Saturday, October 28, 2006

Appetizers in the Kitchen

We're finishing up Halloween this weekend with some recipes that were picked because a party has to food. These can be appetizers before a meal or you can just do appetizers.

First up is a recipe that Betty loved. She was looking for something to make for her oldest son's party that was easy and different. Roberta had e-mailed a recipe that I thought filled the bill. Betty and I both tried out this recipe and we can report it's easy to make and very tasty.

Fried Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons of thawed orange juice concentrate
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of ground red pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 pound of sweet potatoes, cut into half inch sticks

There is no frying. You'll need to place aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and that may be the most difficult thing about this recipe. After you line the sheet with foil, spray it lightly with cookie spray. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Take all the ingredients except the sweet potatoes and combine in a bowl (orange juice concentrate, red powder, onion powder and salt). Stir the ingredients. Add the potatoes and strir gently to coat the sticks. Take the sticks and lay them out evenly on the cookie sheet.
Put the sheet into the oven and bake for ten minutes before flipping the potatoes so that both sides cook evenly. After flipping, bake for an additional ten minutes.

Lindsay suggest burritos and noted that if you slice them in half, they're finger foods and that her recipe can make 10 to 12 burritos.

Vegetarian burritos
1 can of black beans
1/4 onion chopped
4 cups of rice, steam preferred
1 head of lettuce, shredded
1 clove of garlic
flour tortillas
black pepper

Empty the contents of the can of black beans into a pan and simmer on the stove. Mincee the garlic (fine slices) and add it to the beans while they simmer. Add black pepper to the beans and stir. Continue to simmer for an additional five minutes and add the onions. Allow to simmer for two minutes more. Stir throughout the simmering process. Turn off stove and begin preparing burritos. For each tortilla, your ratio is use twice as much rice as beans, and use three times as much lettuce as beans. Roll up the tortilla.

Stacey was also thinking of a spread and she offered this recipe (which is very tasty) noting that when people think healthy, "a lot of the time, they think raw. This recipe will go with raw vegetables but a spoonful or two on a plate will add to the textures."

Mushroom Marinate
1 cup cooking or vegetable oil
2/3 cup of vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp of paprika

Combine all the above except mushrooms into a bowl or a freezer bag. In a pan, bring water to a boil and place mushrooms into the pan to boil for two minutes. Drain the mushrooms and put them into the pan of marinade or into the freezer bag of marinade. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for approximately 48 hours. Take out of the fridge when it's time to serve and serve chilled.

Sherry e-mailed that finger foods were best for kids or parties with kids and adults and urged everyone to remember that nachos are simple to fix ("just cheese and chips, but you can add refried beans"). I would agree with that and note that Stacey's correct about raw vegetables as well. One thing that Wally's mother and I agreed upon was that when it's a party for children, you really don't need to have a "theme." Instead the spread can have the same variety a potluck spread would.

Kyle Snyder returns to the US today. I was going to write about that but C.I. just phoned. Betty's got a problem, C.I. does as well. At Betty's site and C.I. filling in for Kat at her site, both got messages of "refused blog" when they published their entries (over and over the message came up). Their posts they finished aren't showing up. So I said I'd post what I had and call it "done" to see if I had the same difficulty.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to return to the US; a G.I. coffeehouse opens in Watertown, NY; Gerhard Schroder weighs in on the special relationship between Tony Blair and Bully Boy; and the barking puppet of the occupation gets his leash yanked.

Tomorrow Kyle Snyder will return to the United States, Mike Howell reports for the Toronto Star noting that Snyder notes war resister Darrell Anderson's decision to return to the US (Anderson returned September 30th). Like Anderson, Snyder elected to self-check out of the military. For Snyder, that happened in April 2005. As Snyder explains in Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks, military recruiters were circling throughout high school: "I had just received my high school diploma. I get off of the stage and here's another recruiter right outside the door -- waiting for me. I look back at i now and everything that I'm going through, everything that I've worked through I can retrace down to that moment that I signed the f**king contract." Snyder has addressed how the military broke its contract with him -- such as by refusing to investigate incidents of violence targeting Iraqis.

In August, Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."

Kyle Snyder intends to return to the US Saturday and turn himself in. Michelle Mason's documentary Breaking Ranks takes a look at US war resisters who have gone to Canada seeking asylum. In addition to Mason's film, more information on war resisters hoping to be granted refugee status (which the Canadian government has thus far refused to do, unlike during the Vietnam era) can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.

Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Carl Webb, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Joshua Key, Katherine Jashinski, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Kevin Benderman and Clifford Cornell are among those war resisters who have gone public. And that's only the names of those who have gone public. The war resistance within the military is a movement.

Earlier this week, US service members created a website, Appeal for Redress, and are attempting to collect 2000 signatures for their petition to Congress to end the illegal war. From Appeal for Redress:

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq
Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.If you agree with this message, click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.

Meanwhile, Citizen Soldier announces the opening, today, of "the first soldiers' coffeehouse of the current Iraq war in Watertown, NY." More information can be found at Citizen Soldier and at Different Drummer, the name of the coffeehouse. It is a movement and for those wanting more information on the importance of the GI coffeehouse to a peace movement should view David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! documentary.

As resistance and opposition to the illegal war spreads throughout the world spreads, Bully Boy & Friends attempts to remarket/re-brand all week. At the start, the US State Department's Alberto Fernandez was having to eat his own words ("arrogance" and "stupidity" used to describe the war) after the White House first attempted to claim that Fernandez had suffered from mistranslation. We also heard the announcement by Tony Snow, White House flack, that the phrase "stay the course" was being stricken from the official White House language. Wednesday, the Bully Boy attempted to show how involved and concerned he was with the war Wednesday by noting the "93" US troops who had died in Iraq this month when, in fact, the US military's official count before the speech, during the speech and until Thursday morning was "91." While the White House removed one phrase from the official lexicon, Donald Rumsfeld added a new one on Thursday, "Just back off."

While the US administration played word games and offered faulty numbers, chaos and violence continued in Iraq. Despite this, Zalmay Khalilzad (US ambassador to Iraq) and George Casey ("top US general" in Iraq) held a joint press conference where they declared that success was yet again just around that ever elusive corner and it will only take a year to a year-and-a-half for it to show up. (For those who've forgotten, the illegal war began in March 2003.)

Meanwhile a US & Iraqi raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, led to a barking puppet of the occupation. Nouri al-Maliki rejected the raid, rejected the notion that he (who holds the position of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi military) had been involved in the planning of the raid, and rejected the "timelines" and "timetable" speak that Khalilzad and Casey had told reporters of the day before.

In his laughable Wednesday press conference, Bully Boy was asked why al-Maliki hadn't been included in the Tuesday press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey?
His response? "I have no idea why he wasn't there," said Bully Boy the 'decider' but not the planner. He added, "I have no idea. I'm not -- I'm not the scheduler of news conferences." Once again, out of the loop.

In Iraq today, Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that Nouri al-Maliki issued "a joint statement with the U.S. ambassador [that] his government had 'timelines' for the resolution of the country's problems". The strings get pulled, the puppet plays along.
Macdonald notes: "The statement appeared aimed at dispelling the impression of mounting friction between Washington and its Iraqi allies". If the 'friction' is gone, does that leave only fiction? Bronwen Maddox (Times of London) labels the whole thing "Operation Cross Fingers" -- surely a 'strategy.'

Monday night in Baghdad, a US soldier went missing and is believed to have been kidnapped. AFP reports that the US military continues searching Baghdad "with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopter gunships" but the soldier has still not been located. AP reports that the soldier has been identified as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei.

The US press had trouble locating the 2800 mark for US troops who have died in Iraq -- a milestone passed this week. (In October 2005, passing the 2000 mark was news. Possibly the press is saving their energies for the 3,000 mark?) 2809 is the current toll since the start of the illegal war with 96 for the month. Or was until the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Thursday as a result of enemy action in Diyala province. The Soldier was transported to a coalition forces medical treatment facility and later died of wounds." That brought the monthly toll to 97 and the number who have died since the start of the illegal war to 2810. October has been the deadliest month for US troops serving in Iraq this year.

