Monday, March 31, 2003

BREAKING NEWS: Journalist Peter Arnett, covering the war in Iraq for both NBC news and the National Geographic Channel, has today been released from his employment with those networks. This comes one day the Iraqi state-run telelvision broadcasted an interview in which Mr. Arnett stated the American -led coalition's first war had 'failed' and that the strategists were 'trying to write another war plan.'

Don't feel bad for Mr. Arnett: I am certain Al Jazzeer television will offer him a job straight away.

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Friday, March 28, 2003

In the New Jersey's The Trentonian newspaper, an article described how 'shocked and outraged' a resident was because the borough's mayor, Edward "Buddy" Tyler, ordered the removal of a yellow ribbon placed upon the borough's welcome sign.

My everlasting respect and support of our troops notwithstanding, I am inclined to agree with the mayor's point, that public signage is no place for personal flags or other items. However,
Mayor Tyler "emphasized how important the rule of law with the Iraq situation, and said he didn’t support the American attack against Saddam Hussein."

Gee, so does that mean the local resident should have been allowed to keep her ribbon on the sign for 12 years, and through 17 votes of the town council, before the local police enforced the law? After all, isn't that what Iraq has done??

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It gives me great relief to know that the youth of today aren't as ignorant as they are often portrayed -- usually in interviews. Here's an example of how there is hope for the new generation.

Gen Y Goes to War
MTV viewers support Iraq's liberation.

Friday, March 28, 2003 12:01 a.m.

It's not quite man-bites-dog. But the day we have something nice to say about MTV sure comes close. And that day looks like today.
While surfing through the news section of MTV's Web site, we happened to stumble across its "At War With Iraq" link, and it sure belies the cable network's spoiled, Generation Y image. For example, in an MTV poll attempting to distinguish between its viewers' support for the war and their support for the troops, the results were pretty amazing. An overwhelming 60% reported that they supported both the troops and the war. Some 37% answered that they opposed the war but nonetheless supported the troops. That left only a tiny 3% who oppose the troops as well as the war.

Granted, no one's going to bet the house on online polling. And yes, the news stories that MTV offers up on its site include such gems as "War Inspires Jewel To Go Electronic On Next LP" and "U2's Bono Discusses The Situation In Iraq And The War On Terrorism." But it also includes a wealth of other information, the most striking of which has to be a section called "e-mail from the front." These are letters from and pictures of young Americans in uniform who have been deployed overseas, ranging from a ferociously tattooed ex-L.A. gang member turned Marine to a sailor aboard the USS Kearsarge who says that he's into "techno" music.

For the most part these young men and women simply explain where they come from, what their job entails and what the war looks like from where they sit. Take Airman Brandy Kown, a graduate of Henry County High School in Georgia, who helps maintain the state-of-the-art communications systems used by coalition forces in the Arabian Gulf.

"We sit deep in the desert watching like guardian angels," she writes. "The skills that each person brings to this table and the equipment that we have built to help us give us the ability to watch over all the Marines and soldiers on the ground, sailors from the sea, and all the airmen in the sky. We take care of them as they take care of all of you reading this letter."

Airman Kown ends her note saying that she respects the right of other Americans to protest this war, adding that the whole reason that she's there is to help "make sure they keep that right." Remember, this is not Donald Rumsfeld. This is a 19-year-old who could be the kid next door. Pretty hard to picture our troops as baby-killers when you look at Brandy Kown.

Not that MTV has suddenly gone Pentagon. Though it offers links to military sites, it also provides links to such antiwar groups as International A.N.S.W.E.R. and the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. But the interesting thing is that MTV is putting real faces on the young airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines who constitute our armed forces. Whatever else it may be, this is clearly not your father's protest generation.

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Brian Williams of NBC news appeared on the Imus In The Morning show today where he reported an Iraqi Scud missile was fired at Kuwait yesterday. More evidence of how effective the Weapons Inspections were.

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Thursday, March 27, 2003

Seems French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin wants it both ways: he wants to tell the US what to do about Iraq, but in the end doesn't want to sacrifice the benefits of havign a relationship with it. Want to bet he's going to be surprised when all is said and done?


