Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Other Items

Today, Natalie Storey (The New Mexican) reports on Steve Martinez who decided to self-check out of the US military. Martinez is not a war resister, he decided to check out five months ago because he wanted to see his newborn daughter. Why are we noting it? Paul von Zeilbaur pushed a laughable assertion, remember to reassure everyone that the only one who ever checks out is someone who has PTSD, and this is one of many examples that proves how filled with lies that nonsense was. [See "NYT: 'Nothing to worry about, think of something else!'."]

Storey notes that the numbers of self-check outs have surged in 2005 and 2006. She also writes:

A soldier becomes a deserter when he or she is absent from duty for 30 consecutive days. In 2006, 3,300 soldiers deserted -- up from 2,700 in 2005. Those numbers equal about 1 percent of the total Army force of 507,000 soldiers, while during the Vietnam War, 3.4 percent of soldiers deserted. A Pentagon estimate put the total number of desertions since 2003, when the war in Iraq started, at 8,000.

That first sentence is incorrect and the press needs to stop repeating it. 30 days is not written into law. It is a guideline (the Stars and Stripes has been much better about explaining this than many press outlets -- Mark St. Clair especially). More importantly, with Agustin Aguayo self-check out time spanning September 2nd through September 26th and his being charged with (and convicted of) desertion, it's really time to toss that nonsense of "30 days equals desertion" in the trash can.

To repeat, Martinez self-checked out for reasons that had nothing to do with PTSD nor with opposition to the illegal war. PvZ ran with a myth as truth and ignored actual war resisters. It wasn't reality.

Turning to the New York Times, we'll note this from Alissa J. Rubin's "Frustration Over Wall Unites Sunni and Shiite:"

The unexpected outcry about the proposed construction of a wall around a Sunni Arab neighborhood has revealed the depths of Iraqi frustration with the petty humiliations created by the new security plan intended to protect them.
American and some Iraqi officials were clearly taken aback by the ferocity of the opposition to the wall, and on Monday the United States was showing signs of backing away from the plan. The strong reaction underscores the sense of powerlessness Iraqis feel in the face of the American military, whose presence is all the more pervasive as an increasing number of troops move on to the city’s streets.
And it has proved to be an unlikely boon for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, making the Shiite politician -- at least for now -- into a champion for Sunnis because he publicly opposed the wall’s construction.

Also in the paper, Edward Wong's "In Twist of History, Kurds Patrol Baghdad" presents a less rosy picture than the intro may tell you. Kurds are now patrolling Baghdad and it's rah-rah-rah until the Kurds start speaking.

*"God sent Muhammad as a prophet to these people and he couldn't solve their problems," Captain Hamasala said. "How are we supposed to help them?"

That kicks off the dish session.

*"I'm proud of being an officer in an army that just years ago was killing my people and torturing my family," said Lt. Karwan Abdul Hadi as he led a night patrol on a hunt for a supsected Shiite militant. "It's very important to make the point that we're not like the Arabs. We don't look for revenge. We don't have a black heart."

Just a catty nature and tendency to stereotype?

*"The Americans are our friends in Iraq, not the Arabs," Capain Hamasala said as he and 10 other Kurds left the base one night with an American foot patrol.

If you read those statements and don't see tensions (not hidden, they're right there on the surface) simmering, say hello to all the other inhabitants of Sunnybrook Farm. Violence is already increasing in the north and these displayed attitudes won't decrease that.

Michael R. Godon's "U.S. Command Shortens Life Of 'Long War' As a Reference" delivers the retirement notice on the phrase "long war." Who will write War Pornographer Gordo's retirement announcement? And can they write it soon? Near the end of his offensive jaw boning (read it and note how long it takes him to note how offensive some terms are) Gordo offers that "allies" welcome the change and even mentions the British for no real reason. If you're bringing up the British in a story on terminology, a real reporter might note the rejection/repudiation of "war on terror."

Also from the Times, Margaret notes Neela Banerjee's "Use of Wiccan Symbol on Veterans' Headstones Is Approved:"

To settle a lawsuit, the Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to add the Wiccan pentacle to a list of approved religious symbols that it will engrave on veterans' headstones.
The settlement, which was reached on Friday, was announced on Monday by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which represented the plaintiffs in the case.
Though it has many forms, Wicca is a type of pre-Christian belief that reveres nature and its cycles. Its symbol is the pentacle, a five-pointed star, inside a circle.
Until now, the Veterans Affairs department had approved 38 symbols to indicate the faith of deceased service members on memorials. It normally takes a few months for a petition by a faith group to win the department’s approval, but the effort on behalf of the Wiccan symbol took about 10 years and a lawsuit, said Richard B. Katskee, assistant legal director for Americans United.

And if you listen to Democracy Now! today, you will hear a woman who couldn't weigh in on abortion last week, a woman who (as editor & publisher) publishes four men for every one woman, make a point to list magazines while asking you to take on the postal department. Is it a surprise that the woman makes a point to avoid noting Ms.? From the Feminist Majority:

The future of independent magazines like Ms., Mother Jones, The Nation, etc. is at risk with a massive new postage hike! The U.S. Postal Service has accepted a Time Warner proposal that would significantly increase postage rates for smaller magazines, while reducing costs for the nation's largest publishers like Hearst and, you guessed it, Time Warner.
Ms. is working with Free Press, a national non-partisan organization working to reform media, and the Media Consortium, including Mother Jones, The Nation, American Prospect, The Progressive, In These Times, and other independent media to send a massive number of letters protesting this unfair postage hike. But we must act now - we only have until April 23 to respond!Please take a minute now to cosign a letter demanding that the rules are changed.Time Warner's plan was chosen - with no public input - instead of another proposal that would have imposed a mostly equal increase (approx. 12 percent) for all magazine publishers. If implemented, the Time Warner plan could force many smaller publications out of business.This proposal unfairly hurts smaller, cutting-edge publications like Ms., at a time when we need independent media more than ever. You can count on Ms. magazine, not "big corporate media," for the real story on the issues affecting women in the U.S. and worldwide.Don't let Time Warner and the corporate media win - please cosign a letter demanding that Congress step in to stop the unfair postage hike and save independent media!
For A Strong Feminist Media,
Katherine Spillar
Executive Editor
Eleanor Smeal

Publisher P.S. If you are not already a member of the Ms. Community, join today and get a year of Ms. delivered to your door.

Now, it's no loss for The Nation. The country doesn't need a 'progressive' magazine that, in 2007, thinks 'progress' is running one female writer for every four males. And certainly, you can find the bulk of information the one-time-left magazine now offers just by stopping off at any DNC party headquarters and requesting pamphlets.

But whether it's Ms., The Progressive, Mother Jones, Harper's, Off Our Backs or you name it, I'm sure there's at least one magazine that most members can cite. You may be like Elaine who purchases them instead of subscribing. If that's the case, great. But take a minute to remember other members of the community. Some members don't have the option of dashing into a store for Ms. or Harper's. The Progressive isn't found, for instance, at a rural gas station and we do have members who live in towns with nothing else.

Those who watch Democracy Now! on satellite have already complained and Marcia was one of the first. (The first of over 221.) Marcia wanted this noted, "I'm a woman today, I'm a woman tomorrow. I don't have a lot of respect for women who sell out their own gender and try to stand apart from other women. I also think every woman needs to start calling out Katrina vanden Heuvel until she explains why she finds it acceptable to print 4.14 men for every 1 woman." 4.14 is the current percentage. Sometimes it goes higher, sometimes it dips lower. But the average is -- for every 2007 issue through the month of April, four months of the 'weekly' magazine -- they have published 4 men for every women.

As of the April 30, 2007 issue, The Nation has published 132 more males than females -- 42 women have received bylines, 174 men have. This is followed at The Third Estate Sunday Review beginning with the January 1, 2007 issue of The Nation due to the fact that this isn't a problem that began in 2007. In the summer of 2006, a group of friends (all women, some established, some emerging writers) made a point to complain about this. It was too late to do a total then but we agreed that it would be tracked at The Third Estate Sunday Review and it will continue to be tracked. At this point, just for women to pull even, the next issue would have to feature the bylines of 132 women.

Let's repeat that, just for women to pull even, the next issue of The Nation would have to feature the bylines of 132 women.

That's shameful.

A few e-mails see the postal hike as having a plus -- The Nation might go. As offensive (and timid) as the magazine has become, remember that other publications will suffer so please take action. Again, it may not effect you. You may be someone like Elaine who enjoys purchasing publications and that's great. But there are community members who subscribe and who, were it not for the postal system, would have no access to magazines such as Off Our Backs, Harper's, Ms., The Progressive, Mother Jones, LeftTurn and others. So remember this does effect many just in terms of what would show in their mailboxes and it does effect the media landscape. Not all independent media on the left exists solely to elect Democrats. A divisive figure was selected by Democracy Now! to address the issue. That was a mistake. (And the presentation was badly bungled by the guest.)

But this not only prevents a member in rural Alabama from having access to a publication because she can't afford a rate hike and the magazine can't. The rate hike would most likely be passed on to subscribers -- increasing the cost of subscriptions. Increased subscription rates often mean less subscribers. That could translate into the folding of some magazines, others changing their publishing schedules and others reducing their page count. (Independent magazines have already taken a hit with the closing of Tower Records -- both in terms of losing a national outlet and in terms of monies owed for issues sold.)

The closing of Clamor created a huge hole in the independent media landscape. The magazine, one of the few national ones, that didn't think the sun rose and sat on NYC (The Progressive is out of Madison, Wisconsin, to provide another example), gave voice to real issues, real concerns and didn't patronize young people. Students weren't forgotten and then insulted when circulation concerns put the 'old folks' wise. Clamor made a real difference. Some do not. Some just offer gushings on elected Democrats and waste all of our time.

But, from past e-mails, I think it's safe to say that pretty much every member of this community has a favorite magazine. To keep that magazine alive and available, please take part.

There's also the issue of recorded music. Susan noted this from The Free Press that combines them both:

Rescue Internet Radio Campaign and Paper Magazines
Wet Machine, April 17, 2007
By Harold FeldMy friends at Free Press have put together a campaign to fight the threat to internet radio. you can find out how to take action at their website here.
Meanwhile, going from newest technology to oldest, Free Press co-founder and media scholar/activist Bob McChesney has sounded the alarm on an increase in postal rates that will hit small magazines much harder than big ones. The deadline for comments in this proceeding is April 23.
The Internet is wonderful, but does not eliminate our need for independent magazines and other "old tech" news and diversity of views. So while I hope that folks will sign the internet radio petition, I really want to urge everyone to sign on to the postal rates campaign as well.Stay tuned ...
This article is from Wet Machine. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their Web site and register an account, if necessary, to view all their articles on the Web. Support quality journalism.

On KPFA's The Morning Show, Aileen Alfandary has noted that Dennis Kucinich is set to introduce impeachment charges against Dick Cheney this morning.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[Let me add, in case visitors get the wrong idea, Elaine's not commented on the postal issue. I mention Elaine because we've been friends for years and it's been noted at her site and in round tables that she enjoys buying as opposed to subscribing and why.]
[Jess note: Per C.I., Natalie Storey article linked fixed.]