Saturday, August 05, 2006

Law and Disorder, Three Cool Old Guys, Iraq

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, August 4, 2006 and one of the locations is only a surprise to those not paying attention to yesterday's (US) Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. There was a key section that was
apparently missed by several. Mosul's one of today's hot spots so let's draw back to this exchange from yesterday's hearing:
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
transcript of this (Congressional Quarterly) can be found at the Washington Post. For audio of the above (most), check out Leigh Ann Caldwell's report which aired on Thursday's The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News.
Mosul? That's where the 172nd Stryker Brigade (scheduled to be back home before their year deployment got four additional months added to is) was pulled from, Abizaid testified.
Reuters is reporting: "Heavily armed insurgents battled U.S. and Iraqi troops in the restive northern city of Mosul on Friday where at least four policemen, including a top officer and four militants were reported killed."
That is the "strategy" (being generous) and it's the very point McCain was making yesterday. (McCain generally uses that type of observation to support adding more troops to the slaughter, I believe the troops themselves add to the conflict.) The exchange was not heavily stressed in most reporting but McCain was outlining what currently passes for "strategy" in Iraq -- a "strategy" that once again (always) blew up in the military geniuses' (and the administration's) faces.
BBC notes that the US announced last week the withdrawal of 5,000 troops "to re-deploy them in the capital, Baghdad". AP places the figure at 3,500. China's Xinhua notes that "Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Reuters reports that, in Mosul, "authorities have ordered everyone off the streets until Saturday and closed the city's bridges across the Tigris river."
AFP notes that, today, "Mosul woke to a dawn blitz of six bombs and a hail of mortars which killed at least nine police officers and triggered a six-hour gunbattle in which an unknown number of insurgents were killed." One bomb, Reuters notes, resulted in the deaths of "police Colonel Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards". The Times of London estimates that, in Mosul alone, 24 people died today from car bombs of various kind.
AFP reports a man was shot dead in Amara. The Associated Press reports that two police officers were shot dead in Falluja and describes one of the incidents: "armed men attacked several government buildings and police patrols in central Fallujah at about 8:30 s.m. (0430 GMT), leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded".
AFP notes that a couple enroute to a hospital in Baquba for the impending birth of their child were killed by a roadside bomb (cab driver and mother-to-be's sister were wounded) and that, in Baghdad, a civilian was killed by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol. Reuters reports that a bombing in Hadhar, during a football game, resulted in 10 dead and 12 wounded. A police officer described the attack ("suicide car bomber") to the AFP: "He drove into the police guarding the pitch, and blew up." KUNA notes of the attack on the football game: "the football field was for the use of Hadhar policemen and police department staff only."
CBS and AP notes one corpse was discovered (in the country). AFP notes the interior ministry declared twelve corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes that six corpses were found in Kut with "four of them decapitated".
In court news,
prosecutor/Captain Joseph Mackey delivered his closing argument in the Article 32 hearing of Corey Clagett, William Hunsaker, Raymond Girouard and Juston Graber, who stand accused in the May 9th deaths of three Iraqis. Mackey argued that the three Iraqis were not killed while trying to escape but had, instead, been released by the four US troops and then killed by them, "For this they are not war heroes, they are war criminals. And justice states that they face trial." As Reuters notes, all four accused elected not to provide testimony to hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury).
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Eleanor Hall and Conor Duffy discussed the latest development's on The World Today (Australia's ABC) noting that "military standing orders" were not followed with the transportation of Jake Kovco's body (contractors with Kenyon International were used instead) and that, while the Australian government alleges this was for speed, Jake Kovco's roommates say it was due "to cost and they told the inquiry that they thought that if it had been a foreign dignitary or even a more senior officer, that military aircraft and US military morgue would have been used throughout the whole procedure."
For anyone arriving late to this story and wondering why Kovco's destination back to Australia matters, Kovco's body was somehow switched and the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic was sent to Australia while Kovco's body remained at the motuary.
AAP notes that Alastar Adams ("first secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kuwait") testified that "he had not checked the photo against the corpse of a Bosnian carpenter . . . he had taken a quick look . . . told the mortuary staff they could close the coffin and stamp it with the embassy's official seal."
AAP also notes the following which appears to back up Kovco's roommates' judgement: ". . . air force warrant officer Chris Hunter told the inquiry he believed the body mix-up could have been prevented if the civilian morgue had not been used. He said Pte Kovco's body was transferred from a professional and clean mortuary facility in Baghdad run by US troops to a rund-down morgue remsembling 'a third world country hospital'. WO Hunter stopped eight of PTE Kovco's soldier mates, who had accompanied the boday as a bearer party, from entering the morgue, fearing they might start a riot upon noticing its condition."
In court news in the United States, the
Justice Department is announcing that Faheem Mousa Salam "has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering to bribe an Iraqi police official" at the start of this year by offering "approximately $60,000 in exchange for . . . [help] facilitating the sale of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million." Though the Justice Department fails to note it, he was then employed by Titan Corporation.
In peace news, Phil Runkel is in "a federal courtroom in Alexandria" today facing "a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for his war protest last March"
reports Dennis Shook for Runkel and other peace activists (51 in total) were arrested March 20th in front of the Pentagon. Brian Huber (GM Today) notes that the activists were wanting to meet with Donald Rumsfeld and that some climbed or went "under a temporary fence that Runkel said was erected to stop them, resulting in their arrests."
Activists on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan --including Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden and Diane Wilson -- have arrived in Amman. Cindy Sheehan (Truth Out) reports: "The most horrifying testimony of the day was when we met with "Dr. Nada," an Iraqi doctor who stayed in Baghdad to help her people during the sanctions and the invasion. She didn't abandon her country, or sell it out like many privileged people who exited during the Baathist regime (like Iyad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi) or the sanctions ... which she, as a supervisory physician at a major Baghdad hospital, said killed two million children. The children died of pollution and sicknesses from depleted uranium during the first gulf mistake of George the First. The babies died because of the war, but also because there is no medicine and very limited medical facilities to treat them. Dr. Nada brought the daughter of a friend, three-year-old Farrah, who had short brown hair and big brown eyes. There were so many young children playing in Queen airport yesterday when I got here and dozens running around the hotel. My heart almost bursts with sorrow when I think of all of the children in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan who have had such horrible lives and had many of their lives cut short by the evil war machine that seems to be running our world."
Troops Home Fast continues ("We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war")
with at least
4,350 people participating from around the world on the 32nd day since the action began. Some are fasting long-term, some are grabbing a one-day, one-time fast, some are grabbing a one-day fast each week. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports that Ehren Watada will likely face an Article 32 hearing August 17th because Eric Seitz's pretrial offer of a "reprimand, fine and reduction of rank" has not yet been accepted. As noted before, this offer was twice refused. Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."

