nd Airborne and the company commander. She had already served in Afghanistan before being deployed to Iraq. Ann Hampton wrote, "My grief sometimes seems unbearable, but I cannot add the additional baggage of anger. Mrs. Sheehan has every right to protest . . . but I cannot do that. I would be protesting the very thing that Kimberly believed in and died for."

Marine Capt. Benjamin Sammis was Stacey Sammis's husband. Ben died on April 4, 2003, while flying his Super Cobra helicopter. Listen to Stacey and she will tell you that she is just beginning to understand the enormousness of the character of soldiers who knowingly put their lives at risk to defend our country. She will tell you that one of her deepest regrets is that the world did not have the honor of experiencing for a much longer time this outstanding Marine she so deeply loved.

Speak to Joan Curtin, whose son, Cpl. Michael Curtin, was an infantryman with the 2-7th 3rd ID, and her words are passionately ambivalent. She says she has no room for bitterness. She has a life to lead and a family to nurture. She spoke of that part of her that never heals, for that is where Michael resides. She can go on, always knowing there will be that pain.

Karen Long is the mother of Spc. Zachariah Long, who died with my son Kyle on May 30, 2003. Zack and Kyle were inseparable friends as only soldiers can be, and Karen and I have become inseparable friends since their deaths. Karen's view is that what Mrs. Sheehan is doing she has every right to do, but she is dishonoring all soldiers, including Karen's son, Zack. Karen cannot comprehend why Mrs. Sheehan cannot seem to come to grips with the idea that her own son, Casey, was a soldier like Zack who had a mission to complete. Karen will tell you over and over again that Zack is not here and no one, but no one will dishonor her son.

My wife, Robin, has a different take on Mrs. Sheehan. She told me, "I don't care what she says or does. She is no more important than any other mother."

By all accounts Spc. Casey Sheehan, Mrs. Sheehan's son, was a soldier by choice and by the strength of his character. I did not have the honor of knowing him, but I have read that he attended community college for three years and then chose to join the Army. In August 2003, five months into Operation Iraqi Freedom and after three years of service, Casey Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army with the full knowledge there was a war going on, and with the high probability he would be assigned to a combat area. Mrs. Sheehan frequently speaks of her son in religious terms, even saying that she thought that some day Casey would be a priest. Like so many of the individuals who have given their lives in service to our country, Casey was a very special young man. How do you decry that which someone has chosen to do with his life? How does a mother dishonor the sacrifice of her own son?
Mrs. Sheehan has become the poster child for all the negativity surrounding the war in Iraq. In a way it heartens me to have all this attention paid to her, because that means others in her position now have the chance to be heard. Give equal time to other loved ones of fallen heroes. Feel the intensity of their love, their pride and the sorrow.

To many loved ones, there are few if any "what ifs." They, like their fallen heroes before them, live in the world as it is and not what it was or could have been. Think of the sacrifices that have brought us to this day. We as a country made a collective decision. We must now live up to our decision and not deviate until the mission is complete.

Thirty-five years ago, a president faced a similar dilemma in Vietnam. He gave in and we got "peace with honor." To this day, I am still searching for that honor. Today, those who defend our freedom every day do so as volunteers with a clear and certain purpose. Today, they have in their commander in chief someone who will not allow us to sink into self-pity. I will not allow him to. The amazing part about talking to the people left behind is that I did not want them to stop. After speaking to so many I have come away with the certainty of their conviction that in a large measure it's because of the deeds and sacrifices of their fallen heroes that this is a better and safer world we now live in.

Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.

We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us. Instead, we ask you to learn the individual stories. They are glorious. Honor their memories.

Honor their service. Never dishonor them by giving in. They never did.

Mr. Griffin is the father of Spc. Kyle Andrew Griffin, a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star, who was killed in a truck accident on a road between Mosul and Tikrit on May 30, 2003.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I bet you don't know this

In Iraq, ancient sect quietly lives on faith:[SOUTH PINELLAS Edition]
SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Apr 26, 2004. pg. 1.A
Full Text (1723 words)
Copyright Times Publishing Co. Apr 26, 2004

As darkness falls over the remote mountains of northern Iraq, a man moves silently within ancient walls, setting flame to hundreds of wicks soaked in olive oil. In the dim light, shadows dance among the tombs, the urns, the black snake carved into the stones.

