Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
Summertime and the livin ain't easy...
It is early morning and already 37 degrees Celsius (97.6 F). In a few hours the temperature will rise to 43 C (107 F). This is summer as usual in the Kurdish region but this year the power situation and who receives their "current" when, is the burning question in the KRG and in all of Iraq. After three weeks of protest with at least 30 people killed and many more injured, the Minister of Electricity and Power, Mr. Qassem al Fahdawi was fired yesterday.
While this action may bring more scrutiny to the department and shine a light on some of their corrupt practices, the desired outcome (by most people) is for more "juice" so they may can use their refrigerator consistently, have access to (the rationed) running water, connect with wifi, use their appliances and even turn on air conditioning-if they have it at their place of work or homes. Who receives power when, where and how often, is still a matter of repairing and re-wiring infrastructure, maintaining grids in extremes of weather over time, as well as delegating responsible rather than corrupt officials at the local, district, regional and national levels. "Since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has allocated some $40 billion in state funds to rebuild its power network and meet the needs of a 38-million-strong population, official figures show.
But much of that has been siphoned off by politicians and businessmen in a country listed by Transparency International as the world’s 12th-most corrupt." Oman Daily Observer, July 30, 2018.
We receive a few hours of "city power" each 24 hour period -usually late at night-when we can use major appliances such as the washing machine, air conditioner unit and then more hours of "basic power" which runs lights, small fans and the water pump. I need to go outside to manually turn on or flip the switch at the box on the neighborhood pole (see photo on right for my Ankawa fuse box) but considering the condition of these outdoor boxes in extreme weather and the DIY wiring (see photo on the left) I am amazed and grateful it works at all.
Fortunately we do have adequate power at the university and final exams for the summer session just finished. We conducted them in comfort. (see photo below) This was a community class which included high school students, professional people from both Christian and Muslim communities and other university students from the Kurdish community. It was a challenge to incorporate different levels, ages, abilities and ethnicities with few resources; but we managed. Then we celebrated together peacefully which is an achievement in itself especially given the recent events and historical past here.
In the past few years Turkey has escalated their use of hydro warfare. The results of building the Isilu and Karakaya dams have resulted in as much as a 40% drop in water available to Iraq. Even with international pressure, Turkey does not heed the warnings about the negative humanitarian and ecological consequences resulting from their engineering (see links below for more historical background and analysis of these issues). Many suspect it is their intent to "dry out" the Kurdish region, create a weakened, more vulnerable population and use the desperation of the suffering population for some of their more nefarious enterprises as well as for political, social and economic strangleholds. There is also a correlation between the reported rise in organ trade/trafficking in Turkey and their military and social engineering campaigns. (see articles linked below and do more research online about this criminal enterprise).
The current Turkish government leaders do not want to see a separate region and governing body of/and for Kurdish people. Since the rivers end in Iraq, Iraqis pay the heaviest price no matter what their ethnic background or religion.
For those of you who live in places where water is plentiful, clean and readily available remember how fortunate you are. If you live in a place where you have the choice of turning on the tap for hot or cold water you are doubly lucky. Here the water is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I can wash off dust, grit and sweat but the running water doesn't cool me down. Water truly is life and deprivation of water results in ill health and ultimately, death. Death which knows no boundaries, no discrimination.
From near the Nineveh plains, thank you for your support.
Good evening from Ankawa:
It has been a tough week here. What has been a relatively stable part of northern Iraq has now been rocked by three violent incidents this week in government facilities, resulting a few days ago in the death of one Christian man who is part of the larger community where I work. Worse, the perpetrators of these attacks were very young, identified as "high school students" 18, 17 and 16 years old apparently thoroughly brainwashed, influenced, directed by an older "imam" who was arrested a few times but released even after his home and mosque were searched and weapons were confiscated at least twice.
I will include links to news reports if you want to read more details below- but the wider picture here is that the "training" of these acolytes was a success and many report there are numerous "sleeper cells" ready to launch not only in Iraq and neighboring countries but in other parts of the world. The fierce loyalty, devotion and faithful following are mostly young men, although there have been a number of increasing violent incidents with young women and girls as well.
