Saturday, August 19, 2006

Iraq dialogue

[August 21st note, as C.I. pointed out, it's Philip Maldari who co-hosts The Morning Show on KPFA, not "Malderi."]

Tonight, what you've got is a mini-dialogue between Betty, Elaine and Kat (alphabetical order). We watched Cedric and Wally do joint entries this week and thought not only did they get to knock out an entry on vacation that way, they also had the fun of not working in solitude.
So this is a mini-dialogue on the war.

Betty: The snapshot today covered the hearing of Ehren Watada wonderfully but I kept wondering today where independent media was? Am I the only one wondering that?

Kat: No. It's a good point. Independent media, which for me is largely KPFA and The Nation, really needs to be doing more. This was huge and the reality is that, for a change, big media showed interest. If independent media had covered it seriously, imagine how much greater the interest would have been?

Elaine: I'll go along with that and, for me, I keep dropping back to C.I.'s "Walking Through Watada (Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing)" with the joke/clue about Denis Halliday's testimony. The fact that it was ignored by every major outlet demonstrates that it was powerful. Independent media should have been working overtime to find that testimony.

Betty: I laughed at the joke, when C.I. said "Halliday's testimony was apparently delivered via mime which would explain why there's nothing from his testimony in any of the reports." And I got the point Elaine's talking about. When there's an effort to completely sidestep the step the testimony, you do have to wonder what Halliday said that had so much of the press decide they weren't going to include it? Kat wrote about her feeling of numbness regarding independent media.

Kat: Right. I just don't get it. I don't grasp why, all this time later, KPFA, a station I listen to and count on, can't make room for one program on Iraq? The war's gone on for over three years now. It requires coverage. It is a declared war, and illegal one, but the US invaded. So where is the coverage? It's not fair that it has to duke it out with whatever crisis of the week or perceived crisis, in some cases, that pops up. There's not the coverage for it that you would expect. As a KPFA listener, I've remained neutral when others have said, "Democracy Now doesn't need to air twice each morning!" I didn't care one way or the other. My alarm goes off, it's KPFA. If I've got errands in the car, KPFA's on the radio. If I'm working on a project in the studio, KPFA is on. I may put on music in addition to that, but KPFA is the background through all my waking hours. But as that show, Democracy Now, has repeatedly and consistently ignored Iraq-related issues for over five weeks now, it's become obvious to me that the second airing is grabbing an hour that could be devoted to real programming. Maybe we could have a daily Iraq show in one of those two time slots? Or maybe we could have five different shows in that time slot? I don't know. But I know it's beyond the community, the disenchatment with that program and the feeling that the war needs its own program.

Betty: Well Andrea Lewis made the joke today [on The Morning Show] that Medea Benjamin should let her know anytime she wants to be a co-host, so what about that? I think the women of CODEPINK could easily put on a once a week show about the war.

Elaine: I agree with that and think they could even rotate it out so that one week it was CODEPINK, one week United for Peace & Justice, one week ANSWER, and so on. I also like this topic because it's looking forward and if I start looking back on the week's coverage, I'm going to get very rude and nasty.

Kat: I like it when you're rude and nasty!

Elaine: I really try not to be.

Betty: Okay, we'll dream up the Iraq show we'd love to hear but before we do that, let's point out that in the case of "the Cindy Brady of the faux left" there is cause to be rude and nasty.

Elaine: Absolutely.

Kat: Okay, we'll let's work from the premise that it would be a once a week show, okay?

Betty: And rotating groups so that no one feels it's about one organization only. By using more than one organization, they'd also be allowing more points of views and more ways of looking at stopping the war on air. Theme?

Kat: There are so many great songs past and present. But I think Michael Franti and Spearhead's "Yell Fire" is a great album and Franti is someone who gives back to the community so if I were picking, I'd go with something from that.

Betty: I'd go with "Sweet Little Lies" because it's got a nice musical feel, it mentions the war and the peace movement constantly has to address the propaganda.

Elaine: Good point. So how would the show be set up?

Kat: Discussions, interviews and speeches would be the bulk of the show.

Elaine: Well, with speeches, there would be a wealth of things to choose from. They could provide something current like Ehren Watada's speech from last weekend, but there are also wonderful speeches by Howard Zinn, presentations in fact, and wonderful speeches by Leslie Cagan, Camilo Mejia, Medea --

Kat: Right and what would be especially interesting is the historical perspective they could offer because the movement has changed and grown. There are points that needed to be made last summer, for instance, that will be less necessary next month. There is a wonderful current history that I think many people are unaware of. A show like this could put the moments into perspective and demonstrate the growth of awareness in the country that's come, too slowly for my tastes, but it has come.

Betty: Well I think one speech that has to be played is Jessica Lange's speech from DC last September. Jim's dad recorded a lot of the speeches and that's the one my father shows everyone. You need to picture this fifty-year-old Black man talking about the war to friends his age who have already heard him discuss the war and at some point he's always saying, "Wait, let me show this."

Elaine: "Dick Cheney did not serve. And we know George W. did not serve."

Betty: Yes! It's that list she has where she goes down it. My father loves that speech and other people do too. I'm always surprised. I enjoyed the speech when we were there and she was giving it. But I don't think I really appreciated it until I saw everyone's reaction to it. We were busy and working on the '"Why Are You Here" and "What's Changed"' and it's a speech that has stayed with me and would even if my father didn't play it all the time.

Elaine: Well that's partly because of the topic and because of the way she delivers it. It's a very effective one and it points out that so many of our War Hawks were --

Kat: Chicken Hawks. Happy to sit out wars but now thrilled to send others into war. That really was an amazing speech. I can still remember it and I haven't watched it since we got back from DC. I'm not big on the television, to be clear. I'm glad Jim's father dubbed me a copy and I will watch it. Probably show it during a party when the troops finally come home. But just talking about it right now, I can hear her voice on the "And you know George did not serve" line.

Betty: What about interviews?

Elaine: Well, we're talking about KPFA which is a local station serving Kat's area. So I would assume you'd make an effort to interview local people about their events as well as noting national events.

Betty: Yeah, that would make sense and I like the fact that activists would be involved as guests. Kat tapes The Morning Show for me and when I usually listen, it's Saturday and I'm cleaning the house and pulling the jam box from room to room with me. I enjoy their local coverage during that. I'm not thinking, "Tide pools? I'm in Georgia!" I think I'd be very interested in hearing what sort of local events were going on because it would be inspiring in terms of making me think what we could do in my area.

Kat: And interviews would include activists and scholars and journalists. So you've got a show right there. Saying it's once a week and they've got an hour to fill, you go with the interview as the middle piece, the longest one, do a bit of a community bulletin board and then play ten or so minutes of a speech. That's probably 40 or 45 minutes right there.

Elaine: At the top of the show they could do news and press criticism.

Betty: Right. But the first item should always be, ___ number have died. That's easier to do with the American troops because there is an official count. With Iraqis, they might want to say something like, "There were ___ reported deaths since last week when we checked in."

Kat: We took a break because I've got a migraine and I wanted the good stuff, C.I.'s over the counter cocktail combo that wipes out anything. So we took a break and I grabbed C.I. to get that 'recipe' and the pills.

Elaine: You feel anything?

Kat: Yeah, I can feel the chord at the back of my neck disappearing.

Elaine: Well you're going to start yawning when the pain subsides.

Kat: Yeah, that's what C.I. said. That as soon as the migraine's all gone I will feel sleepy.

Betty: Are you feeling sleepy right now?

Kat: No, I'm just marveling over how quickly the pain is vanishing. I felt like my neck and head were being squeezed in a vice and that's just fading. FYI, 'over the counter.' I'd give the recipe but if I did someone might have a reaction and turn around and sue. But all the ingredients are over the counter. Betty was talking about the importance of starting with the death toll and I'd agree with that because it sets the tone right there. It gives you the consequences, immediate, of the illegal war right up front.

Betty: And I keep thinking about how we passed the 2600 mark last Saturday and the press, except AP, all seemed to ignore that. I worry that the numbers don't matter now. Am I the only one?

Elaine: No, I wonder about that too. Is 3,000, for instance, the 'magic number' for coverage next? 2,600 is a huge number -- 2,600 American troops had died as of last Saturday -- and it was shocking that so many didn't see it as noteworthy.

