Archive for January, 2007

Missing Miss Molly

January 31, 2007

Photo of Molly Ivins from her page at the Creators Syndicate, for whom she began writing a column in 1992.

*

Molly Ivins died today. Sigh. Anthony Zurcher, also of Austin, was her editor at the Creator’s Sundicate. .Zurcher wrote this anecdote in his tribute today:

For a woman who made a profession of offering her opinion to others, Molly was remarkably humble. She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home, which would feature rollicking political discussions, and impromptu poetry recitals and satirical songs. At one such event, I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, “Well, what else am I going to do with ’em?”

In her next to last syndicated column, “Iraq Exit is Up to Us” published on January 8, Ivins declared herself on an “old-fashioned newspaper campaign” and vowed to use every column she had to “write about this war until we find some way to end it.”

Becky O’Malley, editor of the Berkely Daily Planet had proposed a tribute:

And now it really is up to us. While Molly is sick, the rest of us will have to carry her “old-fashioned newspaper campaign” forward.

With that in mind, the Berkeley Daily Planet is hereby launching what we might call the “Molly Ivins Festschrift.” A festschrift is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a volume of writings by different authors presented as a tribute or memorial especially to a scholar.” Academics are wont to create festschrifts on the occasion of a revered colleague’s 60th birthday, for example. Molly’s already 62, but no time like the present to catch up with what we should have done two years ago. And we might call it festschrift if we could reliably remember how to spell or pronounce that German word, but let’s just call it the Molly Ivins Tribute Project.

The idea is that her colleagues in the opinionated part of the journalistic world should take over her campaign while she’s sick, creating a deluge of columns about what’s wrong with Bush’s war and what should be done to set things right. It would be nice if a lot of these columns could be funny, since skewering serious subjects with humor is what Molly does best, but that’s not required.

Here at the Berkeley Daily Planet we’ve set up a special mailbox to receive the offerings, tribute@berkeleydailyplanet.com. We’ll publish them as they come in, at least one every day if possible, in our Internet edition, berkeleydailyplanet.com. We’d like them to be contributed free of copyright, so that any publication, print or online, can take them off the web and re-circulate them to their own readers. The best ones we’ll also run in our Tuesday and Friday printed papers. A good length would be 600-800 words, which would work for most publications. And of course, columnists under contract should just write pieces to run in their regular outlets.

At 10:18 tonight, Austin NBC affiliate KXAN posted its story with a place to add coments.

Molly Ivins was my favorite political columnist. She managed to combine irreverance and humor with a keen understanding of the facts. She’s the one responsible for naming George Bush “Shrub.” And in her last column for Creative Synidicate on January 11, she came up with the slogan, “We are the deciders” as she wrote about the January 27 March on Washington:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!”

*

While I was in Washington on the 27th, I had no idea; I somehow missed the AP blurb on Friday, January 26, that Ivins had been hospitalized in her ongoing battle with cancer which had started in 1999. Caught up in writing about the march, then about the W&M president’s travails, and finally working today to fill my taxes, I hadn’t read the news from in Austin, which didn’t seem so ominous. On Monday, January 29 at 11:31 a.m. , local station KXAN posted this story,

A close friend to Ivins told KXAN that even though the 62-year-old is sick, she still has her sense of humor, laughing and smiling with friends and family, visiting her in the hospital.

Ivins could be released from the hospital later Monday.

KXAN will keep you updated.

I missed Peter Rothberg entry January 30 at 5:00 p.m., “Molly’s Pledge.”In his blog for The Nation, “Act Now” spreading news of the Berkeley Planet charge.

*

September 24, 2006 Lisa Sandberg had written for the Houston Chronicle, “While battling politicians, writer is in a battle for her life / Illness hasn’t dulled Ivins’ wit” (available through E-Library or reprinted without a byline as an AP story on Editor and Publisher) .

At that time, going through her third bout of chemo and radiation, Ivins, Sandberg wrote, had a version of the disease had become “chronic-but-manageable, ” although she suffered from constipation, “poor balance, only a few patches of hair on her head and no assurance her breast cancer won’t undo her in the end.”

Ivins told her, as she had told others,

I’m sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn’t make you a better person.

But despite the treatments, Ivins had returned less than a week before from an 11-day, 227-mile raft trip through the Grand Canyon, a trip which she said reduced her ego “to the size of a grain of sand.”

OK, a confession: The raft had a motor.

Second confession: Her loyal assistant, Betsy Moon, had warned the 16 people on the trip that she was “a fragile case.” So you might have thought Ivins was the empress of China.

“People would bring me food and drink, and put up my tent,” Ivins said.

Then she laughed heartily. She hadn’t asked Moon to elicit sympathy, but she wasn’t complaining.

“I’m not above using cancer as the world’s greatest excuse,” she said.

I prefer what people say during your lifetime, so some tidbits via Sandberg:

At a gathering in May, former President Clinton called her a “great journalist,” who was “good when she praised me and painfully good when she criticized me.”

Her brother Andy Ivins, a lawyer, 56:

“Sometimes her Texan accent can get a lot thicker depending on where she is.” Her father, Jim Ivins, a corporate lawyer, argued about her about civil rights, the war in Vietnam, the women’s movement. He was was a conservative Republican , which meant, according to Andy , that his sister could have been only one thing: a leftist. “She was going to be anything he wasn’t.”

Ivins on Bush:

She’s fond of saying that calling President Bush “shallow” is like calling a dwarf “short.”

On the GOP seizing both houses of the Texas Legislature in 2003:

Well, fellow Texans, they can stick a fork in us, cause we’re done.

There are a bunch of good Ivins quotations at Whateveritisimagainstit.

Books:

  • Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?
  • Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (with Lou Dubose)
  • Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I have Known.

*
Ivins interned at Houston Chronicle while at Smith College,

where she wrote up street closings and bridal news and recalls accidentally marrying off one bride to her father and writing that another had earned a “B.O.” degree.

After Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and working three years at the Minneapolis Tribune, Ivins returned home in 1970 to cover the Texas Legislature, became co-editor of the biweekly left newsmagazine The Texas Observer and was hired away by the New York Times where she was fired six years because, Ivins proudly told Sandberg, the top editor, A.M Rosenthal, didn’t feel she showed

“due respect and deference to the great dignity of the New York Times.

Page View Statistics (visitor count no longer available from yahoo.)
January 2007: 9,239
2007 YTD: 9,239
2006 TOTAL: 61,308
Total since 1/1/06: 70,809

UPDATE: 2/1/07

She had been the Rocky Mountain bureau chief until she was summons back to New York by Rosenthal to cover City Hall. As the Harrrisonburg, Virginia Daily News Record, which ran her column editorialized today in “Molly Ivins,”

Her rollicking writing style often got her in trouble with one of her employers – The New York Times. Incandescent lines such as “squawked like a $2 fiddle,” was transformed into “like an inexpensive instrument.” Managing editor Abe Rosenthal also questioned her description of a chicken festival somewhere in Texas as a “gang pluck.”

The “Gray Lady” couldn’t hack Molly 27 years later. Here’s how the NYT tells it in her obit, “Molly Ivins, Columnist, Dies at 62:”

Covering an annual chicken slaughter in New Mexico in 1980, she used a sexually suggestive phrase, which her editors deleted from the final article. But her effort to use it angered the executive editor, A. M. Rosenthal, who ordered her back to New York and assigned her to City Hall, where she covered routine matters with little flair.

Wendy M. Grossman (email, website, bio)quotes Media Circus by Howard Kurtz at her Live Journal entry:

The classic Ivins tale involves her story about an all-day community chicken slaughter in a New Mexico town. Ivins couldn’t resist describing it as a “gang pluck”, knowing full well the phrase would never make it past the copy desk. Ivins was promptly removed as Rocky Mountain bureau chief and ushered into Rosenthal’s office.

