<\body> Stories in America: November 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If humans treated dogs like this, they would be arrested

I don't like watching slaughterhouse videos, but I couldn't resist...I'm glad Bill Maher is speaking out about the disgusting treatment of these helpless innocent animals.
It's probably too much to expect from the man who wanted "no child left behind," then vetoed health care for kids. But think of the upside. Freeing the turkeys might help the president's credibility when he says things like, "We don't torture."

Take a look at this video, shot just last month at a typical American turkey slaughterhouse, and this one, shot undercover last year at a Butterball slaughterhouse by investigators from PETA, and you'll see that my use of the word is no exaggeration. Butterball employees, taking a page out of the Abu Ghraib handbook, laughed while they kicked, punched, stomped, and even sexually assaulted turkeys.

These people should be arrested. They would be if the turkeys were dogs or cats. Too bad our animal protection laws make about as much sense as fighting a war against a country that doesn't have an army. Even though 98 percent of the land animals Americans eat are turkeys and chickens, the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act specifically excludes birds from protection. I'm not kidding.

The Butterball plant in the video slaughters about 50,000 turkeys every day. Fifty million turkey corpses will go into American ovens this Thanksgiving. More than 9 billion turkeys and chickens are killed in the U.S. each year. But not one of them is guaranteed a painless death, as documented in this video that was narrated by my fellow animal-lover and HuffPo Blogger, Alec Baldwin. The Senate can find time to vote to condemn an advertisement, but not to add birds to humane slaughter laws.

So in the face of this surreal situation, in which, once again we can't put our faith in the president, I ask you to do what I'm going to do and pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving. It's not hard. Just eat something else (ideas here and here). Not someone else, because it doesn't seem fair to spare a turkey and roast a hunk of pig or cow instead. If we can bow our heads in gratitude for our families, our friends and our big screen TVs, and then carve into a creature who lived a miserable life and died a horrible death, then our ethics are about as sensible as Britney's parenting skills.

Former Vice President Al Gore should be the first to take the meat-free Thanksgiving pledge. Since raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined, is it too much ask Mr. Gore to stop gazing at his Oscar and his Nobel Prize long enough to read the United Nations report that calls the meat industry "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global"?

For those of you who believe that the war is just and that global warming is a figment of the elite liberal media's imagination, here's the straight poop:

•Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. human population--all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. Sewage spills, waste-filled waterways and underground aquifer contaminated with e coli are the meat industry's gift to Americans this holiday season.
•Turkey meat has just as much cholesterol as the pieces of cow and pig called "red meat." Eating meat is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, some cancers, and diabetes.
So do the right thing. Instead of stuffing a turkey this year, stuff the tradition of turkey for Thanksgiving right where it belongs--in history's trash can.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

For some, every day is 'turkey day'

Karen Oeh and her husband, Mike Balistreri, with two new members of the family. “I am like a new parent,” Ms. Oeh said. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
It is one thing for the president of the United States to pardon a pair of turkeys every year and then send them off to live out their days in Florida. It’s quite another to save a turkey from the Thanksgiving table by inviting it to live with you.

Two weeks ago, Karen Oeh and her husband, Mike Balistreri, who live not far from Santa Cruz, Calif., adopted two turkeys that had been rescued after an airline shipping misfortune in Las Vegas.

“I am like a new parent,” said Ms. Oeh, 39. “I instantly, totally fell in love, and now I just want to stay home with them.”

Ms. Oeh and Mr. Balistreri will not be among the 92 percent of Americans who will eat turkey today, as estimated by the National Turkey Federation, a trade group. Instead, they have given the birds a softer, easier path that bypasses the oven and leads to the backyard.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving...

This year, 46 million turkeys will be slaughtered for Thanksgiving alone. Year round, it's between 250 and 300 million. The treatment of the turkeys and all animals seems to be getting worse by the year because demand is growing. Thanks to Farm Sanctuary, you can adopt a turkey instead of eating one:
Crowded by the thousands into huge, factory-like warehouses, female turkeys raised for slaughter in the U.S. are typically allotted 2.5 square-feet of space per bird, while toms are given a mere 3.5 square-feet of space each. The typical 50’ X 500’ factory farm warehouse holds approximately 10,000 hens or 7,000 toms. The overcrowded birds, who are unable to comfortably move, or exhibit natural behaviors, are driven to excessive pecking and fighting. To reduce injuries, factory farmers cut off the ends of their beaks and toes, practices know as debeaking and detoeing. These painful mutilations are performed without anesthesia and can result in excessive bleeding, infections and death.