Meanwhile a British soldier died today near Basra due to "road traffic" according to the British Ministry of Defense. This brings the total British soldiers who've died this month in Iraq to two and the total since the start of the illegal war to 120.

Among the violence reported so far today in Iraq, is the death toll in Baquba where fighting broke out Thursday. CBS and AP report that 43 people died ("including 24 officers" -- police officers).


CBS and AP report that, in the Diyala province, a group of nine mourners returning from a funeral in Najaf were attacked with four being shot to death and the other five being injured.


The BBC notes five corpses were discovered in Mosul Thursday and that the city is now under a curfew and vehicle ban. Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Mosul rose to 12. AFP notes that, "Thursday and overnight," eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad.


Reuters reports the death of one woman "when two rounds slammed into the house of a Sunni Arab member of parliament, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, in the town of Mussayab".

The woman's death comes at a time when, as Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports, the UN's executive director of the Development Fund for Women speaks out. Noeleen Heyzer states: "What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare dfend women's right in public decision-making."

Meanwhile a new book, Decisions: My Life in Politics, takes a look at the special relationship between Bully Boy of the US and Tony Blair of England. The book's author? Gerhard Schroder, the previous chancellor of Germany. Jess Smee (Guardian of London) writes that the book takes a look at Blair's rush to please Bully Boy, that Blair now pays for the price for his role in the illegal war, and notes that Blair had no interest in Europe -- Gerhard writes: "Quite the opposite, the country will continue to protect its role as a translantic mediator, even if that is to the cost of the European decision-making process."

In abuse news, Anne Plummer Flaherty (AP) reports: "The Halliburton susidary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday."

In England, Michael Evans (Times of London) reports the latest on the seven British soldiers accused of abused prisoners in a Basra prison -- RAF soldier Scott Hughes has testified that he saw eye gouging of a prisoner and the prisoner being kicked "in the lower back". Donald Payne, one of the seven accused soldiers, has already pleaded guilty to war-crimes. In the United States, as Linda Deutsch (AP) reports, US marine John Jodka "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of" Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52-years-old, in Al-Hamdaniyah.

In music news, Lydia Howell (Pulse of the Twin Cities) interviews singer, musician, songwriter and activist Michael Franti who says of his trip to Iraq, "I got tired of watching the news every night with generals and politicians talking about the economic costs of war WITHOUT mentioning the human crisis there. Rather than sit around frustrated, I picked up a guitar and a camera, flew to Baghdad and played music on the street." Michael Franti & Spearhead's latest CD is Yell Fire!

Finally, Bob Watada began his latest speaking tour yesterday. He is the father of Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Below are dates through Monday:

Oct 27, 7PM
Albuquerque, NM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
202 Harvard Dr SE
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014,

Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM
Houston, TX.
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th StreetEntertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "Sir, No Sir"

Oct 28, 6:15PM
Houston, TX
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover,,(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics

Oct 29, 1PM
Austin, TXPM
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572,
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242,

Oct 29, 5:30PM
Austin, TX
Café Caffeine -- 206 West Mary
Sponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary,, (C) 512-791-9824
Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242, heiditurpin@yahoo.comFran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, ,

Oct 30
Austin High Schools
Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. RobinsonSponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Halloween Gorp in the Kitchen

Carl had a question in his e-mail and I wanted to start with it. He's a community member and he and his wife have three small kids with the oldest in third grade. Carl wrote that he had always wanted to put a pumpkin on the porch but he's never carved one so each year he tells himself "next time."

There are people who put pumpkins on their porches or by their doors and don't carve them. Some just set a pumpkin out there without anything on it. Others draw a face on, usually with markers. We always have the carved pumpkin on our porch and my husband does that so I asked him for his tips on that.

1) You want an orange pumpkin. Don't get any that are discolored. If there's a bruise or more than one, it's like any other piece of fruit when it comes to spoiling.

2) The lid is the most important part. If you grab a knife and cut downwards, you'll have removed the top but when it's time to put it back on the pumpkin, it's going to fall right in. My husband suggests an angle of at least 45 degrees. That will provide "a ledge of sorts" for the lid to sit on.

3) Scooping out the inside of the pumpkin takes longer than anything else. "Do not ask your wife, partner or roommate, 'Do you think you'll make a pumpkin pie?' Because you're going to be angry." Which is his little jab at me because one year I did ask him to save the insides and never had time to make a pie. I will back him up on this because I know it was irritating to hear, "Are you going to make that pie?" His advice is that you scoop and throw away. Don't offer to save the insides and, if it comes up later, just say, "Well ask me next time." He adds you should do that every year. We joke about it now but about sixteen years ago, it really wasn't funny. I didn't (and honestly, still don't) see the big deal. If you're going to scoop and trash, it seems like you can just as easily scoop the insides into a container. But it did become a big deal and it was just one of those times when it was too busy to cook a pie. There was a recital for one of the kids and a sporting event for the other on top of the usual demands and I didn't want to hear that question again. So I would advise that you listen on this. I have never, and will never, again asked him to save the insides so I can make a pie. So toss it all out, seeds and pulp.

4) When scooping, he says do it outside and place newspapers under the pumpkin. He says you want an area you can hose down after.

5) How close are you scooping? That was my question. He says scoop out all of the fleshy and "really scrape" at the rind but "keep it smooth" especially in the back. Why the back? If you're going to light in any way, it reflects better if the back wall is smooth.

6) On lighting, he says use a little flashlight unless you intend to be standing by the pumpkin at all times. Our oldest son fell over it one year. It wasn't lit. If it had been, there would have been a problem. Unless you're going to be next to it "the whole time, watching it isn't good enough so use a flashlight."

7) Carving the face. He says don't use a pattern. If you draw a pattern on a piece of paper you're going to be looking at the pattern and then looking at the results "paper isn't pumpkin -- one's flat, the other is round." He grabs a sharpie marker and draws on it. He cuts around the marked areas. He also says a sharp pocket knife works better than any kitchen knife for this. "But don't go out and buy one if you don't have one already," he added.

8) This is your first pumpkin and remember it will get easier. He pointed out that Carl's kids are young enough that they'll be impressed with it no matter how it turns out. "When they hit twelve, they'll all be an expert. Enjoy this moment to practice."

9) His last tip is don't think the smaller the pumpkin, the easier it is. If you make a mistake on a small pumpkin while you're carving the face, it's much harder to fix (because there's less face space). To any criticism about an uneven line, "Remember this phrase and use it often: 'It's supposed to be scary, not pretty.'"

When I read Carl's e-mail, I thought other people might be interested in carving as well. This was on his Friday to-do list so I did call him this morning to see how it turned out and he said the only thing he would add is that it's very messy and to stress that you do not offer to save anything for toasted seeds or a pie. He says the mess factor is a headache and, if he had saved anything, he'd probably be asking "Where's that pie?" right now.

I'll offer a tip that my mother gave me when this was an issue fifteen years ago. It came too late to help me, I had tossed it all in the trash in front of my husband after we'd argued about the pie one too many times. Go out and buy a pie. If you don't have time to bake one from scratch and you thought you did, go out and buy one, serve it and don't say anything about it not being made from scratch.

I wish I'd thought of that. While bringing the kids back from this activty or that, I often stopped at the grocery store on the way home and could have easily picked up a pie at any point. So if you've made the mistake of asking that the insides be saved only to discover you don't have time to do anything with it, buy a pie.

One question that Carl did have on the phone this morning was about storing. We usually leave ours out until Halloween's over and then trash it. But if you're taking it inside, put it in a plastic bag. Carl wanted me to note that a pocket knife gave you more room to carve the eyes and mouth.

Another e-mail I wanted to note was from Becky who's throwing a party and has a problem. A friend will be bringing a dish, everyone will be, and this friend can't cook. Last Christmas, this friend brought apple slices and a "dip." The "dip" was peanut butter and mayonaise. A few people tried it and spit it out into their napkins. The friend was upset at the end of the party that so much of the "dip" was left over. Becky is in fear of what the "friend" will be bringing this time.

I would advise telling them to bring ice or paper towels. Something inexpensive so they don't feel put out. You can explain it as, "I'm not going to have time on ___ to stop at the store and grab ice/paper towels, so I was wondering if you could do me a big favor and make that what you're bringing to the party? I really need someone I can trust to do this and that's why I thought of you."

