Friday, November 03, 2006


To the left is an example of the KPFA ballot for this election cycle. C.I. here, filling in for Kat. We spoke on the phone today. She doesn't think she'll be back in time to vote. So she wants everyone who is a KPFA member and can vote to vote. The ballot has to be received by November 15th. As they note in the rule book, that's recieved, not post marked. Today's November 2nd, you shouldn't wait until the last minute.

Printing up the scan won't count as a ballot. Besides being marked that it's an example, there's also the fact that there's a back to it (with writing on the back). Right now, it's not showing in full to the left. You can see the example in full by clicking here. That's a problem with Blogger/Blogspot. When that happened with The Third Estate Sunday Review, I'm not sure if it ever fixed itself. Okay, this one fixed itself. When that posted, half the illustration was missing. We had no control over that and I have no control over the illustration.

The candidates on the ballot (in the order they are listed) are Vida Samiian, Phoebe Anne Sorgen, Akio Tanaka, Andrea Turner, Jim Weber, Dave Welsh, Aaron Aarons, Howard Beeman, Regina Carey, Ernesto "Tico" Chacin, Bob English, Tina Flores, Sasha Futran, Conn Hallinan, Noelle Hanrahan, Dave Heller, Mark Hernandez, Jane Jackson, Nazreen Kadir, Henry Norr, Erik "Witakae" Oberg, Sarv Randhawa and you can also write-in a candidate.

I won't tell you who to vote for. I didn't know who to vote for. I won't be voting. I'll be using my ballot because I told Kat to figure out who she wants to vote for and I'll mark my ballot accordingly. If she returns in time, I'll make a decision and she'll fill out her ballot with my choice.

Two members can't find their ballots. Contact KPFA and you can a replacement ballot.

Meet the Candidates provides you information in text form (each candidate, in their own words) and you can also listen to the candidates speak, October 29th, by clicking here.

If you let your mail stockpile (I've been on the road speaking out against the war), you're looking for a fairly large envelope (smaller than by 8x10 -- the only size I can look at and tell you the inches of, I'm hideous about estimating size or distance). I'd guess it's ten inches wide and about a third of eight inches long. It's a white envelope with the Pacifica logo and all the official stations listed (KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI, WPFW) on the return address. It says "Ballot Enclosed" on it. There's no postmark so I have no idea when it was sent. Or when it came in. (I sort by personal and non-personal. I usually get to personal mail within seven days of receiving it but the non-personal mail can sit there for weeks.)

In the envelope, you have the ballot, the return envelope (which you must use to send in the ballot for your vote to count), and a guide containing the voting rules and candidate statements.
Hopefully, that will help two community members (TCI) who are looking through their mail trying to find the ballot. If you don't have an oversize envelope, if it's all business size, you don't have the ballot so contact KPFA for a replacement.

At various times each day, they play the candidates speaking so you can get a sense of them from that as well. I believe I always hear these spots at least once during The Morning Show.

I did share this week that I thought I knew who I would be voting for and a number of community members ended up looking through the candidates' statements to see who that was. That wasn't a 'trick' endorsement as one member wondered.

Since it's pretty much known who it was and since Kat thought the point needed to be made here (anyone coming here should know Kat's a huge KPFA listener), I'll talk about that.

Henry Norr was my choice. The fact that he's not now shouldn't be seen as a non-endorsement nor should this be seen as a 'trick' endorsement. (Where I steer attention to him while pretending I'm not voting for him.) (I'm not voting unless Kat returns in time. If that happens, I'll consider my vote then.) We all have biases and mine is print experience. I don't think it's a must and I think there's a slate of candidates that all have strong qualities.

But, the way I was raised, print was 'god.' And I'm sure that's where it comes from. So Norr's tenure at The Chronicle was a strong deciding/influencing factor. I also know him (not a friend, not an enemy). I'm sure that tipped the scale as well. The reasons he was terminated from the paper also made me inclined to favor him. What was done should not have been done. They fired him for his political beliefs and worked a justification to do that. My opinion, and the opinion of quite a few people. (He went to a protest and notified them in case he was arrested. They came up with some post-protest nonsense about personal time being used wrongly.) That wasn't fair and it wasn't right. KPFA has always been very brave in their coverage of Palestine. The fact that Norr would not be someone trying to tell Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows Friedman (to offer one example) that they needed to water it down (which they'd reject but still, they don't need the hassle) did matter to me.

Those are all strong qualities. But then I heard about the statement. Hold on and let me see if it's in the booklet with the ballot. Okay, here it is, something he'd "like to see":

Democracy Now! aired when most people can hear it -- at 7 a.m. and again in the early evening. DN has a proven ability to win people over to progressive politics, so let's play it when the radio audience is largest. The Program Council decided two years ago to make this change, but staff members who didn't like the idea simply stonewalled it. That's not acceptable.

This may be simply a sign of someone wanting to implement an agreed to change.

I disagree so strongly with that. I actually listen to both airings in the morning. I'm not opposed to it being aired in its current slots. I'm usually working out the first time it airs and I'm usually figuring out the day the second. On the second, I'm in and out of rooms and rushing around so I'm half-listening and stopping to hear a section I wanted to hear again or one I missed.

There are some who feel the program shouldn't air twice in the morning and I understand their feelings. I'm just explaining that, the way my schedule works out, the twice airings does work for me.

Some opposed to the current twice daily (Monday through Friday) airings are opposed for a reason I agree with but that I haven't had to deal with because the airings worked out well for me. When there's talk of giving the show morning and evening airtime, that forces me to see their point ("Finally!" yelled one friend whose patience had been tried for years on this issue).
Their point has nothing to do with Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, or the content of the program.
Their point has to do with the fact that KPFA does not produce Democracy Now! (It started as a WBAI program, I believe, and then during the wack-job days of Pacifica, Amy Goodman took control of the show to protect it -- which she has done and good for her.)

I really don't want to go into all of that, the wack-job days, but they probably will flare up again at some point and Kat wants listeners who can remember those days to think about them when voting. That was the main point she wanted me to make here.

"Who determines the content?" was the basic argument. That was both in terms of individual shows (whether the people working on those shows would determine the content) and also where the shows were coming from? Would WBAI be able to decide what it wanted to air, or KPFT or any of the stations or would it come from above?

There were efforts made and explored that angered (rightly) many listners (and many staff). Those included what appeared to be an effort to figure out the value of stations which would seem to suggest (financial vlaue) that they would be sold off. It also appared to include an effort to get more public broadcasting from the CPB board. A listen to NPR will explain to you, just one listen, why Pacifica stations do not need to be dependent upon the CPB.

(Ideally, they should never be. KPFA existed before the CPB ever came into being. For Pacifica stations to be independent, they need listener support. Which is why they do the pledge drives. If you have it to give, not if it's going to take food off the table, and there's a Pacifica station you enjoy listening to, please consider making a donation. You don't have to wait for a pledge drive. You can do it by visiting the website of any of the stations or the affilates.)

There was an attempt/exploration of 'national programming.' Pacifica did have that and did it very well. What concerned listeners during the wack-job days was that higher ups appeared to think they could dictate content and programming. So, for instance, you would have national programming (think NPR's Morning Edition, et al) and that means that, for instance, The KPFA Evening News might be USA Today This Evening. Yes, that was an insult. I didn't care for that idea. I listen to KPFA, by the way, that's why I'm using it as an example. When I'm away from home, I listen to any Pacifica in the area if they have one. I'm not interested in listening on a computer (I've grown to hate being at a computer with all the time I'm already at it these days).
(In the house, I usually have KPFA playing in several rooms as I rush from to room to make sure I'm not missing something.) (And unless a friend calls and says, "You've got to hear this!" I don't listen to anything else most days when I'm home.)