France has once again refused to support the Coalition over the war with Iraq.

French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin gave a talk at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies in his first visit to Britain since the outbreak of war.

During a question and answer session at the end of his speech he refused to answer the question: "Who do you want to win the war?"

France has been fiercely opposed to the US and British-led military action against Saddam Hussein's regime.

De Villepin said France's main priority in the reconstruction of Iraq would be for the United Nations to pass a humanitarian resolution on the oil-for-food programme.

He said the UN must be at the heart of the reconstruction of Iraq following a crisis which has "shattered" the established world order.

But he said he was also confident that France and the United States would re-establish the close ties they enjoyed before the Iraqi crisis unfolded.

Mr de Villepin and French president Jacques Chirac have clashed repeatedly with Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over how to resolve the Iraq crisis.

At the lowest point of the diplomatic feud, Downing Street described the French threat to veto a second UN resolution in any circumstances as "poisonous".

With Jack Straw accompanying Mr Blair on his trip to the US there are thought to be no plans for another British Foreign Office minister to meet Mr de Villepin while he is in Britain.

Last Updated: 16:09 UK, Thursday March 27, 2003

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AMAZING!! The United Way recinds an invitation to Susan Sarandon and critics call it censorship. Where are these same critics when The United Way blackmails the Boy Scouts of America about their positions??

Charity calls off event with Sarandon
The United Way says her anti-war views made her speaking engagement ''divisive'' and brought complaints.
By LEONORA LaPETER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 27, 2003


The United Way of Tampa Bay canceled an upcoming event featuring Susan Sarandon after getting three dozen complaints from donors and others about the actor's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Sarandon, the 56-year-old Academy Award winner, was to be the keynote speaker at the April 11 daylong event sponsored by the United Way's women's leadership group and designed to inspire volunteerism in the community. Her brother, Terry Tomalin, outdoors writer at the St. Petersburg Times, asked her to participate in the event six months ago.

But when invitations went out about two weeks ago, the United Way received phone calls, e-mails and letters criticizing Sarandon's selection as a speaker because of her views on the war. The organization decided the event had the potential to become "divisive," said Robin Carson, chairwoman of the United Way of Tampa Bay board of directors.

"The focus of our whole meeting had shifted to whether or not we were creating a political platform for Susan Sarandon," Carson said Wednesday afternoon, after going to see President Bush at MacDill Air Force Base. "That is not our purpose. That's not what we're about. We had a strong mission for that day, and we felt that there was a potential that we would create divisiveness in the community, where our mission was to unite the community."

On Monday, a day after Sarandon flashed the peace sign at the Oscars, her sister-in-law, Kanika Tomalin, was notified that United Way was pulling out of the event.

Marty Petty, executive vice president of Times Publishing Co. and a United Way board member, made the phone call. The St. Petersburg Times Fund, the newspaper's philanthropic arm, was the chief sponsor of the event and was going to pay Sarandon's $20,000 speaker's fee.

Sarandon, active in a number of charities, was to be the featured speaker at the event's $75-a-plate luncheon in Tampa and engage in a conversation with Karen Brown Dunlap, incoming president of the Poynter Institute, which owns the St. Petersburg Times. She was going to answer questions from the audience about the role of women as leaders and contributors. Proceeds of the event were to go to the United Way.

After United Way pulled out, Petty offered to continue the program with just Times sponsorship.

"We were prepared to go forward, but those closest to (Sarandon) felt it would not be appropriate to ask her, and I respect that," Petty said.

Kanika Tomalin, in charge of annual giving at Bayfront Health Foundation, was a member of the 100-member United Way women's leadership group and had joined the steering committee organizing the event to represent her sister-in-law's interests.

Tomalin left the group this week after the United Way canceled the event.

"I chose personally to support the United Way because I believe in its support of the community, but I thought it bowed to who writes the biggest check and that really worries me," Tomalin said. "They represent a lot of people, and I'd like to think it's based on what is right and not based on the will of some person or persons who have the influence of money behind them.

"People have a right to believe and say what they want," Tomalin continued. "For us to see this type of censorship and political pressure to control the agenda and personal opinions of what people think is just disheartening."