Today's turkeys have been genetically altered to grow twice as fast, and twice as large, as their ancestors. Putting the growth rate of today's turkeys into perspective, Lancaster Farming reports, "If a seven pound [human] baby grew at the same rate that today's turkey grows, when the baby reaches 18 weeks of age, it would weigh 1,500 pounds." Although this rapid growth poses a serious threat to the animals’ health and welfare, the turkey industry continues pushing to grow bigger birds.

Between 1991 and 2000, the weight of the average turkey raised commercially in the U.S. increased by 20 percent, from an average of 21.5 pounds to an average of 25.8 pounds. In 2006, commercially-raised turkey hens weighed an average of 15.3 pounds at the time of slaughter. Turkey males (toms) weighed an average of 33 pounds. Overweight turkeys are susceptible to heart disease and their legs have difficulty supporting their unwieldy bodies. An industry journal laments “...turkeys have been bred to grow faster and heavier but their skeletons haven't kept pace, which causes 'cowboy legs'. Commonly, the turkeys have problems standing, and fall and are trampled on or seek refuge under feeders, leading to bruises and downgrading as well as culled or killed birds.” (Feedstuffs)

To meet consumer demand for breast meat, commercial turkeys have been anatomically manipulated to have abnormally large breasts. As a result, the birds cannot mount and reproduce naturally, and the industry now relies on artificial insemination as the sole means of reproduction. Unlike their wild ancestors, modern turkeys are white. The turkeys’ natural bronze color leaves pigment on the carcass, upsetting consumers, and so the birds’ natural color was removed through genetic engineering. Click here to read an eyewitness report from a turkey breeding facility.

Turkeys reach slaughter weight at 14 to 18 weeks, at which time they are transported to the slaughterhouse. Workers roughly grab turkeys by the legs and literally throw the birds into crates which are stacked on the back of trucks. The crates have open sides and do not protect the birds. During transport, the birds are exposed to extreme weather conditions and may die of heat stress in the summer or freeze to death in the winter. Turkeys and other farm animals may be legally transported up to 36 hours without food, water or rest.

The fully conscious turkeys are hung by their feet from metal shackles on a moving rail. The first station on most poultry slaughterhouse assembly lines is the stunning tank, where the turkeys' heads are submerged in an electrified bath of water. Stunning procedures are not monitored, and are often inadequate, leaving fully conscious birds to continue along the slaughterhouse assembly line. Some slaughterhouses do not even attempt to render turkeys unconscious, as turkeys and other poultry are specifically excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act, which requires stunning.

After passing through the stunning tank, the turkeys' throats are slashed, usually by a mechanical blade, and blood begins rushing out of their bodies. Inevitably, the blade misses some turkeys who then proceed to the next station on the assembly line, the scalding tank. Here they are submerged in boiling hot water, and turkeys missed by the killing blade are boiled alive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Surfers honor thousands of dolphins killed in Japan

More than 30 peaceful anti-whaling protesters were attacked by Japanese fishermen off the country's southern coast this week as they tried to stop the slaughter of thousands of pilot whales.

On Saturday, professional surfer Dave Rastovich led an international group of activists, surfers, celebrities, and musicians on a paddle-out ceremony to honor the more than 25,000 dolphins killed each year in Japan.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This week on Your Call Radio

Your Call airs from 10:00-11:00 am PST on 91.7 FM. You can also listen online or download the podcast.

Monday, 11/19 - How are different cultures dealing with aging? What is being done to ensure culturally sensitive care?
Guests: Dr. Rita Hargrave - she specializes in the health needs of the aging population and runs EthnicEldersCare.net, a site designed for people who are currently or will be caregivers to ethnic elders
Wesley Mukoyama, executive director of Yu-Ai Kai, a Japanese American Community Senior Center in San Jose

Tuesday, 11/20 - Have we reached peak oil? Once it hits, our way of life will drastically change. Are we prepared? How will we adapt?
Guests: Michael Klare, author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum
Vijay Vaitheeswaran, author of Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future

Wednesday, 11/21 - On the Record: Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich - What's his voting record? Where is he getting his campaign contributions?
We're hoping to have him on the show for 10 minutes or so...

Thursday, 11/22 - A Thanksgiving Special: California's first people
Before the Spanish began colonizing California in 1769, more than 300,000 Indians representing over 100 tribes lived here. Following the European people's arrival to California, diseases, massacre, and other factors brought the Native population down to 25,000.

Friday, 11/23 - A repeat of our interview with Indian activist Vandana Shiva

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I love San Francisco

Michael Grbich enjoyed his 1.7-mile dance across the Golden Gate Bridge, even bringing his own music and jump rope. The Oakland resident celebrated his 75th birthday Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007, by tap dancing across the Golden Gate Bridge and was joined by relatives and friends as he danced across the foggy span. Chronicle photo by Brant Ward

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When the occupiers leave, the violence goes down

George McGovern has been saying this for over a year. Once the occupiers leave, the violence will drastically go down:
Attacks against British and Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, the commander of British forces there said Thursday.

The presence of British forces in downtown Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest instigator of violence, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns told reporters Thursday on a visit to Baghdad's Green Zone.

"We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'" Binns said.

Britain's 5,000 troops moved out of a former Saddam Hussein palace at Basra's heart in early September, setting up a garrison at an airport on the city's edge. Since that pullback, there's been a "remarkable and dramatic drop in attacks," Binns said.

"The motivation for attacking us was gone, because we're no longer patrolling the streets," he said.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

State of the Media

Leslie Griffith used to anchor the KTVU News (FOX affiliate) in San Francisco. I met her on a panel a year or so ago; she has many stories to share about being censored:
I wrote and produced a story on Ringling Bros. Barnum & Baily Circus and its abuse of the endangered Asian elephants performing around the world. The abuse is well documented by a few brave members of the USDA and Ringling workers as well.

Ringling is owned by Kenneth Feld, who according to documents in two lawsuits against him, is a bad dude indeed with friendly ties to not only the Las Vegas Mafia but just about every conservative media corporation in the country -- including News Corporation. (ala Judith Regan) Kenneth Feld and Michael Eisner own Disney on Ice together. Disney owns ABC.

I won a National award for the elephant abuse story. In that story I used the Circus' OWN video to make my points. Hard to argue with that -- one might say! But that does not stop the Corporate media or corporate Cronyism.

Next thing I knew, high profile Ringling Bros. attorneys flew into The San Francisco Bay Area and complained to my bosses that their eyes were playing tricks on them. What viewers witnessed in my reports did not really happen. In other words, viewers did not really see what they saw. That took a lot of nerve since the video was taken by RINGLING ITSELF and obtained by me through my sources.

Veteran suicides

I'm still shocked by the CBS News investigation that found in 2005, in 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That's 120 every week, in just one year. How many committed suicide in 2006 and this year?

Why isn't this on the front pages? Why isn't Congress holding emergency hearings on this epidemic? Instead they spend their precious time condemning MoveOn and Rush Limbaugh.

If these deaths were added to the official count of U.S. casualties, and they should be added, the number would be well over 8,000. And then there are the 60,000 who've been seriously wounded.

Be sure to watch the video.

And please forward the link. The American people need to know about this. We're going to deal with the aftermath of the administration's failed policies and the poor treatment of veterans for decades to come.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

120 veterans commit suicide every week

As most in the national media continue to sink to new lows, CBS is out with an investigation about veteran suicides. Unbelievable. Be sure to watch the video:
CBS News went to the Department of Veterans Affairs, where Dr. Ira Katz is head of mental health.

"There is no epidemic in suicide in the VA, but suicide is a major problem," he said.

Why hasn't the VA done a national study seeking national data on how many veterans have committed suicide in this country?

"That research is ongoing,” he said.

So CBS News did an investigation - asking all 50 states for their suicide data, based on death records, for veterans and non-veterans, dating back to 1995. Forty-five states sent what turned out to be a mountain of information.

And what it revealed was stunning.

In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That’s 120 each and every week, in just one year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

This week on Your Call Radio

Your Call airs from 10:00-11:00 am PST on 91.7 FM. You can also listen online or download the podcast.

Monday, 11/12 - How are wounded veterans being cared for upon returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan? According to a report by Physicians for Social Responsibility, healthcare for Iraq vets could top $650 billion.
Guests: Larry Scott, four-year Army veterans and operator of VAWatchdog.org
Dr. Evan Kanter, a member of the Board of Directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility

Tuesday, 11/13 - We'll get an update on the oil spill in the Bay and discuss the overall state of the Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, 11/14 - On the Record: Rudy Giuliani - What's his voting record? Where is he getting his campaign contributions? Who would he appoint to his administration?

Thursday, 11/15 - We'll have a debate about American Empire with Juan Cole, history professor at the University of Michigan and operator of "Informed Comment," and Amy Chua, law professor at Yale author of Day of Empire: How Superpowers Rise to Global Dominance -- and Why They Fail

Friday, 11/16 - Media Roundtable: How did the media cover the week's top stories?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Live Green Festival Broadcast

The annual Green Festival is in San Francisco this weekend and I'll be hosting a special broadcast tomorrow from noon - 2pm PST on KALW 91.7 FM. You can also listen online.

If you go, be sure to try the amazing raw food!

The guests will be:

Brahm Amadi, co-founder of the People's Grocery, an organization that focuses on the health, environmental, and economic challenges facing West Oakland

Miguel Santistevan, former project director for the New Mexico Acequia Association - Acequias are the historic communal irrigation systems that support the culture and livelihood of thousands of families in New Mexico

Dr. Namrata Patel, a San Francisco green dentist

Hilary Abell, executive director of the Wages Cooperative, a Bay Area organization whose mission is to build worker-owned green businesses that create healthy, dignified jobs for low-income women

Jessica Assaf and Carly Wetheim, members of the Teens for Safe Cosmetics Campaign, a coalition led by young women raising awareness about potentially harmful ingredients in personal care products that may be linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and other health risks

Utuma Belfrey, a state-licensed journeywoman electrician and outreach coordinator for GRID Alernatives, a non-profit that works to bring the power of solar electricity and energy efficiency to low-income households in the Bay Area

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito owns Exxon stock

According to this Wired article, Justice Alito owns between $100K and $250K of Exxon stock. Do we really want a guy who owns Exxon stock sitting on the high court? He's going to be there for at least 25 years. Is he going to recuse himself every time a case about the environment comes up?
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear Exxon Mobil's plea to reduce the $2.5 billion fine handed out after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The company, who say they shouldn't be held responsible for the drunken driving of ship captain Joseph Hazelwood, calls the punishment unconstitutionally excessive.

Opponents -- fishermen, cannery workers, Native Alaskans, small businesses and other locals -- say that $2.5 billion, while indeed larger than any other oil spill fine, is not an excessive price for fouling 1,200 miles of pristine Alaskan coastline, especially when taken in the context of Exxon Mobil's earnings: as the world's largest private oil company, Exxon reported profits of $39.5 billion in 2006.

Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker arrives at the Supreme Court after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the damages award. As the Washington Post reports, the Court will "consider whether the Clean Water Act and maritime laws allow for punitive damages, and if so, whether the award is excessive." Exxon will argue that the $3.4 billion they've already spent on cleanup and reparations makes the fine-- whose purpose is to "punish wrongdoing and deter future misconduct" -- unnecessary.
Justice Samuel Alito, who owns between $100,000 and $250,000 of Exxon stock, has recused himself from the case, which will be heard next February or March.

I'm hardly a Constitutional or maritime law scholar, so I'll refrain from commenting on the technical definition of punitive damages and subsequent legality of the $2.5 billion fine. As to whether maritime law even allows punitive damages, however, there appears to be a significant body of precedent suggesting that Exxon Mobil had better whip out its checkbook.

Pro-choice women win on Election Day

From Emily's List:
New Jersey

Former Gloucester Township Mayor Sandi Love defeated her Republican opponents Agnes Gardiner and Patricia Fratticcioli for a different type of political seat. Now a member of New Jersey's Assembly District 4, Love brings to the table her years of experience both as mayor, and legislative aide to former Assemblywoman Ann Mullen, along with organizational experience such as chairing the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund which helped raise over $150,000 in money and services. Her opponents were faced with a struggle from the beginning by taking on a competitor such as Love, who is a popular face in the largely Democratic district.


Janet Oleszek is currently within 46 votes of defeating ultra-conservative Republican incumbent Ken Cuccinelli, II in Virginia's State Senate District 37. Oleszek’s deep involvement in the community and being a sitting member of the school board proved to be important contrasts to Cuccinelli’s strict conservative policies. This race has also gone to a recount.

Margi Vanderhye gained control of the formerly Republican seat in Virginia’s House District 34 by defeating Dave Hunt. This seat has not been held by a Democrat in over 40 years! Vanderhye was appointed by Gov. Mark Warner and re-appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine to the northern Virginia transportation authority, with background also in the National Capitol Planning Commission. Vanderhye won with 51 percent of the vote in her favor.


Marion Tasco, first elected in 1987, won re-election to the Philadelphia city council. Tasco is an African American woman who is extremely influential in both city and state politics. Known as a mentor for many other women candidates, Tasco has assisted other aspiring candidates including now-Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

Maria Quiones Sanchez is a rising star with a long future of public service ahead. Running in a district described as the most gerrymandered in the U.S., Quiones Sanchez was re-elected to the Philadelphia city council with 78 percent of the vote. Quiones Sanchez is a long time community activist who ran an energetic grassroots campaign to defeat her opponents.


In Ward 1 for the Tucson City Council race, Regina Romero won 81 percent of the vote. Romero will be the first Latina elected to the Tucson City Council and first woman to represent Ward 1.


Sheila Dixon, the hard-driving West Baltimore politician who became Baltimore's first woman mayor, easily won the mayoral general election with 88 percent of the vote. "We're up for it," Dixon said during a victory speech delivered at her campaign headquarters on Eutaw Street, where she was joined by the other elected women. "We're up for moving this city a lot further than even it is today."


Jill Duson, a two term incumbent, was once again re-elected with 28 percent of the vote to the Portland, Maine, City Council. Duson is the first African American woman to serve on the Portland City Council. Duson is a progressive advocate in her community; she recently supported a successful domestic partnership ordinance in Portland to ensure all city employees are given equal health care benefits.

New York

Kate Browning, a school bus driver from Shirley, New York, was re-elected to the Suffolk County Legislature with 56 percent of the vote. Browning quickly became the top target of Republicans on Long Island with the recognition that this county legislative seat is critical to the Senate race in 2008. Browning is a rising star with great potential for moving up the electoral ladder in the future. She ran an enthusiastic campaign that included daily canvasses and a volunteer implemented door-to-door program.


Jolanda Jones is headed to a run-off in her race for Houston City Council after being the top vote-getter on Nov. 6. Jones is a graduate of the University of Houston, where she was nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship and won the title of Greatest Female Athlete of the Century. She then went on to earn her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. Jones was the only woman in the crowded eight candidate race, which also included a right-wing Republican who had strong grassroots support. Jones vows to fight to make Houston’s neighborhoods safer, keep the economy growing, and ensure that every child in Houston has the best opportunity to learn.

Nearly 41 million Americans can't afford the basics

Check out this new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research called "Bridging the Gaps":
Low wages, inadequate benefits, and limited work supports leave one-in-five people (nearly 41 million) in working families struggling to make ends meet. According to a study released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, and the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

According to the report, many workers are in jobs that do not provide health insurance or enough earnings to cover basic expenditures but earn too much to qualify for work supports such as Medicaid and Food Stamps.

While common to higher-wage workers, employment-based benefits, like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, are not available to most low- and many moderate-wage workers. Public work supports, however, can help fill in these gaps.

“We no longer live in a world where having a job means you’re automatically able to make ends meet,” according to Heather Boushey, co-author of the report. “Our work support policies need to be updated to support the millions of families with earners in bad jobs.”

After examining federal and state policies across nine states and the District of Columbia, the researchers found that families who were able to take advantage of government-provided work supports were able to close nearly half (44 percent) of the gap between their earnings and a safe and decent standard of living.

Across the same states, however, more than one-in-five of those living in low-income, but working families, were not eligible for any government-provided work supports.

The findings come from an in-depth examination of eligibility for six work supports–child care assistance, Earned Income Tax Credit, Food Stamps, housing assistance (public housing and Section 8), Medicaid/State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families—and who uses them.

The study analyzed federal and state policies in Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and the District of Columbia. A low-income family has income below a basic family budget, which is equal to the cost of purchasing a safe and decent standard of living at market prices within the family’s locality. The family types included are households comprised of one or two adults and zero to three children under the age of 13. These family types make up approximately 75 percent of the US population.

This new data is being released as Congress tries to expand SCHIP to families with income above 200% of the poverty threshold. The data released today show that the current eligibility rules leave over half of low-income families ineligible for this work support.

“These findings suggest that universal heath care reform would make a significant impact in the budgets of millions of Americans,” said Randy Albelda, co-author of the report.” And given the recent focus on health care by the 2008 presidential candidates, there is a great opportunity to help bridge the gaps for these families.”

Good paying jobs drastically decline in U.S.

The economy is booming for a very small percentage of the population:
A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that the number of good jobs - jobs that pay at least $17 an hour, and provide health insurance and a pension -- declined by 3.5 million between 2000 and 2006. Using comparable periods from the 1980s and 1990s, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt shows how this economic recovery has been significantly worse than previous ones.

Schmitt finds the driving force behind the decline in the share of good jobs in the 2000s is the sharp deterioration in employer-provided health insurance (down 3.1 percentage points) and employer-sponsored pension and retirement-savings plans (down 4.9 percentage points).

Gas prices hit $5 in California

Get ready to change your way of life:
The American Automobile Association of California says some drivers are now paying $4 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline.

Crude oil prices hit an all-time high Wednesday, above $98 a barrel and analysts say with worldwide oil demand rising -- it is still not clear just how high prices will go.

KSBW checked and found gas in Gorda, south of Big Sur, is even higher. Drivers there are paying $5 for gas.
Over the past two weeks gas has gone up 15 cents in California alone, according to AAA.

2007 Deadliest Year for American Troops

From Military Families Speak Out:
The U.S. military announced six troop deaths on Tuesday, making 2007 the deadliest year for American troops since the start of the Iraq War. Military families across the country are outraged and saddened by the continued loss of lives in Iraq. Even more, they are disappointed in Congress for continuing to fund the war and failing to bring an immediate end to the death and destruction. As Veterans Day approaches, members of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), a national organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones who have served in the military during the period of the Iraq war, will honor the over 3,850 American service men and women, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women, and men who have died as a result of the war.

“The Bush Administration continues to use lies and fear to get Congress to continue to fund the war. But the numbers do not lie; 2007 has been the deadliest year for American troops thus far, and the vast majority of the American people and the troops themselves do not support this war. Congress has failed the troops and all of us by continuing to fund the war. Congress needs to understand that, this year more than ever, funding this war is killing our troops,” said Nancy Lessin, a co-founder of MFSO.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Millions of Iraqis are trapped

The national media is reporting that violence is down in Iraq, yet they're failing to mention the increasing number of U.S. airstrikes and the five million Iraqis who've left their homes; half of them have relocated within the country and the other half have left the country.

This is by Inter Press Service's Ahmed Ali, a correspondent who works closely with independent journalist Dahr Jamail:
At least five million Iraqis have fled their homes due to the violence under the U.S.-led occupation, but half of them are unable to leave the country, according to well-informed estimates.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are more than 4.4 million displaced Iraqis, an estimate that many workers among refugees find conservative.

The UNHCR announced last week that at present 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. Most of them have received direct threats from death squads or militias.

The provinces that have suffered the greatest displacement are the largely Sunni Baghdad, Diyala, al-Anbar and Salahadeen in central Iraq.

Members of many families who have not fled told IPS they have stayed on because they had no choice.

"We could not leave our city despite the security situation because we don't have the money to travel and live outside Iraq," Ali Muhsin, an official with the directorate general of education and a father of five told IPS in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Life in Iraq for a 19-year-old college student

"A Star from Mosul" is a 19-year-old engineering student. According to the BBC, her latest posting is not typical of her normally chirpy style.
Breathing slowly.. In and out..that's what I have to do to keep myself from crying, and stay alive.
I'm more depressed than I've ever been in the last year I think.
It's weird. I thought going to college would be all I need.


Most of the lecturers this year are very educated, mostly professors with PhDs. I feel stupid. Is it possible that I have forgot so much of what I've studied before, or is it that my brain needs to be reactivated? I am so not used to keeping silent and having no answers..

Our classroom is in the 2nd floor, we have to go up 44 steps to get to it, down 44 steps to see people, we're so isolated.. We do this more than 3 times a day, my legs are killing me now.


I'm sick of talking about the bad situation.. I just hate the mornings, there's always shooting and many explosions. I always have doubt that I'll not make it to college, the roads are rarely open.

I'm so very very depressed.. I almost cry everytime people ask me why I look so sad. I can't even see the full half of the glass I used to cling to.

My cousin drove me home the other day.. I used to go to college with dad, and my friend's father would drive us home. Now, and since my friend has failed and is still waiting for the first-graders to start college, I have a problem going home when it's not at the same time mom finishes her work.
When my cousin drives me, I feel the need to keep talking, I just hate the silence. But because of my deep depression, and to keep myself from crying, I didn't talk much this time.. I concentrated on the road, something I rarely do (I still haven't learned the way to my school, I can't get my brain to concentrate on roads at all). I couldn't believe all the wreckage on the way.. Building after building, destoyed, burnt.. Black signs announcing deaths.. Smoke from a new explosion. We had to stop few times to clear the road for the police or the Americans.
I asked my cousin about a destroyed building I haven't seen before, he said it was months ago.. I was shocked; I didn't ask about the ones that followed.

I had to look for a car to drive me to and fro college daily, I finally found one, and a classmate with a nearby house is coming with me.. Yesterday was the first day he was supposed to come and drive me to the university.
I woke up at 6:40, he was supposed to come at about 7:30 when the roads to the university aren't very crowded. I got dressed and had my breakfast and decided to go online till it's time.. There was an explosion, then shooting. I left the computer.
Dad went out and checked, the driver will have to use another road to get to our house, the street was blocked.
I went outside waiting, it was time and they weren't there.. Helicopters were hovering above the house..
I called my classmate many times but the signal was very weak. When it finally rang she picked up and told me there were Americans searching the cars and she has to hang up.. At 7:45 she called saying they can't reach the house. Dad drove me to college, we had to drive over about 4 pavements, going through wreckage and severely damaged roads.
I arrived to college at time.. my classmate about 20 minutes later, another classmate in the same neighborhood arrived 2 hours later.
I spent the rest of the day sighing, and the road back hearing all the bad stories of death and killings I could stand to hear from my classmate.


That's not what I call home.. We're really strangers in our country.. oh well, excuse me, I don't think "our" should be used anymore.. I'm not sure whose country it is, but it's not mine for sure.

This week on Your Call Radio

Your Call airs from 10:00-11:00 am PST on 91.7 FM. You can also listen online or download the podcast.

Monday, 11/5 - Over the weekend, Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution. We'll get the latest from Zahid Hussain, senior editor of Pakistan's Newsline magazine.

Tuesday, 11/6 - Over 44 million Americans are taking care of ill or disabled family members. What can we do to support them?
Guest: Peggy Flynn, founder of The Caregiving Zone

Wednesday, 11/7 - On the Record: Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd. What's his voting record?

Thursday, 11/8 - A conversation with Dahr Jamail, author of "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," and Ashley Gilbertson, author of "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War"

Friday, 11/9 - Media Roundtable: How did the media cover the week's top stories?