Friday, July 14, 2006

A light post (I won't pretend this is deep)

I really did hope to blog last night. But I got back Weds. and went to work Thursday. After the evening group, I was so tempted to take a nap before even going home. Please visit Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's thoughts for the day. We're toying with different ideas still on how we'll remain "blog twins" after we've decided to delink. Hopefully, by next Friday, we'll have it down.

"Iraq Snapshot" (The Common Ills):
The Operation Happy Talk goes on.
Sean McFarland becomes the biggest doofus outside the administration by delcaring, "I think we have turned a corner her in Ramadi." MacFarland is both an Army Col. and a Happy Talker.
In news that's a little harder to Happy Talk,
Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports that of the 1000 Sunni soldiers who made up the May 2006 graduating class "only about 300 of them have reported for duty".
In other news from the real world,
Reuters reports that the US Congressional Budget Office predicts: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years".
These projections come at a time when, as
Martha Burk has pointed out (Ms.), the US government has cut "[d]omestic-violence prevention by $35 million, Medicaid by $17 billion over five years and child care programs by 1.03 billion over five years."
In other costs paid,
Reuters reports 12 corpses were discovered in Tal Afar. CBS and the AP note a corpse ("shot in the chest . . . signs of torture") discovered in Azizyah".
noted earlier this morning, seven people were killed ("after Friday prayers") when a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was bombed. Meanwhile Reuters reports that a mosque in Balad Ruz was hit by mortar rounds leaving at least two dead and four wounded while a car bomber in Mosul who killed himself and five others. The AFP covers a mortar attack in Baghdad that left one person dead and nine wounded.
Shooting deaths?
Reuters notes that two policeman were killed by a sniper in Tal Afar while a minibus near Kut was attacked "with machine gun fire" resulting in five dead ("including a wwoman and a child"). Meanwhile, the AFP reports attacks in two cities: a car was "ambushed" in Tikrit by assailants who shot the father dead and wounded the son; and, in Mosul, two different attacks left a police officer dead as well as the bodyguard of a judge. And the Associated Press reports a drive-by in Baghdad that killed a taxi driver.
BBC noted the death of several Iraqi soldiers (12 at that point) in Kirkuk when they were attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns". AFX raised the number dead to 13 (citing "colonel Mahmud Abdulla").
following yesterday's kidnapping attempt that left wrestling coach Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib dead, the AP reports that: "Iraq's national wrestling team [has] pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates".
In the United States,
Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon.
In DC (and across the globe -- over 22 countries), the fast led by
CODEPINK and others continues. As Thursday's The KPFA Evening News reported some Congressional members, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast on Thursday. Ann Wright, who ressigned from the State Department on May 19, 2003 and is taking part in the actions stated: "The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante".
Wednesday July 19th, San Antonio, TX will be the location for a "public hearing held by the the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves" -- "in the Iberia Ballroom of the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, 112 College Street, San Antonio."
There will be two panels with the first lasting from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focused on "
roles and missions to funding requirements" and the second, lasting from 2:00 pm to 4 pm, focusing on how reserves were "involuntarily mobilized after September 11, 2001".

On the above, there are numerous items that are important and I'm sure that something will stand out for everyone. I am tremendously bothered by the cuts in domestic abuse prevention.
You could argue, and you'd be right, that there's no way this administration wasn't going to do those cuts because they don't care about safety and they especially don't care about women's safety. However, look at that cut, $35 million. While we'll likely end up spending over $200 billion on the illegal war, we can't cough up $35 million for prevention? It proves, though it doesn't need proving at this late date, that there's always money for war.

I didn't know the new issue of Ms. was out. I'll be visiting my bookstore tomorrow and picking it up. I prefer to buy my magazines in person. I know some people enjoy the excitement of going to the mailbox and wondering, "Is this the day?" As I've explained here before, this was something my father did on Saturdays, took my brother and I to the bookstore to get us out of my mother's hair. Saturdays aren't Saturdays without a visit to a bookstore.

One of the worst parts of the vacation which had a store of some type on the resort but it was all travel, garden, sports and finances in terms of magazines and, in terms of books, a lot of right wing bios/'studies' and a lot of page turners. No Jackie Collins because I would've picked her up for a beach read. I ended up raiding the books Rebecca brought along that she'd snagged from C.I. One was nonfiction and I was so-so on it. The other one I read was Alentejo Blue and the author is Monica Ali. It was a . . . Involving. It reminded me of some of Anais Nin's short fiction and a great deal of her novel Collages. I'm speaking of the way it offered character studies. The locale and the characters were quite different. But if you enjoyed Collages, you would really enjoy this book. I had packed Mauguerite Young's Miss MacIntosh, My Darling and I read (and strongly enjoyed) that book. That is a book that I've meant to read for some time. It's a very long book and I lost a copy once on a trip mid-way through the book. I've had a difficult time finding it over the years (at one point it was out-of-print and may be still) but C.I. has a copy and was kind enough to send it to me.