Petty of the St. Petersburg Times said she also was disappointed the event was canceled. The St. Petersburg Times Fund paid $25,000 to sponsor the event in addition to Sarandon's fee.

"It's not likely the decision I would have made, but it wasn't mine to make," Petty said. "I respect what they (United Way) do, and you know they're very important to the community."

Sarandon, known for such films as Thelma and Louise and Dead Man Walking, was on vacation in Mexico and could not be reached for comment. Her publicist could also not be reached for comment.

Carson said she did not know whether any donors had threatened to withdraw their contributions if the program continued with Sarandon. She said the decision to cancel had nothing to do with giving in to donors. The United Way of Tampa Bay raises money for charitable agencies in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Louis A. Spiegel III, was one of those who sent United Way a letter criticizing its choice of Sarandon as a speaker. He said he is not a donor and that he spoke as an individual, not on behalf of his company, Itasca Construction Associates Inc., where he is vice president.

"(Sarandon) is welcome to her opinion, and I'm welcome not to listen to it," he said. "I'm welcome to avoid her un-American comments. She has her right to say what she wants to say today and whenever she wants to, but I have the right to do her financial damage by not attending her movies or attending anything associated with her."

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Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Below is a graphic to, which purportedly will show the estiamted number of Iraqi casulaties of the US-led war. What immediately comes to my mind: why doesn't this include the number of deaths at the hands of Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule??

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Why Are U.S. Troops Wearing Dark-Green Camouflage?

This reminds me of a bit by George Carlin, who after commenting about the camo-wearing peace-keeping troops walking around Beirut in the early 1980s, observed "There isn't a {expletive} tree for 20 miles!! What they should be wearing are clothes with car grills and store-fronts painted on them!"

Why Are U.S. Troops Wearing Dark-Green Camouflage?
By Brendan I. Koerner
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2003, at 12:11 PM PT

Despite the desert conditions of the Iraqi campaign, many American soldiers are sporting deep-green combat fatigues. Why are some troops donning jungle camouflage?

According to published reports, the Pentagon simply goofed by not anticipating the demand for sand-colored desert fatigues, formally known as battle-dress uniforms. When Army and Marine units were preparing for deployment, several discovered that they lacked enough desert BDUs to outfit each soldier with the requisite three outfits. The UPI reports that the Army's 4th Infantry Division, headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas, chose to dress all its troops in the more traditional green fatigues—commonly referred to as woodland BDUs—rather than have only some don desert dress. Homogeneity is generally preferred among military commanders.

Units that departed for the Middle East earlier this year were promised fresh BDUs upon arrival, but shipments have been slow to arrive; support commanders are reporting that they're already out of desert fatigues. The Pentagon's Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia has ordered manufacturers to increase production of desert camouflage at the expense of woodland BDUs.

A dearth of appropriately stealthy uniforms was also a problem during Gulf War I, as many U.S. troops were forced to wear dark green. The Pentagon learned at least one lesson from the 1991 conflict, however: The Marines' anti-chemical-weapons suits, known as Mission-Oriented Protective Posture clothing, used to only be available in woodland patterns. The latest MOPP gear features a three-color desert design.

Military leaders insist that the shortage of desert BDUs will not affect the safety of American soldiers. They point out that Iraq's terrain is not entirely Sahara-like, and that green camouflage may actually work better near the banks of the Euphrates River, where vegetation and mud are present.

Bonus Explainer: The Pentagon is not alone in its camouflage foibles. The Canadian military was heavily criticized for dispatching troops to Afghanistan in woodland dress during Operation Enduring Freedom. Earlier this month, Canada's red-faced Defence Department officially put a "rush" on an order for desert BDUs, which will be sent to the 2,000 peacekeepers the country has committed to Afghanistan.

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Today's Washington Post reports on the wife of Montana Senator Max Baucus' wife who is openly antiwar (as if those who are 'pro-war' are in some kind of majority). I welcome the opportunity to hear a discussoion of anthropology from Mrs. Baucus, including but not limited to the number of female anthropologists Iraq boasts. Then I wish to educate her in the well-documented atrocities Saddam Hussein has committed over the years.

