Monday, December 29, 2008

Neural Circuits

It is said that we the humans react and respond to our proximate environment, and absolutely ignore the power (within) us that influence our ends, do blame the external forces. This intuitive question has made many of us to speak on the issue.

Charles Darwin presented his line of reasoning- the survival of fittest by means of natural selection (biological evolution)-the secular version.

Carl Marx, his wits responded to the (adaptation issues) in a rather melancholic fashion, and blamed the religion to be the force of defilement -"religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress, religion is the sigh of oppressed creatures, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people-the demand to give up the illusion about its condition was the demand to give up a condition that needs illusions".

Seneca perception of the issue -courtesy the German legend 'Dr Faustus', in Christopher Marlowe's-play- the selling of a soul to the devil. Shakes Peare withdrew himself in a scalding sense-as flies to the wanton boys are we to gods; they kill us for their sport (King Lear). GB Shah, in Pygmalion gave an outlet to his pent up emotions by hurling suggestion to the protagonist lady that- "you should find a sentimental hog with a thick pair of lips to kiss you with and thick a pair of boots to kick you with".

And Andrew Brown adapted himself to the misperception (Guardian.co.uk), "the return of the ideology has taken us all by surprise, because no one expected it all to be about religion. Twenty years ago, when the Berlin Wall fell and it seemed reasonable to suppose that all the big questions about how to organize society had been solved by history, if you had asked what could possibly disrupt this progressive consensus? Hardly anyone would have supposed that the answer had any thing to do with God.

There may have been a few prescient pessimists-would you mind naming them, who thought Islam would be an important and dangerous disruption on the forward march to the future-perhaps important and dangerous enough to need quelling with a few brisk, punitive expeditions-but even such pessimists could hardly have imagined the fiasco that what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be, nor 9/11 attacks and the widespread fear and loathing they have produced. Nor could anyone have foreseen the emergence of the religious right as such a dominant force in American politics and its extraordinary takeover of the Republican Party.

The Reaganite model of capitalism is collapsing around the world, liberal democracy is no longer poised to take over the world but worrying about the where and how it might survive, and that the arguments about religion were back as fiercely as ever and almost as popular.

This is extraordinary. Communism would not have fallen in the way it did were it not for the passionate Roman Catholicism of the Poles, and even in the other countries of Eastern Europe there were Christian groupings at the forefront of the revolutions of 1989.

Sure enough, the Catholic Church in Ireland imploded in scandals, and even in Poland lost its influence, the slow growth of liberal Protestantism continued. The simple message of hedonistic liberalism-there is probably no God; there is nothing to worry about; enjoy yourselves-seemed in the West entirely self-evident.

The weirdos who did not know the enjoyment of life was all one could hope for were clearly dying off and religion was no more than a "licensed insanity", in the words of John Bowker, then dean of Trinity College Cambridge.

What changed, what brought us to the contemporary world, where millions of Hindus, Christians, Muslims and atheists understand the existence of infidels and heretics as an existential threat against which almost any degree of violence is something justified?"

The Reaganite model of capitalism was collapsing around the world, liberal democracy was no longer poised to take over the world but worrying about the where and how it might survive, and that the arguments about religion were back as fiercely as ever and almost as popular".

There is a sharp contrast even in all the reflex actions, and a reflection of misperception on the part of people who spoke on the issue, God and for that matter religion has nothing to do with the power politics, we the perpetrators are responsible for the tribulations in the World we reside.
What we lack is the understanding of neural hijacking-instinctive behavior, and the understanding of neural circuit-the procedure of the overlapping of knowledge in human mind, what neural hijacking does is that it takes direct route - apparently the survival route, without taking the sane route of getting the information processed duly by the proper neural circuit in more refined and even manner.

The men of intellect who have been endowed with the wisdom say that- the charity of the intellect is to tolerate the talk of the ignorant, many of us in our childhoods used to believe the false notions owning to our ignorance but such false notions proved wrong, when we reached maturity, there are many aspects that used to be considered as Para psychological are know known as psychological aspects.

