<\body> Stories in America: August 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Red State" Utahns Protest Bush

Thousands of people turned out in Salt Lake City, Utah to greet their "Red State" president:
Garth Pellett, Sandy Resident "I disagree with much of what the Bush administration is doing, with the war, with illegal wiretaps, with the taking away of the constitutional freedoms of the American people."

Mary Johnson, Salt Lake City Resident: "I think each person here thinks they are making a statement, or else they wouldn't have come. And I think that's important that you feel you are doing something. That's why I'm here. I need to do something."

Claude Lewis, West Valley City Resident: "Basically, I don't think we should be there because I thought we should have been in Afghanistan in the beginning anyway. I think this is a grudge war against Saddam Hussein because he tried to murder his father."

Nancy McCormick, Salt Lake City Resident: "It's sad. It's just sad what's going on in our country. We're making more enemies by far than we did before the war."

Some, like Nancy McCormick, said they'd never turned out for a protest before today.

Led by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, protesters marched from City Hall to the federal building to present a symbolic indictment against Bush, Congress and the president's administration, alleging such "crimes" as failure to uphold the Constitution, abuse of power and failure to promote the general welfare of Americans.

"Our children and later generations will pay the price of the lies, the violence, the cruelty, the incompetence and the inhumanity of the Bush administration and the lackey Congress that has so cowardly abrogated its responsibility and authority under our checks-and-balances system of government," Anderson said.

Being President is Hard Work

From Crooks and Liars:
For someone who does not like how the public perceives him, Bush does not help his case any in this interview. Take this little exchange:

WILLIAMS: When you take a tour of the world, a lot of Americans e-mail me with their fears that, some days they just wake up and it just feels like the end of the world is near. And you go from North Korea to Iran, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, and you look at how things have changed, how Americans are viewed overseas, if that is important to you. Do you have any moments of doubt that we fought a wrong war? Or that there's something wrong with the perception of America overseas?

BUSH: Well those are two different questions, did we fight the wrong war, and absolutely -- I have no doubt -- the war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said, let's hope calm works. And we were attacked.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More than 10,000 Iraqis Killed in the Past Four Months

The robots are running on Double D batteries:

"In Iraq, a country that was brutalized and traumatized by a cruel and dangerous dictatorship is now undertaking the slow, difficult, and uncertain steps to secure a new future, under a representative government -- one that is at peace with its neighbors, rather than a threat to their own people, their neighbors, and to the world."
-Donald Rumsfeld, speaking to the American Legion in Salt Lake City, Utah

"We should not assume for one minute that those terrorists will not continue to come after the American homeland. That is why President (George W.) Bush calls Iraq a central front in the war on terror."
-Secretary of State Rice speaking to the American Legion in Salt Lake City, Utah

Meantime, in Iraq:
More than 10,000 Iraqis - the vast majority in Baghdad - have been killed in the past four months alone, a figure that would send shockwaves through the international community were it in any other part of the world.

Katrina: A Year Later

A few quotes worth revisiting:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
-President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
-President Bush, to (former) FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005

"What didn't go right?'"
-President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
-Barbara Bush on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston on September 5, 2005

"We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter)
-President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

"Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"
-Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 9, 2005

"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005

"We just learned of the convention center - we being the federal government - today."
-FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded: "Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Suicide Soldier: "I Can't Go to Iraq. I Can't Kill Those Children"

From the Independent:
While his peers from St Augustine's Catholic school were this month contemplating university careers or first jobs, Jason Chelsea was preoccupied with a different future: his first tour of duty in Iraq.

The 19-year-old infantryman, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, was tormented by concern about what awaited him when the King's Lancaster Regiment reached Iraq, where 115 British soldiers have been killed since 2003.

He had even told his parents that he had been warned by his commanders that he could be ordered to fire on child suicide bombers.

It was a fear that he never confronted. Within 48 hours of confessing his concerns to his family, Pte Chelsea was dead after taking an overdose of painkillers and slashing his wrists.

On his death bed, he told his mother, Kerry: "I can't go out there and shoot at young children. I just can't go to Iraq. I don't care what side they are on. I can't do it."

Tony Chelsea, 58, a factory production supervisor, said: "My son was made very, very lonely by what was happening to him. He was very sad inside and he bottled up what was causing it. It was only after the overdose that he told us about his fears over what might happen in Iraq.

"In training, they were made to wrestle with dummies. Jason said they were also told they might have to fight kids and that they might have to shoot them because they were carrying suicide bombs. He said the policy [where there was a suspected suicide bomber] was to shoot first and ask questions later."

His mother added: "Jason said that during the training for Iraq he had been told that children as young as two carry bombs and the time may come when he would have to shoot one to save himself and his friends. I think they need to think again about the training they give to young soldiers before Iraq."

It is understood guidelines on training for British troops heading for Iraq offer no warning on child suicide bombers. But defence sources confirmed that the details of the advice given to soldiers are decided by each regiment. There have been no known cases of suicide attacks in Iraq committed by young children.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hidden Costs of Iraq War

From AlterNet. Be sure to watch the video:
The McLaughlin Group started out their Sunday program with a segment on the hidden costs of the war in Iraq.

They report that the current costs of the war are $1.5 billion a week. However, this number does not include $400 million a week in ancillary costs. So, that brings the total cost to a staggering $1.9 billion per week or $7.6 billion a month.

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift devastatingly sums up the segment by saying:

"This president has hidden the cost of this war... and this president cuts taxes and the top 1% and the Halliburtons of the world party on...while...people pay an extraordinary burden."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The 19th Amendment

Today, August 26th is Women's Equality Day, commemorating the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the constitution giving women the right to vote.

Please take a moment to remember the contributions of our foremothers who fought a very tough and long campaign to win us this basic right.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Happy Women's Equality Day

This is from the National Organization for Women:
On August 26, 1920, after 72 years of lobbying and protest, women finally won the right to vote in the United States.

In 1971, the late, great Rep. Bella Abzug convinced Congress to designate Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day. Women's lives have changed dramatically since 1920 and even since 1971. By organizing, voting, speaking out and demanding change, we have made incredible leaps in every arena. But, we still have a long way to go.

Tell the presidential candidates that...

Until women earn the same wages as men . . . until reproductive justice is assured . . . until racism and sexism and violence are eradicated . . . until lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender people have equal rights . . . until women are included in the U.S. Constitution . . . women's equality will not be realized.

While the 2008 presidential election might seem far off, the prospective candidate list is already filling out and the likely frontrunners aren't hard to spot. Today is not a day too soon to begin urging each potential candidate to make women's equality a major component of their campaign.

We cannot have another eight years of women's rights being pushed back, and our hard-earned progress stopped in its tracks by leaders dedicated only to their rich cronies and ultra-conservative backers.

Sign the petition!

We CAN make women's equality a reality by ensuring that it is a centerpiece of the 2008 elections. Let's start NOW by securing a commitment from the likely presidential candidates that they will address issues crucial to women and girls achieving their dreams.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

After Three Years of Delays, the FDA Finally Approves Plan B

If anti-choicers were truly concerned about preventing unwanted pregnanies, they would embrace Plan B with open arms. Too bad that's not the case.

This is from the National Women's Health Network, an organization that works tirelessly for women's rights:
After nearly three years of delays, the Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of the application to make Plan B emergency contraception available to women 18 and older without a prescription.

The FDA decision is both a political victory and an advance for women's health, clearing the path for many women to get timely access to this after-the-fact birth control that is more effective the sooner it is used. Political leaders who have used regulatory red-tape to delay the decision finally conceded in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that Plan B is safe and effective for over-the-counter use.

This announcement is a tribute to the persistence of reproductive rights and women's health advocates like you, medical and scientific experts and tough-minded policymakers at the national, state and local level who have supported and fought to improve women's access to EC for more than 10 years.

