Friday, August 25, 2006

Keith Harmon Snow, Aaron Glantz, etc.

Keith Harmon Snow was a speaker on the two-part Darfur dialogue presented on Guns and Butter this Wednesday and last Wednesday. Bonnie Faulkner's the host and I'll get back to that in a minute. First I want to note Keith Harmon Snow's "An Open Letter to Smith Students Rallying to Help Darfur, Sudan:"

Dear Smith Students Rallying to Stop Genocide in Darfur:
Inspired by your concern for innocent people being harmed by the civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan, I am writing to encourage you to seek the full story of what is happening in Darfur before embarking further on the path you have chosen.
In your letter writing campaign to officials of the US government, you have asked that US officials endorse and pass the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act. Your letter states:
> "Genocide cannot continue on our watch; the United States must act to ensure full protection for civilians in Darfur." pp. 1
This statement is rather aggressive: What is "our" watch? Are you speaking of the superior force and violence being used by the United States all around the world today? What made the United States -- a country prosecuting brutal wars against innocent people's and national sovereign governments in Iraq, Congo, and Afghanistan -- the international police in your Darfur "humanitarian" equation?
How do you know that genocide is occurring in Darfur? Where do you get your information? Why are there no news stories about U.S. military support for the militias involved in the civil war in Darfur, or for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army involvement in the southern Sudan?
Why is the American media flooded with stories about "Arab militias on horses", and genocide in Darfur, when the war in neighboring Congo -- which has claimed far more lives, and dealt far more women with rape and sexual slavery -- is completely off the agenda?
Why do you suppose that Eric Reeves is published in every newspaper venue in the United States, and there is nothing published there about the deeper military interests behind the Darfur region? Are you really certain that you want to be pursuing regime change -- because that is what these letters are advocating -- against another Arab / Islamic government?

There's more and you can use the link to read the rest. On Guns and Butter, Bonnie Faulkner was willing to present various voices. That hasn't been the case for Democracy Now! which has made a point to present only one side and today offered up Eric Reeves as a guest. While Faulkner has been willing to explore the issue, Amy Goodman's narrowed down what her audience can and cannot hear and that's pretty sad when we're talking about an issue where people are advocating for warfare (that's what 'peacekeepers' are involved in, don't kid).

How important is it to Amy Goodman to get boots on the ground in Sudan? Pretty damn important because today she couldn't offer an "update to a story we've been following." Obviously, I'm referring to Ehren Watada. The presiding officer of the Article 32 hearing released his finding today. (Released it today, not, as some have gotten wrong, released it yesterday. It was discussed yesterday evening by a military spokesperson and we all heard about it at C.I.'s last night. But the report was not released until today.) So Watada isn't news but offering up another one-side only helping on Darfur is news?

I don't know how that plays with other Pacifica audiences but I can tell you it doesn't go over well with KPFA listeners I know. Outside of C.I., I don't know anyone who will defend Democracy Now these days. When I noted here that I'd never taken a position on whether Democracy Now should be aired twice a day on KPFA, taking up two hours a day Monday through Friday, ten hours of airtime a week, but that I was now beginning to see the point, I heard from friends saying, "Okay, now you get it?"

Yes, I do. It's not local programming and it's getting too far from the KPFA listenership I know.
It probably plays well to WBAI audiences (although it should be noted that WBAI doesn't air it twice on any day) but there is a cultural difference. The East v. West clash is well known but I've never heard it applied to that program until now. The lack of attention to immigration rights issues is usually the thing I hear (and I heard it tonight, over in over). I heard it from people of all races, all ethnicities tonight.

The other big complaint was how poorly Ehren Watada had been covered and how they mangled the coverage on Tuesday (which they did). Josh Wolf was also an issue that was brought up. But there are issues that matter here that apparently mean little or nothing in NYC. That's fine. To each their own. But out here we don't need two hours of the show daily. We have too many issues that we care about (including the Iraq war) that aren't being dealt with.

I was surprised, tonight at C.I.'s, by how many had heard or heard of Guns and Butter's two-parter. Happily surprised, I should add. C.I. apparently sent my post this week on that out to a number of friends. I know everyone doesn't have the time to listen so I'll try to do a better job of noting it. Earlier I was writing down quotes and trying to do like Ruth had been doing (she doesn't do that anymore in Ruth's Report -- and good for her). It's more work than I have time for. I want to enjoy the show, not treat it as a homework assignment. But I'll try to offer something a little more hefty than a blurb when possible. It is a show I listen to and enjoy. (I listen to everything on KPFA, but I really do love Bonnie Faulkner's show.)

Aaron Glantz has a report on today's The KPFA Evening News about the Reagan administration supplying Saddam Hussein with the weapons used to kill civilians. He's speaking to a woman from the National Security Archives "and she says while they knew of Saddam's massacres, they did nothing." He also has a talk with a Nuremberg prosecutor which is noted in the snapshot below. 1,075 dollars is the cost of the Iraq war for every American is another story on tonight's broadcast.

Wally asked me to note that he and Cedric are doing a joint post later tonight. So look forward to that.

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

Friday, August 25, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq despite the wave of Operation Happy Talk launched yesterday by US military boys John Abizaid and George Casey that things are looking up and corners will be turned, equally laughable was Brit military boy Charlie Burbridge claiming that a base in Amara hadn't been abandoned. He offers a new punch line today. The inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco continues and Soldier 14 testifies again. But we'll start with the latest on Ehren Watada -- the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.
Late Thursday" J.C.Matthews told the AP that a recommendation had been reached by Lt. Colonel Mark Keith in Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the recommendation is "Ehren Watada face a general court-martial for failing to join his unit in Iraq" and Keith "has endorsed two other charges: conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt toward officials." Translation, Keith has endorsed all three charges made on July 5th. As the AP notes, "Keith could have recommended anything from dismissal of the charges to a general court-martial" as he weighed the issues and the testimony given on August 17th. Gregg K. Kakesako notes that Keith did feel that Ehren Watada was "sincere in his beliefs" which "should mitigate any future punishment" and Kakesako outlines the next step: "Keith's decision now goes to Col. Cynthia Murphy, U.S. Army Garrison commander at Fort Lewis, who will review it and then submit her recommendations to Lt. Gen James Dubik".
AP quotes Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, stating: "We always believed that when they went so far as to convene an Article 32 hearing that they had alread made a decision to proceed." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes Seitz was left "somewhat astounded" that the charges endorsed by Keith included anything other than "missing the troop movement" because of "important First Amendment issues" that surround the other two charges.
Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports this today (of the August 17th testimony of Denis Halliday: "Halliday was called to testify regarding the impace of war on the Iraqi people. 'The people of Iraq had become used to living under very difficult conditions after the destruction in the name of the United Nations by the United States of the civilian infrastructure, water supplies, sewer systems, electric power, use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs.' Halliday was prevented from providing complete testimony when the investigating officer presided over the Article 32 hearing ruled that the 'consequences of the war or the situation on the ground' were irrelevant to Lieutenant Watada's argument that the war was illegal and that he had an obligation to refuse to fight it." That is the most that's been written of Halliday's testimony to date (which, for the record, wasn't delivered via mime).
Bob Watada continues his speaking engagements in the San Francisco Bay Area to raise awareness of what his son, Ehren, is facing. The events include:

Fri. 8/25
Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Turning to the illegal occupation, violence and chaos continues.
Reuters reports one Iraqi soldier dead and two others wounded from a roadside bomb in Rashad and a "hand-grenade attack on a market in Hawija" left three people wounded. AFP notes the death, late Thursday, of "an Iraqi army officer" with four soldiers left wounded.
AFP notes that five were killed by gunfire in Baquba, two in Tirkit (bakery workers) with three other people wounded, Reuters notes that, in Nasiriya, gunfire claimed the lives of two and left two others wounded.
Reuters notes the discovery, in Qaim, of an Iraqi soldier ("signs of torture") while AFP notes that three corpses were discovered in Kirkuk ("tortured and bullet-riddled bodies").
In other violence, despite the British military flacks that were so eagerly allowed to
spin in this this morning's New York Times, Haidar Hani (AP) reports: "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". As Ross Colvin (Reuters) reported yesterday, the base, which had come under nightly, heavy attacks, was abandoned. The AP story today notes: "Iraqi authories had complained that the British withdrawal had caught them by surprise" and allows flack Charlie Burbridge to holler Not-true-we-gave-them-24-hours-notice! Well, Charlie, on a rental, you usually have to give a minimum of 30 days notice. But it is good to know that as they packed up everything they could carry, someone did think to make a quick call saying, "Hey, we're about to split. If there's anything you want, better grab it quick, dude!"
Along with an adequate heads up, Iraqi politicians have other complaints they're sharing.
Aparism Ghosh (Time magazine) reports that Abdul-Azziz al-Hakim states that for over three years Iraqi politicians have persistently requested "and reliable evidence" that "Iran is interfering in Baghdad's affairs" only to be rebuffed. al-Hakim is quoted as saying, "[A]nd for three years we've told them, 'Show us proof.' But they never have." al-Hakim and others speaking to Ghosh make clear that they feel there is no proof and that Iran is being blamed to divert attention from the failure of the illegal war.
This as
Aaron Glantz reports for OneWorld that Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferenczz has declared that Bully Boy and Saddam Hussein "should be tried for war crimes."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
Figuring into the most recent testimony were "
NSW Police scientific officer Stephanie Hales" and Soldier 14. Soldier 14 has made mutliple appearances in the hearing. On August 9th, his testimony rejected the so-called buddy system where a pair was responsible for checking one another's weapons at the end of a shift (he also testified that what he said and what the military wrote up in his official statement were quite different). Last Friday, a DNA witness, Michelle Franco, identified some of the DNA on Jake Kovco's gun as belonging to Soldier 14. [Again from last Friday: The Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches."] Soldier 14 has maintained that he did not touch Jake Kovco's pistol (and he's refused to be questioned by the NSW).
At the start of this week, Soldier 14 again testified to the hearing and maintained that the DNA must have gotten on the pistol some other way such as via other equipment he acknowledges that he and Jake Kovco both handled such as a megaphone, a radio or telephone. Also in that testimony, Soldier 14 declared that "people" had warned him that Jake Kovco's widow, Shelley Kovco, was 'out to get him.' That was his excuse for avodiging her. Belinda Tasker (The Daily Telegraph) noted, of that testimony, that Soldier 14's avoidance of Shelley Kovco -- out of fear of being accused of something,apparently -- translates as Soldier 14 aoviding contact with her for "more than three months" and notes that Soldier 14 said "people were telling me" that Shelley Kovco was out to get him. Who these 'people' were warning him of Shelley Kovco will apparently not be explored.

That was some of the previous testimony. Today Soldier 14 testified again (not via video-link and remember he has stated he wants to get back to the apparent calm of Baghdad).
Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the issues today revolved around: "Did you silently cock Private Kovco's pistol?" which Soldier 14 asserted he did not. Soldier 14 has maintained that he saw Jake Kovco a few days prior to his death. Brown describes the process as "a silent cocking operation, where the weapon is stripped down, a round put in he chamber, then reassembled, leaving the round in the chamber." Soldier 14 will also be testifying Monday.

Stephanie Hales' testimony is
characterized by the AAP as asserting that residue tests can not determine "whether Private Jake Kovco shot himself in Iraq or if someone else pulled the trigger" for a variety of reasons including the fact that Jake Kovco's "clothes . . . were destroyed," "the barracks room where PTE Kovco was shot was cleaned before NSW Police arrived in Baghdad to carry out their forensic tests," Jake Kovco's body was washed in a Kuwait morgue, Jake Kovco's hands were not wrapped "in paper bags" and the two roommates were allowed to shower and wash their clothing with no forensic tests being performed.
Finally, in England, British soldier Jason Chelsea has been buried. The
BBC reports that the nineteen-year-old "killed himself because he feared . . . he might have to shoot children" as he asserted he had been told in his training. The BBC notes that:
"Earlier this month the MoD released figures showing 1,541 soldiers who served in Iraq are suffering from psychiatric illness."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The fear push is coming

It is one thing for Democrats like Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to admit that they bought into the Bush administration’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuke program and partnership with Al Qaeda and to now seek to make amends by working to bring the troops home. It is quite another, as Lieberman has, to continue to defend as wise this patently absurd betrayal of the public interest. And it moves from dumb to evil to claim that those like Lamont who dare tell the truth are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do -- get out by a date certain -- it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again," Lieberman said after his defeat in the Connecticut primary earlier this month, indicting not only his opponent but all those who voted for him.
In fact, Lieberman, along with the president and vice president, has become a full-blown McCarthyite smear artist, painting his political opponents with the tar brush of treason in an alleged apocalyptic battle for civilization.
"I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy," said Lieberman on Aug. 10, an enemy "more evil or as evil as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War."
Such hyperbole is not only historically ridiculous -- more evil than Adolf Hitler and his extermination camps? ... more dangerous than the Soviets and their thousands of nukes? -- it is a cynical attack on the free debate that is supposed to inform our nation's leaders. The Lieberman-Cheney axis insists that not only are those who disagree with them traitorous or, at best, naive, but also that any and all military action conducted in the name of fighting terrorists is, by definition, good.

That's from Robert Scheer's "Warring Over the Heart of the Party" (Truth Dig) and I'll spare everyone my attempt at gas baggery re: Lamont v. Lieberman. We've had more than enough of that. But Lieberman's playing the fear card. He's trying to scare America. He's done that for many years (infamously trying to scare us away from entertainment). That's the bond between Lieberman and the Bully Boy and always has been. They're fear based. Whether it's a put on or a calculated decision, they operate out of fear.

I live in the "quake state" where the next big one is always said to be just around the corner. So by my very location, I reject the notion of living under fear. But there are a lot of people who do live under fear and do chose to. A lot of them watch the crap churned out by Dick Wolf and Jerry Bruckheimer (and hats off to Ava and C.I. for their TV commentaries that have long made those points). Those shows aren't about a hero (or heroine) who comes along to help us or inspire us, they play to our darkest despair and encourage a disrespect for democracy. The same way Dirty Harry did.

