Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Call on Me

Sunny printed up the e-mails and, unless I've missed one, there were no additional dates for voter registration. I had hoped to write about something tonight, an article C.I. faxed me but the article's not online and the issue of the magazine isn't out yet so I'm coming up short tonight. I read the faxed copy and passed it on to Sunny. I visited the website online, it wasn't there. I stopped at the bookstore on the way home and the issue wasn't out yet. So I'll catch it either Friday or next week.

So instead, I'll write about two questions Susan asked in her e-mail. Her first was if, like her, my favorite song changes? I think it does for a lot of people who like music. My all time favorite, even among albums, shifts from time to time depending on my mood. There are also times when I don't listen to an artist at all. Last week, I was walking in the front door and wondering what to put on? I stood looking at my CDs for about ten minutes and, during that, I realized I hadn't listened to Elvis Costello in some time.

I really enjoy Elvis Costello's music but I think I went through a period when I over did it. I was looking at my three favorite CDs by him (My Aim Is True, Brutal Youth and This Year's Model) and thinking that I should listen to one. But I just wasn't in the mood. So I think, for some of us, it does depend upon our moods and I also know, that for me, it's easy to o.d. on a favorite.

As for the second question, what do I think of the Doors? I really love the Doors. I don't usually think of them as one of "my groups." That's because I have a friend (C.I.) who loves the Doors. Do you do that? You divide up groups as your group or someone else's by who is really into them? Another examples would be the White Stripes, whom I really love. But Mike loves them like no one I know so I always think of them as his group.

The Beatles, seem like "everyone's group." On the Doors, I have all of their studio albums on CD and one live album. My personal favorite is Morrison Hotel. Of the singles, I think "Love Me Two Times" and "Riders on the Storm" would top my list of favorite songs.

Another example, besides the Doors, of someone I enjoy is Janis Joplin but I always think of her as Rebecca's favorite. Of the Janis CDs, the "one" I listen to the most is the boxed set that came out in the early nineties. My favorites Joplin song is "Call On Me." I got the boxed set for that reason. The song appears on the first Big Brother album but, at that time, that album wasn't available on CD. I'm not talking about Cheap Thrills, the album before, Big Brother and the Holding Company. It's a song that really stood out to me in the film Coming Home. When the boxed set came out, CD boxed sets were still 'exciting.' So I grabbed it at the store to look at the tracks and was thinking, "They really don't do women." They really didn't. I don't think they do women that much now. For instance, Carole King's "boxed set" collection is two discs. So I was considering purchasing it for that reason alone. I had all of the CDs (and even had Big Brother and the Holding Company on other formats). But there was the hope that if it sold, maybe other women would get boxed sets. Joan Baez got a three disc boxed set (and, recently an A&M four disc boxed set). Later Carly Simon would have a boxed set. Diana Ross got one in between (and one of the few living woman to get a four disc set and not a three) as did Barbra Streisand (ditto). Just a little flashback and nothing's really changed. Keep waiting for the Judy Collins boxed set, for instance, because it's apparently going to take a few more years. Another of my favorites, Roberta Flack? Keep waiting.

One thing that might change it is the move towards downloads but since women and racial minorities tend to get overlooked in every period, that may be a false hope. This reality is why I was considering getting the boxed set even though I had the studio albums of Janis Joplin's that were available on CD. Then I saw "Call on Me" listed on the first disc and made up my mind. For the longest time I just listened to that disc. In fact, I had a one disc Sony player at the time, I just listened to that one song for a couple of days in a row. But it is a strong boxed set and it's titled Janis if you're looking for a way to explore her work. (Essays by Ann Powers and Ellen Willis are in the booklet.)

As I said earlier, I'm coming up short tonight but please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. We're both noting the next item.