As we celebrate this victory, however, the National Women's Health Network cautions that the FDA has not stopped playing politics with EC. There's no scientific or medical reason for the 18 and older age restriction that the FDA has imposed on obtaining non-prescription Plan B. Studies show that increased access to EC does not cause teen promiscuity or other health risk behaviors. And top FDA officials have privately acknowledged that the age restriction is a political concession to conservative activists who have been fighting to keep barriers to contraceptive access in place.

Unfortunately, this concession will impose real costs on real women who will be denied timely access or will have to jump through too many hoops to get EC, making the method less effective. Imposing unjustified age restrictions also undermines public confidence in the scientific integrity of the FDA. And finally, it sends a false and misleading message about the safety of the product which has been shown in studies to be as safe for teens as it is for women 18 and older.

We hope that you take time to enjoy today's victory, but urge you not to give up the fight for contraceptive access for young women and an FDA that makes decisions based on science, not politics. And we at the Network will continue our work to bring you honest information about women's health.

Please pass this message on to everyone you know who cares about women's health!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Iraq Vets Group Blasts Bush on Latest Marine Call-Ups

IAVA, the nation's first and largest organization of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, released the following statement today from Executive Director and Iraq War Veteran Paul Rieckhoff on Marine Corps plans to call up thousands of troops from the Individual Ready Reserve:
"This latest round of involuntary call-ups is further evidence of the tremendous strain this war has placed on the American military," said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq War veteran and the founder and executive director of IAVA: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (iava.org). "This brings us one step closer to breaking the all-volunteer force, and is yet another indication of inadequate pre-war planning."

"Our military has been stretched thin by more than three years of war. It is time for President Bush to admit that his 'business as usual' approach to the war is no longer a viable option. Drawing on the Individual Ready Reserve has real consequences in terms of national security and military preparedness," Rieckhoff said. "These troops are meant to be reserved for times of national emergency. In the fourth year of this war, it could hardly be described as an unforeseen emergency."

"President Bush must address this crisis of military manpower and the profound consequences for our troops and their families."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Military Recruiters Raping Potential Recruits

War is hell, even at home. The following is a long article from the AP. Please read it in its entirety and pass it on to your lists.
More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams.

A six-month Associated Press investigation found that more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistees. The cases occurred across all branches of the military and in all regions of the country.

"This should never be allowed to happen," said one 18-year-old victim. "The recruiter had all the power. He had the uniform. He had my future. I trusted him."

At least 35 Army recruiters, 18 Marine Corps recruiters, 18 Navy recruiters and 12 Air Force recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior with potential enlistees in 2005, according to records obtained by the AP under dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests. That's significantly more than the handful of cases disclosed in the past decade.

The AP also found:

_The Army, which accounts for almost half of the military, has had 722 recruiters accused of rape and sexual misconduct since 1996.

_Across all services, one out of 200 frontline recruiters — the ones who deal directly with young people — was disciplined for sexual misconduct last year.

_Some cases of improper behavior involved romantic relationships, and sometimes those relationships were initiated by the women.

_Most recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct are disciplined administratively, facing a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay; military and civilian prosecutions are rare.

_The increase in sexual misconduct incidents is consistent with overall recruiter wrongdoing, which has increased from just over 400 cases in 2004 to 630 cases in 2005, according to a General Accounting Office report released this week.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Troops: We're Retaliating for Saddam's Role in 9/11 - Bush: Iraq Had 'Nothing' To Do With 9/11

According to a February 2006 Zogby poll, almost 90 percent of American troops serving in Iraq believe their mission is "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks."

You would think Bush and his "stay the course" administration would have told the troops that 9/11 had absolutely nothing to do with their Mission. Should we expect any less from an administration that goes out of its way to support the troops?

Video from AlterNet:
In recent press conferences Bush has been stumbling and bumbling. Today was yet another example of his lies and reality catching up with him. He, as always, tried to tie the war in Iraq to 9/11, but this time a White House reporter interjected with a question:

Full transcript:

BUSH: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

QUESTION: What did Iraq have to do with it?

BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?

QUESTION: The attack on the World Trade Center.

BUSH: Nothing. Except it's part of -- and nobody has suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- Iraq -- the lesson of September 11th is take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Katrina: A Year Later

Albert Bass, who applied for a FEMA trailer in January, is still waiting. He sleeps in his gutted home with no power. Chronicle photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Lacking electricity, Bass washes his clothes by candlelight, using a scrub board in his bathtub. Power has been restored for much of the city, but entire blocks in the Lower Ninth Ward still lack gas and electricity. Chronicle photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Nearly half of New Orleans was still under water when President Bush stood in the Crescent City's historic Jackson Square and swore he would "do what it takes" to rebuild the communities and lives that had been laid to waste two weeks before by Hurricane Katrina.

"Our goal is to get the work done quickly," the president said.

He promised to spend federal money wisely and accountably. And he vowed to address the poverty exposed by the government's inadequate Katrina response "with bold action."

A year after the storm, the federal government has proven slow and unreliable in keeping the president's promises.

How has the government performed in the most critical areas of the recovery and reconstruction effort?

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE: A June report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that FEMA wasted between $600 million and $1.4 billion on "improper and potentially fraudulent individual assistance payments."

Government auditors found that debit cards distributed to Katrina victims were used to pay for things like Dom Perignon champagne, New Orleans Saints season tickets and adult-oriented entertainment. The audit also found that people used fictional addresses, fake Social Security numbers and the identities of dead people to fraudulently register for assistance. FEMA also double-deposited funds in the accounts of 5,000 out of the nearly 11,000 debit card holders.

CLEANUP: The job still isn't done. More than 100 million cubic yards of debris have been cleared from the region affected by Katrina. So far the government has spent $3.6 billion, a figure that might have been considerably smaller had the contracts for debris removal been subject to competitive bidding.

Working through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA gave each of four companies contracts worth up to $500 million to clear hurricane debris. This spring government inspectors reported that the companies — AshBritt Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla., Phillips and Jordan Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., Ceres Environmental Services Inc. of Brooklyn Park, Minn. and ECC Operating Services Inc. of Burlingame, Calif. — charged the government as much as four to six times what they paid their subcontractors who actually did the work.

HOUSING: In his Jackson Square speech, Bush said his goal was to "get people out of shelters by the middle of October."

By and large that goal was met, with all but a few thousand of 270,000 Katrina evacuees out of shelters by mid-October.

But that didn't solve the monumental housing problem created by Katrina. Most of the people who had been in shelters went to hotel rooms, with FEMA picking up the bill. About 50,000 families who had evacuated to other cities were promised a year of rent assistance, though in April FEMA began cutting off some who the agency said did not qualify for the program. More than 100,000 families moved into trailers or mobile homes parked either in the yards of their damaged houses or in makeshift compounds.

Meanwhile, FEMA flailed and flip-flopped on its contracting policies for trailers, mobile homes and other temporary shelter. The first big contracts were handed out non-competitively to four well-connected companies — Shaw Group, Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Corp. Then in October FEMA director R. David Paulison promised to rebid the contracts after Congress complained that smaller companies, especially local and minority-owned firms, should have a chance to compete for the work.

A month after that, FEMA said the new contracts would not be awarded until February. That deadline came and went, and then in March a FEMA official announced that the contracts weren't going to be rebid after all.

A week later FEMA reversed itself again, giving up to $3.6 billion in business to small and minority-owned firms.

"I promised Congress I was going to bid them out, and that's what I'm doing," Paulison said.

REBUILDING: Despite Bush's Jackson Square promise to "undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities," state and local officials had a hard time reaching a deal for federal aid to help residents rebuild their ruined homes.

In January the administration rejected a $30 billion plan for Louisiana as too expensive. The White House also balked at subsidizing the reconstruction of homes in flood plains, a policy that would have excluded all but a small fraction of Louisiana homeowners whose houses were significantly damaged.

