Friday, August 11, 2006

"One tear I thought that should stop a war"

Rebecca and I are grabbing a moment to blog. It's been a very busy day. And we're going to go pick up Betty and her kids at the airport. She gets in late, everyone else is already present and accounted for. We thought about doing a joint entry (like Cedric and Wally did) but decided, since we're not going to be blogging Saturday, we'd go ahead and do individual entries.

I had very positive feedback to the entries this week although there were some questions of where was Thursday's post? I don't post every day. I think I said everything I needed to in the last post. I've listened to music since. My plan these days is not to turn on KPFA until Dennis and Nora come on with Flashpoints, I hang around for The KPFA Evening News or parts of it.

I've been listening to a lot of great music. It's made me see a number of issues from new angles. I think music can do that. Thursday, I stayed home cleaning. I really wanted to go with C.I. and The Third Estate Sunday Review gang -- minus Ty who is a working man these days -- on all their meetings and organizing but I needed to clean. I only just got back from Ireland and the place was a mess. I needed to do the usual daily cleaning but I really needed to do a great deal more and that included an hour at the kitchen table with bills. C.I. was cracking me up checking to see if I'd opened my bills yet. (I place them in a large bowl by the front door. I take them out of the mail box, walk in the front door, place them in the bowl and avoid them as long as I can. That's if I've got the money to pay or need to juggle. I hate paying the bills. With the phone and the newspaper, I've got that set up on automatic payment.) So C.I. would check in and ask if I'd pulled the bills out of the bowl yet. I kept putting that off. But C.I. would also ask what music I was listening to and say something like, on Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation, "Really listen to track eleven."

Which I did and wow. Jim or Jess one started listening to that nonstop last week so we've all been hearing it. But what the album meant to me years ago it means to me now. I enjoyed it in the years between but there's a new power to it due to current sitatuations.

Sun is scrambled in their eyes
While the moon circles like a vulture
Someone stood at a window and cried
"One tear I thought that should stop a war
But someone is killing me"
And that's the last hour to think anymore

-- "House at Pooneil Corners," written by Paul Katner and Marty Balin

After awhile, and C.I. wrote about this with Ani DiFranco's "Both Hands," when we really love a song, we sing along out of enjoyment and may not really be absorbing it. We know we love it. It's a great song ("Both Hands" is a great song) and if we can find something new it, suddenly it's not just a song we love but a song that's conveying a difference to us and it has a new meaning.

What I'm not being provided in coverage, I'm finding in music. New and forgotten avenues. Marcia e-mailed wondering what I thought the best CD was so far this year? I'm thinking it has to be Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun; however, I'm really excited by Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Fire and by Ani DiFranco's Reprieve. I actually think there were a number of wonderful albums this year and would include Neil Young's Living With War and Etta James' All The Way. But I just read Marci's e-mail this afternoon and haven't had time to really think. I'm sure I'm forgetting something but expect those to be on my list of best of 2006.