But what interests someone in NYC may not interest someone outside of it. The issues of interest to a community aren't always national. I think the West Coast stations have been at the forefront of covering the displacement of Palestinians, for example. That's never been reduced to one program. I don't think that can be said about all the stations. (I could be wrong.) That was a point Kat made here awhile back (this summer). So that's an issue that might not have been explored as well via national programming. I may have missed a program when I was in the NYC area, but I don't think they cover the environment to the degree that the West Coast stations do. They cover it in terms of "big E" but not in terms of the local issues. It's nothing to hear Andrea Lewis, for example, discussing tide pools. That is something that I've never heard on WBAI. It goes to communities. I'm not insulting WBAI. They have many fine programs. I'm a longtime fan of the work Janet Coleman and David Dozier do. If one program was to be added from WBAI to KPFA, I would quickly recommend Law and Disorder. They have many fine programs. But it serves their community and that's how it should be. (And they may talk local environment issues and I miss it, as a visitor, because it sails past me.)

National programming is of interest but they don't need to become NPR with all these programs created by PRI and shopped out to the stations. If you need another example, think back to one recent national programming special and how the conflict led to one person to excuse themselves from participating after the first day. I don't know that person A was "right" and person B was "wrong." But I do know both knew their own local communities. (And yes, I'm predisposed to side with person A who was from KPFA.) I saw that as an example of how there were two very talented on air people with two very different communities to serve and the conflict couldn't be resolved. That's not uncommon and it doesn't mean one person was the "bad" one, just that the communities served by each station are individual communities.

If you're a new listener, along with Amy Goodman having to take control of her program (and move it out of the WBAI studio), Free Speech Radio News came about because higher ups went wack-job. Kat feels local control is very important and wanted to stress that anyone who votes look into that when reviewing the candidates.

Which brings us back to Democracy Now! I could avoid the issue here because it fit my schedule. But I'm not keen on giving up evening hours to a program that doesn't originate with KPFA. My concern is who is going to give up that hour? Is Flashpoints going to be pulled off the air? Will Apex Express, La Raza Chronicles, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa have to give up time? KPFA doesn't have dead air in the evening. Moving Democracy Now! to an evening time slot means someone loses out.

Now WBAI, where the program originated, doesn't even air it twice a day. Why should KPFA?
This has nothing to do with the quality of the show. It has to do with why is KPFA supposed to turn over two hours a day, five days a week, to one program and it's not even one that KPFA is producing. Democracy Now! is a morning show. By the evening, we have The KPFA Evening News to give us the news. Due to the fact that Democracy Now! is taped at four a.m. PST, the news has changed a great deal by the evening so why would you want to pull an hour each evening to air it for a second time?

Now there are stations that do that and they're usually not generating a great deal of original programming. KPFA has original programming. Currently, it's true that at either six a.m. or nine a.m. (PST, when Democracy Now! airs on KPFA), they could offer original programming for one hour and offer Democracy Now! As I stated before, my schedule makes the airings work out perfect for me so I've avoided the issue.

But if one of the evening shows is going to have to relocate (or be dropped) or give up an hour, then I do have a problem. To use today as an example, a preacher was discussed in the headlines. He was accused, by a male escort, of being gay and doing drugs. He denied both. By this evening, he's already owned up to buying a drug (once -- though he claims never using it).
That headline needs an update if it's airing in the evening. How are KPFA listeners being informed? To me, it would be like reading any of the papers I subscribe to in the evening instead of in the mornign when they're delivered. Now if the only slot for a one time airing was evenings, that might make sense. Or if KPFA couldn't originate locally produced programming.
But if I miss the New York Times in the morning, if I'm flipping through something other than the main section and telling myself I'll come back to it later in the day, I usually don't. It's not that the article isn't worthwile, it's that I, like the day, have moved on.

So I'm very opposed to an evening airing of the show if it's also being aired in the morning. There's not a whole in the schedule to fill and there is the issue of is it still timely? When Bully Boy declared war on Iraq, to offer another example, he did so at night. I'm not sure how KPFA listeners would have benefitted on that March 2003 day hearing about events that were known in the morning while they were listening in the evening.

This isn't an attack on Democracy Now!; but it is noting that there's not a hole in the schedule and as Zach and Kat fear, where does it end? That really is the unofficial national program for Pacifica. If it gets a morning and an evening airing, does that mean that we next consider national programming?

I don't know but I do know that KPFA doesn't have a spare hour in the evening. Not without something having to give.

The statement by Norr refers to a decision made two years ago. In the time since the program has doubled the number of stations it airs on. (It's also available online -- audio, video and text. Not all listeners of KPFA have internet access.) I wonder to what degree there is support for an evening airing today?

It also refers to fundraising success and, as I noted at The Common Ills, the success story this fund raiser was Bonnie Faulkner and the others involved with Guns & Butter. It's also true that if you have two hours each day to fundraise in, five days a week, you should be bringing in more than a show that has less time to fundraise in. It's further true that if The Morning Show would issue their shows on audio, as pledge premiums, they might up their funds. All broadcasts of Democracy Now! are available to purchase at their web site. But, in addition to that, the fundraisers usually feature episodes (often with bonus information). The Morning Show could do that.

If I'm in the house or the car, I'm listening. But when Andrea Lewis and Dennis Bernstein are offering the same premiums and Goodman's got premiums unique to her fundraising hours, you really can't compare the success of fundraising. Near the end of the drive, on a Friday, Kris Welch did a wonderful job (I thought) raising interest in a film her show was about to feature. But the reality was, it had already played on The Morning Show and other programs. It had been promoted as a premium already on other programs. That's not really fair to her, or anyone else that's promoting from the same pool of premiums, to compare the funds raised to Goodman's which, one more time, offer premiums unique to her periods.

(Not everyone who pledges asks for a premium, before someone wants to make that point. It's also true that if you're at the end of the week, people who listen to you have already pledged at another time. We have a community member who wrote in the round-robin about how he'd already pledged but when Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows Friedman did their live broadcast from the World Can't Wait, he went ahead and pledged again because he really appreciated that they were there for that. He noted in his column -- noted her with his permission and Gina and Kirsta's -- that he wished he hadn't pledged earlier so he could have done a bigger pledge to show support for that live coverage. For me, I pledge when I'm able to. That's a decision based on my own schedule, and not based on what's on because I listen to pretty much everything the station airs.)

I think Norr makes some strong statements and has many strong qualities, but I'm not for an evening airing of Democracy Now! because there's no room for it in the evening and I think KPFA will have a huge problem on its hands if it tries to pull a program or cut back on one. People are very decicated to their programs. It's asking for trouble. And the fact that it's been two years and there's been no uprising (a great program on KPFK, to plug another Pacifica) may demonstrate that it's an idea favored in the abstract but not one that people are getting behind in the actuality. I think some of the people currently listening both times are like me (some, not all). Early risers. (I get up earlier now than I would be getting up normally due to trying to get the entries up TCI. That's due to the fact that the original members, they were readers then, from the first weekend, among them Jim, were writing that they were looking forward to reading it 'first thing' on Monday. It's a different time zone. But I didn't know what I was doing when I started -- still don't -- and it seemed like a smart idea. During the week, if the second entry goes up at seven my time, some will e-mail asking why it's late going up and I understand their question but I also think, "Late, it's seven in the morning?")

So for those of us who are early risers and enjoy the program, it's a bonus to hear it twice. But I checked with Ruth, who heard from members who listened to Pacifica all the time when she was making her report a summary of what aired each week on those stations, and her feeling from the e-mails was the same as mine (based on e-mails and on the feelings of friends). If they tried to pull Flashpoints or make it a morning show, there would be a huge problem. The same thing with all the programs airing. They all have a following and putting DN! on in the evening will result in ill will towards the program. (And, if we're being honest, that's already there due to the feelings of many that Iraq disappeared from the show this summer.)

