Friday, September 29, 2006

Iraq and students (C.I.)

C.I. here, filling in for Kat today. I will try to grab Fridays while she's in Ireland. So the schedule should be, Mondays Betty, Wednesdays or Thursdays Ruth (she'll cover KPFA's Guns and Butter) and I'll try to grab Fridays. Others may grab a day from time to time (or do something here on one of the days already taken).

For those wondering, Kat's reviews that were nearly complete were on Ani DiFranco's Reprieve and David Rovics' Haliburton Board Room Massacre. She thinks her stay in Ireland may be six weeks. If that's the case, she hopes to finish the reviews (and would then dictate them -- she didn't take a computer with her -- over the phone). If it helps her focus on those, that's fine. However, I've told her no one expects her to deal with an impending death and turn out a review.

Tomorrow's the day Darrell Anderson's scheduled to cross the border back into the US (from Canada). Anderson served one tour in Iraq, was injured by a roadside bomb and awarded the Purple Heart. Facing a second deployment, he elected to self-check out of the military and go to Canada in January 2005. For a variety of reasons, including the failure of the Canadian government to grant asylum to war resisters (which they did during Vietnam) and the fact that he has health problems (PST), Anderson's made the decision to return to the United States. Please try to talk about him and raise awareness for him. Anita Anderson has stated she intends to be outside Fort Knox protesting so that her son is not railroaded or forgotten. By raising awareness on Darrell Anderson, you're helping him, you're helping her and you're helping the war resistance.

Today on KPFA's The Morning Show (link in the snapshot below), Medea Benjamin noted that she was often tired (but still out there) and she could understand others who've been protesting the war being tired as well. That's certainly a factor. But it's also true, and Kat's written about this here as she and I have been speaking to students over the summer, that there are people eager to join in but unsure of how to protest?

If you're a veteran of protests, you may have no way to relate to that. It may be such a part of your life that you can't even remember the first steps now. But you've got students today who have grown up in an environment that (a) praised the war and offered little dissent, (b) grasped on some level (often before their parents) that there was a huge gulf between stated intents of the US government and what was going on in Iraq, (c) have a media that fails them. When the center passes for the left (which it does, as Jeff Cohen points out wonderfully in his new book My Misadventures in Corporate Media) there are no narratives of activism. (In fact, on the thankfully cancelled Crossfire, the laughable Paul Begala responded to concerns and protests over obesity caused by fast food, by practically wrapping his body around a bucket of KFC and chowing down.) The center tells you to vote and that's the height of activism for that crowd.

There are many students who are active. They're active on many issues. But those students are often the ones organizing for speakers to come in. More often, the students I speak to are made up of people who want to get involved and, honestly, they usually have ideas, they just need to be told they're ideas are valid. The groups I speak to are usually in a social science group (one that I used to belong to when I was a student) so they're aware but they don't find a great deal of modeling. (I also speak to students in classes taught by friends.) The voices are far less hesitant than back in 2003. What is more likely today, in my experiences, is that they're needing validation. They're not getting that from the media.

Medea Benjamin spoke of how CODEPINK has about 250 chapters across the country now and that's wonderful. But what CODEPINK or other activist organizations can do is limited by money. If you come to Kat's site regularly, it may be hard to grasp that CODEPINK is not known by all. But there are many organizations that, if you've been active against the war, that some may have never heard of. That's true if it's a small college, a big college, a four-year university or a junior college. They can talk candidates and politicians (of the two major parties), but you'd be surprised how often organizations are less well known. (The Nation, last year, started working towards an on campus presence. I haven't read any articles on that in the magazine, but, hopefully, their actions continue.)

So what do we do? Because it is up to us. We have to be the media. We have to raise the issues and provide resources. If there's an organization you support, make sure those around you know about it.

I have a lot of fun talking with students. I don't find them apathetic or lazy. It irritates me when I read one of those op-eds slamming them. I don't know who they're talking about. In my own area, students are very active (they're in an area where activism has a long history and examples are known from years ago, from a few years ago, from last month). But across the country (I've not gone to Alaska, I've been fortunate to visit the other 49 states repeatedly over the last three years), there are students who care.

A story I hear at campus after campus is that in a class (usually Western Civ), they're told they have to follow the news and they're often encouraged to follow a paper. (Wall St. Journal is heavily pushed on campuses. So much so, that I began to wonder if the paper offers a kickback for subscriptions signed up). If they're following (as encouraged) the big paper in their state or Wall St. Journal or the New York Times, they're not getting much coverage of activism. Maybe an op-ed but they're not hearing about activism.