The state finally won funding in July for the $9 billion 'Road Home' program, which pays homeowners up to $150,000 either to repair their damaged property or rebuild elsewhere in the state. People who leave the state are eligible for a 60 percent buyout. The money, which is being distributed through escrow accounts to prevent fraud, is just becoming available a year after the hurricane.

LEVEES: The federal government hasn't broken any promises with regard to flood protection — mostly because it has assiduously avoided making any.

White House Katrina recovery czar Donald Powell has said that the administration intends to wait for the completion of a $20 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, due in December 2007, before it decides whether to enhance the flood protection system in southern Louisiana enough to resist a Category 5 hurricane.

A preliminary draft of the study released in July was widely criticized because it omitted five projects that state officials say should be started right away. At the same time, it focused on a massive levee that would stretch hundreds of miles along the Louisiana coast while paying only lip service to the critical task of shoring up the state's vanishing wetlands, which provide a natural barrier to hurricane flooding.

"We're wasting our time and money and attention contemplating large-scale levees across the entire state," said Tim Searchinger, an attorney with the advocacy group Environmental Defense.

The federal government has committed about $6 billion since Katrina to repair and improve the Big Easy's existing levee system. The first goal was to bring the levee system back to "pre-Katrina" levels by the beginning of the 2006 hurricane season on June 1. That goal was largely achieved. The next step will be to make improvements that will bring the system up to what is variously called Category 3 or 100-year protection by 2010.

But planners and state and local officials say that the levees need to be brought up to Category 5 protection, a level that would cost up to $30 billion, if people are to have confidence moving back to areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Rape, Murder, and the American GI

Abeer would have been 15 today.

This piece was written by Robin Morgan, co-founder of The Women's Media Center:
Her birthday is August 19, her death day March 12.

We cannot let this crime, too, pass into oblivion.

When news surfaced that GIs allegedly stalked, terrorized, gang-raped, and killed an Iraqi woman, the U.S. tried minimizing this latest atrocity by our troops -- claiming the victim was age 25 or even 50, implying a rape-murder is less horrific if the victim is an older woman. Now, Article 32 hearings -- the military equivalent of a grand jury -- have ended at Camp Liberty, a U.S. base in Iraq (U.S. troops are exempt from Iraqi prosecution). In September, a general will rule whether the accused should be court-martialed. The defense already pleads post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): in four months preceding the crime, 17 of the accused GIs' battalion were killed; their company, Bravo, suffered eight combat deaths.

But as the U.S. spun the victim's identity, investigators knew her name: Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.

Abeer means "fragrance of flowers." She was 14 years old.

The soldiers noticed her at a checkpoint. They stalked her after one or more of them expressed his intention to rape her. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky mixed with a high-energy drink and practicing their golf swings, they changed into black civvies and burst into Abeer's home in Mahmoudiya, a town 50 miles south of Baghdad. They killed her mother Fikhriya, father Qassim, and five-year-old sister Hadeel with bullets to the forehead, and "took turns" raping Abeer. Finally, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and lit them on fire to destroy the evidence. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings.

These details are from a sworn statement by Spc. James P. Barker, one of the accused along with Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Jesse Spielman, and Pfc. Bryan Howard; a fifth, Sgt. Anthony Yribe, is charged with failing to report the attack but not with having participated.

Then there's former Pfc. Steven Green. Discharged in May for a "personality disorder," Green was arrested in North Carolina, pled not guilty in federal court, and is being held without bond. He's the convenient scapegoat whose squad leader testified how often Green said he hated all Iraqis and wanted to kill them. Other soldiers said Green threw a puppy off a roof, then set it on fire. The company commander noted Green had "serious anger issues."

Who is this "bad apple"? A good ole boy from Midland, Texas.

"If you want to understand me, you need to understand Midland," says President Bush. Steven Green understands Midland -- his home until his parents divorced and his mother remarried when Green was eight, already in trouble in school. A high-school dropout, Green returned to Midland to get his GED in 2003. Then, in 2005, he enlisted. He immersed himself in a chapel baptismal pool at Fort Benning, Georgia -- getting "born again" while being trained how to kill legally and die heroically. He was 19, with three convictions: fighting, and alcohol and drug possession.

Once, the Army would have rejected him. But he enlisted when, desperate for fresh recruits, the Army started increasing, by nearly half, the rate at which it grants what it terms "moral waivers" to potential recruits. According to the Pentagon, waivers in 2001 totaled 7,640, increasing to 11,018 in 2005. "Moral waivers" permit recruits with criminal records, emotional problems, and weak educational backgrounds to be taught how to use submachine guns and rocket launchers. Afterward, if they survive, they'll be called heroes -- and released back into society. (One ex-soldier praising the military for having "properly trained and hardened me" was Timothy McVeigh).

The U.S. military is now a mercenary force. In addition to hired militias and "independent contractors," we do have a draft: a poverty draft. That's why the Army is so disproportionately comprised of people of color, seeking education, health care, housing. But the military inflicts other perks: teenage males, hormones surging, are taught to confuse their bodies with weapons, and relish that.

One notorious training song (with lewd gestures) goes: "This is my rifle, this is my gun; one is for killing, one is for fun." The U.S. Air Force admits showing films of violent pornography to pilots before they fly bombing raids. Military manuals are replete with such blatant phrases as "erector launchers," "thrust ratios," "rigid deep earth-penetration," "potent nuclear hardness."

"Soft targets"? Civilians. Her name means "fragrance of flowers."

Feminist scholars have been exposing these phallocentric military connections for decades. When I wrote The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism (updated edition 2001, Washington Square Press), I presented far more evidence than space here permits on how the terrorist mystique and the hero legend both spring from the same root: the patriarchal pursuit of manhood. How can rape not be central to the propaganda that violence is erotic -- a pervasive message affecting everything from U.S. foreign policy (afflicted with premature ejaculation) to "camouflage chic," and glamorized gangtsa styles?

This definition of manhood is toxic to men and lethal to women.

But atrocity fatigue has set in. Wasn't rape a staple of war long before The Iliad? Weren't 100,000 women and girls raped and killed in brothel-death-camps in the former Yugoslavia? Didn't warring Somali clans in the 1990s, sometimes joined by UN Peacekeeping troops, rape "each other's women"? Weren't the five surviving Somali women then stoned to death by Islamists for "adultery"? And weren't the earliest reports from another small, troubled country -- of rape attacks on villages by gangs called Interahamwe ("Our Heroic Boys") -- ignored? It was merely about women, and hardly anyone had heard of the place: Rwanda.

Yet the Pentagon is shocked. "Not our nice American GIs? Must be a few bad apples." Have we already forgotten Abu Ghraib? The photos of sexually tortured men leaked, but photos of abased and abused women prisoners are still classified, for fear of greater world outrage. Have we forgotten two U.S. marines and a sailor kidnapping a 12-year-old Okinawan girl in 1995, battering, raping, and abandoning her naked in a deserted area? She somehow survived and reported them, though her PTSD doubtless haunts still. So many military rapes have occurred in Okinawa, Korea, and the Philippines that Asian feminists organized entire movements in protest. Incidents keep occurring around U.S. ports and bases, including the hundreds of reported rapes of U.S. women soldiers by their fellow GIs (plus the joint epidemic of rape and evangelicalism at the U.S. Air Force Academy).

In 1998, a landmark UN decision recognized rape as a war crime -- though this raises the question: If rape in war is a crime against humanity, then what is it in peacetime?The International Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia issued indictments and convictions on sexual-violence grounds.

Sometimes, a few nice American guys are found guilty -- as Green and his buddies might be. Then all returns to "normal." They're sacrificed to save the ranks of those who train them to do what they did, and to save the careers of politicians who sermonize obscenely about "moral values" while issuing moral waivers.

But this crime we cannot let pass into oblivion. She was 14 years old and her name was Abeer.