I should note that C.I., in college, is the one who turned both Rebecca and myself onto Anais Nin. Her interest in the human psyche and her choices of illustrative words have always moved me. So if you're searching for some fiction to read, I'd recommend Alentejo Blue, anything by Anais Nin and Miss MacIntosh, My Darling.

When we were out on the beach, Rebecca would moan, "Not the big book!" It is a big book, Young's novel. I haven't even unpacked. I got back late Weds. and was too tired Thursday. But let me walk away from the computer and see if I can find the suitcase with that book.

Okay. This is the hardcover edition. It is 1,198 pages. That's why Rebecca called it "the big book." I was hoping to skim some of the book because I had been half-way through it when I lost my copy. But her style is part of the book's charm and I got caught up in it. So I'd read about 30 pages and look over at Rebecca and if she was at a stopping point in her book, we'd talk about what we were reading or what we were going to eat at dinner. Or who's turn it was to waive the guy over for more drinks. We were very lazy. The guys were more productive and went scuba diving. If it had been a longer vacation for me, I probably would have done that as well. However, I have had swimmer's ear before and with such a short time, I didn't want to risk getting it and then getting stuck with it on the flights back which would have been a painful nightmare.

We didn't just read. We walked a great deal. It was a little too . . . It wasn't my taste, the resort. It was beautiful. But . . . I enjoyed myself. I did. We did end up doing picnics in the evening because some of the other guests really got on my nerves.

Want a good read online? Read Betty's "The War Paint Council" which is very funny and it's nice to see the 'macho' War Hawks in a different light. I love how she takes a needles to their ballons and let's all the hot air out. Another good read is Trina's "Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen." That will touch you. But if you're looking funny, Sunny showed this to me today at the office. She said she read it three times and couldn't stop laughing each time. If the excerpt doesn't make you laugh and you enjoy humorous writing, just assume that I've chosen wrong for the excerpt because it is very funny.

"Bugging Hillary" (Susie Day, CounterPunch):
One morning, as Hillary Rodham Clinton was waking up from anxious dreams, she discovered that she had been changed into a monstrous verminous Republican.
She lay on her armor-hard back and saw, as she lifted her head up a little, her brown, arched abdomen divided into rigid bow-like sections. Her numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of her circumference, flickered helplessly before her eyes.
"Oh, great," she muttered. "I am 100% enjoying this. In fact, I'd really like to french kiss whoever did this to me."
Hillary Rodham Clinton was no stranger to sarcasm. Sarcasm had gotten her out of the house ­ where she had once loved to bake cookies in the shape of Tammy Wynette ­ and into the public fray, to fight the rightwing plots that assailed her and her husband.
There, in order to survive, she had learned to "triangulate." She had become highly skilled in moving to the center, between two opposing sides, ignoring the liberal losers and placating the neoconservative ascendancy ­ all the while remaining staunch and true to whatever it was she stood for that day. She was proud of her record in the Senate, proud that Pete Seeger had never written a song about voting for her.
Who could have done this? Was her loathsome new form the work of another rightwing conspiracy? But why would the Right do this to her now? Hadn't she just complimented the President on his "charm and charisma"? Hadn't she supported capital punishment and welfare reform? Sponsored anti-flag-burning legislation? Asked for 80,000 more troops in the army? Pounced on photo-ops with the likes of Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, and Bill Frist, and planned a fundraiser hosted by Rupert Murdoch? Hmm Maybe FBI higher-ups, seeking to upgrade surveillance, had told one of their inept agents to "bug" her room. Those imbeciles screwed up so much; no telling what they might do to a figure of speech.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Return from vacation