Kat: But, and here's why a show like we're talking about is needed, when I spoke to people about it, they did care. They'd sometimes say something like, "Are you sure?" Because they hadn't heard about it, they would have a moment of disbelief. It's like when you spoke Thursday about Nancy A. Youssef's article about how the US was keeping a body count on Iraqi civilians killed and there was that shock because people hadn't heard about it.

Betty: There was. When Elaine brought that up, there was this sort of, "Wait, how come I didn't know about that?" Because people don't know for the most part. That's one of the many stories that drives home the point that Iraq needs its own program. But, correction to Migraine Kat, Elaine gave that speech Wednesday?

Kat: She did?

Elaine: Yes.

Kat: Sorry, the whole week runs together and I'm getting the dozy effect of the cocktail combo now.

Elaine: I know, I noticed you trying to hide your yawn.

Betty: Do we need to stop?

Kat: No. I'm fine for a bit more. If I fall out just intermingle my "ZZZZ"s with your own comments.

Elaine: So, it would start with the body count. Then recent events?

Betty: Right. And I'd interject commentary on the coverage in with that. Like, if the show was already on a month ago, when Abeer's case was going on recently, they could be noting who was using Abeer's name and who was sayin "14-year-old girl" day after day.

Kat: Because that really does matter. It makes a difference if a victim has a name or a face. If they don't, it's just another incident. When they're someone you can see as a person, and you see this in court rooms, when lawyers put a face on the victim, it's more than an abstract incident, it's something that has a victim.

Elaine: Which is a great point but, using the example of Abeer, do they address the fact that the press, especially the New York Times, was happy to repeat the defense's argument over and over --

Betty: Before they'd even made it in the Article 32 hearing.

Elaine: Correct. Do you deal with that at the top?

Kat: You know what? I think you do. I don't think you just sit there and say "X dead in a bombing." That's not an insult to Sandra Lupien or anyone else doing headlines on KPFA. I listen to those, they have value. But on this program, our dream program, I think the hosts should address the headlines as they go through them. Maybe I didn't hear about every event or incident of violence, but I think the press critique is too important. I'd want that mixed in with the headlines.

Elaine: I had a professor who would agree with your point. His point was always that for the facts you could grab a book. It was more important, to him, that you learned how to process it.

Kat: Exactly. Because the events are going on until the war's over. Probably after as well. And the real value is in helping the listeners learn to see the problems with the coverage and to recognize it when they come across future coverage.

Betty: And Iraq really doesn't get critiqued. I mean, if you're offering Judith Miller in 2006, then either the press is suddenly full of high caliber professionals, ha ha, or else people are sleeping on the job when they should be critiquing.

Elaine: I really think making Judith Miller the eternal punching bag has done nothing but give everyone else coverage. Dexy is only one example.

Betty: And we're all aware of the attitude some have, no names, that just because they're over there they are above criticism.

Kat: Sense of entitlement. But no names. But yeah, Elaine's point, yeah, Judith Miller or, let's leave Iraq, Elisabeth Bumiller were held to completely different standards than our Green Zone reporters. Dexy is outed as the first-stop for military propaganda, outed by the Washington Post, and it's not news? The man who was in Falluja in November 2004 and saw only good things. Not white phosphorus. And what did they say, the mainstream, as a defense when they were first shooting down those reports that emerged this year? "Oh, it's not true. We had people there and if our reporters didn't see it . . ." Well it was used and once the military admitted ot it, mainstream media had to change their tunes. But it never led to, "Oh it is true. We had people there and why didn't our reporters see it and report on it?" That's what should have happened. They called it a lie, until the military admitted to it, and used their embeds as their evidence. When they had to admit it was true, where was the questioning of their embeds? So, yeah, we need the press criticism as much as we need to know what's going on there.

Elaine: So is ten minutes at the top of the show enough?

Kat: I'd go with fifteen.

Betty: I'd agree to that. The events need to be discussed. But I'm wondering about another aspect, phone calls?

Kat: I'm completely against them. When it was live, there was a point. Now, due to the absurd, reactionary ruling by the FCC, there's a delay. I have no problem with a listener being a guest but the calls don't feel real to me anymore due to the delay. That's not slamming KPFA for doing the delay. I wish someone would refuse and take it to court but one fine alone could wipe out KPFA.

Betty: I remember that discussion Andrea Lewis and Philip Malderi did on the topic. It's just ridiculous. And a huge overreaction. But not surprising when you consider that the right-wing has been screaming about the issue for years. It has nothing to do with Janet Jackson. If her top had been ripped off by Justin Timberlake on radio, it wouldn't have mattered. You don't have a visual on radio. But it's part of a climate of cracking down and it has nothing to do with obsecenity, my opinion, as much as it does with censorship.

Kat: Good point. There's also the issue that not everyone can handle calls. Andrea and Philip can. Larry Benksy's a pro at it. But the reality is that if it's a new show with hosts who aren't experienced in dealing with calls, you're going to end up with a lot of being polite and allowing someone to go on way longer than they need to. I wouldn't object to KPFA doing a strictly call in show. WBAI does one, I think.

Elaine: Hugh Hamilton hosts it.

Kat: That's the one. I listened when we were in NYC. I wouldn't have a problem with that. But with one hour and I'd be thinking, "Oh shut up already, someone else has a point and you've just gone goofy."

Elaine: Do you want to eleborate on that?

Kat: Well the woman who made her point about the propaganda efforts of the administration made her point long before she started going into mass hypnosis. In that case, a guest extended her comments and I felt she ended up undercutting her earlier remarks the longer she spoke. I'm coming at it from a differnt place than many would because I listen to KPFA a lot and I know, for instance, Philip's often having to deal with things on air that he shouldn't have to. I'm not for screening calls, put them on. But he's been acused of saying things, "You just said," that he didn't say. I don't have any use for that kind of nonsense and I don't think he did either from his response. And you get the people who, let's say Larry Benksy's talking about cats, okay? He's doing an hour on cats. You'd have someone calling in saying, "Great show, really enjoying it. Now about potatoes . . ." If we're dreaming up a show about Iraq, I don't want callers calling in to use up time by defocusing from the topic. There are actually a lot of smart listeners who call in. But sometimes I hear a call and think, "They must be listening for the first time." If so, great, maybe they'll stick around and really grow to appreciate the station but with so little time, I'm not willing to endure their growing pains.

Elaine: Have you ever called in?

Kat: Yeah. Years ago. I think it was to one of Kris Welch's shows. Not Living Room because this was before Living Room. And I made my point and was one of those people who then hang up so I can hear the response. But there were more calls back then. Calls don't really get a great deal of time now and when they do get air time, it's usually at the last ten or less minutes. So when I'm listening to a caller who doesn't grasp that they made their point and that there are other people waiting to make a point, I just get irritated.

Betty: What if on one show every now and then, they had a segment that was just phone calls?

Kat: I wouldn't mind that. C.I. said to mention that Matthew Rothschild was going to be on Monday's The Morning Show --

Elaine: The pay off for the cocktail combo?

Kat: Yeah. We're joking by the way. But Matt Rothschild is a guest pretty frequently. Sometimes they have calls and that usually goes well. But if it doesn't, my thought is always, "Well what did I miss because someone didn't grasp the discussion and didn't grasp it after the question was answered but instead decided to stay on the line?" He's going to be on discussing the federal judge's ruling that Wally and Cedric have covered the last two days. And I just have this nightmare that someone's going to be calling in and saying something like, "Well the world court isn't something I'm in favor of and . . ." There are good callers and sometimes they need to stay on the line. There was a caller on a segment Andrea did with a friend of C.I.'s --

Elaine: I know the one you mean.

Kat: And the caller was making the point of the genocide of Native Americans and the nature of American wars. It was a solid point and the guest didn't care for it all. Too bad. It needed to be said and I loved that man who called in for saying it. But his comments were on topic. I don't mind if someone agrees or disagrees with the guests for the most part, I do mind when they can't even grasp what the topic is. There was a comedian Philip interviewed a while back and the name's escaping me but on something like that, fine, there are going to be people who are calling in to talk about anything. It was an older man and I'm sure he touched many lives. And I remember enjoying the calls, especially one that mentioned where he first saw the comedian -- can you tell how many hours I've logged with KPFA? -- but that's different from when there's Phyllis Bennis or Matt Rothschild or someone coming on to discuss an issue and a caller wants to ignore the issue and change the topic.

Betty: I get what you're saying. I will hit the fast forward button sometimes when a caller is talking about something like that. I'll just do a quick fast foward because it's obvious that nothing's being added. That's your point, right?