“He said, ‘You used the word gang pluck.’ I said, ‘I thought it was a good line. ‘He said, ‘Gang pluck.’ I said, ‘It was a play on words. He said, ‘Gang pluck. Gang pluck sounds like gang fuck. You were trying to make our readers think of the word fuck.’ I said, ‘Damn, Abe, you are a hard man to fool.'”

UPDATE 2/3/07: Greg Mitchell’s take, “The Plucking Truth,” in Editor and Publisher

Surely, in swinging 2007, with some of the greyness drained out of the Grey Lady by now, the paper would finally print the phrase in its Ivins obituary? Uh, think again. Didn’t happen. Censored again.

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Molly Ivins (1/31/07)

January 31, 2007

Photo of Molly Ivins from her page at the Creators Syndicate, for whom she began writing a column in 1992.

Molly Ivins died today. Sigh. Anthony Zurcher, also of Austin, was her editor at the Creator’s Sundicate. .Zurcher wrote this anecdote in his tribute today:

For a woman who made a profession of offering her opinion to others, Molly was remarkably humble. She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home, which would feature rollicking political discussions, and impromptu poetry recitals and satirical songs. At one such event, I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, “Well, what else am I going to do with ’em?”

In her next to last syndicated column, “Iraq Exit is Up to Us” published on January 8, Ivins declared herself on an “old-fashioned newspaper campaign” and vowed to use every column she had to “write about this war until we find some way to end it.”

Becky O’Malley, editor of the Berkely Daily Planet had proposed a tribute:

And now it really is up to us. While Molly is sick, the rest of us will have to carry her “old-fashioned newspaper campaign” forward.

With that in mind, the Berkeley Daily Planet is hereby launching what we might call the “Molly Ivins Festschrift.” A festschrift is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a volume of writings by different authors presented as a tribute or memorial especially to a scholar.” Academics are wont to create festschrifts on the occasion of a revered colleague’s 60th birthday, for example. Molly’s already 62, but no time like the present to catch up with what we should have done two years ago. And we might call it festschrift if we could reliably remember how to spell or pronounce that German word, but let’s just call it the Molly Ivins Tribute Project.

The idea is that her colleagues in the opinionated part of the journalistic world should take over her campaign while she’s sick, creating a deluge of columns about what’s wrong with Bush’s war and what should be done to set things right. It would be nice if a lot of these columns could be funny, since skewering serious subjects with humor is what Molly does best, but that’s not required.

Here at the Berkeley Daily Planet we’ve set up a special mailbox to receive the offerings, tribute@berkeleydailyplanet.com. We’ll publish them as they come in, at least one every day if possible, in our Internet edition, berkeleydailyplanet.com. We’d like them to be contributed free of copyright, so that any publication, print or online, can take them off the web and re-circulate them to their own readers. The best ones we’ll also run in our Tuesday and Friday printed papers. A good length would be 600-800 words, which would work for most publications. And of course, columnists under contract should just write pieces to run in their regular outlets

At 10:18 tonight, Austin NBC affiliate KXAN posted its story with a place to add coments.

Molly Ivins was my favorite political columnist. She managed to combine irreverance and humor with a keen understanding of the facts. She’s the one responsible for naming George Bush “Shrub.” And in her last column for Creative Synidicate on January 11, she came up with the slogan, “We are the deciders” as she wrote about the January 27 March on Washington:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!”

*

While I was in Washington on the 27th, I had no idea; I somehow missed the AP blurb on Friday, January 26, that Ivins had been hospitalized in her ongoing battle with cancer which had started in 1999. Caught up in writing about the march, then about the W&M president’s travails, and finally working today to fill my taxes, I hadn’t read the news from in Austin, which didn’t seem so ominous. On Monday, January 29 at 11:31 a.m. , local station KXAN posted this story,

A close friend to Ivins told KXAN that even though the 62-year-old is sick, she still has her sense of humor, laughing and smiling with friends and family, visiting her in the hospital.

Ivins could be released from the hospital later Monday.

KXAN will keep you updated.

I missed Peter Rothberg entry January 30 at 5:00 p.m., “Molly’s Pledge.”In his blog for The Nation, “Act Now” spreading news of the Berkeley Planet charge.

*

September 24, 2006 Lisa Sandberg had written for the Houston Chronicle, “While battling politicians, writer is in a battle for her life / Illness hasn’t dulled Ivins’ wit” (available through E-Library or reprinted without a byline as an AP story on Editor and Publisher) .

At that time, going through her third bout of chemo and radiation, Ivins, Sandberg wrote, had a version of the disease had become “chronic-but-manageable, ” although she suffered from constipation, “poor balance, only a few patches of hair on her head and no assurance her breast cancer won’t undo her in the end.”

Ivins told her, as she had told others,

I’m sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn’t make you a better person.

But despite the treatments, Ivins had returned less than a week before from an 11-day, 227-mile raft trip through the Grand Canyon, a trip which she said reduced her ego “to the size of a grain of sand.”

OK, a confession: The raft had a motor.

Second confession: Her loyal assistant, Betsy Moon, had warned the 16 people on the trip that she was “a fragile case.” So you might have thought Ivins was the empress of China.

“People would bring me food and drink, and put up my tent,” Ivins said.

Then she laughed heartily. She hadn’t asked Moon to elicit sympathy, but she wasn’t complaining.

“I’m not above using cancer as the world’s greatest excuse,” she said.

I prefer what people say during your lifetime, so some tidbits via Sandberg:

At a gathering in May, former President Clinton called her a “great journalist,” who was “good when she praised me and painfully good when she criticized me.”

Her brother Andy Ivins, a lawyer, 56:

“Sometimes her Texan accent can get a lot thicker depending on where she is.” Her father, Jim Ivins, a corporate lawyer, argued about her about civil rights, the war in Vietnam, th
e women’s movement. He was was a conservative Republican , which meant, according to Andy , that his sister could have been only one thing: a leftist. “She was going to be anything he wasn’t.”

Ivins on Bush:

She’s fond of saying that calling President Bush “shallow” is like calling a dwarf “short.”

On the GOP seizing both houses of the Texas Legislature in 2003:

Well, fellow Texans, they can stick a fork in us, cause we’re done.

There are a bunch of good Ivins quotations at Whateveritisimagainstit.

Books:

  • Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?
  • Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (with Lou Dubose)
  • Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I have Known.

Ivins interned at Houston Chronicle while at Smith College,

where she wrote up street closings and bridal news and recalls accidentally marrying off one bride to her father and writing that another had earned a “B.O.” degree.

After Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and working three years at the Minneapolis Tribune, Ivins returned home in 1970 to cover the Texas Legislature, became co-editor of the biweekly left newsmagazine The Texas Observer and was hired away by the New York Times where she was fired six years because, Ivins proudly told Sandberg, the top editor, A.M Rosenthal, didn’t feel she showed

“due respect and deference to the great dignity of the New York Times.

Page View Statistics (visitor count no longer available from yahoo.)

January 2007: 9,239
2007 YTD: 9,239
2006 TOTAL: 61,308
Total since 1/1/06: 70,809

UPDATE: 2/1/07

She had been the Rocky Mountain bureau chief until she was summons back to New York by Rosenthal to cover City Hall. As the Harrrisonburg, Virginia Daily News Record, which ran her column editorialized today in “Molly Ivins,”

Her rollicking writing style often got her in trouble with one of her employers – The New York Times. Incandescent lines such as “squawked like a $2 fiddle,” was transformed into “like an inexpensive instrument.” Managing editor Abe Rosenthal also questioned her description of a chicken festival somewhere in Texas as a “gang pluck.”