It means "fragrance of flowers."

A Day in the Life of Women Around the Globe

A woman reacts as she looks at the rubble of her home, in the village of Kharayet. The fragile ceasefire in Lebanon has been dealt a blow with Israeli commandos clashing with Hezbollah fighters after raiding a Lebanaese village, as French troops were set to arrive by sea to reinforce UN peacekeepers(AFP/Anwar Amro)

An Israeli woman with a girl looks on as Israeli soldiers get ready to leave northern Israel, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2006. Hezbollah fighters battled Israeli commandos who launched a raid near the militants' stronghold deep inside Lebanon early Saturday, killing one soldier, in what Lebanon called the first large-scale violation of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire between the sides. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Women run during a high-heel sprint contest in Berlin August 19, 2006. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski (GERMANY)

Competitors in the Women's Heptathlon event of the 11th IAAF Track and Field World Junior Championships run around the track to celebrate the completion of their seven events held in Beijing, China, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2006. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Lebanese women react as they watch from outside the cemetery as Hezbollah fighters, who were killed in fighting with Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, are buried in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2006.(AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

The High Cost of Weapons in a Military Industrial Complex

Be sure to see the documentary, Why We Fight. It does an excellent job of explaining how and why the military industrial complex continues to explode.

This is from the Boston Globe:

The Government Accountability Office, the government's nonpartisan audit bureau, warned of "the risks of conducting business as usual," and concluded in a report in November that the major weapons programs are at "high risk" for fraud, waste, abuse , and mismanagement.

The Department of Defense "has experienced cost overruns, missed deadlines, performance shortfalls, and persistent management problems," the report said. "In light of the serious budget pressures facing the nation, such problems are especially troubling."
The estimated costs for the development of major weapons systems for the US military have doubled since September 11, 2001, with a trillion-dollar price tag for new planes, ships, and missiles that would have little direct role in the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The soaring cost estimates -- disclosed in a report for the Republican-led Senate Budget Committee -- have led to concerns that supporters of multibillion-dollar weapons programs in Congress, the Pentagon , and the defense industry are using the conflicts and the war on terrorism to fulfill a wish-list of defense expenditures, whether they are needed or not for the war on terrorism.

The report, based on Defense Department data, concluded that the best way to keep defense spending in check in the coming years lies in ``controlling the cost of weaponry," especially those programs that the Pentagon might not necessarily need.

The projections of what it will cost to acquire ``major weapons programs" currently in production or on the drawing board soared from $790 billion in September 2001 to $1.61 trillion in June 2006, according to the congressional analysis of Pentagon data.

Costs for some of the most expensive new weapon systems -- such as satellite-linked combat vehicles for ground troops; a next-generation fighter plane ; and a cutting-edge, stealth-technology destroyer for the Navy -- are predicted to cost even more by the time they are delivered, because many of them are still in their early phases. In a quarterly report to Congress on weapons costs earlier this month, the Pentagon reported that of the $1.61 trillion it thinks it will need for big-ticket weapons, it has spent more than half so far -- about $909 billion.

U.S. Commander: Lebanon Conflict May Have Fueled Attacks On U.S. Troops

From ThinkProgress:
One of the effects of the Iraq war has been to encourage and embolden terrorist actors in the Middle East. It has inspired growing solidarity between Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran, among others. The New York Times reported in the early stages of the fighting in Lebanon that the solidarity between Iraqi and Hezbollah fighters could result in increasing attacks against American troops:

The conflict already has had some effect in Iraq. On Friday, the firebrand Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said in Baghdad that Iraqis would not "sit by with folded hands" while Israel strikes at Lebanon, signaling a possible increase in attacks from his militia on Americans in Iraq.

Now, at least one U.S. commander is reporting that the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict did indeed cause a spike in attacks against U.S. troops:

Rocket attacks on a U.S. base in eastern Baghdad doubled during the month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah, a U.S. Army commander said this week, echoing concerns expressed by other American officials about Iranian support for Shiite militants in Iraq. Lt. Col. Mark A. Bertolini of the Fourth Infantry Division said the increase in Katyusha rocket attacks on Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah seemed related to the fighting in Lebanon.

As Slate's John Dickinson writes, the question Americans should be asking is "whether Bush's policies are inspiring the people who want to kill us."

Liberal Media Ignores NSA Wiretapping Ruling for JonBenet Ramsey Case

From Think Progress:
Yesterday (Thursday), a federal judge in Michigan issued "a sweeping rebuke of the once-secret domestic-surveillance effort the White House authorized following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." The ruling was "a significant blow to Bush's attempts to expand presidential powers," but you wouldn’t know that by watching last evening's network newscasts.

All three major TV networks led their evening news with stories on JonBenet Ramsey's death and the comments made by arrested teacher John Mark Karr. The networks offered multiple segments and numerous expert analyses to provide in-depth coverage on the legal case. The NSA decision received only a passing mention from two of the newscasts, while ABC devoted a full segment to it.

Still, ABC devoted twice as much time to Ramsey as it did to the NSA story. More egregiously, CBS offered seven times as much airtime to Ramsey as it did to the NSA story, while NBC devoted 15 times more airtime.

As CBS host Bob Schieffer wrapped up the Ramsey segment, he reassured the audience, "We’ll stay on this case. That's for sure."

The Core of the Republican Party

"I would dearly love for the Democrats to spend millions of dollars trying to persuade NASCAR fans to vote for the Democrats. They tend to be disproportionately southern, disproportionately white and disproportionately male, which pretty well defines the core of the Republican Party."
-Republican pollster Whit Ayres

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Help the Children Impacted by the Middle East Conflict

A homeless Palestinian refugee child looks out of a school used as a shelter after leaving his house during an Israeli raid in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza strip August 4, 2006. Israel killed three Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as it launched a series of air strikes on militant targets that wounded four other people, witnesses and medics said. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (PALESTINIAN TERRITORES)

One-year-old Lebanese displaced child Nour Dkmek, who was evacuated from the village of Shehabiyeh in south Lebanon, one month ago, waits to board a bus at a school yard in Bierut, Lebanon, to return home with her family Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006. On the second day of a United Nations ceasefire between Israel and the Hezbollah, Lebanon's Defense Minister said that 15,000 Lebanese soldiers will be deployed in south Lebanon by the end of the week. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

A man reacts and a child stands in the house that was hit by a Hezbollah rocket that killed three women of the same family in the town of Arab el Aramsheh in northern Israel, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2006. Dozens of Hezbollah rockets slammed into communities across northern Israel on Saturday. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg)

From Save the Children:
My name is Sonia Khush, and I am an emergency team leader for Save the Children, currently working in the Middle East.

Save the Children-USA, together with other members of the International Save the Children Alliance, is working on all sides of the conflict to assist children and families impacted, regardless of religious or political affiliation. We are working in Lebanon, Gaza and northern Israel, focusing on helping children cope.

An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the civilians killed since the onset are children. Families displaced from their homes have been living in schools or other public buildings, often unable to access food, clean water or health services. Crammed into small areas, anxiety has been high, parents stressed and children scared. Children have trouble sleeping and some are exhibiting aggressive behavior as a result of the tension. Save the Children has set up “safe spaces” to give children play areas in which to spend their time and provided activity kits for children and families to use while inside their homes to provide some level of normalcy. But more needs to be done.

Please support Save the Children's continued work to help the most vulnerable victims of this conflict — the children. They have nothing to do with the politics of this region and their survival, along with their emotional and mental well-being is critical to the recovery effort.

Support Lt. Watada

On August 17th, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, will appear before a military court, for the first hearing of a case that raises core Constitutional issues about the legality of the Iraq war, freedom of speech, and the limits of presidential power.