Okay, check your morning paper and see what made it in and what didn't. That's pretty much what you need to know minus some items that might have broken later. Dona woke me up this morning and apologized for that saying she figured I was already up or wouldn't have called. I usually am up early but I'd forgotten to set the alarm clock so no harm, no foul. But one thing she pointed out was that it took an hour and a half for the snapshot to hit The Common Ills site yesterday. (It's e-mailed in.) They were all meeting with different groups yesterday so it was an "on the fly" entry for C.I. grabbing a few minutes here, a few minutes there, and then hoping there was enough (there was) and sending it in. They were done and went back to C.I.'s and the first thing Jim's doing is checking to see if it hit. It didn't but a few minutes later it had. Point? If you read it when it hit or in the first half-hour after, "C.I. scooped Associated Press." That's how long it took AP to get a story together (or maybe notice) that the guy with Titan had pled guilty. So see, you get breaking news in those snapshots. I told Dona I'd mention that.

The main reason she was calling was to see how my discussion group on Iraq went last night and if we'd watched the film Sir! No! Sir! Not having the film, it would be difficult to watch it, I told her. She said it must have came late. I go to the front door, open it, and there's a package. I've written before about how C.I. has friends bring packages to me because anything that's shipped never seems to make it (or, if it does, looks like it's been stomped on, opened, stomped on again).
I'm glad Dona called because while I have good neighbors for the most part, this woman down the hall has her nephew visiting and he's always grabbing papers and flyers off doors.

Sir! No! Sir! is a great movie. When we were all out in California, we got to see it at a movie theater. It's out on DVD now and if you can watch it by yourself, I think you'll enjoy it but I think you'll enjoy it even more if you watch it with a group of friends. We're going to watch it next Friday in my discussion group (I've made a unilateral decision -- don't call me the Bully Boy). After that, I'll start loaning it out to friends at work and in church. I think I'll take it over to the nursing home before Friday because Three Cool Old Guys are really interested in seeing it. They can remember those days (during Vietnam) and they asked about it before I saw it (C.I. mentions the documentary all the time -- all the time -- at The Common Ills) and after I got back from California, they wanted to hear about. In fact, I may try to drop it off with them tonight. If I do that, I probably won't be able to watch it with them (or watch all of it) because we've got the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review to start tonight but besides watching things on their own time, they do have a Saturday night "movie night" at the nursing home and, thanks to Three Cool Old Guys, everyone there has heard of the film. Okay, I've decided, I'm dropping it off. I have to run to the hardware store later to get some things (my grandmother's sink's leaking) and I'll run by the nursing home and drop it off with them before I get started on my Saturday project. They're going to be so excited and, I'm guessing, they'll probably do a shout out to it or maybe a review in next Friday's gina & krista round-robin.

By the way, they're big celebrities now. This week, I took two co-workers with me to visit them because their columns in the round-robin get everyone at work talking. So Micis and Kendall wanted to meet them. I knew Three Cool Old Guys would love that. They get a lot of visitors now.

