Friday, October 13, 2006

Books (C.I.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'll focus on non-fiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wayne Madsen and Dr. William Pepper (Ruth)

Ruth filling in on Wednesdays while Kat is in Ireland. Before I go any further, I need to suggest that you read Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Men in Trees, Water Cooler Critics swinging from them." Men in Trees is my granddaughter Tracey's favorite show which I had no idea until Sunday. She 'confessed' only after she read the review. I had never seen the program but she tapes it on Fridays and came over last night. That really is a show that you get caught up in. With the first episode, she brought three on tape, I thought, "Well that is a pretty good show." By the third episode, I was a little upset there wasn't a fourth to watch.

It really is involving. If you are interested in finding a TV show that will hook you, this is probably one to check out. I will add that Tracey agrees Fridays is a bad fit for the show. She is afraid that it will end up cancelled. That would be a shame because it is one of the better programs I have seen in the last few years.

KPFA's Guns and Butter aired today and, if you missed it, you can hear it in the archives. Today, I visited a friend. She had her new grandchild with her and was a bit nervous. She was excited but nervous. She, the grandchild, is three-months-old and this was the first full day she had her. Her daughter is going back to work and she figured, "If Ruth can do this, I can too." She can. But that did make us wonder how many grandmothers and other family members were watching children across the country?

Some adult-children can probably afford childcare and prefer to use grandparents but we are also aware that with the continued downward trend of the economy, for everyone not at the very top, there are probably a number of families with small children who are making the choice with little choice.

I was there to provide moral support and encouragement. This is her first grandchild and, despite raising three children, she had more jitters than a first time mother bringing her child home from the hospital. She did the wonderful job that her daughter knew she would. This is not a sacrifice for her but it is an adjustment because, outside of Treva, she is the most mobile friend I have my age. So I offered different suggestions including catching KPFA or another radio station during the day. I enjoy radio and I think it is much easier to watch a child and have that on then to have the TV on because then what are you watching?

Elijah is old enough that I do not have to keep my eye on him every moment but that was a concern early on. So we listened to The Morning Show and she really enjoyed that. Later, we listened to Guns and Butter and she was disappointed when I explained that she would not be able to listen to it every day because it only airs new programs on Wednesdays.

As she pointed out, "I've never heard anything like this on NPR." Probably not anywhere else either. It is a one of a kind show. Today the program aired segments from a New York conference. First up was Wayne Madsen who set the stage wonderfully. My friend loved what he said but wondered, "How can anyone speak the truth like that?" Hint, it is pledge time again. If you have the money to give and can donate, that is the thing that allows programs like Bonnie Faulkner's to air. Next up was Dr. William Pepper whom Kat has noted before. During the first section of his talk, we were still speaking of Mr. Madsen.

My friend had seen Matthew Rothschild's article slamming the 9-11 Truth Movement and she wondered why he was so bent out of shape and portraying everyone as "crazy"? That is a good question and one I have asked myself.

I will return to that topic shortly, but first let me note today's program.

Dr. William Pepper spoke of the interest in 9-11 in Venezuela and, as we both agreed, it would be a really sad state of affairs if another country was more interested than the United States but, fortunately, despite scoldings, snears, and smears, people in this country are willing to explore and ask questions.

There was a woman, months and months ago, that Bonnie Faulkner presented. I believe her name was Mae Brussell. She has passed now but Ms. Faulkner was, I thought, honoring the work Ms. Brussell had done and demonstrating the importance of asking questions and refusing to accept pleasing tales as the truth. Ms. Brussell was speaking of efforts to destroy the counter-culture movement and, specifically, of Charles Manson. It was a fascinating broadcast and, as I look back on it, makes me wonder why people who have no interest in something feel the need to trash those who do?

That is the question I still have over Mr. Rothschild's smear. I have heard him on many radio programs, including his own, and he always seems like a nice guy. I think it was the nastiness factor, the mean spirited way of writing, that bothered me so. That is not how he has come off on radio. Then to see the e-mail where he was so filled with glee over stirring up a "hornet's nest" further shocked me.