Kat: Right. But I do like your idea of a scheduled time for callers.

Elaine: A "Next week, we'll be taking your calls for twenty minutes"?

Kat: Right. Just don't make me miss out on a great guest because someone wants to hijack the topic by arguing about what's been discussed -- claiming something's been said that wasn't -- or by ignoring the topic to push your pet issue.

Elaine: Biggest story of Iraq this week?

Betty: Ehren Watada. To me that was huge and I can't believe how little coverage it received.

Kat: I'm going to take a pass because C.I. jotted down some thoughts today for an editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I think that's the biggest topic and that it hasn't been addressed. I don't want to steal the thunder. After that, Ehren Watada absolutely.

Elaine: I know Jim was really excited about that, about what C.I. made some notes on. I'm really curious now. Ehren Watada would be my choice as well. His hearing did put the war on trial. It would have to because the reason he refuses to deploy to Iraq is that he feels the war is illegal. If we don't have coverage on that, the dialogue doesn't get started. It's easy to say, "Oh, the war is illegal." It obviously is, obvious to me. But when you've got Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and Ann Wright testifying to why they believe it is illegal, you've got some strong voices making points that America needs to hear. If you're not covering it, you're doing a disservice. I'd also add that when someone takes a stand and it is supposedly a stand that independent media supports, if you're not there covering it and exploring it, you're sending a message that your support only comes at certain times.

Betty: Right. If I was serving and considering taking a stand, I would probably look at the coverage he got, or didn't get, and weigh that into my decision. "Will I get support? Or will I be left standing on my own?" I think he was left to stand on his own.

Elaine: Okay, Kat's yawning. So what's the point of this? I was asked ahead of time to do the wrap up, in case anyone's wondering. Do we think KPFA will air this program? Probably not. But until we can dream of better things, we can't have them. So this was our way of addressing the war coverage and Betty and I worked up the wrap up when Kat took a break to get some medicine for her migraine. Betty, closing thought?

Betty: We have to dream it to get to it. Otherwise we're just zooming down the road wondering if we should stop for directions. Dream the destination.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, August 18, 2006, the so-called 'crackdown' continues (and early childhood experts may note the engaged-in-a-power-struggle nature of it all as well as the increasing futility), Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing started and concluded Thursday, Ricky Clousing returned to North Carolina and DNA on Jake Kovco's pistol is thought to have been indentified.
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy in Bully Boy's illegal war. Yesterday, the military held an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there was reason/cause to take the matter to a court martial. Ehren Watada's attorneys were Eric Seitz and Cap. Mark Kim (of the US Army). While the prosecution called only one witness (to confirm that, as Watada had stated would be the case, Watada did not deploy) and spent the rest of its time showing excerpts o a speech Watada gave this weekend at the Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech).
Watada's side called three witnesses Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and retired Amry Colonel Ann Wight. Boyle testified as the nature of the war noting that the lie that Bully Boy pressed (for Congressional and public approval) of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11 "
constitutes . . . a conspiracy to defraud the United States government." Ann Wright testified: "I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council . . . falls into the category of a war of agrression, which is by international law a war crime. So by a persaon saying 'Yes, I'm gong to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime.'"
As Eric Seitz had expected/predicted, the hearing lasted one day. Watada could find that the hearing determined there were no grounds for proceeding to a court-martial or a court-martial could be the next step. That call will be made by
Lt. Colonel Mark Keith who presided over the hearing. A court-martial could mean as many as seven years imprisonment.
Ehren's father Bob Watada will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on a speaking tour that starts tomorrow and ends August 27th. A full list of scheduled appearances can be
found here. A sample of upcoming events includes:

Saturday 8/19
Vigil for Abeer Hamza (14-year old girl who was raped & killed with her family by 5 US troops) Willard Park (Telegraph & Derby), Berkeley Contact: Not in Our Name 510-601-8000
Sunday 8/20
American Muslim Voice Foundation Convention
12:45-1 pm Bob Watada speaks 5748 Mowry School Rd., Newark Contact: Samina F. Sundas 650-387-1994
Monday 8/21
Press Conference SF Japantown (Peace Plaza or NJAHS Gallery) Contact: Grace Morizawa
gmorizawa [at] 510-289-1285
Monday 8/21
Reception & Event in SF Japantown Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC (JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007
Tuesday 8/22
1-3 pm
brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902
Wednesday 8/23
UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026 noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711
Thursday 8/24
World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
Friday 8/25
7-10pm "
Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Again, a full list can be found by clicking
here (Indybay IMC).
Once again,
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In addition
Howie Hawkins (Green Party candidate for US Senate from NY) is urging "the peace movement to provide financial support to soldiers who are punished for refusing to participate in the war." And, as many community members have noted, while there's been a "How Can They!" attitude regarding Hillary Clinton's Democratic opponent not being invited to a TV debate, the Green Party candidate is shut out as well -- despite the lack of op-eds, news segments, et al. (The Green Party candidate would be Howie Hawkins.)
Another war resister, Ricky Clousing, is back at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The
AP reports that he arrived back this morning. Clousing self-checked out of the army in June of last year. Last week, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) had the scoop that the 24-year-old Clousing would be holding a news conference to announce he was turning himself in. Estes Thompson reports that after turning himself in at Fort Lewis in Washington, he was ordered "to report to a unit at Fort Bragg that handles absent soldiers."
Turning to diplomacy issues, as trade talks went on in Jordan this week, talks
which Petra noted were "co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the [Jordan] Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Masshadani," Jordan's Ahmed al-Lozi became "the first fully accredited Arab ambassador in Iraq."
Meanwhile in the United States,
Free Speech Radio News reported Thursday that "twenty-one former generals and high ranking national security officials called on President Bush to reverse course . . . and embrace a new area of negotiation with Iraqn, Iraq and North Korea." Speaking with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Medea Benjamin noted that while the US administration makes no efforts to reach out to the Iraqi parliament, "we at the grass roots [level] have." Benjamin was referring to the CODEPINK & Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan where she and others met with Iraqis including the "members of the largest Shia coalition, the largest Sunni block in their parliament, the largest secular coalition, torture victims from Abu Ghraib."
Benjamin observed, "It was quite an amazing coming together of people who, from all different perspectives, wanted to see an end to the US occupation, an end to the violence in Iraq, the reconstruction of their country and we came awy from there, Andrea, with a lot of ideas about how to get the voices of the Iraqi people out in the US so that when we hear that same old excuse here 'We can't leave the Iraqi people now!' we can hear the voice of Iraqis telling us precisely how they want to see an end to the occupation and a broader reconciliation plan."
This comes as
Robert Reid (AP) reports that: "Key U.S. senators complain it's time to tell Iraqis that American troops won't stay indefinitely and to make political compromises to avoid all-out civil war." This as a Dick Cheney stump speech/plea for cash turned into an event. Jesse Harlan Alderman (AP) reports that a Boise, Idaho fund raiser included protestors in "orange [hunting] vests handing out leaflets on hunter safety"; "[p]eace activists silently lining a major downtown arterial with tombstones to mark the mounting death toll in Iraq"; and a "Dick Cheney look-alike contest" with an award of "$22 in free gas and a box of shotgun shells" (and hopefully a list of qualified plastic surgeons).
In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue. Despite 'crackdown' 6.0 which now means that all vehicles are banned for two-days in the capital.
Reuters reports that this ban has been imposed due to the one-year anniversary of the stampeded that killed almost "1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims . . . in a stampede . . . when a crowd . . . was panicked by rumours of a suicide bomber." Al Jazeera notes that the ban is in place until Monday morning. The BBC reports that, in addition to the vehicle ban, there are "[c]heckpoints, [and] body searches". Exactly how vehicle bans, checkpoints or body searches will stop rumors (the stated cause of last year's stampeded) remains unclear.
CBS and the Associated Press report that in Balad Ruz, a roadside bomb claimed killed at least one person. KUNA reports that today it was announced that a "multi-national force (MNF) soldier" died in southern Baghdad on Thursday from a roadside bomb. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the "British military base near Amarah" was under mortar attack "Friday morning." [In the United States, Amy Bartner (Indianapolis Star) reports on a "new 11-bed unit . . . at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center where the most seriously wounded soldiers in the Iraq war will be able to recover" and notes that while body armor is credited with saving the lives of American troops, "that protection can't prevent potentially debilitating injuries to arms and legs".] Australia's notes that a mortar attack on a city council member in Baquba wounded "[f]our bodyguards."
In Taji, a convoy ("civilian trucks") was attacked leaving one person wounded and a 'guard' dead
the AP reports. Australia's reports that the truck went up in flames and had been carrying "kerosene" while also noting that a grocer was shot dead in Yarmuk. (Other press outlets do not identify what the truck was carrying.) Australia's The Advertiser reports that seven Shi'ite pilgrmins were shot dead by "gunmen" in Baghdad. KUNA reports that "two civilians" were shot dead in Mosul.
AP reports five were discovered in Mahmoudiya ("gunshot wounds"). The Canadian Press notes the five and adds that six more were discovered "in the Tigris River" ("bullet-riddled and tortured").
CBS and AP report that journalist Saif Abdul-Jabbar al-Tamimi was kidnapped Wednesday and that "[t]here has been no claim of responsibility". Reporters Without Borders notes that he was kidnapped in Baghdad as were journalists Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal who "have been hostages for more than six months" now while journalist Salah Jali al-Gharrawi has not been seen since his April 4th kidnapping. Reporters Without Borders notes: "A total of 49 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Instead of being afforded a degree of security by the fact that they work for the media, journalists have been singled out as targets."
AFP reports that Father Saad Syrop was kidnapped, also from Baghdad, Tuesday evening after he had finished Mass (at St. James Church) and was heading home.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco resumed. Following Wednesday's hypnosis shocker, an unscheduled day-off was taken due to reported delays with DNA test that might reveal the 'owner' of the DNA found on Kovco's gun. As
Michael Edwards reports on PM (Australia's ABC) Michelle Franco ("DNA expert") testified that the DNA belongs to Soldier 14. Reporting on The World Today (ABC), Edwards noted that "Soldier's 14's DNA was found on the gun's slide, trigger, base plate, and magazine."
Soldier 14 previously testified to the hearing
on August 9th and dropped a bombshell when he testified that the (written) statements provided to the military investigation were not reflective of his (verbal) statements -- specifically, as Peter Charlton (Courier-Mail) noted this included the claim that there was a standard procedure (the so-called 'buddy system') in operation "where a pair of soldiers check each other's weapons to ensure they were unloaded."
Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches.") Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 14 testified, after the DNA results, that he had no memory of handling Jake Kovco's gun and that his attorney ("Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Green") cross-examined Franco who noted that skin celles "could be transferred through a handshake or carried in sweat."
AAP calls the DNA "[s]ensational new evidence," notes that "Soldier 14 has refused to be interviewed by police about the tests" and reports that "Monday . . . Soldier 14 will be cross-examined by lawyers representing Private Kovco's widow, Shelley, and his parents" Judy and Martin Kovco.
Daily Telegraph notes that Soldier 14 believes "that both he and Pte Kovco had probably used the same megaphone at the embassy on the day of the shooting" and that's where any DNA swap would have most likely taken place.
Finally, in peace news,
Camp Casey III is ongoing in Crawford, Texas until September 2nd -- on September 5th it switches locations and becomes Camp DC. AFP reports that it "will be located near the National Mall, the blocks-long expanse of lawn between the US Congress building and the White House". While it's still located in Crawford, upcoming events include the following: August 18th forum on peaceful solutions moderated by Carroll Boone and an August 21st War Crimes Tribunal. Actress and activist Mimi Kennedy, of Progressive Democrats of America, will be there on August 20th along with Carolyn Wonderland who will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I guess on days like these, you know who your friends are