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Iraq snapshot.
The daily life continues to be marred by chaos and violence. And apparently role playing Geoffrey Miller, Donald Rumsfeld went from Afghanistan to Iraq with violence following in his wake as he apparently pulled the strings of Nouri al-Maliki, US puppet of the illegal occupation.
As noted this morning: "AP is reporting that a bus station in Baghdad was stormed by 'gunmen' and at least 24 people were seized with at least 20 of those 24 being killed."
The AFP reports that 22 corpses were discovered ("Blindfolded, hands tied behind them, and most shot in the head") and that the number kidnapped was much larger than 24, "up to 80." For those who question that number, the AFP quotes "Senior Shiite MP Jaladdin al-Saghir" saying: "There was a very serious breach of security in Diyala province today when 60-80 Shiites were kidnapped from the bus station".
The AP reports, on the corpses discovered from the mass kidnapping, "Relatives wept over loved ones, with one man leaning over an open coffin and kissing the hand of a victim."
The AFP notes, of the continued violence in the the city where the "crackdown" is ongoing. "Violence in Baghdad has raged despite the fact that more than 50,000 troops, mostly Iraqi, have been patrolling the capital's streets since last month."
Other shootings? Reuters reports: "clashes . . . between Iraqi policemen and gunmen" in Baghdad that left a civilian and a police officer dead as well as two patrol cars burned; in Tikrit, a police officer was shot dead; in Kirkuk, a police officer was shot dead; and, in Baghdad, a "Baghdad University professor" was shot dead.
CBS and the AP report a car bomb exploding "near an Iraqi army base in Haswa" leaving eight wounded. Reuters notes that a civilian died in the blast (and spells it "Hasswa") and notes two bombs in Baghdad. One "suicide bomber" entered a restaurant, engaged the bomb killing himself and seven people while leaving twenty more wounded. Reuters also notes a roadside bomb that wounded three ("including a child").
Reuters reports that two corpses were found (carpenters) in Tikrit, while another corpse ("gunshot wounds and signs of torture") was discovered in Kirkuk.
As Dahr Jamail and others have noted, Iraqis are fleeing the country. The BBC offers the stories of three who have left (in their own words). The fleeing continues though the AP notes that "flyers circulated in a predominately Sunni area north of Baghdad, uring Shi'ite families no tto flee and warning people not to hurt members of the majority sect."
Meanwhile the AFP is reporting that 150 women "protested at Baghdad's Yamuk club and demanded that the former soldier Steven Green be tried as a 'war criminal.'" The former 101st Airborne Division Green was the first person arrested in the alleged rape and murder of 14 year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi as well as the murder of three of her family members. (That arrest, FOR THE RECORD, took place on Friday June 30th and not "last week" as too many keep misreporting.)
The Associated Press reports that following all the scandals, Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton has lost a "multibillion contract" and that the Army will "rebid" it which seems strange wording since, as the article notes, Halliburton's Iraq contracts with the US have included "no-bid contracts" with Halliburton. Can you re-bid what was a no-bid? Does the AP know more than they're telling?Meanwhile, the AFP is reporting that Parsons Global Services has also had its US military contract cancelled "due to cost overruns and incompetency". Shh. Can you hear that? The sound of hundred War Hawks sobbing.
And the US administration's walking scandal, Secretary of Defense Donnie Rumsfeld visited Iraq where he pompously declared, "I don't talk deadlines." Of course Tommy Franks infamously said "we don't do body counts" at the start of the illegal war and we now know that was a lie. (We know that. Big media and indymedia failed on that, but here we know the truth.) On June 26th, Nancy A. Youssef broke the story that the US was keeping a body count on Iraqi civilians. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli went on the record and confirmed it, saying that it was a form of 'measurement' by the US and the US has been doing that since at least "last summer."
CNN reports that Rumsfeld, speaking inside a heavily guarded military base, declared,"Each time I come to Iraq, I see progress" -- revealing he is both a liar and blind.
Rumsfeld breezed through to pull the puppet's strings and Nouri al-Maliki stated, according to Reuters, that this was the Iraq's 'last chance for peace' -- which no doubt struck many in Iraq as strange since nothing resembling "peace" has been seen since the start of the illegal occupation.
But apparently feeling stand-up might be his next profession, after the US government tires of him and replaces with yet another prime minister, al-Maliki stated: "We all have a last chance to reconcile and agree among ourselves on avoiding conflict and blood. If we fail, God forbid, I don't know what the fate of Iraq will be" (CBS and AP).
The dire warning was in direct contrast to his stated remarks yesterday: "I don't see the country falling into a civil war despite the regrettable activities of certain people who ignore that Iraq is united . . . The security services are still in control of the situation and we would like to see matters move towards political (compromise) rather than resort to force" (AFP).
Possibly Rumsfeld pulled the strings too tight or else he's cracking up during the crackdown, but al-Maliki is also now threatening TV stations with being shut down. That move would be neither democratic nor smart. On the latter, Paul L. Bremer could explain to him the probable reaction when you try to shut down the press.

So that's the news you can use. As you'll note, I've delinked from "the site" that has the community so upset.

There are three reasons for that.

1) The site's new need to promote (or self-promote) by linking to a website that's not welcoming to women and is dismissive of them and abortion. In this day and age, any woman who cares about choice can't straddle the fence.

2) The fact that they refused to cover the body count story even when it was noted to them by a listener.