The “Gray Lady” couldn’t hack Molly 27 years later. Here’s how the NYT tells it in her obit, “Molly Ivins, Columnist, Dies at 62:”

Covering an annual chicken slaughter in New Mexico in 1980, she used a sexually suggestive phrase, which her editors deleted from the final article. But her effort to use it angered the executive editor, A. M. Rosenthal, who ordered her back to New York and assigned her to City Hall, where she covered routine matters with little flair.

Wendy M. Grossman (email, website, bio)quotes Media Circus by Howard Kurtz at her Live Journal entry:

The classic Ivins tale involves her story about an all-day community chicken slaughter in a New Mexico town. Ivins couldn’t resist describing it as a “gang pluck”, knowing full well the phrase would never make it past the copy desk. Ivins was promptly removed as Rocky Mountain bureau chief and ushered into Rosenthal’s office.

“He said, ‘You used the word gang pluck.’ I said, ‘I thought it was a good line. ‘He said, ‘Gang pluck.’ I said, ‘It was a play on words. He said, ‘Gang pluck. Gang pluck sounds like gang fuck. You were trying to make our readers think of the word fuck.’ I said, ‘Damn, Abe, you are a hard man to fool.'”

UPDATE 2/3/07

Greg Mitchell’s take, “The Plucking Truth,” in Editor and Publisher

Surely, in swinging 2007, with some of the greyness drained out of the Grey Lady by now, the paper would finally print the phrase in its Ivins obituary? Uh, think again. Didn’t happen. Censored again.

Entry for January 30, 2007

January 30, 2007

On a unseasonably warm and clear Saturday, January 27, a massive number of citiizens from all over the country converged in Washington, DC. The crowd, variously estimated from “tens of thousands” to half a million filled the National Mall to listen to a series of speakers sharing the stage with the flag-draped coffin topped with combat boots of a fallen Massachusetts Marine and and then marched to completely surround the Capitol Building.

Organized by United for Peace (FPJ) and Justice, a coalition including Code Pink, the Institute for Policy Studies, th eeAfter Downing Street Coaltion, Gold Start Families for Peace and many others., this event, unlike past ones geared toward the White House, called on Congress to develop the spine to stand up to the President and get the country out of Iraq. Signs distributed by UFPJ called on Congress to “Stand up to Bush,” and one labor organizer let a chant of “Not one more dollar, not one more death, not one more day.” Homemade signs included one which said, “Which part of NO-vember don’t you understand?” For the first time legislators spoke at the rally including Democratic Representatives Dennis Kucinich (OH) , Jerrold Nadler (NY) , John Conyers (MI) and Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters (CA).

Waters told the receptive crowd, “My name is Maxine Waters, and I’m not afraid of George W. Bush. My name is Maxine Waters, and I’m not intimidated by Dick Cheney. My name is Maxine Waters, and I I helped to get rid of Rumsfeld. My name is Maxine Waters, and Condi Rice is nothing but another neocon, and she doesn’t represent me!

“George W. Bush led us into this immoral war. He tricked the American people, and he told us there were weapons of mass destruction. He did not tell the truth. He came out on the battleship and said, “Mission accomplished.” He misled us again. He said we were working with the coalition of the willing. It was only a figment of his imagination. He said that we were moving forward with training the Iraqi soldiers who would take over the security. Where are they? They are nowhere. As a matter of fact, they’re undermining our soldiers in this civil war. He said we were going to get proceeds from the oil that would be pumped back into Iraq so that it could be reconstructed. As a matter of fact, he told us he made these decisions; he said he is the decider. But you know what? He’s not the decider. He is the liar! “

Waters, who co- founders of the Out of Iraq Caucus asked the crowd to “come to Capitol Hill and lobby on Monday and put some starch in the backs of the members of Congress and give them the courage that they need to do the right thing, ” and ended by a call and response, ” Don’t forget, he is not the decider. He is the –” while the audience shouted back, “Liar.!”

Waters was joined by Caucus co-founder Woolsey, who said , “Americans don’t want to send our young men and women into the middle of a civil war, a war we shouldn’t have been in in the first place. “

She continued, “It’s about doing the right thing. Everybody knows this. Everybody knows this, except the President. He asks us to sacrifice more of our tax dollars so he can win in Iraq. You know what they say. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

“Fortunately, we have an antidote to this insanity. It’s not another Iraq Study Group. It’s not a new committee to debate what to do next. It is what you sent us to do last November. It’s called HR 508.”

Conyers, who now chairs the House Judiciary Committee which has the authority to initiate impeachment proceedings , said, “George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing. But let me tell you something. He can’t fire you. He can’t fire us. But we can fire him! We can fire him! Maureen Dowd said this this morning: “Has anyone in the history of the United States ever been so singularly wrong and misguided about such phenomenally important events and continued to insist he’s right, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?” Has there ever been anybody in America history? There certainly hasn’t.”

He continued, “President Bush is the Commander-in-Chief of the military, but he is not the Commander-in-Chief of the citizens of this country. He is not. Vice President Cheney has said repeatedly, ‘Congress can’t stop me.’ But we must stop him! We’re going to stop him. ”

Garrett Reppenhagen, a sniper in the First Infantry Division, said, ” I served one year in Iraq. Now I’m home. I’m still serving my country. I’m still serving my brothers and sisters and trying to get them home alive.

“Iraq Veterans Against The War is the most progressive veteran organization in America right now. We’re growing. We’re quadrupled in size in the last year.”

Mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, called the protesters “true patriots” who are outraged at President Bush, a “complacent” Congress and a “dismal” news media that have caused millions of people to suffer pain and tragedy.

“That is not what we, as Americans, stand for,” Anderson said, sharing the stage with a “That is not what our country stands for. And we want the world to know it. Blind obedience to bad leadership is not patriotism.”

President Bush is expected to submit to Congress yet another request in early 2007 for supplemental war funding for the Iraq war.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence invited participation in its Occupation Projecy, which will run for eight weeks starting on February 5, 2007. The campaign challenges Representatives and Senators to publicly declare that they will vote against any further funding for the war in and occupation of Iraq.

We invite you to join with us and others around the U.S. in organizing sustained nonviolent civil disobedience at the offices of Representatives and Senators who do not publicly pledge to vote against war funding.

The Declaration of Peace plan non-violent resistance March 29-20 on the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, unless members of Congress:

  • make a public commitment to defund the war and occupation;
  • co-sign legislation calling for the safe and rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and the closure of U.S. bases there; and
  • work to establish a comprehensive plan for peace in Iraq, including support for an Iraqi-led peace process.

The groups has designated February 17-25 National Nonviolence Training Week in preparation for March actions. To learn about – or to host – a training contact info@declarationofpeace.org.

Lets hope that with all the calls for civil disobedience and direct action in the coming weeks, the Democrats in Congress could begin facing increased pressure to use their power to cut funding, or even to impeach the President in an effort to bring the war to a halt. After six years of acting as a rubber stamp for the White House, Congress is in the hands of the opposition party and its time for them to change of course.

*

The Honolulu Advertizer’s January 29, 2007 story (with no byline) “Watada lawyer says military dropping two charges” gives the latest news on the court martial set to start February 5 against the vocal Iraq War objector Lt. Ehren Watada, a Honolulu native charged with missing a troop movement and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer for his public statements critical of the Iraq war.

His lead attorney, Eric Seitz, says,

By agreeing beforehand to all of the facts the government would ask of the … reporters, Lt. Watada shielded these journalists from the heavy-ha
ndedness of the government. While we don’t think any charges should have (been) filed at all for simply exercising free speech, we are pleased with the government’s willingness to reduce Lt. Watada’s potential sentence by two years.

The two charges of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” dropped by the Army—each of which carried a one year possible prison sentence , were based on interviews Lt. Watada held with independent journalist Sarah Olson and Greg Kakesako of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Journalists were faced with six months in prison for contempt of a military court if they had not testified against their source, for charges solely based on political speech.

