Friday, October 13, 2006

Books (C.I.)

C.I. filling in for Kat (on Fridays while she's in Ireland). Warning, don't expect much, my stomach's killing me tonight. I'd thought about writing about the e-coli thing but, the way my stomach hurts, that's the last thing I want to write about.

Okay, I'm just tired. And have been sick in the bathroom so I probably have about thirty minutes before I fade (get sleepy) or throw up again. It's been a long week. I'm not going to be able to pull anything together on my own tonight, so I've dipped into the e-mails from members and I hope it's okay that I'm using those highlights here.

Billie e-mailed this evening to note "CODEPINK's 'Give Peace a Vote' Campaign Gains Momentum" (Feminist Wire Daily):

The women's peace group CODEPINK has received a huge response to its online campaign to create an anti-war voting bloc. Almost 20,000 have signed the group's pledge to vote only for candidates "who publicly call for a speedy withdrawal from Iraq and will keep us from engaging in future unjustified wars."
Among the signatories are Ms. cofounder Gloria Steinem, writers Alice Walker and Maxine Hong Kingston, "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan, and a slew of other celebrities, including Cornell West, Yoko Ono, Cher, Kate Hudson, Susan Sarandon, Willie Nelson, Marisa Tomei, Vanessa Williams, and Samuel L. Jackson.
The goal of the campaign is to bring Congress in line with the public's views on the Iraq war, according to CODEPINK. The group contrasts Congress's consistent pro-war voting record with September 2006 CNN polls showing that 58 percent of Americans oppose the war.

To that, I'll add that, as signatures are gathered, peace (in a visual) covers the White House. The last time I looked, 20% of the photo was covered.

Shirley had wondered about books. She and Martha are working on an entry (that would go up at The Common Ills) on books and they're focusing on the last few years. So, I'll offer ten books prior to the Bully Boy's installation into the Oval Office to avoid stepping on their toes.

I'll focus on non-fiction.

1) No Logo by Naomi Klein. Klein is already an important voice but I really think she's going to be one of the important voices for years to come. Back in 2002, a group of friends were discussing the fact that so many of the brave voices were older. People like Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Gore Vidal, Susan Sontag and others were mentioned. Where, it was wondered, were the emerging voices who would provide something more to future generations. I nominated Naomi Klein. I believed that then and believe it now. I think her "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) demonstrates that. No Logo addresses the corporatization of our lives.

2) Backlash by Susan Faludi. Stiffed was not a bad book, it was a very good book, but Backlash was one of those books that shocks because it's so brilliant. If I had the time, I'd be re-reading it right now. It's ground breaking, it's funny, it's (sadly) still pertinent today. If you haven't read it but are thinking about picking it up, don't let the size of the book intimidate you. You can pick a chapter at random and start reading. I gave this book to a friend (I gave it to a lot of friends) and the pages (I believe it's nearly 500 of text) intimidated her. I knew the area she'd be interested in and suggested she just read that. By the time she'd completed that chapter, she was hooked and reading the whole book. I'd pick it as one of the most important non-fiction books of the 90s.

3) Sisterhood is Powerful, various contributors, edited by Robin Morgan. This week, when I was speaking, a young woman brought this book up. She'd just started reading it and it wasn't a class room recommendation (though it should be in many classes). It's a powerful anthology and, if you've read it some time ago, it's easy to forget how amazing it is. She was very excited by the book. "The Politics of Housework" by Pat Mainardi was an instant classic (and remains a classic) but the student talking about this book was enjoying on the level of history (the book provides a very strong look at the issues effecting the second wave of feminism in the last century) and on the areas that she could relate to today.

4) Silences by Tillie Olsen. I'm always amazed by how few play with the framework. This groundbreaking book did and one of the few I know who is currently willing to up-end what's accepted in terms of narrative and utilization is Maxine Hong Kingston. Olsen's not telling one story, she's telling many stories. It's history, it's literature, it's sociology and so much more.

5) Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions and Lucy Hughes-Hallett. Who are you? If you were the same person you are right now and it was forty or sixty or 100 or more years ago, how would you be seen? I'm not a Cleopatra buff. I have a friend who is and that's how I heard about this book. It looks at Cleopatra and how each period puts a stamp on her. Each period defines her based on their beliefs. The narratives never stop and there's no need for consistancy as her image is made and remade over and over.

6) In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens by Alice Walker. This is a collection of essays/flowers from Alice Walker and the garden in the title isn't just a word tossed out. She's covering a variety of topics. You'll find you own favorite in the book (mine is "Looking for Zora") but you'll enjoy the entire book and either think we're lucky or cheated that one of the best novelists is also one of the best essayists.

7) The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt. To be honest, if I hear about Origins one more time this decade . . . Great book but, maybe it's just me, it seems like a lot of the people name checking that book lately haven't read it. (They appear to have read Crises of the Republic which is essays, interviews, etc.) Not surprising because Origins is a huge book. The Human Condition is one that throws some friends. I actually enjoy it for the symphonic nature she's writing in. I appreciate the arguments she's making in the book but I think, in terms of style, it's her most unique book.