Watada's civilian counsel, Eric A. Seitz of Honolulu, will call expert witnesses including former United Nations Undersecretary Denis Halliday, University of Illinois Professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert, and U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.) to support Lt. Watada's contentions that the invasion of Iraq violated domestic and international law and that high level policies and rules of engagement permit, encourage, and condone the commission of war crimes in Iraq.

Watada announced his intention to refuse to deploy to Iraq in June, explaining "It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. The war and what we're doing over there is illegal."

He has since been charged with three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, two counts (for the same statements) of contempt towards officials, specifically President G. W. Bush, and one count of missing movement. If found guilty of all charges, Lt. Watada faces over seven years in confinement. He faces over five years imprisonment for simply expressing his opinion that President Bush misled the American people into an illegal war. On August 17th he will appear for an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury hearing.

"The defense will prove not only that what Lt. Watada said about the war is true, but that as an officer in the United States Army he was duty bound to learn the truth about this war and having done so to refuse to carry out orders to participate in it," Seitz said.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Support Iranian Activist Shirin Ebadi

This is from the Feminist Majority Foundation's Eleanor Smeal:
In an ominous action, Iran has outlawed the Center for the Defense of Human Rights - an organization co-founded by Dr. Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Laureate and a hero for her work on rights for women and children. Iran has declared the organization illegal, claiming it did not have a proper permit, and is threatening to arrest Dr. Ebadi and the center staff for continuing their work on behalf of women and children.
Please join feminists and human rights activists worldwide to support Shirin Ebadi and her work. Urge the United Nations to support Shirin Ebadi and the Iranian government to declare legal the Center for the Defense of Human Rights.

I had the privilege to meet with Dr. Ebadi in April when the Feminist Majority Foundation honored her for her work. She is dedicated to women’s rights - I have never seen her kind of courage and determination in the face of such a strong opposition to women's rights. She has risked her life for women and children. We cannot let her down.

Not having a proper permit appears to be an excuse. Civil society organizations are not required by law in Iran to obtain a permit to operate. Even so, the Center did apply for the permit when the group was founded; despite repeated attempts, the government never responded to their application.

The global community needs the work of Dr. Shirin Ebadi. She has defended women and children, many of them on a pro bono basis. She is one of only seven living women Nobel Peace Laureates, and her contributions to human rights in Iran have been considerable.

Dr. Ebadi's work and human rights advocacy are critically needed in a country where independent thinkers and women's rights activists are silenced and a woman is accorded only half the legal worth of a man. Write to urge the reversal of the Iranian government's decision. Join feminists and human rights activists across the world to support Dr. Shirin Ebadi. She must not be silenced.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Iraq Vets Believes Depleted Uranium Contaminated Their Lives

"We all had migraines. We all felt sick. The doctors said, 'It's all in your head.' We got on the Internet and we started researching depleted uranium."
-Herbert Reed

Reed, Gerard Matthew, Raymond Ramos, Hector Vega, Augustin Matos, Anthony Yonnone, Jerry Ojeda and Anthony Phillip all have depleted uranium in their urine, according to tests done in December 2003, while they bounced for months between Walter Reed and New Jersey's Fort Dix medical center, seeking relief that never came.

Herbert Reed, 52, a veteran of Iraq, sits at the kitchen table of his home with the medicines and medical records that he keeps with him Wednesday, May 17, 2006, in Columbia, S.C. Reed was exposed to radioactive depleted uranium while serving a few months with the 442nd Military Police out of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills -- morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. Valium for his nerves.

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.

There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military's new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.

In the sprawling bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has many caretakers. An internist, a neurologist, a pain-management specialist, a psychologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a dermatologist. He cannot function without his stupefying arsenal of medications, but they exact a high price.

"I'm just a zombie walking around," he says.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sgt. Ricky Clousing's Statement

First-to my Family, Friends, Brothers and Sisters of the Religious Community, Members of the Press, and fellow citizens of this nation we are grateful to call home - thank you for your support here today before I turn myself over to military custody.

My name is Ricky Clousing. I am a Sergeant in the United States Army and I have served for three years and have been absent from my unit since June 2005. Like many in uniform today, I enlisted after the events of September 11th wanting to defend the freedoms and privileges we enjoy here. After 18 months of instruction I completed my necessary training as an interrogator and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. As the invasion of Iraq unfolded I felt confused about the premise behind such an attack. But in November of 2004 I deployed to Iraq in support of the first stage of elections to be held.

In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability.

Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to second guess my beliefs. I thought about these experiences and what they meant each day I was deployed and until I was back in garrison in April of 2005. Upon my return I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality? If those orders go unquestioned down my Chain of Command, am I exempt from reevaluating them? My convictions, spiritually and politically, began to second guess my ability to perform day to day functions as a soldier. I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom.

Under the recommendation of my unit, I sought counsel from military chaplains and counselors, and as my feelings crystallized, I realized that I could not fulfill the duties expected of me. After months of questioning, I began considering the possibility of leaving. Each day I felt haunted by my conscience that my association in uniform at this time was wrong, and my involvement directly or indirectly in this organization at this time was a contradiction to my beliefs.

I stand here before you today about to surrender myself, which was always my intention. I do not know what to expect, or the course of my future. We have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a Soldier, as an American, and as a human being, we mustn't lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn. Thank you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

American Soldier Explains Why He Refused to Kill

"Wearing a uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality?"
-Sgt. Ricky Clousing
Sgt. Ricky Clousing went to Iraq to fight for freedom.

He said what he found was an occupation.

He described seeing U.S. troops shoot livestock and smash cars for fun. He said he saw the people he was supposed to help detained for weeks without cause. And he won't forget watching a fellow soldier shoot and kill a young Iraqi civillian without repercussions.

It was not so much the individual episodes that disturbed the 24-year-old from Sumner. It was the realization that they were the rule rather than the exception, he said.

In late 2004, he deployed to Iraq to support the first stage of elections. While he was trained with appropriate interrogation tactics, he said, he watched U.S. troops detain four brothers - the youngest just 12 years old - for four weeks without cause or telling their family.

He described how American soldiers would drive their Humvees into civillian cars and laugh.

The worst was the day he was guarding a convoy in Mosul. Clousing recalled how a civilian drove onto the street, seemed frightened by U.S. troops, and tried to turn around and leave. Before the young man could get away, a U.S. soldier shot and killed him, Clousing said.

When he told superiors about the incident, he was called an inexperienced soldier, Clousing said.

Pankalla said her son sought guidance from counselors, chaplains and fellow soldiers. He was told to suck it up and store the pain and confusion in a little box in the back of his mind, she said.

But he couldn't shake the guilt and anger, and he grew depressed. A few months after returning stateside, he packed his clothes and left Fort Bragg in the middle of the night, leaving a note on the door to his barracks with a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Part of it read, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."

Veterans for Impeachment

The following remarks were made yesterday by David Swanson at the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, Washington. Click here to read about why the Veterans for Peace believe it's time to remove Bush from office. Don't worry. The liberal media will have wall to wall coverage at next week's conference.
It's an honor to be speaking at a Veterans for Peace event. For as long as I've been working in the peace movement, VFP has been a powerful ally. To us nonveterans, veterans for war sometimes seem like a hostile and exclusive club. But veterans for peace have always treated me as a brother in the cause for peace. And I'm sorry that my brother Mike Ferner could not be here today. We'll be reading a letter from him, since he's under house arrest in the cause of justice.

By the way, if I stink it's because airport security took my deodorant. The guy who took it whispered that he loved my Impeach Bush and Cheney shirt. The pilots, flight attendants, and several of the passengers told me that as well. Sometimes I wonder whether I wear these shirts for all the compliments. But the compliments are usually accompanied by nervous laughter. People don't hear about impeachment on their televisions, and they don't think it can happen, much less that they themselves can help make it happen.

