Saturday, January 28, 2006

Doug Barber.

On Wednesday my newspaper front page was filled with the story of Doug Barber. It starts...

" By his own admission Douglas Barber, a former army reservist, was struggling. For two years since returning from the chaos and violence of Iraq, the 35-year-old had battled with his memories and his demons, the things he had seen and the fear he had experienced. Recently, it seemed he had turned a corner, securing medical help and counselling.

But last week, at his home in south-eastern Alabama, the National Guardsman e-mailed some friends and then changed the message on his answering machine. His new message told callers: "If you're looking for Doug, I'm checking out of this world. I'll see you on the other side." Mr Barber dialled the police, stepped on to the porch with his shotgun and - after a brief stand-off with officers - shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

This fits in with what Osama bin Laden said in his last audiotape message...

"Pentagon figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to mention the massive material losses, the destruction of the soldiers' morale there and the rise in cases of suicide among them. So you can imagine the state of psychological breakdown that afflicts a soldier as he gathers the remains of his colleagues after they stepped on land mines that tore them apart. After this situation the soldier is caught between two hard options. He either refuses to leave his military camp on patrols and is therefore dogged by ruthless punishments enacted by the Vietnam Butcher (U.S. army) or he gets destroyed by the mines. This puts him under psychological pressure, fear and humiliation while his nation is ignorant of that (what is going on). The soldier has no solution except to commit suicide. That is a strong message to you, written by his soul, blood and pain, to save what can be saved from this hell."

The newsgroup Coalition For Free Thought In Media has tributes to Doug from the editor Jay Shaft and his mother and sister. His mother writes ...

"Thu Jan 26, 2006

By Martha Moore (Spc. Douglas A. Barber's Mother)

Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media

I am the Mother of Douglas who took his life on Jan. 16, 2006. All I ask from everyone is to keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks and months to come. As I am preparing to lay my Son to rest I hope that you keep my son's tour of duty in your hearts. Always remember he served his country with Pride and Dedication and to keep
each of us safe from Terrorism.

Also, please in his memory go to your Mother's tell them just how much you love, honor, and care for her. Give her your unconditional love, letting her know that she means the world to you. Be with her, protect and trust in her. Hug and kiss her every chance you can. No matter how old you are let her know that she is the most important person in your life. You only have one Mother! Tomorrow you may never have another chance. I will always love and miss my baby forever.

Martha Moore (Douglas A. Barber's Mother)"

His sister wrote ...

"Sat Jan 21, 2006
By Connie B.- Spc. Doug Barber's Sister

Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media

Hi name is Connie and I am Doug Barber's full blooded sister. I want to say I do love and miss him very much. I just spent over a week with him after our father passed away in December, He was so happy to have me in his life, and he looked and acted like things were getting better. This turn of events this week has shaken up the family.

I believe in everything that he has been doing, but honestly, until now I did not think he was this bad with PTSD. I had not seen him since he left for war until just a couple of weeks ago. I knew he had problems but really thought a lot of it was from problems while growing up.

Doug and I never got to grow up together because I was adopted outside of the family until we were reunited back in late 80's.

Everyone please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as our family prepares to lay him to rest Saturday January 28th. Boy, I miss him already. He was my last brother.

I can not get involved with the political aspect of his PTSD because I am still in the service, but would like to understand more on what his beliefs were, and the involvements that he has been active in.


In an interview with Jay Shaft, the CFTM editor, starts by introducing Doug with

"I would like to introduce America to Specialist Douglas Barber. Doug went to Iraq in April of 2003 and did not come home until January2004. Since he has been home he has lost everything both financially and spiritually. He has lost six jobs, an eleven year marriage and is in extremely dire financial straights. He is balancing on the edge of complete bankruptcy and is in the process of selling a lot of his material possessions just to stay a few steps ahead of the bill collectors."

Stan Goff of Iraq Veterans Against the War writes a tribute to Doug which includes...

"We do know, from Doug's interviews, that the stress of those convoys - each confronting its participants with the possibility that this could be one's last road trip - were hard on Doug. In July 2003, his convoy was hit with an improvised explosive device, and the mortar attacks at Anaconda were so regular that they were almost a weather pattern. But Doug said there was something else that was even harder on him.