One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

The above quote is from MLK and Ehren Watada cited it in his speech at the Veterans for Peace conference last weekend, a speech that the military entered into evidence today to demonstrate that he should be court martialed. Have you heard the speech? The prosecution must be pulling quotes out of context because there's nothing in it that's the way they are attempting to portray it. If we had a real independent media, news consumers would know about that. But more and more, I'm seeing Rebecca's point about her attitude towards independent media. There's a lot of talk of bravery but where is it? When it's needed, where is it? There's barely any coverage of Ehren Watada. There's none scheduled for tomorrow on the program (you know the one) that's supposedly our hope, our promise, our voice.

It truly is amazing how many have enriched their names (and possibly their pocketbooks) over the last few years by portraying themselves as 'brave' voices on the war and now, when Watada needs coverage, they're nowhere to be found.

It's not something I'll forget it and it isn't something you should forget either.

Talk is easy. If there's no action to back it up, then the talk is meaningless. Pointing to coverage a month or so ago really doesn't cut it. The Article 32 hearing is happening right now. Where is indymeida? Everywhere else with few exceptions.

Musical quote to match that thought? "Taxi Ride" written by Tori Amos: "I guess on days like these, you know who your friends are." (That song is on her CD Scarlet's Walk.) You really do learn who your friends are. That's not always easy but it's better to know in the end. To harken back to yesterday, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." There wasn't a lot of making and there shouldn't be a great deal of taking in the future.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts because he's far from pleased with the silence that greeted the Article 32 hearing today.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, August 17, 2006 -- the first day of
Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing which will determine whether or not to start a court martial inquiry over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and fight in an illegal war, chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the seat of the 'crackdown' being rocked with bombs, in Australia, the Jake Kovco inquiry follows up yesterday's hypnosis shocker by grabbing an unscheduled day off, a new studay finds that Iraqis opinions of Americans have dropped further as the war has dragged on, and the political 'death' of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani still seems premature.
Today, the Article 32 hearing began and
Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that the military is showing video from last weekend's Veterans for Peace conference as part of their 'evidence.' AP also reports that "The prosecution played a total of three video clips with comments Watada made over the weekend as well as on June 7, when he publicly announced his decision to refuse deployment." The speech Watada gave is here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which also includes the video option (QuickTime and Windows Media). In addition KPFA's Flashpoints played one part of the speech yesterday night and, presumably, will air the second part today or later this week (Flashpoints airs at 5:00 pm PST, 7:00 pm Central and 8:00 pm EST -- can be heard archived at the show's website, archived at KPFA or live while the show broadcasts).
What did Watada actually say as opposed to what did the military argue? If your indymedia choices have been following this, you know this already. If they've not made time or space for Watada this week, that may say something about the quality of your go-to indynews outlet.
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." You can also check Courage to Resist and for the latest developments.
On his decision to say "no" to the illegal war,
Watada told Melanthia Mitchell (AP): "You don't join the military just to blindly follow whatever orders you're given. An order to go to an unlawful and immoral war based on false pretenses is no different than to kill innocent civilians."
Writing at The Huffington Post,
Peter Laufer notes the stands of Watada, Ricky Clousing and others. Peter Laufer observers: "With polls showing an increasing majority of Americans now opposed to the war, the question hangs in the air: When will our society honor and appreciate those soldiers who refuse to follow orders to fight in Iraq?"
Moving to an item a friend's wanted noted for the last two days: Where is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani? On Tuesday, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was
'the' news in many Iraq reports. Was he on his way out? One report noted that al-Mashhadani didn't return a phone call -- why was that? Marie Cocco (Truthdig) offers today that he's "openly toying with relinquishing his post". From where? From where is he openly toying with the idea? Juan Cole (Salon) offers that "when the Iraqi parliament reconvenes next month, the first item on the agenda will be firing Mashhadani." Cole feels that al-Mashhadani "has put his foot in his mouth too many times." al-Masshadani may very well be on the way out next month but right now he is in Jordan working on a trade agreement. It's an interesting part of the story left out of the mainstream media's he's-so-out-of-here narrative. Whether or not he remains speaker after the parliament reconvenes may be influenced by what's going on in Jordan.
While that may (or may not) influence how he is seen upon return, other observations were noted today.
The World Values Surveys ("collaborative project between the Univeristy of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Eastern Michigan University) has relased their survey results which found (a) from 2004 to 2006, the percentage of Iraqis (surveyed) stating they did not want Americans as neighbors went from 87% to 90%; (b) 76% surveyed feel the US invaded "to control Iraqi oil"; (c) while 27% of respondents in 2004 felt that religion and politics should be separate, that figure is up to 41% for 2006; and (d) in 2004, 46% of Iraqis surveyed agreed that "In Iraq these days life is unpredictable and dangerous" -- the 2006 figures finds the percentage in agreement has climbed to 59%.
And on the ground in Iraq today? The usual drill.
Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported that 1,666 bombs exploded in Iraq during the month of July (presumably this only covers bombings not called in by US forces). Bombings have continued in August. The BBC reports that a car bomb in Baghdad ("Sadr City district") took the lives of at least seven people and wounded an additional 25. The two month old 'crackdown' has not had any noticeable impact on safety in the region. AFP reports on two car bombs ("went off in rapid succession"), also in Baghdad, that left at least 65 wounded and at least 14 dead. Alister Bull (Scotsman) observes that the violence in the capital underscores "the precarious security situation as US and Iraqi forces try to stem sectarian violence." Reuters notes that a car bomb wounded three police officers in "west-central Baghdad". AFP characterizes it as "a sucide bomber" and notes that two civilians were also injured.
Outside of Baghdad,
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Daquq leaving two dead and a third wounded; mortar rounds wounded 21 in Muqdadiya in Sinjar, nine were wounded by "a suicide car bomber". Al Jazeera notes that the mortar attack in Muqdadiya took place in a market and that three police officers were among the wounded.
Reuters notes that a police officer (Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-llah Abdul-Kareem) was shot dead in Mosul while an unidentified police officer was shot in Falluja. AFP reports that "[a]nother six people were killed in a string of shootings in and around Baquba" and notes three brothers who owned a store together, "a salesman," a man whose car was stolen by assailants who then killed him, and a "civilian . . . shot dead in a coffee shop."
BBC reports that five corpses were discovered "near . . . Suwayra". Al Jazeera reports it was six and notes they were "mutilated." Reuters goes with six and notes that
the corpses were discovered "blindfolded . . . hands bound . . . multiple gunshot wounds" while the
AFP notes five being discovered and adds that two more corpses were discovered "near Muqdadiyah". Reuters also notes that an Iraqi soldier was discovered shot to death (thirteen shots to the head) in Balad "a day after he was kidnapped."
In peace news,
Matthew D. LaPlante and Rebecca Walsh (Salt Lake Tribune) report that Cindy Sheehan will visit Salt Lake City to protest Bully Boy who will be speaking to the American Legion August 31st. Kelly Patterson of Brigham Young University states that the protest may be larger than when Bully Boy spoke in Salt Lake City the year prior: "What's changed over the last year is public opinion about the war itself. Those kinds of shifts provide energy to people who feel very strongly about the war and its conduct. That makes this a more divisive environment -- even in Utah." KSL radio reports that "Sheehan indicated that Mayor [Rocky] Anderson had extended an invitation for her [to] come to Salt Lake and participate in the planned protest. Sheehan will give a speech during the protest at the city-county building downtown".
Camp Casey III continues through September 2nd and Camp DC opens September 5th and runs through the 21st to coincide with a week's worth of events lasting from September 21st to September 28th.
Writing on Sheehan's hospitalization last week,
Missy Comley Beattie (CounterPunch) notes that a transfusion of five-pints of blood were required and compares that need to needs within this country. Comley Beattie concludes: "We are bleeding as a result of the president's insatiable lust for power." Noting Sheehan's return to Camp Casey III this summer, Cynthia Hall Clements ( observers: "The question should not be why Sheehan is the lone voice in the wilderness protesting for peace. The question should be why more of us aren't doing the same."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of soldier Jake Kovco in Baghdad took an unscheduled day off.
AAP reports that DNA tests were to be covered and whether or not "they had identified the source of DNA on the gun that killed Pte Kovco in his Iraq barracks." The inquiry is expected to resume on Friday.