However, be warned, some people, so grateful that they're your most trusted friend, will end up bringing a dish as well. If that happens, you either have to deal with the fact that no one's going to touch it or try to sneak some servings out of the dish and onto plates or napkins headed for the trash. I did that for several years with a friend. She became convinced that her dish was so popular she ended up taking it to work one year where they were quite vocal about how bad it was. So it's a no-win situation whatever you do.

Denver and Stacey e-mailed to say they appreciated the points regarding diabetic children because their child is diabetic and they're always surprised by how often he ends up left out at parties. They were very nice in the e-mail but I won't be. If you are responsible for a children's party, at school or at home, it is important that all the children feel it is their party. That's not going to happen if there are guests who can't eat most of the foods because of a health issue.

That's true of any guest regardless of age. If you're planning a party, you want everyone to feel welcome. I believe you have even more of obligation when the guests include kids (or are just kids).

Denver and Stacey noted a recipe they found at Diabetic Recipes and that has been a huge favorite of their son's.

"Halloween Gorp" (
3 tablespoons (45 ml) reduced-fat margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) chili powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) garlic powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) hot pepper sauce
2 quarts (2 l) hot popped corn (popped with a hot-air popper)
1 cup (45 g) fat-free tiny pretzel sticks
1 cup (145 g) golden raisins
1/2 cup (73 g) dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup (60 g) dry roasted sunflower seeds

In a small skillet, combine melted margarine, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Heat for 1 minute over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
Place remaining ingredients in a large paper bag. Pour on margarine-spice mixture. Close bag tightly and shake vigorously to coat evening.
Pour popcorn mixture into a large bowl.

That's a very simple recipe and one that can be enjoyed by all kids provided you leave out the peanuts. If you check with all the parents and no child has an allergy to peanuts, you can include them but, as I've noted before, I don't include peanuts in any recipe for a party due to the fact that peanut allergies seem much more common these days than they used to be.

Iraq this week? Amara is a big story. The city was taken over and only hours of working on a truce restored it for what passes for order. In August, the British had to withdraw from the area due to attacks and they did so quickly. Their base was immediately stripped and looted. So the fact that militias controlled the town until a truce was worked out is news and indicative of what's to come in Iraq. Another big story this week was Bully Boy agreeing with a comparison between Vietnam and Iraq. Iraq is falling apart and it will only continue to do so while US forces are there. They aren't seen as liberators, they are seen as occupiers. It's time for the troops to come home. In the snapshot, you'll learn more about Amara but Mike just came in and asked me if I'd seen two things online? I hadn't yet. This one is from C.I. this morning:

After arriving in Iraq, the heavy construction equipment operator was reassigned to a security detail. Kyle quickly realized that no reconstruction was taking place with the exception of military bases. "I can't take this anymore!' That's what I thought to myself." A survivor of string of foster homes since he was 13-years-old, Kyle joined the Army in 2004.Faced with few job prospects and wanting to provide for himself and his family, "I was an easy target for recruiters, plain and simple," explains Kyle. "This is not what I signed up for and it’s not what’s being shown to the American public. So, why the hell should I fight?"
Kyle is Kyle Snyder and the above is from Courage to Resist. Kyle Snyder self-checked out of the military and went to Canada. Next month he returns to the United States. FluxView has videos of Kyle Snyder and other war resisters discussing why they went to Canada. I wrote about this last night at Kat's Korner.

This is the sort of the story we need to pay attention to but, sadly, many in the media don't think so. War resisters tend to be treated like a one-off story when they're covered at all. They're part of a larger mosaic and their stories are important.

Hopefully, unlike some coverage of Darrell Anderson and Ricky Clousing recently, Snyder's story will get the attention and support it deserves.

Please read Betty's "It's Back" (her latest chapter) and here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, October 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; an area the British abandoned heats up; Rumsfeld's 'big fellow' vouches for his honor; Max Boot demonstrates he was cursed with not only porcine features but analytical challenges as well; Bully Boy's Iraq to Vietnam comparison continues to be discussed (and will continue); another US soldier dies today in Iraq bringing the total for the month to 75; Ramadi's parade/independence statement is echoed elsewhere in Iraq today.

Starting in Amara. On August 24th, came news that too much violence, too many attacks, led British troops to exit Amara quickly. Spinning would continue August 25th and then it was largely forgotten. Today, actions in Amara have reminded why British troops left and left so quickly. Al Jazeera reports that "overnight clashes left 15 dead" and that the fighting continued today "after police arrested a member of cleric Maqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army on suspicion of killing a local intelligence officer in a bomb attack". Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that the town has been "seized" and that it's "one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said." CNN reports that 16 people have died and 90 wounded. They also speak with British military flack Charlie Burbridge who stated that between 200 and 300 people attacked two police stations in Amara Thursday. Christine Hauser (New York Times) reports: "The nearest British troops are now stationed more than 20 miles from the city" and that other police stations and "state facilities in Amara were attacked." On the subject of British troops, AFP reports: "A British battle group of 600 troops backed by attack jets and armoured vehicles is standing by to intervene if Iraqi forces need support" according to Charlie Burbridge (so take it for what it is worth).

Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that the militia have gain "control of entire neighborhoods" and notes theories that that a split between Maktada al-Sadr (whom some are linking the militias too) and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki could impact the "stability" of the puppet government. Meanwhile, James Hider (Times of London) notes: "As in Balad, militiamen set up roadblocks around the town and warned residents to stay indoors."

In some of the other violence today, Reuters notes that one person died and three were wounded in Baghdad from a roadside bomb (Dora district). Also Reuters reports that one person was shot dead near Baiji and three others wounded. AFP reports that three people are dead and three wounded from an attack in Khalis.

It's Friday. News of violence trickles out slowly on a normal day. Events in Amara meant today wouldn't be a normal Friday.

In other news, Frank Jordans (AP) reports that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that "914,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003". This at the same time as Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports on the increased dangers in Iraqi hospitals both from the fact that the medical "system is breaking down" and also because of claims that "hospitals are now being used by al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia as its headquarters and hospital basements are used as prisons."

But no need to be concerned about any of the above. For one thing, Peter Pace is standing by his man. AFP reports the US general said of Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, "He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country." God responds, "Don't blame that ___ on me!"

While Pace tells the world he's fond of his fella' Rumsfeld, Tony Blair warns the world that he's the house guest from hell. Philip Webster (Times of London) reports that is bandying around the term "progressive withdrawal" and insisting that Iraqis won't be put out by foreign forces 'staying too long.' At three years and eight months, Blair's stayed too long at the fair and then some.

Meanwhile, AP reports that Bully Boy's poodle-in-waiting, John Howard, declares there "is no reason to for international forces to quite Iraq". Pooh-pahhing Little Willie Caldwell's use of the term "disheartening" yesterday, Howard declared, "In any military operation, you have heartening and disheartening things". Backing him was Australia's former chief of the Defence Force, Peter Cosgrove, who doesn't believe that Vietnam and Iraq are anything alike. It helps his self-serving refusal to focus on the conflict in Indochine and the Indochina War which, for the record, wasn't the question put to Bully Boy on Wednesday. Possibly Cosgrove misunderstood the question?

For those confused, the Khaleej Times brings you up to speed: "At last, President Bush has come to acknowledge what many in and outside US have been arguing for some time. That Iraq is increasingly looking like Vietnam. In a rare confession during his interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulus, the president admitted that as in Vietnam, America faces 'a stepped-up level of violence' in Iraq. Stepped-up level of violence, Mr. President? This is an all-out and free-for-all bloody civil war, which has already claimed 655,000 Iraqi lives, as medical journal Lancet disclosed last week."

For anyone who may still be confused, from yesterday's snapshot:

Starting with the Bully Boy. As Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) noted, Bully Boy "drew a comparison between Iraq and the Vietnam war for the first time on Wednesday when he said Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columinst, 'could be right' in writing that the violent situation in Iraq was the 'jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive." Summarizing the interview, Ed O'Keefe (ABC) notes, "Bush said he could not imagine any circumstances under which all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of his presidency." Bully Boy doesn't seem to register of what his comparison would result in. Mark Tran (Guardian of London) walks readers through:
"Mr Bush has strongly resisted comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Vietnam remains a touchy subject for America; the war deeply divided the country, ended in an ignominious retreat for the US after the loss of more than 57,000 American lives, and has become synonymous with political and military debacle. The 1968 Tet offensive was a military failure for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, but it turned American public opinion against the war and fatally damaged President Lyndon Johnson, who abandoned his re-election campaign two months later."