Norr speaks of airing it in the two most popular periods. Wouldn't that mean that many KPFA listeners would have caught it either in the morning or evening? If it aired in the evening, I wouldn't be listening. I've already heard it and the news has moved on. In the morning, for me (others would disagree), it's a bonus to be able to hear it twice. If it moved to the evening, it would just be a repeat and I'd be going somewhere else to be informed.

Now not everyone listens the way Kat and I do, where it's always on. And it might attract listeners. But you also run the risk of running off longterm listeners. TV knows if you can get someone to flip the channel for one hour regularly, you stand a good chance of losing your entire lineup. (That's why cancellations come more and more quickly these days.) The morning shows, on TV, always benefit from a strong prime time line up because where you turn off the TV at night is the station it's on when you turn it on the morning.

If the thinking is that they'll pick up hit-and-run listeners, that may be true. But I'm not sure you want to risk sending the ones who listen for hours on end somewhere else. (That's not a veiled threat about pulled fundraising. I've always contributed to KPFA and imagine I always will.) I'm not sure how you expect to pull in more listeners (new ones or existing ones) by reairing a morning show in the evening?

Noor's thinking may be, again, that this was decided two years ago and it's time to take care of 'old business.' But that statement made my strong vote weaken. He would have been ranked first, were it not for that statement. It's important to vote and if there's someone that speaks to you, please vote.

Kat wants you to consider as well the treatment of Bonnie Faulkner. Faulkner's been ignored and her work's been ridiculed. That's not fair to her. Even the likes of 'Drunk Uncle' (Kat's readers will know who that is) should have been able to appreciate what she does even if they disagreed with. Faulkner was very brave at a time when few were across the media spectrum. She knew covering the topics she covers wouldn't be easy. She knew it wouldn't win universal praise or invitations to appear on other shows. The audience found her because she spoke to them. She didn't put up a barrier on what was acceptable and what wasn't. Think for a moment about who explored Sudan and who just turned a mike over to The Modern Day Carrie Nations and let them issue their talking points while trying to pass it off as an 'informed' discussion.

The listeners responded to and supported Bonnie Faulkner's work. For someone like her, who was established in her field before the program, to show the courage she has wasn't easy and you can take any topic she's covered and measure it against what others have done. Maybe you disagreed with the topic, maybe you felt the guest was dead wrong? Even so, you have to give her credit for being willing to explore topics that others didn't want to. Within the TCI community, there is ovewhelming support for the work she does. That's whether people agree, disagree, or have no opinion. They grasp that she's putting herself out there to expand the dialogue. Every week Gina and Krista do a poll for their round-robin. I find out either the night before the round-robin goes out or when it goes out. I was never as nervous about a poll as when they made it an up or down on Faulkner. I was very pleased to see that she was respected universally by all voting whether they agreed with a guest or guests, agreed with a topic, or not.
She's earned that respect. There are people from outside KPFA who would prefer that her program not air (or if it aired that it explored topics that everyone else explored in the way that everyone else explores). They've made their opinions known since the start of the program. Bonnie Faulkner hasn't pulled punches or attempted to please anyone by watering down her content. That takes courage and it also takes support from within the station.

So Kat wants you to consider very seriously whether or not the person you vote for is going to be supportive or constrictive? Are they going to second-guess Faulkner? Are they going to tell Nora Barrows Friedman, "Go to the occupied territories all you want, but we don't want it aired"?

KPFA led the way with their women's program that mentored many. Is the person going to be supportive of that (which is back on track)? The community KPFA serves is very diverse -- ethnically, racially, sexually, you name it. Is the candidate you're selecting as your top choice going to support that?

These are some of the questions you should be asking when you start ranking your choices. Zach will be writing about the election in next Friday's gina & krista round-robin. Zach will also share his rankings and why. (I have no idea of his rankings. He did ask me if that was fine. I told him it was but for questions, he really needed to check with Gina and Krista because it's their round-robin. I do a column and anything else they want but it's their round-robin.)

If you're thinking, "Oh, I'm not going to vote," looking into the candidates between now and Friday will allow you to figure out where you agree with Zach or disagree with him. In looking at the candidates, you might find out that there's someone you're strongly for (or someones -- it's a good slate of candidates and that includes Norr) and decided that you do want to vote.

There may be a statement that stands out to you (good or bad) and makes you think, "I have to vote because I believe in this person/these people" or "I really don't want this person/people to be in office." (Hopefully, you'll be voting for and not against but whatever gets you voting.)

I don't know of anyone running as a write-in. If someone is and you know of them, e-mail at and note in the topic heading that it's about a KPFA write-in candidate and I'll note it next Friday. (Community members can e-mail to any of the private e-mail addresses but if you're using one of the backups, cc it to one of the two main private addresses to be sure someone sees it.)

It's easy to think an election doesn't matter. The history of KPFA proves that it does. The 2000 and 2004 elections in the US prove that it does. So if you find someone you support or oppose, that's reason to vote. (Or someones you support or oppose.) If you put some time into it and don't find any reason to vote then that's that. I'm not going to e-mail anyone and ask, "Did you vote?" Or "Why not?" But if there is someone or someones that speak to you, find out now and not after the election (or try to find out now). I'll link to this at TCI in the entry with the ballot example but our focus there is Iraq.

The KPFA election is important and I'm glad that members who listen are excited about it. There actually seems to be more excitement over it than the Congressional elections. Maybe that's because media matters? Or because listening creates a special bond? Or because recent history demonstrates how important it is for listeners to make themselves heard?

Last point, I'm looking at the notes I made while I was on the phone with Kat. Kat wanted this noted (I agree with it by the way), that this push to create an evening slot for Democracy Now! comes at a time when KPFA still does not have a program that covers the Iraq war. Not a once a week half-hour program, nothing.

When the Israeli government went into exteme whack-job mode this summer, Iraq fell off the radar. In all media, big and small. Some of the anger at programs (including Democracy Now!) for that would have been less intense or non-existant if KPFA offered a program whose focus was Iraq.

I am not a fan of Nightline, past or present. If Ted Koppel was hosting, we still wouldn't have "Iraq War: Day One Million." He seemed to do that sort of coverage only when a Democrat was in office, but possibly I'm remembering wrong? The reality is that the mainstream media didn't question the war. They cheerleaded it. What we get now for a 'discussion' is generally hair-splitting over strategies. If the war is going to be questioned, the very nature of an illegal war, as opposed to simply "If only, after the illegal war had started, this had been done or that had been done," it's going to have to come from independent media. And Amy Goodman can not be everywhere and do the heavy lifting for everyone.

She's held to a higher standard both for what she can do (her talent) and because very few even bother to cover it. She can be critiqued (postively and negatively) but I see very little in the media, big or small, that grasps the sentiment of the American people on this war. (In fact, there's been more honesty, as a side-bar, in election coverage than in coverage coming from Iraq.) But if there was a program that focused just on Iraq, it would matter less to people if the show missed something. (As it did this summer.) It would matter less that it didn't go to Camp Casey (except to air Mark Wilkerson's press conference) all summer long.

Two years ago, people weren't complaining that the Troops Home Fast didn't get the coverage it deserved (the first attempt was not about the fast) or that the trip to Jordan didn't get covered, or that Camp Casey or Abeer didn't get covered. The landscape has changed. It's also true that Judith Miller hasn't reported on or from Iraq in quite some time. But now I'm getting at something we'll address at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend so I'll stop here.