In response to her subpoena being dismissed, journalist Olson said,

This is obviously a great victory for the principles of a free press that are so essential to this nation. Personally, I am pleased that the Army no longer seeks my participation in their prosecution of Lieutenant Watada. Far more importantly, this should be seen as a victory for the rights of journalists in the U.S. to gather and disseminate news free from government intervention, and for the rights of individuals to express personal, political opinions to journalists without fear of retribution or censure. I am glad the growing number of dissenting voices within the military will retain their rights to speak with reporters. But I note with concern that Lt. Watada still faces prosecution for exercising his First Amendment rights during public presentations. However, the preservation of these rights clearly requires vigilance. Journalists are subpoenaed with an alarming frequency, and when they do not cooperate they are sometimes imprisoned. Videographer Josh Wolf has languished in federal prison for over 160 days, after refusing to give federal grand jury investigators his unpublished video out takes. It is clear that we must continue to demand that the separation between press and government be strong, and that the press be a platform for all perspectives, regardless of their popularity with the current administration.

Olsen’s attorney, David Greene of The First Amendment Project said,

This is a tremendous victory for both Sarah and for every journalist who fears being dragged into the middle of a dispute between a source and the government.

The Defend The Press coalition, founded by the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison Wisconsin, announced itself on January 24. John Stauber, the Center’s executive director said,

This is surely a great victory for journalist Sarah Olson and our Defend the Press coalition . This is a testament to what one determined and courageous reporter, Sarah Olson, can accomplish in the face of government intimidation. These subpoenas were simply an effort to harass journalists who are reporting on the growing anti-war sentiment among rank and file soldiers. This is a blow for press freedom and for free speech.

Newt’s Minions Would Nail W&M Prez Gene Nichol to Wren Cross

January 29, 2007
The painting of James Southhall Wilson comes from the Virginia Quarterly Review which he launched in 1925 and edited for the next six years. Wilson, Class of 1904, an alumni of William and Mary, wrote the lyrics “Our Alma Mater” to accompany an old Welsh tune. The banner for the Save the Wren Cross (STWC) website–which calls itself “A Movement to Save William & Mary’s History “– is now using James Southall Wilson’s yrics as a rallying call to fire W&M President Gene Nichol.  His crime?  Nichol, a constitutional lawyer, had decided that the chapel’s cross should be stored and available for events upon request.  Previously, folks instead had to request its removal at the public (since 1906) Virginia college.
At the bottom of this entry you will find my letter to Nichol. Any W&M alums, parents or Virginia taxpayers out there who want to join my in support of Nichol?
*
According to the Virginia Historical Society ‘s “On this Day: Legislative Moments in Virgina History, ” on March 5, 1906 the General Assembly passed an act making W&M a public institution for the first time since its origins as Anglican college with its grant of a royal charter on February 8, 1693. During my tenure from 1968 to 1972 Jews were an almost invisible minority at the College; many sororities banned us along with “Negroes” and Catholics and there were so few of any of us that we often hung out together, which is not to say that I didn’t have White Protestant friends.
The William and Mary Choir sang “Our Alma Mater” at all its peformances. According to the Choir’s version of the lyrics on its alumni page, the fourth stanza goes like this:
God, our Father, hear our voices,
Listen to our cry,
Bless the College of our fathers,
Let her never die.
My voice, or maybe my confidence in it, wasn’t quite up to the choir, but as a member of the women’s chorus, I was thrilled to perform with the choir in the Messiah by Handel, who was born, by the way in 1685, just four years before the beginning of the reign of the College’s namesakes and eight years before the royal charter.
I certainly didn’t mind singing Handel’s gorgeous music because its lyrics announced, “For unto to us a Son is Born.” I didn’t even mind straining my voice downward to sing tenor, so that the altos and second sopranos wouldn’t overpower the men in our combined forces. I kidded that I hoped God wasn’t angry with my father when he bled profusely after knocking his forehead on the mantel, rising from putting on an l.p. of the Messiah for me to practice. It was the same way we laughed at ourselves when his aging pale blue 1953 Chevy Biscayne became trapped in a bank of snow which had been plowed onto the end of our driveway, right before he was to drive us to hear me sing Christmas carols with the Crestwood Elementary School Glee Club.
*
But back to Mr. Wilson and his song. I’m wondering what he would think of the use of its fourth stanza (or the second , according to STWC) . Of course. the Wren cross is still in existence, so its need to be “saved” seems a bit overstated. I won’t go into whether this song,  as in the case of “Carry me Back to Ol’ Virginie” seems, well, a bit dated? After all, Wilson was a gentleman of his time and actually in reflecting on it, better than his time.
In 1931, Wilson organized the Southern Writers Conference, “The Relation of the Southern Author to His Public,” presided over by Richmond’s Ellen Glasgow, who went on to win the Pultzer for her 1941 novel , In This Our Life, and DuBose Heyward, a Charleston South Carolinian of gullah origins, who in 1925 published the novel Porgy, on which George Gershwin based his opera Porgy and Bess. According to the Virginia Quarterly Review , Heyward’s
presence presented difficulties in a segregated town which Wilson quietly and graciously solved by inviting Heyward and his wife Dorothy to be guests in his own home during the conference.
*
Evidently the STWC folks consider the first salvo to be an email to Wren Building volunteer student tour guides, the Spotswoods, noting that the
In order to make the Wren Chapel less of a faith-specific space, and to make it more welcoming to students, faculty, staff, and visitors of all faiths, the cross has been removed from the altar area. Students and groups wishing to have the cross temporarily returned to the space–for special events, worship services, private prayer, etc.–may request it while they are in the room. Please direct all requests to either Louise or me, and we will be happy to return the cross for the time allotted. If you encounter questions, concerns, or resistance to this change, please direct the person/group with the inquiry to us. If we are not in our office, a stack of our business cards are in the InformationCenter. Offer a card and inform the person they are welcome to contact us with their concerns. Please continue to interpret the room as the Wren Chapel. Is has always been the Chapel and will continue to be the Chapel even without the cross on the altar. Inform visitors (as you always do) that the College was once affiliated with the Anglican Church, and while it is now a public university, the Wren Chapel continues to be used as a nondenominational chapel. Weddings, memorial services, and student-led prayer services are held here, as well as initiations and their student activities. For those interested in hearing the antique organ, an organ recital is scheduled for every Saturday morning at 10:00 am. Thank you, and my best to you all for a warm, safe, and happy homecoming!
M Melissa E. Engimann
Assistant Director
Historic Campus The College of William and Mary
Student Assembly Senator Will Coggin, a senior, sponsored a bill to restore the cross, arguing that it was not so much about preserving the Christian cross on a predominantly Christian campus as about defending the Chapel’s history. The measure failed on a vote of 4-14-2, according to a November 10 story in The Flat Hat.
Ironic, for those who tout the cross’s preservation as history, must have been this letter to editor of The Flat Hat published the same date from Rhys Isaac (bio, email), Visiting Distinguished Professor of Early American History:
I offer to all who are concerned in this debate two facts drawn from the history that I told in my Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, “The Transformation of Virginia, 1740 to 1790” — a book much concerned with the intense religious conflicts that took place in Virginia before and during the American Revolution.
Churches and chapels of the Protestant Church of England (which the Chapel was at the time of its construction and colonial-period use) did not customarily display the cross anywhere. It was only much later, after the so-called “Oxford Movement” of the 1840s, that Episcopalians brought crosses into their churches. (In more recent times Protestant churches generally have taken to prominent displays of the cross — which their ancestors most certainly rejected as “popery.”))
The Virginia Statute for the Freedom of Religion, authored by the College’s most distinguished alumnus, Thomas Jefferson, was passed in 1786 with very strong support from the Virginia Baptist Association of that time. It put an end not only to past oppressions but also ruled out a kind of loose establishment of Christianity that had suddenly been proposed. With that “Statute for the Freedom of Religion” Virginia led the entire world, and set the tone for the separation of church and state that is one of the glories of Virginia and of the United States of America.
November 16, President Nichol made a statement to the Board of Visitors.
It is, by now, well known that I am taken with William and Mary students. All William and Mary students. And though we haven’t meant to do so, the display of a Christian cross, the most potent symbol of my own religion, in the heart of our most important building sends an unmistakable message that the Chapel belongs more fully to some of us than to others. That there are, at the College, insiders and outsiders. Those for whom our most revered place is meant to be keenly welcoming, and those for whom presence is only tolerated. That distinction, I believe, to be contrary to the best values of the College.
It is precisely because the Wren Chapel touches the best in us “the brightened lamp, the extended hand, the opened door, the call of character, the charge of faith, the test of courage”  that it is essential it belong to everyone. There is no alternate Wren Chapel, no analogous venue, no substitute space. Nor could there be. The Wren is no mere museum or artifact. It touches every student who enrolls at the College. It defines us. And it must define us all.

