Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Guns and Butter (Ruth)

Ruth here filling in for Kat and, yes, she is back in the United States, and she is back home. However, she was dealing with a gravely ill relative, then with a funeral, has been out of the country for about a month, and it is Thanksgiving tomorrow. So she has a great deal on her plate and really needs some time to adjust. That works out well for me because today was the second part of the Guns and Butter interview with John Judge.

It was thirty-three years ago today, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Whenever TV decides to note that day seriously, they show the films and the photos. When I think of it now, and I was alive then, I see it in black & white. I am almost positive that my family had a color TV by then, but such is the power of repetition that I now see those days, in my mind, in black & white.

What was I doing when JFK was killed? I was getting a home perm from my aunt. She had recently divorced and, in those days, it was supposed to be a scandal, at least in my family. I do, however, remember quite a few divorces in the fifties. She had been a homemaker, the word was "house wife" in those days, so now she was "unemployed." Employment, from everyone in my family, was supposed to be her quickly getting remarried.

She was not dating anyone, she had no one she was interested in and, honestly, no desire to get married anytime soon. But that was the attitude, in my family, at least, in those days. She was pretty much expected to spend whole days preparing for dates that she would be matched for, matched by family members. She loathed every man she was fixed up with.

All of my young life, she had brushed my hair, combed it, and, very often, cut it. For that reason, I had suggested that she think about becoming a beautician. That is what we called it in those days. A date so awful had taken place a few days prior.

The man had not made an advance, the 'date' had been a dinner at my grandparents. While he was probably a nice man, he was sixty-years-old which seemed old to her then and old to me then as well. He had proposed during dinner. This was the dinner that they were meeting for the first time. There were cries of "Wonderful!" and more; however, she did not like him. She did not know him. There were her parents and other members of our family attempting to palm her off on a stranger.

So she had decided to throw caution to the wind. She was receiving a small monthly alimony payment and she was going to use that to go to beauty school. She had driven, quite a ways, to my college to tell me that because I was the only one who supported that. As a treat, and probably as a test, she was going to give me a home perm.

We had the radio on in the background and I am sure they were talking about what was happening but we were busy with what my hair was going to look like and what my aunt's life was going to be like. At one point, someone hollered to me that there was a call so I went to the hall, we did not have phones in our rooms, and it was my mother who told me, first, that President Kennedy had been shot and, second, that they were all worried about my aunt.

My mother explained that my aunt had disappeared a few days prior and now, with President Kennedy's death, everyone was sure she would lose it.

I did not tell my mother that my aunt was with me and felt guilty about that. But I was really just focused on the fact that President Kennedy had died. There is this notion that we all, back then, found out in the same instant. That is really not true or was not for me.

My mother watched the CBS soaps and I believe Walter Cronkite broke the news on CBS, so she probably found out fairly quickly. But after I hung up the phone, I stood in the hall for awhile collecting my thoughts and, when someone would pass, I would tell her that President Kennedy had been shot and was dead. I just kept repeating that to anyone who would pass.

I do not remember the looks I got but I know at least one woman who told me afterwards that she thought I had gone nuts. At some point, my aunt came out in the hall to tell me the time was up on whatever chemicals were put on my hair. I told her and we did not say anything for the longest.

Today, with twenty-four hour news, cell phones, text messages, and what have you, we tend to get news quickly and all be on the same page rather quickly. But it was different in those days. At my college, a radio in the room was not uncommon but I do not believe any of us had a TV in our room. The phone was in the hall. If you were looking for news, you knew to tune in for the evening news.

After we were done with my perm and it was dry, my aunt suggested we leave and get a drink. Walking on campus, I could see people starting to learn what had happened. In the bar that we went to, the word was already out. Officially, this was the first bar I had gone to. Unoffiically, it was not. So I knew that bars were places of laughter and loud talking. That was not the case. It was pretty much silence. When someone did speak, they usually spoke in low tones, almost whispers.

I did not see any 'grown men' crying. You read about those stories and I am sure they are true. But what I remember is silence. My aunt had given me a big speech, remember she thought this was the first time that I was visiting a bar, about what to expect. I think she was surprised by the mood as well.