3) The fact that they never cleared up the misunderstanding (I still get e-mails on that, various people in the health care industry thanking me on that entry) involving an 'oath' that isn't an oath. My profession matters to me and I don't think journalism, as a profession, is in the business of spreading lies. The fact that it was never corrected (even when they had guests who could have) is insulting to me, to my profession and to the intelligence of the audience.

Mike stopped noting them last week, you probably noticed. That was due to the issue of the body count story not being noted. I told him before I left on vacation, I was fine with not covering them. He asked me about that. I shared with him my feelings on two and three above before I went on vacation.

They've been delinked.

Personally, I'm obviously very pro-choice and if you're promoting a site that's dismissive of the issue, that's dismissive of women ("women's studies" slurs when people rightly object, not all of them women, to a T&A ad you ran).

If Mike had decided to note them before I left, I would've returned with that being the plan. If they hadn't begun promoting that site (and self-promoting themselves?), I would've just bit my tongue but three strikes and you're out.

I'm not asking that anyone not listen or stop watching. Do what you want. But Sunny and I stopped listening after their second show on doctors when they refused to correct their earlier misinformation.

I have no idea what the host thinks of my profession. But I think journalism demands that you know your facts and, for whatever reason, the facts seem rather loose these days.

This is me, speaking for me. I just got off the phone with Mike and we are of the same mind. I haven't spoken to C.I. since I left on vacation. I would assume that C.I.'s not delinking. (As far as I know, no one's raised that issue with C.I. in a phone call or face to face. I do, however, know that every other community site has delinked except Kat who never linked to them to begin with.)

Betty called Rebecca yesterday and that's how I found out about the nonsense. Wally called Rebecca after I'd left today. But Mike filled me in that it's not a one time thing but a repeated thing in the "Daily Digest."

It's their right to promote whomever they want. I don't promote sites that are dismissive to women (I have self-respect, something the host may need to explore) so I can't in good faith link to that show anymore. I had intended to just ignore it. Mike and I would note two items that we'd discuss and that would be it. If Mike decided that the show was no longer worth noting, I would've kept the link.

But the decision was very clear to me when I learned of the "Daily Digest."

I don't know if they've lost the community. That's for each member to decide. But they have lost me on this. I was attempting to think on the vacation about whether or not I was taking the slam against my profession (implying that my profession is of less worth is slamming it) too personally? I never did sort that out and might not have had the issue of the promotion/self-promotion not arisen.

What I do know, because I had a message from Maria and I returned her call, there will be no more headlines at the site, the best of the week thing. Miguel was supposed to do them last week but said he wasn't interested due to coverage I missed so I won't comment on. Maria said she felt awful for turning C.I. down but that she was sick of the coverage. Finally, Francisco did a quick six as a result of a personal request from C.I.

Maria said she called to give C.I. the news and it wasn't a problem (that they're not doing it anymore). She wanted to check that with me and I said, my opinion, C.I. was personally disappointed but would understand since the issue that had them upset was their issue.

She asked me what I thought would happen? Before I left last week on vacation, there were already e-mails coming in from members saying drop the site as a result of their refusal to cover the Iraqi body count story. Some, like Rebecca, felt that the show was misinforming on Gaza. (Rebecca knows that issue. She took an interest in it years ago. I don't know the issue but if Rebecca's offering specifics, as she did during the coverage, you can be sure they're accurate.)
C.I. doesn't follow that issue as closely as other issues and explained that in the e-mail saying, "I might have asked the same questions she did. Or told it the way she did. I will agree that it was a mistake to have AIPAC on as a guest if you're not going to ask about the former members under investigation for spying for another government.") Kara and Brad were most vocal in the round-robin two weeks ago about how lousy the coverage of Gaza was as well. Kara and Brad are long term members. Their opinions do matter.

The show's now attempting some promotion/self-promotion relationship. That's their right. It's my right not to note them here and I won't.

Thank you to Sunny who did an amazing job. I'm sorry that this exploded when she was filling in. She was willing to attempt to address it but I told her not to bother. I assume there are some who remain dedicated to the show. If they're upset by what's going on community wise, they can write me. I didn't want Sunny getting nasty e-mails because she was filling in for me.

Her planned post that never came about was going to be on Mike and Wally. When I attend a conference and take another break, she's going to fill in again. (She said she had a lot of fun.) She intends to pick that topic up then.

Thank you to everyone for seeing how wonderful she is. We work together but she's also a friend. I know how nasty some of the e-mails can be and I'm happy to report none of those came in while Sunny was filling in.

I would love to try to grab a post tomorrow but I came back on Wednesday because of my Thursday night group. I'm exhausted and need to shower to get the 'plane feel' off my skin.

Monday, July 10, 2006

About C.I.