8) Diet for a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe. The book that got America thinking about food, about what food production does and can do to the world, about topics big and small. This is one of Trina's favorite books. If you've read it, you know the instant connection you feel with someone when it turns out that they love the book as well. The second Trina told me how much she loved the book, it was another bond between us. At it's most basic, it will provide you with recipes you can use for a healthier (for you and for the environment) life. But it's not a just a cookbook. It's a book that taught many (including me) to look at the world around us and what we were doing to it from a different perspective. Pioneering book.

Books nine and ten? You know those two books you were thinking of? The ones that are your all time favorites? Those were the two I was about to list. Honest.

Seriously, I'm really fading. On Shirley and Martha's piece, I believe they're preparing it as a year-end piece so, fingers crossed, you'll see it near the end of December. (And thank you to Shirley and Martha and to Ava and Jess who work the e-mail accounts like crazy. On the weekends, I work them by myself -- and generally just stick to the private accounts for members -- and that drives home, each weekend, how much the four of them do. And Shirley and Martha prepare a very detailed summary as well as flagging the things I need to look over. Ava and Jess don't do a list these days since we're all living together.)

Betty's latest went up tonight, "The Queen Bee Gets Stung." That's an FYI, here's Friday's "Iraq snapshot" -- and yes, I must have had my head somewhere else when I typed "Friday, October 13, 2005" -- I'll fix it at the main site at some point:

Friday, October 13, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a coroner finds US forces guilty in the death of a reporter; war resister Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and sentenced yesterday; a British general grabs the headlines with his thoughts on Iraq; southern states in the US are polled on the war; Iraqi police continue to be an issue; and is that friendly person marching in the protest 'cool' or military intelligence?

Starting with
Ricky Clousing who faced a court-martial yesterday and was charged with desertion but pleaded to AWOL. As the AP noted last night, Clousing will be confined for three months and "receive a reduction in rank before getting a bad conduct discharge." April Johnston (Fayetteville Observer) notes that the location Clousing will be defined has yet to be determined and charts the awakening of Clousing faced with realities in Iraq and his own spiritual beliefs which led him to self-check out "for nearly 14 months" before he turned himself in. Laurie Goodstein (New York Times) covers the awakening as well and notes that the military took the case seriously: "Yet the military prosecutors made it clear on Thursday that the stakes were high. Although they did not challenge his motives, they said if one young soldier disilluioned by the reality of war could give up the uniform punishment, what of others?"

Of course the military saw that the stakes were high. Clousing is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that only continues to grow. The US military grasps that. Does independent media?

Goodstein interviews Chuck Fager of the Quaker House who took Clousing's call: "This call was unusual. . . . I don't have these kinds of probing discussions about moral and religious issues very often. . . . I said to him, you're not crazy or a heretic for having difficulty reconciling Jesus' teachings with what's going on in Iraq."

Last Friday, war resister Darrell Anderson was released by the US military and informed that he would face a dishonorable discharge.
Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are war resisters currently awaiting word from the US military.Courage to Resist covers all public war resisters. Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and Corey Glass are among the war resisters who are attempting to be granted asylum by the Canadian government.

War resistance and other efforts to end the war come at a time when the American public has turned against the war and polls have tracked this trend for too long and it's too firm for for it to be shaken.
CounterPunch News Services reports on a new poll from the Institute for Southern Studies and the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina which finds: "56% of Southerners believe the U.S. 'should have stayed out of Iraq'"; "Southerners are skeptical about the goals of the Iraq mission"; and "62% of respondents in the South said they were 'very sad' about the course of the war". CounterPunch reports: "The results signal a shift in Southern attitudes towards Iraq. As recently as July 2005, a Pew Center poll found 53% of Southerners believed using military force against Iraq was 'the right decision,' the highest level of support in the country."

Next week, October 19th, Vietnam war resister
Dave Dellinger will speak about "Resistance to War in a Volunteer Army" at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South in Manhattan from seven pm to nine pm.

As the resistance grows, more voices speak out from all places and all areas.
Richard Norton-Taylor and Tania Branigan (Guardian of London) report on the surprising statements of British General Richard Dannatt who "dropped a political bombshell last night by saying that Britain must withdraw from Iraq 'soon' or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society. In a blistering attack on Tony Blair's foreign policy, Gen Dannatt said the continuing military presence in Iraq was jeopardising British security and interests around the world." The BBC reports: "Tony Blair has said he agrees with "every word" the new head of the British Army said on the Iraq war. But the agreement depends upon a watered-down interpretation of the remarks. Regardless of how the remarks are interpreted, Australia's ABC reports that Chatty Cathy Brendan Nelson, who holds the title of Defence Minister in Australia, doesn't care: "So long as I remain Minister, we are there to see the job through." Of course, should the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco do its job and apportion accountability (don't hold your breath), Nelson might not "remain Minister" for very long.