Ms. Faulkner does important work. I am less inclined to say that about Mr. Rothschild because of the fact that he promoted the piece, which has now been published as a book review, on 9-11 and had so much to say on that topic while having so little to say on issues that supposedly matter to him. The "hornet's nest" e-mail continues to bother me because it appears, as C.I. noted, it was nothing but an attempt at attention-getting. Some people, apparently, can only build their name up by tearing others down and that Mr. Rothschild would be one of those is something that truly saddens me.

If you are interested in more than scolding, please check out Guns and Butter. Maybe you will agree with the program, maybe you will not. But you will not be bored and you will discover a program that is not interested in repeating what every other media outlet does.

Now let me wind down this post by copying and pasting C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. Violence and chaos continue in Iraq, Shi'ites in Parliament push to split the nation of Iraq, a new study published by the British medical journal The Lancet concludes that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have died since the illegal war, those disputing the study will have plenty of time to gasbag since the illegal war is 'ready' to continue through 2010, but in the meantime they can dicker over the figures released by the Iraqi Health Ministry for September (2,660 Iraqis dead), and war resister Ricky Clousing stands trial in North Caroline tomorrow.

Tomorrow, at Fort Bragg, war resister Ricky Clousing faces a military trial. Clousing self-checked out of the military in June of 2005. In August, Clousing held a press conference to announce his decision to turn himself in. At the August 11, 2006 press conference, Clousing stated:

In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Upon my return to the United States I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality?

Clousing was charged with desertion and tomorrow, October 12th, he will face a military trial. As Clousing's website notes: "After returning to military custody, the 82nd Airborne opened an investigation into Sgt. Clousing's allegations of systemic abuse and the misuse of power by US troops in Iraq. The Army has yet to announce the results of this investigation." Also noted is the press conference tomorrow at 10 am, the Quaker House, 223 Hillside Ave, Fayetteville, NC at which Ricky Clousing will speak. At noon, in downtown Fayetteville, there will be a rally to show support for Clousing.

While Ricky Clousing stands up, jaw boners get all nervous over a study published in The Lancet which estimates Iraqi deaths since the beginning of the illegal war to have reached 655,000. The study, funded by MIT and the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, follows up an earlier one published in the fall of 2004 which, as Patricia Reaney (Reuters) reports, estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths as a result of the war during the time frame of March 2003 and September 2004. The study comes a little over three full months after the US military finally admitted that they were keeping a body count of Iraqis dying from violence throughout the country. [See Nancy A. Youssef's "U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency," Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" and Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?".] [The study published in The Lancet notes: "The US Department of Defence keeps some records of Iraqi deaths, despite initially denying that they did" and credits Sabrina Tavernise, Dexter Filkins and Eric Schmitt's "U.S. Quietly Issues Estimate Of Iraqi Civilian Casualties" from October 30, 2005 in the New York Times. Youssef's article exposed the fact that the actual figures are kept and sent out to high ranking officers in Iraq for, as a general put it to Youssef, a measurement.]

Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) observe that the latest study "breaks down to about 15,000 violent deaths a month". The study's publication comes as another estimate, from Iraq's Health Ministry, makes the news. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Lee Keath (AP) report: "More than 2,660 Iraqi civilians were killed in the capital in September amid a wave of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks, and increase of 400 over the month before". They also note that Bully Boy disputes the number in the latest study published in The Lancet.

As sillys and fools dicker, Salam Talib and Eliana Kaya ( Free Speech News, The KPFA Evening News) took a look at life on the ground in a report that aired (on both programs) yesterday and, unlike so much of the reporting from Iraq, they were actually able to speak with Iraqi women. Life on the ground in Baghdad includes outrageous prices and travel delays. One Iraqi women explained that you either wait or you take "unpaved roads". Wait? For the US military. "Today," she stated, "we've waited about 2 hours for the military to pass." In terms of prices, a woman spoke of how she has seen the prices for food rise, rise and rise. Unlike a chicken, you can get a cell phone for less than ten bucks. The price of a chicken has gone from the US equivalent of one dollar to fifteen dollars. As the report makes clear, more time is spent waiting for US military processions to move through than in the market, which, one woman explained, many tend to dart in and out of quickly due to fears of violence.

Fears of violence?