When the grunts came in, they would describe how many civilians they'd killed. When Doug was in a traffic jam one day, feeling very vulnerable, and the US units dismounted to clear the traffic jam - angry and afraid and waving weapons at the civilians - a woman in a bus held up her baby for them to see ... like that window-sign we see in cars on American highways, "Baby on Board." Only she wasn't cautioning other drivers to be careful. She was trying to prevent an armed attack that could kill her child. Doug may have decomped from medication, I don't know. That could have contributed to his suicide. It's possible."

There is a blog called Soldiers telling the truth about Iraq that was started by Doug Barber that links to a another blog called Soldier for truth that has a similar URL to Doug's blog but this has been deleted. I do not know why and how big it was or what period of time it covered.

I now add my own thoughts on this tragedy.

Different people cope with life in different ways. Some people have advanced coping mechanisms whilst others struggle from one crisis to another building up mountains of emotional baggage along the way. Doug has faired badly with his emotions and was unable to work through them and move on in his life. I do not think the medication helped, nor did the American attitudes of victim status. I feel sorry that Doug could not get his head around the realities of life in this world. It must be hard for his mother and sister feeling so helpless in preventing his suicide. Doug made the decision to take his own life, it was his call and no one else's. Peoples' mental health varies and stress can take it's toll over time. Stress is a patient killer waiting to strike at the weak, Doug was too weak to guard against the stress involved in the illegal war in Iraq. It is hard for me to be sympathetic to the tragedy when so many civilian lives have been lost since the illegal invasion of Iraq. It almost seems perverse that some justice has come out of this tragedy - a sort of righting of the wrongs of mans' inhumanity to man. Doug was just more cannon fodder for the American government, he served his time and now they do not have to pay any pension as he effectively sacked himself out of this world.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I have been watching Celebrity Big Brother broadcast on Channel 4 at home on my television. The mixture of housemates makes for good entertainment with a good level of banter for the viewer to enjoy. It is the strongest cast they have ever had on Big Brother yet, whether the celebrity series or the general public. The dialogue amongst the housemates is lively and there is never a dull moment for the viewer. These housemates are entertaining the public whilst submitting themselves to scrutiny in a television studio that is quite like a prison. The housemates have no personal space, which I would find a big challenge and are living constantly very close to each other.

What surprises me most at the moment is that of the 7 remaining celebrities in the house - ALL of them smoke. There is hours of television where they all sit around smoking heavily, every one of them a celebrity and a possible role model. The tobacco companies must be jumping with joy at this celebrity endorsement of their deadly, addictive product as tobacco advertising in the UK is illegal on television. The accepted smoking ratio of the adult population is 25% but in the Big Brother house it is 100%. The air in the Big Brother house must be foul, I would not be able to tolerate it myself. I have no gripe with Channel 4 for allowing smoking in the Big Brother house as I doubt if the housemates would consider taking part if they could not continue with their dependency on tobacco. I am just surprised that the take up rate of tobacco is 100% - I thought the habit was dying out with the users. To be stuck in a house with 7 other people smoking like they have been, is my idea of hell on earth.

I think that Pete Burns should win because he has put the most humour into the programme and George Galloway should be runner up for being such a nice bloke. Time will tell to see how the viewers vote but it is a great series to watch from your clean air lounge at home.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Suzuki Grand Vitara the TV advertisement.

I saw this advertisement on television and it is a very good piece of advertising indeed. As a piece of art/film it is very well shot and put together. The aspirations of ownership strongly come across to the viewer. I vote the advert a hit and I offer praise to the agency involved and Suzuki for producing such an excellent video. The quality of the video is far better than the adverts from rival car manufacturers. Here in the Uk we drive on the left hand side of the road so our vehicles are right hand drive. What really spoils this otherwise excellent advert is that the car shown throughout is fitted with left hand drive. This is an advert aimed at the UK audience so surely they could have had 2 cars with one being right hand drive at the original video shoot. They would not have lost any money on it as they would always need to have a right hand drive model as a demonstrator for the press and their dealers.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

On Thursday Al Jazeera broadcast a tape of Osama Bin Laden warning the West of more acts of terrorism. His message ended with the words (when translated by the Associated Press from the Arabic into English) of ...