The 'crackdown' cracked . . . down. Up? The measure began in mid-June was supposed to secure the capital but violence not only continued in Baghdad, it increased. As John F. Burns (New York Times) reported, Bully Boy "is now left with only a handful of tough and politically unattractive options" as a result of the cracked-up 'crackdown.' Michael Abramowitz and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported, "Senior figures in both parties are coming to the conclusion that the Bush administration will be unable to achieve its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq within a politically feasible time frame." Despite that, CNN reports that White House flack Tony Snow has stated, "There will be no change in strategy." Bully Boy would publicly agree later in the day. Steve Holland (Reuters) reports that Bully Boy, deluded or in denial, insists there will be no changes while Democratic House Representative John Murtha notes: "We've lost the hearts and minds of the people and we've become caught in a civil war." CBS and AP report that Bully Boy's pushing a teleconference tomorrow "with U.S. generals" to determine what to do next. (Those who remember the infamous Hurricane Katrina teleconference will rightly shudder.)

Though Max Boot hasn't lost his heart (can't lose what you don't have), he appears to be losing his grip on reality. Speaking to Michelle Nichols (Reuters), the balding gas bag offered that American troops dying in Iraq has a less of an impact than Americans dying in the Vietnam conflict due to the fact that today "the impact here is more isolated because so many soldiers come from military communities which are clustered in a handful of states." Oh really?

American troop fatalties? Alabama: 47; Alaska: 10; Arizona: 66; Arkansas: 35; California: 284; Colorado: 34; Connecticut: 22; Delaware: 12; Florida: 117; Georgia: 83; Hawaii: 13; Idaho: 16; Illinois: 107; Indiana: 56; Iowa: 33; Kansas: 31; Kentucky: 46; Louisiana: 63; Maine: 12; Maryland: 52; Massachusetts: 45; Michigan: 97; Minnesota: 39; Mississippi: 35; Missouri: 48; Montana: 12; Nebraska: 29; Nevada: 24; New Hampshire: 14; New Jersey: 47; New Mexico: 21; New York: 132; North Carolina: 63; North Dakota: 13; Ohio: 125; Oklahoma: 47; Oregon: 46; Pennsylvania: 135; Rhode Island: 10; South Carolina: 39; South Dakota: 17; Tennessee: 58; Texas: 245; Utah: 14; Vermont: 18; Virginia: 83; Washington: 53; West Virginia: 18; Wisconsin: 60; Wyoming: 7.

A "handful of states"? Can we get some talcum powder for Max Boot? His desk jockeys have apparently left his brain chafed.

The Booty's foolish remarks come as the US military announces another death: a US soldier died in Baghad today from an IED. This death brings the total US fatalities in Iraq for the month of October to 75 and the total of US troop fatalities since the start of the illegal war now stands at 2788.

The news of the death comes as Hamza Hendwai (AP) reports that the parade/declaration of independence earlier this week in Ramadi have now been echoed today "in a string of towns west of Baghdad . . . . the latest parades -- including two less than a mile from U.S. military bases -- were staged in support of an announcement this week by a militant Sunni Arab group that it had created an Islamic state in six of Iraq's 18 provinces, including the capital, Baghdad."

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Halloween in the Kitchen

Last week's post had a number of e-mails about school party experiences (good times and horrors) and also several recipes. Bobbie e-mailed that she stumbled over here this summer by accident and is now exploring the other community sites as well. She also noted that, like Kat and myself, she's a huge fan of spinach. Her recipe required frozen spinach and it is one of the three recipes that I'm including this week. Heather noted a bread and Mary noted a treat.

If you suggested a Halloween recipe and it's not noted, that may be because I didn't have time to try it out myself this week. However, through Halloween, we'll just focus on offerings that could be served for that.

I had no idea it would get such a response and Bobbie wanted it noted that she is a Baptist and someone who "loves" Halloween. She feels there is a tendancy to stereotype her faith as one that's "having a war on Halloween" and she wants it noted that she's not part of that war and she knows "many friends" who are also Baptist and not part of it. She writes, "I see it as a fun day for kids and for grown ups too. I think a lot of people have gone overboard and are stripping all the joy out of the day at a time when we could all use a little happiness."

I'm going to start off by noting Heather's suggestion. If you suggest something and you found it online, please include the link or note where its from so I can hunt it down. If someone enjoys a recipe you found online, there's a good chance the site might have other recipes that they would enjoy as well. I'm starting with Heather's because it will be seen as the most difficult because it's a bread. This is actually a recipe that just requires mixing and then baking. It's a very simple recipe to fix and the bread is really tasty.

Pumpkin Spice Bread SUBMITTED BY: Delora Lucas (All Recipes)
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs. Add pumpkin and mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to the pumpkin mixture alternately with water. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack; cool completely.

If you've never made a bread but always wanted to, the recipe Heather's noted is a good one to start with. "I don't have wire racks to cool the bread on!" If that's the case, you can set them in the window (on top of whatever cloth product you use to pull something out of the oven -- so as not to burn the wood) or you can place them on a cold burner on top of the stove. Note of caution. If you're used to working with spices, you're aware of how to substitue if you're short a spice. If you're new to working with spices, you should use all included. Just dropping a spice because you don't have it in your kitchen will effect the taste of the bread.

So that's a bread and now we've got vegetables. Bobbie's a huge fan of spinach, as am I. It's also true, as any adult at a children's party can tell you, you want to offer more than sweets or else the kids will be climbing the walls (and probably doing so throughout the day and night).

Fungus Among Us Vegetable Salad (Halloween Recipes Index)
Recipe By : Creepy Cuisine, Lucy Munroe
9 ounces frozen creamed spinach
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
4 carrots
2 cucumbers
2 tomatoes
6 to 8 radishes
2 red onions

Prepare the creamed spinach in a saucepan according to the directions on the package and let cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Wash the lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and radishes in cold water. Pat the lettuce dry with paper towels, tear it into pieces and place it in a salad bowl. Peel the carrots, cucumbers and onions, then slice all of the vegetables into small pieces. Add to the salad bowl. Pour the cooled creamed spinach (fungus) into the salad bowl and toss. Penny Halsey (ATBN65B).

The sad truth is that most adults will eat this at a children's party. (Bobbie noted that in her e-mail.) But you will have many kids who will sample it (often at the coaxing of adults). There is so much natural fiber in this dish that even a few bites will be helpful. (Fiber helps slow the absorbtion of sugar by coating the intestinal walls.) Serve it and know the grown ups will enjoy it and that the kids' sugar high will soar a little less high just from a few bites.

Ghost Crackers (Cooks Recipes)
1 tablespoon PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Spread
3 RITZ Crackers
3 raisins, cut in half
Spread cream cheese in ghost shape on top of crackers.
Add raisin pieces for the eyes.
Makes 1 serving, three topped crackers.
Tip: Substitute currants or small candies for the raisins.

I like this recipe and have seen at several parties over the years but never thought to make it myself until Mary e-mailed it this week. Dates are wonderful and round crackers are good to give a face shape, however, you can use another cracker if you prefer. Mary remembered serving it with candy for eyes at one party and a child picking off the candies but not taking any crackers which is a point that adults need to watch closely. No one wants a Ghost Cracker that someone's picked over.

This week's big news for me was Ricky Clousing's court-martial. But it didn't appear to be big news for many in the media. Ricky Clousing is a war resister who said no to the war because he believes it is illegal (as do I). If we want robots, he doesn't matter. If we want people who will strive to uphold the Constitution and conduct themselves in battle in a way that demonstrates what this country stands for, we want more people like Ricky Clousing.