There is a big difference between living 'without conflict' and living in peace and freedom. Ironically, Mrs. Baucus lives in the latter and cannot see it.

A Raucous Discussion In the Baucus House?

By Lloyd Grove

Wednesday, March 26, 2003; Page C03

In his reelection campaign last year in conservative Montana, Sen. Max Baucus did everything possible to associate himself with President Bush and fudge his identity as a Democrat. Now that U.S. soldiers are dying and bombs are falling on Baghdad, the 62-year-old five-term senator "believes strongly that Saddam Hussein and his regime must be disarmed and removed from power," his chief of staff, Zak Andersen, told us yesterday through a spokesman.

So we were surprised to learn that there's an antiwar poster being prominently displayed in the window of Baucus's Georgetown house. The sign features the message "Peace is Patriotic" over the image of an American flag sporting doves instead of stars.

We wondered if Baucus is talking one way in the Senate, where he has voted to support Bush's anti-Hussein policies, and another way at home.

"Is that so unusual -- being for peace? I thought we all wanted peace," Wanda Baucus, the senator's wife of 20 years, told us yesterday. She said it was she, not her husband, who put up the sign.

"I want the people in Iraq to have peace -- the people whose lives are in turmoil because of the war, the children, their mothers, the farmers, the grandmothers and even the camels that are out grazing," said the 54-year-old Baucus, an anthropologist who has taught at Harvard as well as a painter who regularly visits the south of France.

While Isaac, her bichon frise, barked in the background, Baucus confided that she has been watching television with growing distress and having trouble sleeping -- though she's not worried about the prospect of terrorism in the United States. "I never think about it," she said.

I don't think we have any business being in a preemptive war against Iraq," she said. "Anytime you drop bombs, there are going to be a lot of innocent people hurt. A billion Muslims all over the world are in pain to see their brothers losing their homes and their families losing the stability of their civilization."

She added: "Baghdad is where the beginning of civilization occurred, literally where the wheel was invented, where the very first city was built, where writing began, and it has a very deep and profoundly beautiful history -- which we should never take lightly, no matter who the existing president is."

Even if it's Saddam? "I think he is very proud of the history of his country. I think it's we Americans who don't know the facts about what anthropologists call 'the cradle of civilization.' When we watch the bombing on television, we really don't seem to understand or appreciate that some of these places are sacred. . . . I disagree with those who say that Saddam Hussein doesn't think about this. He cares about these places and their people."

She continued: "I don't think American lives are threatened by him. There is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and we have no right to make a preemptive strike on another country and try to assassinate its leader. We have no right legally or morally. We are way out of line."

The senator declined to speak to us yesterday, but his chief of staff said in a statement: "Max and Wanda know they can agree to disagree. They respect each other's opinions and engage frequently in thoughtful discussions about any number of topics. And they learn from each other, which makes their marriage stronger. Max's number one priority is doing what's right for Montana and America. He strongly supports the troops and is praying for a quick end to the conflict in Iraq."

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Following the comments of Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines regarding her shame that President Bush hails from Texas, I have a follow-up question for her: Ms. Maines, do tell us: are you ashamed as well that Prisoners of War being held by the Iraqi Republican Guard are from the great state of Texas??

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Friday, March 14, 2003

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks speaks of her priviledge of being an American and speaking out against her president; no one disputes her right in that regard. However, one has to wonder what kind of person would travel to a foreign land to criticize their own president; she has the right, but what about the courage to say that on her own home turf... say, in Dallas, Texas?

Dixie Chicks Explain Anti-Bush Comment

Thu Mar 13, 4:57 PM ET

(3/13/03, 5 p.m. ET) -- The Dixie Chicks are stirring up controversy with a recent negative comment about President Bush while overseas promoting their current album, Home.

The trio performed a live show in London on Monday (March 10th) night, and Natalie Maines (news) told the crowd, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

That statement prompted all kinds of reactions from the American public, causing the group to further explain their stance on their official website. "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position," the group explains. "The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq (news - web sites) and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."

Maines also says, "I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view."

The Dixie Chicks will perform another live show in Munich, Germany on March 19th.

-- Margy Holland, Nashville

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