If you've already done your part to get the word out on Ehren Watada, thank you. But you need to do more and you need to continue working that issue because there's not a great deal of interest in covering the issue from independent media.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And in the end, the love you . . .

I was hoping for a quote, musical, to start tonight's post with. I even asked Kat for a suggestion when I couldn't think of one myself. She said she was exhausted. I think most of us are. It was a long day. Hopefully, anyone reading this can feel a good-tired because, in some way, they made a point today to speak out about Ehren Watada.

"And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take." How about that? That's from the Beatles "The End" off Abbey Road. Abbey Road is usually my favorite Beatles' album. Some days I can rank others higher, but day in and day out, year in and year out, it's usually Abbey Road. I have no idea why. I certainly sing along more with Sgt. Pepper's. "Come Together" is a great song and I'll listen to it on Beatles' collections, but, honestly, with this album, I usually skip it and go straight to George Harrison's "Something." "Oh Darling!" has a wonderful vocal (one of my favorites) and "You Never Give Me Your Money" is equally beautifully vocally. But the 'suite' that ends the album is probably what I enjoy the most. And of the songs making up the suite, "Carry That Weight" and "The End" are my favorites.

The love you make is equal to the love you take. So did you make love today? The War Hawks made war. They always do. Even in times of peace (or peace in places), they lock themselves away and plot their future wars. As Joni Mitchell wrote in "Three Great Stimulants": "While madmen sit up building bombs and making laws and bars" what did you do today?

One thing I did today was public speaking which I hate. C.I. put a number of us on the spot. (Which is good, we all need to leave our comfort zone.) Everyone had already said everything on Ehren Watada by the time I went so I decided to talk about the fact that the United States is keeping a body count of Iraqis. That was news to a number of people so I'll note it here (it's been noted here before) one more time.

"U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" (Nancy A. Youssef, Knight Ridder now McClatchy Newspapers):
The death of civilians at the hands of U.S. troops has fueled the insurgency in Iraq, according to a top-level U.S. military commander, who said U.S. officials began keeping records of these deaths last summer.
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who as head of the Multinational Force-Iraq is the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said the number of civilian dead and wounded is an important measurement of how effectively U.S. forces are interacting with the Iraqi people.
"We have people who were on the fence or supported us who in the last two years or three years have in fact decided to strike out against us. And you have to ask: Why is that? And I would argue in many instances we are our own worst enemy,'' Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli said he reviews the figures daily. If fewer civilians are killed, "I think that will make our soldiers safer,'' Chiarelli said.
U.S. officials previously have said they don't keep track of civilian causalities, and Iraqi officials stopped releasing numbers of U.S.-caused casualties after Knight Ridder reported in September 2004 that the Iraqi Ministry of Health had attributed more than twice as many civilian deaths to the actions of U.S. forces than to "terrorist'' attacks during the period from June to September 2004.

I was surprised by the fact that the body count was new and then I had to remind myself that just because this community has (repeatedly) pointed it out doesn't mean everyone is doing the same. (In fact, as Mike noted at Polly's Brew, most weren't pointing it out.)

Golden slumbers feel your eyes
Smiles awake when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Guess what I'm listening to? Abbey Road. I didn't bring it but C.I. put a copy of it in my room. Which is both good hosting and a sign that my devotion to that album is a little too well known.

I brought Cat Power, Michael Franti and some Brahms which was just to relax on the plane. I'm not looking forward to the flight back. (Not intended as an insult of Fly Boy's abilities, I just don't care for flying.)

While a lot of people seemed to have other things to do today, Sarah Olson provided a new piece on Ehren Watada. The military tried to make her talk, by the way. About what she had been told while researching her first article on Watada. I think they've dropped that action but it gives you an indication of the over-reach today.

(If you're asking, "What is she talking about?" I should probably explain that I haven't eaten today since breakfast. The day was too busy. And yesterday we were all doing the Troops Home Fast on the same day so we wouldn't have a week of, "Oh, I would go with but I'm fasting today." So I'm twice as hungry. We'll be eating shortly but I'm still on East Coast time where it would be ten o'clock and I'm famished.)

"Iraq War Vets' Support for Lt. Watada Growing" (Sarah Olson, Truthout):
The Army would like to depict Lieutenant Watada as a lone military voice of dissent: a renegade upon whom enlisted men and officers alike look with scorn and derision. But Clifton Hicks is joining a growing number of Iraq war combat veterans who support the Lieutenant. And, he says, for every veteran who supports Lieutenant Watada publicly, there are possibly hundreds more who feel they cannot speak out.
Geoffrey Millard is a sergeant in the Army National Guard and has no problem speaking publicly or supporting Lieutenant Watada. He spent eight years in the military, and was in Iraq between 2004 and 2005. He says GI resistance is a growing trend. "American GIs are beginning to respect the Nuremberg principles. They are resisting orders; they are going to jail, going to Canada, and going AWOL. And they're talking about why they're doing it."
When he was ordered to deploy, Millard says he didn't know how to resist the war. "Lieutenant Watada hadn't come forward. I didn't know about Camilo Mejia." This, he says, is the importance of Lieutenant Watada's public opposition to the war. It shows military personnel who disagree with the Iraq war another path.
Millard says it's important that leaders like Lieutenant Watada are supported; the brutality and duration of the US occupation demand it. He remembers a day during his tour of duty when a soldier opened fire on a car, killing an entire family. During the evening briefing, the commanding colonel said, "If these fucking Hajjis would learn to drive, this shit wouldn't happen." This is one of countless examples Millard has of the dehumanization accompanying the Iraq war. "This person wiped out an entire bloodline, and the colonel implied it was the victims' fault, using language designed to offend and demean them."