"Farmworkers’ Plight: No Fruits for Their Labor" (David Bacon, San Francisco Chronicle via Common Dreams):
Julia Preston, a New York Times reporter writing from Washington, D.C., describes pears rotting on trees in Lake County, Calif., owing to a lack of farmworkers to pick them. Growers tell her 70,000 of the state's 450,000 farmworkers are missing. America's newspaper of record is being spun by agribusiness, which wants a new bracero program, and complains of a labor shortage to get it.
Two weeks ago, in the olive groves of neighboring Tehama County, I saw hardly any fruit on the trees. Rain and cold weather this spring hurt the crop, and workers were leaving to find work elsewhere.
There are always local variations in crops, and the number of workers needed to pick them. But the Times is painting a false picture. I've spent eight months traveling through California valleys and I have yet to see rotting fruit. I have seen some pretty miserable living and working conditions for workers, though.
Californians need a reality check about farm labor.
Today, more and more agricultural workers migrate from small towns in southern Mexico and even Central America. In the grape rows and citrus orchards, you're as likely to hear Mixtec or Purepecha or Triqui -- indigenous languages that predate Columbus -- as you are to hear Spanish.
They are making California a richer place, in wealth and culture. For those who love spicy mole sauce, that's reason to celebrate. The Guelagetza festival showcases Oaxacan dances in Fresno, Santa Maria and San Diego. Families of Triqui weavers create brilliant rebozos (shawls), in the off-season winter months when there is not much work in the fields.
But the wages these families earn are barely enough to survive. As Abraham Lincoln said, "labor creates all wealth," but farmworkers get precious little of it. Twenty-five years ago, at the height of the influence of the United Farm Workers, union contracts guaranteed almost twice the minimum wage of the time. Today, the hourly wage in almost every farm job is the minimum wage -- $6.75 an hour. And taking inflation into account, the minimum wage is lower today than it was then.

Imagine that, the New York Times, reporting something other than truth. Shocking, isn't it?
No, it's not and you can read falsehoods in that paper day after day. In fact, actual news may be when the Times makes it a week without promoting a false 'trend' story. The workers are being screwed and, as usual, the paper of record doesn't care about that, they care about covering it up to sell you big business.

"Thirty Years is Enough for Hyde Amendment" (Feminist Wire Daily):
October marks the 30th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, the law that prohibits using federal funds for abortions. Passed every year since 1976, the Hyde Amendment does not allow any woman on Medicaid, in the military, or on disability insurance to receive financial assistance for an abortion, except in cases of incest or rape, according to the
National Organization for Women. While some states allow funding to be used in cases where the mother’s life would be endangered or fetal abnormalities would occur, many abide by Hyde guidelines, according to the National Abortion Federation.

Thirty years? Roe v. Wade was January 1973. From the beginning, there has been an assault on it from the right. It's interesting that the right can argue no tax payer monies will be used for it -- that's federal funds -- but my tax money goes to an illegal war. It's also interesting that Bully Boy has been able to illegally, my opinion, fund religion while he's occupied the White House. I think this will be one of the historical scandals, the funding, when people look back. Churches don't pay taxes in this country so the idea that they should get federal funding is appalling. The reason I think this will be one of the historical scandals is that they've preached "faith based" treatment for AIDS and AIDS has only gotten worse under the Bully Boy and will only continue to do so. "Faith based" is not arming children, who will have sex, with the knowledge they need. If a church wants to do that, with their own money, fine. But tax payers shouldn't foot the bill for teaching "just say no" (which never works as a policy with people growing into adulthood because part of adulthood is exploring the boundaries).

So I do believe that history will look back at the fact that we had a program in place under Bill Clinton for AIDS education and the program was obscured with "faith based" plans (that if a church wants to pay for with their own money, more power to them) and that, as a result, the crisis got worse. I don't think most people realize that and I also don't think we'll see the trend on this for five more years. It's there now but I don't think people grasp it.

I have no respect for Bono (not just because it was recently revealed that he's not paying his share of taxes in Ireland, he off-shored to avoid that). His work has been a joke. He's gotten into bed with every right winger, he's preached AIDS as a children's problem and, in the United States, we'd gotten past that. We'd gotten passed the point where only the Ryan Whites were worthy of compassion and concern. But when you get in bed with those weirdos, as Bono did, you get in bed with their shame. So his One, a huge joke, is helping to turn back the clocks.

Three good friends are actively involved in AIDS research and my comments on Bono are much milder than anything they would say. The next time he's in a "do gooder" mood (as opposed to being part of a company making games about how to attack Venezuela), he should take a moment to realize that medical treatments and solutions can't be watered down.

The snapshot is below. I won't be blogging tomorrow nigh (I do an evening group on Thursdays) but I will be thinking of Ricky Clousing and I hope that by tomorrow the media, big and small, decides to actually cover this.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
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.