I make no pretense that all will agree with these sentiments. The emotions and values touched by this dispute are deeply felt. But difficult issues are the grist of great universities. Amidst the turmoil, the cross continues to be displayed on a frequent basis. I have been pleased to learn that students of disparate religions have reported using the Chapel for worship and contemplation for the first time. In the College’s family there should be no outsiders. All belong.

At that same meeting, the Board of Visitors, chaired by Michael K. Powell (Telephone: (202) 828-7824, Email: judy@mkpowell.com) of MK Powell Group, LLC. and son of General Colin Powell, adopted a four-paragraph resolution on diversity, which concludes,
The College of William and Mary strives to be a place where people of all backgrounds feel at home, where diversity is actively embraced and where each individual takes responsibility for upholding the dignity of all members of the community.
The conservative mainstream daily, Richmond Times Dispatch (RTD), printed a supportive editorial in “At W&M” October 31.
The chapel is not used exclusively for religious functions but serves as a general meeting place. The move makes practical sense and reflects the facts on on the ground. The cross can be returned to its spot when appropriate.
The RTD also ran two guest columns November 30:
Another local paper, The Virginia Pilot, was less supportive of Nichol, but civil, when it opined on November 2, in “Faulty Reasoning in Removal of Cross at W&M”
Removing the cross, however, does little to recognize the dignity of diversity. It does obscure what is otherwise obvious:  Wren Chapel is a Christian chapel– and the religious heritage of the university.

And it can’tt really solve the problem. Nothing short of bulldozing the chapel would ease all discomfort with having a storied Christian sanctuary on a secular campus.

That, of course, won’t ever happen.

So we’re left with this small but provocative measure. In the end, for the observant, taking the cross from the altar at Wren Chapel makes the room no less a Christian space. It only makes it seem as if administration officials are uncomfortable that it is.

To the credit of my alma mater’s liberal arts heritage, with its dedication to pursuit of the truth, I found links to both sides of the coverage accompanying the William & Mary Notes article,“Nichol discusses Wren cross decision with BOV.”

*

WorldNetDaily, founded as a for-profit arm of the conservative Western Journalism Center, started criticizing Nichol in “an exclusive” October 27. And then the far-right joined forces with STWC.

American Spectator named Nichol enemy of the year December 29, 2006.
Best of all, Enemy Central recruited a fresh face to take EOY honors, a brave new worlder who’s been dutifully swallowing liberal vapors for decades and who just in time for one of the holiest periods on the Christian calendar decided to deprive the institution he heads of the cross that has hung at its most sacred shrine for 275 years. President Gene Nichols of the College of William & Mary is a national disgrace, the Enemy of the Year 2006, and — if Jimmy Carter puts in a good word for him — the next cultural minister of the Taliban.
According to the New York Times, the magazine’s Arkansas Project, received $2.4 million during the period December 1993 through the fall of 1997 from Richard Mellon Scaife, for a “large-scale effort at The American Spectator magazine to unearth damaging information about President Clinton.” (See Neil a. Lewis, “Almost $2 Million Spent in Magazine’s Anti-Clinton Project, but on What?” page A-20, April 14, 1998 if your library has Lexis Nexis. The New York Times, I’d guess, in an effort to get subscribers for its Times Select service, its is no longer available in text version at Virginia pubic libraries’ version of ELibrary.)
The conservative Townhall.com , a for-profit originally a project of the Heritage Foundation, according to Sourcewatch, which works for an America that “believes in smaller government, recognizes that tax relief fuels economic growth, that values life and that we can and must win the war on terror” published Michael S. Adams piece January 12,2007 calling Nichol “Christ-o-phobic” who should be fired.
*
I wouldn’t have leaned of this brouhaha except for a mention in Nichol’s State of the College Address, a link to which I received from the alumni listserve. I started out a letter to commend Nichol on his stance on the living the wage and need-based scholarships and was going to mention the Wren Chapel in passing.
Then, out of curiousity, which kills my time, if not the cat, I googled to find out who was opposing Nichols and discovered the petition STWC says has been signed by10,437 individuals, as of today.
When it ran his guest column, the RTD did not mention is that Haley hosts that GOPAC’s talk show , “Leading the Majority” and according to his bio works as research director for the American Enterprise Institute for former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Prior to joining the American Enterprise Institute, Vince worked for Newt at the Gingrich Group, a consulting and communications firm. While there, Vince helped launch the Group’s Center for Health Transformation in May 2003. The Center is dedicated to transforming American healthcare by creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System where knowledge saves lives and saves money for all Americans.

Before working for Speaker Gingrich, Vince worked one year as senior research analyst at the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2002 election year cycle.

