Thursday, May 25, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

Former Army Spc. Katherine Jashinski, a conscientious objector, cried before her sentence of four-months confinement was handed down, according to one witness at her court-martial.
"She was in tears," said Camilo Mejia, treasurer of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who attended Jashinski's Tuesday trial. "The entire mood of the courtroom changed."
Jashinski, reduced to the rank of private first class after a series of offenses, received a 120-day sentence and a bad conduct discharge after she pleaded guilty to willfully disobeying a lawful order of a superior commissioned officer. She was found not guilty of missing movement by design, said Monica Manganaro, public affairs officer at Fort Benning.
The judge gave Jashinski 53 days credit for a previous administrative punishment she received, leaving her 67 days to serve, which began Tuesday, Manganaro said. Jashinski is currently being held at the Harris County Jail, though she will be moved to military confinement in a few days.

The above, noted by Heath, is from Alan Riquelmy's "Guard woman brought to tears: Guilty plea brings rank reduction, bad conduct discharge" (Ledger-Enquirer). Visit Free Katherine for more information. This is going up late due to something I'd forgotten I'd agreed to do. (There are days when I wouldn't know the date, or even day of the week, without grabbing one of the morning papers.) My apologies. Thanks to Kat who agreed to rush a review she was working on so that something would be posted prior to midnight. ("Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way.") Her review also sets up this entry nicely as she fills you in on what the paper of no record can't or won't. A topic of which is the subject of the next highlight, noted by Marcus, Tod Ensign's "Withdrawal Talk: Bait & Switch?" (Citizen Soldier):

As the mid-term elections draw closer, it's likely that Congressional candidates and the White House will float proposals to withdraw troops from Iraq. Republicans with close races will spin any military talk of redeployment from Iraq as evidence of progress. On May 9th, the New York Times reported that Pentagon officials have been discussing the possibility of bringing American troop levels down to 100,000 assuming that Iraqi troops "continue to improve."
With little fanfare, the US command in Iraq has been busy spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade several military bases which appear intended for long-term use by American personnel. One of their largest projects is "Camp Anaconda" at Balad, Iraq where a major rebuilding effort is expected to take another nine years. Two 12,000 foot runways to accomodate the US military's largest cargo jets have already been extensively upgraded. Contracts totally $62 million have been let to construct three enormous ramps that can accomodate dozens of C-5 and C-130 cargo planes, as well as every type of helicopter in the US arsenal. The huge base, which covers fourteen square miles, can accomodate up to 25,000 workers, many of whom are currently American soldiers and construction workers.

The bases no one wants to talk about, the ones Nancy Pelosi wants to argue "permancy" about because they won't be there until the end of time, just many many decades.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American troops fatality count (in Iraq) was 2454. Right now? It's 2463. Maybe a failed hacktress, failed sitcom star will find that to be something else she can get behind "110%?" (Or maybe Poppy will e-mail her on how Big Babs avoids letting fatalities and casulities effect her not-so-beautiful mind?) The war drags on because people let it and because some actively cheer it on.

What stops it? Action. Such as in Iwana's highlight, Matt Osborn's "Members of BC Community Hang Protest Banner During Rice Address" (Boston IMC) -- this article contains photos by Jonathan McIntosh:

Three people hung a banner reading "BC Honors Lies & Torture" during the Boston College commencement address by Condoleezza Rice.
During this morning's Boston College commencement address by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who received an honorary degree, three people unfurled a banner reading, "BC Honors Lies & Torture." The banner was visible for five minutes next to a Puerto Rican flag held by a different group. Campus police removed the flag and escorted the three out of the stadium.

What else stops it? Reality. But it has to penetrate the waves of Operation Happy Talk. Joan notes an article and says we may have highlighted it already. I've read it in print but don't think we've noted it here. If we have, it's worth noting again. From Catherine Komp's "Witness to War: Unembedded Photojournalism in Iraq" (Clamor):

As we reach the third anniversary of the US-led "shock and awe" bombing of Iraq and subsequent occupation, there is still no clear indication of when the devastation will end. A land that many historians called the birthplace of civilization has been reduced to smoldering buildings, burned-out cars, broken glass, and deserted streets. Unsanitized images of this shattered landscape are often hard to come by, especially those that expose the daily realities of living amongst the chaos -- people's pain, anger, and fear along with their strength, determination, and hope. But there are a number of unembedded journalists who continue to work in Iraq, leaving the security of the green zone and armed guards, to live amongst Iraqis and capture what American photograher Kael Alford describes as the "horror and beauty of Iraq." Alford, along with three other independent photographers, American Thorne Anderson, Canadian Rita Leistner, and Iraqi Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, have collaborated on Unembedded, a book and traveling exhibit of their photographs and essays. Clamor recently had the chance to ask Leistner and Anderson about their work.
What stories do your photos tell about the changes to Iraq’s people and cities that weren’t being told by other photojournalists?
Leistner: The work of embedded photojournalists is certainly important in showing the changes going on in Iraq (I was embedded myself for four months in the spring and summer of 2003). But when I was embedded, my story was about the soldiers. This was simple access and location: you report on where you are. Being unembedded meant spending time with Iraqis and so we were able to record the effects of the war on their lives. What our work and experience shows is that things are getting worse by far for the Iraqi people. You can't show this so well if you are living on a military base with American soldiers.
As an unembedded photojournalist in Iraq, how did you perceive your role in recording the destruction of war and the impact of the US occupation?
Anderson: I think news media, particularly American and particularly television, where most Americans get their information, relies too heavily on the reports of journalists embedded with American and coalition troops in Iraq. I feel that our role as journalists and the goal of this book is to provide balance to that coverage.

So where's the movement going? Brad was nice enough to send three of the most idiotic pieces from indymedia -- all three from so-called alternative weeklies -- and note that they'd truly lost it. I'm forgetting one piece, but I know one was by someone who obviously has no concept of the seventies as he editorializes about what the sixites did and didn't bring (music is the entry point). Another tells you that you must vote a Democratic senator who supports the war. Now is not the time, the article tells you, to question that support! Sound familiar? It's the same nonsense that allowed John Kerry to avoid dealing with the war in the 2004 run. That's why we don't waste a lot of time with "this race!" and other nonsense here. We're not going to worship Congress, fall down to our knees just knowing they'll 'give' us anything. People need to be held accountable. We were told in 2004 that it wasn't the right time to press on the war, we're being told that now. Nearly 2500 American lives (and countless Iraqis as well as British, Australian, Italians, et al) say otherwise. So those were the jerk offs of the week. Taking a minute to 'weigh in' and tell you that you have no power. (The editorial made that point repeatedly.)

You have power and you can use it. You have more power than Congress if you use it. Writing blank checks and giving unquestioning endorsements isn't using your power.

(The senator, by the way, is slimed as a hell on heels -- no, it's not Hillary -- and a cold fish and much more. But don't not vote for her says the guy who doesn't think we need to question those who supported and continue to support the war. He may have also said she had a drinking problem -- either that or she just made everyone who worked for her want to get drunk.)

So what lessons can we learn from the movement thus far? That exploration is at the heart of Zach's highlight, Bill Simpich's "Building a Movement That Will Be Stronger After the US is Out of Iraq" (SF Indymedia):

Following the April 29 antiwar march in New York, which gathered 350,000 participants and very little press coverage, it looks like the movement to end the war in Iraq is poised to make the shift from single-day protests to an action campaign. There is a call for a "Declaration of Peace", endorsed by United for Peace and Justice and twenty-five other antiwar organizations, calling for weeks of agitation and civil disobedience with a focus primarily but not solely at Congressional offices throughout the country starting on September 21, after spending the next four months organizing and getting each Congressional member position on the war on record.
The strategy is to ensure that the war is a central issue in the November election, with a call for an immediate comprehensive withdrawal designed to "bring the troops out now". The emerging plan is to sustain a steady string of actions over the initial weeks in September while Congress is still in session, with the hope that new people will join in and the campaign will attain a rhythm of its own. These actions would include everything from lobbying to civil disobedience. Such a call raises some perennial questions about the structure of such a action campaign: Single-issue or multi-issue? Electoral or non-electoral targets? Traditional or confrontational? Centralized or decentralized?
There is an understanding that local regions are free to pick and choose their own protest targets. Go to the Declaration of Peace website ( and say what you think... I believe that such a campaign should include a call for economic justice, whether as a "peace dividend" or as some other formulation, ensuring that the movement stands with the poor and the working class in America and worldwide. Such a position will aid in building a movement that continues to grow after the troops leave Iraq, and lessen the potential of any "divide-and-conquer" tactics by our adversaries.
Go back to the days of May in 1970, after Nixon's April 30 announcement that he was sending ground troops into Cambodia - the high-water mark of the antiwar struggle in the US, and the alliances and strategies of that period that impacted our objective to get the US military out of Southeast Asia. During the spring of 1970, as the anti-Vietnam war forces were looking for direction, the "justice" side of the surge for "peace and justice" was on the move in New Haven.
On May Day of 1970, 15,000 gathered on the Yale campus for a tense three-day weekend of action at the height of a student strike to protest the attempted frame-up of Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale (also a defendant of the antiwar Chicago 8) for murder. The trial revealed Seale's innocence and the central role of a probable FBI informant. (Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, The Cointelpro Papers)
In a highly militarized atmosphere, the authorities' hopes for a shoot-out were dashed as the Panthers and the students kept the peace and the focus on Bobby's upcoming trial. The lasting image was of Yale president Kingman Brewster (the model for "President King" in Doonesbury) stating that "I am appalled and ashamed that things should have come to such a pass in this country that I am skeptical of the ability of black revolutionaries to achieve a fair trial anywhere in the United States."
During that fateful weekend, campuses began rising up throughout the country. They began to adopt Yale's tactic of a "student strike", a on-the-spot national mobilization in Washington DC for the following weekend, and a call for solidarity with the Panthers. It is noteworthy that the Panthers were one of the few African American groups willing to build alliances with the left during this era, and that Kent State University was part of this history. During November of 1968, Oakland, California police recruiters actually came all the way to Kent, Ohio. Protesting the racist history of this perpetual foe of the Oakland-based Panthers, African American students and others walked off campus and set up a "university in exile". Students returned only when the administration agreed to set up an African American studies program - now known as the Department of Pan-African Studies. (Melissa Hostetler, "Thirty Years of Activism at Kent State" April 27, 2002, Friction Magazine)

So read the article and see if it makes you think of some ideas or actions of your own. Tori notes a woman who took action, Christian Wright's "I protested George Bush at my (GW) College Graduation" (DC Indymedia):

I was not even planning on attending this ceremony until Chris gave me a call last night around midnight with his idea for the protest. The idea was to have him and some of his friends stand up while Bush was talking and to turn their backs to him.
Beacause I had no plans nor cap and gown I was just going to hand out the agitational leaflet I wrote. But what actually happened was that I met Chris right as he was being seated and I snuck in and sat next to him. I was wearing slacks and by 'I have a dream' shirt with a picture of Bush and Cheney behind bars on it, but after a staff person confirmed by Gworld card they let me stay.
Origionally, 4 of Chris's friends were going to protest with us, but when the moment came they all chickened out and stayed seated. So all it was was Chris and myself standing up when the Bushes (first his wife, then the former president) were introduced. We stood up and turned our backs to him. We were nervous but we backed each other up.
Looking in front of us we saw an army of elite, wealthy, and conservative college graduates, with their families behind them. The ceremony filled the mall from 4th st all the way to 7th st. Immediately people began to complain that we were blocking their view, and several students started shouting at us to sit down. At first we tried to look at them and say "sorry", but pretty quick we figured out that dialogue would be useless.
Instead we just looked back to the end of the crowd and avoided eye contact with those immediately in front of us.
I looked back to see the horror on the face of the president of the College Republicans, with whom I had had the burden to endure a "guerrilla warfare and insurgenceies" proseminar with. But he wasn't going to saynothing to us cause this was our turn.
A cop told us to sit down or leave and I told him he'd have to drag us out. He backed off and we stayed standing. Decicisvely, a few people around us joined in telling the police to let us stand. I think the discussions that our leaflet helped us get into with the other graduates early on was crucial to getting us this support. Even one student who was politically conservative that we had talked to earlier came out to support us when the cop arrived. We made the point that we weren't trying to disrupt anything, but it was the university who politicized the event by inviting the Bushes there, and we were simply obeying our conscience by turning our backs to him.
So I stood, alongside Chris with my back turned to President Bush! It was probably for about 10-15 minutes or so. I did not have a graduation suit on but I did borrow the hat from one of Chris' friends, all of whom had peace signs painted on them. I think that president Bush was able to see it.
An ABC guy took our picture and there was some other media there too. A few people, including a teacher, came up to us aftewords and thanked us for standing up, and said they were dissapointed that we were the only ones. One other student who elsewhere in the crowd had tried to independantly do the same thing, but who was shouted down by conservative fellow students, also came up to us and said thanks.

Why take action? Because it's going to take demonstrations, speaking out, rallies, sharing with the people around you and probably a lot more to end the war. We're already seeing the first rumbles of "Don't press on the war!" They'll only get louder. Because people disown their power and operate from a base of fear. And because it's also eaiser to hand over your power than to own it. "Here, take this off my hands" becomes the reason to vote for someone. It's a refusal to utilize your own strength, to own your own experience and to live in the ever present world.

Why take action? Because people are dying. Lynda notes Layla Wilder's "A mother's pain" (Fairfax County Times):

When Army 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Kaylor was growing up, he used to make his mother breakfast in bed on Mother's Day morning and get her flowers. That was years ago. Jeffrey grew up, joined the military and later went to Iraq, and this year, his mother, Roxanne Kaylor, 56, of Clifton did not get flowers from him on Mother's Day. He was killed by an explosion in April 2003 outside of Baghdad, at the age of 24, while destroying equipment to keep it from insurgents. Now all Roxanne said she wants is her son back.
Roxanne did not do anything special this Mother's Day, she said. But she prays every single day for the "senseless war to stop." It was the fourth Mother's Day since Operation Iraqi Freedom started in March 2003, and, for other mothers like Roxanne who lost sons and daughters in Iraq, the day meant dealing with the painful reality of war and their loss.

"Sunday was a hard day, and I had to work to keep the tears from coming and overwhelming me," said Nancy Hecker, 61, of Vienna, who lost her son, Maj. William Hecker III, in Iraq in January.

Because every death means grief for families (of all nationalities). Todd notes Cindy Sheehan's
"Casey's Mother's Day Gift" (Common Dreams):

I awakened last Sunday morning with an enormous pain in my heart. Every morning I wake up, as soon as I come to consciousness and figure out where I am, my first thought is of Casey and April 04, 2004, the day he was killed in BushCo's war for corporate profit. Some days, like Mother's Day, are worse than others.
That Sunday morning, I was in Washington, DC--a city that I love as an exciting, energetic and supportive one--on the other hand, the corruption seeps into my soul and I can't spend too many consecutive days there. I am also comforted by the constant police presence as I am followed like a hawk by a paranoid force that is afraid I am up to something--which is usually true, but that's beside the point, everything I do is legal--and paranoid that I may expose another t-shirt with the truth written on it.
After breakfast with my sister, a Camp Casey friend from Texas, Randi Rhodes, Susan Hathaway from NYC, and Annie Nelson (Willie's wife), we headed down to Lafayette Park where Code Pink was sponsoring a "Mothers Say No to War" vigil where hundreds of male and female matriots gathered together to loudly, stridently, courageously, reverently, and oftentimes joyfully proclaim to the world and the illicit administration that we have had enough of the world's children being killed for no reason other than to garner obscene profits for the war machine.
We had a wonderful day opening with a prayer/memorial service for all of the people, including innocent Iraqis, that have been lost to Bush's gigantic ego and bottomless greed. At one point, I laid my head in my friend Hillary's lap and sobbed for the chasm of emptiness that is present in my life on a daily basis. Not only do I miss Casey, but I miss my other children. I miss the life we led before Casey was killed: A life that was dominated by the children and their activities. Now I am separated by a dimension from Casey and by distance from my others. I do this so they and the worlds' children won't have to go to war and die for a racket that is as old as time. It is a hard life that I have chosen but sometimes I feel that it has chosen me.

I've not made it home yet. To wait until I got home to do the entry would risk sitting down as I soon as I walked in ("for just a minute") and falling asleep. So I don't have my list by my computer of what song we're supposed to be noting this week (in addition to "And the War Drags On"). A friend does, however, have a copy of the Dixie Chicks new CD so we'll note her favorite song.

Sunday morning
I heard the preacher say
Thou' shall not kill
I don't wanna hear nothin' else
About killin' and that it's God's will
'Cause our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They're gonna be like us
So let's learn from our history
And do it differently
[I hope]
-- "I Hope" words and music by Emily Robison, Martie Maguire, Natalie Merchant and Keb' Mo',
from the album Taking The Long Way

Monday is a holiday and, on that note, Keesha steers us to a press release from Military Families Speak Out:

This Memorial Day Gold Star Families Say, "Honor our Loved Ones' Service and Sacrifice By Ending This War!"Families Challenge President’s Statement that Families of the Fallen Support Continuing the War
WASHINGTON, DC -- This Memorial Day Weekend, Gold Star families whose loved ones died as a result of the war in Iraq, who are members of Military Families Speak Out's chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out, are available for interview.
President Bush said, in remarks at the National Restaurant Association Convention in Chicago on May 22nd, "…the hardest job of the President is to meet with families of the fallen. And it's a -- it's my duty. But almost to a person, they say, whatever you do, Mr. President, complete the mission, lay the foundation of peace so my child had not died in vain. And I give them that assurance every time I meet with them. In fact, many Gold Star families say otherwise.
"It serves no purpose to have more and more servicemen and women die in an unjust and unjustifiable war, and have more families experience the unbearable and unending pain that my family has experienced," explained Celeste Zappala, mother of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II. Sgt. Baker was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004 while guarding the Iraq Survey Group as they searched for non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Elaine Johnson, who met with President Bush following the death of her son Darius Jennings on November 2, 2003 in Iraq and challenged him on his war policy, stated, "The best way to honor the memory of Darius and all of our loved ones is to end this war, bring our troops home now and take care of them when they get here."
Members of Military Families Speak Out's chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out whose loved ones have died as a result of the war in Iraq are available for interview over Memorial Day Weekend. To schedule an interview, contact Katya Kruglak, (703) 304-5075, or Nancy Lessin, (617) 320-5301.
For more information:
Military Families Speak Out:; Gold Star Families Speak Out

The e-mail address for this site is I almost forgot, two DFW (Dallas -Fort Worth) members wrote me about the Angelika. That's where the film Sir! No! Sir! begins playing tomorrow. I meant to do a search and grab the information but both Eddie and Billie (each in their own e-mail) noted it and saved me the trouble.

Angelika Film Center
Mockingbird Station,
5321 E Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75206
Sir! No Sir! NR (85 min.)
2:15 PM 4:15 PM 6:15 PM 8:15 PM

Eddie wrote that it was easy to find and Billie advised that members should take the train because it stops right there. So if you're lost, go to Yahoo Maps or do what Billie advises and grab a train. That's the DFW area and we've got a number of members in that area. Four are already thinking about seeing it. If you can't afford a film or if you've already got other plans (I know it's a holiday weekend), forget it. But if you're able to consider seeing it, please do. It's a great film. (And don't put if off if you're wanting to see it. It's only booked for one week. It may be held over but that depends upon attendance.) We also have a number of members in these two areas where it beings playing on Friday (which is today if I wrote 'tomorrow' earlier, the film beings playing in the two areas below and DFW on Friday, today):

(minimum one week)
(minimum one week)

It is playing elsewhere as well and you can find out by clicking on Sir! No! Sir! and if you're saying, "Wait, I'm confused!" click on this Democracy Now! story "Retired Army Col. Charged With Sedition For Handing Flyer on Anti-War Vietnam Vets" to find out more about the movie and listen, watch or read an excerpt.

Lastly (for real this time), the Times entries may post late. I've still got to drive home and it's about two hours (as I finish this, not by the time stamp which is when the entry is begun, not when it's posted) before I normally begin the morning entries.