He took a brave stand. Quoting Martin Luther King in his note he left when he self-checked out of the military after returning from Iraq, he said no to this war. He said no again when he faced the court-martial. That took bravery and it saddens me that those who were there to cover his August 11th public statements did not care enough to follow up and cover Thursday's court-martial. Ricky Clousing is not a one day story, he is part of a larger story of resistance to the war and if you missed his story, C.I. notes it in the "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 13, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a coroner finds US forces guilty in the death of a reporter; war resister Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and sentenced yesterday; a British general grabs the headlines with his thoughts on Iraq; southern states in the US are polled on the war; Iraqi police continue to be an issue; and is that friendly person marching in the protest 'cool' or military intelligence?

Starting with
Ricky Clousing who faced a court-martial yesterday and was charged with desertion but pleaded to AWOL. As the AP noted last night, Clousing will be confined for three months and "receive a reduction in rank before getting a bad conduct discharge." April Johnston (Fayetteville Observer) notes that the location Clousing will be defined has yet to be determined and charts the awakening of Clousing faced with realities in Iraq and his own spiritual beliefs which led him to self-check out "for nearly 14 months" before he turned himself in. Laurie Goodstein (New York Times) covers the awakening as well and notes that the military took the case seriously: "Yet the military prosecutors made it clear on Thursday that the stakes were high. Although they did not challenge his motives, they said if one young soldier disilluioned by the reality of war could give up the uniform punishment, what of others?"

Of course the military saw that the stakes were high. Clousing is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that only continues to grow. The US military grasps that. Does independent media?

Goodstein interviews Chuck Fager of the Quaker House who took Clousing's call: "This call was unusual. . . . I don't have these kinds of probing discussions about moral and religious issues very often. . . . I said to him, you're not crazy or a heretic for having difficulty reconciling Jesus' teachings with what's going on in Iraq."

Last Friday, war resister Darrell Anderson was released by the US military and informed that he would face a dishonorable discharge.
Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are war resisters currently awaiting word from the US military.Courage to Resist covers all public war resisters. Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and Corey Glass are among the war resisters who are attempting to be granted asylum by the Canadian government.

War resistance and other efforts to end the war come at a time when the American public has turned against the war and polls have tracked this trend for too long and it's too firm for for it to be shaken.
CounterPunch News Services reports on a new poll from the Institute for Southern Studies and the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina which finds: "56% of Southerners believe the U.S. 'should have stayed out of Iraq'"; "Southerners are skeptical about the goals of the Iraq mission"; and "62% of respondents in the South said they were 'very sad' about the course of the war". CounterPunch reports: "The results signal a shift in Southern attitudes towards Iraq. As recently as July 2005, a Pew Center poll found 53% of Southerners believed using military force against Iraq was 'the right decision,' the highest level of support in the country."

Next week, October 19th, Vietnam war resister
Dave Dellinger will speak about "Resistance to War in a Volunteer Army" at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South in Manhattan from seven pm to nine pm.

As the resistance grows, more voices speak out from all places and all areas.
Richard Norton-Taylor and Tania Branigan (Guardian of London) report on the surprising statements of British General Richard Dannatt who "dropped a political bombshell last night by saying that Britain must withdraw from Iraq 'soon' or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society. In a blistering attack on Tony Blair's foreign policy, Gen Dannatt said the continuing military presence in Iraq was jeopardising British security and interests around the world." The BBC reports: "Tony Blair has said he agrees with "every word" the new head of the British Army said on the Iraq war. But the agreement depends upon a watered-down interpretation of the remarks. Regardless of how the remarks are interpreted, Australia's ABC reports that Chatty Cathy Brendan Nelson, who holds the title of Defence Minister in Australia, doesn't care: "So long as I remain Minister, we are there to see the job through." Of course, should the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco do its job and apportion accountability (don't hold your breath), Nelson might not "remain Minister" for very long.

Last Friday, Nicholas Walshe testified at an inquest in London that he'd seen ITN reporter Terry Lloyd "shot in the head by US troops as he was driven away from a gunfight." Lloyd was killed March 22, 2003 as was Huseein Osman who was acting as interpreter. Fred Nerac, the camera operator, has never been found. CNN reports that Andrew Alker, the coroner, has ruled: "Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming."
Lynn Lloyd, wife of the late Terry Lloyd, is
quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald stating that the US military "allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians travelling." The Pentagon denies any wrongdoing took place. CNN reports that Chelsey Lloyd wants justice in the death of her father and has stated of the US military: "They did not come to this inquist to explain their actions. Let them now do so in our criminal courts where they are guaranteed to get a fair trial." The BBC reports that the killing has been called a war crime by the National Union of Journalists and notes a statement by David Mannion ("editor in chief" ITN): "I have no doubt it was the fact that the vehicle stopped to pick up survivors that prompted the Americans to fire on that vehicle. I would also like to say something that I know Terry would have wished me to say. Independent, unilateral reporting, free from official strictures, is crucial; not simply to us as journalists but to the role we play in a free and democratic society."

Terry Lloyd died in March 2003 -- one of the early fatalities. And the chaos and violence continues.


Reuters reports that a bombing of police station in Hilla resulted in six deaths and 12 wounded. A later Reuters story reports the number wounded dropped to ten -- because two more moved over to the death column for a total of eight dead. CBS and AP note that the bomb was placed "under his [police commander] desk or chair, apparently by someone who evaded security". And the US military announced today that soldier died in Iraq on Thursday from "an improvised explosive device." [The death brought the US military fatality count to 46 for the month and 2759 since the start of the illegal war.]


Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that two girls and six women were shot dead in Suwayrah (while two more were kidnapped), "a father and his two sons" were shot dead by in Baquba while another two people were shot dead elsewhere in Baquba.


CNN reports that, in Dhuluiya, the corpses of 14 people kidnapped on Thursday were discovered "dumped in an orchard". Reuters notes that seven corpses ("riddled with bullets") were discovered in Balad and another two were discovered "near Garma, near Falluja".

As the violence and chaos continue in Iraq,
James Gordon Meek (New York Daily News) reports: "The Bush administration plans to shut down a highly successful Iraqi police academy in Jordan even as security in Iraq worsens, the Daily News has learned. The Jordan International Police Training Center near Amman will stop training Iraqi police recruits this year, having already graduated 40,000 cops from its eight-week course since 2004, U.S. officials confirmed." Meek notes that the Baghdad Police College "has to be rebuilt because of bungled construction." Confused? This follows Griff Witte's September reporting (Washington Post) on the issue of Parsons' "botched construction of a $75 million police academy in Baghdad so badly that human waste dripped from the ceilings" and, therefore, "posed a health risk".

This also follows
the news from last week that the Eighth Brigade of the Second Division of the Iraqi National Police was the primary suspect in a mass kidnapping leading even the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Willie Caldwell IV, to declare: "There was clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely, when in fact they were supposed to be impeding their movment. It was realized that removing them from Baghdad would, in fact, enhance security." The 'answer' then was 'retraining.' Retraining where may be the question to ask today. Of course, as James Hider (Times of London) noted last week, "US forces have been re-training the Iraqi police, but the programme has had little impact". Most recently, reporting on the mass slaying of the employees of the Baghdad TV station, both Kirk Semple and Qais Mizher (New York Times) and Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri (Washington Post) noted that witnesses described the assailants as being clad in police uniforms and driving vehicles bearing the markings of the Iraqi police.

But not to worry.
Gerald Burke (the American "National Security Adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior") tells AFP that the ministry he advises/controls 'budgets' for deaths of police officers and, currently, they're 'budgeting' for the death of 25 Iraqis each day. Sounds like just the thing to stress at the next Jobs Fair.

In peace news,
the ACLU has released some documents. Are you now or have you ever been a peace activist? Chances are you've been spied upon during the illegal war in Iraq. The ACLU finds: "The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database" and quotes attorney Ben Wizner stating: "When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism." Those with longer memories will recall the days of spying on peace activists, feminists, civil rights workers and basically anyone else 'guilty' of 'thought crimes.' (If your memory is short, click here.)

Meanwhile, Bob Watada, father of
Ehren Watada, is nearing the end of the second speaking tour to raise awareness about his son -- Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The upcoming dates include:

Sat 10/14 morning Press Conference San Diego
Contact: Reiko Obata 858-483-6018 email: for San Diego events.