Thousands of children who grew up exposed to violence, deprived of their parental love in most cases, inculcated by fear, abuse and exploitation; praised for taking extreme risks, denigrated for "cowardice" and caution by those they looked up to as models of "men" and mentors: are living in societies in places around the world just waiting for the chance to prove themselves "worthy" of their "call to action" by those who have trained them. Many will go to their deaths believing they have done so for God's sake by whatever name they have learned for a Divine being who guides their fate.
Certainly some of the parents, teachers and religious leaders fervently believe they have brought these children up on "the right path" and that such a death by doing what they were taught to do is a "noble death". Media sources will proselytize these ideas and capitalize on the fascination of their audience for viewing risk, violence and death, especially of the young. Media will swarm like vultures on the carrion of dead youth, of those in the prime of their life with so much possibility and physical health, attractiveness, talent cut down by the ruthless scythe of death...which stops for no nationality, age, gender, religion or status when it comes for it's harvest.
I am not only writing about military, political and religious agendas for youth here. Sponsors for sporting events, adventure and/or explorer feats, space, IT and science experimenters also gleefully participate in these arenas using our youth for the circus of media surrounding novel achievements pushing boundaries.
Of course this is a wonderful feature of being young, that life is open to so many possibilities, that energy is there for risk, adventure and discovery as well as for reward. But guidance and leadership toward these goals, these pursuits, these "missions" still needs to be part of the elders responsibility. Reminders by those older, who have much more life experience, of the ultimate responsibility of each of them (of us) to a higher force for permission to complete these explorations in any realm - is an integral part of healthy human society. Without this accountability youth are led astray, go down wayward and sometimes dark, nefarious paths. Then too soon their unique gifts, capabilities, possibilities are dashed, smashed, crushed and erased by death...often a death they could not have imagined or expected.
Those of us who are in positions of influence as parents, teachers, mentors, models have an additional responsibility to reflect on our own motivations for pushing those in our care, our classes, our employ. Is it our own ambition, greed, lost opportunities that cause us to press our own children, our students, our followers our employees? Are we doing so for them, for a higher, noble purpose....or for monetary gain, for transitory fame or for personal vengeance?
Most media report only the cursory responses to the deeper, important questions of motive. They will spin, distract, distort and disseminate for popularity, for clicks and commercial gain rather than for the TRUTH. There are a few exceptions but these are not in the main stream media. You have to do the searching.
For those who have gone through the portal of death this week, especially those who had not yet reached adulthood, for their grieving families, communities and for those responsible....I ask for your thoughts and prayers. Remembering those who I knew, loved, taught and worked with personally-such as those at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in August 2016, those children kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by violent extremist and criminal networks here - and around the world-and for those who sacrificed their own young lives for those they loved- such as my son Denali did for his father, I will remember and keep them in my heart and prayers. Their lives, brief as they may have been, and their deaths; are our cautionary tales for those left behind and those coming up to their adult years.
Included this week is a poem that I read at my good friend, Lisa Marie Akbari's memorial service in Kabul in 2015, and one which has been recited and sung at many funeral and memorial services throughout the world. Lisa's presence was very strong when I had to choose a non-denominational text for her service in Afghanistan. I believe she sent this as a message for me to continue our work.
I also attach a link to a beautiful rendition of this poem "Do Not Stand by My Grave and Weep" by high school students in New Zealand. I believe my son, Denali would have appreciated the beauty of these singers, of this music and the poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye.
These few days from July 26-28 were the days five years ago in 2013 when Denali suffered and died on K2 in the Karakorum mountains of Pakistan. I felt his fall, his agony and his death vividly in my own body and mind at the time. I can still recall those feelings but I know Denali would not want those he loved to only remember his pain. He would want us all to emerge and move in the life we still have while somewhere his remains and those of his ambitious father lie...buried.
Wishing you and yours peace and safety.
Links to news articles mentioned above:
Greetings from the KRG-Iraq:
No, I'm not in Russia anymore but since Russia, Russians and their government leaders have been in world news for the last week, I thought I would start with a provocative image. Provocative to many who have never visited, let alone lived in Russia but who are willing to condemn Russians and Russia simply because of being saturated with false narratives, slanted news, peer and societal pressure.