It's hard to believe that we're overrun with scaredy cats. We've always had them in our midst. But who knew there were so many of them?

At some point, you have to grow up and say, "You know what, bad things may happen. But I'm going to live my life now and stop hiding." The public Joe Lieberman can't do that. He needs to push fear and try to scare up support. I'd like to see some real bravery from this country, see people boo the next time a politician tries to scare them.

As the war dance begins to build on Iran (remember they save their big rollout for after Labor Day), I really hope we've learned something in the last three to four years. I hope we're smart enough to realize that when someone hisses, "How dare you question!" or tries to demonize, we'll be smart enough to respond, "You know what, war is a serious issue. Good citizens don't march along blindly behind anyone, let alone behind a proven liar."

But who knows what will happen. The fear push is coming. The rumbles are starting. After Labor Day, expect them to work overtime.

I keep getting e-mails about the music reviews. The truth is complicated. A) I'm actually working on three. B) I'm also very busy with (1) activism on Iraq and immigration and (2) my art that pays the bills. C) I don't usually blog five times a week. All of that means less time for reviews. I'll probably have one up before August ends. (And on the weekends, I spend many hours with The Third Estate Sunday Review on their latest editions.)

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and you won't believe the drama queen who weeps at the Kovco inquiry:

Thursday, August 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, John Abizaid must be drinking something stronger than cough syrup, Ehren Watada's father Bob continues speaking out to raise awareness about his son, a British military flack plays word games, Operation Happy Talk launches a new wave and reality (as is so often the case) crashes into the propaganda.
BBC sums up the reality this way: "At least 12 Iraqis and three US soldiers have died in bombings and gun attacks across Iraq in the last 24 hours, officials say." As Elena Becatoros (Associated Press) notes: "The killings came despite assurances from U.S. officials that progress was being made to improve security in the capital."
We'll start with the violence and chaos.
Elena Beatoros (AP) notes that a US soldier died today "when his vehicle was hit by a a roadside bomb south of Baghdad." Reuters notes three car bombs and two roadside bombs today in Baghdad have taken at least four lives and left 24 injured. The AP notes that three police officers were killed in Baquba (minivan bomb) that left another wounded and, on the edges of Baquba, a roadside bomb claimed the lives of three Iraqi soldiers.
A US soldier was killed on Wednesday (one of the three noted at the beginning) in what the BBC describes as "
small-arms fire" to the south of Baghdad. Also dying on Wednesday from gunfire (and not included in yesterday's snapshot -- it wasn't reported then) were three police officers in Balad. Reuters reports seven who had been shot dead were taken to a hospital in Mosul and that three police officers were shot dead in Balad (those six are today, yesterday three police officers were shot dead in Balad).
Elena Becatoros (AP) notes that a US soldier was shot dead in Baghdad today while on a patrol.
Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Suwayra ("handcuffed . . . gunshot wounds"); one discovered near Latifiya ("handcuffed, blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds"), a third discovered in Tikrit; a fourth discovered Baiji (this was the body that went with an earlier discovered severed head) and three more ("handuffed . . . gunshot wounds") were discovered in Baghdad.
And in the face of the above, General John Abizaid launched a wave of Operation Happy Talk that out does the strongest happy talker. (Okay, maybe not
Dexy Filkins.) "I think there has been great progress on the security front in Baghdad recently," declared Abizaid. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, knew Happy Talk wasn't enough. Instead, AFP reports, he "has banned television channels from broadcasting gory images of daily bloodshed in the country". Keep it off the TV screens, the thinking seems to go, and Iraqis will forget that they're occupied. This 'policy' seems to invite government censorship as someone has to determine what will "arouse passions and sectarian feelings". All this time after Paul Bremer had a hissy fit over an editorial cartoon, the press is still the occupation's first target.
Meanwhile British troops of the Soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars are . . . on the move.
Ross Colvin (Reuters) reports a lot of talk about how they're 'stripped-down' and mobile (in Landrovers) but the reality is that they're also homeless -- they've "abandoned their base in Iraq's southern Maysan province on Thursday". Though the base was under "nightly attack" and though it has, indeed, been abandoned, British flack Charlie Burbridge disagrees that "the British had been forced out of Amara".
Meanwhile, in the United States, Ehren Watada's father Bob continues his efforts to get the word out on his son, the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq.
Momo Chang (Oakland Tribune) quotes Bob Watada saying: "Ehren is not doing this for himself. He is doing this for every American who believes in democracy and the Constitution. . . . And I am very proud of him." NBC11 reports Bob Watada, speaking in San Jose, saying, "My son is very strong. He's going to -- even if there's a court-martial, he's going to go to jail instead of killing innocent Iraqis -- that's the real tragedy here."
Chang notes that Bob Watada will have taken part in 25 speaking engagements during his brief time in the San Francisco Bay Area and that Sarah Olson (one of two journalists the governments wants as witnesses against Ehren Watada should a court-martial be scheduled) has stated, "It's not my job as a journalist to help the Army prosecute Lt. Watada."
Bob Watada continues to speak out and here are some of the upcoming events:

Thu. 8/24
7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
4-6pm Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Ehren Watada is only one resister. Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein spoke with war resister Carl Webb who has repeatedly refused to serve in the Iraq war. As noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Webb recieved a letter saying that he was released from the Texas National Guard but, as Jeff Mackler pointed out, Webb also got a second letter saying that "they were reassinging him to the pool for the people who could be drafted." ("Drafted" refers to the stop-loss/backdoor draft program. Those new to this topic can refer to Scott Cannon and Rick Montgomery's "Back-Door Draft Shakes The Military" from the Kansas City Star.)
Replying to a question from Bernstein as to whether or not he had any regrets, Webb replied, "No, I have no regrets at all" and noted the importance of raising awareness about the GI resistance and getting the word out on "how much GI resistance there is in the military because that's why I'm here, to tell my fellow soldiers that they don't have to obey orders, that they have to refuse by any means necessary."
Webb discussed the story of his refusal to serve in an illegal war and noted, "I'm here hoping to be an example not only to do those being called up but to anyone in the military". Webb will be speaking this Saturday in San Francisco:

Aug. 26 7:30 pm
Socialist Action Bookstore
298 Valencia St.
San Francisco

Jeff Mackler is running for the US Senate out of California the seat currently occupied by War Hawk Dianne Feinstein. Yesterday, on The KPFA Evening News, Feinstein revealed that she'd come to the conclusion intelligence was misused and abused to lead us into war. Three years and a primary challenger was all it took. Possibly in three more years she may be able to note the illegal nature of the war as well.
Rebecca noted Bernstein's interview with Carl Webb yesterday.]
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. The lead in the reports is about a big, teary performance delivered by a witness -- Brigadier Paul Symon. The
AAP tells you Symon is "Australia's former commander in Iraq" and that he "says he will take responsiblity for the bungled return of Private Jake Kovco's body" and he did so, according to the AAP, via "emotional evidence". Australia's ABC informs that poor Symon "was reduced to tears". If some felt it was performance akin to the one Patrick Walters reported on March 9th of this year (where Symon announced to the world that the corner had been turned and that troops were 'turning the tables') it may go to the fact that he blew his credibility in the eyes of some a long time ago. It may also have to do with the excessive coverage his dramatics overshadow a genuine response by the family of Jake Kovco.
But let's back up, for those who've forgotten or are late to the discussion, Jake Kovco didn't make it back to Australia as planned. Instead,
Juso Sinanovic was sent to Austrlia -- a problem since he should have been sent to Bosnia (Sinanovic died on April 17th). As Elizabeth Jackson reported on AM (Australia's ABC), April 27th: "The Body of an Australian soldier killed in a shooting accident last week in Baghdad has been accidentally left behind in Kuwait. Privated Jake Kovco's body was due to arrive in Melbourne late last night on a flight from Kuwait. But it didn't." Jackson interviewed Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) who declared that Kovco "was at all times appropriately identified by the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Army" which we now know, one of the few things the inquiry has established, that's not true.
In terms of Paul Symon, he was the commander when Kovco died. He was reponsible. That he broke down in tears after reading "
a statement he had written to his superiors on April 27, explaining how the wrong body was sent back to Australia" says little about his compassion for Jake Kovco (it can be argued he had none, hold on for that), it has to do with the public humilitation of having to publicly have all eyes on him while he read his "Oops" in public.
The delicate flower was weeping for himself. After cry baby dried up his tears, he resumed testifying and went on to refer to Jake Kovco, as
Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports (and one of the few to lead with this), as "a piece of cargo." This caused a genuine objection from Judy Kovco (as opposed to the earlier theatrics from Symon) who shouted, "He's not a piece of cargo. Don't you dare. He was my son."
Now remember, this was the grown man who broke down in tears when he had to read his "Oops" to the hearing. That wasn't about Kovco, the tears. That was about the humilitation of having to own up to mistakes under his command. Demonstrating this point further is Symon's response to Judy Kovco which was to describe his reference to Jake Kovco as "
a piece of cargo" as being "not well chosen."
Tara Ravens ( reports on his "Oops" he read to the hearing: "If mistakes are found to be made . . . I accept responsibility for those mistakes. If mistakes have been made outside . . . I would expect their senior management to accept responsiblity in exactly the same manner. After all, someone has to take responsiblity for this dreadful mistake." Yes, someone does. And despite the April 27 "Oops" where he spoke of "responsibility" it's still not happening. The AAP notes that, at the hearing, while doing his responsiblity 'talk,' he "implored the federal government to adopt better repatriation policies." Blah, blah, blah, "human emotions" are messy (this is a summary of Symon's supposed acceptance of responsibility) and we need "technical solutions" blah blah blah. Referring to the body of Jake Kovco (the first Australian on the ground death in the current war) as "we have here a piece of cargo" doesn't indicate that Symon's lost in "human emotions."
The inquiry also addressed the movement of Kovco's body. Again, Symon says it wasn't his fault.
Symon states: "When the advice came not to move the body, it had already been moved so I could not turn the clock back".
Yesterday, Soldier 47 gave testimony stating that he had "instructed authorities in Baghdad not to move the body" -- before leaving for Baghdad "immediately." Though Symon congratulated himself for "common sense and good judgement," there's no indication that he applied either. Tracy Ong reports: "Brigadier Symon said a request from military policy in Syndey that Kovco's body remain in Baghdad came after it had been moved to the US morgue at the airport at the request of medical staff. He said he thought he was helping military police by having the body moved to the evacuation point in Kuwait where they could see it sooner." The evacuation point refers to the private morgue -- soldiers have testified that if the US morgue had been used, the mix up wouldn't have happened and they've criticized what they saw as the cheapness in the decision. Ong notes Anzac Day and Symon denies that there was a rush to get Kovco home in time for that holiday while admitting "I could see a certain poignancy in a good soldier being returned to the nation on Anzac Day."
Anzac Day is April 25th. It's a national holiday in Australia, a day of memorial beginning in the 1920s and furthered by the human costs of WWII (it became an official holiday in 1916 to mark the actions of the newly independent Australia in WWI). A certain poignancy in Jake Kovco being returned to Australia on that day?
Does Symon mean poignancy or does he mean PR?
Possibly the remark underscores the PR hopes of Symon who's had his hand in selling and shelling an illegal war. The hopes of a PR coup (remember, the month prior Symon was -- falsely -- telling reporters a corner had been turned) may be the what added further stress to an already difficult mourning for Jake Kovco's family and friends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Abeer and who's trying to get the military into the Sudan?

I have a few things I want to talk about tonight but Jess mentioned a visitor wrote The Common Ills public account wondering if I thought my post last night was important? Yeah, buddy, I did. Music does matter. It matters in my life. If it doesn't matter in your life, that's your business. Start your own blog.

But I want to talk about two things tonight. The first is Abeer and The Common Ills covered her and her family in depth, providing details, providing media criticsm. Day after day. (While a lot of people went on an extended lunch.) So you can search there for more information and you can also read "Abeer" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) if you're new to the topic. Abeer was fourteen-years-old when she died. (She would have turned fifteen last Saturday.) She was murdered as were three members of her family: (father) Qassim Hamza Raheem and (mother) Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. In addition to being murdered, Abeer was also raped and then there was an attempt to burn her corpse to destroy the evidence. Charged with the crimes are US soldiers Paul Cortez, James Barker, Jesse Spielman and Bryan Howard (who just had an Article 32 hearing) and Steven D. Green (who will be tried in the federal courts in the United States because he'd already left the military when the reality of what happened came out). Another soldier currently serving, Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with dereliction of duty for failure to report the crime.

Robin Morgan wrote recently about Abeer in "Their Bodies as Weapons: Rapes in conflict zones result from the idea that violence is erotic, and it pervades the US military" so you can also read that. This is the occupation. As Rebecca wrote "abeer's story was the story of the illegal occupation."

Though our independent media dropped the ball throughout the Article 32 hearing (it wasn't covered at all -- not even CounterSpin bothered to do a report on how the New York Times refused to name Abeer in any of their reports -- a point C.I. made repeatedly throughout the coverage.) You might think a fourteen-year-old girl reportedly raped and murdered by the US forces that were supposed to be 'liberating' her country and protecting her (they were assigned to her neighborhood which is where they gawked at her enough to make her nervous and report it to her family who then made plans to find somewhere else for her to stay for her own safety) but that wasn't the case. CounterSpin, Democracy Now, go down the list they all slept on the job. It was very disappointing. This was the reality of the occupation. There is no liberation. There is no protection. And the longer we are over there, the more damage is done. Abu Ghraib was horrible. It should have never happened. But the excuse given (which I never bought) was that these people were arrested, they were in jail, they must be guilty of something.

What was a fourteen-year-old girl guilty of?

