Saturday, February 24, 2007

Arroz Con Pollo in the Kitchen

Maria simplified several different recipes and we tried out three different ones in our kitchens, Maria, Wally's mother and myself. We felt this was both the easiest and the tastiest.

Arroz Con Pollo
2 cups long grain rice
2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes

8 ounces of salsa
2 1/2 cups of water
1/2 chicken (parts or drumstricks, breasts, etc.)

Put chicken and rice in pan and add water. Turn the burner to high and allow the water to come to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, carefully add in the salsa and the dice tomatoes. Do nut dump them in or the water will splash onto you. Let them slide in at an angle. Once you've added both, change the heat on the burner to low, cover the pan and allow it to cook for 25 minutes.

The salsa? You're buying it to cook with. Maria said "Go generic" and I would agree with that because I couldn't taste the difference when I made it with name-brand salsa and with generic.
Your salsa will give you more tomatoes as well as onions and cilantro so using the salsa was the "lightbulb" for Maria. She said her oldest suggested it because he thought the recipe was kind of bland. Chicken is whatever pieces you like or whatever you found on sale. This is a simple version of the recipe and we all kept Coy in mind while trying out different versions. Maria says that if people like this and get used to it, next fall, she'll share her authentic recipe which calls for more ingredients and more prep.

Last week, in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Origins," we all explained our sites. Everyone did a wonderful job and we were all supposed to share our own comments at our site for "an easy post." I think the week got so busy that everyone forgot.

Trina (Trina's Kitchen): Like Cedric, I was aware that most community sites don't post on Saturday and with The Third Estate Sunday Review's all night sessions, C.I. wasn't able to do more than one entry on Saturdays. So I thought I could do something on Saturdays. It was thought of and considered by me but, when I finally did it, I just leaped right in and e-mailed C.I. about how I created a site because I didn't know anything about templates or links or anything. I knew how to e-mail and I could search on Yahoo. That's about it for my computer skills. I'm covering cooking at my site. I'm aware that the economy is in the toilet and has been there. Even with seeing me cook all their lives, when my kids move out, they frequently have emergency calls asking, "What do I do?" One of my sons has huge student loans and right before I started, he'd asked me to show him some basic recipes so he could save some money and I keep that in mind when I'm coming up with recipes. Is it easy to cook, will it taste good and can you make it without going broke? I usually add some commentary in there as well and I repost the snapshot as well. I'm surprised that anyone reads it but happy that they do. I am most pleased about an e-mail from a family member of a war resister. I think the print magazines, the high circulation ones, of the left have completely failed war resisters and I felt that way before I heard from the family member. I wrote her back and whenever I think, "Oh, I've got nothing to say," I do remember that e-mail and how it did mean a lot to her that war resisters weren't being ignored. And they aren't being ignored. When someone e-mails to share a recipe or to request one, they always mention war resisters. I think that's one of the issues that this community, as a whole, really stepped up to the plate on. I have community members who read the site and I also have readers who don't really surf. They look forward to the Saturday recipe and they usually note a thank you for the snapshot. Sometimes, they misunderstand and think I wrote it so I have to clear that up. But I do think that's Rebecca's right about how The Common Ills is the flag ship of the community but the rest of us, if we do our part, can bring the issues to others who may not be aware of them otherwise.

So that was me offering my own reasons and what I'm pleased about. My husband pointed out to me that I'd passed the year mark last month and I honestly hadn't noticed. I usually get online Saturday mornings and try to rush to pull something together. The recipe is usually the easiest part because it's already figured out and tested during the week. But then I try to figure out what I can say. That's where I usually get tripped up because, some mornings, I'm rushing out the door to do some errands before I blog. I'm also usually rushing because C.I. tries to note all the community sites in Saturday's entry and I don't want to delay that.

I know I have a little more time this morning because C.I. was in Florida this week and going around speaking on campuses with Wally. Then they went out to have some fun (I believe Wally's grandfather went with) Friday night so C.I.'s still in Florida this morning and Wally and Cedric are going to post before C.I. does (Wally and Cedric do joint-posts). So, with Wally's mother promising to call me when Wally gets up this morning, I have a little more time before the warning bell goes off.

So I want to touch on two topics this morning: war resisters being one and rape being the other. If you follow The Common Ills, you're informed about war resisters but if you're just getting C.I.'s Friday Iraq snapshots here, you may miss some details. Kyle Snyder and Mark Wilkerson are two that you may have missed some details on.

This is from Soldier Say No!:

Kyle Thanks You for Your Continuing Support
Kyle Snyder is extremely thankful for all the wonderful support he received from so many people as he traveled from late October through early January to Louisville, Chicago, Fort Benning, Georgia, New Orleans, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle and Bellingham.
"There are lots of great people in the U.S. and I will never forget them, especially the Vietnam veterans and the Iraq veterans who showed me so much love and support," he says.
"People in the U.S. were very generous," says Kyle. "It was their donations of money at our various public meetings that allowed me to keep moving in the U.S., to avoid arrest, and, finally, to return to Canada," says Snyder. "I will never forget that."
"Even though I am back in Canada, I still need your support. I am trying to make a new start here, but I have almost no funds at all. So I am asking all my wonderful supporters in the U.S. to consider makingone more donation to help me get on my feet."
Aside from pulling together funds for first and last month's rent, Kyle needs to raise $2,000 for upcoming legal fees and marriage-related fees.
Interested donors can make out checks to Kyle Snyder and mail them to him at:
Kyle Snyder, 310-A Victoria St., Nelson, BC, V1L 4K4, CANADA.
Tax-deductible donations for Kyle Snyder can also be made online through Courage To Resist,, an excellent resource for action alerts in support of GI resisters."Thank you all so much," says Kyle. "It means a lot to me to know that I am not alone."
Ask the Canadian Government to Welcome War Resisters
Kyle Snyder is also calling on people in both the U.S. and Canada to press the Canadian government to create a sanctuary policy for U.S. war resisters, one that will ease their immigration to Canada. "It's the right and necessary thing to do," he said.
Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
You may send comments to the Honourable Diane Finley at
Or write to:
The Honourable Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.Citizenship and Immigration CanadaOttawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 CANADA
Canada’s Prime Minister
You can send your comments to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by e-mail to or write or fax the Prime Minister's office at:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2 CANADA
Fax: 613-941-6900

Kyle Snyder's story briefly is that he was hard-sold on the military by a recruiter while he was in high school. He was living in foster care at the time and I'm sure that this man coming by and saying he believes in you and even attending your graduation meant a lot to him. As did the promises that were empty promises but a high school kid probably doesn't think someone wearing a uniform is going to lie. Kyle believes all the promises and sees it as a way for him to get his life started and provide for his himself and his girlfriend (I'm not sure if they were engaged when Kyle signed up or not, but I believe they were by the time he joined). Right away, the lies become evident. At its worst, the military does nothing to help his girlfriend who is going through a very difficult pregnancy and ends up miscarrying due to the fact that she didn't have adequate health care. His grandfather passes away and he's not able to attend to the funeral. Those are among the personal betrayals. Professionally, he's in Iraq and realizing that he's been lied to about just about everything. There's not even any honor higher up as his group gets abandoned by their leader who decides to grab another assignment. He sees a lot of brutality over there and what I would call war crimes though I'm not sure if he's ever used that term. He went there believing they were there to reconstruct and make things better for Iraqis who weren't supposed to be the enemies (remember, this was 'liberation' and 'democracy'). I love all the war resisters but Kyle's story reminded me of our youngest son Mike because he was getting pressured and was going to sign up. He was buying into the nonsense that the Bully Boy was selling and that the recruiter was pushing. My husband was able to have a long talk with him, this was right before the war started and that's when I really started noticing how they were recruiting the high school kids.