If you know my old site on blogdrive, you probably remember that it was Four Cool Old Guys and when my friend died I had some really strong words for his family. I don't regret what I wrote. It made some of them mad but, oh well. On the plus side, it's made the families of the three remaining a lot more aware and they visit now. They also visit because Gina and Krista added some of them to the round-robin mailing list. So they read that and it probably reminds them, "I haven't visited" but it also probably reminds them that Three Cool Old Guys aren't just sitting around going, "Remember when . . ." They're a part of this world today and they have thoughts on what's going on. One of their sons was visiting when I took Micia and Kendall by and made a point to say that what I wrote when it dropped from Four to Three really woke him up.

That's good because you shouldn't do that to your family, just dump them somewhere and forget them. Yes, they've got other people around but you're supposed to be there family. Thinking thirty minutes at Christmas and maybe a birthday card is keeping in touch is just crap.

Now that they're online, they're able to keep in touch with grandkids via e-mail and I know that meant a lot to them but I was also worried it might become "Well, I e-mailed! I don't need to go visit!" but that hasn't ended up the case. They've each got at least one grandchild that visits every week. They're so popular now that most Sundays, at least one of the three isn't there because he's having Sunday dinner (that's lunch after church) with his family.

You can see the difference too. They look younger now. They've got more energy.

I knew them because they go to my church and I started visiting because our pastor was talking about how we really had members who came to church and that might be it for them in terms of going out or being around people. My pastor and his wife paired some of us up with some people and I think I was lucky and blessed to have gotten paired up with them. I don't just consider those men friends, I consider them good friends. I feel really lucky to call them my friends.

I've got a lot to do today but I want to note Law and Disorder. Mike's noting it too. It airs on various stations but you can catch it online Mondays on WBAI at ten EST or after via the WBAI archives or you can listen at the show's website if it doesn't air in your area. The segment I'm writing about is from the Amnesty International meeting in Portland. There was a lot on the show but this was probably my favorite (after the segment we're going to talk about at The Third Estate Sunday Review). Dalia Hashad was interviewing various people who attended. You got to hear the thoughts of people like you and me.

There was a woman who has a brother serving in Iraq and she spoke of how if she wasn't doing something and he died over there she'd never be able to live with herself. That was pretty powerful. There was a man who spoke about how we needed to get the Republicans out of office and how, once the Democrats were in control of Congress, we needed to stay on their backs to make sure they did their job.

I think that was the thing I indentified most with. Listen, if you haven't, because you might identify with something else. But for me, that was the biggest. A year and a half ago -- I can tell you when, it was before I found The Common Ills, I would've had the idea, "Elect them and then we've done our part."

That's not the reality. You elect them and, even if it's someone who wants to the right thing, you then go to sleep, they're hearing from everyone else but you. How do they know what matters to you? The right-wing's very organized and if you're staying silent on something, but they're hearing the opposite view from the right-wing, they may think, "Oh well, I won't take a stand here because it's not what my constituents want."

Now that's with the good ones and I'd guess that there might be about 30 good ones in both houses combined. The rest of them? Bums. But they're our bums so we have to stay on them and make them remember that they're not there for big money, they're in office to represent "we the people."

They've done a really poor job of that, I think. The next few years, whether they get control of Congress or not, it's going to be put up or shut up for the Democratic Party. So listen and see if you don't hear some voices talking about how you feel. Also listen to the voices saying things you're not thinking about yet. I really love that show.

Carl does to and he e-mailed with a question and a comment. His question was why I didn't note it the week before last (or Mike or Ruth)? Ruth's Report is really focused on Iraq now. She loves the show and usually listens every week. But the show that aired the last Monday in July (week before last), I missed it. So did Ruth, so did Mike. We were all in Mexico because we'd gone there for a few days for Rebecca's wedding.

I got a heads up Friday morning before hand. Rebecca's someone I'm close to (I'm close to everyone but Rebecca and I probably keep in the most contact -- that's true even with her on her honeymoon). But the reason she gave me a heads up (and swore me to secrecy) was because I would have to ask for time off from work to go. She gave the same heads up to Betty. I thought everyone got it and we were all just putting together the edition and not talking about it. That wasn't the case. When we were down there, Betty let it slip but didn't know she was letting something slip. Rebecca ended up explaining that with so many staying with C.I. and knowing Elaine and C.I. would, and could, drop everything to be down there, she didn't worry about them. She did check with Wally's mother to make sure he didn't have anything big going on but didn't say why she was checking. Mike works part-time, and goes to college, but Rebecca knew his boss wouldn't have a problem with him leaving. (She also worried that too much heads up time for Elaine would mean Elaine would barely be there. She'd start looking at her patient schedule and trying to arrange it so she could do both -- see her patients and dart down to Mexico for the wedding.) So we were all down there. (Ruth had her grandchildren Eli, Tracy and Jayson with her.)