CBS and AP report that three car bombs in Baghdad wounded a total of 30 people and killed at least five. Reuters notes that a roadside bomb in Inskandariya, apparently targeting the Babil police chief, left his driver and two bodyguards wounded while a "peasant woman" was killed by a bomb on "a farm just 10 km (6 miles) southest of Kut". CNN notes a bomb "in southwestern Bagdad's Amil neighborhood" which took the lives of five and left six more wounded.


Reuters reports that, in Rasheed, three died (including two police officers) during armed "clashes"; while, in Suwayra, Raad al-Uthmani was shot dead following a home invasion by assailants; and, in Falluja, a police officer was shot dead. CBS and AP note that a police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk. CNN notes a home invasion in Baghdad ("Dora area") which killed four and wounded two more.


Reuters reports that five corpses were discoverd in Kut ("bound and blindfolded with multiple gunshot wounds, gearing signs of torture").

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, a fire in an ammunition dump that started last night was the result of mortar rounds and not an accident. Though the US military originally practiced denial, they admitted the cause of the fire and explosions this morning. AFP reports that it "lit up the night sky and spread panic in the already shell-shocked Iraqi capital," that it continued to burn through Wednesday and noted US military flack Jonathan Withington stating that it's believed to have been the work of "civilians aligned with a militia organisation". Al Jazeera reports: "While there were no reports of US casualties, the explosions marked a rare success for mortar teams working for militia and insurgent groups, which rarely cause much damage to well-protected US facilities." CNN reports: "Militia forces fired an 82 mm mortar round on a small U.S. base in southwestern Baghdad. . . The ammunition supply center that was struck held tank, artillery and small-arms rounds. A U.S. soldier and an interpreter were wounded but later returned to duty, a military spokesman said." As Aileen Alfandary noted today (KPFA's The Morning Show) this attack in Baghad "despite an increased sweep by Iraqi and American forces" -- the 'crackdown' -- juiced up and jucied up again, ongoing since June.

The continue violence and chaos comes as Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that US Army General Peter J. Schoomaker has stated that the military can maintain the present US troop levels in Iraq through 2010 but states he's not prediciting, "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot." Sitting ducks, commas, the troops have been called many things. Schoomaker calls them "ammo." This as, in England, Mark Oliver (Guardian of London) discusses Tony Edwards appearance at Tuesday's Jane's defence conference and stated "that governments would either have to find more money or scale back their ambitions for what their reduced military capabilities could do." Edwards was speaking of the British military.

In Iraq, the puppet governments continue to raise eye brows. Al Jazeera reports on Ayham al-Samarraie who was arrested "on charges of finanical and managerial corruption in August" for his actions while serving as a minister in Ayham al-Samarraie's government (the first post-invasion puppet government) but he was taken from the court and is now protected by US forces. al-Samarraie's "protection" raises serious questions about whether even the appearance of independence will be allowed for the puppet government. It also raises a serious issue of what was a US citizen doing holding government office in the supposedly independent Iraq.

In other Iraqi parliamentary news, Reuters reports that they have just "approved a law that sets out the mechanics of forming federal regions" with the backing of "some Shi'ite majority leaders" and that the vote was "boycotted by the Accordance Front, the largest political bloc of the Sunni minority."

To "save" the country, it had to be "divided" -- after being turned to chaos by outside forces.

In peace news, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, continues the second leg of his speaking tour to raise awareness on his son, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.
Ehren Watada feels that the war is illegal and that to participate would mean he and anyone serving under him would be committing war crimes. Some of the upcoming dates for Bob Watada's speaking tour include:

Wed 10/100 7:00-9:45 pm CSULB Asian American and Chicano & Latino Studies Classes
Dr. John Tsuchida and Dr. Juan Benitez
1250 Bellflower Bl, Long Beach

Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm. First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:

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

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

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

A full schedule, in PDF form, can be found here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at and information on all known war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

War resister, Ricky Clousing faces a court-martial tomorrow. We'll close with his statement at the August 11th press conference:

First to my Family, Friends, Brothers and Sisters of the Religious Community, Members of the Press, and fellow citizens of this nation we are grateful to call home -- thank you for your support here today before I turn myself over to military custody.
My name is Ricky Clousing. I am a Sergeant in the United States Army and I have served for three years and have been absent from my unit since June 2005. Like many in uniform today, I enlisted after the events of September 11th wanting to defend the freedoms and privileges we enjoy here. After 18 months of instruction I completed my necessary training as an interrogator and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. As the invasion of Iraq unfolded I felt confused about the premise behind such an attack. But in November 2004 I deployed to Iraq in support of the first stage of elections to be held. In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to doubt and reconsider my beliefs. I thought about these experiences and what they meant each day I was deployed and until I was back in garrison at Fort Bragg in April of 2005. Upon my return to the United States I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality? If those orders come unquestioned down my Chain of Command, does this exempt me from reevaluating them? My convictions, spiritually and politically, began to make me call into question my ability to perform day to day functions as a soldier. I finally concluded after much consideration that I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom. At the recommendation of my unit, I sought counsel from military chaplains and counselors, and as my feelings crystallized, I realized that I could not fulfill the duties expected of me. After months of questioning, I began considering the possibility of leaving. Each day I felt haunted by my conscience which told me that my association in uniform at this time was wrong, and my involvement directly or indirectly in this organization at this time was a contradiction to my personal, moral and spiritual beliefs. I stand here before you today about to surrender myself, which was always my intention. I do not know what to expect, or the course of my future. We Americans have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a Soldier, as an American, and as a Human Being, we mustn't lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn. Thank you.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kat & Blogging (Betty)

Betty here, filling in for Kat. A few things. I was asked if I was talking to Kat? No. She's dealing with an impending death in the family. I followed Ruth's advice and wrote her a letter. You're dealing with a time zone difference and I have no idea if I'd be calling during a bad time. Ruth's right, a letter allows you to let someone know that they're in your thoughts but also allows them to read it if and when there is time. I miss Kat a lot. She's not my friend, though.

My daughter corrected me on that. Kat is her friend. She was quite serious. (She loves Kat. And she loves Kat's hair.)

Despite what my daughter thinks, Kat is also my friend. I actually wasn't sure about Kat when I first started talking to her. She's very funny and I'm always sure that I'm not. She stands her ground and I admired that about her. But it was when we all were in DC in March 2005 that I got to see and talk to her. I thought she was funny before but she's funnier in person and it also adds to what she's saying when she's not being funny. She's very direct.

I have no problem with that, my parents are that way. But until you get to know her, you may wonder if she's direct or she just doesn't like you? I was really sure she didn't like me before we were all in DC. I think I told her that the second we were face to face. One of those, "Hey, if you don't like me, don't worry about it, we don't have to hang." She quickly corrected me and we ended up laughing about that and the things that made me wonder. I can be pretty sensitive.

There was one time, I don't remember what it was, but C.I. made a comment at The Common Ills and I was convinced it was about me. It came out in a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review, what the point was about (it wasn't about me) and I owned up to it in the roundtable that my feelings had been hurt because I thought it was about me. Kat and I laughed about that after.

Her theory is that because "your man walked out on you and the kids, you've got all these doubts about yourself that you aren't even aware of." I'm beginning to see the truth in that. I can't date and be a mother right now, the kids are too young and I get too lost in romance, but I also think, now, that part of the reason for that decision is that I knew how my kids felt and I knew they needed me. I do think there are a lot of questions as a result of his exit. Questions I have about me. And I know I am the most sensitive of anyone. Or personally sensitive.

I feel so bad for C.I. because when it's beyond exhaustion time, I feel like C.I.'s just has no defences left. C.I. is probably the most sensitive person about others and can usually tell there's a problem before anyone else. There's someone in the community thinking about starting a site and he wrote me about it. He was wondering how hard it was and other things along those lines?

I had so much help and so much hand holding. C.I. and Rebecca were there for me and then some. Both of them read (for about five to six weeks) every draft I wrote when I was trying to figure out what sort of site I wanted to do. They really went all out for me. No one else that started a site had the problems or concerns I did. (See Kat's theory about my state of mind.) They encouraged me, gave me solid criticism and stressed that it had to be something I wanted to do. Which is how I came up with the idea of doing an ongoing story in comedic form. Everyone was supportive. I got to work on The Third Estate Sunday Review for several editions before I started my site because I wanted to see what it was like when you had a deadline and also how they pulled together the editions each week. If you're not of the belief that you have something to offer, you shouldn't do a site.