So with Kyle and the others, like Mark Wilkerson who was only 17 when he signed up, it kills me that there wasn't someone there to set them straight, to counter the lies that these kids, and they were kids, were being told by the Bully Boy, by the press and by the recruiters.

While he was home on a pass, Kyle self-checked out and went to Canada. Then, at the end of October, he became one of the ones who were returning to turn themselves in. His attorney had been in contact with the military and an arrangment had been worked out. He was lied to again. As soon as he turned himself, the military began screwing around with him, breaking their promises immediately, telling him he was rejoining his unit and going back to Iraq. So Kyle self-checked out and good for him. He then went around speaking out and helping out until the police started showing up at his public appearances. I think of him as the Road Runner and always just managing to escape from the authorities.

Now I know some people have this attitude that the second you turn 18, you're old enough to sign a contract and too bad for you. I think any contract loses its validity when its built on lies. I'm not even talking about the Bully Boy here, but just the fact that a recruiter has to lie to get someone to sign up. They are never held accountable for their lies. It's amazing that Ehren Watada can be charged with conduct unbecoming when I'd argue every recruiter is at risk of those charges.

I'm very happy that Kyle made it back to Canada. He's going to be married soon and they're sharing an apartment with war resister Ryan Johnson and his wife Jenna. Mark Wilkerson is another who tears me up. At his own site, he's written some really moving pieces. In the snapshot for Friday (which I'll put at the end of the post), it deals with his court-martial Thursday. One of the things that stood out to me was his home life. His mother testified at the hearing. His adopted father killed himself, after beating a friend of her's and attempting to beat her. Mark was a little kid and ran for help. The family had therapy sessions after but he never really discussed things and ended up being the 'man' of the family at a very early age. He signed up when he was 17. I can't believe that anyone would assume a kid was able to make such a decision to begin with but with what he'd been through especially. He entered into a plea agreement so the judge could have sentenced him to a maxiumum of ten months in jail. The fact that the judge only went with seven (I would have gone with no jail time) makes me hope that even the judge questioned what we were doing to our children.

Mark and Kyle are no longer children today. But I'm old enough that I do see them as children when they signed up and I think the government betrayed America and betrayed our children.
I'm amazed, all this time later, that some still live in denial and are for sending more Americans into the destruction. I'm appalled at how silent the left has been. Wally's mother just called to say Wally was up and about to start working on the phone with Cedric so I need to start wrapping up. But this really is a big deal to me, how little support there has been for war resisters from the left. The Nation didn't do a damn thing for them in print. Katrina vanden Heuvel, the ever useless Katrina vanden Heuvel, has never written one damn word about any of them at her ever useless blog, Editor's Cut. Supporting war resisters wasn't 'safe' and when you're a spoiled little princess who basically bought your way into the magazine and all you have to offer is the most idiotic, girlish and juvenile statements, safety's all you can go with. Probably that results from never having accomplished anything on your own? Your grandfather's money got you in the door? Sleeping with (and later marrying) your professor got you an easy pass in college?

There was a time when I read The Nation and when I actually thought Katrina vanden Heuvel stood something. I was a fool. As war resisters began going public in the summer of 2006 and as that woman refused to address the subject in her blog and refused to allow her magazine to address it, it was obvious that she was more spoiled princess who couldn't make a move towards leadership because she was, frankly, full of crap.

We saw that this week with the issue of rape. Two women in Iraq came forward to say they were raped by Iraqi security forces. In one instance, three of the woman's rapists ended up confessing. The Nation offered you nothing on that. Though Katrina wants to prove how spiritual she is by blogging about Amazing Grace. Amazing Grace, Stunted Katrina. The magazine never bothered to cover Abeer who was gang raped. My husband and I followed the rape coverage at The Common Ills this week and we both agreed, the world would be a better place if the silly school girl Katrina vanden Heuvel left The Nation and a strong voice ran it. But strong voices really don't seem to be the point of a useless magazine which, in November 2005, says they won't support any candidate who doesn't call for an end to the war and then goes on to support those candidates throughout 2006. Katha Pollitt, the supposedly brave, supposedly feminist voice, can slam CODEPINK for holding Hillary Clinton accountable and can even hector in her final column for 2006 that the peace movement needs to "Be Honest."

Well, Pollitt, why don't you be honest? Why don't you explain why you have repeatedly failed to address what happened to Abeer? Maybe it's because you're a big gas bag who stopped being about feminism a long time ago. I really don't think a feminist dismisses media portrayals (as she did when she slammed the NAACP for being concerned with the absence of African-Americans on television). I really don't think a feminist bores us with her too-cute book reviews or her dopey laundry lists columns. And how about that end of the year one where she did her boring list of things to contribute to and didn't list anything to do with Iraq? Nothing for war resisters, nothing for women's organizations like Madre attempting to help Iraqi women. Who needs to "Be Honest"?

I suspect it's the dithering fool who bored us all with what her recent marriage gave her in terms of benefits. Yes, Pollitt, we really needed you to tell us what you're entitled to now from the British government to grasp how unfair life is for same-sex couples in this country. Of course someone really concerned about same-sex couples might have decided, "I'm not going to get married while that right is denied others." But can't blame an old gal for rushing to the alter, I guess. Especially when her feminism's been slipping for years.

And that's reality. There is no reason in the world that C.I.'s should be the only feminist addressing the rapes this week. Addressing them, not giving a shout out to Think Progress' scattered one-day, one-post jotting. As an older feminist, I'm really getting disgusted with some of the so-called feminists who day after day take a pass on Iraq, who look the other way as one rape after another hits the news and never can offer a comment. When rape goes undiscussed, but there's always time for pith and book reviews (of books by men), don't think you can hide behind "I used to be a feminist and now I still play one." I think your betrayal goes far beyond betraying yourself and now expands to betraying feminism.

I meant to link to "Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix and Wally of The Daily Jot" (stolen from the Third Estate) but I'm rushing to get this up now. I'll also note "Mike of Mikey Likes It!" is my son Mike I was referring to and that "Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz" wrote a wonderful post yesterday about the psuedo-feminists. Finally, "Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man," will be posting her latest chapter today. Ehren Watada and Mark Wilkerson have links in the snapshot.

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

Friday, February 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the military demonstrates that "justice" is still a joke to them despite one sex scandal after another, the press is all over the crying rapist, Turkey voices its opposition to partitioning Iraq, and Antonia Juhasz and Kris Welch address the topic of the push to privatize Iraq's oil.

Starting with war resisters.
Yesterday, Mark Wilkerson was court-martialed at Fort Lewis in Texas and sentenced to seven months in a military prison and given a bad conduct discharge. Jim Bergamo (KVUE) reports that Wilkerson's mother, wife and brother were sitting behind him during the hearing and that "it was his good behavior in that first tour of duty and after he returned to his unit in August of last year that helped sway the judge to sentence him to only seven months in jail and give him a bad conduct discharge" while his attorney Michael Duncan told Bergamo that "in a general court-martial, no confinement is very rare". Angela K. Brown (AP) reports that Rebecca Barker, his mother, testified about the home life: "Barker said that in 1996 her estranged husband -- who had adopted Mark as a child -- broke into their house, fatally beat her friend with a baseball bat and then beat her before Mark, then 12, intervened and ran for help. Her husband committed suicide before his murder trial."