This is the sacred temple of the Yezidis, As followers of one of the world's oldest and most unusual religions, Yezidis practice a faith that reveres Malak Ta'us, an angel in the form of a peacock, and forbids eating lettuce, wearing the color blue or marrying in April.

But if their beliefs are far from mainstream, the Yezidis themselves reflect the great ethnic and religious diversity of Iraq, a rich melange of Christians, Kurds, Muslims, Chaldeans, Turkmen and Assyrians. And like others who suffered so much under Saddam Hussein, the Yezidis who survived his rule are determined to ensure their rights in a new and hopefully democratic Iraq.

"America is our friend and America helped all of us," says Namir Kachow Hassan, a Yezidi (YEH-zuh-dee) who serves as a senior official in the Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq.

No one knows how many Yezidis there are; estimates range from less than 100,000 to 600,000. Since the U.S.-led coalition toppled Hussein, Yezidis have won a seat on the town council in Mosul. They also expect to be represented on the Iraqi Governing Council, if and when that group expands and assumes political power from the Americans on June 30.

But even in the north, the safest part of an unsafe country, the Yezidis are so worried about extremist attacks they canceled most of their traditional springtime celebrations.

"There are people in the Islamic religion who are against democracy, and there are Islamic parties that want to run all of Iraq," Hassan says. "The Iraqi people are used to violence, used to war, so they can't accept democracy very easily."

A former judge, Hassan looks and acts like any other prominent Iraqi, dressed in a dark business suit with pinstriped tie. He carries a mobile phone that rings to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

But throughout much of their 4,000-year history, religious persecution has forced the Yezidis to lead secretive lives, resulting in the many falsehoods about their faith.

"They couldn't worship and pray openly because they were afraid," says Kheri Bozani, director of the Lalish Center in Dohuk. "If you came in the past, you couldn't meet with the Yezidi people themselves, and so there was a lot of wrong and unfortunate information."

The center, named for the Yezidis' holy Lalish Temple, opened to separate fact from fiction. But Bozani concedes that most non- Yezidis still find the faith somewhat bizarre.

"Even if you lived among the Yezidis for 10 years," he says, "you couldn't understand us very well."

Although it is rooted in nature, Yezidism has similarities to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

In the beginning, the Yezidis believe, God created seven angels and ordered them to pray only to him. Thousands of years later, God created Adam and, as a test, ordered the angels to pray to Adam. Six angels did, but the seventh, Malak Ta'us, refused.

"Why did you not pray to this man I created?" God asked.

"Because I remembered your command to pray only to you," Malak Ta'us replied, according to the Yezidis' oral tradition.

For passing the test, Malak Ta'us was made chief angel and sent to earth, where God created Eve from Adam's rib. The angel taught Adam and Eve how to procreate, and thus did humans populate the earth.

Yezidis have no devil in their religion, and the reason they are called devil worshipers has long since been lost in the mists of time. One possibility is that both the Bible and the Koran, the Muslim holy book, talk of an angel-turned-devil who angered God and was cast out of heaven. Those of other faiths might have misconstrued Malak Ta'us as a "fallen" or bad angel even though Yezidis believe he was sent to earth because he was God's favorite.

Another possible reason is that the snake - a symbol of goodness to Yezidis - is viewed by Christians as the serpentine devil that tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Whatever the case, Yezidis adamantly deny they are a satanic cult. "In Islam there is a God and also a devil, but in Yezidism we don't have any term like 'devil,' " Bozani says.

Nor do Yezidis have the concept of hell, instead believing that the souls of the dead repeatedly return to earth until they are purified. As punishment, a bad person might first come back stricken with disease or reincarnated in animal form.

"Someone like Saddam might return as a donkey," says Murad Ali Hamed, a Yezidi teacher.