In the ever changing world where no final judgment is possible, what actually we, do is that we simply behave impulsively, and often we are unable to withstand the pressure that "Time" poses to our wits. There is a saying in Arabic that- do not curse time, because it is from me (God). The solution-the command of intellect over instinct, we the humans should stop taking selfish route and strive for mutual benefits than strike for the benefit.

Imran Zaka, Faisalabad, Punjab Pakistan,00926636545

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Day in Baghdad Iraq

04:30 I wake up to the sounds of 107 MM rockets landing outside my building in Fob Rustamiyah. 3 hours ago, my scout platoon had just gotten back from an 8 hour mission in the outskirts of Sadr City, Baghdad Iraq. I was so tired, I could give a crap about the rockets landing within feet of our position. We had been there so long and just got extended. Moral was at an all time low. We had already lost a senior Nco and Lieutenant to sniper fire a month prior. The friends we trained with, laughed with, partied and drank with were slowly starting to decease in front of us.

We had to go in the hallways and get down on the ground in attempts to avoid the flying shrap metal that would of been imminent death, or at least horribly injuring. At that point, we had been rocketed so many times that it was normal, we just weren't happy that the Mahdi Army decided to do it while we were trying to get a little bit of sleep. The sound of the rockets landing right outside was a sound I cannot explain to you. It's like the world is coming to an end, everything is shaking and your just picturing the graphic images of one coming through the wall and killing you or your buddy within seconds. After about a half hour of rockets shaking the earth, the alarm going off throughout the Fob and everyone at complete silence, it finally stopped. By that time is was about 05:15 and we had a 4 hour presence patrol to do at 07:00 so there really was no time to go back to sleep if we wanted to be prepared for the mission. So right away, once we got the all clear to go outside, we started to prep the gun trucks.

I was a 240 machine gunner on an up armored Humvee. Every mission my driver would go unlock the truck, start it up, I would come out and mount the gun, turn the radios on and get radio checks. So that was the routine. We then drove to the chow hall to run in quick to get as many drinks as we could. We would go in there and stuff our pockets with Gatorade and these energy drinks called "rip it". Then, a half hour later we all would meet at the gate to get the Op order and roll out. It was always kind of tense rolling out of the gate but again at that point, it was routine and we had already accepted our possible fate, knowing what happened to our buddies in front of us. We get the order from the Lt and Platoon Sergeant, mount the vehicles and prepare for movement. With the 7.62 rounds in the 240, the 5.56 rounds in the Squad Automatic Weapon and my M-4 and the 9mm rounds in my Beretta, I was ready to go. (Still I fought for more firepower up there) So here we go. I bow my head in prayer as we approach the actual gate. I prayed to God, to make it a quick and easy in and out mission, for us all to make it back to the Fob safe and sound with no incidents or injuries. I would pray to my grandmother who I knew was watching over us, pray to the leaders and comrades we lost earlier that year . It's time to go. We load all weapon systems and prepare for another nerve wracking cruise into death city. As we drive through New Baghdad on a road named "Route Predators" you can feel the gloominess in the air. You can see the locals looking at us as if we are occupying their sacred country, looks of hate, looks of violence. Everything is suspect. The piece of garbage on the side of the road, the concrete block in the curb that looks out of place, the roofs of every building we pass and the hands of every person we see. We have been hit here before. Armor piercing Ied's (Explosively formed penetrators) small arms fire.. etc..