In other war resister news,
El Universal reports that Agustin Aguayo's mother, Susana Aguayo, appeal to the Mexican government has been heard -- "The Foreign Relations Secretariat said it would seek information on the health and legal situation of Agustin Aguayo, who faces charges of desertion and missing troop movement. . . . given Aguayo's 'nationality of origin and the fact that his relatives are Mexican, the department has ordered the Mexican Embassy in Germany to offer consular assistance, which consists of using its good offices to gather information on the health and legal situation' of Aguayo." Agustin Aguayo is scheduled to be court-martialed March 6th in Germany.

Ehren Watada, we're going to repeat two points because they are important ones.
Friday's snapshot, while noting Ehren Watada, the following appeared: "John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: 'Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law'." That was incorrect. John Catalinotto's article appeared in Workers' World, not Socialist Worker, my apologies. This was noted Tuesday, but it is important to again stress that the military attorney, Mark Kim, is in agreement with Seitz re: double-jeopardy. Let's also repeat from yesterday: " Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, doesn't expect a court-martial to even be possible before summer due to scheduling issues and that the military hasn't even refiled the charges for the March 19th date that Judge Toilet (John Head) was tossing around when he declared a mistrial."

Wilkerson, Aguayo and Watada are a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Kyle Snyder, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Remember how
Mark Wilkerson was sentenced to seven months in military prison? Let's turn to the reality of the joke that is military justice. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Edwards Franklin is now a "private" and somehow that's "justice" in the snicker-snicker, dirty joke world of the US military. In a press release, the US military tells you he was busted down to private as punishment determined in his court-martial today. Punishment for? "[I]ndecent acts upon a female Private 2nd Class in the junior Soldier's room and then lying about his involvment to CID personnel. On 20 Ocotber 2006 Sgt. 1st Class Franklin followed a female Private 2nd Class into her room on LSA Anaconda. He attempted to force intimate contact upon the solider." Let's be clear because the US military tends to gloss over rape -- as does the press. What Franklin was trying to do, "force intimate contact," is what's known as attempted rape. Back to the press release: "During a CID interview and on the witness stand at trial" denied touching the woman or being in her room for more than five minutes.
And here's where the US military proves what a sad joke is: "A panel of officers and enlisted personnel, sentenced Sgt. 1st Class Franklin to reduction in grade to E-1." Wow. Aren't we all just blown away. Wilkerson's spending seven-months in a military prison and Franklin gets no jail time for attempted rape. As noted in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "
Women and the military" one in every seven US service members serving in Iraq is a woman but there's no real safety guarantees for women. Crimes aren't punished and for any who doubt it, a superior attempts to rape a woman and his "punishment" doesn't include jail time. It's all a joke or a game to the military but not even a game that includes the instruction "Go immediately to jail, do not collect 200 dollars." From The Third Estate Sunday Review feature:

Do you know the name Michael Sydney? As Cheryl Seelhoff reported in Off Our Backs (vol 35, no 2, p. 22), Sgt. Sydney was found guilty, July 2006, "of pandering, mistreating, subordinates, and obstruction of justice, smong other things, for what amounts to his having pimped women under his command. Sydney threatened to extend the tour of duty of female erservists called to active duty if they did not have sex with his superior officers." The brave US military 'justice' system did not court-martial him but they did give him a slap on the wrist: "sentence to six months in jail." Where does someone like Syndey get the idea that women in the military can be used as whores? The same attitude that Antonia expressed which renders service members as males (with wives to kiss) and women invisible.In the same edition of Off Our Backs, Allison Tobey (p. 16) noted Col Janis Karpinski's testimony that General Ricardo Sanchez issued an order barring "dehydration" being noted as cause of death on the death certificates of female service members. Why? Because, according to Karpinski, women were dying from that "because they did not drink liquids in the afternoons in an effort to avoid going to the latrines at night, where they were afrid male soldiers would rape them." Sanchez' 'solution' didn't address the problem, it hid it -- as too many 'solutions' to the abuse and mistreatment of women in the military repeatedly does.In the January 2007 edition of The Progressive,
Traci Hukill examined sexual harassment and sexual assualt in the military and cited a VA report from 2003 (lead to Congress in 2005) which found "60 percent of women and 27 percent of men had experience Military Sexual Trauma" and that it "found the prevalence of actual sexual assualt -- 'unwanted sexual conduct of a physical nature' -- to be 23 percent among female reservists."

Much is being made about Paul Cortez crying at his hearing yesterday and being sentenced to 100 years of prison time for his part in the gang rape and murder of
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi as well as the murder of her parents and her five-year-old sister. Reality check -- BBC points out he "will be eligible to seek parole in 10 years." AFP has Cortez as his most tearful when he says: "I'm sorry I let you guys down; you guys treat me better than this." How about a few tears for the 14-year-old girl who was gang raped and murdered? The one Cortez tesified "kept screaming and tried to keep her legs closed. At no point did I think that I had consent to have sex with Abeer." CBS News notes that Cortez couldn't explain to the court "why he did it" -- well, how about he repeat the jokes and ha-has he and the others shared over beer and grilled chicken after the gang rapes and murders?

Rose French (AP) reports that Jesse Speilman's attorneys are saying that he didn't take part in the planning of the rapes and murders. They're also saying that he was under stress. More laughs should ensue April 2nd when his court-martial begins. Steven D. Green is the only one who will be tried in a civilian court. (Green has maintained his innocence. James Barker and Cortez both confessed to their own actions and named Green as the ringleader who planned it all and the one who shot all four family members dead.)

Turning to news of Bully Boy's eye on the prize,
Antonia Juhasz spoke with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room today about the oil law that would privatize Iraq's oil and that had Condi storming through Baghdad last weekend to apply pressure.

Welch started the discussion by citing
Juan Gonzalez (New York Daily News) article on the oil law: "Under the proposed law, Iraq's immense oil reserves would not simply be opened to foreign oil exploration, as many had expected. Amazingly, executives from those companies would actually be given seats on a new Federal Oil and Gas Council that would control all of Iraq's reserves. In other words, Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum and the other Western oil giants could end up on the board of directors of the Iraqi Federal Oil and Gas Council, while Iraq's own national oil company would become just another competitor."

"Basically it says that executives of oil companies can be on the council and it doesn't say whether or not that is foreign and/or domestic. What I find most depressing about this law is frankly the speed with which it is moving now through the Iraqi government. We, those of us who have been working globally against this push for this essentially privatization of Iraq's oil thought that we had more time and it's really been fast-tracked in Iraq and what is so depressing is that the way this law is written in my mind if it is completed and if it implemented, which we can talk about more later, US oil companies will have at least on paper won the war in Iraq

Kris Welch pointed out that the Iraq oil law is sold as being "very key to settling the increasing violence and chaos in Iraq, that who is in control of the oil is vital and it's in everyone's interest".