"Finally, I say that war will go either in our favor or yours. If it is the former, it means your loss and your shame forever, and it is headed in this course. If it is the latter, read history! We are people who do not stand for injustice and we will seek revenge all our lives. The nights and days will not pass without us taking vengeance like on Sept. 11, God permitting. Your minds will be troubled and your lives embittered. As for us, we have nothing to lose. A swimmer in the ocean does not fear the rain. You have occupied our lands, offended our honor and dignity and let out our blood and stolen our money and destroyed our houses and played with our security and we will give you the same treatment.

You have tried to prevent us from leading a dignified life, but you will not be able to prevent us from a dignified death. Failing to carry out jihad, which is called for in our religion, is a sin. The best death to us is under the shadows of swords. Don't let your strength and modern arms fool you. They win a few battles but lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are much better. We were patient in fighting the Soviet Union with simple weapons for 10 years and we bled their economy and now they are nothing.

In that there is a lesson for you."

The message to me is very clear. We have a warning that more terrorist action is coming, they are in no rush. Just look at the history of the Middle East and all will become clear. I think the public should have a referendum on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq. What the West has done in the Middle East is wrong - we would resist the impositions of occupation if another country invaded our country and changed our elected government.

The sooner Bush and Blair realise this - the better, as we are living on borrowed time. We now know that other terrorists attacks will happen on our soil, we just do not know when. The time is ticking away and only the withdrawal of our troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq can guard our future domestic security. I do not believe that Bush and Blair are representative of their electorate, opinion polls explain this quite clearly.

The Middle East should be left to govern itself without the interference of the West. The people's of the Middle East know what is best for their own countries and cultures. They have the ability to form and run their own governments and should be left alone to do that without any help from us. They pose no threat to the West if they are not attacked on their own soil. Please respect their right to their own way of life and destiny.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

We live in a democracy in the UK with the principle of one man, one vote. We elect a national government and local councils that serve the citizens of our country. Measures are passed in local and national government that citizens and businesses abide by. However, Tesco do not want to abide by the laws of planning permission and bully local councils to get their own way. Tesco can if it does not like the restrictions imposed on a planning application simply ignore the conditions and please itself. They have a gun-ho attitude to planning consent and think that they have the money to do whatever the want because our councils dare not challenge them due to the potential legal costs involved. The public should be breaking the armlock that Tesco is holding on our democraticly elected councils.

What Tesco is doing is wrong, it is against the public interest and our democracy. They are bullies and should be resisted by the public. I urge people to vote with their pockets and not shop at Tesco. Tesco should not be above the law because of their size and money. Let us have a level playing field for everybody - not an open season for the big boys.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What right has America got to murder innocent people?

At the weekend America sent a Predator drone and killed 18 civilians in an air strike on the village of Damadola in Pakistan. The CIA wanted to assassinate Zawahiri, the deputy leader of al-Qa'ida but due to their lack of accurate intelligence he was not there. This action is disgraceful, America is not at war with Pakistan and these civilians have been murdered. America has no right to launch attacks in Pakistan and it affects their sovereignty.

America is a murderous bully and yet they wonder why so many people are against them. You cannot interfere in other countries and kill civilians whilst claiming it is the war on terrorism. America should be brought to account for their actions. What if any other country had launched the same attack on American soil - they would call that terrorism. I call this American air strike, state sponsored terrorism, on a nation that cannot defend itself and is still suffering from the aftermath of last year's earthquake.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

There has been a lot in the media this past week about Political Correctness. This issue has grown but does not deserve to be as big as it has become.

Our language is a living language and will change a lot over time. How people write and speak about people and events should only concern the author or speaker. We all communicate with each other and however we label things is a personal thing and should not be censored. If you do not like the descriptors people are using then ignore them, you do not have to speak to them, the choice is yours. Some words and phrases are seasonal and wear out over time as fashions within our language and country change.

I do not agree with people who complain that something is PC when really they just do not like the object that is being described. This can include racists who want to be rude about other people they do not like due to their skin colour or ethnic origin.

If you are going to be rude then stand up and be counted. Do not claim that others are being PC just to advance your opinion. Most people can be polite to others and are not being Politically Correct just simply civil.

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