Like all Yezidis, Hamed is Kurdish, one of the 5-million non- Arabs of northern Iraq who were brutally oppressed after Hussein came to power in 1979.

As part of his "Arabization" program, Hussein drove Yezidis and other Kurds from their villages, replacing them with Arabs. Many villages were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of Kurds killed.

"The Yezidis suffered from the situation more than anybody in Iraq because of our religion first and because of our nationality second," says Hassan, the government official.

Some Yezidis fled to Germany and other countries. But most remained in Iraq, where they were forced from their villages into crowded, squalid compounds. They were denied national identity cards, forbidden to write about their religion and barred from holding government jobs.

Yet Yezidi men were conscripted into Hussein's army and sent to the front lines during the disastrous Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. More than a thousand lost their lives.

After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, American and British fighter planes provided air cover to much of northern Iraq, allowing the Kurds to establish a relatively democratic government independent of Hussein's regime. The 50,000 Yezidis living in so-called "Kurdistan" began to enjoy freedoms they had never known.

Hassan, for example, had graduated from judges' college in Baghdad, but was barred from working in Hussein-controlled southern Iraq. After 1991, he served as a judge in Kurdistan, then became a minister for regional affairs. Hundreds of other Yezidis also got jobs in the Kurdistan government.

Most Yezidis, though, were outside Kurdistan, and for them life remained as grim as it did for the rest of Iraq's people. Until Hussein's regime fell last year, they were even barred from traveling to Lalish Temple, their holiest site.

Now they come by the hundreds to the 930-year-old shrine, deep in the mountains southeast of Dohuk. Here, beneath conical towers that represent the sun's life-giving rays, they stroke the black snake carving by the door and step into smoke-darkened rooms.

Many carry colorful skeins of fabric, an offering to God that they hope will bring good luck or better health. Others sprinkle their hair with water from an underground stream.

Zim-Zim, a cave where baptisms and other holy rites are performed, remains off limits to nonbelievers. But despite their secretive reputation, Yezidis seem willing, even eager, to talk about their faith now that they are free of Hussein.

Malak Ta'us, the chief angel, is represented as a peacock, they explain, because it is a beautiful bird whose feathers include many of the colors found in nature.

The snake is revered by the Yezidis because it saved Noah's Ark from sinking. How? By plugging a leak with its body after the ark hit a mountain.

The reason for not eating lettuce, they say, is because it's unclean, lacking a skin or rind to protect the edible part from dirt.

Yezidism also prohibits wearing blue - a holy color because it is the hue of the sky - and eating roosters. The latter ban is widely ignored, with chicken second only to lamb in popularity at the dinner table.

"In every religion lots of things are forbidden," notes Bozani, director of the Lalish Center. "If you bring a chicken now, I will eat it with you."

But Yezidis still don't marry in April because that is the holy month in which God created the world, they believe. And Yezidis can't marry outside the faith, nor can a non-Yezidi convert.

If Christians and Muslims consider Yezidism strange, the Yezidis find it strange that certain followers of those religions have been so brutal. How can anyone who believes in God, they ask, persecute and kill people who only want to live in peace?

"We respect other religions - everyone who respects God, we respect him," says Hamed, the teacher. "Why can't they respect us?"

- Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at


Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin and photojournalist Jamie Francis are writing "Iraq Diary" for Look for "Links from the Paper."

Yezidis wait in line to pay tribute at the mountain tomb of Karajal, a holy site near Dohuk in northern Iraq, on Wednesday, which was one of the most important days in their religious calendar.

A Yezidi worshiper kisses the entrance to the tomb of Karajal, where every visitor leaves money for the poor inside.

A Yezidi worker at the Lalish Temple, in the mountains southeast of Dohuk, presses olive oil from one of the burning wicks that illuminate the walls.

After returning from a pilgrimage up to the mountain shrine of Karajal, near Dohuk in northern Iraq, Yezidis fire weapons into the air as a sign of their respect.