Sunny here posting late. Ramon and I went to see Johnny Depp's new film tonight. (I liked it, he didn't.) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

So tonight I'm writing about C.I. and noting that these are my opinions. (The only thing C.I. requested.) When I wrote about Rebecca, I mentioned that C.I. calls and always tries to keep it very brief.

So let me talk about the first meeting.

C.I. was speaking in the area and Elaine had told me to expect a drop by. I did and was still surprised because C.I. really grabs a room. Even when it's empty, it comes to life. I explained Elaine was finishing up her last session and it would be about a half-hour more after we exchanged greetings.

C.I. went over to the couch in the waiting room and I pulled out my compact and acted like I had was checking my eye make up because I didn't want to stare obviously. The second C.I. sat on the couch, it was like all the exhaustion just poured out. I couldn't believe that the person who had been so alive in front of me was the same person sitting on the couch. Elaine says C.I. can swith it "on" and "off" like that in a split second. There were about two minutes of quiet and then the cell phone starts ringing and it's one call after another and the minute C.I. answered the first call it was "on." I listened on one and it was someone asking about speaking because C.I. said sure provided it was early tomorrow or later in the day.

Do I need to back up? C.I. speaks to college and high school groups (and who knows who else) against the war and has been doing that repeatedly each month for three years now.

So I listened in to the one side of the first call and then felt bad because I had seen the "off" moment and knew how tired C.I. was. I put up my compact and started surfing around on the net. Then C.I. approached and asked if it was okay to use the fax to send something out?

I said of course and something like "It's Elaine fax." People, friends of her's who drop by tend to use it all the time (except Rebecca who's more likely to talk on the phone than fax something). C.I. said something to the effect of the fax was my in area. The point C.I. was making was that this was my turf and, to be real honest, no one does that. They usually say "I'm faxing" as they walk over to the machine. I already liked C.I. but I really appreciated that.

There wasn't any need for it and I'm not trying to insult anyone who never asked (but no one ever did before or since other than this one person). So that's one of the things that stands out most to me.

So when Elaine finished her session, they were getting ready to grab some dinner and catch up. (They're old friends from college in case anyone's never visited this site or Rebecca's or C.I.'s before. All three went to college together.) (And Rebecca had tickets to a play that evening in case anyone's wondering where she pops in.) So Elaine invites me along because Elaine's very polite and I beg off but C.I. invites me as well and says it will either be fun or boring as they trip down memory lane.

It was a lot of fun but there's a third setting to C.I. I told that to Elaine after and she laughed. This setting is "Don't bother me." And C.I. sent out that vibe several times. Not to Elaine or me but to people who would look over at our table. It's really weird to see because C.I. had the sunglasses on and I know people who can shoot a look like that. Before Joyce was married, we'd go to the clubs together and if some jerk was coming up to the table, she'd shoot him a look to shoo him away. But C.I. can do that "look" without the eyes. And can turn it off and on in a split-second.

They went back to Elaine's after and I was going to head on my way but they both insisted I come up for a little while. I ended up staying three hours. This was much more fun. For one thing, C.I. ate (not big on eating in public) and laughed freely. It was obvious that C.I. was on edge earlier. This was much more relaxed and it was a lot of fun.

That may seem weird because the topic was Iraq for about half the three hours. I haven't heard it when C.I. speaks to a group (I want to) but I can see that's effective if it's anything like when we were all talking because it was never "Well here's how it is and I'm going to speak to you for the next" whatever. It was a conversation (and Elaine says that's how the talks are, that it's not C.I. standing up and delivering a lecture).

So that was the meeting and there would be many calls to the office after that with C.I. leaving a message for Elaine several times a week (always ending with, "Tell her this can wait. It's nothing urgent.") and not a lot of chit-chat. I knew, from the time in the waiting room, that it's pretty much one call after another. So I was surprised when C.I. called one day and asked me when I didn't mention I was going out to California the following week on a vacation?

C.I. hadn't been the only one being 'business like,' I realized. I had too.

So I talked about my schedule and how I was coming out with my cousin. C.I. asked where I was staying and I mentioned the hotel. That's when C.I. says, "If you want, you can stay here. I'm gone that whole week."

I immediately said no, thank you but C.I. said, "I called you. I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it."

And it was such a big help because this was our vacation and it would mean no hotel expense. So I said sure. C.I. said Elaine had a set of keys and knew the security code so to get that from her and the only thing was, if anything got broken, just leave a note. "Do not worry about it. The only thing that ever makes me mad is if I find something broken. Just leave a note and it's not a big deal. Help yourself to whatever you need."

I asked Elaine about that because I thought, "Does C.I. think I'm an elephant in china shop, knocking everything over?" But Elaine explained that a mutal friend (not Rebecca) had broken a few dishes and that wasn't a big deal except that there was no note. Elaine said, "C.I. has too much and doesn't care if something's broken" but doesn't like finding out about it via "hunt and seek." She warned me also to stack any CDs I listened to or books I read instead of reshelving them.