"Iraq snapshot"
Friday, November 3, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder tells his story to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone mistakes himself for Jackson Pollock, Bully Boy finally wins at a poll but it's doubtful he'll be happy, nearly 60 corpses are discovered in Baghdad, eight US troops have died since Wednesday, John Dimitri Negroponte heads to Iraq for a surprise visit, and the US air force goes on a spending spree because, hey, it's not their money.
On Saturday, US war resister Kyle Snyder returned to the US from Canada where he'd self-checked out to in April 2005. Tuesday, he turned himself in at Fort Knox only to learn that the arrangement between the US military and his attorney, James Fennerty, was being tossed aside. At which point, Kyle Snyder self-checked out again.
Today, he spoke with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez for Democracy Now! detailing his experiences in Iraq and Canada. Synder detailed the promises of recruiters and how they mirrored the empty promises of the agreement the military offered Synder's attorney: "They can verbally promise anything, but once you are in their custody they can do anything they want with you." Between the broken promises of recruitment and return came the assignment to tasks he wasn't trained for. This is the point of the stand Melanie McPherson has taken. McPherson was trained to be a journalist for the military (at Fort Meade, MD) in April 2000 and then, just as her contract was winding down, she gets orders to report to Fort Bliss to ship out to Iraq. She reports on July 23 of this year and discovers she'll be serving in Iraq as a military police officer, something she has not been trained. McPherson tells her own story here (scroll down).
Jim Fennerty was also a guest and he explained that the military wants to send him (Snyder) to Fort Knox (KY) and that he can't get a call returned from Fort Leonard Wood (MO). Fennerty also addressed the issue of another of his clients, Ivan Brobeck. Brobeck is from Virgninia and went o Canada after serving seven months in Iraq. Like Synder, Brobeck arrived in Canada in April 2005. Unlike Snyder, Brobeck is in the Marines. Fennerty spoke of the different processes in the different branches of the US military and that "Ivan will be taken into custody" and "he'll be placed in the brig" at which point he would most likely face a court-martial.
Snyder stated to the following when asked by Goodman what he would say to other soldiers: "To the soldiers that are in Iraq, for the third or fourth time. A lot of them are scared to make decisions about moral and consientious choices, they're told by their commanders that they can't make these decisions Just follow your heart if you feel that you need to be in Iraq and that you're doing the right thing, that's fine and I understand that. But if you feel like you're doing the wrong thing, please speak out. The G.I. resistance is very important in changing the policits of this country right now and I feel that as G.I.s start coming out that's what's going to stop this war. And that's the only thing that's going to stop this war. As far as the soldiers that are in Canada right now, I love every single one of you, just know that whatever happens here, just keep that in mind, and I'll be keeping in contact with them."
On those still in Canada, Brett Barrouqere (AP) spoke with US war resisters Corey Glass and Patrick Hart who are currently in Canada. Glass is now reconsidering his own decision to return from Canada and both Glass and Hart consider the war to be based on lies. Glass states, "After what they did to him [Kyle Snyder], I don't see anybody going back." Hart says, "I could see going back under some kind of amnesty program or something like that. But I don't trust them."
More information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. In addition Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. On the latter, Courage to Resist is asking supporters to call 502-624-2707 to speak to Major General Robert M. Williams and tell him "Discharge Kyle Snyder!"
In other news of deployment status, Jamie McIntrye (CNN) reports that Santos Cardona will be sent to Kuwait and not Iraq, the Army has decided, due to the fact that Cardona was the "U.S. Army dog handler who was convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison". As to how he's been allowed to remain in the service? In June, Santos was "sentenced . . . to 90 days hard labor and a reduction in rank . . . found guilty of derelecition of duty and aggravated assault" (AP). The prosecution had recommended a discharge for bad conduct but apparently the actions fit into someone's understanding of 'service' and Cardona has managed to remain in the military instead of being drummed out of the service. On a similar note, AP reports that Steven D. Green has been indicted in a civilian court (he was discharged from the military before the allegations were public) in Kentucky for the "premeditated murder in the death of Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi, her father, mother and 6-year-old sister in the central Iraqi town of Al-Mahmudiyah. Green is accused of raping the teen and then killing her after rounding up and killing her family with the help of other soldiers in his unit."
And in Iraq today.
CNN reports that mortar rounds in Baghdad claimed the lives of three and left six wounded. Reuters notes four police officers dead in Madaen from a roadside bomb, two young males dead from a landmine in Kut, and three people dead from a roadside bomb in Baghdad. (CBS and AP note: "Police Lt. Thaer Mahoud said the death toll in the rush hour bombing of a crowded market in Baghdad's Sadr City district Thursday had risen to 11 on Friday, with 51 reported wounded." Yesterday, the known dead from that bombing was seven.)
Reuters notes that "Resan al-Sayab, a local singer" was shot dead in Baghdad, while, in Kirkuk, a preacher (Sunni) and a gas station worker were shot dead (the preacher Thursday night), the shooting death of "a bodyguard of Shiite cleric Sadiq al-Hakim" near Najaf, and a cab driver shot dead in Baghdad.
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that 56 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpse of Abdul Majeed Ismael Khalil, freelance journalist, was discovered in Baghdad in addition to the 56 other corpses and that a severed head was found as well.
Today the US military announced "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Nov. 2 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province," "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died from injuries sustained due to enemy action Thursday while operating in Al Anbar Province," "Three Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers died at approximately 2:15 p.m. Thursday when the vehicle they were riding in was strcuk by an improvised-explosive device in eastern Baghdad." That makes eight reported deaths for US troops since Wednesday. Iraq Coalition Casualties currently lists the toll for the month thus far as 11 dead (and 2829 dead since the start of the illegal war) which would indicate more announcements will be made later today or tomorrow. All as Italian troops prepare to leave Iraq and the so-called coalition continues to suffer from shrinkage.
Activst, author and Vietnam vet Ron Kovic (Truthdig) reflects on the wounded US troops in Iraq, noting that he was paralyzed January 20, 2968 while serving in Veitnam, and describes the moments after: "They are being put on a helicopter, with the wounded all around them. They try to stay calm. Some are amazed that they are still alive. You just have to keep trying to stay awake, make it to the next stage, keep moving toward the rear, toward another aid station, a corpsman, a doctor a nurse someone who can help you, someone who will operate and keep you alive so you can make it home, home to your backyard and your neighbors and your mother and father. To where it all began, to where it was once peaceful and safe. They just try to keep breathing because they have got to get back. . . . They are alone in their rooms all over this country, right now. Just as I was alone in my room in Massapequa. I know they're there -- just as I was. This is the part you never see. The part that is never reported in the news. The part that the president and vice president never mention. This is the agonizing part, the lonely part, when you have to awake to the wound each morning and suddenly realize what you've lost, what is gone forever. They're out there and they have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives and children. And they're not saying much right now. Just like me they're just trying to get through each day."
As for the man responsible for so many US troops wounded and dead, for so many Iraqis wounded and dead, the polls haven't been very kind to him of late. However,
the Guardian of London is reporting that Bully Boy is 'Top of the Pops' in a new poll [ICM polled Isreal, Canada, Mexico and England for the poll]. Before Laura breaks out the good china and heats up the Frito Pie, the survey found that 69 percent of British respondents "believerd US policy had made the world less safe since 2001"; that 71 percent of British respondents felt the illegal war "was unustified, a view shared by 89% of Mexicans and 73% of Canadians"; and it "ranked President Bush with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety."
Anxiety was in the air as John Negroponte made a surprise visit to the heavily fortified Green Zone area of Baghdad. What exactly was the Director of National Intelligence doing in Iraq? Advising the death squads? Paying them off? He was a long way from Honduras or Nicaragua. John O'Neil (New York Times) reports that Negroponte had no public statements (proving he's smarter than the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone). Al Jazeera reminds that Negroponte "had served as the American ambassador to Iraq before the current envoy Zalmay Khalilzad." For those who've forgotten, it was his security detail that fired at the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena who had just been freed from her kidnappers. Nicola Calipari was in the car and killed. Sgrena sustained serious injuries. As AFP notes, the trip followed Stephen Hadley's (National Security Advisor for the Bully Boy administration) trip by three days and followed the video conference held last Saturday.
Staying in the Green Zone for news of the Giddiest Gabor, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, Willie Caldwell made a surprising remark yesterday. Apparently inspired by the 140 million dollars a painting by Jackson Pollock fetched the other day, Little Willie decided to jazz it up a bit. Briefing the press yesterday, the Giddiest Gabor began with a presentation including slides ("Slide please"). The presentation included the following prepared remarks (note, this was not in response to a question, this was part of the presentation): "A transition is not always a pleasant thing to watch as it happens. But when common goals are achieved, speed bumps and differecnes of opinion along the way are soon forgotten. Every great work of art goes through messy phases while it is in transition. A lump of clay can become a sculpture; blobs of paint become paintings which inspire." As most know, there's no scarier stage than when a starlet fancies herself an artist.
Meanwhile, after requesting what Reuters called "a staggering 50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007," the US air force quickly handed out contracts. Lockheed Martin got 30 million, DRS got $6.3 million, L-3 got $42 million and Boeing got a whopping $229.8 million. The whisper-it-to-the-press-but-don't-attribute 'reason' for the request in emergency funding is that, otherwise, wounded and dead US troops might not make it home. The shopping spree calls that 'reasoning' into question.
In more money being burned news, Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) report that the Pentagon is created a new office which will include the "rapid response unit" that they hope and pray will make all the reality vanish the way those waves of Operation Happy Talk used to. Remember the discolored fingers? Remember the any-day-now turned corner? Even most of the press sees new attempts at waves as a wipe out so the Pentagon intendes to dispense with the messenger and lie directly to the people.
Until then, some reality news still comes out. James Glanz (New York Times) reports that Stuart W. Bowen Jr. will be outed from his post as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction next October as a result of Congressional legislation that no one in Congress appears able to explain or even able to figure out when that section entered the bill.
In election news, Carol Britton Meyer (TownOnline) reports that, in Massachusetts, Mary Sochacki, Shirley Brown, Katharine Sangree, and Chartis Tebbetts were among those members of the South Shore Peace Forum gathering signatures to put a resolution on next Tuesday's ballot "calling for an immediate end of the war in Iraq".
In other peace news, US war resister Mark Wilkerson reflects on his time in Iraq and notes: "Before I deployed to Iraq during OIF1, I was full of optimism for what we could do to help the people of Iraq. One of our missions, after all, was to 'win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.' And in that regard, we have failed miserably. In the year I was in Iraq, I saw kids waving American flags in the first month. Then they threw rocks. Then they planted IEDs. Then they blew themselves and others up in city squares full of people. The only conlcusion I can come up with as to why this happened is the way the American troops have treated the Iraqi people as a whole. From random raids of whole city blocks, to checkpoints that interrupted the daily lives of the Iraqis, to incidents of torture and even massacres, a majority of Iraqis now feel as though the American soldiers, once hailed as heroes and saviors, are now seen as conquerors." Wilkerson still awaits news on what the army intends to do now that he's returned from his self-check out.
Wilkerson isn't the only war resister who has said no to war and still awaits a decision/ruling. Keeping the issue front and center, Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 3, TBA St. Paul MN. Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand AvenueSponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM Milwaukee, WI. Location: Great Lakes Arlington EventContact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991, bethmark@execpc.comSponsor: VFP Chapter 102 * See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"
Nov. 5, 2PM Boston, MA Encuentro 5 33 Harrison Ave. 5th floor (Chinatown)Sponsors: Asian American Movement Ezine Asian American Resource Workshop Boston Hawaiian Club Chinese Progressive AssociationMassachusetts Global Action New England Japanese American Citizens League
Nov 5, 7PM Cambridge, MA. Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard SquareSponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter Contact: Lee VanderLaan, 978-257-2350
Nov 6, 2-4:30PM Boston, MA Location: University of Massachusetts/BostonSponsor: The Institute for Asian American Studies William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence Time: 2-4:30 pm
Nov 6, 7PM Worcester, MA. Location: Clark University University Building, Lurie Room Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10 Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,