In the village of Kalabadri, destroyed by Saddam Hussein in 7, landowners tend their sheep. "We are cursed twice by Saddam," says one, "once because we are Yezidi and once because we are Kurdish."

Caption: Yezidis wait in line to pay tribute at the mountain tomb of Karajal on Wednesday.; A Yezidi worshiper kisses the entrance to the tomb of Karajal.; A Yezidi worker at the Lalish Temple presses olive oil from one of the burning wicks that; illuminate the walls.; After returning from a pilgrimage up to the mountain shrine of Karajal, near Dohuk in northern Iraq, Yezidis fire weapons into the air as a sign of their respect.; In the village of Kalabadri, destroyed by Saddam Hussein; in 1987, landowners tend their sheep.; Map locates Lalish, Iraq.; Photo: PHOTO, JAMIE FRANCIS, (5); MAP

Thursday, August 11, 2005

media bias exposed cindy has been on the news everyday this week

Thu Aug 11 2005 12:56:21 ET

The family of American soldier Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, has broken its silence and spoken out against his mother Cindy Sheehan's anti-war vigil against George Bush held outside the president's Crawford, Texas ranch.

The following email was received by the DRUDGE REPORT from Casey's aunt and godmother:

Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish. Thanks Ð Cherie

In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement:

The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.


Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.


Saturday, August 06, 2005


Phelps' Group Protests At Soldier's Funeral Fri Aug 5, 7:58 PM ET

Members of the Rev. Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., are picketing military funerals, KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reported Friday.


I'm a WomanMan seeking a ManWoman
Age: to ZIP:

The group has made national headlines for traveling throughout the country to picket gay churches, gay weddings, and the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998.

Friday, about 15 members of the group -- some of them children -- picketed the funeral of a St. Joseph soldier who was killed in Iraq. Mahoney reported that the group stood across the road from the Grace Evangelical Church during the funeral of 21-year-old Spc. Edward Myers.

"The first sin was being a part of this military. If this young man had a clue and any fear of God, he would have run, and not walked, from this military," said protester Shirley Phelps-Roper. "Who would serve a nation that is godless and has flipped off, defiantly defied, defiantly flipped off, the Lord their God?"

One protester had an American flag tied to his belt that draped to the ground. He was holding a sign that read, "Thank God For IEDs," which are explosive devices used by insurgents to blow up military convoys.

Protesters said America has ignored the word of God, and those who defend the nation must pay a price.

"That's the first piece of solid evidence that you have that the young man is currently in hell," Phelps-Roper said.

"The soldier is in hell now, you believe?" Mahoney asked.

"Absolutely," Phelps-Roper said.

'Protesters Were Rude'

About a dozen veterans stood across the road from the protesters, and Mahoney reported that there were some harsh words and insults traded between the two groups. However, sheriff deputies were stationed about 100 yards away and there was no violence.

"The protesters were so rude -- were disrespectful," said veteran Jim Fields.

"Do I like it? No, I don't. But what can you say, it's a free country," said veteran Dave Campbell.

Veterans told KMBC that a member of the soldier's family shouted at the protesters to leave, and they left about 20 minutes after the funeral started. Mahoney reported that there was applause from veterans and other crowd members when the protesters left.

After the funeral was over, one of the mourners commented on the irony of the protesters showing up at a soldier's funeral.

"They shouldn't protest the funeral for a man who was out there dying to protect the rights that they're demanding they receive," said Marvin Russell.

Russell said he thinks the soldier's family saw the protesters.

"I think it saddened them. They didn't say anything outright, but you could tell by the way they looked down that this was a sad thing to do. They're already in mourning, they don't need people like this to make it worse," Russell said.

Myers was buried with full military honors in Leavenworth National Cemetery. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

One of the protesters said the group is planning to picket other military funerals.