Oh, and did you know that starting February 1, former Lt. Governor Michael Steele will replace J.C. Watts, Jr as Chairman of GOPAC? Steele lost to to Ben Cardin in the race for U.S. Senator from Maryland, His loss, combined with George Allen’s in Virginia, helped cede the Senate to the Democrats. GOPAC was founded by Delaware Governor Pierre S. du Pont in 1978 in “an effort to build a farm team of Republican officeholders who could then run for congress or higher state offices later.” Other past Chairmen of GOPAC were: former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, California Congressman David Dreier, Arizona Congressman John Shadegg and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Now there’s also a “No Cross, No Cash” campaign named after a phrase in a Christmas December 22 letter from Margee Mulhall, Class of 1984. By December 24, there were 11 others:
Karen Hall, ’78 (Fourth Century Club)
Karla K. Bruno, ’81 and ’92
Elizabeth Gibbons, ’71
Eugene R. Thurston,Jr. ’66 (Fourth Century Club)
Victor K. Biebighauser ’75
Todd Skiles ’92 (Bequeath Revoked)
Andrew R. McRoberts, A.B. ’87
Constance Bruce McRoberts, B.B.A. ’88
W. J. Clark Evans, B.B.A., ’82
Ellen Williams Evans, B.A. ’83
Robert G. Jones, A.B. Government, ’72
Since then there are three others:
Susan Prock, ’80
Jean Zettler, ’73 (Fourth Century Club)
Andy Yacos, ’86
Notice STWC’s founder is missing from the list. Maybe he hadn’t donated yet?
*
STWC has fashioned a letter to the Board of Visitors which next meets on February, asking its readers, “Will Michael Powell and Barbara Ukrop Lead the W&Mary Board of Vistiors to Reverse Nichol & Restore the Wren Cross?”
During his tenure as head of the FCC, Powell deregulated the industry allowing more media consolidation, letting studies go unpublished which later were leaked to Barbara Boxer.
Powell also pressed for increased fines for indecency violations which led to some ABC affiliates pulling Saving Private Ryan. To his credit, Powell was instrumental in the FCC decision that the program could be aired without fines, according to the Media Research Center, “the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias,” funded, according to Media Transparency by ultra-conservative foundations. In “FCC Indecency Enforcement Called Confusing, Burdensome” Jeff Johnson, CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer,” wrote on January 12, 2005
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has recommended that the multiple instances of the “F-Word” in the airing of the film “Saving Private Ryan” result in no finding of indecency. The chairman reportedly told fellow commissioners that there should be no fines because the movie is an “accurate representation” of the events depicted.
Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association (AFA), believes Powell is disregarding the law and called his reasoning, “a pathetic excuse.”
“It’s not the job of the chairman of the FCC to define context for the ‘F-Word.’ It’s his job to fine ABC-Disney for using the ‘F-Word’ in primetime broadcast television, which is against the law,” Wildmon said. “That’s the mandate he was given by Congress.”
The Center, with a staff of 60, according to Sourcewatch, has issued cyberalerts lately attacking coverage of growing opposition to the War in Iraq. (It has often occurred to me that the best way to fight such folks is to write support letters to their targets. Just wish I had a staff of 60!)
Ukrop, of course, is in the family that operates the grocery store of the same name. I know the store is closed on Sunday and that Ukrop supports historic preservation, but I’m clueless why STWC hopes she will carry their banner, as many devout Christians embrace the separation of Church and State.
Want to join me in writing Nichol and the Board of Visitors supporting William and Mary as a place
where people of all backgrounds feel at home
Below you’ll find my letter to him. I haven’t composed one to the Board of Visotrs yet, but will post it and their addresses in an update to this entry.
*
January 29, 2006
RE: State of the College Address, Weighing in Support of your Policy on the Wren Cross
Dear President Nichol,
As an alumna well-served by my education at W&M, I was happy to read your State of the College address and passed it on to my friend Barry Anderson, a graduate of that other great Virginia public university in Charlottesville. Anderson serves as a board member of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy “which speaks for and with the vulnerable and works for a just and compassionate Commonwealth by uniting and empowering faith communities.  You may be aware of the work of the Center. If not, I think you will be interested in the legislative agenda for its February 5 “Day for All People” at the General Assembly. Its priorities include:
I was especially glad to read your following statement on fostering a living wage and opportunities for staff:
  • A great public university must, as well, be a beacon of fairness and opportunity for all of its members. The staff of the College–professional, hourly, and classified–literally enables the storied William & Mary academic and residential experience. Technology experts, policemen, housekeepers, facilities managers, residence life professionals, and a host of other dedicated employees commit their lives and their careers to the service of the College. The College, in return, must assure that they are compensated fairly, treated with dignity, and given the tools and training they need to thrive and be promoted. Here, often, we have long rows to hoe. And progress must be quicker. Our restructured relationship with the Commonwealth should allow greater independence in our employment efforts. We must assure that flexibility resounds to the benefit of the entire William & Mary community.
I was also heartened to learn about new access for those from very low income families and continuing access based on need to those from families like mine, who had found college affordable when tuition was much lower.
  • Almost a quarter students of color. It has also been heartening to hear stories of Gateway students, from very low income families, who would not be with us, but for the generous scholarship program introduced last year. This spring we have enrolled an additional eleven Gateway transfers, above the 77 who joined us last fall. And our first cohort of co-enrolled community college students joined us on campus last semester,  achieving GPAs comparable to those of beginning freshmen.
The challenge of economic access remains a daunting one, for us and for many of the most accomplished universities in the nation. The Spellings Commission recently concluded that “persistent financial barriers unduly limit access”  to universities; and that “gaps between the college attendance” rates of low-income Americans and their more affluent peers “constrain meaningful opportunity.”
Worse yet, last month’s study by the Education Trust concluded that the nation’s marvelous public research universities are now spending more of their own institutional aid funds on students from the top of the economic ladder, on average, than those at the bottom. We seek, in the next six years, to double the number of Gateway-eligible students at the College. Our renewed commitment to need-based financial aid, in partnership with the Commonwealth, must also extend more successfully beyond the poorest students to all those facing potent challenges resulting from the increasing costs of higher education.
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As one of the relatively few Jewish students in my class, I was glad to read of your efforts to make the Wren Chapel more welcoming to all, as you grapple with how to operate it.
  • As you know, late last fall I modified the way in which the cross is displayed in the ancient Wren Chapel,-seeking to assure that the marvelous Wren–so central to the life of the College–be equally open and welcoming to all.

And though the decision has received much support–particularly within the campus community–many, many have seen it otherwise; asking in the strongest terms that the action be reconsidered. In the heat of the dispute, broader questions than the placement of the cross have been implicated as well. Does the separation of church and state at public universities seek a bleaching of the importance and influence of faith and religious thought from our discourse? Are modern public universities congenial to those of strong religious conviction? Can a public university honor and celebrate a particular religious heritage while remaining equally welcoming to those of all faiths? How does one square the operation of an historic Christian chapel with a public university’s general charge to avoid endorsing a particular religious creed?

Given the challenge of these questions, the controversy that has ensued about my decision, and given the fact that this is a great university, it is my hope to probe and explore these issues in the most thoughtful way possible. So today, having had discussions with many, on campus and beyond, including members of our Board of Visitors, I announce the creation of a presidential committee to aid in the exploration of these large questions. I will ask its members to examine the role of religion in public universities in general, and at the College of William and Mary in particular���including the use of the historic Wren Chapel. It will be co-chaired by two of our most distinguished faculty members, Dr. James Livingston, emeritus chair of the College’s religious studies department; and Professor Alan Meese, accomplished legal scholar, teacher, author, and leader in the Faculty Assembly.

The committee will be balanced, as the appointment of these co-chairs suggests. It will include an array of alumni, students, staff, and faculty. I will ask that they report back to me by the end of the semester. I have also requested that the provost consult with the chairs and invite, during the course of the year, experts, scholars and activists from varying perspectives, to explore such broad-ranging claims and their ties to our mission as a public university.

When I attended W&M, I certainly considered the building a Christian place of worship and a classroom building for my English seminar, not a chapel for all of its students. I didn’t even know of the policy before your October 2006 order that if a group or individual using the Wren Chapel desired to not have the Wren Cross on display, then the Wren Cross was removed during such event and returned to the altar. Despite the criticism you are receiving from the Save the Wren Cross Campaign, your policy of neutrality, that the cross be removed and used henceforth only for “appropriate religious services” is fairer in my view.
The fact that the Wren Cross was a fixture since its gift from the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church in the 1930s shows that the majority Christian population at the College didn’t even see it, and the rest of us accepted it, in the same way that we went for years using “he” as the universal singular pronoun, or going back furth accepted a Constitution which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person and let neither they nor women vote.
President Nichol, I was glad to read of your history of public service when your were being considered for the huge vacancy left by Tim Sullivan’s retirement, even gladder when the College selected you, gladdest now to read of progress in the last eighteen months.
Sincerely yours,
Beth Wellington
Class of 1972

Entry for January 28, 2007

January 28, 2007

The button is from U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW).

Fred D. Mason, Jr., USLAW’s Co-Convenor and President of the Maryland AFL-CIO, was one of two labor speakers. He addressed the rally on behalf of the union contingent of nearly 2,000 and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

There should be no peace rally at this time without significant labor participation.

Is organized labor on the Mall?

Are there union members on the Mall?

Sisters and Brothers, I bring you greetings today on behalf of President John Sweeney and the millions of working men and women of the AFL-CIO.

I love this country and I give honor, respect and thanks to my fellow Americans who proudly serve in our military and provide all of us with a strong national defense.

I stand here today because I believe that President Bush is leading our country in the wrong direction.

Nowhere is this misdirection more evident than in his approach to Iraq.

The American public spoke loudly in the November elections: removing from office many of those who shared the President’s wrong approach.

The new Congress — many of whom we helped to elect — has a responsibility to the American people to end U S military involvement in Iraq and bring our troops home now.