When we returned to campus, I did see students who looked like they had been crying or were about to start and there was also a male professor who had obviously been crying. But I think for some of us, the reaction was more along the lines of being stunned.

Later, the day of the funeral, I do remember open crying. I also remember a group of us seeing a photo, in Life I believe, of John-John, John F. Kennedy Jr., in his little suit, saluting. That led to open crying as well.

I am not trying to portray people back then as more stoic. I am trying to say that the news did not reach everyone at the same time and that, as I remember it, the reaction was just shock. Later, with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Senator Robert Kennedy, there was an point of reference. I remember crying immediately on all three. There was not a moment of disbelief.

When people talk about "The Death of Camelot," I often wonder if that comes across? The feeling of shock and disbelief? I wonder that because generations have grown up with the idea of assassinations. A man attempting to bring peace can be shot down. When that happened to Dr. King, my generation and those older than I was, had a template to build on. Generations that came after had a whole history of templates.

When we learned about Abraham Lincoln in grade school, there would be anger that he was shot down. There would be talk about it on the playground. I remember one girl I played jacks with being very angry. But the event was so far removed from the days we were living in that it seemed a thing of the past. Things like that happened either in the far past or in other countries, not in the United States.

The assassinations of the sixties, one after the other, drove home the point that it does happen here. Those who came of age after the sixties grew up knowing that.

I was not a fan of President Ronald Reagan and, of course, he lived, but I do not remember being stunned that it happened. There had already been attempts on President Gerald Ford before that. John Lennon, whom I was a huge fan of, was assassinated before the attempt on President Reagan. I did cry when I heard the news but I was not stunned. My feelings were more along the lines of, "Of course it happened."

So what did John Judge and Bonnie Faulker discuss during the second part of the interview on KPFA's Guns and Butter today? Believe it or not, the story I shared is not that off topic. They discussed how we can be prepared for things and signaled to things. Was the assassination of President Kennedy a signal? Has it continued to be one?

The topics touched on went beyond President Kennedy to include Nazi Germany, big business, the 2000 election and a great deal more. If you missed the broadcast, you can hear the show at
KPFA's archives or at the Guns and Butter website.

Next week, Guns and Butter will not air. That is true of other programs on KPFA as well, at least on Wednesday, because the day will be highlighting the Pacifica archives. I believe last year, stations highlighted the historic reading of Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace. I did not know what the topic was going to be, or the theme, but I just called C.I. and was told "I believe it is Pete Seeger and the focus on peace." C.I. said emphasize "I believe."

Pete Seeger, for anyone not familiar with him, is a folk singer and activist. Bruce Springsteen recorded a tribute to him recently which Kat reviewed back in May.

One other note, C-Span will have three broadcasts of the KPFA fundraiser, 9-11: An American Empire, that Ms. Faulkner hosted this weekend on Book TV. The first will be on Friday at 4:00 pm EST. The second will be on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. and 10:00 pm, both EST. Check the schedule at C-Span's Book TV.

Now for C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a lesson is learned (hopefully) that stand up comedy is not for everyone; is England planning to withdraw troops from Iraq?; October becomes the deadliest month for Iraqis since the illegal war began;

Starting with news of war resisters within the US military. Yesterday,
Ehren Watada held a press conference, early in the morning. Possibly too early for the independent print publications or possibly it didn't make the New York Times so they had no heads up? Whatever the reason, Alex Massie (UK's Telgraph) did cover it and notes that Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, intends to "fight with with everything I have for my freedom and that of all Americans. I will face imprisonment to stand up for my beliefs" which means "subpoena withnesses - including 'decision-makers' - whose testimony will . . . demonstrate the war's illegality."

Turning to news of another US war resister,
Agustin Aguayo, who had a day in court yesterday, even if he wasn't present for it. Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) reports that while Aguayo is held in "military confinement in Mannheim, Germany," his attorney, Peter Goldberger, told the judges of the US Court of Appeals in D.C. that Aguayo was wrongly denied c.o. status and not supplied a sound reason for the denials: "Enough is enough. This decision by the Army has been baseless and cruel. They've had two previous chances to recognize his status, and they've failed to give a reason for denying it twice."