So my cousin and I get the rent a car at the airport and we're using Elaine's directions and find it.
The outside was intimidating and I also screwed up the security code on the first try. But after we were inside and I got the code right, we were looking around and it was so much more warm on the inside. (When I told Elaine two weeks ago that I'd probably write about this, she said to note that because she thinks that's "key" to C.I. She also said to add that C.I. would laugh and call that "psycho-babble.")

We didn't break anything. So we didn't have to leave a note about that but we did say thank you. It was so nice. I'm not going to talk about what's in someone's house because even with the "This is my opinion" qualifier, I think that would be a little rude. But I will note, outside of a library, I've never seen so many bookcases. I asked Elaine after how anyone reads all those books and Elaine said C.I.'s an insomniac. Even so. There was a little place where some 'honors' were but I didn't see any degrees anywhere and Elaine told me to put this in. Over the years, C.I. has moved a great deal and one time Elaine was there in the midst of a move, years and years ago, and she found C.I.'s masters, unframed, under a desk with drawers. I'm not going to word this delicately: it has a piece of turtle crap on it. (C.I. had a pet turtle at the time.) Elaine said, "What is your masters degree doing under the desk?" and was trying to scrape off the turtle crap with a pencil. C.I. took it from her and just tossed it in the trash. So Elaine's stunned and asking where the bachelors is and C.I. says that thing probably got lost X number of moves ago. "I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, there's no need for me to frame my degrees and display them."

Elaine says she still can't believe that but it reminded her of when C.I. was invited to join an honor's society and only ended up in it because someone else paid the fee behind C.I.'s back because they thought, "Nobody turns down this." C.I. had no interest. I like that story because my brother, who is ten years older, has an associates and he can never stop mentioning that. If you disagree with him, he tosses it out. If he's making a point, he says, "Well, when I was in college, we learned . . ." I don't think C.I.'s ever brought up college around me except to tell a funny story about something the three of them did or someone they knew.

What was around the house were all these notes. "Sunny, I'm not kidding, eat anything you want, the food will go bad." "Sunny, seriously, drink anything you want." There were notes about how we could sleep in any of the rooms.

Elaine explained that the notes can be done at anytime and that C.I.'s like that in "calmer times" (non-war) verbally but with all that's going on these days, there's just not time.

So it was just really wonderful staying there. My cousin was impressed but I won't pretend I wasn't. It was also very nice.

And there have been many nice things since. I avoided mentioning things to C.I. thinking that would help but it would only result in a call to Elaine along the lines of, "Is Sunny's birthday coming up? It seems like it is?"

I was convinced from that and other things that C.I. had to be psychic. Elaine explained that no, it was just that C.I. listens and hears what gets said and what doesn't. Which is how I ended up with money to fix my car but I only accepted after we both agreed I would pay it back.

But whatever the topic is, that's not discussed, C.I. just seems to pick up on it. Elaine called me in one evening and said, "You're in love with Ramon?" We'd just been dating for two weekends and still getting to know each other. I hadn't told Elaine, Joyce or my mother that I was thinking Ramon was someone I really thought I had fallen for. They knew I thought he was hot but he is hot and what's the point in hiding that?

I asked her, "How did you know?" She said she just returned C.I.'s phone call. I don't even remember mentioning Ramon and I know I didn't say anything along the lines of how I felt about him.

Joyce said if I was going to write about that part I had to share her story. The last time C.I. came through (back in April), Joyce and I both hung out with Elaine and C.I. We were having a deep conversation and also be silly. And at one point, C.I. sighed and said, out of the blue to Joyce, "Do you want to talk about that?" I'm thinking, "Talk about what?"

Joyce said just looking at C.I., "I knew exactly." She said she really did want to talk about it but it was hard and C.I. said it happens to a lot of people and I'm thinking, "What?" I look over at Elaine and she's got a look like where's the conversation going but not looking really surprised.

Joyce ended up opening up about being sexually abused when she was ten. We hadn't even discussed sexual abuse. The most that had been said by Joyce was three sentences about her childhood. But somehow C.I. got enough from what wasn't said to ask, "Was it by a family member?" and Joyce just opened up.

She never told me about it or anyone. We met in first grade but when she was nine, her family moved off for two years. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that my best friend had something like that happen to her and she'd never talked about it in her whole life.

She's glad she talked about and she went to a friend of Elaine's after to talk about it some more. She says it's like such a weight lifted off her shoulders. I can't imagine how awful that was for her, both what happened and not talking about it for years and years. She says she had tried to talk about it several times but never could until that night.