Today thousands of union members from all over the country have joined with others to urge our legislators to demonstrate resolve and responsibility and resist the bullying of President Bush.

The American people, most of whom are working men and women, do not want a ‘surge’ in the violence and deadly risk to their loved ones, associated with the President’s approach to Iraq.

Our democracy provides us the opportunity to express the peoples’ will in electoral processes.
However, when there are questions as to whether those elected are heeding the people’s will, we have a responsibility to speak with a louder voice and we do that in the streets and communities of America.

We call on our national leaders to stop funding efforts directed towards war, death and destruction, and redirect those resources to building America: providing for the safe and healthy return of our troops to an America where the dream of upward economic mobility and social equality is a reality.

End the War — Bring Our Troops Home!

A representative of the Service Employees International Union led this this chant, the same one quoted on the poster circuilated to advertise the U.S. Labor’s participation in January 27th march organized by United for Peace and Justice :

Not one more death
Not one more dollar
Not one more day

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced H. Con.Res. 23 on January 10 with 21 co-sponsors expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not order an escalation in the total number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Iraq. He spoke at the rally, saying:

*

H.R 511 supports Bush and says that Congress will not cut off funds for deployed troops. Measures before House Armed Services critical of Bush’s policy in Iraq:

January 9, H.Res 41 introduced by Marty Meehan (D-MA), was the first bill to express the sense of the House that

an increase in the number of members of the United States Forces deployed in Iraq is the wrong course of action and that a drastic shift in the political and diplomatic strategy of the United States is needed to help secure and stabilize Iraq.

The original 22 co-sponsors were:

  • Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1]
  • Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2]
  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3]
  • Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23]
  • Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7]
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4]
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7]
  • Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15]
  • Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1]
  • Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7]
  • McCollum, Betty [MN-4]
  • Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10]
  • Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13]
  • Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10]
  • Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6]

31 have added their names since that time as of January 24:

  • Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] – 1/23/2007
  • Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] – 1/23/2007
  • Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Wu, David [OR-1] – 1/10/2007

I’m not sure why Kucinich didn’t just sign on. Did he want to sponsor his own legislation? His original co-sponsors overlap supporters of Meehan’s measure:

  • Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8]
  • Rep Carson, Julia [IN-7]
  • Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1]
  • Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14]
  • Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7]
  • Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7]
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4]
  • Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2]
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7]
  • Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12]
  • Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2]
  • Rep Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [GA-4]
  • Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13]
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9]
  • Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9]
  • Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4]
  • Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16]
  • Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13]
  • Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33]
  • Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6]
  • Rep Wu, David [OR-1]

The measure was referred to the House Armed Services Committee chaired by . Through January 24, another dozen had added their names as co-sponsors:

  • Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME
    -2] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] – 1/12/2007

Also n January 9, prior to Bush’s January 10 address announcing a troop surge, Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced H.R. 353 to prohibit the use of funds for any escalation above the numbers existing on January 9. The five original co-sponsors were:

  • Rep Meehan, Martin T. [MA-5]
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7]
  • Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10]
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3]
  • Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1]

Since then there have been another 15 co-sponsors:

  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] – 1/16/2007
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] – 1/10/2007
  • Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] – 1/12/2007
  • Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] – 1/11/2007
  • Rep Welch, Peter [VT] – 1/18/2007

January 11, Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced H.R. 413 which rescinds the 2002 authorization to go to war and requires the President to:

provide for the withdrawal of units and members of the United States Armed Forces deployed in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in a safe and orderly manner.

Since then he has obtained cosponsors:

  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] – 1/22/2007

Interestingly all of those co-sponsors sined on after John Murtha’s more popular H. J.Res. 18 introduced January 17 which specifies the problems in Iraq and says that the Congress

finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action.

The measure calls for:

    Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

    Sec. 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.

    Sec. 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

Farr, Kucinich, Markey and Meehan were all four of the original 86 co-sponsors:

  • Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Becerra, Xavier [CA-31] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-3] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Carson, Julia [IN-7] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Christensen, Donna M. [VI] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Clyburn, James E. [SC-6] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Green, Al [TX-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Jones, Stephanie Tubbs [OH-11] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Kanjorski, Paul E. [PA-11] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Meehan, Martin T. [MA-5] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Meek, Kendrick B. [FL-17] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Miller, George [CA-7] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Mollohan, Alan B. [WV-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Udall, Tom [NM-3] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Velazquez, Nydia M. [NY-12] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Visclosky, Peter J. [IN-1] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Welch, Peter [VT] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Wu, David [OR-1] – 1/17/2007
    Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Yarmuth, John A. [KY-3] – 1/17/2007

Ten more co-sponsors through 1/24 are:

  • Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] – 1/18/2007
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] – 1/18/2007
  • Rep Jefferson, William J. [LA-2] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [GA-4] – 1/18/2007
  • Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] – 1/18/2007
  • Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] – 1/17/2007
  • Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] – 1/22/2007
  • Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] – 1/18/2007

H.Res. 97. introduced January 24 by Patrick Murphy (-PA) by calls for cost accounting every 90 day
s by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction . The original 35 co-sponsors:

  • Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Barrow, John [GA-12] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Bean, Melissa L. [IL-8] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Berry, Marion [AR-1] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Boyd, Allen [FL-2] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Cardoza, Dennis A. [CA-18] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Chandler, Ben [KY-6] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Costa, Jim [CA-20] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Davis, Lincoln [TN-4] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Ellsworth, Brad [IN-8] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY-20] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Hill, Baron P. [IN-9] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Mahoney, Tim [FL-16] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Marshall, Jim [GA-8] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Matheson, Jim [UT-2] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Melancon, Charlie [LA-3] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Moore, Dennis [KS-3] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Ross, Mike [AR-4] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Scott, David [GA-13] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Shuler, Heath [NC-11] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Tanner, John S. [TN-8] – 1/24/2007
  • Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] – 1/24/2007

H.Con.Res.29 by Charlies Rangel (D-NY) calling for the removal of all restrictions from the public, the press, and military families in mourning that would prohibit their presence at the arrival at military installations in the United States or overseas of the remains of the Nation’s fallen heroes, the members of the Armed Forces who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan, with the assurance that family requests for privacy will be respected.

H.Con.Res 45 by Frank Wolfe (R-VA) that it is the sense of Congress that the House supports the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, most importantly–

    (1) the repositioning of United States troops to reflect strategic and tactical needs as determined by United States commanders in Iraq that meet the objective of training and equipping the Iraqi military, containing terrorism through special operations and rapid reaction forces, and ensuring the transfer of responsibility from United States to Iraqi control;

    (2) that the United States establish an explicit framework for cooperation and coordination with Iraqi leaders that includes the achievement of specific milestones and objectives within a reasonable time frame;

    (3) that the United States government launch a new diplomatic initiative to unite the region and build international consensus for stability and reconstruction in Iraq; and

    (4) that any policies enacted by the Administration with regard to Iraq are implemented in direct and continued consultation with Congress and relevant House and Senate committees.