Most westerners have never stepped one foot into the largest country (by measurement of landmass) on our planet. That's correct, Russia is first in terms of the percentage of Earth's land surface at 11:%. China and Canada are respectively 2nd and 3rd, while the USA is 4th.
I had a dim view of Russia before my first visit to Moscow while it was still the center of the Soviet Union. Because of some nerve wracking experiences the first time I was in Russia, I had reservations about accepting a position there again- this time in Novosibirsk, Siberia in 2011-2012. My job required me to stop first in Moscow for meetings at the US embassy and Russian ministries. There I revisited "Red Square" in the Fall of 2011, when this photo was taken. I describe my encounters and some of my more memorable experiences in Siberia in my next book, "Getting Off the X-II" which I hope to finish this Fall 2018.
After about 6 months of winter and hard work in Siberia, I changed my mind about Novosibirsk, Russia and my Russian colleagues. While there were some stereotypes which were hard to dismiss, most of my preconceived ideas were dispelled by my actual experiences in Siberian society. I was there during the "reset" time declared by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What a disaster that was. The cool relationship between our two governments turned to ice after that era. Russophobia became a pervasive thought pattern drummed incessantly by all media, especially in the lead up to and the post 2016 election cycle. "All Russian contacts" were suspects. "All Russians are/were spies, untrustworthy, thuggish, brutal, war mongers, etc". These stereotypes are still portrayed in the main stream media in the US and other western countries today.
These images and fear inducing examples hearken back to the very real dangers of the Stalinist World War II times and the Soviet era. However, they are no more true in the 21st century than the images from the 1950's during the civil rights troubles in the South of the USA, are today. Echoes yes, but the majority of laws and/or people's attitudes and actions no longer reflect the soviet way of thinking.
People are often ignorant or overlook the beauty of the arts in Russia. The Russian love and support for poetry, music, dance and sweet melancholy exquisitely expressed by Russian arts including film, is unique. A wonderful contribution to their body of work in the last decade is the film Battalion. This is a 2015 Russian war movie directed by Dmitriy Meshiev presenting a dramatic historical account of the First Battalion of Death, a women-only Russian combat unit that fought in the First World War. Actress Maria Aronova plays the role of real-life heroine Maria Bochkareva. Battalion won four awards out of nine nominations at the Golden Eagle Awards in 2015. You can view it with English subtitles for free online. Go ahead, take a risk and watch it. Well worth viewing.
The ethnic dances in Russia are dynamic and athletic yet not often shown in the west. I am including a link so you can see a rehearsal of one professional men's group for yourself. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-Y7oKPdV70
I had the good fortune to see a number of live performances of ethnic and classical dance and music in Novosibirsk, which boasts the largest opera house in all of Europe.
There is a vast repertoire of Russian music to listen/view online as well as classical and contemporary dance. The most famous contemporary dancers are probably the husband/wife duo of Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova-here is one of their breath taking original duets: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRmCuac-u_0
Contributions from Russian scientists, educators, doctors, linguists, engineers, designers, strategists and theologians are evident in many parts of the world. The possibilities for human potential is best pushed to higher levels with a diversity of thought not uniformity. We could and do learn from each other. Even the way we discipline ourselves is different in our respective countries.
It is important to remember we all have blue blood flowing in our veins and all human beings exist under the same embracing sky "yearning to breathe free." We just approach the path to freedom in divergent ways.
The recent shift in language from our leadership in the USA, from saying "enemy, adversary" (in regard to the Russian leader)....to "competitor".. is huge. In psycho linguistic terms it is a shift for the positive, in my opinion. This doesn't mean we have to be friends with, to like or include Russia in our "circle of trust"; but it does mean we don't have to collectively maintain a national posture of enmity and hostility for Russians and Russia as our "enemy".
Let's hope all sides are able to expand their consciousness, their visions of the future and open their minds- even a little bit more- to include the possibility of peace and recognizing what we have in common with a large part of our human family.
As the graffiti at the bus stop near the apartment building where I used to live in Siberia pointed out: "Evolution" is the future...not just revolution. (see photo above)
Here's hoping from the KRG.
