Friday, November 03, 2006

Breast cancer and Iraq

Kyle Snyder gave an interview today and Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez have it. There's information about it in the snapshot which I will post in full as the third highlight.

But first, I need to take care of some old business. Thursday, Sunny pointed me towards C.I.'s "Kyle Snyder self-checks out again after the military tries to burn him again" and to this specifically:

I'm talking lifestyle pieces and any listener to KPFA knows just what I mean. This week, thirty minutes to tell us smoking is bad for you. Thank you, call it breaking news!

C.I. was talking about The Morning Show which Sunny knew because she listens to it due to C.I.'s recommendation. She'll have it on in the office (online, we're not in California). The piece was on smoking and lung cancer, Sunny said. She didn't think it had much to offer. But wondered why, since it was cancer, C.I. was so bothered by it?

That's my fault that she wondered because C.I. faxed me an article some time ago. I was going to write about it here but it wasn't online and the issue of the magazine wasn't out on the stands. I've had the issue for at least a week, maybe two. I just kept forgetting to write about it. Here is an excerpt of the story that's available online.

"The Geography of Breast Cancer" (Francesca Lyman, Ms. magazine):
Living on the wild, craggy elbow of Cape Cod, Jane Chase feels lucky to have spent 50 years in a house facing Nantucket Sound. "We love it here," she says, looking out over a marsh at a spectacular sunset on Red River Beach, where the water gleams with kayakers, sailors and fishermen. It wasn't until a few years ago, when a community effort was launched to understand the strangely high rate of breast cancer on Cape Cod, that the mother of six considered her South Harwich, Mass., home to be anything other than a bucolic haven.
The two-time breast cancer survivor might never have linked her disease to the environment had she not joined a local cancer group and later enlisted in a household health study. She then learned that her classic colonial garrison house harbored lurking toxins, and that her idyllic neighborhood had likely been aerially sprayed with now-banned organochlorine pesticides such as DDT.

With illustrations, the article is six pages long and it's in the Fall 2006 issue of Ms. (which is out now). The point is, and it's the point C.I. was making, cigarettes are an easy scapegoat. We've all heard the warnings. If someone chooses to smoke, I don't condemn them. (Rebecca smokes. I smoked in college and quit two weeks after graduation.) But breast cancer isn't about smoking and all these b.s. ordinances that make people feel smug and safe don't address the reality of breast cancer which, as Sunny knows, C.I. takes very seriously.

The comment later on about how you could hear the nonsense (the report on The Morning Show) on Today, Good Morning America, etc. was getting to the point that the easiest way to cover cancer is to talk smoking. That might have been brave back in the 1950s, it's easy today. It's so easy that it's honestly embarrassing. Brave would be bringing Fancesca Lyman on the program to discuss the realities of breast cancer which big media doesn't really want to get into.
Independent media would cover this topic. I firmly believe it. I also firmly believe that most people don't know about it. C.I. had talked about it back during the cancer scare (if I'm vague here and visitors are confused, tough -- this is for members and if anyone else can't follow, I don't care). Now KPFA airs in the Bay Area of California. It airs over the air waves in that area. That is it's audience. This is from page 48:

As more hot spots were identified, each touched off a surge of interest. "When a group of advocates got their hands on an incidence and mortality report from Northern California," says Janice Barlow of the Marin Country based group Zero Breast Cancer (formerly Marin Breast Cancer Watch), "it began an arc of advocacy that spread across the Bay Area."

The secondhand smoke stories are pretty much useless. Cigarette smoking stories have been done to death for the last fifty years. I say they're worthless because most are aware of the risks. (That is not saying anyone who smokes gets what they deserve.) The thing that's effecting us today, especially women in terms of breast cancer, is our environments. It's not that somebody puffed in our area. It's a real easy out to blame an individual and their cigarette smoke when the reality is that we are all facing the threat of cancer due to the way our environments have been polluted.

Like C.I., I don't care for those stories. I don't see the use in them. They may make one person stop smoking and maybe that's to be hailed as a "miracle!" In the meantimes, all of us, smokers and nonsmokers, are at risk because of the environments in which we live. It shouldn't be that way. We hear about Bhopal and think, "Oh how tragic." It is. But you don't have to go to India to discover corporations polluting and poisoning areas where people live.