At that point in our deployment, we had seen pretty much everything so we know what could happen. We all, at one point or another survived Ied attacks barely. All been in situations where Rpg warheads and 7.62 bullets flew directly over our heads or impacted within feet of us and most of us, to include myself, were there when we lost our senior leader, mentor and friend to sniper fire. We seen the blood, we heard the screams, we fired the bullets and witnessed the chaos so we held it very close to us knowing exactly what could happen. Getting hit with an Ied is something I cannot explain. Its like for that very moment and about 5-10 seconds after, you think your done. You really can't feel anything in your body and you darn sure can't hear anything. A fluster of panic overcomes you but your training soon kicks in and you react as soon as you realize what is going on. Sometimes it was shoot first, check yourself later, but I remember one particular incident where the blast was so big, we were amazed we were still alive and unharmed. I remember driving down a road called "route Plutos" at 01:45 in the morning going 50. All of our lights were off because we had night vision and always rolled completely black. All the sudden, out of absolutely nowhere, I see a flash of light. A flash of light so bright it was almost as if God himself was presenting himself to me. Immediately following the blinding light was an explosion that nearly knocked me unconscious. Its like the devil himself rose from the ground to show himself and the world was coming to an end. The first 5 seconds, again, I thought I was done. When I regained my self, I looked down immediately to see I still had my legs, quickly felt my body for any blood and jumped on the 240 machine gun to attempt to engage the trigger man who set off the bomb. In sequence, we all reported to the truck commander that we were ok. The interpreter "I'm ok man" My driver, still holding on to the cigarette he was smoking "I'm cool yo" The Saw Gunner in the back, "I'm good", me "silence". My "I'm OK" sign was me letting loose on the Gun engaging the enemy threats. As soon as I let the first 10 rounds go, every gunner in my platoon was right there with me trying to carefully pick out the threats and destroy them. My buddy in the back with the 249 Saw even kicked open the door Rambo style and started dumping 5.56 rounds into the canal to our left in hopes of killing or disabling the trigger men from detonating a secondary device. We made it back to the Fob safe and sound that day. My turret glass was bullet proof and was riddled with small steel ball bearings that would of otherwise went directly into my head if it weren't for that glass. The canopy above my head was ripped off and there were shrap metal marks all over the place. My night vision goggles and my eye protection were blown off of my face, my platoon sergeant was complaining of shoulder pain, but we made it back to the Fob safe and sound.

Not everyday did we have encounters with the enemies of the Mahdi Army, but everyday was a chance that we would relive the horrific moments leading up to that day. Every second of every mission was like no other situation in the world. Words cannot describe the feeling you get when you reach that point of accepting your possible fate, death. Knowing exactly in detail what could happen and knowing your family back home will have to live with your loss. I do not know what got the ones who survived through the deployment. What compelled us to not give up, to suck it up and drive on everyday for 15 months. Whatever it was, whatever force was there every step of the way, I give a thousand thanks.

To all who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, you are not alone in your thoughts, experiences, during and after your time in war.

To make light of the situation, I learned a lot about myself out there. I learned that the little things that typical people take for granite, are not things to be taken for granite. That you should appreciate every little thing in your life because in a blink of an eye, a snap of a finger, a pull of the trigger it could all be over. I got to see an entirely different culture and how it operates. I got to learn a different language and communicate effectively with some of the good hearted local nationals of Iraq. I got to work with the Iraqi police on joint missions to gain and maintain security in Baghdad and most of all, I took part in and contributed to what will be documented, studied and remembered forever, The War on Terrorism, a war that never should have started in the first place.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Democracy Is Alive And Well In Northern Iraq

There is a saying among the Kurds: "No friends but the mountains." The reason for this seems to be due to their past misfortunes brought on by ruler after ruler through the years. Even as recently as Saddam's regime, this pattern continued. Yet, instead of being bitter, they are leaders in changing their country for the better. They believe in a Democratic form of government much like we Americans cherish. Today there is opportunity in the Kurdish section of Iraq. They have preserved their culture, language and way of life. Saddam did great harm to the Kurds but he didn't kill their spirit. He hurt them but thankfully they survived. I was fortunate to have lived amongst them for over a year recently. In this wonderful place, known as Kurdistan, the natives live a happy liberated life now. They are building up their area and providing a better life for their citizens.

Tracing their history, a visit to the land of the Kurds is a trip through Biblical history. The prophets: Nahum, Jonah, Habakkuk, and Daniel are all buried within the vast borders of this land. I was fortunate to have visited the burial grounds of Noah, the Lost Village and waterfalls while living there for over a year recently. After centuries, the people fell to the forces of Alexander, and later became traders along the Silk Road. The Mongols would make them prisoners, the Ottomans who would then make them princes. At the end of WW I, the Kurdish people were finally promised independence. Instead, Kurdistan was parceled out among Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. They are neither Arabs, nor Turks, and certainly not Persians. They are majority Sunni Muslims, but are a different nation indeed. Kurds are a different ethnic group because of that background and because of the suffering they have seen.