When everybody got back, we were all worn out. (What day did Rebecca get married? A few have asked that. It's in the round-robin. If you have to ask, you don't need to know. C.I. and Rebecca's mother-in-law both felt that wasn't anyone's business outside the community. We have enough lurkers and stalkers -- especially Rebecca.) I never did catch that episode. C.I. has caught it and we got a heads up to it. If I have time today (ha ha), I'll listen to it. But we missed it in real time.

Carl's comment was that Heidi Boghosian had done a great job the last few weeks as "anchor."
I agree with that. They've had recorded segments of talks, discussions, people on the street, etc. All four of the hosts, Hashad, Boghosian, Michael Smith and Michael Ratner, are attorneys and activists. It's summer and I bet some probably need some vacations as well. So instead of them four being together for the full hour, they've had segments and Boghosian has been the person introducing the segments. Carl wanted to be sure she got credit for that and I agree with him she deserves it. Law and Disorder is the show and if you haven't listened to it, try it out.

Last thing. Goeff Brady is the producer so while we're doing a shout out to Boghosian, we should probably give a shout out to him as well. (And they had Phil Ochs' song again. I love that song.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Iraq and global warming

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue on the ground in Iraq today, Thursday, August 3rd, Donald Rumsfeld speaks like an excited child, Bully Boy plots a getaway from a vacation getaway, and peace activists and members of Iraq's parliament prepare for their face to face meeting to address reality.
the peace activists that will be taking part in the Friday and Saturday meetings in Jordan are Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and Diane Wilson. Katy Hillenmeyer (Santa Rosa Press Democrat) takes a look at another activist making the journey, 72-year-old, retired nurse Barbara Briggs-Leston. Barbara Briggs-Leston explains the peace summit: "We're trying to call attention to the Iraqi's own plan, as opposed to the United States' plan. Let's let the Iraqis decide what happens to them. We've been deciding, and we've done an appalling job."
CODEPINK and Global Exchange are co-sponsoring the trip which stems from the attention the Troops Home Fast actions garnered "after 28 days of fasting." The fast is continuing: "We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war" and today at least 4,350 people are fasting around the world.
As some advocate for peace, others say more of the same. Such as
Donald Rumsfeld's latest remarks (reported by Kristin Roberts and Vicki Allen, Reuters):
"If we left Iraq prematurely as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave
Afghanistan. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us and all those who don't share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines. And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do." And . . . and . . . and . . . What might be cute in a five-year-old child just makes Rumsfeld appear he needs to call time for a pee break.
He certainly needs to learn how to make a non-circular argument but, at this late date, even the War Hawks find it difficult to call their weak excuses for US troops remaining in Iraq "logic."
His circular statements, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, come a day after he struggled to define what the meaning of "is" is in a Defense Department press conference. After noting that "Sunnis are killing Shia; Shia are killing Sunnis,"
Rumsfeld went on to muse, "Does that constitute a civil war? I guess you can decide for your yourself. And we can all go to the dictionary and decide what you want to call something. But it seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage.
It certainly isn't like our Civil War. It isn't like the civil war in a number of other countries. Is it a high level of sectarian violence? Yes, it is. And are people being killed? Yes."
It was all so far from reality, he came off like
Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president) claiming yesterday that by the end of this year (that would be four months from now), Iraq security forces will be in control of all 18 provinces. Rumsfeld's performance yesterday was refuted by the BBC report of William Patey (England's "outgoing ambassador in Baghdad) warning Tony Blair (poodle and prime minister) that civil war, not democracy, awaits Iraq. The BBC's Paul Wood characterized the document as "a devastating official assessment of the prospect for a peaceful Iraq, and stands in stark contrast to public rhetoric."
In the United States, John Abizaid (head of Centcom) testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee. Abizaid offered that "
the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it. And that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war" (CNN). Reuters notes that Abizaid stated that a year ago this time, he never would have predicted the possibility of a civil war.
Looking at the Patey memo,
Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of London) concludes "whatever happens, the vision set out for Iraq by George Bush before the invasion in 2003 of a beacon of democracy for the Middle East is not going to happen."
And in Iraq? The
BBC's Paul Wood probably best sums up life in Iraq post-invasion:
"An Iraqi man, Ahmed Muktar, told me a typical story of these times. His family fled sectarian violence in the suburb of Dora. But his brother-in-law returned to check on his house. He was kidnapped. The police, the hospitals, the morgues - none had any official record of the missing man. So his family went to the dumping ground for bodies on the edge of Dora. There they found him, amid a pile of 50 corpses, hands tied behind his back, shot in the head. They had to recover him while under constant automatic fire, the police and troops nearby too scared to help."
Reuters reports that a new US target is apparently the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr:"U.S. troops opened fir on a convoy carrying supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr . . . wounding at least 16 people." CNN notes a Wednesday home invasion that led to four dead in Wajihiya. Reuters notes that it was the home of a police officer (apparently not home) and the dead were three women and one man (not the police officer).
The worst known took place in Baghad.
AP reports that "at least 12 people" are dead and 29 wounded from a bomb "hidden in a parked motorcycle." The BBC notes that the explosion "set ablaze" surrounding shops.
Reuters reports two police officers wounded from a roadside bomb in Latifiya; three Iraqi soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb in Balad;
Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Samarra, one in Kut, one in Numaniya, and three in Dujail.