Who trained the five to think it was okay to gawk at a 14-year-old? Those were adult males raised in the United States who damn well knew what was acceptable behavior and what wasn't.
The fact that those lines don't exist in the illegal occupation tells you all you need to know about it. When we were speaking today, I made Abeer my topic and I started by asking for a show of hands. I was happy to see that about a third of students had heard of her story. I was surprised the number was that high considering how awful the coverage has been. But this was a young girl. She was accused of nothing. But she became the sick desire of some, some who should have known better. That they didn't should frighten us all and demonstrate how we will become the Bully Boy if we don't end the war. We will become cruel, calculated and hardened in mind and spirit. For all the supposed Christianity he has within him, Bully Boy's given no indication that the crime has touched him at all. Considering that what happened to Abeer happened because he sent troops over there, he's got no right to push it off on others.

And with all the article 32 hearings going on now, it's very hard for them to keep using the 'few bad apples' excuse. The rotting is the occupation itself and Abeer's only the latest victim. There will be more.

At the end, when we were leaving, this woman rushed over and wanted to say that it probably wasn't true and C.I. had mentioned the Iraqi investigation and how it had been going on since Thursday. The woman seized on that to prove that there was "disinformation" because she'd just heard about the investigation the day before, so that was "wrong." C.I. was nice about it (I would have told her to check her facts) but I found this published this morning. It's actually another story with the AP at the bottom, scroll down to the bottom to read the AP item and here are two paragraphs from it:

Iraq has launched its own investigation into the alleged rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by American soldiers, even though they face a possible U.S. court-martial in the case.
[. . .]
The Iraqi investigation into the rape-slaying started Thursday and was expected to take one week, said chief prosecutor Adnan Mahmoud of the criminal court in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, where the March 12 assault took place.

Started Thursday.

The second thing I wanted to talk about was Guns and Butter which I taped today because I knew there was a chance I'd miss it otherwise (due to the times we were speaking). Sara Flounders was the woman's name (I left off the "s" at the end) but I got Keith Harmon Snow's name correct, at least. I won't try to get new names today. But the dialogue continued. The topic was Darfur and they didn't go with conventional wisdom. There was a discussion of the racism ('White Man's Burden' -- we must save them) and how that and good intentions were used to obscure reality. There were discussions of what the real motivations were and it's just a really important two part series you should check out. (If you missed it and didn't tape it, you can check it out at Guns and Butter.) You've got a perfect storm raging over Darfur and at some point the zealots are probably going to be able to push military intervention unless people are paying attention. A so-called independent movement, as Flounders pointed out in the first part of the series, doesn't usually get to meet with the Bully Boy nor does their meager protests on a Sunday in DC get more press attention than the massive rallies on immigration that followed it (on Monday) or the anti-war actions that preceeded it (on the Friday and Saturday).

There's a reason that the so-called Darfur movement gets coverage and we find all the usual suspects with the usual motives. Online you can read any number of bloggers 'bleeding' for Darfur. They'd do well to listen to the two-part series. This was really brave of Bonnie Faulkner to air. She could have taken a pass. I remember, for instance, the day after the mini, meager protest in DC for Darfur, it had to share time on Democracy Now with the massive end the war actions. People don't want to tackle the issue. Bonnie Faulkner did and CounterPunch has. Most have avoided tackling it.

So if you're tired of hearing the crap about "Bring the Troops Home and Send Them To Darfur!" Or you're tired of p.r. passing for a movement. Or maybe you're just naturally (and rightly) suspicious when the do-gooders on the right and left team up to scream for military action. Whatever it is, make a point to listen to Guns and Butter's two-part segment.

That's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case, a new poll by the New York Times continues to demonstrate the trend of Americans turning against the war and another witness in the military inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco blasts the way the investigation was conducted.
Today Bob Watada spoke with Philip Maldari on
KPFA's The Morning Show about his son Ehren Watada, the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Bob Watada spoke of the potential consequences that his son could face but noted that Ehren was aware of the consenquences, that there's " a real crisis in this country," and that even "knowing that he may got to jail" his son knew he had to take the stand he did an refuse to deploy. Bob Watada spoke of how his son's discovery of the lies that led a nation into an illegal war changed everything: "When he found out what was going on in Iraq, the president lying to the people, lying to Congress, lying to the military," he knew that he couldn't go to Iraq both for himself and for those who'd be serving under him.
Bob Watada spoke of the expectation that the US military will use Ehren Watada as an example in an effort clamp down on the dissent within the military. And, in answer to Maldari's question of what can be done, he spoke of the importance of public opinion in his son's case: "If the military sees that there is a large swell of public opinion on behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada, they're going to think twice about what they're doing."
The importance of public support/action was also demonstrated in the calls. One that stands out is caller Alden, WWII veteran, in The Underwater Demolition, spoke of being stationed in Hawaii and "about March of '46 the word came through that all the G.I.s were going to be sent back into China to start a war against the new Chinese government. Following this, a couple of days later, there was about 10,000 GIs in Honolulu protesting, saying 'We are going home' and about three days later another one, ten-to-twelve thousand G.I.s saying 'We are going home' and that stopped it. And that was what was going on back in those days and I'm just so supportive and feel completely what Watada is doing and the way he put it and the father and the way he puts it -- that is just outstanding."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Wed. 8/23
7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933