Rebecca and C.I. encouraged me to believe that I had a site and were the first to get (not me) that I had stumbled upon my focus -- probably around the fortieth version of what I thought I might be interested in doing. Rebecca played a trick on me. She said, "It's well written but it doesn't speak to me." I said, "What!" and started offering up examples of it and listing this and that before I realized she was laughing. She said she loved this idea but wanted to be sure this was something I was interested in and not "an audition piece."

So that's my advice about sites for whatever it's worth. I wish I could tell you I didn't hate everything I write at my site but I basically do. There's never enough time to build it to what I want the latest chapter to be. And there are times when I have X time and have to get something up. If I could, I'd go back and revise everything I've posted.

Kat is really good about listening to all my drafts. So is C.I. (and with Kat in Ireland, I feel bad that I'm probably pushing more of that off on C.I. than usual). In fact, there was a chapter that I didn't think I had and Kat and C.I. went through my drafts I'd been working on and pulled out lines from each of them and constructed a draft that I wrote around. They're also both very good about saying, "How about that thing you cut a few weeks back?" I'll have forgotten all about it. I write about six drafts for each chapter. Mainly trying to figure out the tone (and I also have the plot outlined and work from that). But most of the time, on Fridays, I'm looking at the drafts and rewriting a whole new one that only includes a few things from the draft.

I usually post on Fridays because my sister watches my kids then. I watch her kids on Saturday -- it gives both of us a night to have some space. Although my daughter can't make it more than two hours without insisting that she brought back to me or that I go pick her up. (She's the youngest.)

So that's my blogging story for whatever it's worth. I wish I had more time to work on each post, I wish I had more time to post, I wish I did more than one a week. But that's life, right? Caught between the wish and reality.

Here's some reality, try Trina's "Brownies and school party tips in the Kitchen." I didn't have time to make the recipe this weekend but my oldest sister did and she brought them over to my parents (we all go there on Sundays). They were delicious. There are also some good tips about school parties. I really enjoyed reading it and I really enjoyed the brownies my sister brought.
Let me plug myself too, my latest chapter (with all its warts) went up Friday, "Thomas Friedman's Bad Ideas & Blurry Boundaries." I should also note Cedric's "School play (humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! ALBERTO WILL BE THE CROSSING GUARD!" which is a joint post and they always note everything the community writes in their joint posts. I can't believe they were able to be funny today. I think we're all exhausted. They were saying this weekend, near the end of the edition for The Third Estate Sunday Review, that if ("if") they did a Monday post it would be a silly one. It is. It will make you laugh. By the way, Mike and I worked on a feature (photos mainly) that would not post. It'll be in the gina & krista round-robin Friday.

It's late for me. The time on the post is Pacific Time and I live in the Central Time zone. So I'll note the snapshot and then go to bed. I had an e-mail from a woman who wondered why I posted the snapshot at my site. Keesha and someone else, I'm tired, sorry, brought this up in a roundtable a number of us did for the gina & krista round-robin. C.I. focuses on Iraq because the community wanted it. And members feel that when other sites post, they should include a snapshot because it's one more way to keep the focus on Iraq. I agree with that. (We all do. And the only thing we felt was embarrassment when Keesha and Carl or Keesha and Eddie brought it up in the roundtable.) Iraq matters. I wouldn't have the time (or skill) to pull together a snapshot on my own. But the very least I can do is to copy and paste that day's. So here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday October 9, 2006. Chaos and violence continue, war resister Ricky Clousing goes on trial Thursday, the Iraqi Defense Ministry wonders whether 300-plus Iraqi police officers intentionally poisoned, US casualities hit a high not seen since the slaughter of Falluja, the brother of one of Iraq's two vice-presidents is shot dead in his home, and the US military announces the deaths of three more US troops.