Turning to news of war resister
Darrell Anderson who self-checked out of the military in January 2005 and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 3, 2006. By the end of the week, he was released from military custody and it was announced he would not be charged. He continues to speak out and will be taking part in events next month.

Courage to Resist:

Military resisters, their families, veterans and concerned community members call for public action Dec. 8-10th!
It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI's who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights. We call for the following:1) Support for War Objectors 2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection 3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's 4) Sanctuary for War Objectors. We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in supportof GI Resistance and GI Rights!

As part of those events, Darrell Anderson will be at the College of Marin on Friday, December 8th to speak at a screening of The Ground Truth. Also speaking will be Anita Anderson (or Anita Dennis to use her married name), Darrell's mother. This is one of a number of events
Courage to Resist and other organizations will be staging.

And we can't note Anderson without noting
Kyle Snyder who shared the same attorney and was supposed to share the same agreement. Synder self-checked out and moved to Canada after serving in Iraq. He returned to the United States last month and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. As Courage to Resist notes, "At the risk of arrest, he is speaking out bravely on behalf of war resisters and active duty GI's." They are asking that you: "Call Ft. Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Commanding General Major General William McCoy, Jr., 573-596-0131 and the Public Affairs Office, 573-563-4013 email: -- Demand that the Army 'Discharge Kyle Snyder with No Punishment'."

Until resistance is covered, the illegal war continues. And the dead and wounded mount on all sides as the war continues.
CNN reports that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq has issued a new figure: 3,709. 3,709 is the figure of Iraqis killed during the month of October. The UNAMI found "that 7,054 civilians were violently killed, with no less than 4,984 in Baghdad alone, most of them as a result of gunshot wounds. Compared to the number of 6,599 killed in July and August reported by HRO [UN Human Rights Office] previously, it is evident that violence continued to claim an increasing number of victims. . . . During the period under review, the report points out that freedom of expression continued to be undermined, minorities continued to be adversely and directly affected, women's conditions continued to deteriorate, the targeting of professionals, such as journalists, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors and other intellectuals, political, tribal and religious leaders, Government officials and members of the security forces continued unabated and that violence is impacting education, preventing many schools and universites from opening. According to the report, the deteriorating situtation in the country, coupled with increasing poverty, has generated unparalleled movements of IDPs [Internally Displaced People] in search of safety within and outside the country. In addition, the document indicates that the total number of detainees in Iraq as of 31 October stood at 29,256 (13,571 of which are in MNF I facilities), noting a decrease from 35,543 at the end of August."

And the violence and chaos continues. Among the reported events today . . .


Reuters notes that bombs continued to explode in Iraq: roadside bombs in Baghdad injured two polie officers,


CBS and AP report on the shooting death of Raad Jaafar Hamadi who worked "for the state-run al-Sabah newspaper in Baghdad . . . The slaying raised to at least 92 the number of journalists who have been killed in Iraq since the war began. Thirty-six other media employees -- including drivers, interpreters and guards -- also have been killed, all of them Iraqi except one Lebanese." Al Jazeera notes that he was shot by four people "travelling in a black BMW". Reuters notes the following gunfire incidents: Ahmed al-Allawi seriously wounded in an attack in Kerbala, a police officer shot dead in Falluja, and three police officers shot dead in Baquba. CNN notes the shooting deaths of two in Muqtadya (five more wounded).


Reuters notes that 14 corpses were discovered in Mosul, three near Ramadi, and the "police Major Basim Hasan al-Hasnawi" was discovered shot to death in Kerbala.

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died of a non-battle injury in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday." Don't expect to read about it indymedia, the soldier probably couldn't have made them a playa so they have no time. Which was followed later by this announcement: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle while they were conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday." The two deaths bring the US troops fatality count to 49 for the month and to 2869 since the start of the illegal war. (If ICCC has not updated those numbers when this goes up, Monday we noted their count of 47 and 2867.)