Nov 7, 4:30PM Portland, ME Location: Meditation Center Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 1 Contact: Doug Rawlings, 207-293-2580,,
Nov. 7, 6-9PM Brunswick, ME Location: Morrill Room, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street Pot luck supper and speaking engagement Time: 6 - 7:30pm
Nov 8, 7PM Albany, NY Sponsor: VFP National Location: TBAContact: Elliot Adams, 518-441-2697,

A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ruth finally filling in

Ruth here, filling in for Kat. I am not sure what to talk about tonight. Katrina vanden Heuvel has written a post entitled "The Soldiers Speak Out" at her Editor's Cut blog at The Nation. My granddaughter Tracey asked me to note that. Ms. vanden Heuvel is a voice that speaks to my granddaughter and one of her personal heroes. When I was my granddaughter's age, times were much different and we did not have a woman running a magazine or, if we did, it was something like Cosmopolitan. Carey McWilliams was the editor when I was my granddaughter's age. However, he had been preceeded by Freda Kirchwey who was the first woman to be editor of the magazine and of any news weekly.

I grew up in a Jewish, left family and Ms. Kirchwey was someone spoken of often, favorably, so I knew of her but by the time I was picking up The Nation, she was no longer editor. There was a feeling in my family that she left due to being too strong. I have no idea how true that was but it was firmly believed in my family. Israel and McCarthyism were two strong positions she had for which it was felt she was punished. Very few people were ever spoken as postively as Ms. Kirchwey. She was considered to be someone who cared about all and was not afraid to speak strongly. I am not attempting to take anything away from Mr. McWilliams but it was felt, in my family, that he was elevated to 'mainstream' the magazine.

That said, Mr. McWilliams did demonstrate strong interest in the movements of the sixties. The New Left was emerging from the civil rights movement, the student movement, the women's liberation movement and the soon to be emerging gay rights movement.

KPFA's Guns and Butter, last Wednesday and today, has featured David Ewing as a guest. Mr. Ewing is an author and a co-chair of the U.S. China Peoples Friendship Association. Bonnie Faulkner and Mr. Ewing have been discussing the revolution in China and how Chairman Mao Zedong's China began leaning to the right in Chairman Mao's final years. It was a very interesting exchange and I believe today focused more on questions from listeners. "I believe" because C.I. phoned shortly before the program started.

I did have the e-mail that every community member received but I generally am only online before Elijah, my grandson, is dropped off in the morning and after he leaves in the evening. I was honestly shocked.

I was not shocked at the phone call. I was surprised by that and did not think, which I shared, that C.I. needed to check with anyone before noting John Kerry's craven behavior. I did understand where the question was coming from because, for it to be addressed properly, it would require more than, "John Kerry backed down."

I do not know if I understood that it would be what it was. I actually think that I did not understand that because I remember reading it and stopping to go back and make sure I understood it. I think it is wonderful.

But when I was on the phone with C.I., I was wondering how I missed that news today about John Kerry, a mere day after stating publicly that he would not back down, repeatedly apologizing today? That shocked me and C.I. said, "Hold on, Ruth, I'll pull something up and read it to you."

Which is so silly and so C.I. I did not doubt that I was getting a blow-by-blow or that it was accurate. So after I stopped that, I told C.I. that there was no permission needed from me and that I believed most members would be of that opinion. I did wonder, after, who John Kerry checked with?

I imagine he checked with pollsters and crisis managers. C.I. checked with a community. I think if John Kerry had checked with voters, he would have grasped that there was no need for even one apology. Instead, I think he humiliated himself and betrayed what he stood for.

"Ruth's Report" went up yesterday and as a result of doing entries here and all the help C.I., Dallas and Rebecca have provided me with, I am now able to go into the program and do my entries. Tags still are a problem. But the result is that I am not asking C.I. to take my e-mailed reports, paste them into the program, and publish them. So I was curious about my latest report? C.I.'s response was, "Ruth, you know I always love your writing."

The e-mails I have been able to read so far have been very positive and there are a few things that I hope to pick up in the next report. If anyone is wondering why I did not guest post here last Wednesday, the blogging program was down and I could not log in. I am sure Kat's regular readers already know this but, in case you missed it, "Kat's Korner: The death of Ani DiFranco?" went up Saturday. Kat is still in Ireland and she is assuming that it will probably be another week before she returns. But she was able to dictate that over the phone to C.I.