It's always someone else's fault (Bully Boy's life story?) and all the more so in a time when our government exists without accountability. Which may be the most lucid moment I can offer tonight. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and Betty's "A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does" is her latest chapter in the online novel about Betinna's life of Mrs. Thomas Friedman. Remember Watada needs support, please, get the word out.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Today, Wednesday, August 16, 2006, it's one day before Ehren Watada's Article 32 begins, a military inquiry learns that hypnosis was weighed as an option, chaos and violence continue in Iraq and curfews became the measure to address everything
as the whack-a-mole 'strategy' grows more ludicrous. If news of Karbala, Mosul and Basra don't drive that point home, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on the violence spreading outward from Baghdad should.
the Bully Boy reportedly frets about who's got his back and allegedly peruses Camus and attempts to market "Adapt & Win" (on the grave yard markers of "Adapt or Die"). And the war drags on.
Today is the day that the New York Times editorial board offered "
Meanwhile, in Baghdad . . ." which includes the following: "As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test." It's a day where the American military fatality count since the illegal invastion stands at 2604, a day where the wounded count since the beginning of Bully Boy's war of choice now numbers 19323. A day when Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) report that the July death toll for Iraqis at 3,438.
Tomorrow? Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and his attorney, Eric Seitz, "
expects the hearing to be over in one day." Which is why it's important to get the word out. Speaking to Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) in June, Watada spoke of how speaking out publicly could result in retaliation: "I think they will do their best to make an example of me." And, as Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported last week, the Army has now three times rejected Watada's offer of resignation leading attorney Seitz to offer that the military appears "To want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."
Cedric Moon (KGMB9) notes the hearing is to determine whether "Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq". Robert Shikina (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that the hearing is expected to include only four witness: one called by the Army, three called by Seitz. Nina Shaprio (Seattle Weekly) has reported the three witnesses for Watada: "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Seitz told Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that Army's witness will affirm that Watada did not board the buses with others in his regiment on June 22nd and that "the Army also plans to use news clippings and video news reports".
Why would the military have a need to make an example of Ehren Watada? As
Susan Van Haitsma (Austin-American Statesman) points out: "Watada joins a growing number of soldiers whose moral convictions are leading to punitive convictions in military courts. Many soldiers who have sought conscientious objector status have been denied it. Thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of the formidable legal blcks to establishing moral objections to the Iraq war. Many have sought refuge in Canada, though political asylum for U.S. military war resisters is not official there."
More information can be found at
Courage to Resist and
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."
Some rallies going on today:

Seattle, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Intersate 5, at the entrance to Fort Lewis
Portland holds the second of its rush hour bannerings today at 4:30 pm on I5's pedistrian overpass
Kahului. Two events. Sign-holding at 4 pm on Kaahumanu Avenue. Teach-in at 6:00 pm, Maui Community College's Ka Lama Building Room 104A and Bob Watada, Ehren's father, will be at that event.

"On the one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, goving over to Iraq and fight. On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenouse insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many lives were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, os many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
Ehren Watada to Courtney Scott via Rougue Valley IMC

And today in Iraq?
BBC reports that eight died and 28 were wounded when a bomb went off in Baghdad. The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb in Hillah that killed three Iraqi soldiers (and wounded four more) and states that "[b]ombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi captial Wednesday". CBS and AP report that in addition to the bomb that killed eight in Baghdad, eleven more died (for the 19 total) via "[t]wo other bombs . . . in central Baghdad". [Reuters has just upped the total to 21 killed in Baghdad from bombings today.] Reuters notes that, in Basra, Yusif al-Mousawi ("general secretary of Tharalla Islamic Party") was targeted with two roadside bombs (he survived); in Kut, a roadside bomb wounded two police officers; in Jbala, a roadside bomb left three Iraqi soldiers dead while four were wounded; and, in Baquba, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb that wounded three others. In addition, Damien Cave (New York Times) reports on the bombing of a memorial dedicated to children killed last summer by a car bomber (and, I believe one American soldier was killed in the bombing as well). Cave speaks with Muhammad Khaitan, whose his 14-year-old son Saif Muhammad died in last year's bombing, who declares, "All they left was the foundation. They don't want the next generation to remember how we suffered."
Meanwhile, as Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show noted, Basra is under curfew after the storming of a governor's office. Reuters reports that during the attacks on the city council and governor's office, one police officer was killed and five were wounded. The hour long fighting ending, AP notes, when British troops arrived. Reuters is a little more specific: "up to 180 British soldiers and 16 Warrior armored personnel carriers". By the way, in Basra fighting, rockets were used, the AFP reports. (We'll get back to rockets shortly.) And the answer to the violence? Curfew! curfew! curfew! as CNN reports. As the AFP notes, curfew's the sure cure for Karbala today as well -- in fact, forget 'crackdown' -- it's under "lockdown" -- consider it a lid tossed on a pot of boiling water. In Mosul, the armed fighting continued. AP places the death toll from the fighting at five. Reuters notes that these two cities follow the violence in Kerbala yesterday which Iraq's Defense Ministry says claimed the lives of 12 people yesterday. Finally, CBS and AP report that a "Danish soldier was shot in the back . . . in southern Iraq."
AP reports that three corpses were discovered in Kut ("bound, blindfolded . . . signs of torture").
Rockets? Poor William Caldwell IV, he was probably almost over Tuesday's sour stomach following his assurances that Sunday's most violent act in Baghdad was the result of a gas explosion. Well, someone pass him the Mylanta,
CBS and the AP are reporting that the group claiming responsibility for the attack has now released a video of "showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone." Because it was four Australian troops and not four American troops wounded in the Green Zone Sunday from a rocket attack, it appears that a number of people are unaware of the incident. That's allowed Caldwell to deny rockets and bombs on the Baghdad neighborhood and, then Tuesday, allowed the military to play the split-the-difference wherein they allowed that okay-bombs-were-used-but-that's-it! Eye witness testimony cites rockets. Caldwell better chug that Mylanta and hope those using rockets on residential buildings Sunday didn't tape their attack as well.
Of the four Australian soldiers wounded in Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone, three were released and able to return to duty, the fourth remains in a hospital in Baghdad.
Her name is Sarah Webster and Ian McPhedran (Australia's Advertiser) reports the injuries are minor but include "bruising and lacerations."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues and . . . Well, what do you say after the Major Michael Pemberton ("
head of the military police's special investigations branch") testifies to discussions of hypnotizing one of Jake Kovco's roommates? It's the headline, it's the lede where ever you look -- not surprising. But if we can move on that attempt (not implemented) to jog memory,
here's how Pemberton characterized his relationship with the army chiefs while conducting his investigation: "
I would use the term interference" (AAP). Australia's ABC reports: "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday, Major Pemberton said senior military officials in Baghdad ignored his instructions that the body was not to be moved, potentially destroying vital forensic evidence before his investigators arrived." "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday"? That was addressed in yesterday's snapshot when Soldier 46's testimony directly contradicted the claims of others that they hadn't been instructed to secure the death/crime scene.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two days before Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing

Thursday, Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins. I want to open with him.

"Ehren Watada" (from a speech given by Watada and written up by Dahr Jamail, Truth Out)
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.

A rock and a hard place. Fight in a war you know is illegal or take a stand.

Here's the thing about taking stands: it inspires others to do the same. In my profession, when I'm working with someone who was abused as a child, one of the first things they do is name a friend or someone famous who talked about it and, by doing so, gave them the courage to speak.
We do influence one another. Sometimes, we have no idea that we've done that, but we have.

Ehren Watada's stand is important for him, is important for the war but it's important for all of us. If you believe in "truth to power," what Watada is doing does matter -- both in immediate, 'today' terms and in the long term.

One of the things I've learned with patients is reactions and how they can vary. The thing that outrages you today, inspires you tomorrow. There may be troops serving who, right now, think, "That Ehren Watada has just gone too far." That's right now, today. As time passes, they may beging to have their own doubts. When they do, they'll remember his stand.