They have wonderful ideas and they really just need those validated because the media doesn't do that for them. If you're a student and you're reading Kat's site, you're probably aware of what's out there. But don't assume everyone's got the same knowledge base you do on activism because that's not the case. This goes beyond students. I focus on students because a friend was scheduled to speak and I agreed to fill in when something came up. It is a lot of fun because I'm not going in with a speech and then walking out the door. They don't need speeches, not prepared ones. They need a conversation and my favorite moments are usually when they're doing all the discussion and I can just listen. I do have speech if it's a more reserved group but it's rare that it doesn't turn into a discussion (I think I've finished a speech once -- I always say, "Stop me if something comes up that you want to ask or you want to talk about).

On a slow month, I'm meeting with six groups. There aren't many slow months. And having gone to campuses for three years, it really does piss me off when I hear someone say that students don't care or that they're lazy. They're not. Nor do they need someone to present them with a plan. They do need someone to listen to them. The media's refused to. It's probably a lot easier just to write a "What's Wrong With Kids Today" column -- those things have been written since the invention of colums, I'm sure.

To apply it to people who don't know students, you need to get the word out in your own circles. Your family and friends need to know what's out there. If it's a magazine or program or organization (or all and more), they need to be aware of it. You need to create the excitement on it because, more often than not, no one else is going to. And I think we're writing about this at The Third Estate Sunday Review this week (or that's planned) so let me stop here.

This was today's "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the British military officers say out-of-Iraq, Medea Benjamin asks are you willing to "Give Peace a Vote"?,
is the US military writing off Al-Anbar Province, and tomorrow war resister Darrell Anderson is set to return to the United States.

Canada's CBC reports that, after eighteen months in Canada, war resister Darrell Anderson is readying for his journey home with his wife, Gail Greer, stating, "He needs to be home. This is not his home." [Note: CBC continues to list his wife as "Gail Green." US news outlets, other Candian outlets and her film credits list her as "Gail Greer." If Gail Greer is not the correct name, we'll note that in a future snapshot.] Darrell Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson elected to self-check out of the US military and, as Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and others during this illegal war, head to Canada. Once there, he applied for legal status but, as with other war resisters, the government did not grant asylum. (This in marked contrast to Canada's actions during the Vietnam era.) Anita Anderson, his mother, tells CBC "there is no front line" in Iraq and that soldiers "are not supposed to be fighting this fight of war." If not arrested Saturday when he returns, Darrell Anderson intends to drive to Fort Knox where he will turn himself in. Information on Darrell Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

Meanwhile, in England, Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reports: "Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan. They believe there is a limit to wath British soldiers can achieve in southern Iraq and that it is time the Iraqis took responsiblity for their own security, defence sources say." The report comes as Bonnie Malkin (Guardian of London) notes that "former foreign secretary Jack Straw has described the situation in Iraq as 'dire,' blaming mistakes made by the US for the escalating crisis." Straw has words of praise for former US Secreatry of State Colin Powell which is only a surprise to those who never noticed their mutual admiration society until today. The report that military officials want British troops out of Iraq (and into Afghanistan) has already led to a denial from Defence Secretary Des Browne who, AFP reports, denied the report on BBC radio.

While the truth battles spin, Mark Malloch Brown, deputy secretary general of the United Nations makes a call of his own. Paul Vallely (Independent of London) reports
Malloch Brown has stated that it was Tony Blair's Iraq policy that "fatally undermined his position as Prime Minister and forced him to step down" and Vallely also quotes an unnamed "UN source" who declares of Blair, "But Iraq has finished him. Mr. Blair seems not to appreciate just how disliked and distrusted he is in other nations."

In the United States, Reuters reports: "The U.S. Congress on Friday moved to block the Bush adminstration from building permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq or controlling the country's oil sector, as it approved $70 billion for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) noted Wednesday when reporting on recent polling of Iraqis, ". . . the Program on Itnerantional Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found . . . 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends to keep permanent military bases in the country." Noting the polling, Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes: "The writing is on the wall -- and on page after page of report after report. All leading to the same inescapable conclusion. Iraq has made us less safe; it's time to bring our troops home." What will it take for that? Not buying into the fear mania, which is a topic Huffington addressed with Andrea Lewis today on KPFA, The Morning Show [and is also the topic of On Becoming Fearless, Huffington's new book]. [Remember that KPFA broadcasts are archived and you can listen to them, free of charge, 24/7.]

The US Congress' decision comes as Robert Burns (AP) reports Army Col. Sean B. Macfarland ("commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division" in Iraq) stated that the resistance in Al-Anbar Province will not be defeated by American forces and will "probably" continue "until after U.S. troops leave the country". Most recent actions in Al-Anbar have revolved around Ramadi which is being carved up into a series of Green Zones (to little effect). [Currently at Alive in Baghdad, there is a video report on a man who was "Falsely Arrested and Abused In Ramadi.]