Sat 10/14 6:00 pm Lt. Watada Dinner/Fundraiser San Diego (suggested donation: $15)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, 1036 Solano Drive, Solano Beach

Mon. 10/16 4:30-5:30 pm National Lawyers Guild of San Diego
Room 300, Thomas Jefferson Law School, 2120 San Diego Ave, San Diego

To see the schedule in full, PDF, click
here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and

I would also recommend Wally's "THIS JUST IN! FELON IN THE CONGRESS" and Cedric's "Felon in the Congress!" because that's an important domestic story as well. Also don't miss the latest chapter to Betty's online comic novel "The Queen Bee Gets Stung" which underscores, my opinion, Ava and C.I.'s point in "TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood" that sometimes a "first" can be a worst.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Brownies and school party tips in the Kitchen

Suzette's daughter is in first grade and Suzette's focusing on the upcoming class Halloween party. She's already put in for time off at work so she can be there as one of the parents helping out and she e-mailed that she really wants to bring brownies but she's never made them.

I'm going to share the easiest recipe I know (with an addition) but also share, as I did in my e-mail to Suzanne, that if you're making brownies from scratch for the first time and worried, there are many brownie mixes available in stores. If it's your first time fixing them from scratch and you're concerned about serving them to others, I strongly suggest that, in addition to the ingredients need for the recipe that follows, you buy a mix as a back up in case something goes wrong (for instance, burns).

For this recipe you need:

1 stick of butter
2 squares of UNSWEETENED chocolate
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teapsoon of vanilla
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 individual king-size M&Ms

Melt the stick of butter and 2 squares of UNSWEETENED chocolate in a saucepan. You need to stir repeatedly or it will burn. As soon as it's melted, turn off the burner and move to the saucepan to a cool burner. If you're nervous about burning, you can actually take it off the hot burner before it's competely melted. When 2/3s of the mixture is melted, you can take it off the heat and stir it repeatedly which will combine the hot sections with the cool and melt the rest. (Suzette says she has a tendency to burn everything on first try.) If you're in a panic, put the mixture in a microwaveable glass/plastic container and heat for thirty second bursts, stirring after each burst, until the mixture is melted.

Once the mixture is melted, stir in a cup of sugar, two eggs (crack them and drop in the mixture, you're not whipping these before they go in) and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. I have a mixer but I never use it for it brownies. It's too much work to clean the bowl and attachments so I just stir by hand.

To this mixture, add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue to mix. Once upon a time, I'd add walnuts here but five of my eight children ended up anti-walnuts. (They'll eat them by themselves but don't care for them in brownies.) So instead I began adding M&Ms here to give the brownies a crunch. This is where you add the M&Ms and stir.

You're not using a big bag of M&Ms. This is the "King Size" indiviual item on the candy aisle with other candy bars, not hanging from a hook with the pound bag, et al. If you use the regular individual size, you'll need three of those. And check because sometimes there's a sale that will make the three individual servings cheaper than the one king size.

Pour the mixture into a floured 8-inch square pan and bake at 325 degrees for forty minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares.

There's another reason for the M&Ms, Suzette's fixing this for a school. Brownies are chocolate. M&Ms are chocolate. Anyone eating a brownie knows they are getting chocolate so you haven't added an ingredient that someone might be allergic to. No parent will say, "Those look great, I wish you hadn't put ___ in because my child can't have ___."

However, some people can't eat chocolate. It's not your job to provide an item that every child can eat. But if you're part of the planning stage, as Suzette is, your job does include being aware of food allergies, diabetes and other issues. There should be enough of a vareity in what is offered that every child can enjoy something. Like Suzette, I always signed up for my children's parties and enjoyed every one of them (well, almost every one . . .). There were two diabetic children in classes early on. For those, I always suggested sugar free candy or sweets. However, when Mike was in second grade, a classmate with diabetes had parents who had made the decision not to utilize sugar free sweets because they felt that could lead to an aquired taste that would lead to temptation when they (the parents) weren't around.

So, if you're part of the planning group, never think, "Oh, there's someone with diabetes, so make sure you've got sugar free sweets." Check with a parent of the child first to make sure that they do allow their child sugar free sweets.

Another note of caution. Supervision is important. When one of my daughters came down with strep, I had to bail on a class party and I've always seen that as a blessing. I wasn't there. Why? A dish of nuts was on the table. There was a child with a peanut allegery and another child thought it would be funny to sneak a peanut into the child's sandwich. The child ended up in the emergency room. If I had been there, I might have been like the other parents present and not noticed. So I'm glad I wasn't there. (I had a replacement so my not being there hadn't left them empty handed or I would feel guilty about that to this day.)

I wouldn't put out nuts. I wouldn't put out a fresh fruit if a child in the class was allergic to it. Once the kids start digging in, everything is at risk of getting mixed together or moved around.

There are a lot of food allergies and, if you're a parent responsible for helping plan the party, it's your job to know what those allergies are. Mike's allergic to strawberries. He wouldn't have to go to the emergency room, but he would break out in hives. (Actually, the doctor said he'd grow out of it and he may have by now. The memory of the hives is so great that he's always avoided fresh strawberries.) So, to use that as an example, if a parent brought strawberries, it's not enough that Mike didn't eat any. A child could get the juice on their hands or on napkins or whatever else and then touch Mike and we'd have hives. More likely, they'll touch a toy while they're eating it and the toy will be passed on.

So if there's an issue like that, it's better to cut out the item then to assume that it will only be picked up by those wanting to eat it and no one else will be effected. Because I had eight kids, I usually knew a number of the families in each class so I'd have a heads up to allegeries and food issues from previous parties. But I would always check with them as well as the parents of students I didn't know as well. Most schools keep a record of allergies and health issues but not everything gets noted. Sometimes, when you're filling out that information, there's not time to note everything and you may think, "Oh, ___ will never be served at school anyway." That's not always true when it comes to parties. So make sure you're aware of what is allowed and what isn't for each child. With my youngest in high school now, my school party days are over.

But here are a few things I learned over the years. (Sometimes learned the hard way.)

If a child tells you they can have something and you're thinking the parent had stated they couldn't, the parent probably did tell you their child couldn't have it. Kids like a lot of things that will hurt them.

The first diabetic child I ever encountered would swear to me, year after year from K through fifth grade, that he really was allowed sweets "just one." He wasn't. But all the other kids were grabbing them.

For that reason and others, try to make a point to eat something, in a public way, that has been specifically brought for one child or one segment of children. "He can only have the crackers, ha ha!" won't get said by any other kids, if you're eating the crackers (or whatever) yourself. You'd be surprised how many children are following what the other students are eating. Also, by eating something publicly, you may encourage other children to sample it.

No one leaves until they've helped clean up something. My second oldest daughter hated the fact that I helped out because it meant that she would have to pick up (because we'd be among the last to leave). Everyone needs to learn that their party means they take part in the clean up. If X arrives to pick up their child early (which usually happens on party days), give the a child a task to do, something as simple as throwing away their plate, if nothing else.

I never felt sorry for my second oldest daughter (though I did tire of her complaining about it) but I did feel sorry for the kids who were always the last to leave. There was always one group and I'm sure they are among the tidiest people in the country today. But it's not fair to them, or to the ones who are left with the impression that you eat, play and dash out, that one group always gets stuck with cleaning.

No matter how a parent may say "We've got to go!" they don't have to go at that minute. Short of health emergency, they don't have to go at that moment. There is enough time for a child to throw away their cup and plate. This was usually only a problem if one parent usually picked them on up but, on a party day, another parent showed up. A father who regularly picks up their child knows that it's rare that you walk in and immediately leave. If a parent shows up and is instructing their child to "Hurry up!" -- you can easily add, "Yes, throw away your plate and gather your things."

If every child helps with one small bit, the clean up required when only a few children are left is much less and it also teaches responsibility.

Your beautiful punch bowl, passed on down through your family, has no place at a children's party. That's true of any item. But I do remember a mother who had to excuse herself after the broken glass had been cleaned up to go have a cry. Never bring any container or dish that can't be lost or broken. I wouldn't suggest glass anything. But there is usually one parent, usually who's planning on being present for the entire party, who is sure that it won't break. The same applies to tablecoths and you should use plastic ones, not cloth.