I spent several hours sitting in an airport catching up on Emails, and the loudspeakers kept playing a warning message over and over and over, a message that sounded to me like a Bush campaign ad aimed at instilling fear in people. The announcement went like this:

"Your attention please. Due to heightened security, please permit suspension of the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and peace on earth. Your attention please…."

And on and on like that.

This message disturbed me, but the people around me did not seem to be hearing the same message I was. They mostly talked about how much they hated terrorists, and you could tell that they did not mean the world's top terrorists, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Britain's Home Secretary says the toothpaste and deodorant terrorists would have caused death on an unprecedented scale. The fact that we have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis just does not exist for media outlets that report comments like that one.

I've even had my fellow activists tell me that the reason I don't believe a secret missile struck the Pentagon, the planes were fictional, the towers were blown up from inside, etc., is that I refuse to blame Bush for a crime as serious as 9-11. Bush has openly and proudly and illegally, fraudulently, brutally, and pointlessly slaughtered 300,000 Iraqis, and I'm supposed to be incapable of supposing he could kill 3,000 people?

Well, I haven't seen evidence that he did it, except through neglect, but I have seen incontrovertible evidence that he launched an illegal war on the basis of lies, detained people without charge or legal counsel, tortured people, and used illegal weapons - all actions that have endangered American service men and women. I've seen solid evidence, accompanied by public confessions, that Bush, Cheney, and gang have launched massive illegal operations to spy on Americans. I've seen Bush reverse 800 laws without signing statements.

And I heard two familiar lies escape Bush's lips yesterday, when he said our enemy was Islamic fascists, and when he said Americans are safer now than before 9-11. The origin of our danger lies not in the murderous intentions of a small number of Muslims, but in the massive crimes of the gang of thugs pushing our country in a fascist direction. And we are decidedly less safe with each passing year, our nation is more hated, terrorist incidents are more frequent.

Polls suggest that most of the U.S. troops in Iraq want to come home, but Bush says we should support the war to support the troops. Meanwhile it is the military holding the chickenhawks back from putting nuclear options on the table. Bush is using our troops for his power and profit. I've seen veterans for war make a point of pride out of being used. I recently spoke on a panel in San Diego and mentioned that Suzanne Swift had been lied to by recruiters. Paul Hackett was on the panel and said "You know, that's life."

Actually that's death for some of the young men and women who have been lied to and sent to Iraq. I'll tell you what's life. Life is doing what Ricky Cousing is doing, what Lt. Watada is doing, what everyone must summon the courage to do. And life is impeachment. This war cannot be ended except by removing Bush and Cheney from office.

So, we need to keep passing impeachment resolutions in towns and cities and pushing for passage of one in a state legislature. And we need to push impeachment if we are going to win. Beginning August this month.

We do not need to choose between impeachment and elections; we need to promote impeachment if we are going to win any elections.

We also need to take over our nation' capital. Beginning Sept. 5, we will establish Camp Democracy on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This will be a camp for peace, justice, and impeachment. I'm happy to say that VFP will be part of Camp Democracy. Please join us.

Impeach Clinton...

Oh, this is about impeaching Bush. Funny, the liberal media isn't reporting any of these actions. I guess Bush has to have 'sexual relations' before this gains any steam:
Impeachment advocates are widely mobilizing in the U.S. Over 1,000 letters to the editors of major newspapers have been printed in the past six months asking for impeachment. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette letter writer George Matus says, "I am still enraged over unasked questions about exit polls, touch-screen voting, Iraq, the cost of the new Medicare...who formulated our energy policy, Jack Abramoff, the Downing Street Memos, and impeachment." David Anderson in McMinnville, Oregon pens to the Oregonian, "Where are the members of our congressional delegation now in demanding the current president's actions be investigated to see if impeachment or censure are appropriate actions?" William Dwyer's letter in the Charleston Gazette says, "Congress will never have the courage to start the impeachment process without a groundswell of outrage from the people."

City councils, boards of supervisors, and local and state level Democrat central committees have voted for impeachment. Arcata, California voted for impeachment on January 6. The City and County of San Francisco, voted Yes on February 28. The Sonoma County Democrat Central Committee (CA) voted for Impeachment on March 16. The townships of Newfane, Brookfield, Dummerston, Marlboro and Putney in Vermont all voted for impeachment the first week of March. The New Mexico State Democrat party convention rallied on March 18 for the "impeachment of George Bush and his lawful removal from office." The national Green Party called for impeachment on January 3. Op-ed writers at the St. Petersburg Times, Newsday, Yale Daily News, Barrons, Detroit Free Press, and the Boston Globe have called for impeachment. The San Francisco Bay Guardian (1/25/06) The Nation (1/30/06) and Harpers (3/06) published cover articles calling for impeachment. As of March 16, thirty-two US House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors to House Resolution 635, which would create a Select Committee to look into the grounds for recommending President Bush's impeachment.

Polls show that nearly a majority of Americans favor impeachment. In October of 2005, Public Affairs Research found that 50% of Americans said that President Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war in Iraq. A Zogby International poll from early November 2005 found that 53% of Americans say, "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment." A March 16, 2006 poll by American Research Group showed that 42% of Americans favored impeaching Bush.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lifelong Republicans Endorse Democrat in Key California Race

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but I've been swamped with work. Lifelong Republicans Pete McCloskey and Tom Benigno have endorsed Jerry McNerney, a Democrat running in a California congressional race that could change the balance of power in the House:
"You know, I never really thought I'd be doing this. I've been a Republican for 57 years. My family have been Republicans for four generations. But I've concluded two things: Jerry McNerney is an honest man; Richard Pombo is not. I'm confident that Jerry McNerney is an honorable man who will vote his conscience."
-Former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey

"I have been a Republican all of my life, but Richard Pombo and his leadership have lost touch with us, and it's time for the corruption to end. I believe that this particular venue today -- Mr. McCloskey and I being here -- sends out a clear message to the people. I think the message is: we need change. We need change and I think the people are ready for it."
-Former Republican congressional candidate Tom Benigno

Thursday, August 10, 2006

GOP Supports the Troops by Leaving 150,000 at Risk for Serious Brain Damage

This is a statement by Jonathan Powers, former Army Captain who served in Iraq, and associate director of Veterans for America, a new organization co-founded by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and The Justice Project. Veterans for America brings together generations of veterans committed to advancing advocacy, education and humanitarian efforts around the causes, conduct and consequences of war.
"Cutting funding for traumatic brain injury is a moral outrage, and that's the bottom line. As an Iraq War veteran, I believe there is no greater decision our country can make than to decide to go to war, so there should be an equally high priority for Congress and the American people to provide medical care for our soldiers both on the battlefield and when they return home.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a signature wound of the Iraq War, and given the 10 percent of soldiers already suffering from TBI, it is on the path to becoming one of the most frequent injuries suffered by our troops in Iraq. Our men and women who bravely serve in the U.S. armed forces are our Nation's number one most important military asset, yet Congress cannot find $19 million dollars in a defense appropriations bill that is likely to cost upwards of $370 billion?

How can members of Congress claim to be 'supporting the troops' while at the same time cut funding for one of the signature wounds of this war? When thousands struggle at this hour with a traumatic brain injury; when an estimated 150,000 will suffer a brain injury in this war, Congress should be increasing support, not decreasing it. America supports our troops - the priorities of this Congress are wrong."
This statement is by Bobby Muller, Chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation:
"I am shocked and appalled to learn that Congress is not making the health of our soldiers fighting in Iraq a priority. The Iraq War is escalating, casualties are rising, yet Congress is on recess while their staff plans to slash desperately needed Traumatic Brain Injury research and treatment for our Nation's men and women fighting on the front lines.