In June of 2005, war resister
Ricky Clousing self-checked out of the US military. On August 11th of this year, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) broke the news that 24-year-old Ricky Clousing had decied to turn himself in and noted that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division." Clousing spoke publicly about his decision to return at the Veterans for Peace conference that was being held in Seattle. The AP reported Clousing self-check out by noting: "He left a note on his door, with King's quote: 'Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' But Conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right." Jane Cutter (Party for Socialism and Liberation) reported that a war resister of the current war was present to show support as Clousing made his public statement, Camilo Mejia, and that also joining them was a resister from the Vietnam era, Michael Wong. [Wong is one of the contributors to Koa Books' newly published Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston. A six paragraph sample from his "Honor's Death" can be found here.]

Clousing turned himself in at Fort Lewis (Washington) and was instructed that Fort Bragg handled the issue. On August 18th, Clousing turned himself to Fort Bragg. September 1st, the military announced, to Clousing's attorney David Miner, that Clousing had been charged with desertion the day before. Clousing's response to the news: "Since I left the army I have known that being court martialed was a possibility I could face. I am at peace with my decision. I followed my conscience and, if need be, I will fee honored to join the ranks of others who have been prosecuted for doing the same."

Now the
AP reports the hearing is set and, according to Major Tom Earnhardt, due to start Thursday. The Fayetteville Observer reports that, according to David Miner, "Clousing will plead guilty to going absent without leave. . . . Miner said he would argue for no punishment during the special court-martial scheduled for Thursday at Fort Bragg." This Thursday, before the court-martial begins*, there will be a press conference, 10 a.m., 223 Hillside Avenue, Fayetteville, NC (Quaker House) where Clousing will speak and, at noon, there will be a downtown rally. [*The hearing is being written and spoken of as a "court-martial," not as an Article 32 hearing. ] That's this Thursday and you can find out more at Ricky Clousing's website.

Clousing is part of a movement of war resistance within the military and we'll return to this topic later in the snapshot.

Michael Luo (New York Times) reported on "clash" in Diwaniya this morning. Not covered were civilian casualties. AFP reports: "Medics at Diwaniyah's main hospital reported that seven civilians had been wounded during the battle, one of them critically, while sporadic firing continued around the city into Sunday afternoon. Later, US and Iraqi forces sealed off and entered the hospital, apparently hunting for wounded militiamen."

On the topic of casualities,
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported Sunday: "The number of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly leve in nearly two years" and that, in September, "776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq". [Casualities are wounded. Fatalities are deaths. The New York Times frequently seems lost with the terms, but to be clear, the topic being addressed is wounded.] Andrew Buscombe (Independent of London) addressed the topic today noting: "The ration of wounded to killed is 8 to 1, compared with 3 to 1 during the Vietnam War. . . . At the same time, other figures show that the number of attacks against US forces is continuing to rise. In July a total of 2,625 explosive devices were encountered by US forces -- with the devices either exploding or defused -- compared with 1,454 in January. The increase suggested that despite the killing in June of Abu Musab al Zarqawi . . ., the anti-American insurgency is intensifying."

This comes at a time that
Richard Stengel (NBC News) reports that soldiers are asking questions regarding "when" Iraqis will take over and quotes Vernon Roberson agreeing that soliders ask "Why are we here? Is this our war anymore?" Roberson: "Oh yes, all the time. I ask myself that a lot, too. We've been here for so long and we've done so much, but it's just so far we can go." As Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) and Amit R. Paley (The Washington Post) have noted, Iraqis also wonder when it will end and polling found (use previous links) the majority of Iraqis want the US out now.

Meanwhile, a Sunday meal served in Iraq to Iraqi police officers has resulted in deaths and arrest.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports 350 police officers came down with food poisoning and that Jassim al-Atwan of Iraq's Environment Ministry stated eleven police officers had died. Other sources speaking to AP claim no one died. Some put the number of those poisoned at 400. AFP reports that three have died and notes no one has determined yet whether it was a deliberate incident or "whether there was something in the warter of if the food was spoiled." AP reports "the head of the mess hall" has been arrested. CBS and AP quote Brig. Qssaim al-Moussawi stating "A number of people have been arrested". AFP, in a later report, notes the following as arrrested: "a produce supplier and four cooks". At present, no one knows or no one's talking. If an intentional poisoning took place, it would mean that the Iraqi resistance was exploring new techniques and, if so, those in the Green Zone should be especially concerned. AP notes that the food was "provided by an Australian contractor."


Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that, in Baghdad, a car bomb has claimed the lives of at least 13 people and left 46 injured. Outside Baghad?

In that
'peaceful' Tal Afar (to hear the Bully Boy and Michael Gordon tell it), CBS and AP report that one police officer was killed and twelve wounded from a car bomb. AFP notes a car bombing on the border between Jordan and Iraq that has injured six border police officers (Iraqis). While Reuters reports that, "near Baquba," two police officers died and three were wounded from a roadside bombing.


BBC reports that Amer al-Hshimi, brother to Iraq's vice president Tariq al-Hashimi and a general in Iraq's army, was killed "when the gunmen stormed into the house and shot him dead. They arrived in 10 police cars, a police source said." CBS and AP note that he was "an adviser in the Defense Ministry" and that his death follows the deaths of a "sister and another brother also . . murdered in the last year." Arrived in "10 police cars"? This weekend, Richard Stengel (NBC News) reported on the discovery of a corpse in Baghdad and a "an Iraqi police lieutenant tells us he thinks fellow police did it." The murder also follows a Sunday attempt to assassinate Galli Najim who heads the political party operated by Iyad Allawi. Also shot dead today, Reuters reports, was Faleh al-Obeidi ("police Colonel") in Baquba. As Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail (IPS) report: "The little known city of Baquba is emerging as one of the hotbeds of resistance in Iraq, with clashes breaking out every day."


The Australian reports that 35 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today and that five more were found "floating down the Tigris" in Suwayrah. (The 35 corpses discovered in Baghdad were preceeded, on Sunday, by 51 corpses being found in the capital.)


Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that, in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, eleven people were kidnapped -- eleven Iraqi soldiers: "gunmen jumped out of two vehicles at a checkpoint in the east Baghdad district of Sadr City and abducted 11 soldiers on duty". Xinhua reports a source telling them: "Unkown gunmen in a minibus stormed the checkpoint of Hamza Square in Sadr City district and seized all the soldiers, apparently without shooting at any of them".

As the violence rages on, the "plan" in the United States was, as
Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes, to get the chat & chews to focus on anything other than the Mark Foley & Pages Congressional scandal. Part of the attempts to shift the topic included getting James Baker to make a chat & chew appearance. Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's chat & chew visit as did David E. Sanger (New York Times) who noted that Baker did not support a "rapid withdrawal." As the GOP attempts to turn the focus back to Iraq within the US, they'll probably stay away from this reality: today, the US military announced that, on Sunday, three troops were killed in Al-Anbar Province (Reuters).

Again, war resister Ricky Clousing faces a hearing on Thursday. Clousing is a part of a movement of war resistance within the military that includes
Mark Wilkerson -- Clousing and Wilkerson acted as bookends for the month of August with their announced intentions to turn themselves in. Others include Darrell Anderson. Friday of last week, the military released Anderson who had turned himself in (Tuesday of last week) after self-checking out and going to Canada in 2005. Ehren Watada is another war resister and his father Bob Watada is on his second speaking tour to raise attention to his son's case (Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq).

Joe Lopez (World Socialist Web Site) reports that Bob Watada is speaking with Rosa Watada, Ehren's step-mother: "In her opening remarks to the Glendale meeting, Watada's stepmother Rosa said that Ehren was taking a stand for everybody, not just for himself, and that he was fighting to defend the Constitution of the United States and campaigning to bring the troops home. She described Ehren as an intelligent and principled young men who wanted to see an end to the occupation of Iraq."

Some of the dates for Bob Watada's speaking this week include:

Mon 10/9 7:00pm Veterans for Peace (Chapter 112) and Citizens for Peaceful Resolution
E.P. Foster Library, Topping Rm. 651, E. Main St., Ventura
Contact: Michael Cervantes 805-486-2884 email:

Wed 10/100 7:00-9:45 pm CSULB Asian American and Chicano & Latino Studies Classes
Dr. John Tsuchida and Dr. Juan Benitez
1250 Bellflower Bl, Long Beach

Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm. First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:

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

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

A full schedule can be found (PDF format)
here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at and more information on him and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.