Juhasz: It's really American, and let me clarify that as Bush administration, propaganda that this law is the path towards stability in Iraq. It is absolutely propaganda. This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue. That is not what this law is about. That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law. This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined. It is also about the distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed. There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority. The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions. The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies. Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground --
they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country. And that's what this oil law is all about. What Iraqis are saying very clearly and have said to
Raed [Jarrar] and, in particular, to the loudest voices being the Iraqi oil unions is that the only people who want to see this law passed now are the Americans. There's no other reason to push that law through."

Welch and Juhasz then discussed how the government's creation (and election) influences the chances that the law could be passed which put the US administration in the position to call shots. Juhasz: "Now that influence isn't complete and that's why the law hasn't passed yet but it's been slowly and progressively making it's way through and now as you said it's passed through the cabinet or is on the verge of passing in the cabinet it would then go to the parliatment and there's great concern . . .
Raed [Jarrar] has done a monumental job of trying to inform the Iraqi parliamentarians just about the law. Until he had helped unearth the draft and help retreive it from the internet that most parliamentarians, or almost all Iraq parliamentarians haven't even seen the law."

Juhasz cited
Hands off Iraqi Oil and Oil Change International as resources for activism geared for the fourth anniversary of the start of the illegal war next month. [Thank you to Megan, Zach and Ty for noting & transcribing the above.]

Picking up on the issue of Iraq being split into regions,
KUNA reports that Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, declared yesterday that splitting Iraq into regions or partitions would lead "bloody wars": "Why we refuse the establishment of a Kurdish state in the North of Iraq, the reason is clear, we are against the partition of Iraq because this will trigger engless wars in the region."

Meanwhile Tony Blair's claims of 'success' in Iraq are about as 'truthful' as his claims of a pullout.
Stephen Farrell, Ned Parker and Richard Beeston (Times of London) report: "Tony Blair says Iraq has made 'remarkable' progress. Clusters of red on the British Army's own maps of Basra suggest otherwise. . . . Although the initial perception of British forces in Basra was of experienced troops putting the population at ease by patrolling in berets, instead of the more aggressive posture adopted by US forces further north, the reality has varied widely from town to town."

In WOOPSIE! news,
Kim Gamel (AP) reported the US military arrested "Amar al-Hakim, son of political leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim" -- who had face time with Bully Boy in DC last December. CNN reports that the Zalmay Khalilzad (still US ambassador to Iraq for now) "issued an apology" for the arrest and the son has been released.

In other political news,
BBC reports that "Democrats in the US are planning a challenge to President George W Bush's handling of the war in Iraq" with the premise that the authority granted by the resolution was for set things and new things need to be set. CBS and AP report that the new resolution is still unclear but would "leave U.S. troops with a limited mission as they prepare to withdraw."

In Iraq? It's Friday. Did anyone work besides McClatchy Newspapers?


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a child was killed in a mortar attack in the Amil neighborhood of Baghdad and five other people were injured in the attack while, in the Abu Disheer neighborhood of Baghdad, a mortar attack injured three people.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "a U.S. military convoy killed one civilian and injured other two in Zafaraniya, Iraqi police said. The source said the patrol didn't stop after the shooting and the man who was killed was walking on the side road."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Feb. 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

agustin aguayo
ehren watada
antonia juhaszraed jarrar

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Vegetable Chowder in the Kitchen

A lot of e-mails this week and I appreciate all. Let's start off with today's recipe. There are a number of ingredients but, as you read over them, do not panic, it's all going in one pot and this is a very easy recipe.

Vegetable Chowder
2 cups of broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
2 cups of potatoes (cubed)
1/2 cup of chopped celery
2 cups of frozen whole kernal corn
2 cups chopped cabbage
3/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cups of milk
2 tablesppons all purpose flour
black pepper to taste
1 cup of shredded swish cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

That seems like a lot but it is cooked in one pot. Everything except the cheese will go right in. Cook over a medium heat (not high heat) and stir. Continue cooking and stirring until the soup becomes thick and bubbly and then cook for one additional minute (needed to be sure the raw flour taste is cooked away). Remove the pot from heat -- don't just turn off the burner, move it to another burner. You're going to add the cheese now and you need to be away from the heat or the cheese will quickly get stringy. Stir slowly until the cheese is blended in and melted.

On vegetables. I don't measure anymore. I can eye ball and tell if something's a cup or whatever. Lucy e-mailed that she she had trouble figuring out how much to buy when it was cups. Here's my advice for this chowder recipe, if you like an ingredient don't worry. If you don't, buy a little less. For instance, I love potatoes so I would probably use six potatoes (and exceed the recipe's requirement) but you can get the same effect by going with two potatoes that you peel and then cube. I would recommend that you stay away from red cabbage for this recipe.

This is a chowder and those are traditionally white. If you use red cabbage, it's going to turn the chowder purple and that may not appeal to you or others.

This is a good recipe if you're trying to make sure that you're getting enough vegetables and fiber.

Maria, Shirley and Lynda all recommended that I suggest a rice and chicken recipe for Dina and Coy since they're trying to save money for a house. Each offered a recipe and I e-mailed back about why I didn't care for the recipes.

They're looking for other recipes and I'll explain my problem here. I don't suggest a recipe I haven't tried. Someone else can have cooked it and that's fine, but if I'm not eating it, I'm not suggesting it. There was no way I was cooking any of the three recipes offered.

As I explained in my e-mails, I don't care for chicken recipes with canned soup. When my husband and I first moved into our house (this was many, many years ago), you usually had an all day thing (at least one day) of getting the gas on, getting the phone turned on, getting whatever on. A next door neighbor who has passed away came by to introduce herself and brought a dish. It was a chicken and rice dish. She figured we'd be dealing with all that a move means and it was very nice of her to bring the dish.

My husband and I couldn't eat it. We tried. We tried to eat it several times.

It used a mushroom soup on the chicken and in the rice. It tasted as if she'd dumped two cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup (and at least one other cream soup) in, not bothered to dilute without water or milk, and cooked it.

Thus began my only food phobia. My husband and I both tried watering it down and that did no good. He finally gave up on it but I wanted to be a good neighbor and made my way through one serving. To this day, I sample any new dish utilizing chicken, rice and canned soup. None have ever been that bad but a few have come close. Shirley said I needed to share that story because she has a relative that cooks with condensed canned soup and never dilutes it. She knew exactly what I was talking about. So did Lynda who confessed that she once made a dish like that and no one ate it. Only later did she find out why. (She'd been too busy cooking, setting the table and making sure the dinner was going smoothly to actually eat.)

Maria's looking for an easy recipe involving tomatoes (for an arroz con pollo dish) but wanted it noted that she can always count on one of her brothers (and that he can count on her) to tell her when something never needs to be cooked again. She talked about how important it was to have one friend or relative like that. I agree with that.

When you've cooked something, you do want a compliment -- at least one -- but it's also important to have someone who's straight with you. (If you have children, don't worry about finding that one person, you've got it already.) I shared Maria's point with Lynda and Shirley and they both agreed. Shirley said that's probably the most needed ingrediant in the kitchen and the least covered.

She discussed how, when she was first learning to make gumbo, she had repeated problems with the okra. You really need someone to tell you, "It's not there yet." So if you don't already have someone like that, buddy up with a friend.

Now when you're cooking for yourself, a dish can be whatever you want. If I'm making a soup for myself, I'll do whatever I want and won't worry that it's too this or too that. But if you're taking a dish to work or a party or you're entertaining, you really do want to provide something that everyone will enjoy. So buddy up with someone you can provide and receive honest feedback from.