There are other measures before the house Armed Services Committee that I’ll write about later:

  • H.R. 438 to prohibit escalation introduced January 12 by Jessie Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
  • H.R. 455 to bring the troops home by December 31, 2007 introduced that same date by Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
  • H.R. 508, Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) January 17 bill to
    • Repeal of Public Law 107-243
    • Disengage armed forces and contractor security forces from Iraq within six months
    • Prohibit permanent United States military installations in Iraq.
    • Provide Iraqi police and home guards training.
    • Deploy international stabilization force to Iraq.
    • Limit the total number of United States Government personnel at United States Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
    • Prohibit production sharing agreements for Iraqi petroleum resources.
    • Modify authorities relating to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
    • Study and report on damage to Iraqi civil society and infrastructure.
    • Assist to establish an Iraqi reconstruction corps.
    • Assist in the destruction of land mines and related activities in Iraq.
    • Assist to dismantle and dispose of fortifications and other remnants of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    • Assist to recover ancient relics and to restore archeological, cultural, and historical sites in Iraq.
    • Compensate for Iraqi Noncombatant Civilian Casualties.
    • Assist to establish an Iraqi institute of peace.
    • International fund to redevelop civic institutions in Iraq.
    • International fund to reconstitute the public health system in Iraq.
    • Assurance of adequate funding for veterans health care.
    • Establish a Joint Select Committee to study the Origins and Conduct of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Three bills introduced on January 17 by by Steve Lynch (MA)

H.R. 528

to require the Secretary of Defense, acting through the Defense Contract Audit Agency, to review all defense contracts relating to reconstruction or troop support in Iraq involving any contractors, subcontractors, or Federal officers or employees that have been indicted or convicted for contracting improprieties.,

H.R. 529

to implement the recommendations of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to ensure that the Department of Defense properly accounts for all small arms weapons procured by the Department of Defense for use by the Iraqi Security Forces.

and H.R. 533

to establish the Commission on Iraqi Transition

  • David Price (NC) January 10 H.R . 369. to require accountability for personnel performing private security functions under Federal contracts and January 23 H.R. 645
    • Ends Congressional authorization for use of military force against Iraq December 31, 2007.
    • Prohibitis use of funds to establish or maintain permanent United States military presence in Iraq.
    • Requires within 30 days of passage that the President to prepare and submit an exit strategy from Iraq and subsequent United States role in Iraq.
    • Assistance for employment programs and democracy, governance, and related programs in Iraq.
    • Presidential Special Envoys for Iraq Regional Security.
  • H.R. 663, ” New Direction for Iraq Act of 2007, ” Blumenauer’s January 24 measure to prohibit the escalation of United States military presence in Iraq, redeploy the armed forces and restore Iraqi sovereignty

The Vietnam War drew great public attention and opposition since many were in harms’s way, due to the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq.), which is still in effect, but inactive due to the all-volunteer army.

  • Charles Rangel (D-NY) on January 10 submitted H.R. 393 , The Universal National Service Act of 2007 to

requi
re all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the favorable treatment afforded combat pay under the earned income tax credit

  • Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 424 to repeal the Military Selective Service Act

*

United for Peace and Justice says that it has 1400 groups affiliated with it now. The national groups include:

the list goes on. more later.

The Raging Grannies had a song we all liked, but I’ll have to write UFPJ and ask for the lyrics.

Entry for January 27, 2007

January 28, 2007

“Death Thanks George Bush for All the Overtime” from Mike Cornwell at Flickr via United for Peace and Justice’s photo pool from the March.
When I heard how warm it was going to be and that there was still a space on the van Brian had rented to go from Roanoke and that Paula from contra dancing had been inspired to go, I took it as a sign and set my alarm for 4 a.m. Our group including Tom, Vietnam vet/retired science teacher from Montgomery County who was attending his first march, artist and neighborhood activist Elaine Fleck, who I didn’t know would be coming but heard about the trip from Brian at their sons’ soccer practice, Pam, a mother of triplets who had worked as a medical social worker, and others whose stories I wasn’t sitting close enough to learn for a total of 10. At the West Fairfax metro station, we met up with an EMS and her husband drove up so they could attend the workshops on Sunday.
I had called Kim at the Free Press and he had just gotten back in town and decided not to go but wants a story for the paper.
Here are links to some other photos from the pool:

Entry for January 26, 2007

January 26, 2007

Photo of offshore drilling from the Sierra Club’s The Planet Newsletter, May-June 2006.

Congress is again considering offshore drilling, according to the Center for American Progress today, “New Congress, Old Tricks.” The 109th Congress opened an additional 8.3 million acres of the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act at the end of last year.

Entry for January 25, 2007

January 26, 2007

The public interest law firm, Earth Justice, has issued an alert to support H.R. 39, the “Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act,” and stop once and for all the talk of drilling for oil in the Artic Wildlife Refuge.

And for news of coal, another non-renewable, see “Well Maybe It is Like A Murder Trial” in Sierra Club’s blog for today.

Entry for January 24, 2007

January 26, 2007

The cover from “American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security, ” World Watch Institute and the Center for American Progress, September 2006,

In last year’s State of the Union Address, Bush said we were addicted to oil, but the 109th Congress did little. On January 22, the Center for American Congress looked at the state of energy policy since then in preparation for the latest State of the Union Address.

Entry for January 23, 2007

January 26, 2007

Map from the San Bernadino Sun’s January story, “I-40 lanes shut after truck with plutonium crashes,” by Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer.

On January 16, the Nuclear Information and Resource Center issued an alert asking the public to comment by February 5, asking the National Regulatory Council to approve a petition for new rulemaking that would reconcile its generic environmental impact statement for nuclear power plant operating license renewal applications with current scientific understanding of the health risks of low-level radiation, including but not limited to those discussed in the National Academy of Sciences Health Risks From Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII Phase 2 Report.

Ironically, shortly after 8 p.m. on January 16, a commercial truck, pulling two trailers, crashed into a guardrail on eastbound Interstate 40, near Needles, CA, rupturing the tractor’s fuel tank and causing the rear trailer to overturn and split open. A 500-pound, 55-gallon drum with the plutonium (EPA fact sheet) was in the front of the damaged trailer and the entire cargo had to be unloaded to get at the drum. There was no global positioning system device on board to track the location of the waste, en route from an electric plant at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA. to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The Richland facility is near Hanford, WA, a key facility in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II and the locale of one of the world’s largest environmental cleanups.

Officials from the Department of Health Services arrived just before 5 a.m. to examine a container of radioactive material with a Geiger counter. A four-person team from the National Nuclear Security Administration based at the Nevada Test Site also arrived at the crash site “within hours.”

For information on transportation issues, see the Nuclear Information and Resource Service’s “Hot Cargo.” To keep up with issues see the WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor.

In “Plutonium transit uproar: Crash of truck with radioactive waste in desert stirs concerns,” Andrew Silva, Staff Writer, San Bernadino Sun, wrote 01/21/2007 :

Baking soda, bunk beds, fire extinguishers – and a drum with plutonium-238.
The truck that crashed Tuesday near Needles with a load of radioactive waste was a plain old commercial truck carrying plain old products.

When emergency workers checked the truck’s manifest they were surprised that radioactive material was being shipped with ordinary goods. …

Government and industry officials say shipping radioactive materials by commercial carriers is a perfectly safe, perfectly routine practice.

But San Bernardino County Fire Marshal Peter Brierty, who also directs his agency’s hazardous materials unit, said,

This, in and of itself, is very alarming.

He said that the radiation emitted by the truck’s four grams of plutonium-238, roughly the volume of a pencil eraser, emits more than 50 curies, trillions of times more than is allowed in drinking water. The drinking water standard is 15 picocuries per liter, or 15 trillionths of one curie.

Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute of Energy and Environmental Research added,

That’s quite a lot of plutonium . If nothing spilled, it’s not a big issue. I think it’s appalling they had flammable materials on this truck.

Robert Halstead, an expert in the transportation of nuclear waste, who has been working with the state of Nevada in battling the proposal to build a repository for highly radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, northwest of Las Vegas, asked,

What the hell is that doing in that truck?

Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center in New Mexico, which for thirty years has followed the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a half-mile-deep waste storage facility near Carlsbad, N.M, said tandem trucks are not allowed in shipments to that facility.

I think people should be worried this stuff is being handled so cavalierly. If it were going to WIPP, they couldn’t have shipped it the way they were shipping it.

Marvin Resnikoff, a physicist with Radioactive Waste Management Associates, based in New York, wondered about the potential for terrorism,

I’m floored that they’re actually moving this stuff around without a little more security. You could do tremendous havoc. You could spread this stuff around.