In the most noted violence in Iraq today, Kadhim Abdel has been shot dead. CNN reports that "the brother-in-law of Judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa, was driving in Ghazaliya on Friday with his son aged 10 and another 10-year-old boy when their car was attacked. Both boys were wounded." The Australian combines AP and Reuters to note: "It was not immediately clear whether they were targeted because they were related to judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, who took over the Saddam trial last week, or if it was another of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad." (That statement is actually all AP.)


AP reports that a police officer died ("and two civilians injured") from a bombing in downtown Baghdad; while two Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in Anah from a roadside bomb (with two more wounded).


AFP reports that two police officers were shot dead in Dura. CNN reports that four people were shot dead in Balad.


AP reports that eight corpses were discovered in Iraq, three were discovered in Baquba and that two corpses "were pulled from the Tigris River in Suwayrah". AFP reports that two corpses were discovered in Kut. (The Times of London ups the Baghdad corpse count to ten.)

In peace news, BuzzFlash declares the Dixie Chicks this weeks Wings of Justice winners for using their voices to speak truth to power. In 2003, the Chicks were savaged by some (and Diane Sawyer attempted a public shaming). They didn't back down and, to quote a song off their new, best selling CD, they're "not ready to make nice." [Click here for Kat's review of the CD.] The Dixie Chicks stood strong and a lot of people stood with them. There's a lesson in that.

CODEPINK is celebrating it's fourth anniversary on Sunday and Andrea Lewis spoke with Medea Benjamin about that today on KPFA's The Morning Show today. Addressing the organization's latest action -- Give Peace a Vote! -- Benjamin noted that: "We have November elections coming up and then we have presidential elections coming up and unfortunately If we don't translate the silent majority voice that's against this war into a voter bloc, we're going to be faced with another opportunity to vote for two major parties giving us war candidates. So Give Peace a Vote!is a way to say, 'I will not vote for anybody that does not call for an end to this war and no more wars of aggression.'"

Speaking with Kris Welch today on KPFA's Living Room, Daniel Ellsberg noted the upcoming World Can't Wait protest (October 5th -- day of mass resistance), his being named as the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the importance of speaking out.

As noted by James Glanz (New York Times) and Gritte Witte (Washington Post) this morning, American contractor Parsons has a 1/14 success rate for their construction projects in Iraq --- actually less than 1 in 14 because, as Witte notes, "The one project reviewed by auditors that was being constructed correctly, a prison, was taken away from Parsons before its completion because of escalating costs." With that in mind, pay attention to Janis Karpinski (writing for The Huffington Post): "Our silence will beget more of the same and worse. We must find courage. We must stand up. One of the ways to do this is by screening and sharing a new documentary I appeared in called Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers -- which calls for a stop to the shameful war profiteering this administration has allowed to occur. We must speak up. We must because we are Americans and we know better than this. We can move beyond the shame only when we stop this from getting worse and participate in making it better."

Finally, next week, Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, hits the road again to raise awareness on his son -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. After an Article 32 hearing in August, Ehren Watada awaits word on what the chain of command will do with the findings (court-martial, discharge him, ignore the findings . . .). Here are Bob Watada's speaking engagements for Monday through Friday of next week:

Mon. 10/2 8:30 am KPFK Sonali Kolhatkur
3729 Cahuenga Bl. West, No. Hollywood
Contact: KPFK 818-985-2711 email:

Tues 10/3 7:00pm ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
1800 Argyle Ave. #400, Los Angeles
Contact: Carlos Alvarez, 323-464-1636, email:
Wed. 10/4 12:00-2:30 pm Angela Oh's Korean American Experience Class
Life Sciences Bldg., RM 4127, UCLA Westwood Campus

Wed. 10/4 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
Contact: So Cal Library 323-759-6063

Thurs 10/5 5:00 pm World Can't Wait March & Rally(March starts at noon at pershing S1)
Bob speaks in front of Federal Bldg 300 N. Los Angeles St. at 5:00 pm.
Contact: Nicole Lee 323-462-4771 email:

Fri. 10/6 7:00 am Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Bl., Los Angeles
Contact: Thalia 626-683-9004 email:

Fri 10/6 12:30 San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center
SFV Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St., Pacoima 91331
Contact: Phil Shigkuni 818-893-1851, cell: 818-357-7488, email

On a non-Iraq note, Lynda pointed out that a link was wrong this morning (and yesterday) so I'll note it here (it's corrected on the main site, but not on the mirror site) from Ms.: Before the new Ms. comes out on October 10, we're doing a last push to get signatures on our "We Had Abortions" petition. With our right to choose in danger, we at Ms. think it's important for us to take a stand now for abortion rights. We'd love to have your help!