Lynda had one more point on that, never entertain with a new recipe you're making for the first time. I agree with that as well. I mentioned that to my youngest sister, Kathleen, who told me I could share the tale of an early Martha Stewart show that had her convinced she could pull off a recipe and so she dropped the planned meal for that night and, instead, served friends what Martha had whipped up on that day's show and ended up having to call in delivery at the last minute when it was obvious Martha had made it look much easier than it was.

My neighbor who's passed away was someone who would have benefitted from real feedback. I'm remembering her banana breads which were white bread loaves. She didn't use enough bananas and would make several loafs. For white bread, it was pretty good. But if you were expecting banana bread, you weren't getting it. All of her dishes were that way. Any neighborhood get together would find a lot of forced smiles and a lot of wondering who was going to be the one to take her aside.

She never served anything burned or undercooked. It just never tasted right. We were all much younger, in the neighborhood collectively, and no one ever felt comfortable giving her some real feedback. So most of us would go through the motions of eating (I did except on her dishes with canned soups, I lied and told her I had developed an allergy to cream soups). She did make some wonderful fried chicken so, usually, people would try to steer her towards that with a statement such as, "We all love your fried chicken, could you bring that?"

Maria, Shirley and Lynda all urged me to talk about this. I'm not trying to scare anyone off from cooking and, again, if you're just cooking something for yourself, as long as you enjoy it, that's what matters. But if you're cooking for others, buddy up with someone who will tell you that a dish is or isn't working. Lynda shared how she thought she made a wonderful rice, cheese and brocolli casserole until a friend pointed out that gummy rice with a container of Cheese Whiz "wasn't all that tasty." That was fifteen years ago and she was mortified (she'd taken it to her church because she thought that was her best dish) but "enough time's passed and I can laugh now." She said she'd been serving that dish for about four months before she was finally tipped off and that her first thought was, "Who have I served this too?"

Speaking of church, my friend Luisa and I are doing a food thing for Maria, Miguel and Francisco's newsletter. This will be more of a food memories than a recipe thing and we're going to write it every other week. The first one is in tomorrow's newsletter and if you're a community member, you can check that and other things out tomorrow. Luisa came to the United States from El Salvador (when Ronald Reagan's tight relationship with that country's government meant a lot of people, who could, left). She came over last Sunday, a few hours after church, and I was in the middle of reading the newsletter. My husband gets online first thing in the morning to hit community sites and check out the news. On Sundays, I usually move a little slower. So we were reading it together and she noticed that there were many Spanish speaking countries represented in it but didn't see anyone from El Salvador.

She wondered if they'd be interested and we called Francisco who said he loved the idea. I honestly think Luisa can write it herself. But she suggested we partner up because she was concerned about the English translation. I was fine with that (but her English is fine, she's more than fluent in speech and her writing is much stronger than she realizes) but told her that at some point she may want to just make her own contribution and, if/when that day comes, just let me know. She'll read this and say, "I also told you it would be more fun to do it with someone," so let me put that in as well.

I'm looking at the clock and realizing I've run off at the mouth enough for one day so I'll let the snapshot cover all the news you can use. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, February 16, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq (despite the capital crackdown), the House acts 'symoblically,' Ralph Nader explains the importance of making demands, and The Russians Are Snickering!

Starting with news of war resisters. In June 0f 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, he faced a court-martial at Fort Lewis in Washington.

On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and "[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

That was last week and, since then, many legal experts have weighed in to offer that, as Watada's civilian attorney Eric Seitz has stated, Watada can't be retried without double-jeopardy entering into the picture.
John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: "Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law." Geov Parrish (Eat The State) offers that Watada may have won not just the round but the battle: "How did this happen? It happened because one young officer stuck to his principles, even under enormous pressure, and the Army didn't know how to react. Its handling of the case has allowed Ehren Watada -- young, photogenic, articulate, and deeply moral -- to become a folk hero within the antiwar movement, so much so that even his (supportive) parents have become minor celebrities in their own rights. US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich issued a statement last week: "The court improperly denied Lt. Watada's right to a dfense by blocking him from explaining why he believes the war in Iraq is illegal. Procedural decisions by the court have effectively denied Lt. Watada the right to engage in a protected activity -- freedom of speech. This [the declaration of a mistrial] is a significant ruling which empowers people to speak out against this unjust war."

Jim Cohen (Pepperdine University's The Graphic) ties recent news on the US administration's lies into the Watada story: "A recent report from the Pentagon has concluded that the former policy chief from the Pentagon, Douglas J. Feith, took 'inappropriate' actions by advancing unsubstantiated evidence to bolster the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq. Watada's justification of abstention to fight in Iraq has, in fact, been substantiated. This new information will hopefully give Watada the peace of mind by knowing he was right for following his former commander's advice to study everything, our government's arguments for going to war in Iraq as well as the purpose of the mission. By failing to do this kind of hard work, the commander in chief has left the troops without a mission caught in the middle of a civil sectarian war."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Dave Ward (The Gazette) profiles Tim Richard, a war resister from Iowa who now attends the University of Western Ontario, who tells Ward: "I joined the army with the idea that I would be defending America. But Iraq has nothing to do with defending America. . . . I did have to pay some personal prices. My marriage broke up over it. Not to mention [I lost] what I had identified myself as, which was a U.S. soldier, a very patriotic American. At the same time, I did what I felt was the right thing to do -- which was not to participate in something I knew to be wrong. So I don't regret doing that."

Meanwhile Lance Hering's parents have
been interviewed by Jodi Brooks for Boulder's CBS affiliate (CBS4). Hering, a marine who served in Iraq, was on leave and back in the United States when he disappeared on an August 29th hike. Hering, whose rank is Lance Cpl., has no made press statements but the friend he was hiking with has maintained they staged/arranged Hering's disappearance so that he would not have to return to Iraq. That is what his friend, Steve Powers, has told the press. Hering has not spoken to the press. He may or may not be a war resister. His parents, Lloyd and Ellyne Hering, tell Brooks that Lance's disappearance has led them to begin "talking about the war. Lloyd said he and Ellyne realized that supporting the troops meant stopping the war. Lloyd and Ellyne have traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to urge Congress to stop funding the war. Ellyne writes postcards as part of a nationwide campaign to stop special appropriations for Iraq." Lloyd Hering tells Brooks: "We're here to help him whenever he decides to come back. He'll get legal help, financial help, counseling help, and all the love that we can provide anytime he comes back."

Also in the United States, the House of Representatives passed their nonbinding resolution opposing Bully Boy's planned escalation of US troops in Iraq. As noted by Kris Welch in the middle of
KPFA's Living Room, the vote was 246 in favor of the resolution and 182 against. Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) puts it this way: "The House of Representatives renounced President George W. Bush's latest strategy to resolve the four-year war in Iraq, passing a nonbinding resolution that disapproves of his decision to send about 21,000 more U.S. troops to the conflict. The vote may be the strongest rebuke of a president during wartime since Congress in 1970 rescinded the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized military action in Southeast Asia." Susan Cornwell (Reuters) notes the measure was "symoblic but politically potent". M.E. Sprengelmeyer (Rocky Mountain News) offers excerpts (text) of statements made during the days of deliberation by Colorado Representatives and KPFA has exceprts (audio) of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Thompson, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, Ellen Tauscher. As CNN notes, the Senate now prepares to vote on the resolution tomorrow (yes, that is Saturday, yes they will be in session).