Is there a change in the air? In England,
This Is London reports: "Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett this afternoon surprised MPs by signalling the countdown to a withdrawal from Iraq. She told the Commons that Basra, where the bulk of the UK's 7,200 personnel are stationed, could be handed over from British military control to Iraqi forces as early as next spring." Basra has been a violent area for British soldiers (and for Iraqis). Earlier this month, on England's Rememberance Sunday, four British troops were killed while on a boat patrol in Basra and three more were wounded. The four killed included Sharron Elliott who was "the second British female servicewoman to die in action." The other three were Jason Hylton, Ben Nowak, and Lee Hopkins. Mortar attacks have been common in Basra and, in August, a British soldier died as a result of wounds received from mortar rounds. In October, a British soldier died in Basra from road traffic. The end of October was also when the British consulate in Basra was evacuated after it was decided it was no longer safe after two months of mortar attacks. (In August, British troops 'evacuated' from their base in Amara due to repeated mortar attacks.)

Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Dhi Qar and Muthanna have already been returned to Iraqi control and that "[m]ost UK troops are stationed in and around Basra". Tran also notes that General Richard Dannatt had earlier stated (and later dickered over the wording) the statement that England should leave Iraq "some time soon." Dekiva Bhat (Times of London) notes that Beckett expressed "confidence" about turning over another province, Maysan, "in January" which would leave Basra as the only area UK troops are currently responsible for patrolling. Bhat notes the opinion of the paper's Diplomatic Editor Richard Beeston: "The most likely forms of a withcrawal, Beeston said, would see British troops leaving Basra but remaining in the Shaiba logistics base, outside the city, where they would have armoured units and helicopters on stand-by should Iraqi forces need reinforcements. He added that it appeared that the US military was thinking in similar tones -- considering the possibility of handing over to Iraqi forces by withdrawing from bases but without completely leaving the country."

In which case, it wouldn't be a withdrawal at all. It would be more like a man who says he's going to pull out and doesn't.

Turning to news of long, public "deaths," some people shouldn't try to do stand up -- both because they aren't funny and because they can't handle hecklers. Yes, we're talking Poppy Bush. On Tuesday, Poppy Bush took his tired act to the United Arab Emirates and it wasn't pretty. Even the sure laugh getter of "
My son is a honest man" didn't turn out the way Poppy would have liked. While Poppy tried to command the stage, it was a female heckler, who stated: "We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world," who got the crowd pumping. AP reports: "Bush appeared stunned as the auidence of young business leaders whooped and whistled in approval." Poppy Bush stated that the Bully Boy "is working hard for peace" a 'funny' that didn't help pull the audience to his side and even the laugh getter of "This is going to work out in Iraq" didn't turn him into Jon Stewart. Attacking the audience, Bully Boy began baiting them with "How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?"

Possibly he was so weakened by that point causing even the hecklers to not notice the significant and obvious drop in attempted enrollments at US campuses? And apparently finally responding to the public fact that his family built their money not just on oil but also by collaborating with the Nazi war machine,
Poppy Bush stated: "To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy." Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell (Guardian of London) reported the following in 2004:

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

Let the record show that Poppy Bush has stated the drive wasn't just about money. Apparently that family also believed in 'causes.'

In news of a draft in the United States, which
US Rep. Charlie Rangel is advocating, Marc Sandalow (San Francisco Chronicle) notes that "Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this morning she does not support bringing back the military draft." Also weighing in against Rangel's proposal are Ron Jacobs (at Op-Ed News) and Mike (Mikey Likes It!).

Lastly, as
Danny Schechter News Dissector reminds today is the anniversary of the assassination of JFK (November 22, 1963). Danny notes Beyond JFK and refers to people to Globalvision for more info. Beyond JFK is a documentary he made while Oliver Stone's JFK was being filmed. He interviews various people who were there (including Robert MacNeil -- formerly of The NewsHour). If you rent or purchase the DVD special edition (two disc) of Oliver Stone's JFK, the documentary is included as a bonus disc. Jess notes a number of e-mails are asking about it.

In addition,on today's
KPFA's Guns and Butter (airs over the airwaves and online at 1:00 pm PST, 3:00 pm Central and 4:00 pm EST) Bonnie Faulkner offers the second half of her interview with John Judge on the topic of the JFK assassination. And Joan Mellen (who is still doing events on her book tour for Farewell to Justice) essay on the topic remains popular with members. (Book tour events include Mandeville, LA on Jan 16th and NYC Jan. 28th).

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