In Latifiya, two passengers of a car were injured and the car and driver "snatched" by assailants in an attack, Reuters reports, while, in Isahqi, a "food contractor for the Iraqi army" was kidnapped.
In legal news,
AFP reports that the "[f]our US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners refused to give evidence as a military hearing heard that one of the captives' brains were blown out as he lay injured." This is the May 9th incident in which US soldiers allegedly killed three Iraqis who had been detained and handcuffed. The AFP observes: "The troops followed the lead of several of their superior officers Thursday, invoking their right not to incriminate themselves before a legal panel set up at their unit's base camp in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit." The four accused who are refusing to testify are: William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber.
In Australia, the
most recent news from the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco is that Alastar Adams will give testimony from Kuwait, "via a video link," as to how the coffin shipped back to Australia supposedly containing the body of Jake Kovco instead contained the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic.
Some would argue Bully Boy ran from the National Guard -- some might agree he's running from Cindy Sheehan. The
AP reports that Bully Boy, the vacationing leader, will have far less than his usual weeks and weeks of summer vacation, and has instead reduced it to "nine days" based at his ranchette in Crawford. Bully Boy plans to return to DC August 13th. Camp Casey, on land Sheehan now owns in Crawford, will open on August 6th this month. Camp Casey will be open from August 6th through Septemeber 2nd. On the importance of Camp Casey, Sheehan writes: "Camp Casey in Crawford is more important than ever, now. Not only has this administration, with the eager approval of Congress, committed genocide on a massive scale, they are taking away our civil rights and our right to be heard and counted. We cannot allow these same leaders who accuse the peace movement of a political agenda to use our soldiers and the babies of Iraq as political game pieces in the folly of elections when there is so much overwhelming evidence that our elections have been compromised, and while election after election is stolen, no one does anything about it. It is up to us all, nobody else."

Cindy Sheehan's doing her part so I hope you are too. I'm trying to do my part. Are we getting anywhere? Did you read the snapshot? Looks like a tiny little sliver of truth got told to the Senate. How's that going to play tomorrow? When it's written up and printed in papers are reporters going to act like the head of Centcom saying what he said is no big deal?

On Free Speech Radio News tonight, they played some of the hearing and John McCain (I'm no fan) was making the point that everytime they pull troops for Baghdad, they're taking them out of somewhere, like Mosul. He was hitting hard on that and pointing out that troops were pulled from Falluja for Ramadi and now those troops are being pulled from for Baghdad and what I thought about when he was speaking was "That's just like the press." They go running here and there and drop every story in the process. You can really tell that with the Iraq coverage.

In my local paper, I'm lucky to get one story on Iraq a day. It's like the whole press forgot that there's a war on. Or that Iraq's going to hell.

Elaine talked about the snapshot but I got an e-mail on it so let me explain what she already did. There was a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin and some issues were raised in that (C.I. didn't participate in that roundtable) including the fact that the Iraq snapshot was important and, if the rest of us thought so, shouldn't we be noting it anytime we blogged?

The snapshot was supposed to be just a brief thing. A paragraph or two. The Operation Happy Talk blabs on and C.I. was getting sick of it. So the snapshot was there for some reality. The community was behind that snapshot and it grew and grew with less and less highlights on other topics. Now it's just focused on Iraq and before the war on Lebanon began or blew up, it was already important to the community. That's when the question was basically put out there how come we weren't noting it at our sites? If we supported it, we needed to be. Not just a link, but the whole thing.

The point was made that, yes, a lot of us have the same community members going site to site but what about those instances when someone stumbles upon one of our sites? If we believe in the snapshot, wouldn't we want them to see the reality?

So with it being put to us like that, if we're not doing a humor site, we really had no reason not to include it. It's more important than a lot of things I've linked to or quoted. So that's why we do it now.

Back to today's snapshot, how much is the peace movement making a difference? Bully Boy doesn't want to be in his beloved Crawford -- he doesn't seem to be able to be anywhere near Cindy Sheehan. Maybe his guilt makes him flee?

"Heat Wave Misery" (Free Speech Radio News)
The heatwave that killed over 150 people in California last week is now rolling through the Midwest and the East Coast, where another dozen people have died due to the heat and where electrical grids are struggling to remain on. Rebecca Myles has more from New York.