US Rep Dennis Kucinch noted that the measure "is a nonbinding resolution. The war, however, is binding. The real -- and Constitutional -- power of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, is to cut off fund for an immoral and illegal war. Money is there right now to bring our troops home, and bringing our brave troops home is part of a plan that involves enlisting the support of the United Nations to mobilize international peacekeepers so our men and women can come home. I have a 12-point plan which I have circulated among Members of Congress as to how we can get out of Iraq. The American people will not tolerate nonbinding resolutions as being an excuse for strong and substantive action to end the war as quickly as possible." Meanwhile Reps Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters issued their statement on the measure yesterday as well (Roll Call via Truthout): "Contrary to Republican claims that Democrats have no alternative plan for Iraq, there are in fact several on the table. Our own comprehensive bill, the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Resotration Act, would complete a fully funded military withdrawal from Iraq within six months while ensuring that our troops and contractors leave safely and accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces. In addition, our bill would remove the specter of an endless occupation by preventing the establishment of permanent military bases and reiterate our commitment, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to working with the international community to assist Iraq in its reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. We also would stand ready, if asked by the Iraqis, to participate in an international stabilization force."

US Rep Maxine Waters is
BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice honoree for the week and among the examples cited is this statement Waters made on the House floor: "The citizens of this country are sick and tired of this war. It is not enough to talk the talk. You have got to walk the walk. They know the difference between nuancing and posturing, and they want action.
. . . They will know whether or not we mean business if we are prepared to stop funding this war."

Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) surveys Soviet veterans of the Afghanistan war and learns "many soldiers who fought there believe they're seeing history repeat itself. The United States -- then the force behind the Afghan resistance -- now appears trapped in a similar downward spiral in Iraq, besieged by a collection of forces not unlike those it trained and equipped to crippled the Soviets two decades ago." This as AP notes that Philip H. Bloom "whose companies made more than $8 million in Iraq reconstruction money through a gifts-for contracts scheme was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in prison." And as the AP reports that "three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done. . . Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2,7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney."

Would you rather have health insurance
you can actually aford, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather have enough inspectors
to keep your kids from getting poisoned
by bad hamburgers, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather breate clean air
and drink water free from pesticides
and upriver sh*t, or bomb Iraq?
-- "Choices," by Marge Piercy, Poets Against The War, p. 179

Stephany Kerns (Military Families Speak Out, mother of Nickolas Schiavoni who was killed November 15, 2005 in Iraq) writes: "Every time I hear George Bush talk about his determination to make those tax cuts of his permanent it makes me so upset. In reality, he is setting up this scenario: military families grandchildren will be part of the population that pays for this war. If these tax cuts are made permanent, it won't be George Bush or Dick Cheney's grandchildren that pay for it. It will be your grandchildren and my grandchildren who pay. Yes, my grandchildren, who lost their father in this war, will pay for the war that killed their Dad." Grandparents are in other binds as well. Donna St. George (Washington Post) reports on children being raised by grandparents when their parent dies in Iraq and finds that it's not at all uncommon for the $100,000 benefit to either be held (until the child turns 18) or to go elsewhere (such as the husband of Hannah McKinney who got her $400,000 life insurance but is not taking care of her son -- her parents Barbie and Matt Heavrin are.) The stories are all too common and the lack of foresight and compassion on the part of the US administration (can't have it all when you're rushing into an illegal war) is echoed in the (mis)treatment of veterans. Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on the lack of a support system, the lack of money and the lack of oversight in the supposed 'care' for returning veterans.

In Iraq? It's Friday. There's never a great deal of reporting coming out of Iraq about Iraqis. Officials? Maybe on a day where they issue non-stop statements.


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left three more wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an IED killed one Iraqi soldier and left another wounded in Baghdad.


Reuters notes the discovery of eleven corpses in Baghdad and four in Mosul.

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that Iraqi Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi claims the "only 10 bodies" (eleven) demonstrates "a big reduction in terror and killing operations in Baghdad" because the average is 40 or 50 corpses and that his remarks were echoed by US Major General Joseph Fil. Really? I suppose some will buy it, some idiots.

But the reality is the figures come from Iraqi officials and US officials. Which may be why many have ignored noting the deaths in the past few days. So citing a decrease in figures you largely control the release of really proves nothing. That also explains why the shooting deaths the press is reporting today are from Thursday. (As
AFP notes, they previously tried to pitch five corpses as success.) It'll be interesting to see if "___ died February 16th" announcements are released tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday by the US military.

Ned Parker and Michael Evans (Times of London) paint a more accurate picture of the latest 'extreme crackdown' in Baghdad noting that both it "and Basra ground to a halt yesterday" which is why the crackdown -- ongoing since June in Baghdad -- has never been a 'strategy' or a 'plan.' It's a holding move and every few weeks, the US administration and the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, increase it even more.

Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) offers four points to end the illegal war and occupation and we'll focus on the first: "Stop funding a sectarian Baghdad regime based on lethal militias. . . . . The coalition is carrying out ethnic cleansing in the name of security. Baghdad, once a mixed city of five million people, is dominated by a huge Shi'a majority." [Hayden recommends the creation of a transitional regime.]

CODEPINK, Ralph Nader, the Green Party and other activists are forming Pelosi Watch "to get Pelosi to take the lead in efforts to defund the war and get all U.S. troops out of the Middle East."

Nader spoke with Kris Welch today on
KPFA's Living Room and noted of the two party system that encourages cowardice, "We've got to really ask ourselves, 'What's our breaking point?' . . . [when you make no demands] You just say, 'You've got my vote, take it and run with it.' If you don't make demands . . . the corporate interests are pulling in the other directions 24 hours a day. which is why both parties get worse when you engage in least worst voting without putting demands on the least worst candidate." He also noted that, "The Democrats have become very good in the last 20 years at electing very bad Republicans."

Finally, as
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "College and high school students across the nation walked out class Thursday in a national student strike against the Iraq war. In California, an estimated 1,000 students at UC Santa Barbara blocked traffic on a freeway. Up to 3,000 students turned out for an anti-war rally at UC Berkeley. And at least four hundred rallied at Columbia University here in New York. More than a dozen other schools took part around the country."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Chicken Cacciatore in the Kitchen

I love my e-mails that open with "Help" or "Help!" Well, most of them. The real e-mails, I love. The spam? All I can say on that is who would have ever guessed that so many diamond mine owners and diplomats would die of cancer and forget to get their money out of the country ahead of time? Fortunately, they've always left behind a wife or an "eldest" son or daughter who can contact anyone and everyone with an e-mail account to plead for help in moving millions and millions out of the country. Have you seen those e-mails?

I was mentioning those to Betty on the phone this week and she told me they'd been going around for years. I have two e-mail accounts, the one my son Mike created for me when we first got online and the one he created for me when this site started. My first account was only given out to friends and family so I avoided all those scam e-mails but Betty told me they've been doing that for years when I asked her on the phone who would read those scam e-mails and take them seriously? She pointed out that they send those things out by the hundreds and they probably trick at least one person for each hundred.