Early ones who stood up, such as Camilo Mejia, Kevin Benderman, Pablo Paredes and Aidan Delgado, make it possible for Ehren Watada. Ricky Clousing just turned himself in last week after a year of being AWOL. The actions of others may have helped him reach the decision he reached. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, many others have gone public with their stories of resistance. With each one who does, it makes it that much harder to pin it off as "a personal problem." That's a lot of "personal problems."

When a (much younger) Camilo Mejia was injured in Florida a few weeks back, the word went through the community: "Is it Camilo?" While sorry that any Camilo Mejia was injured, we were glad to know it wasn't "our" Camilo. That's how we think of him in this community. He made a difference. His bravery touched us.

These are the stories that matter, the ones that inspire, teach us of inner strength and resolve.
Because of all who have come before, Ehren Watada's stand is probably less lonely than many of the ones who were first out of the gate. By standing with Watada, you can make it that much easier for the ones who will come after.

They can see the support Watada has and know that, should they make a similar decision, they will have that support as well.

Let's look at the converse for a moment: Ehren Watada doesn't get the support he needs. (Not unlike the media didn't give the war and surrounding issues the coverage it needed over the last six or so weeks.) That sends a message as well. Now some will be able to ignore that message. Others? They'll use it as their excuse to stay silent: "Nobody was there for Watada, they won't be there for me, so why bother?"

If the story of Camilo Mejia was boiled down to one sentence, I think it would be this: One person can make a difference. That's Mejia or anyone taking a stand and that's one, two, three or more person/s standing up to say, "I'm with you."

We have power we never tap into. That's a dangerous mistake, almost as dangerous as believing that politics means you vote in an election and then it's over. The power you have to impact the world is in you. You can get the word out on Ehren Watada. You can connect Donald Rumsfeld (info in the snapshot) and speak out for Ehren Watada. You may feel, "I won't make a difference." If everyone who felt that way ignored that thought and acted, the world would be much different. So don't stay silent on Ehren Watada because you'll not only short change him, you'll be short changing yourself.

A community member e-mailed me that he made the call today (and left a message for Rumsfeld), that his hands were sweating the whole time and he knows he stuttered while leaving the message. But after he hung up, he felt a little better about the world and about himself. That's because he tapped into his power.