Last Friday, Nicholas Walshe testified at an inquest in London that he'd seen ITN reporter Terry Lloyd "shot in the head by US troops as he was driven away from a gunfight." Lloyd was killed March 22, 2003 as was Huseein Osman who was acting as interpreter. Fred Nerac, the camera operator, has never been found. CNN reports that Andrew Alker, the coroner, has ruled: "Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming."
Lynn Lloyd, wife of the late Terry Lloyd, is
quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald stating that the US military "allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians travelling." The Pentagon denies any wrongdoing took place. CNN reports that Chelsey Lloyd wants justice in the death of her father and has stated of the US military: "They did not come to this inquist to explain their actions. Let them now do so in our criminal courts where they are guaranteed to get a fair trial." The BBC reports that the killing has been called a war crime by the National Union of Journalists and notes a statement by David Mannion ("editor in chief" ITN): "I have no doubt it was the fact that the vehicle stopped to pick up survivors that prompted the Americans to fire on that vehicle. I would also like to say something that I know Terry would have wished me to say. Independent, unilateral reporting, free from official strictures, is crucial; not simply to us as journalists but to the role we play in a free and democratic society."

Terry Lloyd died in March 2003 -- one of the early fatalities. And the chaos and violence continues.


Reuters reports that a bombing of police station in Hilla resulted in six deaths and 12 wounded. A later Reuters story reports the number wounded dropped to ten -- because two more moved over to the death column for a total of eight dead. CBS and AP note that the bomb was placed "under his [police commander] desk or chair, apparently by someone who evaded security". And the US military announced today that soldier died in Iraq on Thursday from "an improvised explosive device." [The death brought the US military fatality count to 46 for the month and 2759 since the start of the illegal war.]


Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that two girls and six women were shot dead in Suwayrah (while two more were kidnapped), "a father and his two sons" were shot dead by in Baquba while another two people were shot dead elsewhere in Baquba.


CNN reports that, in Dhuluiya, the corpses of 14 people kidnapped on Thursday were discovered "dumped in an orchard". Reuters notes that seven corpses ("riddled with bullets") were discovered in Balad and another two were discovered "near Garma, near Falluja".

As the violence and chaos continue in Iraq,
James Gordon Meek (New York Daily News) reports: "The Bush administration plans to shut down a highly successful Iraqi police academy in Jordan even as security in Iraq worsens, the Daily News has learned. The Jordan International Police Training Center near Amman will stop training Iraqi police recruits this year, having already graduated 40,000 cops from its eight-week course since 2004, U.S. officials confirmed." Meek notes that the Baghdad Police College "has to be rebuilt because of bungled construction." Confused? This follows Griff Witte's September reporting (Washington Post) on the issue of Parsons' "botched construction of a $75 million police academy in Baghdad so badly that human waste dripped from the ceilings" and, therefore, "posed a health risk".

This also follows
the news from last week that the Eighth Brigade of the Second Division of the Iraqi National Police was the primary suspect in a mass kidnapping leading even the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Willie Caldwell IV, to declare:
There was clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely, when in fact they were supposed to be impeding their movment. It was realized that removing them from Baghdad would, in fact, enhance security." The 'answer' then was 'retraining.' Retraining where may be the question to ask today. Of course, as James Hider (Times of London) noted last week, "US forces have been re-training the Iraqi police, but the programme has had little impact". Most recently, reporting on the mass slaying of the employees of the Baghdad TV station, both Kirk Semple and Qais Mizher (New York Times) and Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri (Washington Post) noted that witnesses described the assailants as being clad in police uniforms and driving vehicles bearing the markings of the Iraqi police.

But not to worry.
Gerald Burke (the American "National Security Adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior") tells AFP that the ministry he advises/controls 'budgets' for deaths of police officers and, currently, they're 'budgeting' for the death of 25 Iraqis each day. Sounds like just the thing to stress at the next Jobs Fair.

In peace news,
the ACLU has released some documents. Are you now or have you ever been a peace activist? Chances are you've been spied upon during the illegal war in Iraq. The ACLU finds: "The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database" and quotes attorney Ben Wizner stating: "When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism." Those with longer memories will recall the days of spying on peace activists, feminists, civil rights workers and basically anyone else 'guilty' of 'thought crimes.' (If your memory is short, click here.)

Meanwhile, Bob Watada, father of
Ehren Watada, is nearing the end of the second speaking tour to raise awareness about his son -- Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The upcoming dates include:

Sat 10/14 morning Press Conference San Diego
Contact: Reiko Obata 858-483-6018 email: for San Diego events.

Sat 10/14 6:00 pm Lt. Watada Dinner/Fundraiser San Diego (suggested donation: $15)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, 1036 Solano Drive, Solano Beach

Mon. 10/16 4:30-5:30 pm National Lawyers Guild of San Diego
Room 300, Thomas Jefferson Law School, 2120 San Diego Ave, San Diego

To see the schedule in full, PDF, click
here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and