"The Wino Friedman," "The Hate-Addicted Fat Ass Friedman," and "Life -- or what passes for it -- with the Friedmans" are Betty's three latest chapters (the last one went up last night). That was one of the reasons I called her, to apologize because I do try to note her chapters since she and I both post once a week. But the two weekeneds prior were busy for both of us and I fell behind. She said not to worry about it and then we got to talking about the second reason I called, Ehren Watada. Which I will get back to but let's get to the help e-mail first, the real one.

Coy and Dina wrote me. They're a young married couple trying to save for a house. They both work outside the home full time and they try to both work inside the home so right away I wanted to help them before I found out what they needed. (I always think a "home" means everyone pitches in. If not, it's one person's home and the others are lodgers.) They love the rice recipes because the ingredients aren't costly. Coy cooks exclusively from recipes they find here. Dina already knew how to cook but Coy was used to eating out or making a sandwich. They will eat a meatless dinner both because it's inexpensive and also because they like vegetables. But they note that chicken is far less costly than beef or pork. They write fish is pretty much out except in the summer because they only have catfish in their local grocery store and "that's really easy to burn out on." So they were hoping for some chicken recipes and Coy "really wants an easy one."

The recipe today has eight ingredients and they were very upfront that Coy gets a little nervous when the recipe has a long list of ingredients. They don't need to worry here. I've mentioned before that there's a cookbook I like to give my children when they move out. It's by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills and is entitled Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen. I think this cookbook is wonderful for people learning their way around the kitchen. It's geared to first time cooks and this recipe requires that everything go into a large pot which should make it even easier.

Chicken Cacciatore
3 chicken legs, with thighs attached
1 garlic clove
2 15-ounce cans ready-cut tomatoes
1/2 teaspon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspon dried parsley
Dash black pepper and salt

Cut any fat off the chicken but leave the meat on the bone. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
Put the chicken in a medium-size pot and add the remaining ingredients. Make sure the sauce covers the chicken. If it doesn't, add a little water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. The chicken should be falling off the bone.
Mom Tip
Add some sliced mushrooms or cut-up green bell peppers to make this dish more interesting. Serve with plain spaghetti or Italian bread.

The "Mom Tip" comes from Nancy Mills being Kevin Mills' mother. The cookbook really is geared towards first time cooks and I strongly recommend it for starting out cooks. I never have a problem when one of my children calls with a cooking question. But those who were really nervous become a lot less nervous after they've lived with this cookbook for a few months. So one more time, it's entitled Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen. The recipe is easy to master and you can use it when you have friends over as well. Add a green salad to it, along with bread and/or plain spaghetti (you would spoon the chicken cacciatore over the pasta) and you have a nice meal you can share with friends.

I went with this recipe because it's from a book I highly recommend and because it's a one pot dish. I think that cuts down on the nervous factor for those who get a little tense as ingredients add up. This was actually a dish that was very popular for years and years. Lemon pepper, as a spice, took off in the 90s and I think Lemon Chicken or Lemon Pepper Chicken has now overtaken it. That's not a bad thing, it's actually good because that means you have a recipe for a dish that's proven very popular over the years but everyone hasn't burned out on.

Coy also shared a tip in their e-mail. They do make green bean casserole. They double the cooking time. Coy says that was an accident but it did result in the dish not being runny. They enjoy that so dish so much that they've even taken to buying a frozen version from the Green Giant which they report is pretty useless. The green beans, when microwaved in the pouch, end up rubbery and undercooked. They recommend using the boiling direction and not the microwave directions on the packet. At their grocery store, this is a 10 items for ten dollars special about every six weeks. I haven't noticed that special at my own local store (and I do spend considerable time in the frozen food section) but if they have it at anyone else's local store, Coy and Dina say boil it, don't microwave it, unless you enjoy rubbery green beans.

As I said earlier, Betty and I were discussing Ehren Watada this week on the phone and I bet/hope that was true across the country. Ehren Watada's court-martial began on Monday with the jury/military panel being selected. Seven officers were selected to hear the arguments and determine . . . I have no idea what they were supposed to be determining because when the judge ("Judge Toilet") won't allow Ehren Watada to present his reasons/motives for refusing to deploy to an illegal war, exactly how that passes for justice, or is supposed to, I don't know. Tuesday, the prosecution argued their case and rested. Wednesday, the defense was supposed to hear from Ehren Watada and one other witness. However, Judge Toilet must have sensed how badly the prosecution had done because he began making noises about mistrial until finally the prosecution caught on and requested one. The defense didn't want a mistrial, they wanted to go forward with the case. Now, legal experts such as Marjorie Cohn, say that's it. To hold another court-martial would be double-jeopardy. If the rules apply, that seems to be the way it should go but since the Bully Boy's taken the oval office, what rule hasn't been shredded? However, if there's any real justice left in the United States, even a small amount that would fit in an eye dropper, Ehren Watada's ordeal is over and he won't be court-martialed again.

I should note that before the prosecution asked for the mistrial, when Judge Toilet was first tossing the idea out there on Wednesday, C.I. noted in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot" that it would be a do over for the prosecution. That's exactly what it would be, after they failed miserably and risked losing, suddenly Judge Toilet wants to offer them a mistrial (over the objection of the defense). Wally's mother asked me to mention that because she heard a discussion of it Friday, on the radio, and the guest arguing that Watada should not face another court-martial was using "do over" and that had more of an effect on people calling in than the issue of double-jeopardy. Wally's mother thinks that may be due to the fact that, as children, we all become familiar with "do over" and the children who whine for one because they aren't happy with the results. She firmly believes that "do over" gets the message across and I agree with her. The military had their shot already. They had a military judge that bent to the prosecution on everything (including calling a mistrial). They were losing due to their own inept performance on Tuesday and now fairness goes out the window so that the 'favored child' can have a do over? That's not right. If you are unfamiliar with Watada and how he came to take the stand he did, please read Rebecca's "ehren in the clear?" which went up earlier this week.

This was an interesting week personally as well. Mike was in Tacoma, with Sunny, Cedric, Wally, Kat, C.I., Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava to show support for Watada, and now he's at Rebecca's (he and Elaine have been going there during the difficult weeks of Rebecca's pregnancy) and the house was so quiet. My youngest daughter is working on a school project that requires she goes to the library every evening. (No, I didn't buy that either.) So the house has been pretty empty all week. I was telling Wally's mother how weird that was. I have eight children and Mike and his sister are the youngest. I'll soon be a grandmother and that should provide much joy and excitement. But I told Wally's mother I was thinking that we might need to take in lodgers. I was only half-joking. The house that was always a tight fit for eight kids, my husband and me seems too large these days. Then Friday came and my husband called saying he either worked late or went in at five Monday morning to finish what needed doing. He got home a little after seven which isn't that late but I'm very serious about the thought of an empty house freaking me out. Between chuch and our family, I'm sure we can fill a bedroom or two. I've also told my son who's soon to be a father that the smartest thing they could do, he and his wife, is move back in and use what they're paying for rent right now to save up for a house. With a baby and rent, they're going to find it very difficult to save for a house. But we're going to have to do something because this house is going to be too big for my husband and me after Mike and his sister move out. I'm sure some of this is the 'empy nest' syndrome but it's also being practical. Two people do not need this much space.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Friday, February 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's mistrial continues to be debated, "Who cooked the intel?" becomes a popular question, a leader of one group of resistance fighters in Iraq is quite clear in what is needed to end the war, and "Woops! We thought they were 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda!"