Now here is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 1, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, American commanders appear to just notice that long established fact, Kyle Snyder is again lied to, John Kerry takes himself out of the 2008 race, and October's death toll for US troops continues to rise even though, yes, it is November 1st.

US war resister Kyle Snyder turned himself in at Fort Knox yesterday. After which,
David Montero (Rocky Mountain News) reports, the army went back on their deal and Snyder was "shipped from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., possibly to face a full court-martial." Snyder's attorney, James Fennerty, told AP that after Snyder turned himself in, the military attempted to get him "to sign a form that would have hastened his return to his unit" and that "We wouldn't have brought him back here if we knew this was going to happen." As Katya Cengel (Courier-Journal) reports, Fennerty, who also represented Darrell Anderson, has stated, "We're going to make sure nobody comes back from Canada again because we were lied to."

Kyle Snyder self-checked out of the US military after serving in Iraq during which time he saw abuses that were not investigated, his girlfriend lost their baby, and his grandfather returned. In April 2005, he went to Canada. He returned last Saturday and turned himself at Fort Knox yesterday with the understanding that he would discharged.

War resistance within the military is an under-reported story in small media as
Ruth, Rebecca and Mike pointed out yesterday. But, in fact, all waves of the peace movement are under-reported in small media. For those within the military considering resistance, Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign are among the resources out there. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Elizabeth de la Vega (TomDispatch) reported on war resister Ricky Clousing yesterday and noted meeting him at Camp Democracy in September and he reasons that he led him to refuse to fight in the Iraq war and concludes: "Twenty-four years old, Clousing told the world in simple declarative sentences why he had to give up his college money, receive a dishonorable discharge, and go to jail to take a stand against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He'd make a very cool action figure. Come to think of it, Sgt. Ricky Clousing -- tattooed arms, Laguna Beach t-shirt, and all -- would make an awesome shepherd in that manager scene. Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are just going to have to move over."

Turning to England, poodle Tony Blair avoided the inquiry into Iraq in the House of Commons.
Philippe Naughton (Times of London) reports that Blair says maybe later to an Iraq inquiry "hours after narrowly avoiding defeat on a Commons motion calling for exactly that." Patrick Wintour (Irish Times) reports that the vote has left prime-minister-wannabe Gordon Brown "anxious to restore the authority of parliament, and trust in politicians" so "he will be under pressure to hold an inquest into the wider foreign policy failures of the Iraq invasion." As the Guardian of London notes, the vote was 298 to 273 with "12 Labour MPs" voting "against the government." As noted yesterday, the Farewell Tour isn't going the way Blair's handlers planned it.

Neither is Iraq. From yesterday: "In addition
CNN notes that 'at least 40 people' were kidnapped north of Baghdad." CBS and AP note that the 40 kidnappings are confirmed and that the death toll from the bombing of the wedding party yesterday has risen from 15 to 23 "including nine children." In addition, they report that two coaches were kidnapped in Baghdad today "by a group of men in SUVs". The violence and chaos continue daily and, as Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) reported, the US Central Command has just prepared a chart ("two weeks ago") to note that. It takes some a little longer.


Reuters reports many bombs: in Baghdad, 2 car bombs resulted in 7 deaths (and 7 wounded), one minibus bombing resulted in 3 deaths, and 1 roadside bomb resulted in 2 deaths (10 wounded); Ramadi, five dead three wounded from two car bombs; Mosul, two wounded from a roadside bomb; Baiji two wounded from a roadside bomb.


CBS and AP report that Izzaddin Abbas was shot dead in Baghdad and a Ministry of Industry employee was shot dead in Baghdad. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports four shooting deaths in Mosul. In addition, Reuters notes that a policewoman was shot dead in Mosul.


CBS and AP note three corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("blindfolded and bound at the wrists"). CNN notes that the number of corpses discovered in Baghdad grew to ten. And Reuters then updated to note thirty-five corpses were discovered in Baghdad, nine in Mosul, five in Falluja, and one in Numaniya. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes that five corpses were discovered in "the Tigris River near Suwayrah".

In election news, though he may not grasp it, US Senator John Kerry's just taken himself out of the 2008 presidential race. It wasn't the remark he made ("You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."), it was the fact that he went through a variety of positions on it including hedging it, distorting it, saying he wouldn't apologize for it until finally doing just that. And on Don Imus, of all places, where the supposed Fighting John allowed Imus to Swift Boat him with ha-has of "wind surfing" and more. It's over, 2008 is now officially over for John Kerry. Those willing to give him the benefit of doubt despite his caving in Boston in the early morning hours of the day after the election had been told Fighting John would never cave again. "Good of the country" was the excuse that morning. There is no excuse for not fighting this go round, there is only the admission that Fighting John will buckle each and every time and that Fighting John lacks drive, lacks leadership, lacks passion and lacks committment. Send him his "Dear John" letter, it's over.

He was unable to defend either himself or the military he's spent the last few years hiding behind. What should have been an opportunity for the American public to have a serious exchange about exactly what Donald Rumsfled has done to the US military instead became a case of Save-My-Own-Ass.

The conversation will be had and it will be had without John Kerry. As the
Miami Herald reported in October of 2005: "Army Secretary Noel Harvey and Gen. Richard Cody, the vice chief of staff, said Monday that the Army is using loose Defense Department rules that permits it to sign up more high school dropouts and people who score lower on mental-qualification tests, but they denied that this meant it was lowering standards." In February of this year, Kelly M. Greenhill penned an op-ed for the New York Times noting: "The Army inducted both more recruits without high school diplomas and more youths scoring in the lowest category of the Army's aptitude test, so-called Category IV recruits. Welcoming more such recruits into the military has obvious appeal at a time when recruitment numbers are slipping, while manpower needs remain acute. But the adoption of lower standards to fill the ranks is shortsighted and imprudent. Moreover, continuing or expanding this policy would be a mistake for the Army and for the recruits themselves. Pentagon officials should know this better than anyone: their previous experiments with lower standards were clear failures." USA Today noted in July of 2005: "The Army in 2005 began accepting up to 4% of those who score in the bottom third on the Armed Froces Qualification Test. Previously, it had a limit of 2% from that category." In October of this year, AP reported that the "new lower aptitude standards" allowed the U.S. army to meet its target goal and noted "13,600, were accepted under waivers for various medical, moral or criminal problems, including misdemeanor arrests or drunk driving. . . . Of those accepted under waivers, more than half were for 'moral' reasons, mostly misdemeanor arrests. Thirty-eight percent were for medical reasons and 7 percent were drug and alcohol problems, including those who may have failed a drug test or acknowledged they had used drugs." In 2005, Fred Kaplan (Slate) raised some of the concerns career officers in the military have with these lowered standards.

Need a face on this issue? Try
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. In July of this year, AP noted that Steven D. Green (one of several accused in the rape of fourteen-year-old Abeer, her death and the deaths of three members of her family) was arrested in Janurary 2005 and "[d]ays later . . . enlisted in the Army."

The conversation will go on and will do so without John Kerry who may be next seen at a Democratic Convention saying, "John Kerry, reporting for wedgie." UPDATE:
Reuters reports John Kerry is now going through a ceremonial ritual of apologies. Someone call Barbara Walters.

CNN reports two more US troop deaths were reported today bringing the number of US troops who died in Iraq in October to 105. The military tends to let those deaths trickle out after the press has done their monthly look back. Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) reported that the toll included forty who died in Baghdad and 37 who died in Al-Anbar Province. 'Conventional wisdom' (not speaking of the NYT report just noted) is that the deaths are up due to the 'crackdown' in Baghdad (that cracked up). Those spinning that conventional wisdom don't appear to be willing to address the whack-a-mole problem US Senator John McCain pointed out in August:

Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.

Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that "224 Iraqi security forces and 1,315 civilians were killed in October". That count seems low and the source of the figures isn't identified.

In Australia, the report from the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco and the events after Kovco's death remains unreleased but remains in the headlines.
Australia's ABC reports that Angus Houston has stated that the report maintains Kovco wasn't rushed home (which would explain the mix up that sent Juso Sinanovic's body to Australia and left Jake Kovco's in Iraq) to try to build on the Anzac Day coverage. Expect to hear a lot about what it reportedly says as opposed to what it actually says, AAP informs the report won't be released until next year.

Back in Iraq, the issue is over who's pulling who? (Sing it, Aretha.) Did Nouri al-Maliki manage to outsmart his puppeteers?
The Australian reports that he did and that he's "exploiting Washington's vulnerability in the US congressional elections to flex his political muscle."

Closing with the reminder that
Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi continue the speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 1, TBA Miami, Florida Democracy for America Miami Dade and the South Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 32 Venue and time TBA

Nov 2, TBA Cincinnati, OH Meet Dr. Victoria (Vic) Wulsin, candidatefor congress 2nd district Ohio currently leading Jean Schmidt whocalled Rep John Murtha from PA. a coward. Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Against the War Venue: TBA

Nov 3, TBA St. Paul MN. Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand AvenueSponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM Milwaukee, WI. Location: Great Lakes Arlington EventContact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991,
bethmark@execpc.comSponsor: VFP Chapter 102 * See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"

Nov. 5, 2PM Boston, MA Encuentro 5 33 Harrison Ave. 5th floor (Chinatown)Sponsors: Asian American Movement Ezine Asian American Resource Workshop Boston Hawaiian Club Chinese Progressive AssociationMassachusetts Global Action New England Japanese American Citizens League

Nov 5, 7PM Cambridge, MA. Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard SquareSponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter Contact: Lee VanderLaan, 978-257-2350
Nov 6, 2-4:30PM Boston, MA Location: University of Massachusetts/BostonSponsor: The Institute for Asian American Studies William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence Time: 2-4:30 pm

Nov 6, 7PM Worcester, MA. Location: Clark University University Building, Lurie Room Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10 Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,

full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Reading and growing up (Betty)

Betty here and I'm starting later than planned. Blame C.I. The kids and I got home this evening and there was a package on the porch. It was a book drop. The kids love those. They get excited about any package. But they know there will be stuff in there for them if it's from C.I. They were lost in books this evening. Which was really great because I was tired and it made for a very relaxing evening. They didn't even ask to turn on the TV. Not even my oldest who watches Everyone Loves Chris which airs on Mondays. I always loved reading growing up and I hope they do as well. Right now they do but I hope they carry that through their lives.

My oldest sister used to read all the time until? Until eighth grade when she became really popular with boys and, honestly, started playing dumb to be liked even more. I asked her if I could write about this and she said it didn't bother her but she doesn't remember it that way. The way she remembers it is that she never was interested in reading.

So maybe she's right?

I remember it differently and she said it was fine to write about that as long as I noted the way she remember it. So I've done that and now I'm going to tell you how I remember it.

My sister was a huge reader. There was something when she was in 5th grade, a national thing, where you got people to sign up and pledge to pay like a nickle or something for every book you read. My sister was always reading and everyone who signed up (all adults) were a little surprised because she had around 100 books and it was probably a 6 week period.

She was always reading and she was so smart. I was just starting to read and I'd just be in awe that she read books without pictures and big books and whatever else. I just remember I went around telling everyone I knew how smart my oldest sister was.

Then she just stopped reading in 8th grade. She started wearing lipstick. Sneaking it on after we left the house and taking it off right before we got back home. And I remember one bus ride home. She remembers this as well. She was kissing the guy on the bus and I was so embarrassed because everyone was looking and talking about. I probably should have thought it was cool. Then he starts asking her to touch him. That freaked me out then. I was just a kid but I couldn't believe she was reaching into a guy's pants.

On the bus.

In front of everyone.

And giggling.

But it happened. (She agrees with that. She says our mother may hit the roof on this but it happened and she's not going to pretend like it didn't.)

She was one of those kids who won spelling bees and did U.I.L. and all that academic stuff. I was really into sports and I wasn't an academic. (I was a reader. But I preferred to read my books and not my text books.) But that all changed in 8th grade.

She swears she was never in a spelling bee but she was over and over and there's a picture on the mantle of our parents' home even now of a competition she won. When we were on the phone, she bet me $20 that there wasn't. She said she'd go over right now if it wasn't so late. But that picture is there. She's just forgotten it.

(I'm not a better. But I'm also not a fool. That's a sure thing. I'll take her twenty bucks.)

That's probably my biggest fear about my daughter, that she'll go through that phase. Let me note that my sister is happily married and has been for years. Her life is not a nightmare or anything bad. My daughter would be very lucky to end up like that. But I don't want the knock down drag outs that my mother and my oldest sister had.

We also agree on those. That we both remember. That lasted from 8th grade through graduation when she moved out. And she moved out the day after she got her high school diploma. Or the thing they give you at graduation which isn't the real diploma which is mailed after.

I love my sister (I love all my sisters) and I love my mother but it was a nightmare as they fought and fought. My sister ignored all curfews, would lie about where she was going (say she was going to the football game but go out on a date -- usually with a guy 2 to 3 years older than she was) and lie badly so she'd end up caught every time, she'd be grounded and that would just mean more time for them to fight. It was a nightmare and you can ask anyone living in our house and they will tell you the same thing.

As soon as she moved out, I mean as soon as she moved out, they suddenly got along. My mother no longer felt responsible for her and she was living by her rules. One of our aunts came over for the 4th of July weekend that year and she hadn't been over since graduation. She heard from my mother that my oldest sister would be there and she was preparing herself for the worst. She could not believe how well they got along.

It really did happen overnight. They are very close now but I don't want to go through that with my daughter.

I can't imagine it with my sons. Maybe I'm kidding myself?

But my daughter is a lot like her (and a lot like my mother and my grandmother). (That may have been the problem with my oldest sister and my mother, they are too much alike.) They just have that beauty. I'm not being modest when I say I'm not beautiful. I'm not last of the litter, I crossed over barely. But you're either pretty or you're like a model in my family. Pretty's not a bad thing. But when you've got models around you, you may as well be plain or ugly.

That's what was on my mind tonight. Big thanks to my big sister for listening when she called and for telling me it was fine to write about this. (But let me add one more time that she remembers herself not being interested in reading ever.)

I hadn't planned to go on about this so. I was going to write something 'meaningful.' Well, I was going to try. I was going to try!

But this is Kat's site and everyone of her readers knows Kat's motto: It is what it is.

Let me start winding down. Plugs. Kat's latest review is amazing, "Kat's Korner: The death of Ani DiFranco?" Also check out Trina's "Appetizers in the Kitchen." Let me give myself a plug, "The column 'miracle'." I finished that Saturday morning and published it. But Blogger/Blogspot was screwed up and it didn't show up until Saturday night. My father came over Saturday afternoon and asked if he needed to take the kids somewhere. I said, "I'm sure they'd love that. Let me grab my purse and fix my hair." He told me no and that I needed to get to work on my chapter. He and my mother had both logged on earlier and not seen anything so he was concerned.

That was so sweet, that he was so concerned about my site. What happened was I just couldn't pull anything together Friday night. I tried and tried and wrote and wrote. Around eleven o'clock, I called C.I. and read what I had over the phone. C.I. asked, "Honest opinion?" I said "yes." C.I. said, "Go to bed. You've got some funny things in there but you're covering 15 things and it feels forced." C.I. told me that the four strongest points, any of the four, were a column. So we talked about that and then I asked for information about the speaking trips because I think it's awesome that C.I. speaks to all these students and also because I'm always eager to hear what's going on there. I know 'young people' care and I know they are out there trying so I'm always eager to hear about that.