Betty's got a list of albums we're going to listen to. Her brother who's really into music made the list and she says Sly Stone, John Lennon, the Mamas and the Papas and some others are on it. Of the names she told me about, it shouldn't be a problem (I have those albums) but if we encounter something I don't have, we'll put out a S.O.S. and be able to find someone with it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Friday, August 11, 2006 with two police officers dead from a roadside bomb in Kirkuk, another police officer shot dead in Mosul and a man on his way to work in Baiji shot dead. In the United States Ricky Clousing says no to war; in a sotto voice US military flacks give statements about the two US soliders who died in Tuesday helicopter crash and while recruiters struggle to meet their lowered targets, some applicants remain unwelcome.
Starting with the last item, the AP reports on Haven Herrin who would like to serve in the military but she is a lesbian and wink-wink-nudge-nudge no gays or lesbians have ever served in the US military. Reading the report which begins and ends with the Clinton era "Don't Ask Don't Tell," news consumers are probably left unaware that an openly gay man has served in the US military.
While some can't get in, others refuse to serve in an illegal war based on lies.
Writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mike Barber broke the news today that Ricky Clousing would turn himself in. Ricky Clousing, 24-years-old, checked himself out of the military after serving in Iraq. Speaking to the AP, Clousing stated, "My experience in Iraq really made me second-guess my ability to perform as a soldier and also forced me to question my beliefs in associating myself". Clousing's announcement comes on day two of the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle (which concludes Sunday the 13th). Clousing questions the legality of the illegal war and "I came to the conlusion that I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom." Barber notes that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division."
Barber broke the news, the AP is all over it. And gold stars for others? They'll have to demonstrate that they're going to cover it. Not, "Look how much I care, today I'll make time for this issue and then next week . . . Back to Israel non-stop!" (or whatever the topic is). Too much isn't being covered.
Clousing is one of many war resisters. This week, Meredith May (San Francisco Chronicle) took a look at some who had decided to do a self-check out and go to Candada -- mentioned were Ryan Johnson, Patrick Hart, Christian Kjar, Brandon Hughey, Darryl Anderson. Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman will learn shortly whether they're appeal will allow them to remain in Canada or not. Other war resisters include Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Kevin Benderman. Katherine Jashinski. Camilo Mejia is generally considered to the the "first Iraqi War Resister." Benderman is attempting to appeal the Court-Martial and has been designated a "Prisoner of Conscience" by Amnesty International. Benderman's case hasn't vanished, just any coverage of it. That's true of Hinzman and Hughey as well. Let's be really honest, that's true of the independent media attention on all things having to do with Iraq. (And remember it was Mike Barber who broke the story.)
Two names more recently in the news are Suzanne Swift and Ehren Watada. Their cases haven't vanished just because, for example, an announced and filmed interview with Swift's grandfather never aired as Iraq fell off the radar. Watada faces an article 32 hearing on August 17th which is next Thursday. Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th. Writing of Watada, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) noted Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq was a "no" and that: "When we say 'no' the war ends.Ehren is saying 'no.' He can make a difference. He is making a difference but it will be a huge difference with quick impact if we show our support." Noting the work of his parents, Courage to Resist and, Cedric wondered where the coverage was?
Attending the conference in Seattle was Cindy Sheehan who is offering Camp Casey III "as a refuge for U.S. troops who desert to resist the war in Iraq." As The State News notes on Bully Boy's low approval numbers, "Clearly, Sheehan is not alone in her position. But while a large population within the United States disapproves of Bush and the war in Iraq, it seems only a small population is doing something about it." Sheehan does her part and then some but it "seems" others aren't because of the lack of media attention. Watada and Swift are 'doing something.' Across the country, across the world, people are engaged in attempting to end this war, day in and day out. It's the media that can make it appear nothing is happening or report what's actually going on. Credit to Barber, AP, May and others in big media who've been covering these issues (especially the press in Hawaii) while others had other things to emphasize (non-stop). Or, as Molly Ivins points out: "The more surprising development is how completely one story drives out another. At other times, the collapse of Iraq would have been news." A collapse that has included, as Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) wrote, "There are no laws that say we have to wear a hijab (yet), but there are men in head-to-toe black and the turbans, the extremists and fanatics who were libearted by the occupation, and at some point, you tire of the defiance. You no longer want to be seen. I feel like the black or white scarf I fling haphazardly on my head as I walk out the door makes me invisible to a certain degree -- it's easier to blend in with the masses shrouded in black. If you're a femal, you don't want the attention -- you don't want it from Iraqi police, you don't want it from the black clad militia man, you don't want it from the American soldier. You don't want to be noticed or seen."
Reuters notes six corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("bound and blindfolded") Of the six, AP notes that they had all ben shot execution style. This was the week that, as the BBC noted, the body count at Baghdad's central morgue for July only had been 1,855. AP noted Dr. Sabah al-Husseini's declaration that "two-thirds of the deaths reported in Baghdad since January were due to violence."
This was the week of the Article 32 hearing to determine whether or not to file rape, murder and arson charges against US soldiers James Baker, Jesse V. Spielman, Bryan L. Howard and Paul Cortez. (Steven D. Green, who is also accused in the incident will stand trial in US federal court because he was discharged before the incident was uncovered. Anthony W. Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident.) The incident? Abeer Qasim Hamza. Presenting his closing argument in the hearing, Captain Alex Pickands stated, "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable." The defense (and the New York Times) offered stress of combat and fatigue. Pickands response? "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."
It was the story that should have gotten intense coverage. Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) has argued Abeer's story is the story of the illegal occupation boiled down to one person. Instead, as Mike (Mikey Likes It!) has pointed out, you had the New York Times offering the defense's argument and Abeer? Silence. She wasn't even named.
This was also the week of yet another poll finding where respondents echoed earlier polls by standing strongly against the illegal war. CNN found that 60% of Americans responding in their poll were against the war -- the highest opposition since the war began in March 2003.
Those were among the Iraq related stories that should have received coverage, discussion and exploration.
Another, in Australia, would be the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad. Belinda Tasker (Herald Sun) reports on Solider 1's testimony which resulted in tears for Shelley Kovco (widow of Jake Kovco) and Judy Kovco (mother of Jake Kovco). While the family of Kovco has every reason to well up when their lost one is spoken, the press has no excuse to go soft and mushy but, apparently, despite repeated testimony to the contrary, the nonsense of the 'buddy system' is back. Soldier 1 tossed off a few words (via video-link) and then used Jake Kovco to argue that they'd reworked the "buddy system" since his death. The press runs with it, failing to note that there witnesses' testimony (as opposed to the statements the military wrote and submitted in their name) that there was no "buddy system" in place. Ian McPhedran (Courier-Mail) offers a less sentimental view as he weighs in on Jake Kovco's death and Australia's involvement with Iraq: "We're being kept in the dark."