Thu. 8/24
noon-3pm World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408

7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
4-6pm Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Of the various stops he's made so far to speak of his son, Bob Watada said, "It's been really postive here in the Bay Area. Just about everywhere we've gone, we've had packed crowds. . . The other day I had somebody who came up before the program started and said he was a veteran and he didn't really think he could support me or my son. . . . At the end of the evening he came up to me and said 'Whatever you need, whatever your son needs, I want to help you out.'"
In other peace news, Cindy Sheehan will rejoin
Camp Casey III after "several days" reports the Associated Press. Sheehan is back in the Providence Health Center in Waco "recovering . . . after having a hysterctomy" on Tuesday. Next week, Sheehan is scheduled to be in Salt Lake City participating with the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and others in protesting Bully Boy's August 31st speech (during a trip on which Condi Rice is accompanying him).
That's how Sheehan plans to end the month, at the beginning of the month she went to Jordan with Ann Wright, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Geal Murphy, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and others to meet with Iraqi legislators.
Eric Horsting (Washington Beachcomber) reports that also on the trip was filmmaker David Rothmiller who shot footage "to create campaign material for Jeeni Criscenzo, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 49th district in California."
As the November elections approach, many get edgy and itchy. A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News continues to note the shift in public opinion of the illegal war. Summarizing the poll,
Carl Hulse and Marjorie Connelly (New York Times) note of those surveyed: 51 percent "saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort"; 53% said the "war was a mistake"; 62% agreed that things in Iraq could be rated "somewhat or very badly"; 46 percent felt the Bully Boy "had concentrated too much on Iraq". Hulse and Connelly's article also features comments from three follow up interviews. Those views worthy of being noted? Two Republicans and a self-described independent.
In Iraq, the violence and the chaos, to no one's surprise, continues.
In the Baghdad, city of so-called crackdowns, a roadside bomb (possibly targeting Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister) claimed the lives of two civilians and left others wounded
according to the Associated Press. AFP notes that a roadside bomb killed two civilians "between Basra and Nasiriyah." KUNA reports that "[a] car exploded . . . near an army special ops check-point in Dorra" and "that the explosion resulted in several deaths and injuries among the special ops troops in the area." In Mosul, the AP reports, one woman was killed and ten people were wounded by a suicide bomber while, in Falljua, a roadside bomb claimed two lives and left twelve wounded.
AP reports that "1st Lt. Hassanein Saadi al-Zerjawi . . . was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Amarah". Reuters notes that eight people were shot dead in Baquba and a police officer shot dead in al-Hay. AFP notes that, in Kut, "two civilians were shot dead" with a child and one other adult wounded.
AFP reports that six corpses were found beneath a bridge "between the two volatile cities of Mahmudiyah and Latifyah" and three were discovered in Baquba.
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues. The most recent developments revolve around Soldier 47's testimony. Australia's
ABC reports that Soldier 47, "[a] military police investigator" went to Baghdad from Melbourne to investigate the death of Jake Kovco and that "he was informed on the day of Pte Kovco's death to deploy immediately to Baghdad." AAP notes that during Soldier 47 three hour, video-link testimony (from Baghdad), he "detailed a litany of miscommunication and army bungles surrounding the death of the Victorian soldier who was shot in his Baghdad barracks room on April 21." The Daily Telegraph reports of the testiomony that "he was also angerd and surprised that Pte Kovco's body had been flown from Baghdad to Kuwait agains the orgers of the military police's special investigations branch" and "frustrated that forensic evidence was lost when the body had been washed and treated while Pte Kovco's clothes had been destroyed." ABC New South Wales notes that Soldier 47 voiced his frustration over being "told he could not view notes made by Private Kovco's room-mates" and finding out that "the room-mates were in Kuwait, not Baghdad, so he could not immediately interview them." Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 47 gave up custody of Jake Kovco's body because a) he wanted to "get to the scene of the shooting" and because "certain integrites had already been compromised" (see "forensic evidence was lost" two sentences prior).
Soldier 47's testimony of frustration and anger over the investigation echoes
Major Mark Willetts testimony yesterday where he complained about being refused access to the room Kovco died in (Willetts was "the officer in charge of the immediate investigation") and feeling that Jake Kovco's two roommates were being less than fully forthcoming.
In addition,
ABC notes that Soldier 30 is asserting that "some of the claims made about his troops during the course of the inquiry are simply not true" specifically he refutes Soldier 21's claim that "quick draw" games were played with weapons. Two weeks ago, Soldier 30 (who spoke today as he spoke then -- via video-link from Baghdad) asserted that he had given orders that the death/crime scene not be preserved for morale issues Soldier 21, the section commander, is most famous for issuing a statement following the death of Jake Kovco that he heard a cry (in the barracks) of "Allah Akbar" which translates as "God is great." When Soldier 21 testified to the inquiry earlier this month, he renounced that assertion. Then, as
Sydney 2GB reported, "He told the inquiry it had become unclear whether he'd in fact heard the comment."
In other legal news, on April 26th, Hashim Ibrahim Awad died in Hamdania after being allegedly kidnapped by US troops. Charged with kidnapping and the killing were the "Pendelton Eight" -- Saul H. Lopezromo, Derek I. Lewis, Henry D. Lever, Lawrence G. Hutchins II, Trent D. Thomas, Tyler Jackson, Marshall Magincadla, and Jerry E. Schumate Jr.
Thomas Watkins (AP) reports that four of the eight want to skip the Article 32 hearing and instead "proceed straight to trial." Reportedly, John Jodka III's attorney was the one who made the request first (and did so on Friday) which isn't in the AP report. Reportedly not all involved were informed of the request when it was first made. Jerry E. Shumate was the last to join the four in making the request. Watkins reports that the military has denied the request and the Article 32 hearing could start as early as August 28th. But Gidget Fuentes (Navy Times) reports the schedule for the hearings as: September 12th: Jerry E. Shumate Jr.; September 25th: Marshall L. Magincalda, Robert B. Pennington, John J. Jodka, Melson J. Bacos; and October 18th: Lawrence G. Hutchins, Trent D. Thomas and Tyler A. Jackson.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My Home Tower (Records)

More than a little down this evening. I drug everyone to Tower today after we'd finished activism (before we even ate dinner). Music's really important to me and, although I'm not big on chains, I'm a big supporter of Tower Records. I have no idea what their policies are and they may be mining diamonds in Africa.

What I do know, and always did, was that the vinyl album, then the cassette tape, then the CD would always be there for me. When I was a little girl, I would save up my money. My allowance absolutely. But if someone I loved had something coming up (and I studied those upcoming releases the way some kids study sports stats), I wouldn't eat lunch at school. I'd save that lunch money on top of my allowance so that when that album came out, I was there, first in line, ready to get it.

Albums come out on Tuesday with few exceptions. (Neil Young's Living With War came out on a non-Tuesday. It may have been a Monday.) I can remember when Fleetwood Mac's Tango In The Night came out. There was excitement on that for Mac fans. My friend Liz who now lives in Hawaii called me and said, "We went to every concert, we are going to be first in line, right?" I told her absolutely. We were probably way too old but if she was willing to cut work, I was there with her. (I've always been free lance, made my own hours.) But Liz was convinced the album was coming out on a Monday. I told her no, but she wouldn't listen and I thought, "Well she must know something I don't." So we met up at eight a.m., went to breakfast, drove to Tower (listening to U2's The Joshua Tree the whole way) and nothing. It did come out on Tuesday. She had argued and argued and if we'd been in any other store, she probably would have continued to argue. But Tower knew music.

The store, the employees. Other stores wanted their clerks to look like they were about to rent you a car. Tower wanted people who knew music (or were willing to learn).

I never worked at Tower. I used to dream about that when I was really young. The way some people dream about working in a candy store.

But then, in ninth grade, summer after, Pam got nabbed for stealing jeans and it was a major thing. I remember thinking, I had gotten an application from Tower, "Are you going to be able to resist the urge?" I honestly couldn't say that I could. I love music. If I was closing up, could I guarantee a record or too (they were vinyl then) wouldn't make it out of the store with me -- liberated, not stolen? Nope.

And that little nothing boutique went to town on Pam. She was going to pay, her parents were going to pay but they pressed charges and everything.

In these days when everyone's just found Jesus and has the I-Will-Wait braclet to prove it, it may be shocking to some but shoplifting happened a lot when I was a kid. No, everyone didn't do it. I did it in seventh grade. There was this red top that was a flowing thing and I could just see myself wearing it and Bobby (the class stud -- back in the pre-celibate days a seventh grade could have a stud) would notice me and forget all about Faith and her drippy little smile. I got away with it but I was sweating like crazy. Then I guilted like crazy. Then I was just paranoid. Finally, I went back to the store, two weeks later, and handed the manager twenty bucks (which more than covered the top). I told him I'd found it on the floor. He wanted to take my name down in case no one claimed it. I think, after we went back and forth, he grasped that I hadn't found it but was trying to pay off some guilt.