If you're amazed by how much a child eats, keep that thought to yourself. You may think you can whisper it to another parent but some child will hear and it will get back. This is their party and you're not there to play Joan and Melissa Rivers, you're there to be sure that no fights break out and everyone has a chance to enjoy themselves.

The same goes for any personal detail about your own life. If you don't feel like announcing to the class that you're, for instance, getting a divorce, don't whisper it to another parent. Just as something will always get broken or lost, something will always be overheard.

Hopefully, at least one of the tips will help someone.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 6, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, war resister Darrell Anderson is headed home (he returned to the United States, turned himself in at Fort Knox on Tuesday, now he's headed home), World Can't Wait staged protests across the United States on Thursday, the Danish military suffers a fatality in Iraq, the US military notes a death toll on Iraqi police officers but continues to look the other way with regards to violence toward Iraqi women, and Bob Watada, father of war resisterer Ehren Watada, continues his second speaking tour to raise awareness on his son.

Starting with war resister Darrell Anderson. In April of 2004, Anderson was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq and awarded a Purple Heart. Returning to the US and learning he would be redeployed to Iraq, Anderson elected to self-check out of the military in January 2005 and move to Canada. Anderson spoke out publicly against the war while in Canada, attempted to win refugee status (something the Canadian government has refused all war resisters), met Gail Greer, married her in February 2006 but decided to return to the United States. On Saturday, he crossed the Peace Bridge back into the US and, on Tuesday, he turned himself in at Fort Knox.
Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) reports that Jim Fennerty, Anderson's attorney, states Darrell Anderson "was released from Fort Knox this morning and is on his way home". AP reports that Anderson "is expected to be discharged without a court-martial".

While some resist war, US Secretary of State Condi Rice incites it. Rice was in Baghdad on Thursday where -- as
Robin Wright (Washington Post), Philp Shenon (New York Times) and CBS and AP reported -- her plane had to circle the airport for approximately forty minutes due to mortar and rocket attacks. Not aimed at her, mind you, such is the state of Baghdad that Rice's unnannounced visit didn't effect what's become life as usual. From there, on Friday, Condi headed to the Kurdish region, which is oil rich, and, as AFP reports, made noises about sharing the wealth with Massud Barzani (regional president). She was so busy that the meeting in London among "world powers" had to be delayed two hours, Thomas Wagner (AP) reports which left "leaders little time to reach a consensus and making it unlikely." If the decision on sanctions has been delayed, a detour's been created in Bully Boy's march to war on Iran meaning, possibly, citizens around the world should pray that Condi has many more unexpected layovers. (Update on this by Sophie Walker of Reuters.)

Wright (Washington Post) noted, Rice's visit began as the Kurdish parliamentarian Mohammed Ridah Sinkawi was assassinated. As Shenon (New York Times) noted, the visit with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani took place "in the dark" after "the lights went out . . . It was a reminder of the city's erratic -- and sometimes nonexistant -- electrical service." Along with electrical problems, Rice visit occurred as Xinhua reported that: "Toxic water in the Tigris river killed thousands of fish and birds in Iraq's Salahudin province . . . The provincial water directorate, which produces drinking water for people in this area, ordered all its projects to suspend working and wait for the tests' results". Three years after the illegal war began and they can't even keep the lights on the fortified Green Zone of Baghdad, nor can they address the issue of the Tigris which provides "drinking water supplies for millions of Iraqis."

CNN reports Joseph Paterson ("commander in charge of police training in Iraq") announced that "Since September 2004 . . . about 4,000 [police] officers have been killed and 8,000 injured". And of course, as AFP reported earlier, between 800 and 1,200 police officers are being retrained after they were thought to be complicit in the mass kindappings from earlier this week. What the US military refuses to talk about is women in Iraq. Nabeel Ziriqi (Al Jazeera) reported earlier this week: "A recent spike in attacks on women has forced many in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to retreat into their homes or resort to armed escort by relatives and tribal guards. In recent weeks, Mosul residents have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the number of female corpses found throughout the city. Alaa al-Badrani said her friend, a school principal, was kidnapped from her home in the Bakr district of the city by an armed gang."


Bahrain News Agency reports that a roadside bomb targeted "a US military patrol . . . passing by in Husaiba to the est of the Iraqi city of Ramadhi." No word on any casualities or fatalities. AFP reports mortar rounds wounded seven in Baghdad. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports a "double bombing" that first "set the generator ablaze, then when firefighters and others rushed in, the second went off" resulting in one death and four injured.


KUNA reports that Denmark's 500 troops serving in Iraq are now 499 as a soldier, injured in an "armed confrontation" in southern Iraq, died as he was being transported to a hospital.


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports seven corpses discovered "floating in the area of Suwayrah". AFP reports that Baghdad police discovered 35 corpses in the capital in the last 24 hours.

This comes as the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Malki's little examined 4-part 'peace' plan continues to be hailed by an unquestioning press. One not hailing it is
Firas Al-Atraqchi (Al-Ahram Weekly) who notes of the first plank -- 'security committees': "The committees would monitor whether police and the Iraqi army effectively pursue militia fighters after an attack. But the plan falls far short of any significant effort to curb violence because it does not address the disarming of militias, which Maliki had promised in late May, and focuses entirely on Baghdad. The rest of the country, it seems, can go to hell."

IRIN reports a slight improvement for the life of prisoners in Iraqi prisons just as AP reports that: "Guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice, a U.S. Marine sergeant said in a sworn statement". (If you're confused as to the connection between Guantanamo and Iraq, on today's KPFA's Living Room, Kris Welch presented some recorded footage of Janis Karpinski explaining the efforts to "Gitmo-ize" Abu Ghraib.)

In legal news,
AP reports that the trial of Pendleton Eight, accused of shooting an unarmed Iraqi dead after dragging from his Hamdaniya home, included testimony today from one of the eight, Melson J. Bacos, who testified "he saw two Marines fire at least 10 rounds into 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad". AP reports that Bacos, a medic, "pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy charges" in the death of Awad.
Reuters reports that Bacos tetified Lawrence Hutchins III had devised a plan for another Iraqi (one who had been in and out of Abu Ghraib) but, when unable to locate that man, they went after Hashim Ibrahim Awad who happened to live next door to the Iraqi Hutchins had intended they kidnap and kill.

Meanwhile, in London,
AFP reports that an inquest into the death of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd heard testimony from Nicholas Walshe who stated Lloyd "was shot in the head by US troops as he was driven away from a gunfight". As the BBC noted, March 23, 2003, Terry Lloyd "has not been seen since he and three colleagues came under fire as [they] were on the road to the city of Basra." The Guardian of London reports that, in addition, a British solider testified "he saw a US tank open fire on the ITN team's vehicles" and that this was "the first public acknowledgement that British forces witnessed the events of March 22, 2003, in which Mr. Lloyd and his interpreter Huseein Osman died and his French cameraman Fred Nerac went missing near Basra in southern Iraq."

Frederic Nerac remains missing and
Reporters Without Borders notes that "British defence ministry opened an investigation in June 2003 into their [Nerac and Hussein Osman] disappearance at the insistence of Nerac's wife Fabienne and press freedom organisations including Reporters Without Borders."

Will Dunham (Reuters) reports that "signs of wear and tear on the U.S. military" has resulted from Iraq and Afghanistan and that "Many troops are facing second and third long combat tours and less time between overseas deployments." Or none at all. A point Laurie Loving makes very clear on page 2 of The Nation's October 16, 2006 issue. Loving, a member of Military Families Speak Out, opens her letter with the following: "My son is in the 172nd Stryker Brigade (Army). It recently had its one-year deployment to Iraq extended while in the midst of deploying back to the United States. He is one of the 400 soldiers who had made it back to Fairbanks, Alaska. A few days later he was informed that he was going to be sent back to Iraq. His brigade has been sent to Baghdad to save the occupation."

In US congressional news,
John Nolen (CBS) covers Republican Senator John Warner's reaction to this week's visit to Iraq: "In two or three months, if this thing hasn't come to fruition and if this level of violence is not under control . . . I think it's the responsibility of our government, internally to determine: Is there a change in course that we should take? And I wouldn't take off the table any option at this time." This as AFP reports on Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's trip to Vietnam which found him drawing some comparisons to Iraq and Vietnam and declaring "War should always be a last resort." Reporting on the other side of the aisle, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) notes that Democratic "U.S. House Reps. Neil Abercrombie and John Murtha say President Bush will have to mobilize all members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve -- including 3,000 Hawaii citizen soldiers -- for an indefinite period. There are not enough active-duty military to handle the current level of violence in Iraq, the two Democrats said yesterday. That would affect Army National Guard units like Hawaii's 29th Brigade Combat Team, which currently is not supposed to be mobilized for six years since returning from Iraq this year."