But I took the advice, went to sleep, woke up the next morning and I knew which point I wanted to develop. It all just tumbled out then. But I'm always full of self-doubt and I need an audience so I called C.I. and read it over the phone. C.I.'s the best audience because if you're funny, you get laughter. Wally will tell you the same thing which is why Wally always wants to read his stuff (either that he does himself or with Cedric) before posting.

My dad would be a great audience as well. He loves to laugh. But I'd hate for him to ever realize how many starts and stops there are. I do draft after draft. Kat and C.I. are the ones I share those with and they're always so good to listen and read and they'll always say, "You lost me here" or "This is too funny, you need to add more to it." With Kat in Ireland, C.I.'s having to be my only sounding board.

Okay, before the snapshot, I picked the book that I'm going to read (for me and not aloud to my daughter and youngest son), Nora Ephron's Crazy Salad. I saw that and thought, "Yes!" I'm going to take it to work tomorrow and read some of it my lunch break.

Now, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, October 30, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the US reaches a 'benchmark' but not one that will market well; Different Drummer opens to business; and war resister Ehren Watada's father and step-mother continue raising awareness on their son.

Today, the
US military released a press statement announcing: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Sunday from injuries sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar province." That death brought the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month to 100. On that benchmark, John Ward Anderson and Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) reported that this month has been "the deadliest month for U.S. forces since Jan. 2005 when 107 U.S. soldiers were killed." Already, the number has climbed today to 101 (for the month, 2814 since the start of the illegal war). Reuters notes: "A sniper killed a member of the U.S. military police in east Baghdad, the military said in a statement. It was the 101st death in Iraq this month, making October the deadliest month for U.S. troops since January last year."

Meanwhile, in the United States,
Different Drummer opened to business last Friday in Watertown, NY. Celebrating the first G.I. coffeehouse of the current war, included a free screening on Saturday of the films The Ground Truth and this Saturday will offer a free screening of Arlington West (2:00 pm). The coffeehouse, located at 12 Paddoack Arcade, 1 Public Square, provides music, coffee, counseling for soldiers and more. The mission statement reads: "TO PROMOTE the free and uncensored exchange of ideas and information among military personnel and civilians. This includes, but isn't limited to, issues of war and peace, foreign policy, the military mission of our soldiers both at home and abroad, and the proper balance between the rights of citizen soldiers and military authority in a democratic society. TO PROVIDE accurate information, referrals, and counseling regarding the rights and duties of America's service members under U.S. and international law. TO ENTERTAIN servicemembers, civilians, and their families with performances of music, dance, comedy rap, poetry, and authors' readings reflecting a wide variety of viewpoints." The coffeehouse is a project of Citizen Soldier.

In Iraq, chaos and violence continued today.


AFP reports "a deadly bomb attack" in Baghdad today and quotes Abu Zeinad ("eyewitness") stating, "The bomb was hidden in a plastic bag. It's the third time that an attack has hit this place this year". The BBC notes that the explosion took place "early in the morning in Mudhafa Square". Reuters counts 28 dead and 60 wounded.
In addition to that bombing,
Reuters also notes 5 other car bombs in Baghdad today which left 13 dead and 43 wounded. Outside of Baghdad, the BBC notes a bombing in Kirkuk that claimed the lives of two police officer. Reuters adds that it also took the life of "a three-year-old girl" while 19 were left injured while, near Kahalis, a roadside bomb killed two workers and left three wounded while, in Mosul, five were wounded by mortar rounds.


CBS and AP report that Essam al-Rawi, "a leading Iraqi academic and prominent Sunni political activist," was shot dead outside of his home. Christopher Bodeen (AP) notes that appoximately "154 university professors have been killed since the March 2003 U.S. invasion." Reuters notes an attack by "gunmen" on a police station in Baiji which killed two police officers.


Reuters notes six corpses ("signs of torture, blindfolded . . . bullet wounds") were discovered in Mahmudiya, five corpses (ditto) were discovered in Suwayra. In an update, Reuters noted that four corpses were also discovered in Mosul.

Al Jazeera reports that Iraq's foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari is stating that the United Nation Security Council resolution 1637 should be renewed and the occupation continued. Polling demonstrates that the Iraqi people do not support Zebair's conclusion. But the request comes one day after, as CNN reported yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki's convoy came under attack in Baghdad and one of his guards was wounded.

This also comes as the British consulate in Basra is being 'evacuated.'
Thomas Harding reported the evacuation in The Telegraph of London noting: "Despite a large British military presence at the headquarters in Basra Palace, a private security assessment has advised the counsul general and her staff to leave the building after experiencing regular mortar attacks in the last two months." [Polly noted that yesterday.] David Sanderson (Times of London) reports that: "Civilian employees will be moved to the airport, eight miles outside the city" and that the evacuation will not include "the Counsul-General and other staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development". This follows the August 24th 'evacuation' of the British military base in Amara (also due to mortar attacks).

In peace news, Bob Watada continues his third speaking tour to raise awareness on his son,
Ehren Watada, who is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As Austin's KXAN notes, today Bob Watada is speaking "at Garza Independece High School.". Kim Miller (Austin's CBS 42) reports that Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) also spoke in Austin Sunday with Sakanshi noting: "We know that he is taking the hardest way to do it. But he is eager to do it. Willing to do it because he thinks he's doing the right thing." Rudy Koski (Austin's KVUE) reports that at Sunday's gathering (Cafe Caffeine on Mary Street), Bob Watada stated of his son, "He is a patriot, by any definition he is a patriot because he is standing up for what is right in this country."

After Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi finishing speaking to students today, they next to head Oklahoma. Here are some of the upcoming dates of the speaking tour:

Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. RobinsonSponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

Nov 1, TBAMiami, Florida
Democracy for America Miami Dade and the South Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 32
Venue and time TBA

Nov 2, TBA
Cincinnati, OH
Meet Dr. Victoria (Vic) Wulsin, candidate for congress 2nd district Ohio currently leading Jean Schmidt who called Rep John Murtha from PA. a coward.
Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Against the WarVenue: TBA

Nov 3, TBA
St. Paul MN.
Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand Avenue
Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27
Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM
Milwaukee, WI.
Location: Great Lakes Arlington Event
Contact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991,
Sponsor: VFP Chapter 102* See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"

Nov. 5, 2PM
Boston, MA
Encuentro 533 Harrison Ave. 5th floor(Chinatown)
Asian American Movement EzineAsian American Resource WorkshopBoston Hawaiian ClubChinese Progressive AssociationMassachusetts Global ActionNew England Japanese American Citizens League

Nov 5, 7PM
Cambridge, MA.
Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard Square
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter
Contact: Lee Vander Laan, 978-257-2350

Nov 6, 2-4:30PM
Boston, MA
Location: University of Massachusetts/Boston
Sponsor: The Institute for Asian American StudiesWilliam Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence
Time: 2-4:30 pm

Nov 6, 7PMWorcester, MA.
Location: Clark University
University Building, Lurie Room
Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,

full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.

Brad Buccholz (Austin American-Statesman) interviewed Bob Watada for a piece that ran Sunday and wondered whether imprisonment was "a certainity" for Ehren? Bob Watada replied: "Well, right now, this is what the military wants to do. They have him for eight and a half years, for simply saying 'I do not want to go to Iraq to commit further war crimes. I don't want to go to Iraq to lead my men into commiting war crimes and putting their lives at risk, for nothing . . .' They (The Army) are basically trying to shut him up. They don't want their soldiers to tell the truth of what is going on in Iraq, though many, many are now. But (Ehren) is the first officer to publicly come out and say, 'This who war is based on a deception.' There were no weapons of mass destruction. There were no chemical and biological weapons. . . . There were no (9-11) terrorists in Iraq, and yet we're killing thousands of people over there, and getting ourselves killed (in violation of) the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter."

More information on
Ehren Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.