Elaine told me after that sometimes that moment (she called it a 'click') will hit C.I. after and when I read Rebecca talking about how she'd tried to keep her miscarriage a secret because she didn't want everyone focused on that, I knew where the story was going. (Which was the topic changed, they were all working on an edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review, which I've got some news on in a bit, and she'd just said, like she'd written that Saturday, that she'd had cramps and left it to people to assume she was just getting her period.) I knew C.I. was going to pop in there and wasn't surprised when I read the part about C.I. saying out of the blue, "You didn't get your period, you had a miscarriage." Elaine told me, after Rebecca wrote about it, that C.I. said it slowly and didn't realize what had just been said until after it was said.

It can be spooky. I tried doing that, listening to what people were saying and trying to figure out what wasn't being said but I didn't have much luck with it. Elaine said C.I. scored in the top ten percent of the country on the GRE in the analytical section. (The GRE's like the SAT's but for graduate school.)

She was asked to consult on a case (and I can write about this with her permission) and she couldn't figure out what happened. There were two teenage boys who were in a setting where they, and other boys, lived together. Something happened. One boy accused the other of rape and the other boy said he was gay and they had sex together. Parents got involved, there was talk of a law suit.

Elaine was brought in as a consultant. The victim wouldn't speak about it. After he accused the other boy of rape, he told his parents about it and then wouldn't talk about it at all. For weeks. He did draw a few pictures in sessions. He would ignore Elaine or the other doctor and just draw. The other guy kept insisting that it wasn't rape.

Elaine faxed the drawings to C.I. one day and didn't explain anything about them.

C.I. calls back and says who ever drew them is talented. Elaine asks if C.I. sees anything in the drawings. So C.I.'s on the phone just talking about the ink strokes and the pencil strokes, the boy would just grab paper and whatever was on the desk during a session and start drawing while ignoring the doctor.

C.I. looks at one of a boy sitting on the roof and I thought that was just a kid enjoying the sun.
C.I. said something. Elaine calls me into the office and asks C.I. to say that again on speaker phone and that I'm going to take notes.

C.I. says the kid in the drawing is upset. Then a few seconds later, that the kid has to make a decision but he's afraid. Then that the kid's thinking of killing himself. Elaine says to go to the next drawing and C.I. starts talking about the drawing and after a bit says, "This is . . . this kid . . . Was this drawn by a boy?" Elaine says yes and C.I. says he's slept with another boy and he can't deal with it. Then on the third drawing that the kid's feels trapped and starts pointing to something in the drawing and saying that represents the lies.

So the short version is that Elaine talks to the boy and gets him to open up. He wasn't raped. Charges are dropped against the other boy. The other doctor and the boy and his family dealt with the rest of it. But that's what I mean by spooky.

Things that I would never notice get picked up on. Elaine says that's why C.I. doesn't read much fiction -- it's always obvious who the writer is. She said C.I. can usually tell you about an author's life if you read three pages, without identifying the book or the author, over the phone.

It's a great gift. I don't mean "gift" like ESP or supernatural. It's just from being observant but who pays that kind of attention? I don't.

Elaine says she's never tried to keep a secret because C.I. can always tell by what she doesn't say when something's wrong. And Rebecca's told me about this (and written about so I'm sure she won't care if I mention it here) when her first marriage broke up, she was upset but just said she didn't want to talk about it and twenty minutes later, out of the blue, C.I. says, "He was gay and he came out to you." After Rebecca mentioned that at her site, I asked her if he seemed gay and she said, "Would I have married him if he seemed gay?" I love Rebecca because she's funny but you really have to hear her say something like that to get how funny she is.

Rebecca also added that if C.I.'s tired, do not try to keep a secret. And if you're not a friend and you invent a story, half-way in C.I. will call you on it. (There's a mutual friend the three of them have who lives in the land of delusion, according to Rebecca, and C.I. never calls her on that even though all three know every friend she mentions and every event is made up.) She said what happened with Joyce used to happen all the time in college and that once there was a woman who for three hours talked around something and kept them all up past midnight hemming and hawwing until finally C.I. said, "Do you want to talk about the rape or not?" She said when C.I.'s tired and you're not a friend, get to the point in a reasonable amount of time or C.I. will get you there.