In peace news, across the United States people participated in demonstrations, rallies and marches as part of the
World Can't Wait actions. Whethere the turnout was ten people or in the hundreds, all demonstrations made a difference, had an impact and was made up of people willing to stand up. We're going to note some of the events, not all. Over 200 locations took part and what follows is a sample of some events reported by the press.

Reno Gazette-Journal reports that an estimated 40 people turned out in Reno, carrying signs that read "Vote for change," "I believe in our Constitution, why doesn't Bush?," "Where is the plan?" and U.S. Out of Iraq." Adam Leech (Portsmouth Herald) reports that at least fifty turned out in Portsmouth, Maine and he quotes Vietnam vet Brian Vawter saying, "I think we're all pretty fed up with what's going on iwth the decline of our rights and the direction this country is going. People have a need to express themselves directly because their view isn't being expressed by either partly in Washington right now." Sam Shawver (Marietta Times) reports that ten people turned out in Marietta, Ohio and quotes two: James Gawthrop stating, "I just learned about a few days ago, but my hands were shaking over the 'torture bill' Congress passed last Thursday. Now the Bush administration can detain anybody suspected of being a terrorist indefinitely. They can use secret evidence to hold you. They can even use torture"; and Janie Poe who wore a CODEPINK t-shirt to the demonstration stating, "I've been talking with many young people, and I'm impressed. Listen to young people. They're very concerned about their future, and they're very informed." [Poe urged people to support Amnesty USA and speak out against torture.] In the previous, that's a hundred people who stood up (more if press estimates are off).

In Florida,
John Simpson (Bradenton Herald) reports that 150 people turned out in Sarasota to demonstrate and quotes Naomi Nye: "People are fed up. The tide is definitely turning." Simpson also notes 82-year-old Sara Dick who stated, "We're in even more danger (now). In some areas, there are more rights, but we're always slipping and sliding backwards." Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports that an estimated 300 people gathered in Olympia, Washington and quotes college student Brandon Franz stating, "The people of America are supposed to have the voice in what's done, not the ruling elite" and Kirsten Anderson who states, "I'm doing this for my grandchildren. I'm a little old to have it be for me, and it's the ones comping up that I care about. It's their country, too, especially now." Summer Banks (Yale Daily News) reports that an estimated 60 people participated near campus and notes one was "[l]ocal resident and self-proclaimed Republican housewife Monica McGovern" who stated, "I am calling for Bush to step down or for Congress to impeach him. I would like to see him indicted for war crimes." Beth Freed (Dallas Morning News) reports that an estimated forty people participated in Lewisville, Texas resulting in "slowed southbound traffic on Interstate 35E . . . . Many commuters honked in support of the peace demonstrators outside the office of U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, while others slowed to express their disagreement" and quotes Nikki Henderson stating, "We as Americans should not tolerate decisions like last week's legislation. It allows Bush to interpret the Geneva Conventions on his own."

Big or small turnouts, people stood up. They stopped their normal day to speak out.
Louis Medina (The Bakersfield California) reports an estimated seventy-five activists were particiapting by the end of the events and quotes college student Araceli Aguilar stating, "I came here to protest the Bush administration. I don't agree with what they're doing. I don't agree with the war, which they said is over, yet we still have our troops there and they're dying." Melissa Nix (The Free Lance Star) reports that, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, an estimated two dozen students of the University of Mary Washington participated and quotes college student Jason Walsh who held 268 pages listing the names of American troops who had died in Iraq, "That's a small book. It's a waste, because no one's going to read it. No one cares about these soldiers except their families." OregonLive reports that a little less than 400 people participated in Portland's march. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Lubna Takruri (AP) reports that "dozens" turned out and the mayor, David Coss, spoke to the group.

A mayor, students, retired people, those who work in the home, those who work outside it (and those working outside frequently also work inside), a wide range of people took part.
Patrick Flanigan (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) reports that an estimated "150 people gathered in downtown Rochester [New York] on Thursday to protest President Bush's handling of the war on terror and the mounting death toll in Iraq" and quotes Donna Mummery: "Our country is about to embark on a very dangerous course. By taking to the streets on a work day, you are saying enough is enough." Also in New York, Alice Hunt (Poughkeepsie Journal) reports that activists gathered in New Paltz and quotes Josh Schulman stating, "Our first step is to initiate that dialogue and permeat the mass media with the message Bush does not speak for many Americans." While in NYC, Chelsea Cooley (Washington Square News) reports: "Hundreds of protesters packed the streets yesterday, marching 33 blocks from the United Nations building at First Avenue and 47th Street to Union Square, chanting their message: 'Drive out the Bush regime!'"

In one of the largest reported turnouts,
Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, Brendan McCarthy and Rudy Bush (Chicago Tribune) report that an estimated 1,500 people turned out in Chicago and quotes college student Rebecca Miller on skipping class to attend, "It's just one class. I can always make up the homework. This is more important." and Thyandrea Adams who shut down her business to be present, "I told them not to come into work today. This is a day that's important. It was worth it to show support from our community." In Seattle, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports "several hundreds" turned out and Barber quotes Patricia Thompson who brought "her 82-year-old father" because, "He is horrified at the mess they made of Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction was a snow job. We never finished in Afghanistan. It's an absolute shambles of incompetency and profiteering."

In San Francisco, Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows Friedman covered the event for
KPFA's Flashpoints on Thursday (broadcast archived -- if you can listen online, you can hear it for free), Charles Slay (San Francisco Indybay Media) has created a photo essay, and John Koopman, Patrick Hoge and Marisa Lagos (San Francisco Chronicle) report on the "hundres" (it was well over a thousand) and notes 17-year-old Jessica Cussins, among the many who left campuses to attend, stating, "I felt that this was more useful. I wanted to be part of it. I think what we're doing (in Iraq) is wrong." Alice Walker is quoted stating: "I just want the children to know that some of the elders are with them, and that we're very happy they are speaking out and saving their own lives by resisting the Bush regime." [You can also check out Mike's "Blue Angels buzzing rally and power cut (San Francisco)" which relays Jess reporting via cellphone.]

Ehren Watada was not in Salem, Oregon yesterday but he was remembered. Tim King (Salem-News) reports that among those participating in their local World Can't Wait demonstrations ("between 75 and 100") was Reed Elder who urged that everyone check out Ehren Watada's website and that other "soldiers who also don't agree withe the direction of the nation" should be speaking out.

Bob Watada, Ehren's father, is now on his second speaking tour to raise awareness of his son who is the first US officer to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war. Some of the upcoming events include:

Sat 10/7 2:00-4:00 pm Welcome Reception for Bob Watada
JACCC Garden Room, 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles
Contact: NCRR 213-680-3484, email:

Sun 10/8 2:00-5:00 pm Forum with Bob Watada
Nat'l Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 111 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles.
Contact Ellen Endo 213-629-2231 or Mo 323-371-4502

Sun 10/8 6:00-8:00 pm An Evening of Discussion and Learning hosted by Rev. Phyllis Tyler
11326 CherryLee Dr., El Monte (Rev. Tyler is Senior Pastor of Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church in Alhambra) Co-sponsored by NCRR and the National Japanese American United Methodist Church Caucus
Contact: NCRR 213-680-3484 email:

Mon 10/9 7:00pm Veterans for Peace (Chapter 112) and Citizens for Peaceful Resolution
E.P. Foster Library, Topping Rm. 651, E. Main St., Ventura
Contact: Michael Cervantes 805-486-2884 email:

Wed 10/100 7:00-9:45 pm CSULB Asian American and Chicano & Latino Studies Classes
Dr. John Tsuchida and Dr. Juan Benitez
1250 Bellflower Bl, Long Beach

Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm. First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:

A full schedule, in PDF form, can be found
here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at and information on all known war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.