We spend far too much waiting (in vain) for a politician to save us. We need to work on saving ourselves. Excercising your power, exploring your power is saving yourself. It's changing the world, transforming it. Think about the power you have and use it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Today Tuesday, August 15, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq, two days remain before
Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins, William Caldwell IV's "gas" explanation yesterday leaves him red faced today (try Tums -- though Bully Boy Pioneers tend to prefer Rolaids), and in the inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco in Australia, Soldier 46 seems to rebut the earlier testimony of Soldier 30.
Well start with US military spinmeister William Caldwell IV. As some will remember, he
asserted yesterday that the Baghdad violence on Sunday was the result of "a major gas explosion" and cited "specialists" and "experts." (Apparently similar to the "grass experts" of the Michael Bloomberg administration that Mara Verheyden-Hilliard noted on yesterday's WBAI's Law & Disorder when explaining the systematic attempts/plot to prevent the 2004 anti-war demonstrations in NYC to coincide with the GOP convention.)
As though Neil Young had hollered "Don't need no more lies! Don't need no more lies!" ("The Restless Consumer" from Young's
Living With War), the US military corrected their version of events today.
Damien Cave (New York Times) notes Lt. Col. Barry Johnson explaining that Caldwell IV "was speaking in good faith, but had incomplete information" which may be the understatement of the week. Cave reports that the US military now says that in addition to Caldwell's 'gas explosion' there were four car bombs. Though Cave doesn't currently note it, Vijay Joshi (AP) does: Iraqi's maintain that rockets and mortars were used. AFP notes that the death toll for Sunday's attacks has now reached 73 and that US military is now "back-pedalling from a previous statement that the deaths were the result of an accidental gas explosion" while "Iraqi officials have insisted from the outset that car bombs and rockets caused the blasts."
In reality news (as opposed to reality-based news) from Iraq . . .
Bloomerg News reports nine dead and 36 injured from "a bomb attack on the Mosul headquarters of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan". The count is up from China's Xinhua's earlier report which identified the source of the bomb as a "suicided bomber [who] detonated his explosive-laden truck near the office". CNN (going with the figure of nine dead, 36 wounded) notes it was a truck bomb. Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baquba that killed a police officer and left four wounded; a roadside bomb in Huwayder that left three police officers wounded; and three police officers wounded from two roadside bombs in Samarra. Not noted in the above is an Australian contractor who died today in Germany, Australia's ABC reports, "from injuries sustained" in a Baghdad bombing "about two weeks ago."
Associated Press reports: "Fierce gunbattles broke out Tuesday between armed supporters of an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric and Iraqi security forces after a raid on his office" in Karbala. Reuters identifies the cleric as Mahmoud al-Hasani and notes that a vehicle curfew has been imposed upon the city. Australia's Herald Sun identifies the dead as: "[t]wo Iraqi army officers, a soldier and three civilians". CBS and AP place the count of dead from the gunbattles in Karbala at "at least seven".
In Baquba,
Reuters notes that "police lieutenant Fadhil Uthman" was shot dead. Australia's Herald Sun notes the shooting deaths of "two civilian contractors supplying food to the Iraqi army . . . in Muqdadiya" as well as a civilian shot dead "in a Baquba market," a civilian shot dead in Amara, and another civilian shot dead in Khalis. Reuters ups the Muqdadiya toll to three (from "two civilian contractors supplying food . . .") and identifies them the three as "bakers" and also notes five people "wounded when gunmen in a car shot at shoppers in a market in central Samarra."
Corpses? Australia's
Herald Sun reports two corpses were discovered in Kerbala and three in Suweira.
In peace news,
Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins in two days. Jeff Paterson (Indybay Media) writes about the warm reception Watada got as "a keynote speaker" last weekend with those gathered chanting "thank you LT!" As the August 17th hearing approaches, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that Watada's attorney Eric Seitz will call "[t]wo experts on international law" Francis Boyle and Denis Halliday as well as "retired Army Col. Ann Wright". Nina Shapiro (Seattle Weekly) reports that "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, . . . will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, [will be] presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, . . . will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Shapiro notes that althought the hearing is scheduled for two days, Seitz "expects the hearing to be over in one day."
The hearing will begin Thursday, August 17th and remember that
Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th (that's tomorrow). Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go."
Last weekend's event that Watada got a warm reception at was the
Veterans for Peace conference. Sunday's The KPFA Evening News had a lengthy report on the conference and quoted Gerry Condon explaining how the cases of Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart and others are hampered by the fact that they have to make their arguments on a "case by case [basis]. And it doesn't really resolve the problem for the increasing numbers of war resisters that are coming to Canada. That's why we're calling on the [Canadian] government to create a policy of sanctuary, to make an easy way for war resisters to immigrate to Canada rathter than be deported back to the United States to go to prison for refusing to participate in the illegal war."
During the Vietnam era, war resisters could apply for asylum but today that's not the case. And, as noted in the report, arguments about the legality of the Iraq war have not been allowed in court. Mike's "
KPFA reported on the war resisters in Canada" offers more on Sunday's report. Jeff Paterson (Indybay Media) reports on Sunday's action where "150 U.S. military veterans boarded buses for Peace Arch Park on the US/Canadian border to celebrate resistance to unjust war with U.S. troops currently taking refuge in Canada" and quotes Ann Wright stating, "It is part of military tradition that you can refuse illegal orders. They have the courage to stand up and say . . . 'I'm not going to have this war on my conscience'." The Veterans for Peace conference was where Ricky Clousing announced his decision to turn himself into the US military after being AWOL for a year. Jane Cutter (Party for Socialism and Liberation) quotes Clousing saying: "I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability" and notes that also at Clousing's news conference were Camilo Mejia, Sharon Pankalla (Ricky Clousing's mother) and "Vietnam war resister Michael Wong".
In other new
Richard Benedetto (Baxter Bulletin) reports on the bust that was Bully Boy's vacation, noting the lack of attention Bully Boy & Condi Rice got for a press conference, the lack of attention the media gave to Cindy Sheehan (who filled out a voter registration card at the Crawford Post Office Tuesday) and concludes that, for Bully Boy, "it was not a vacation." As the emotion (giggles) subsides, Emily Ingram (Waco Tribune-Herald) reports that Bully Boy's "shortest summer vacation yet" hasn't deterred Camp Casey III supporters who, in the words of Dave Jensen of Tyler, TX, maintain: "Regardless if Bush is here or not, we'll be here. I think all of us feel like he's cut and run." Ingram notes that since being released from the Providence Health Center in Waco, Sheehan's divided her time between the camp, a hotel (for the "wireless internet") and Willie Nelson's home.
Sheehan was
reportedly hospitalized for exhuastion, dehydration and some medical issues (she was hospitalized Thursday, in Seattle where she was taking part in the Veterans for Peace conference, and in Texas on Friday, Saturday and some of Sunday). Per doctors orders, she had to begin eating but the Troops Home Fast continues (through September 21st) and currently 4,549 people around the world are participating in this CODEPINK action.
More information can be found at
Troops Home Fast. Those taking part in the action so far have included Laura Flanders, Howard Zinn, Kim Gandy (president of NOW), Will Durst, Jonathon Tasini, Kevin Zeese, Jim Hightower, Greg Palast, Al Sharpton, Marianne Williamson, Julia Butterfly Hills, Pratap Chatterjee, Fernando Suarez del Solar, Ray McGovern, Bonnie Raitt, Alice Walker, Dolores Huerta, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Michael Franti, Eve Ensler, Ed Asner, Graham Nash. Dick Gregory and Willie Nelson. (That's not a full list.) Those interested can grab a one-day fast, a one-day-a-week fast, or they can try for something longer. Before beginning any multi-day fast, please consult your medical go-to. Brenda Payton (Oakland Tribune) reports that Jane Jackson (70-years-old) "was taken to Highland Hospital's emergency room Sunday after fasting for 41 days as part of the national Troops Home Fast action." (Jane Jackson is reported to be doing okay.)
In other peace news,
nycnion (NYC Indymedia) reports that August 19th will be a non-silent vigil for Abeer Qassim Hamza who would have turned 15-years-old Saturday had she not been murdered (along with three family members) and allegedly raped (alleged by US troops). Actions will take place from 7:30 pm to 9:30 p.m. at the following locations: in NYC at Washington Square Park -- W. 4th Street & MacDougal; in Los Angeles at MacArthur Park -- 6th and Alvarado St.; and in Berkeley at Willard Park -- Telegraph & Derby St.
Sandy LeonVest (Toward Freedom) notes a number of issues (Steven D. Green -- one of those accused of murdering and raping Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi; Ricky Clousing, etc.) observes: "There was a moment in time, before the media simply turned its back on Iraq -- and before reporters became frustrated and bored by their inability to get out of the 'green zone' and cover the story -- that Pentagon officials allowed them to talk relatively freely with (pre-selected) recruits."
One of the things LeonVest notes is
the 300 members of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team who made it home to Alaska only to learn they were going straight back to Iraq for at least four more months (after having already served a year in Iraq).
Russ Bynum (Associated Press) reports that the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment will be returning to Iraq "as early as the end of November" and that the 1st Brigade Combat Team "is preparing for a possible third combat tour in Iraq." And the war drags on.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continues. Today's big talking point: He was a cowboy. Report after report emphasizes that. On
ABC's PM, Mark Douglass told Mark Colvin that a Soldier 3 had reprimanded Kovco for the use of his weapon: "You know you shouldn't be doing that. It's a dangerous weapon and accidents can happen and peopl do get hurt when you play with weapons." A variety of this tale is repeated throughout the reports. Though the Kovco Cowboy has been a popular talking point for the month, Soldier 3 is only the second witness to testify that he observed such behavior. (Go back to August 2nd's snapshot for more on this.) Let's say it's true (it may be), where is the documentation? This is the second to claim he reprimanded Kovco for playing with a gun. Even were this an oral reprimand, this should have been documented. If it's not, that's an issue the hearing needs to look into.
Kovco grew up with guns, was a marksman before he joined the military. Could he have played with his gun? Aboslutely. He could have been so used to it that he took it (and safety) for granted. If that's the case, there should be something more than two people saying they reprimanded him and
a host of others saying "I didn't see it myself but I heard even though I can't say from whom." So let's see some documentation for this behavior. That's two supposed reprimands from superiors. If it didn't make his personnel file than they've got some serious tracking problems (and can add that to the mythical 'buddy system' for unloading a weapon as something the Australian military needs to address).
As they all rush to do the Cowboy Kovco talking point a few miss Soldier 46's damning testimony.
AAP reports that Soldier 46 (a military police captain -- all witness are identified with "Soldier" and a number in the inquiry) "told the inquiry that within hours of the shooting he passed on requests from his bosses to army chiefs in Baghdad about how the investigation should be handled" including securing Jake Kovco's room, preventing the departure of soldiers whose testimony would be needed, etc. Now note: "WITHIN HOURS."
For those who've fogotten, we've heard that the room/crime scene was stipped clean (before investigators arrived four days after Kovco's death) because it was basically bringing everybody down. We've heard that preserving the crime scene never occurred to anyone. Soldier 46 testified that not only did it occur to him but he said the room needed to be secure within hours of Kovco's death. Is he telling the truth? If so, why didn't this advice get noted by previous witnesses?
Courier-Mail reports that Soldier 46 was at the room/crime scene "about one hour after the shooting" and passing on the instructions (from his own superiors) about securing the room. So why is the hearing only now hearing of this and how does one resolve that testimony from the man who earlier stated the room was cleaned because it was bringing the others down and he hadn't thought it was important to preserve the scene?
For any who've forgotten,
August 10th's snapshot covers the testimony of Jake Kovco's "commanding officer." Soldier 30: "The room is right in the middle of where all the other soldiers are accommodated. It was becoming a morale issue." Is Soldier 30 going to testify again (via video-link) as to whether he ignored Soldier 46 or just didn't hear that the room needed to be secure? (If Soldiers 46 and 30 are both telling the truth, then the hearing needs to examine issues of communication.)
Finally, in the United States,
David Ammons (AP) reports that War Hawk Maria Cantwell is having to reposition on Iraq, declaring "that she's anxious to see a transition plan for shifting responsibilities to the Iraqis" (sounds like Rumsfeld, Bully Boy, et al) and quoting her saying: "I certainly want to change the course and get our troops home. The United States has done its duty in helping a new government get formed, and now it is time for that new government to take over." Senator Cantwell is facing re-election and is seen as "one of the Democrats' more vulnerable incumbents".

So William Caldwell IV 'mispoke' yesterday when he said the sole cause of Sunday's destruction was a gas explosion? Do you believe that? I don't. This wasn't the first time Caldwell 'mispoke' (as C.I. pointed out in "Other Items" this morning before the US military was admitting that Caldwell's comments were wrong). He really is like Vincent Brooks, giving all these false claims to the media, most of whom lap it up without even a wrinkled nose.

For over three years, this illegal war has waged and we've heard one lie after another. If we've tracked the lies, it's hard to believe the press hasn't bothered to remember them, hard to believe that they still willingly repeat what they're told without comment and usually as "fact."

That happened with Abeer. First, when she and her family died. The New York Times (C.I.'s pointed this out at The Common Ills) when they reprinted the official p.r. release saying that she'd been killed by the resistance. Then when the waters got a little hotter, they had to note the 'allegations' and also put out the US military's spin that she was in her 20s. Then they wanted to argue the point, repeatedly, and had the document with her age not turned up, who knows what they'd be calling her now? (They rarely call her by her name, most of the time they call her the '"14-year-old girl.")

William Caldwell IV, knowingly or not, fronted a lie, a piece of propaganda designed to make it appear as though a violent attack could not occur during the increased, already massive 'crackdown' on Baghdad. It did happen. Now the US military (and many in the press) want to play split the difference. As C.I.'s pointed out repeatedly, eye witnesses saw the rockets. Rockets (three) were fired into the Green Zone the same Sunday. (Only one hit -- it injured the four Australian troops.) But just as helicpoters go down all over Iraq for no apparent reason, we're supposed to pretend that the resistance can't get ahold of rockets? (What world are they living in? After the US has armed most of the world.)

I'm going to have stop here, besides the radio (tuned to KPFA), I also hear the stereo and it's Neil Young's "Living With War" (from the CD of the same name). That really is a great album and if it's playing this evening's round of guests are already here. (As I've pointed out before, I can handle that except at Christmas -- which is why I avoid C.I.'s at Christmas -- the non-stop flow of people.) But along with Neil Young & Co. from the speakers, I'm hearing 'a jam' so I'm going to go check that out. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.