Since September 11th, 2001, 1.5 million service members have been deployed overseas to the Global War on Terror (GWOT). More than 3,000 have died. 50,000 have been wounded, injured or become sick with a physical or mental condition. The VA has reported that as of May, 2006, nearly 168,500 GWOT veterans have been treated, and the Veterans Brain Injury Center estimates that up to 150,000 veterans may suffer TBI from war. This budget cut is a serious moral outrage, and I call on Congress to explain to these 1.5 million men and women why the brain injuries they suffer in war are not a top concern for our country. This is the time for Congress to do the right thing and implement a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs of our veterans."

White House Press Secretary: Lefties = Terrorist Lovers

These guys have no shame...this is from AlterNet. Be sure to check out the video.
Tony Snow proves what most already know--that Republicans are running scared following Ned Lamont's victory. Snow called Lamont's win 'a defining moment for the Democratic party'...but not in a good way.

"...If you disagree with the extreme left of the party, they're going to come after you...It is probably worth trying to trace through some of the implications of that position, because it is clearly going to be one of the central issues as we get ready for the election campaign this year..."
Issue # 1--Iraq. Snow breaks down 'why Democrats are wrong about leaving Iraq' into an easy to follow list.

1) "Walking away on a timetable...without making sure you have the ability for the Iraqis to stand up and assert sovereignty over their territory...would encourage terrorists, not only in Iraq but throughout the region and throughout the world."
Okay, so wanting a timetable for when troops can leave means you support terrorism. Ironically, VP Dick Cheney echoed this exact same sentiment. As reported by DemocracyNow!, Cheney called Lamont's victory 'an unfortunate development...that could possibly encourage Al Qaeda types.'

2) "It would create a failed state in the heart of the middle east with the second largest oil reserves in the world...Think about what happened in Afghanistan...a nation with far fewer resources...when it was able to serve as a terrorist training station ground..."
He's getting closer to the actual truth with his second point--oil.

3) "...it would inflict incredible damage on America's credibility..."
What credibility is he talking about? Didn't Bush crush it all, like, three years ago?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another Cold Day in Lebanon

Photographs of 20-month-old Mohammed Dahaineh and his mother are placed on top of their bodies, draped in Lebanese flags, at the funeral house of the Shaheedein cemetery in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006, during the mass funeral of Lebanese citizens who were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit an apartment building late Monday in the Beirut suburb of Chiah. A series of at least six missiles fired from Israel ships off the Lebanese coast slammed into the south Beirut suburbs Wednesday, as residents were conducting a funeral for some of the 41 victims killed in Israeli airstrikes there three days earlier, police said. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese citizens mourn over the bodies of their relatives, draped in Lebanese flags, at a funeral house in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006, during the mass funeral of Lebanese citizens who were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit an apartment building late Monday in the Beirut suburb of Chiah. A series of at least six missiles fired from Israel ships off the Lebanese coast slammed into the south Beirut suburbs Wednesday, as residents were conducting a funeral for some of the 41 victims killed in Israeli airstrikes there three days earlier, police said. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Fadi Dahaineh embraces the wrapped body of his 20 month-old son Mohammed who was killed in an Israeli airstrike on an apartment building late Monday, as he walks into the funeral house of the Shaheedein cemetery in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006. The death toll in an Israeli airstrike on a Shiite neighborhood in south Beirut three days ago has risen to at least 41, with 61 wounded, Lebanese security officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Mourners carry some of the flag-draped bodies of Lebanese citizens, killed when an Israeli airstrike hit an apartment building late Monday in the Beirut suburb of Chiah, during a mass funeral procession in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday Aug. 9, 2006. Lebanese security officials said the death toll in an Israeli airstrike in the region three days ago had risen to at least 41, with 61 wounded. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese men mourn next to bodies of family members wrapped in Lebanese flags at a Shiite shrine in Beirut during a mass funeral of people killed on 07 August 2006 in Shiah, a suburb of the south of the Lebanese capital. Israel 's security cabinet agreed to expand the ground war in Lebanon to try to deliver a knockout blow to Hezbollah, amid warnings that the conflict could last another month or more. (AFP/Patrick Baz)

A general view shows buildings destroyed by Israeli bombardment in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of Hezbollah. Israel 's security cabinet agreed to expand the ground war in Lebanon to try to deliver a knockout blow to Hezbollah, amid warnings that the conflict could last another month or more. (AFP/Ramzi Haidar)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Good Search

GoodSearch.com is a new search engine that donates half its revenue -- about a penny per search -- to the charities of your choice. In the "enter your charity here" box, you can either enter the name of your favorite charity or search by keyword: pro-choice, environment, women, children, education, homeless, etc...

You use it just as you would any search engine, and it's powered by Yahoo, so you get great results.

Just 500 people searching four times a day will raise about $7300 a year. The Children's Tumor Foundation earned more than $100 last month, money which will go toward improving the health and well being of individuals and families affected by the neurofibromatoses.

Please spread the word!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Day in the Life of Women Around the Globe

A Lebanese woman is comforted by neighbours and her son (C) after her relatives' house was destroyed by an Israeli air raid on the south Lebanese village of Ghassaniyeh August 7, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho (LEBANON)

An injured Iraqi woman is moved by her relatives on a stretcher after receiving treatment at a hospital, in Baghdad, Iraq , Monday Aug. 7, 2006. Iraqi and U.S. forces raided a Shiite militia stronghold of Baghdad Monday, triggering a gunbattle that left three people dead and 12 were injured, including five children and two women, after they raided the area to catch extremists suspected of running torture cells. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

A Thai woman raises a placard as some 500 Thai activists demonstrate outside the office of GlaxoSmithKline in Bangkok. Hundreds of Thais with HIV have protested outside the Bangkok office of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to demand that the British pharmaceutical firm drop its effort to patent a key AIDS drug in Thailand.(AFP)

A Chinese woman looking exhausted as she pulls out dried crops in the drought stricken region in Yuzhong, northwest China's Gansu Monday Aug 7, 2006. Even as typhoons and floodings affect the southern region of China, its northern provinces are struggling with a lack of water. (AP Photo)

Sri Lankan woman at a refugee camp. Sri Lankan troops launched fresh artillery attacks against Tamil rebel positions, a day after the guerrillas warned that shelling could lead to all-out war.(AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

A Lebanese woman mourns the loss of her relatives after their house was destroyed by an Israeli air raid on the south Lebanese village of Ghassaniyeh August 7,2006. (Ali Hashisho/Reuters)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rumsfeld Lies (Again)

From Think Progress:
Testifying before the Senate today, Donald Rumsfeld told Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) that he has "never painted a rosy picture" about Iraq. Rumsfeld insisted that he has been "very measured" and told Clinton "you would have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been overly optimistic." Watch it.


CLINTON: Well, Mr. Secretary, I know you would and I know you feel strongly about it, but there's a track record here. This is not 2002, 2003, 2004-5, when you appeared before this committee and made many comments and presented, you know, many assurances that have frankly proven to be unfulfilled, and -

RUMSFELD: Senator, I don't think that's true. I have never painted a rosy picture. I have been very measured in my words, and you'd have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been excessively optimistic. I understand this is tough stuff.

Here's just a few of the "overly optimistic" comments made by Rumsfeld (and no, we did not have a "dickens of a time" finding them):

Dec. 18, 2002: KING: What's the current situation in Afghanistan? RUMSFELD: It is encouraging. They have elected a government through the Loya Jirga process. The Taliban are gone. The al Qaeda are gone.

Feb. 7, 2003: "It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

Feb. 20 2003: "'Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?' Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS' The News Hour. 'There is no question but that they would be welcomed,' Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces."

Mar. 30, 2003: "It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Military Mom: Another Sleepless Night

The following was written by Georgia Stillwell, member of Military Families Speak Out. Georgia, 44, voted for very first time in 2004 and recently returned from DC where she took part in the Operation House Call campaign and had a 30-minute meeting with the Speaker of the House.
I am living in a nightmare. Is all this pain and destruction ever going to end? I am hearing all these other stories of pain and devastation of families. The knot that lives inside my stomach since the war began is growing. I used to be able to alleviate it somewhat by purging myself through my writing or my activism. I can't anymore. There isn't anymore relief. I refer you to the following blog: (Operation House Call)

Military families outside the Capital for 6 weeks and hardly anyone notices...
People on a hunger strike outside the White house on their 27th day and hardly a whisper.
Many participating in acts of civil disobedience no one hears.