They have a completely different outlook. They are accustomed to living with people of many different religions and cultures. As in the days of old, you will find in the hearts of the people, ethnic and religious tolerance. They are a beacon of hope for oppressed people in the Mideast. They are not unkind to others like in other parts of Iraq and other neighboring countries. In Kurdistan, you see churches beside mosques. There are Christians, Armenians, Yezidies, Muslims, and Jews. They are all welcomed as neighbors and friends. They have been living together for ages and this shows how understanding the Kurdish people are.

They don't disrespect people with different religious views or different customs. They treat others the way they expect to be treated. If I had the say, I'd let them rule the rest of the country and I know they would ensure peace and justice for all. Knowing how to create a robust economy is just another aspect that would help improve the livelihood of the new nation. They would instill good will to all the people of Iraq, the way God intended.

John Sprague is an American currently working in the mideast. He enjoys writing and working on his websites in his free time. He has a new site at http://marketingkindreds.com. His website has photos of the mideast and marketing articles that you may be interested in viewing.

Iraqi Mental Health Epidemic

In the next 10 to 15 years the American public will see a sharp rise in veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder, to the point of epidemic proportions. You see, never before in the history war have our troops been subjected to such prolonged exposure to combat and life threatening situations.
In World War II our troops were fighting a defined enemy while engaging real objectives with sufficient downtime in between engagements. Most of the troops to see combat were infantry soldiers fighting on a distinct front, not the ones "in the rear with the gear". With a real threat to our sovereignty and way of life soldiers of this era were less affected by the trauma of war.

The significant political interference of the Vietnam War generated little to no tangible objectives for our soldiers solidifying and branding their levels of anxiety and forever troubling their minds. Guerrilla warfare, an inherently cognitively damaging military action compounds the neuropathic damage experienced by our troops in Vietnam. Even with the troops having regular downtime in between engagements the cognitive fractures of these veterans were enhanced by more intense combat and the rejection of our returning soldiers by the American public. Now that being said, I know a guy that did 5 tours in Vietnam which was uncommon, most soldiers did their two years and the ones that survived went home.

The soldiers in the Iraqi war have been sent on multiple deployments with an average of two or three tours of duty with little time in between. While in Iraq, there are no friendly countries or areas to spend leave time to relieve stress. They are on constant alert and most, even non-combat soldiers, see combat or threats on a daily basis. Now combine this with the most intensive warfare possible, guerrilla warfare in an urban environment. We get troops that are overextended and overexposed to life threatening situations within unprecedented levels of combat.

Our troops in Iraq have no respite from danger, further entrenching the effects of PTSD through the hyper levels of neurotransmitters. This information should be the on the forefront of discussion and conversation in the news and in the public arena. This is what is not being said about whats going on with this war.

The reason we don't have 20,000 soldiers dead compared to the Vietnam War 5 years into the war? Our medical knowledge and experience gained from another unpopular and unjust war.

What we do have are veterans that would have died in the Vietnam War or World War II that are going home with their bodies and minds shattered. The amputation rates have risen to twice that of previous wars. What will be the result of such unmitigated multiple traumas that the Iraqi veterans will be facing?

Some of the current thinking have postulated the PTSD rates of this war to be in the range of 30-50%. Come on America WAKE UP! Your freedom is due to the sacrifice of our soldiers lives, both in mortality and the possibility of becoming a meaningful and productive human being.

We tell a soldier or veteran of war "welcome home" because the battle never leaves us, as we return from conflict everyday of our lives. This is my story and struggle with PTSD, it affects every aspect of my life. I want people to know what a combat veteran goes through after the media and people forget.
http://ptsdasoldiersperspective.blogspot.com/
Scott Anthony Lee

Saturday, July 12, 2008

US Lawmakers Probe Electrocutions of US Troops in Iraq

By Deborah Tate

Members of the U.S. Congress are investigating the electrocutions of 12 soldiers in Iraq. Critics say faulty electrical work done by U.S. contractor KBR is to blame for the deaths. Senate Democrats held a hearing on the matter Friday, as VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

Members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee heard emotional testimony from the mothers of two soldiers who were electrocuted in Iraq.

Cheryl Harris lost her 24-year-old son, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, in January, after a jolt of electricity shot through his body and killed him while he took a shower at his base. The water pump had not been properly grounded.