Until next time,
A few days ago I saw an article updating a court case that few outside of New South Wales, Australia have heard about, but which was part of our family life since the night I received a phone call from the Gumbaynggir elder, Ken Walker back in 1991. It was a terrible message from him regarding the murders of 3 "Koori" children, including close relatives. All the families on and off the Bowra, Nambucca and Coffs Missions were affected. The community's heart was ripped open. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth but no justice for these children and their families.
For years the Gumbaynggir community sought a rigorous investigation and some form of justice from the police and courts in Bowraville, NSW... but to no avail. They needed support from the Catholic church there, but it was the same Catholic church that had previously participated in identifying and collaborating with NSW government 'child protection' agencies to steal their children for decades- so no recourse or truth could be found within that institution. The tribal "police" and the elders had to use their own means to "see" what had happened.
As fate would have it, when our family moved back to NSW from New Zealand in 1994, I was working in that community again. I was teaching at the TAFE campus where one of the victim's mother and a few of her extended family were taking courses. One court case was dragging on yet still there was no committed investigation and the accused non-Aboriginal man "got off" on some sort of technicality after a long drawn out court hearing.
Then police who had been on the case were conveniently transferred out of the jurisdiction. More lawyers were brought in and international searches and forensic analysis were ordered for one of the children's body which (to this day) had not been found. Witnesses came forward and over the years 19 have died.
I was working with my partner, Tresna Carriage, in a long term project researching and archiving histories of the "Stolen Generations" policies and the effects on the Gumbaynggir, Dungutti and Bundjalung families in the area. One of the elders, Neviille Buchannon, known affectionately as "Uncle Duck" was doing his own investigation and also searching for information on one of his brothers. He and 5 of his siblings had been captured by the "welfare" and taken away-stolen from their own family home on the 'mission' when they were very young. They had been separated and sent to different farms and factories to work as slaves. Uncle Duck never gave up searching for the rest of his family after he was able to run away and return to Bowraville.
(see photo below with Neviille Buchannan in NSW 1996- photo by Tresna Carriage)
Throughout the next decades the fabric of life was torn in the Gumbaynggir community by these deaths, then the sudden deaths of young men who would have been strong elders and then more deaths of elders like Ken Walker (pictured above with my son Denali) who died about the same time Denali and Marty Schmidt died far away from Australia-in Pakistan. All three passed on over the threshold at the end of July 2013, five years ago.
Both Uncle Ken Walker and Uncle Neviille Buchanan and other elders I know and worked with, often spoke of the "Dreamtime". I was connected to it since I was a child.
Dreamtime does not have the same boundaries of time, location or form as what most people understand as "present, past, future" and "space". IF you know how to listen, Dreamtime can guide you, warn you, advise you through the "old fellas". That's about all I will write about it on the "spiderweb" as Auntie Emily Walker would call the "net". World wide web.
In my day and night dreams I spiral back to a collage of scenes: of my son, uncles and aunties from Gumbaynggir and Dungutti lands, the mts. of Pakistan, and the hills of Tuscany-where I was in July 2013. Italy was where I first heard the news of all three men's deaths.
I also vividly remember the day of our son's birth which was hours after my friend, Tracy, and her husband Paul Knox Sr.'s second son, they named Jerrara, was born. Tracy and I were both giving birth in Macksville hospital on the same day-April 27,1988. They only had about 10 beds in that rural hospital, so we were within speaking distance of one another.
(photo of Tracy, Paul Sr. and Jerrara 1988 NSW)
This memory is mixed with the scenes of Paul Sr.'s funeral when he died so suddenly so young. I traveled from Christchurch to Bowraville with my children to support Tracy, since Ruth Walker had called me and asked for "the whole family to be there."
My memory collage includes the feeling of such happiness at seeing Tracy again last year (2017) with her youngest two children growing up so well and her eldest son Paul Jr. with his own large beautiful family.
Death, birth, memory meshed with dreams and the continuum it creates...is not something to be afraid of. My own grandparents and my Gumbaynggir family taught me that.