Friday, August 05, 2005

sickest protest yet

baptist extremist protest at GI'S FUNERAL in ind. they claim god killed american gi's because of gay rights in America. The same sick puppies support the al quada attacks in new york and london.

free kurdistan

Kurds Should Get Prepared For Secession From Iraq

By: Dr. Nazhad Khasraw Hawramany

Aug 5, 2005

The large gaps in views over vital issues like Kirkuk, authorities of federal regions, geographic boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan , distribution of oil wealth and other natural resources, role of Islam, identity of the Iraqi state...etc, between Iraqi Kurds on one side and Iraqi Arabs on the other side ( Both Shiite Arabs and Sunnite Arabs) which surfaced during the ongoing discussions about the drafting of the envisaged permanent Iraqi constitution, raised serious doubts and question marks about the futility of participation by Kurds in this political process when the other side is behaving so obstinately and obviously with bad intentions about all those vital issues mentioned earlier.

The government of Dr Al-Jaafari and before him the government of Dr Allawi are playing delay tactics with Kurds over such crucial issues like implementation of article 58 of Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) of Iraq about Kirkuk and other Arabized Kurdistani regions, and so far have failed to follow any practical steps or to show any good intentions in this regard. On the contrary there have been some steps taken by the Al-Jaafari government which shows a hidden agenda of the Shiite coalition after very secretive and suspicious visits by Al-Jaafari and some prominent Shiite leaders to both Turkey and Iran, both archenemies of Kurdish ambitions for federalism. All these attempt pour in the direction of denying the Kurdistani identity of Kirkuk and forcing an Arab identity and so practically continuing Arabizazion policies of precious regimes, and the Americans and regional countries are complacent.

Many Arab Iraqi politicians are nowadays publicly antagonizing Kurdish demands to include Kirkuk in Kurdistan federal region boundaries and the authorities of Kurdistan regional government and consider such demands as separative intentions as if Iraqi Kurdistan with its current boundaries is a different state and not part of Iraq.

The Iraqi Arabs (Shiites and Sunnis alike) tend to forget or deliberately disregard the facts, that the Iraqi Arabs are all guilty in the crimes of genocide against Iraqi Kurds during the previous Arab governments of Iraq, the genocide of 8000 Barzani men in 1983, the genocide of 182 000 Kurds during Anfall operations of Iraqi army 1987-1988, the genocide of 5 000 innocent civilians with chemical agents in Halabja 1988. The Kurds expect an apology from all Arabs in Iraq and not instead putting hurdles before the just Kurdish demands in the new constitution which are based on undeniable historical and geographic facts and the long suffering of Kurds in Iraq.

The Kurds in Iraq are getting really worried and disappointed about the current state of affairs and the big question is really forcing itself on the Kurds: Is it really worth to participate in such a doomed political process in a country which has never shown any respect for human rights or an Arab nation which in all its 22 states is nowhere near a democracy.

The Kurdish leadership is in a dilemma, on one side they told their people that by participation in building the new Iraq, they will ensure Kurdish rights and on the other side any sensible or intelligent person is seeing that this process is leading nowhere and the confrontation with the new Iraqi regime over Kirkuk and other issue is almost inevitable and that the same tactics adopted by Saddam Hussein during 1970-1975 truce with Iraqi government then, is repeating itself now in an undisguised analogy and that the next Arab military campaigns and genocides are already in planning by the new chauvinistic Islamic rulers of Iraq, this time the Shiites.

It seems that it`s the destiny of Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan to fall so easily to the cunning and false promises of the occupying powers of Kurdistan only to be crushed with brutal force later.

The people of Kurdistan have shown clearly in the referendum which accompanied January 2005 elections that they want an independent Kurdistan (98% voted for an independent Kurdistan and only 2% to remain within Iraq). This is a clear mandate to the Kurdish leadership that they they should pursue secession and not integration in an Arab dominated chauvinistic and repressive state.

The Americans are looking for an exit strategy from Iraq at any price nowadays even if that meant that the Kurdish rights are ignored or that an Islamic state similar to the model of Iran is built in Iraq.

The Kurdish leadership must consider the option of secession seriously and prepare the Kurdish public for the war of independence which is worth fighting anyway , instead of falling again for the treacherous tricks of Iraqi Arabs again.

Dr.Nazhad Khasraw Hawramany

go to this link

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

enough said