Harris, the mother of three sons serving in Iraq, reacted in disbelief when she was informed of his death. "While I was always prepared to hear that my sons died by way of a firefight or a roadside bomb, I was dumbstruck to hear in the days following my son's death that he was electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters on his army base at the Radwaniyah Palace complex in Baghdad," she said.

Harris said she later learned that the U.S.-funded contractor responsible for maintaining American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, KBR, had inspected the building and found serious electrical problems 11 months before her son was electrocuted.

Larraine McGee lost her 23-year-old son, Sergeant Christopher Everett, in 2005 when he was electrocuted while cleaning a Humvee at his base in central Iraq with a power washer that had not been properly grounded.

She appealed to lawmakers to bring accountability to those responsible. "Anger has now taken over my grief. I plead with you to do something to bring an end to this unnecessary cause of death to our soldiers," she said.

Two former employees of KBR who worked as electricians described a pervasive carelessness and disregard for quality work at the company.

They said the firm did not provide electricians with the tools they needed to do the job properly, and said a number of electricians were inexperienced and unlicensed.

"Most work done in the Green Zone was awarded to subcontractors. The subcontractors employed third-country nationals and national workers who were not familiar or skilled in U.S. quality standards, U.S. safety standards, and installation techniques, or U.S. codes. The KBR employees supervising these contractors often had no electrical experience at all. It was not uncommon for a labor foreman with no electrical experience to supervise Iraqi electrical subcontractors or third country nationals doing electrical work," said

Debbie Crawford, a licensed electrician with KBR.

Crawford says she repeatedly warned her superiors of faulty electrical work - as did Jeffrey Bliss, the other former KBR electrician, but to no avail. "The attitude of the KBR supervisor was usually, and I can quote again, this is a war zone. What are you going to do?"

Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, vowed to seek answers from the Pentagon.

No Republicans took part in the hearing. Representatives of both the Defense Department and KBR were invited to testify, but none attended.

At the Pentagon, a spokesman said the Defense Department considers this to be a very serious issue and has referred it to the Inspector General's office for action.

For its part, KBR has stated that it has found no evidence of a link between the work it has been tasked to perform and the reported electrocutions.

via

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fourth of July Italian Charms

American Flag Star Italian Charm
American Flag Star Italian Charm
American Flag and Statue of Liberty Italian Charm
American Flag and Statue of Liberty Italian Charm
American Flag Black Laser Charm
American Flag Black Laser Charm
USA Flag Ribbon Italian Charm
USA Flag Ribbon Italian Charm
Waving American Flag
Waving American Flag
America Italian Charm
America Italian Charm
American Flag Peace Sign Italian Charm
American Flag Peace Sign Italian Charm
American Flag State
American Flag State
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon
God Bless America Italian Charm
God Bless America Italian Charm
Stars and Stripes Photo Charm
Stars and Stripes Photo Charm
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon
USA Laser Italian Charm

More patriotic Fourth of July Italian Charms and other Italian Charms

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coalition Forces Kill 3 Militants in Northern Iraq

The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have killed three suspected militants and detained 12 others during recent operations targeting al-Qaida in the north of the country.

A military statement says troops killed two militants Saturday during a raid south of Mosul. Elsewhere, Iraqi and coalition forces shot and killed an armed man in Kirkuk during an operation targeting a kidnapping network.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility today for a suicide attack that killed at least 23 people in western Anbar province Thursday. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, posted the claim on a militant Web site.

The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately verified.

But U.S. military officials had earlier blamed al-Qaida for the Anbar attack, in which two local Iraqi officials and three U.S. Marines were also killed. The victims were attending a meeting between local officials and a group of tribesmen opposed to al-Qaida.

U.S. military officials say they are delaying a transfer of security control to Iraqi forces in Anbar, originally due today, because of concerns about an impending sandstorm. A U.S. spokesman says the delay was not caused by Thursday's attack on a municipal office.

Separately, the U.S. military says troops have killed one suspected militant and detained eight others in separate operations across Iraq. One of the men arrested is suspected of involvement in the Anbar attack on Thursday.

Violence in Anbar province has dropped sharply since 2006. That area of western Iraq would become the 10th province to revert to Iraqi security control.

via