Supposedly the next stage of the Bowraville murders court case will be heard and adjudicated next month-if they don't stall it yet again. (see news articles linked)
I reckon all the "old fellas" will be looking down and about on this one..."callin out" to us no matter where we may be on this planet...to pray and dream on and to help for this next stage of the journey and for some 'closure', after more than a quarter of a century. We will never forget. We will be still and listen to the winds as the next verdict is read. Murders- especially murders of children- shout out across time and distance for justice.
Ginagay to all my family over there. May you find justice and peace....very soon.
Where so many families, especially Christian families, have been torn by murder, war, rape, torture, persecution and injustice.
Signing off for now,
FYI- Now I am on twitter (I nick name it "bragger") my handle is: Jo Patti@JoPatti5
(photo of Uncle Ken at my birthday back on Bundilla, NSW with Denali-1996)
Tomorrow is July 4th and celebrations in my home country will begin in earnest tonight, especially in Texas. But I am not "home" to participate. Far away in the Kurdish region of Iraq,-where today the temperature reached 118 degrees Fahrenheit or 47.7 degrees Celsius-is where I will privately cherish the fact that I grew up and still enjoy "freedoms"-especially as a female-that few others have in many parts of the world- including here.
July 4th commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from England in 1776. Officially we separated from the rule and control of the British who had overtaken parts of the north American continent since the 1580s. The 13 colonies declared war with this document and like many emerging countries, our 'freedom' and 'independence' were only achieved by armed struggle, long fighting, death on all sides and finally a signed treaty. Theoretically the United States (formerly colonies) were independent after this "Revolutionary War" from the control, interference and rule of England. However, digging deeper we will find bonds of control with Britain are as strong as ever. Have you ever heard of the Serco system?
"The British Crown and the British East India Company have never left America, and in fact, they have a stranglehold on the U. S. economy. The Bank of England, the City of London, and ultimately the British Monarchy – Queen Elizabeth II, own and control U. S. data management, corporate banking, resources of gas, uranium, gold, and many strategic resources and systems in the United States. For example, did you know that the U. S. Patent Office is controlled by Serco? That’s right, a BRITISH based company controls the creative efforts of American entrepreneurs and creators. Serco was the company awarded the Obamacare data management system that cost America’s over $2 billion." https://aim4truth.org/2018/04/11/tentacles-of-serco-strangle-america/
What about the British interference in USA elections? "According to the Washington Post the British, at the behest of American president George Bush, ran through their own passport files from the period when Clinton was studying at Oxford to see if they could find that he had applied for a British passport in a bid to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.
The Washington Post reported: “The British government was conducting its own 'comprehensive' search through confidential files in London for material on the Democratic presidential candidate, a British government spokesman said."
Or take the case of the psyop created false file they tried to dignify by calling it a "dossier". Who were complicit in the 2016 election interference? Ah,yes...the British:
What about our financial independence?
"Foreigners currently own about 25% of outstanding corporate bonds, 15% of American stocks and 12% of agency securities (a category that includes mortgage-backed debt).
In terms of country of ownership, Japan holds the largest amount of U.S. portfolio assets, followed by China. However, China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury bonds, with about 10% of outstanding debt sitting in accounts controlled by the Chinese government. The three countries rounding out the top five are the Cayman Islands, [UK territory] the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg." https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-much-of-america-do-foreigners-really-own-2016-09-27
What about USA intel systems and US military-surely they are they independent!? Research this on your own but here is just one example:
"Some US $56 billion or 70% of the US $80 billion national intelligence budget of the United States was in 2016 earmarked for the private sector. Functions previously performed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), and other intelligence agencies are now outsourced to private British intelligence corporations. Prominent British intelligence agencies who maintain military and government contracts with America are:
Therefore dear friends, family and fellow citizens: when and if you raise a glass tomorrow to toast our freedoms - the joy of Independence Day-from the UK-think again. What does independence actually mean and are we really independent from Britain in 2018? Or has "rule Britannia" just continued is a more subtle but continuously invasive manner since 1587. Do we wish this to continue?!
HAPPY 4th Of JULY!!!
From Iraq, another country that was formerly under British rule and whose borders were determined by the Sykes-Picot (British/French treaty).....enjoy a "cold one" or two, your bar-be-que and air conditioning wherever you may be.
Until next time,