If there's a desire for those smoking stories, do them on National Smoke Out Day. But that topic's been covered. If you've paid attention at all, you've been warned. Breast cancer, despite the vast array of pink products in my (and I'm guessing your) supermarket right now, doesn't get addressed seriously. You're told have a mammogram. I'm sure KPFA has covered this topic before and wouldn't be at all surprised to find out Andrea Lewis has conducted interviews on this topic. But the point is, if you're going to talk cancer, especially during Breast Cancer Month or whatever it's been dubbed, then you need to tackle the big issues and there are warnings on packs of cigarettes. There aren't signs in your neighborhood that warn you: "Breathing this air may be hazardous to your health. Drinking this water may result in cancer."

Sunny hadn't read the article. Maybe you haven't as well? If so, you need to. If you can't afford a copy of Ms. ($5.95 in the US), you can go to the library or a bookstore (if you're lucky, I'm sure some areas can't) and you can read the article while you're standing there. (If you are a community member and you do not have access to the article because Ms. is not available in your area, e-mail me and I will scan it and mail it to you.)

Fifty years from now, this won't be so important hopefully. We'll have learned how deadly and dangerous it is to allow corporations to pollute. But in the meantime, a lot of people will be getting cancer. A lot of women will be getting breast cancer. Until this can be talked about with the same frequency, in big media and small, that cancer from smoking is today, cancer causing environments are the bigger issue. Too many people are unaware of it and too many people refuse to talk about it for fear of offending sponsors or owners. Today, owned by GE, probably can't tackle this topic.

So if anyone else was wondering, the way Sunny did, what was so bothersome about spending thirty minutes on smoking, it's the fact that we're informed on that. We're not being given the same information, in the same quantity, about environmental causes of cancer.

I am trying to wrap this up because tonight's the Iraq study group but I want to point again to this "individual" nonsense. Smokers are individuals. It's very easy to scapegoat them for the rise in cancer rates among nonsmokers and we can all feel smug and better that we "did something." But the reality is that smugness comes from ignorance. We're not doing anything when we're back patting over a smoking ban or something similar. We are focusing on individuals and we are letting corporations off the hook.

No one deserves to get cancer. Whether they smoke or live in one of the high risk areas. (Read the Ms. article and find out whether you're in a high risk area.) But I really think the message is out that smoking is bad for you. I think even smokers know that today. Emphasizing that requires no bravery and, my opinion, no thought. It's a no-brainer.

The story that needs to be told, by all outlets but independent media would have to lead strongly to get the mainstream media to cover it, is the number of cancers being caused by the environments in which we live -- environments that once were healthy but, thanks to big business, no longer are. That's the story of the next fifty years as people scratch their heads and wonder how they ended up with cancer.

"Baghdad is Surrounded" (Mike Whitney, CounterPunch):
Don Rumsfeld is not a good leader. In fact, he is a very bad leader. Leadership is predicated on three basic factors: Strong moral character, sound judgment, and the ability to learn from one's mistakes. None of these apply to Rumsfeld. As a result, every major decision that has been made in Iraq has been wrong and has cost the lives of countless Iraqis and American servicemen. This pattern will undoubtedly continue as long as Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense.
Here's a simple test: Name one part of the occupation of Iraq which has succeeded?
Security? Reconstruction? De-Ba'athification? Dismantling the Iraqi military? Protecting Saddam's ammo-dumps? Stopping the looting? Body armor? Coalition government? Abu Ghraib? Falluja? Even oil production has been slashed in half.
Every facet of the occupation has been an unmitigated disaster. Nothing has succeeded. Everything has failed.
Never the less, Rumsfeld assures us that "these things are complicated" and that we should just "Back off".
It was Rumsfeld's decision to replace America's first Iraqi Viceroy, General Jay Garner after Garner wisely advised that we maintain the Iraqi military, leave many of the Ba'athists in the government (to maintain civil society) and convene leaders from the three main groups (Sunni, Shia and Kurds) to form a coalition government. This didn't square with Rumsfeld's plans to revolutionize Iraqi society and transform it into a neoliberal Valhalla; so Garner was unceremoniously dumped for Kissinger's protégé, Paul Bremer.
Once Bremer was installed, things started heading downhill fast and have only gotten worse ever since.

Rumsfeld has done a hideous job. Only Condi Rice matches him for his poor record but she had to fill two positions to equal how bad he's been at one. (Rice was the NSA before she was Secretary of State.) Now that's all the time I have tonight. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take on today's events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 7, 4:30PM Portland, ME Location: Meditation Center Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 1 Contact: Doug Rawlings, 207-293-2580,,

Nov. 7, 6-9PM Brunswick, ME Location: Morrill Room, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street Pot luck supper and speaking engagement Time: 6 - 7:30pm

Nov 8, 7PM Albany, NY Sponsor: VFP National Location: TBAContact: Elliot Adams, 518-441-2697,

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