It is hot. It's hot all over the nation. You got people dying in Chicago, dying in California, dying in Texas. Dying just about everywhere. This is global warming and people can play like it's something else or call it "climate change," but this is serious. This is just the beginning. We could change our energy consumption methods tomorrow, start recycling tomorrow, make all these changes and it wouldn't have an immediate impact because these things take time.

That's not, "So forget about it!" That's saying, everyone needs to figure out something they can do. If you can't or won't take public transportation, think of one thing you can start doing this summer. Maybe it's just buy some plants. We need more plants. We need more trees. Plant a tree. It'll probably live longer than you and if everyone who could plant a tree would, that would help. It wouldn't cure. But we all need to be thinking about what we can do.

So don't sit there and think, "Oh, I can't do anything!" Think of one thing you can do and do it. Maybe in a few months, you'll be able to think of another. We all need to be trying and until we are doing that, we're just making the mess bigger.

We need everybody working on this. We need solutions bigger than we can manage as well. That means pressure on the government to start pouring money into this which will create jobs and will help the economy. This is as important to the next decades as any other project. Take, in the US, the roads project. That really changed the way Americans live and travel. (And helped us end up with this problem.) We need a big government project that will employ the people and spend money on something that's going to address this issue.

I wanted to talk about this and Mike was cool with it. It meant putting something else on hold that's important. But I really think that while we're seeing all the suffering from the record heat, we can really register what's going on around us. It will only get worse if we don't start dealing with it. Mike may have wanted to pick something else (we both are highlighting the headline from Free Speech Radio News) but I really pitched this because I think it's one more way we can reclaim our power. Not scream, "Save us!" We can do our part and we can DEMAND that our representatives do their part and address this issue.

I worry that for some the environment is a "soft" issue so they don't pay attention to it. With the heat right now, I think this may be a really good time to get people to connect what's going on right now with our own actions. There has been so much smoke and mirrors on the environment coming from the administration, trying to deny it exists, trying to change global warming to "climate change" because the term is less alarming. We should be alarmed and hopefully this summer hear will wake up some people.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Diana & Marvin by the way

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continues today, Tuesday, August 1, 2006. The bombings continue, the shootings continue, the death continues with the estimated number of the dead jumping in the last hour and half from at least 39 to at least 63. (Possibly Damien Cave will write in tomorrow's New York Times "at least 12"?) Reuters notes that among the dead are "at least 26 soldiers" (Iraqis as well as one British soldier stationed in Basra).
A series of bombings throughout Iraq account for the largest reported fatalities. CNN places the first as a roadside bomb that targeted "a bust carrying members of the Iraqi military". AFP notes this as "the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul". Al Jazeera places the death toll at 24 minimum. Reuters notes "[t]he charred remains" that "were scattered across the bus" and "[t]wo skulls . . . in the vehicle along an empty highway." AFP reports that in addition to those killed (they say "at least 23"), 20 more were wounded. Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note an Interior Ministry source who placed the number wounded at 40 (killed at 23).
The BBC notes "at least 14 people died" in Baghdad when a car bomb ("suicide") went off "outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay." Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show noted the timing and planning involved in that attack. Jane Peel (BBC) noted the "black fumes" wafting from the bombing to the sky and that, "The security forces seem unable to stop the attacks." [C.I. says if link to Peel doesn't work, there's a link to the report on the page "BBC notes" goes to.] Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) report: "The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were withdrawing their monthly salaries." Reuters notes a child of 12-years-old "sobbing and tearing his shirt after seeing his dead mother" and kisosk owner Abu Fadhil saying: "We should carry guns to protect ourselves. If we expect Iraqi security forces to protect us we will burn, just like those innocenct people."
Reuters notes that at least seven died and fifteen were left wounded from a car bombing in Muqdadiya. Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) note that the car in question was "a Kia sedan" and that the bombing took place outside a hospital.David Fickling, Ben Hammersley "and agencies" (Guardian of London) report the death of a British soldier today in Basra forma "mortar attack". CBS and AP note: "The infantry soldier died after being airlifted from a base in Basra to a field hospital outside the city, said the spokeswoman on customary condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy."
In addition to the above, Reuters also notes a "roadside bomb . . . in northeastern Baghdad" that killed one civilian and left one wounded; a car bomb aimed at "an Iraqi army patrol" that left "two civilians" wounded; and that the US military announced today that a "U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Monday".
RTE News reports the an attack on a minibus carrying electricity board employees which left four dead and four wounded "when their minibus was sprayed with gunfire in central Baghdad." AP raises the numbers to "five killed and injured the other six". Reuters notes two separate shooting deaths in Mosul; in Kirkuk, "A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly . . gunned down"; and, "outskirts of Baghdad," an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint left four Iraqi soldiers wounded as well as one civilian. AFP gives Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi as the name of the ACA member gunned down and notes that he "was shot dead outside his home."
CBS and AP note that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. Reuters also notes that "[t]he body of Adel al-Mansouri, a correspondent for al-Alam television station, was found dumped with bullet holes on a street". By Reuters count, al-Mansouri is the eleventh journalist reported killed in Iraq this year. On April 14th of this year, Dahr Jamail's web site featured the Mosaic Video Stream featuring a report al-Mansouri had done for Abu Dhabi TV. Adel al-Mansouri opened with this statement: "Iraqis hope that their political leaders will be able to overcome their differences and quickly form the new government in order to deal with the problems that plague the country." Not only did that not happen quickly the rumors now float about a shake up in Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet (with the Interior Minister being mentioned most often as at least one person who will be replaced). Since that report, Baghdad has been under the so-called "crackdown" for over six weeks and now an estimated 4,000 US troops are being repositioned in the capitol.
The Associated Press is reporting that Asaad Abu Kilal (governor of Najaf) has announced that six buses were "waylaid" and that "45 people from Najaf" have been kidnapped. The AP quotes an Interior Ministry flack who says the number is correct but the kidnappings have taken place "over the last two weeks" and it's "[l]ike two or three people snatched a day." Apparently that's when you panic if you serve in the Interior Ministry -- not when 45 people are kidnapped over a two week period, when they are kidnapped all at once. It doesn't change the number but apparently spreading it out over several days lessens the impact. Vijay Joshi (AP) notes: "U.S. officials estimate an average of 30-40 people are kidnapped each day in Iraq, although the real figure may be higher because few families contact the police."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
The AAP reports that Kovco's former roommates (billes as "Soldier 17" and "Soldier 19") provided DNA on Saturday. The gun believed to have been utilized had Jake Kovco's DNA on it as well as unidentified DNA. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the DNA has been tested and the roommates' DNA doesn't match what is on the gun so Wayne Hayes ("Detective Inspector) is heading Iraq "to ask other soldiers in hi platoon to give DNA samples." The current developments were best summed in this exchange on Australia's The World Today -- Eleanor Hall (host) asked, "So Conor, the source of the DNA remains a mystery then?" to which Conor Duffy (reporters) responded, "That's right Eleanor, like so much of what happened in room 8 at the Australian embassy where Jake Kovco died, the source of the DNA on the gun that took his life remains a mystery."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports: "Evidence presented to a military board of inquiry into Kovco's death and failed repatriation now suggests the soldier killed himself in a tragic accident, probably without realising his pistol was loaded. But the army's decision to clean his room and wash his roommates' clothes after he died has destroyed almost all the forensic evidence and may now mean the exact cause of death will never be known." Brown notes that Soldier 19 testified "no way, sir" that Kovco would have committed suicide and AAP notes that 19 states he didn't see the shooting because "he was bending down at a bar fridge in the room". Conor Duffy noted that this would put 19 "probably about one to two meters away from Private Kovco at the time" and that both 19 and 17 are "expected to remain in Sydney for at least this week before they return to Baghdad."
In peace news, Carol A. Clark (Los Alamos Monitor) reports that Cindy Sheehan will speak at Ashley Pond on August 6th ("this year's Hiroshima Day") for an event that will include others and last from two to nine p.m. and will include "free buttons and balloons, live music, face painting and activities for the kids" as well as "the lighting of 3,000 floating candles on Ashley Pond at dusk."
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on Day 29 with over 4,350 people participating from all over the world. David Howard ( writes about the reasons for participating in the fast including "to end the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don't end up dead, like Tony Butterfield." Tony Butterfield was Anthony E. Butterfield ("Lance Cpl.") who died on July 29th in the Anbar Province at the age of 19. In addition, as Howard notes, Butterfield was "a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High school in Clovis, California." The fast is ongoing (until September 21st) and people can pick a one-day, one-day a week, or more at any point between now and September 21st. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.

I really wasn't planning blogging tonight. I had a long day and had promised to look under the hood for a woman who goes to my church. (I did. Her batteries cable were shot -- just the cables. I ran to the auto parts store and took care of it.) It was a long day and a hot one.

But Kat called and she, Betty (at Rebecca's site) and Elaine are all including a lyric in their posts tonight. All worth reading but Betty's I have to single out "Hey Now Young Mothers" -- I grew up in a Motown home too. Temptations, Diana, Stevie Wonder were my favorites. (I wasn't that big on Smokey. I think he looked silly with those bad braids in the Dr. Pepper commercials recently, by the way.) So use that link to read Betty's post about a Diana Ross song ("Young Mothers"). I know that one really well.

The one I think of from that period was "Brown Baby/Save The Children" medley. Diana Ross has a lot of wonderful songs. Betty's covered her so I'll go with Marvin Gaye (who recorded a duets album with Diana Ross, by the way). (I think I'll call this "By the way.") And I'll go with the obvious choice: "What's Going On?"

I don't think anyone can screw up that song. (But I don't watch American Idol.) It's just such a great song. You can do it powerful like Marvin did or you can do it quieter like Cyndi Lauper did, however, you do it, it's a great song. (I think his "I Want You" is as well but I only know of him recording it and of Madonna recording it.)