Mothers hugging tombstones trying to will their children back alive...
Mothers lying awake at night crying for their children that have returned home living in PTSD hells we can't even fathom. I am one of these.
Families that feel like they can't breathe while their loved one is currently in harms way...waiting for the dreaded knock on the door.
Our children injured and maimed.
Dead Iraqi Men, Women, children and babies. More than we even know.
We cry alone and we cry together. Embracing each other through this vile creature called war. It has wrapped us in its arms of which I feel no escape.

How much love will it take to end this war? My child is your child and their children are our children and we all are interconnected. Please God end this madness.


Am I yelling into a barren land of souls? I am begging, I am pleading, and I am on my knees... Do what ever needs to be done. Do whatever you can and then do even more.

I know that there are people out there doing all they can and with all my heart I thank you!

Its 3AM...another late night rambling of a soldier's mother that can't sleep. My son will never be the same. How I miss my boy...the tears streaming down my face now. I am helpless to erase the memories. The memories of his fellow soldier's brains spattered on him, the face of the young boy my son killed because they thought he had a bomb, he didn't. My son wounded by shrapnel, the medals he received which are in the bottom of a drawer in an old Wal-Mart plastic bag. My last trip to Washington DC I met with many high officials but the biggest event was when I called home to my son and told him what I was doing and I heard the voice of my first born child say "Thanks Mom."

I have purged myself again though never feeling completely clean. Maybe I'll sleep. Maybe I'll dream of a world where we don't kill each other.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Operation House Call: Week Six, Day Two

Week Six, Day Two
....it was a devastating, heartbreaking moment when the Capitol police made Carlos Arredondo open up the full size casket that he drives around the country in honor of his son, Alex, hoping to prevent the loss of more lives. Carlos methodically removed the clips holding the flag in place, and removed his boy's boots from the lid. He hung his sons uniform, bedecked with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, on the crossbars of the Operation house Call sign. Military Families Speak Out members gathered around, as did the two park police who had come to challenge our permit. My husband survived his first tour. Should he be redeployed in 2007, all bets are off.

When Carlos opened the lid, I held my breath, as did Gold Star parents Al Zappala, and newly-minted member Gilda Carbonaro, who buried her boy on may 23rd, and had just returned from Italy, where she had been invited to speak.

Apparently the Europeans are much more concerned about the human costs of this illegal, immoral war than are Americans.

Who Paid for Those Boots?

This was written by Stacy Bannerman, member of Military Families Speak Out. Stacy flew from Seattle, WA., to Washington DC, on June 22 to launch Operation House Call, a campaign to highlight the human toll of the Iraq war. When Stacy's not meeting with politicians, she's standing in front of the Senate building speaking to citizens about why she wants the troops to come home:

(Stacy Bannerman and I will be on the Quake 960 AM in San Francisco tomorrow at 8:05 am PST. Click here to listen live.)
"Who paid for those boots?" asks a smirking, steel-haired man. He's not the first to do so, just the first one today. But it's the end of the week, and my patience has already gone home. I glance at Anne Roesler, nodding my head slightly, to let her know I've got this one.

"Our loved ones did."

"Oh, c'mon" he says disgustedly, "Who paid for 'em?"

"Seriously, our soldiers paid for them."

He tries another tack, and like the fifty-something man the day before, wants to know where he can get some of his own.

I hand him a recruiting brochure and direct him to the nearest military recruiter's office in the area.

"They wouldn't take me, I'm too old."

"Do you have kids?"

"Yeah, but they're in high school."

"That's perfect for the Early Entry program! They can sign up right now and start Basic Training as soon as they graduate."

Shaking his head with disgust, he stalks off. This type of exchange happens daily, but I am still appalled at the callousness of people who first try to make a joke about what we're doing in front of the Cannon House building. When that doesn't work, they say or imply that they support the troops and we do not. But they get angry when we encourage them to demonstrate their support for the troops by actually becoming one, or at the very least, enlisting their children.

This scenario has played out in multiple variations since the vigil began five weeks ago. But not a single person has expressed the slightest bit of interest in committing themselves or their family members to military service. Each time they cut and run, I call out to their retreating backs, "Bring 'em home, or go and help!"

I used to be nicer than this; at least I like to think I was. But five weeks of heat, and humidity, and daily descents into the Seventh Circle of Congressional Hell that is the House--and Senate--offices has burned away any nice I may once have had. What remains is raw, unadulterated truth, a pure passion for peace and the preservation of what is left of our loved ones. I am no longer willing to buffer the edges of my soul in order that the soul of Congress, and the people of this nation, can sleepwalk through this war.

Who has paid for these boots? 2,570 dead American soldiers; 18,988 wounded troops, and the nearly 100,000 Iraq War veterans with some level of post-traumatic stress disorder. For the more than 3,000 members of Military Families Speak Out, the price doubles, triples, quadruples. We pay with our children, our husbands, our brothers, and our wives. We pay in sleepless nights and nightmarish days. We pay with our marriages, our friendships, and sometimes, our jobs. We gave our loved ones to the military; now we give our lives to ending the war.

Who paid for those boots? We did. We still are. And today, it feels like we will be forever.

War is Hell

Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

Agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have completed their initial work on the incident last November, but may be asked to probe further as Marine Corps and Navy prosecutors review the evidence and determine whether to recommend criminal charges, according to two Pentagon officials who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

The decision on whether to press criminal charges ultimately will be made by the commander of the accused Marines' parent unit, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The commander is currently Lt. Gen. John Sattler, but he is scheduled to move to a Pentagon assignment soon; his successor will be Lt. Gen. James Mattis.

The Marines initially reported after the Nov. 19, 2005 killings that 15 Iraqi civilians at Haditha had been killed by a makeshift roadside bomb and in crossfire between Marines and insurgent attackers. Based on accounts from survivors and human rights groups, Time magazine first reported in March that the killings were deliberate acts by the Marines.

A criminal investigation was then ordered by the top Marine commander in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer.
A parallel investigation is examining whether officers in the Marines' chain of command tried to cover up the events.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Visit the Amazon While it's Still a Rainforest

The vast Amazon rainforest is on the brink of being turned into desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate, alarming research suggests. And the process, which would be irreversible, could begin as early as next year.

The research carried out by the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole centre in Santarem on the Amazon river has taken even the scientists conducting it by surprise. When Dr Dan Nepstead started the experiment in 2002 by covering a chunk of rainforest the size of a football pitch with plastic panels to see how it would cope without rain he surrounded it with sophisticated sensors, expecting to record only minor changes.

The trees managed the first year of drought without difficulty. In the second year, they sunk their roots deeper to find moisture, but survived. But in year three, they started dying. Beginning with the tallest the trees started to come crashing down, exposing the forest floor to the drying sun.

By the end of the year the trees had released more than two-thirds of the carbon dioxide they have stored during their lives, helping to act as a break on global warming. Instead they began accelerating the climate change.

As we report today on pages 28 and 29, the Amazon now appears to be entering its second successive year of drought, raising the possibility that it could start dying next year. The immense forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon, enough in itself to increase the rate of global warming by 50 per cent.

Dr Nepstead expects "mega-fires" rapidly to sweep across the drying jungle. With the trees gone, the soil will bake in the sun and the rainforest could become desert.

Dr Deborah Clark from the University of Missouri, one of the world's top forest ecologists, says the research shows that "the lock has broken" on the Amazon ecosystem. She adds: the Amazon is "headed in a terrible direction".