Starting with
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first commissioned officer in the US to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq because the war was illegal and immoral. On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and
"[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney
Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

Yesterday, on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the mistrial. Cohn's belief (based on expertise) is that the government's case is over -- that, military or civilian, courts must respect the laws of the land and that includes avoiding double-jeopardy (trying a person for the same alleged crimes twice). As Rebecca notes, Cohn explained that the stipulation Judge Toilet made much ado over was a stipulation (agreement between the prosecution and the defense) that both sides had agreed to, that the jury was made aware of, that Judge Toilet had looked over and, up until it was time for the defense to present their case, Judge Toilet never voiced any concerns over the stipulation, More importantly, Cohen pointed out, "When a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it. The only thing that will defeat a finding of double-jeopardy . . . is if there was manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" which, in Cohn's opinion, there wasn't. At Counterpunch, Cohen also made the case "that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officers." Leila Fujimori (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Earle Partington ("local attorney with decades in military justice") who also stated that "military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for the trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday". Marjorie Cohn had explained to Nora Barrows-Friedman that Judge Toilet floated the idea of a mistrial and when the prosecution (taking the hint) asked for one, the defense did not consent to a mistrial. Also making this point is Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: "The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Because 1st Lt. Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison. 'I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted."

Yesterday, reporting for
Free Speech Radio News, Aaron Glantz noted Carolyn Ho's reaction to the mistrial ("tears started streaming down her cheek"). Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada: "He was quite prepared to vacate his apartment. It's been all packed up and, you know, and we were arranging to have his furniture moved on Monday. The expectation was that he would be sentenced and, um, that there would be incarceration." Reporting for IPS (text), Glantz noted Eric Seitz's contention: "Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases result in mistrials."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

War resister Joshua Key self-checked out of the US army after serving in Iraq. He, Brandi Key (his wife) and their children moved to Canada. Key has written a book on his experience in Iraq and after entitled
The Deserter's Tale. Brian Lynch (The Georgia Straight) notes: "And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that 'the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told.'
This, he believes, is a tactic that the highest political and military leaders in his native country have used on the public itself. Field commanders, he says on the phone, 'try to keep you scared, keep you motivated. And that's exactly what's happened to the [American] people as well. Everybody is so afraid of terrorism... And of course, from my actions in Iraq, I think the terrorism hasn't begun yet--terrorism from all the little Iraqi children that I terrorized myself. There's going to be a flip side to that. There will be consequences'."

Cause and effect.

On today's Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman noted: "In Iraq, the US military is facing allegations of killing forty-five Iraqi civililans in an airstrike near Amiriyah. Police and hospital officials say the bombings flattened four homes in the village of Zaidan, just south Abu Ghraib, killing women, childre, and the elderly. A photograph released by the Associated Press shows the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck taken to the nearby Falluja hospital. Several other children were reportedly admitted with injuries. The US military denies the account and says thirteen insurgents were killed."

That incident was explored in yesterday's snapshot (and you can tie it with the Najaf incident which
Tom Hayden recently wrote about). Today, Al Jazeera reports: "The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell." Had? Before we get there, please note that in Najaf, in the strike near Amiriyah, in countless 'battles,' the motive is always said to be 'suspected' this or that. And when innocents die in the attacks, it doesn't change the fact that intended targets (present or not) are still only 'suspected'. So who were US forces ordered to kill in Mosul? The BBC says: "Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US helicopter strike". Lauren Frayer (AP) reports that "U.S. helicopters on Friday mistakenly killed at least five Kurdish troops, a group that Washington hopes to enlist as a partner to help secure Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said."

Now a few things to note. 1) When you have some level of power, you can have the record corrected. That's what happened here. The US military had already issued their press release claiming suspected al Qaeda had been killed. 2) Calling it a "mistake" doesn't mitigate the effects on the families and friends of the eight dead. 3) Even when 'apologizing' the flacks for the US military still want to quibble on how many were killed (
8 is the Kurdish figure and the media's figure, the US military has tried to stick 5). This is why 'suspected' or potential 'suspected' really should raise eyebrows. As evidenced by yesterday's denial, which has only continued, the US military refuses to acknowledge that children were killed in the attack. Instead the military spokespeople want to crow about how they got 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda -- 'suspected.'

Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on Abu Salih Al-Jeelani ("one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement") and his group ("20th Revolution Brigades") which has issued a statement on what it will take for there to be a ceasefire:

* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as "proof of goodwill"

* Recognition "of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people".

* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.

* The negotiations to take place in public.

* The resistance "must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades".

* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.

All starred items are direct quotes from
Fisk's article. The leader says they also want the constitution of Iraq and the deals arranged (especially with regards to the oil) cancelled -- to be replaced by things deriving from the Iraqi people and not foreign occupiers.

In the United States, one of the big stories is the cooking of intel.
Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) notes that "the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . . Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) report US Senator Carl Levin stated, "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. . . . The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war" and the reporters note: "The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work."

In some reports, Feith is noted as saying he was not wrong. Of course he wasn't wrong. He cooked the intel exactly as he wanted. Was it burned? Of course, that's how he wanted it, that's how he served it.

And on clever propaganda,
CBS and AP report that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared that there is "pretty good" evidence of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Pretty good? Gates' word is supposed to be all anyone needs. Gates paints a story of 'weapons' found that are from Iran. What is he suggesting? That the Iranian government gave the Iraqi resistance the weapons? No, he means markings show that they were made in Iran. (That's his word -- take it for what it's not worth.) How shocking! People could get weapons from a country that borders their own! Oh my!

It proves nothing -- and the US firearms are all over the Iraqi black market -- but it's the new talking point. Expect to see a lot more of it.

Addressing the issue of Iran,
Juan Cole told Steve Rendell (on this week's CounterSpin): "Of coures the entire discourse of Washington has been, for many years, to get Iran and all Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, some of which have been quite serious and wide ranging have been rebuffed. Iran has been kept as an enemy because Washington wants it as an enemy." Probably won't catch that in the mainstream.


Reuters notes 17 dead in Mosul from a roadside bomb while 2 were killed (eight wounded) in Hilla from a roadside bomb.

Reuters reports that three people were shot dead (and 10 wounded) in Baghdad today.Corpses?

AFP reports that eleven corpses were discovered today in Mahawil -- "floating in the Al-Malih river" -- after they and two others were kidnapped on Thursday (the other were released and are alive*) and, in Amara, Mohammed Qasim Kerkuki 's corpse was discovered ("riddled with bullets"). (*AFP reports that, other agencies don't address the two. Al Jazeera notes that the kidnappers were wearing "Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles".)

Yesterday's snapshot didn't note corpses. My apologies.
Reuters reported 16 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad on Thursday. Please note, it's Friday. The majority of the violence (that gets reported) will emerge slowly throughout the rest of Friday.

the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical." That brought the count for UK troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 132.

Also today the
US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." AP's count for the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 3,117.

Finally, seven days ago, the Democratica National Committee held the Winter Meeting in DC and the mainstream's coverage was -- "Who didn't stick to the time limit! Nobody said anything!" Dennis Kucinich, US House Rep and
2008 candidate for president did speak and addressed a number of issues. Our focus is Iraq so we'll focus on the Iraq section. Kucinich: "Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war. Fellow Democrats, of all decisions a President must make, the one most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occured in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it because, fellow Democrats, right now the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress' constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq. Fellow Democrats, I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give the President the money to continue the war the Democratic Party will have bought the war."