Annie Lennox has done a really good version of "What's Going On," Nelly couldn't destroy the song (at last something Nelly-proof), it's just a great song.

Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying
You know we'ver got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, hey
Father, father, we don't need to escalate
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Think about Cindy Sheehan and Casey Sheehan and all the others before and after and you've got the first two lines down. It's a really powerful song.

Since I mentioned Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye's duets, I'll close this out (btw) noting my favorite of the songs they recorded together (I think it's eight songs as a duo, could be more, I'll grab the CD next time I log on) "Just Say, Just Say" which was written by Ashford & Simpson. It's ten, I realized I needed to grab the CD What's Going On? to get the songwriting credits for the title song. Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Al Clevland, and Marvin Gaye are the credited song writers for "What's Going On?" and about the duet album, it's called Diana & Marvin and you get the ten tracks that were on the original album plus four bonus tracks that weren't released before. From the CD notes, the album "was a No. 26 Pop/No. 7 R&B album, and the singles "You're A Special Part of Me,' 'My Mistake' and 'Don't Knock My Love,' charted at Nos. 12, 19 and 46, respectively, on the Pop chart, and Nos. 4, 15, 25 on the R&B list. In the U.K., where all things Ross-related were sure to attract mass notice, Diana & Marvin was a tenacious chart-sticker for 43 weeks, peeking at No. 6. And, interestingly, the big singles there were two Stylistics' covers, 'You Are Everything' at No. 5 and 'Stop, Look, Listen' at No. 25."

If you're a fan of either or both, this is a CD to check out. That's it, I'm tired.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Riding the bus

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glatz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (, by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitors) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."

That's Iraq. It's not getting better. People need to stop kidding. "Ruth's Report" covers this really well. She's got her new format going on so check it out -- I think you're in for a real treat.

So what am I talking about tonight? I had some questions about why I ride the bus and was honestly surprised anyone needed to ask. But here we go.

Yes, I have a license. Yes, I have a car. No, I'm not like "the black guy in Clueless" and scared of the freeway.

As I started thinking more and more about the war and thinking more and more about the world around us, I just felt like I couldn't keep driving everywhere. It just felt like I was hurting the environment, propping up the war and a great deal more. So I asked myself what I could do? The only bus I ever rode before was the school bus and the first thing I'd do, if I ran the world (besides have all the girls -- LL Cool J) would be to make the bus schedules easier. I found that so confusing.

I told myself, I'd start riding the bus and I didn't. I couldn't make sense of the bus schedules. Finally, I took a cab to work to force myself to take the bus home. I found a guy at work who rode them and he broke down the easiest way for me to get home on the bus. Then he told me how to get back to work. I was late the next day because I grabbed the wrong bus but, slowly, I got used to it. Now I can go one of three ways home.

But I probably spent at least a week telling myself I was riding the bus before I did. The schedules were just too confusing for me. It's one little thing I can do that maybe helps a little.
I'm always looking for those sort of things. Because I think that if I help a little here and help a little there, I'll leave the earth less damaged. Not "better off" because I think we pretty much have made it worse off.

There were a lot of "I would never ride the bus" comments. I hope you'll try to do something.

It's actually not that bad most of the time. There are a lot of interesting people (some good interesting and some bad interesting -- it's life) who ride and there are times when I can just hop and read.

I was a road rager and everyone told me that but I thought they were full of it and ignored them. Riding the bus really drove that home for me. At first, I was thinking, "Get off! Get off! Why are you sitting when the bus has stopped and this is your stop? Quit talking to the person next to you and get off!"

Or I'd be thinking, "The light is green! Green! Go!"

It was probably a month before I chilled. Then it hit me that I really had been driving like that when I ran my aunt somewhere one weekend. I was her last choice, because of my reputation. But she even noticed the difference. I was always angry behind the wheel, always griping, always slamming the brake, hitting the pedal.

So it's probably been better for me, stress wise, blood pressure wise, to ride the bus. Taught me to not be in such a rush.

I really don't mind it now. It means leaving a little earlier. But I can relax and don't arrive at work all tense and thinking, "Get out of my way, let me get to my desk."

And along with that learning/realization, I've cut down on my own use of fossil fuels. And I'm not griping about the fact that the parking spot I wanted is taken or having to pay to park if the garage is full (and it's almost always full).

I get to hear what people are thinking. Today this one older woman, probably late 60s, was arguing with some man about the need to find someone. "I don't need hugs! I haven't had a hug in nine years! I don't need some man to spend all my money!" It was interesting to hear and watch that. What did I learn from it? I don't know. But I know I'd never hear someone like her or a lot of other people if I was in my car. I listen in when people are talking about the war and I hear a lot of people saying we need to bring the troops home. So it's interesting. Give the bus a ride and you can get your own survey going.