So that's the C.I. story. Now let me talk quickly about The Third Estate Sunday Review because I always hear about it from Elaine or at the sites and was always curious. Saturday I got to listen to some of it. I had mentioned it to Wally, about being interested, and they were all cool with it. There is a lot of talking about what will be written. Once it's written, there's a lot of discussion about whether or not a point can be supported. Not in terms of facts, they know what they're writing about. But in terms of can they personally agree with the way something's worded. C.I. will say flat out, "I cannot have my name on a statement like that because" and will list off members of the community. Ava and C.I. will both say that about statements that they think could be misread. Jim enjoys the whole thing. I think he enjoys the back and forth more than the writing. Or like, there was talk of writing a story about fasting because all of them fasted on the Fourth but then it was brought up that Elaine and Rebecca did as well and they might want to add input on that. It's interesting to see what gets passed their vetting stage and what doesn't for a lot of different reasons. When I got off the phone they told me to expect only half the things discussed to show up online and that about a fourth of what didn't would get put into the print edition. And that's pretty much how it turned out.

I'll put in C.I.'s "Iraq snaphot" now because I'm not sure I was serious enough tonight. Elaine's always more prepared and I'm afraid I may be driving away her readers with each passing day. She comes back Wednesday.

Violence and chaos continue.
Bombings, shootings, corpses, kidnappings -- characteristics of daily life in Iraq -- continue while the miliary releases the name of the five US troops charged this weekend in the Mahmoudiya incident and Iraq attempts to overturn the immunity law that exempts suspects from being charged in and by Iraq (foreign troops and contractors).
The AFP notes that a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least ten and left at least fifty-one wounded. The Associated Press notes that this car bomb happened "near a repair shop on the edge of . . . Sadr City". Al Jazeera notes the second bombing which occurred "outside a restaurant near the central bank in central Baghdad" resulting in at least six dead and at least 28 wounded. A third bomb, roadside, resulted in the wounding of five police officers according to Reuters.
Also in Baghdad, CBS and AP note that a bus was "ambushed" with the seven people on it killed (six passengers and the driver) and the bus set on fire.
As Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, "violence came despite a security crackdown in the capital raising new questions about the effectiveness of the police and Iraqi army."
Outside of Baghdad, Al Jazeera notes a roadside bomb in Hillah killed one police officer and wounded four while, in Kirkuk, "a sucide truck bomb struck an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" leaving five dead and twelve wounded. Reuters reports a roadside bomb in Yusifya that took the life of one person and left two more wounded; and a car bomb in Baquba that left eleven wounded. CBS and the AP note a bomb in Mahmoudiya that left ten wounded and a car bomb in Ramadi that wounded four US troops.
The BBC notes that Adnan Iskandar al-Mahdawi ("member of the provincial council in Diyala province") is dead as a result of a drive-by. CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, a doctor was "forced . . . out of his car . . . and killed in front of his family."Reuters notes two attacks in Baghdad -- one which left three police officers dead and wounded another and a second where two "bodyguards of a judge" were killed and three were wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses were found in Suwayra, one in Kut ("shotgun wounds") and one near Dugail ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") while CBS and AP note the discovery of "two bullet-riddled" corpses in Baghdad and notes five corpses, not one, discovered in Kut.
Reuters notes that "an agriculture official" was kidnapped in Dujail.
The Associated Press reports that the latest five charged in the incident involving the alleged rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza as well as her murder, and that of three members of her family, are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard. Yribe is identified as the one who, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, is "charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime." The AP notes that "[t]he others face more serious charges as participants" as well as the fact that two of the five charged are sergeants (Cortez and Yribe). The five join Steven D. Green who was charged on June 30th.
The names of the five are released as Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that the US crafted laws for Iraq are facing a challenge according to Wigdan Michael (human rights minister in Iraq) who states "We're very serious about" requesting the "United Nations . . . end immunity from local law for U.S. troops". Michael tells Karouny: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."
In peace news, Amy Goodman and Medea Benjamin discussed the Troops Home Fast today. Benjamin stated: ". . . we think this fast is one way that they can do it. We've had people who have read about the fast in the paper, and they're in West Palm Beach, for example, and just jumped on a plane and came and joined us. We have a woman from Vancouver, in Washington state, who heard about the fast and decided that she had to do something more, came and joined us for this week. People who thought they were going to fast for one day have ended up fasting for the entire week and are going into their second week. This can really be a catalyst if people join. Every day we have hundreds more signing up on the website and saying they want to participate."
In other peace news, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has stated, of her son's refusal to deploy to Iraq for the illegal war, "He is sending that message to all the armed forces, the message that they need to examine carefully the war they are choosing to fight." Ehren's father, Bob Watada, is comparing the fight against the charges the military has brought against his son to a competition and tells Alyssa S. Navares (Honolulu Star Bulletin), "I have always been one of those dads at every game and practice . . . Although I whip him in a singles match, together we pravail on the court. And trust me, we're going to do it again when we fight these charges."
Finally, Reuters is reporting that 200 ex-police officers ("fired . . . for forgery and bribery") stormed the Muthanna governor's office "demanding they be reinstated in their jobs in the southern city of Samawa, the capital of Muthanna province."