But Tower? In the summer before I went into tenth grade? With all the vinyl? I just couldn't be sure I wouldn't steal. Which was a real bummer because Angie and I were both convinced we could lie about our age (if we wore our hair up, we thought we looked older) and Angie went ahead and applied anyway. Had the time of her life. (Angie denies to this day that she got a discount. If I ever find out that she did get a discount -- I'm pretty sure she did -- we will have a very loud discussion about that.)

Tower Records was just part of my childhood landscape, part of my teen landscape, part of my young adult landscape and part of my landscape today. Of any store, I've logged more hours in Tower.

And now they've declared bankruptcy again because, the story goes, they're trying to sell off before the big rush arrives (traditionally November and December are big months for music sales, now October starts it off). It's not like they have a sign up in the window saying "Closed." And maybe they'll hang around in some form.

I don't know. There was a music store I drove an hour to go to until 2002 when it closed. They hung a sign in the window saying, "Thanks Napster." Napster wasn't what closed them. Shitty service did the trick. The store had no supervision and the kids thought it was their playground. Now if that's kids into music, it could work (and I've seen it work many times). Instead, it was all bring your dates to work, eat pizza with them, talk on your cell phones and know nothing about music. Some Eagles album, probably Hell Freezes Over, I don't know, was what an older guy was asking about one day. Three different clerks told them they'd never heard of the Eagles. In California?

Now kids their age would put up with the crap. They'd get mad and you could tell they were mad. I remember one young woman griping loudly as she searched for Third Eye Blind (this was long after "Semi-Charmed Kind of Life"). But older people (and I fall in there) really don't put up with that crap. If they're asking for help, they expect to get it. Maybe you won't have what they're looking for, but you'll try to see if you do.

So shitty service killed that store. (They had an incredible used CD collection which was why I went. I swear, they must have had a dee jay close by who was selling off, bit by bit, everything he or she had ever bought. You never wanted to skip more than two weeks because, if you did, there was no telling what you'd missed -- what import, or what bootleg live album or you name it.)

So I spent the time since I learned the news thinking what was my Tower not doing? The thing I think they weren't doing? Or things?

I didn't care for the new categorization system that they'd implemented. But I think the real problem was the customers. The Wal-Mart crowd really doesn't belong. If you're trying to get the cheapest price, go to Wal-Mart. If you're bringing in your kids with you (and they don't give a damn about music) go to Wal-Mart. No one needs your kids running up and down the aisles.
Sumner got pissed one Saturday because he was trying to remember the name of a group he'd heard on the radio once and only once. He almost had it. (He had the first letter of their name.) And then these four kids (none older than eight) started playing tag and running through the aisles. We came back here and logged on to Amazon where he found the album in about two minutes and ordered it.

If Tower's not about music, if it's a kiddie playland like McDonald's, it's not a place for music lovers to go. I also felt like they had a sorry way of promoting music lately. Getting behind some new act and you turn around and there's another cardboard cut out. Meanwhile, despite their scan and listen stations, you kept coming across CDs that you couldn't scan and listen to. Either they didn't show up or they'd show up but there was no listening opition, just titles listed.

So maybe that was it? I don't know. In terms of the kids, I made a point to go first thing in the morning or the hour before they closed. That way I didn't feel like I was being pushed aside by a crowd of kiddies seeking the cage with the balls. (There was none but they really were allowed to treat the store like a McDonald's Playground.)

I also feel like there was too much 'new.' A music store needs to keep things in stock. If you're selling to the new crowd only, you're missing a lot of sales. There was a kid asking for Dark Side of the Sun last month and they didn't have a copy in the store. (That's Pink Floyd for anyone who doesn't know.) I sw the same thing happening in the Joni Mitchell section. Joni hasn't had a new album in some time. She's released some collections (which I bought) but I always check Joni when I go into Tower. Maybe they'll have an import or something I've never seen. What I noticed was more and more it was becoming Blue and only a few others. (Of course every damn thing Bob Dylan ever did was there with several copies but that's how it always for the boys.)

Even as a kid, the back catalogue mattered to me. I knew we could run to some five & dime and grab the newest thing. But I knew if I wanted to dig deep into the catalogue, I needed to go to Tower. I also noticed a refusal to special order.

It was a refusal. I would ask about something, ask them to special order, and I would be told, "Oh, you can go to and order it." Okay, but I didn't want to go to If I wanted to order online, I'd go to Amazon. What I wanted was to do a special order and pick it up at Tower. Now maybe everyone they advised to go to did (I doubt it, I'm sure most went to -- the Tower website isn't user friendly and it's actually an unattractive site). But the store lost business, lost sales, it could have had if the clerks had been willing to write a special order. (Maybe that was store policy, no special orders? I have no idea. I just know no one would take them.)

For me, the rush and joy comes from walking into the store and walking out with a sack full of music. Waiting around for the mail to be delivered doesn't do it for me. Add in that my postal carrier doesn't always knock on my door so I end up having to trudge down to the post office, wait in line for a half-hour, hand over my (ha ha) 'tried to deliver' slip and get my package, and mail order doesn't cut it for me.

But I will give the clerks plenty of praise for knowing music. They knew music. If it was a new person who'd gotten hired because a friend worked there, you could watch and see them become mini-experts over a few weeks time. Whether that was a company policy or just at my favorite store, I don't know but I'll give them credit for that.

So now, this is the depression, the store that I've always shopped at is probably going to close down the way so many other music stores have lately. I know I should adapt and get used to downloading and all of that. But for me, there was always this special thrill of walking out of Tower with my yellow sack full of music. Though I couldn't do this in the vinyl days, in the cassette and CD days, I'd be a few steps into the parking lot when I'd be reaching into the sack, ripping off the plastic of one and getting all exctied about the fact that, as soon as I was in the car, I'd be listening.

So that's my Tower lament. Put on Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" and read with tissue.

Tomorrow on KPFA's The Morning Show, after the 8:00 am news (second hour), Bob Watada will be the guest. That's Ehren Watada's father so make a point to listen. Oh, almost forgot.
Guns and Butter. I think tomorrow is the second part of the Darfur discussion. That was really great. C.I. told me the names of both of the guests I was impressed with but I've forgotten the guy's. (Keith something.) The woman was Sara Flounder. The guy was Keith Harmon Snow! I just remembered. So that's two things worth catching tomorrow.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" which is both more to the point and more important than my sobs over Tower:

Tuesday, August 22, 2005. A
day after the Bully Boy's inner-dialogue in front of the world, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, British whispers say there may be a pull out, a witness says he didn't believe Jake Kovco's roommates told the truth about what happened when Kovco died April 21st, and Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case.
Starting with the Bully Boy of the United States,
Oliver Knox (AFP) reports on the "revolt" Bullly Boy's facing with some Republicans (Chris Shays) calling for a timeframe for withdrawal, some cheerleaders lagging and the general mood of the United States.
On the mood,
CNN's latest polling (released Monday) found that only 35% of those surveyed "favor the war in Iraq" while 61% were opposed to it which is "the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago."
Though Bully Boy boasted yesterday that, as long as he was the leader, US troops would remain in Iraq, there is good news in the CNN poll for Bully Boy as well. He can break that promise without shocking many -- "
Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence."
On the topic of the cheerleaders . . . Did someone cry "War Cheerleader Down!"?
Or was that the sound of Thomas Friedman ripping
another pair of tights/pantyhose? Robert Parry (Consortium News) examines the laughable Thomas Friedman's record of 'analysis' and concludes that it's past time that Friedman and his fellow War Cheerleaders, who got it all wrong from the start, "have the decency to admit their incompetence and resign." Parry digs into the writings/record of Friedman and notes that: "Friedman, despite botching the biggest foreign-policy story in the post-Cold War era, . . . retains his prized space on the New York Times Op-Ed page".
As the War Cheerleaders cheer a little lower and think a little slower (is that even possible?), the
Guardian of London reports that "a senior military commander" (British) has stated that British forces in Iraq could drop from "7,000 to between 3,00 and 4,000 by the middle of next year". This as another British commander, "British Royal Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Fry," calls Iraq "a civil war in minature." Fry tells Robert Burns (Associated Press) that it's "important that the conflict not be described as 'civil war'" (this after doing just that) because, among other things, it "encourages . . . adventurous media reporting." Perish the thought.
As one British commander offers (carless?) whispers of a partial pull-out and another wants to play word games,
Bloomberg reports that "U.K. voter support for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party fell to its lowest in 19 years" and that "[t]he Liberal Democrats, who opposed the war in Iraq and have criticized Blair's relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, gained more than the Conservatives in the past month." The BBC breaks down the poll's findings as follows: "Tories on 40% -- nine points ahead of Labour on 31%, with the Lib Dems on 22%." The Times of London, on the same poll, reports: "Nearly three-quarters of the public believe that Tony Blair's foreign policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists". Support for Blair, like support for Bully Boy, has fallen.
In Iraq?
CBS and AP report a hidden bomb claimed the lives of two civilians in Baghdad. Reuters notes a mortar attack in Muqdadiya which has wounded at least fifteen and a roadside bomb "near Yusufiya" which has wounded two civilians and killed a third. AFP reports what we'll call a 'corpse bomb' in Muqdadiya which caused damages to a police vehicle.
AFP reports that eight "young Shiite men from Najaf . . . were pulled from buses by gunmen late Monday . . . and shot dead in the street." CBS and AP note that, in Baghdad, an engineer "was shot dead while . . . in his car" while "crossfire" claimed the lives of two civilians in Amarah. Reuters notes the following: Ramadi -- a body guard of the governor of the Anbar Province was killed in a drive-by; near Kirkuk -- two civilians shot dead; Baquba -- a police major was shot dead (his driver wounded); and in Mosul -- a civilian shot dead.
Reuters notes that Dawoud Salman (Shi'ite Endowment employee) was found dead in Baghdad while another corpse was found "near Hilla."
Turning to kidnapping news, the priest kidnapped last Tuesday (
hit the wires on Friday, the Pope issued a plea for his return this weekend) in Baghdad is apparently alive. Reuters reports that a ransom note has been recived and that the Misna news agency has spoken to Father Saad Syrop Hanna.
Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer known to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Despite confusion in the e-mails, he has not been charged with anything today. (A program announced he had, they were covering Thursday's Article 32 hearing.) Lt. Col. Mark Keith is weighing the testimony and will issue a conclusion on whether or not action should be pursued. Tuesday
The KPFA Evening News had a report on Watada and they spoke to his father Bob Watada who supports his son and is currently speaking in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bob Watada stated of the illegal war, "They're killing innocent men, women and children -- that's a violation of the Geenva convention which we agreed to. We're using depleted uranium, we're using cluster bombs, we're using phosphoric, we used to call it naplam, but they're phosphoric gases to burn the people. These are all war crimes. Talk about the torture that's going on in Abu Ghraib and other places. You know the rapes of the civilians and so forth. And Ehren would be forced to participate in this illegal war and would be forced to participate in these war crimes that are going on every day."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Tu. 8/22
1-3 pm brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave.,
Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902

6-9pm Buena Vista United Methodist Church- Reception & Event 2311 Buena Vista Ave.
Alameda Contact: Rev. Michael Yoshii 510/522-2688

Wed. 8/23
10:30-noon UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026

noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711 7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933

Thu. 8/24
noon-3pm World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408

7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
"I'm trying to publicize my son's cause and publicize what's going on in Iraq,"
he tells
Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet). Scherr reports that Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, told her that, if there is a court-martial, "our intent" is to "put the Iraq War on trial". Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is preparing an editorial to run on Ehren Watada's case.
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In other resistance news,
Jeff Paterson (Indybay IMC) reports on this past weekend's rally "outside Fort Lewis, Washington" in support of Suzanne Swift which calls for "an honorable discharge for the Iraq veteran and sexual assault victim who went AWOL instead of returning to Iraq." Among those taking part were Swift's mother Sara Rich and CODEPINK's Ann Wright (US army Col. retired). [And yesterday, Jeff Paterson, of Not In Our Name, was wrongly billed by me as "Jeff Patterson." My apologies.]
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Bagdad death of Jake Kovco continues and apparently the only one not allowed to traipse through the crime scene was the officer making the assessment.
Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that, in his testimony to the inquiry, Major Mark Willetts was "refused permission to enter the room at the Australian embassy compound in Baghdad but observed it from outside and saw photos." Australia's ABC notes that Willetts testified that while he wasn't allowed to enter "the room was occupied by military people, with no investigative skills". Paul Mulvey (Perth Now) reports that Willetts encounters with Kovco's roommates (Soldiers 17 & 19) weren't productive and that Willets "believed . . . they were witholding evidence" because "I find it difficult [to believe] that two men in the room would not have had more information in regards to what happened." For those who've fogotten, both roommates have stated they saw nothing (19 has stated he was getting a drink out of the room's mini-fridge, 17 states he was looking elsewhere ). The AAP quotes Willetts stating: "It's a small room; there were three people in there; it would have been very difficult not to have known what was going on in there." Tracey Ong notes Willetts' testimony regarding Soldier 21 who has now retracted his statement that he heard "Allah Akbar" yelled "10 seconds before the shooting" -- of Soldier 21, Willetts testified: "He was quite adament, in fact he was emphatic he heard Allah Akbar."
CBS and AP report this on Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi: "An Iraqi investigative panel has launched an independent probe into the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl allegedly by American soldiers currently in U.S. custody, who will be tried in absentia if necessary, an official said Tuesday." The probe actually began Thursday and is expected to last at least a week. Abeer's 15th birthday would have been last Saturday.
Robin Morgan reported the following (Guardian of London via Common Dreams): "The victim's name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Abeer means 'fragrance of flowers'. She was 14 years old. According to a statement by one of the accused, the soldiers first noticed her at a checkpoint. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky, they changed into civvies and burst into Abeer's home. They killed her mother, father and five-year-old sister and 'took turns' raping Abeer. Finally, according to the statement, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and set them on fire. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings."