Sunday, July 09, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Alaa Hassan never did live to see publication of the last story he had filed. It got caught for a while, as stories sometimes are, in that no man's land between what a correspondent could reasonably get, and what an editor would really like.
The two do not often converge immediately, or at least find minimal common ground, when someone has to report from a place where just stepping out of the house -- or staying indoors for that matter -- is a risk to life, and where access to 'official' information is usually blocked.
Our correspondents in Iraq sometimes cannot tell what is 'official' any more -- a dubious occupation force, or an uncertain government with its own record of running death squads. No journalism school in the world teaches how to get a story in Iraq. And yet every story from Iraq too must meet standards.
And so the IPS news desk looked greedily for more in the report filed by Aaron Glantz working together with Alaa Hassan, the contributor to IPS stories from Iraq, who was shot dead as he was leaving his house in Baghdad Wednesday Jun. 28.
The report was on people being forced to move out to areas dominated by fellow Shias or Sunnis, in the face of soaring sectarian violence. It might just have been that kind of violence that claimed Alaa's life.

The above is from Sanjay Suri's "A Story Left Incomplete" (IPS) and Iwanna noted it and we'll open with it. Ryan Lenz is reporting for the Associated Press, the in addition to Steven D. Green (who was arrested two Fridays ago) being charged in the rape of Abeer Qassim Hamza, her murder and the murder of three members of her family ("her father, Qassim Hamza; her mother, Fikhriya Taha; and her sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza") four additional US troops "have been charged with rape and murder and a fifth with dereliction of duty ."

On the topic of rape, Brandon notes David Swanson's "David Swanson Interview: Command Rape" (New Zealand's Scoop):

Suzanne Swift's story begins in an all-too-familiar way. A dead-end job, a friendly military recruiter, a promise that signing-up as military police would mean no deployment to Iraq, a broken promise, and a trip to war. Then it takes a less commonly heard of turn, one involving a practice known as "command rape." Suzanne is back in the U.S. and is refusing to return to Iraq. Until a couple of days ago she was confined by the military and threatened with prosecution. The three superiors whom she has accused of various forms of harassment or assault have not yet been charged. Suzanne's mother, Sara Rich, spoke with me about her daughter's ordeal and recorded this 20-minute conversation. []
Transcribed by Sandy Smedley:
This is David Swanson, speaking with Sara Rich, the mother of Suzanne Swift:
DAVID: Ms. Rich, how old is your daughter?
SARA: Suzanne is almost 22.
DAVID: Almost 22; and what is her background in the military? How did she get into the service and how long ago was that?
SARA: Suzanne graduated from high school in 2002 and she got a job and started working, and it was kind of a dead-end job, something that didn’t have a lot of, you know, future, and she was home one day and Jerry, the Army recruiter, called the house because the recruiters, you know, have your home phone number, and they invited her out to lunch, and the courtship began from there. She started having lunch with them every week and telling her about the travel and the college benefits and the training she would receive from the Army.
DAVID: Did she receive those things?
SARA: Well, she sure traveled. She went right to Iraq right out of her training. It was within a month out of getting out of basic training that she went to Iraq, and the thing is that she was told that if she signed up to be a miliary police officer, she would not go to Iraq, but you could only sign up to be a miliary police officer if you signed up for 5 years instead of 4, so her line to me was, "Don't worry mama, you know, I'm signing up to be an MP, and they don't deploy MPs to Iraq."

DAVID: But she chose not to because it would be an additional year?
SARA: Oh no, she chose to be a miliary police officer and do 5 years so she would not go to Iraq.
DAVID: And yet they sent her to Iraq anyway?
SARA: That's exactly right. The first thing they said to her when she got off the bus at boot camp, was the sergeant yells, he said "You blankety-blank-blank all think that you're not going to Iraq? Well, your recruiter lied. You're all going to Iraq and you're all going to die!" Scared the hell out of Suzanne.
DAVID: And she's been to Iraq for one tour, right?
SARA: One tour, exactly.
DAVID: When did she go and when did she come back?
SARA: She went February of '04 to February of '05.
DAVID: And she is now refusing to return; why is that?
SARA: Well, there's a lot of reasons why. When it came down to her redeployment, about 2 weeks before she was due…well first of all, she only got 11 months of stabilization time. You're mandated to have 18 months of stabilization time between deployments in a combat zone, so she was only being given 11 months of stabilization time, and was forced to sign a waiver waiving her rights to that 18 months. This was really hard for her. Then about 2 weeks before they were to be redeployed, she was out on a training mission, and a male sergeant raped a male specialist out on a training expedition, a training that they were doing in Yakima, which kind of triggered all of the sexual abuse and assault and harassment that Suzanne experienced when she was in Iraq the first time.

DAVID: A sergeant raped a specialist?
SARA: Yeah, a male sergeant raped a male specialist on a training expedition a couple weeks before they were to be redeployed to Iraq.

To recap some of the events of Sunday, from "Iraq coverage for today through last Monday" (Third Estate Sunday Review):

The Associated Press reports that Cyrus Kar ("aspiring Iranian American filmmaker who spent nearly two months in a prison in Iraq without being charged ") has filed suit against US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others and is being represented by the ACLU.
In Baghdad, home of the "crackdown," at least forty people are dead after, Reuters reports, "gumen went on a rampage." In Karbala, the AP reports, "an Iraqi intelligence officer" "was gunned down after his car was intercepted"; a police officer was gunned down in Baghdad; and a police officer was gunned down in Kirkuk. Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad ("near two Sunni mosques" that killed at least five people and left nine wounded while "[a] mortar attacked" that resulted in at least three deaths and thirty wounded.
The AFP is reporting that Sunni MP Taiseer al-Mashhadani captors (al-Mashhadani was kidnapped the last Saturday in June) have released two of her seven bodyguards and added to their demands (which include immediate withdrawal of all troops) a list of 25 prisoners held in American prisons that they want released.
This as the Associated Press reports that US authorities want to exhume the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza, the young female (some reports pegged her age at fourteen-years-old) who was allegedly raped and murdered by US military forces. To date only Steven D. Green has been charged in the alleged crimes but the AP notes an unnamed "U.S. official" who states that "several more soldiers will soon be charged."In related news, Reuters reports that a soon to be released report into allegations that US forces killed 24 innocent civilians and then attempted to cover up the crime will, quoting an unnamed offical, predicting: "The Marines will go through their day of pain."

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 Sunday, the US troop fatality count stood at 2536. Tonight? 2544. Why? Because the war drags on. Because people want to avoid dealing with reality. Which brings us to Brenda's highlight, Stephen Zunes' "Democrats Vs. The Peace Movement?" (Foreign Policy In Focus via Common Dreams):

The U.S. Congress failed in recent weeks to take even symbolic steps to encourage a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, even though the majority of Americans support an end to the war. Many anti-war advocates are hoping that the mid-term U.S. elections in November will push Congress into Democratic hands and thereby increase the chances of ending the war. Don't hold your breath.
The Democratic leadership of both the House and Senate supports continued funding of the Iraq war and has been reluctant to force the Bush administration to set even a tentative deadline for the withdrawal of American troops. Indeed, the Democrats—who controlled the Senate in 2002--share responsibility with the Republicans for creating the tragic conflict in Iraq by voting to authorize the invasion in the first place. The majority of Democratic senators as well as the Democratic leadership of both houses gave President George W. Bush free rein to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his choosing in direct violation of the United Nations Charter, which the United States is legally obliged to uphold. These pro-war Democrats teamed up with the Bush administration to mislead the American public by making a series of false claims regarding the ongoing presence of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs) in Iraq and the "threat" supposedly posed by that government.
Just as a solid majority of Congress members blindly supported the Bush administration's lies about WMDs, they now blindly support the Bush administration's argument that the United States must continue prosecuting a counter-insurgency war that has taken the lives of more than 2,500 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis, primarily civilians.
As a result, Congress will not likely stop the war--unless the anti-war movement forces it to do so.

You think Congress feels any pressure when we're not focused on the war?

It's a question worth asking at any time. But especially when there's an e-mail from a visitor wanting to share her opinion. She's replying to Ruth's report (part two, not part one) that went up yesterday. Apparently she missed it when Ruth wrote the following: "If there were members who found the coverage useful, e-mail me and I will note it in my next report." Key word in that sentence is "members." The visitor also wants to respond to a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review. The public address to this site isn't for The Third Estate Sunday Review. The visitor writes that she reads the Denver Post and she's only getting one story a day about the election in Mexico. We're not commenting on the Denver Post.

We're not even, really, commenting on the mainstream media. And Ruth, or those of us participating in that feature for The Third Estate Sunday Review, weren't talking about one story. We were talking about saturation coverage. First off Mexico isn't the only place that had elections that are apparently fraudulent. No one seems too interested in Macedonia. There was an interest, on the part of some, that this community (not just those sharing to Ruth or those working on the feature, but the entire community) felt was trashing the Zapatistas. That movement is not an "election cycle movement." It's not a two year movement, or a four year movement. It's a long term movement.

The woman feels she's somehow imparting information when she writes "over forty million people participated in that election." And? I believe the population of Mexico is somewhere around 106 million. What's your point?

If Mexicans want to draw attention to the problems in their election cycle, it's a story. I don't think we've seen a story yet. I think we've heard a lot of whining. I think we've heard a lot of slamming.

The woman writes that 100,000 people protested Sunday in Mexico. Only 100,000? Again, we're talking about population that's around 106 million. A Sunday protest? Of an election that just took place? I'm not seeing outrage in that tiny figure. [Added: Billie saw something at Danny's News Dissector site linking to Wayne Madsen where he refutes the 100,000 count and says it was greater. He's addressing an AP report and before the visitor writes back, no, she didn't say she got the 100,000 figure from AP.]

Was the election stolen? It probably was and anyone familiar with the history of Mexico isn't surprised it was stolen.

But that story needs to come from Mexico. It needs to come from something more than a bunch of pouty American males. We do have members in Mexico. Whenever we're dealing with members from outside the United States (most members are in the States) or with members in the States from another country, they're feelings and opinions get the priority. That's true if it's Ireland, if it's Australia, Germany, France, Canada, Spain or England. (We have four other members from outside the States in countries other than those listed.) There are many times when every form of media hops on a foreign story and it's not a story to members from those countries so we don't rush in here and add to hot air.

Members in Mexico and from Mexico were quite vocal about the thrust of the coverage which struck them as insulting (which they saw as: "They don't get what happened!" -- translation, even though they're quite aware of their country's history with regards to election, they must be stupid) and coming from outside the people. Before the vote, there had already been complaints about the coverage.

If details emerge (as I'm sure they will), it's a story. A bunch of men (predominately White reporters and elites) whining about the election doesn't really interest this community. There wasn't a Greg Palast among them. (Palast is covering the issue, for those interested -- in something more than hot air and trash Zapatista talk.) You also weren't hearing from the Mexican people (which may have been the thing that most insulted members from and in Mexico).

There was a feeling that they were being told how they should respond as opposed to their response being covered. It's an issue of top-down or bottom-up and, in this community, we're not interested in that top-down coverage. With regards to Iraq, this community has one consistent call: Where are the Iraqis in the coverage.

Now Iraq is a war zone. Mexico's not. There's no reason the people of Mexico can't be heard from. But from everything I've read in e-mails and everything I've heard from friends, the people of Mexico aren't as enraged as a journalist from the United States.

Regardless of where a member was from, the attempts to scapegoat the Zapatistas didn't go over well. We're so sorry that someone's "not really happy with them" but they're goals aren't really about one election cycle. They've got long rage goals. They chose not to engage in this election for a reason and that reason goes to the heart of why the "big" protest could only round up 100,000 for a Sunday protest. (A Sunday protest.)

Does the theft of an election matter? Absolutely. And reporting on that is important. (Regardless of where the election takes place.) A bunch of chat & chewing over how offended you are by the results -- especially when it's not your country -- doesn't engage this community.

And the saturation coverage meant others didn't get covered. That includes Gaza, that includes any number of details and events. More and more, Iraq is becoming this community's primary focus. (Which is why, when I write about reproductive freedom or any issue other than Iraq or Guantanamo, I carry it over to the gina & krista round-robin or Polly's Brew.)

In the time spent providing space to gas bags (not Greg Palasts, not any investigative journalism was done on the elections by the gas bags), we lost out on Iraq coverage. (Mike covered that very well in today's Polly Brew with his column "War as an After Thought" -- based on the speech he gave Friday.) The mainstream media either ignores Ramadi or they send in the Dexy Filkins Happy Talk Brigade. So we didn't hear about Ramadi.

More importantly, this community is appalled that the news (actual NEWS) that the US government is keeping a body count on Iraqi civilians, despite three years of denials/lies, did not get intense coverage. Nancy A. Youssef broke that story two Mondays ago. We didn't hear about that. We didn't read about it. (Aaron Glantz is one of the few exceptions.)

There was also a fast going on (still on going) and we didn't get much coverage of that. Then there's the issue of Ehren Watada being charged. Those are important stories. So is the death of IPS' Alaa Hassan which hasn't been noted much.

When they're not covered or they're covered in a rushed manner as though there's something so much more important to cover, members are offended.

The war drags on. The US administration lied us into illegal war. It's going to continue to drag on until it's treated seriously. We're at the point where the people in this country are waking up to the reality. We don't have time to check out on the issue of the illegal war for a week. Or, in some cases, two weeks. That's what members are responding to. The flavor of the week story that pushes Iraq off the radar, week after week.

They're offended that the so-called peace plan, or peace scam, was accepted as reality by so many. There are serious issues to address but there seems to be some rush to grab the flavor of the week and dispense with reality. We don't do that here.

We also don't print responses from visitor. It's an interesting e-mail. Send it into the Denver Post and maybe they'll print it. But we are a community for members and that's where our loyalties lie.

Returning to members, Cassie notes Dahr Jamail's "Packing It In" (Truth Out):

Surprise, surprise. In an interview with John King from CNN last Thursday, Dick Cheney said that withdrawing US forces from Iraq would be the "worst possible thing we could do."
Doing his best to stoke the always simmering fears of so many US residents (let us be careful how we use the word "citizen"), Cheney said of the terrorist groups in Iraq, "If we pull out, they'll follow us."
Because according to Cheney, "This is a global conflict. We've seen them attack in London and Madrid and Casablanca and Istanbul and Mombasa and East Africa. They've been, on a global basis, involved in this conflict. And it will continue - whether we complete the job or not in Iraq - only it'll get worse. Iraq will become a safe haven for terrorists. They'll use it in order to launch attacks against our friends and allies in that part of the world."
Lovely to watch how people like Cheney, and the minions who support his ilk, conveniently forget that there was no terrorism in Iraq prior to the US invasion/occupation. And one must love his "logic." For according to Cheney, "whether we complete the job or not in Iraq" his beloved "terrorism" will "continue" ... "only it'll get worse."
Then why stay in Iraq, Dick?
Because when Dick said, "only it'll get worse," if he'd been referring to the situation on the ground in Iraq, he'd have been 100% accurate.
For starters, things for the US military continue to disintegrate. With raping and pillaging being carried out by soldiers who have long since surrendered the war for "hearts and minds," other lesser reported developments underscore the trajectory of the military in Iraq.
According to the Arabic al-Sharqiyah Television channel, on July 6th : "Gunmen shot down two US Apaches in al-Zur village, north of al-Miqdadiyah in Diyala Governorate, northeast of Baghdad. Security sources and local residents said that both gunships were seen crashing in one of the village's farms, and reported that a US APC carrying 15 US soldiers was destroyed in clashes that raged in the cities and villages located north of al-Miqdadiyah. The US Army is yet to comment on the incident, which comes at a time when US and Iraqi forces are besieging areas north of al-Miqdadiyah, including al-Zur village."

See, what Dahr's writing about, that's what we're up against day after day, an administration that pushes happy talk and pushes lies and taking a week or two off and treating Iraq as an "after thought" isn't something we endorse or are pleased with. Whether you are opposed to this war (as this community is) or whether you support it, you should realize the importance of it. I think we saw more intense coverage (not accurate) with the Grenada invasion than we do with the war in Iraq.

This isn't an endorsement of some on the right, but the ones who are still pushing the war, they believe. They're willing to put it front and center. Give them credit for realizing that the US is at war. Not in a so-called war on terror but there's an actual battle in Iraq. Does it matter to the left?

Does it matter as much to the left as it does to the right? From the coverage, I'm not seeing that it does. The flavor of the week wouldn't be so insulting if people had ever acknowledged the fact that the US was keeping body counts or if Ehren Watada had gotten the coverage he deserved last week (when he was charaged) or the week before. If you want the war end, you've got to want it. You can't be "Oh, yeah, I hope it ends" and expect that it will.

The US is at war in Iraq. If you believe in the war, you should be paying attention. If you believe that the war is illegal and that it's immoral and that it needs to end, you need to be doing your part to make the issue one we talk about as something more than, "Oh by the way . . ."

The people have turned against the war, there's no returning to a wave of support for it. That doesn't happen when the polls consistently demonstrate the turn. That's not human nature. So now that the country is against the war, the issue is when does the US leave?

It's not leaving while we sit around obsessing over an election in another country (one that the people of that country haven't yet appeared to be obsessing over). Afghanistan is another war that's ongoing although the British are more involved in that than the United States. (And Gareth writes about it for Polly's Brew each week.) It wasn't one day's news cycle that Iraq was buried in. It was a week and, some would argue, it was two weeks. I'm not in the mood to play, the community's not in the mood to play.

Cindy Sheehan's not playing, CODEPINK's not playing. Molly notes Sheehan's "Troops Home Fast: Day 6" (Common Dreams):

I have also received so many emails from worried, wonderful, and well-meaning friends and supporters in the US who are concerned about me and all of the others who are fasting. I don't like being on this fast, trust me, but 3 Marines were killed in Iraq today---3 unsuspecting families are about to head into a tailspin of senseless grief and we won't ever get an accurate count of the Iraqis who were killed today. It is going to be 112 degrees in Baghdad tomorrow. The occupiers and the occupied are suffering terribly.
It is important to keep our focus on saving the people of Iraq and our soldiers.
It is important to keep our focus on ending the war crime in Iraq.
Troops Home Fast is a moral response to an immoral act. We can, and must be, morally strong so we can feast on the day that the last troop is brought home from the war crime in Iraq.

For information on Diane Wilson who is participating in the strike, click here.
Pru gets the final highlight, Simon Assaf "US troops refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Tim Richard and Carl Webb, two war resisters, spoke to Simon Assaf about why there is a growing revolt against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars inside the US army
Some object morally to the war, some politically, others have already completed tours of duty and were revolted by their experiences as an occupying army.
US military deserters have many reasons to refuse to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. They are joining a growing army of soldiers who prefer to go to jail or face exile rather than fight in a war they oppose.
About 20 US war resisters have applied for refugee status in Canada. But seeking refuge in a country that is itself getting sucked into the quagmire that is Afghanistan -- there are 2,300 Canadian troops already there -- is becoming increasingly difficult.
Canadian authorities have already rejected requests for asylum.
Despite this, for 23 year old Tim Richard the route to Canada was still the best option and a risk worth taking.
Tim comes from the mid-western state of Iowa and joined the Army National Guard when he was 17. He served six years as a part time soldier, and his period of service was coming to an end in ­November 2005.
He opposed the invasion of Iraq but, like many other part time soldiers, he became a victim of a process known as stop-loss, a presidential order brought in during the first Gulf War of 1990-1.
The rule was designed to beef up the number of available troops by extending the period during which reservists can be called up. More than 10,000 soldiers are currently covered by the law. Reservists make up around 40 percent of troops in Iraq.
For Tim Richard, stop-loss meant extending the period he could be sent to war past 2005, when his term of service was due to end, to 2031 -- a life sentence for someone who joined out of high school expecting to be called on in national emergencies, such as fighting forest fires or floods.
In October 2005, he got the call he dreaded. A letter landed on his doorstep informing him that he was obliged to serve for 608 days. His National Guard unit was ordered to Camp Shelby in Mississippi for special training before being shipped out to Iraq.
"I was morally against the war," he told Socialist Worker from his refuge in Canada. "So I decided to go my superiors and explain why I did not want to go, and why I considered the invasion of Iraq to be immoral."
He inquired about applying for conscientious objector (CO) status, but found that he did not qualify as he was not opposed to all wars, just to the occupation of Iraq. "I was informed that even if I did apply for CO it would take 18 months to be processed, and by then I would have been shipped out," he said.
It is estimated that up to 15,000 US ­soldiers have gone absent without leave (AWOL) since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Around 400 of them have fled to Canada, following the route taken by soldiers opposed to the Vietnam War a generation earlier.
Tim discovered there were others in his unit who were unhappy about the war, but going AWOL was a taboo subject that was never discussed.
"It was during a 'cultural sensitivity programme' that I began to have serious doubts about participating in the war on any level," he said. "There we were learning how to be 'culturally sensitive' when searching an Iraqi’s house, and I'm thinking, 'These guys have every right to resist us, because they’re defending their families and their country'."
The reality of being part of an occupying army sunk in during one training programme:
"They put us through this exercise where we had to search a mock Iraqi village. They hired around 75 Arabic speakers to act as villagers. During the exercise I opened fire on two of the --villagers. If the situation had been real I would have killed them.
"I began to fear what would happen to me if I was in Iraq. How could I live with the thought that I could just open fire like that?
"That night I decided the best thing to do was to break out of the camp and get out of the country. But I was beset by guilt and doubts about abandoning my friends -- guys who were also unhappy about the war. I also felt guilty about leaving the military, which for the past six years I had proudly served in.
"My only options were to go to Iraq and take part in an immoral war, or to go on the run and risk jail. But in the end I resolved that to desert was the best thing I could do. At the end of the day this option was also available to other soldiers."
Escape was not easy. The soldiers were constantly monitored and always carried their weapons. "Camp Shelby was like a prison, and because we always had to carry our rifles, I realised that I could not just dump it and run -- that would be irresponsible.
"I resolved to flee at the first available opportunity and even talked to some of my friends to see if they would join me, as they too were opposed to the war. But I was alone."
Tim's opportunity came on the eve of deployment.
"We were given an afternoon off to go a Wal-Mart store in town to pick up some personal items before shipping out," he said. "We were allowed to wear civilian clothes, so the chance I was waiting for had finally come round.
"I slipped away from the main group and hailed a cab to the New Orleans ­airport. I was very paranoid. I phoned my mother and told her to withdraw all my money from my bank, then I destroyed all my military identification.
"I ripped up my military ID and dumped the pieces in different trash cans, then I did the same to my dogtags.
"I booked a flight to Seattle and then rented a car to get across the Canadian border. Despite my fears, the border guards waved me through. When in Canada I contacted the War Resister Support Campaign, which stepped up to help me."
Tim Richard, whose father is Canadian, can apply for citizenship but opposing the war means he can never return to his home.
"But other resisters face a tough time, as they can expect to be deported back and dumped in military jail," he said. "In the US, desertion in a time of war still carries a maximum sentence of death. That is a gamble no one should have to take."
Despite this, some of those refusing to fight have remained in the US. Carl Webb is a 40 year old member of the Texas Army National Guard and an army veteran.
He had a few months left of his service when he was called up for duty in August 2004 under the stop-loss programme. He refused to be mobilised and has openly defied the army by touring the US agitating against the war.
In August 2005 Webb faced another tragedy when he lost his family home in Hurricane Katrina. Katrina confirmed everything Carl Webb felt was wrong with the invasion of Iraq and the priorities of the Bush administration.
He told Socialist Worker, "We heard that while the Louisiana National Guard were stuck in Iraq, military recruiters were descending on the shelters trying to sign up people made homeless by the hurricane.
"I went down to look for my folks -- whom I eventually found alive and well -- but I was also hoping I would be arrested doing what the National Guard should have being doing if they weren't in Iraq -- helping the victims of Katrina."
Classified as a deserter, Carl Webb is still waiting for the knock on his door. "I don't want to have to face a court martial -- but I consider it my duty to encourage others in the military who oppose this war to take a stand," he said.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
'Vietnam veterans are angry again'
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There are other stories and there will always be other stories worthy of coverage but when a nation is at war, the coverage needs to remember that, especially when an administration acts as if that's not the case. A very good friend is signed up for e-mails with every every ecology/environment organization she's aware of. She jokes about those "Save the Country/World in Five Minutes by Signing This Petition and/or Sending an E-mail to Your Reps" e-mails that come in "forty or so a day." If she doesn't check her account that day and has one of those "24 hours to save the globe" e-mails, she jokes that she pulls back the curtains to check things out because she missed the deadline. The point of that isn't that the environment isn't an important issue (it's a very important issue) -- the point is that we need to stop treating issues like the war as though because we've signed an online petition or sent out an already prepared e-mail, we've suddenly done our part. We need to get serious.

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