Hillary Clinton may be attracting long lines back East for her
book signings, but another woman -- a guru from India who is on
a mission to hug everyone in the world -- drew a crowd of her
own Tuesday to the East Bay.
Mata Amritanandamayi, known to her followers as Amma, the hugging
saint, sat in a Castro Valley prayer hall for hours on a throne
decorated with silk flowers, accepting flowers and fruit and drawings
before giving everyone -- from babes in arms to elderly supplicants
-- a hug.
And not just a little "thanks for coming, nice to see you"
kind of hug. Sometimes she drew several people at a time to her
bosom, rubbing their shoulders and arms while smiling beatifically.
At other times, she embraced just one person for long moments,
soothing each as they cried or laughing along with those overcome
by giggles of joy.
As they stood, the followers beamed or wiped tears from their
eyes or walked away speechlessly, awed by the woman in the white
sari who claims to have hugged 21 million people since she was
a young girl in southern India.
The Castro Valley Mata Amritananda Center, which is something
of a mecca for Amma devotees, is the second stop on her 10-city
U.S. tour that began earlier this month in Seattle and will include
stops this summer in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.
Amma, who turns 50 in September, will be in Castro Valley for
12 days and is expected to give about 1,200 hugs each day, said
spokesman Rob Sidon of San Francisco.
Candice Munger, 22, of Colorado Springs, was first hugged by
Amma in 1996 and has since lost count of the number of embraces.
But that didn't dim her enthusiasm as she eagerly waited for another
chance to come face to face with Amma on Tuesday.
"It's the experience of being held when you're sad or being
enthused when you're excited," she said after being embraced.
"She's somebody who can see right through you. It's almost
that she knows me more than I know me."
Munger, who will be married in July in a ceremony presided over
by Amma, took her wedding sari for the woman to bless on Tuesday.
She and others said they love Amma like a mother.
Amma, who conducted media interviews while keeping up her hugging,
sees herself that way as well. Asked what she gets out of hugging
thousands of people a day, day after day, she smiled as she replied
in her native dialect.
"It's like asking a mother 'What do you get from hugging
your baby?' " Amma said through her interpreter, Swami Amritswarup.
"Sometimes she'll receive 35,000 people a day," Amritswarup
added. Amma turned and spoke to him, and he quickly translated
"she will do it faster" when that many show up.
To keep the crowds moving, people are handed stickers and wait
patiently, first sitting and then kneeling in lines on the floors.
Before hugging Amma, they must wipe their faces with tissues.
Volunteers at the center said people have come not just from
throughout the United States but also from other countries to
bask in Amma's presence.
Among the foreign travelers were Stephen Fairclough and his wife
Diana, who left their home in Victoria, B.C., to see Amma first
in Seattle and then in Castro Valley. They first met her in 1997
on a trip to India.
"She's one of the more sparkling ones," said Fairclough,
who's been meditating since the early 1970s and who has met a
variety of gurus over the decades. "She's just the embodiment
of love. It just pours out of her. She's really mother; she's
the epitome of every mother."
Shakir Akbar, 25, of Flagstaff, Ariz., had never met Amma before
he went to Castro Valley on Tuesday at the urging of a friend.
After his hug, he seemed overwhelmed.
"It was wonderful. Very nice, refreshing," he said.
"You have to experience it for yourself. Words kind of belittle
One of the best parts, he said, was watching the other followers
receive their embraces. Hundreds of people sat or stood for hours
watching Amma before they wandered over to a gift shop to buy
photos of her, along with the kind of beaded jewelry she wore,
Indian saris and other clothes and souvenirs.
Along with the hugs, Amma answers questions, Sidon said, ranging
from why people's cows aren't giving enough milk to scientists
asking about work they're doing or "a priest wondering if
he should remain a priest."
"She'll sometimes whisper something, or it could be as general
as 'darling daughter, darling daughter,' " Sidon said.
Sidon said that Amma has a hand in many charities, and that she
is not espousing any particular religious beliefs but instead
"firmly believes that all the religions are great and they
all lead to the same path."
Followers say different people see her in different ways.
"You can take her as a sweet woman from India who gives
you hugs up to the divine mother incarnate," said Stella
Petrakis, 55, of San Francisco.
A key influence
Piano teacher has inspired generations of music
Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, May 23, 2003
A stroke in 2000 weakened her right side, so she uses a songbook
of piano pieces for just the left hand. Macular degeneration and
cataract surgery diminished her eyesight, so she uses a contraption
that magnifies one measure of music at a time. She can't hear
as well as she used to, so enjoying her own music isn't easy.
Still, Jennie Lois Windle sits at the bench of one of two K.
Kawai grand pianos that fill her living room high atop the hills
of Berkeley almost every day to play for a while. The songs might
not trip off her fingers like they used to, but the reverberations
of the 88-year-old's lifetime of music will likely echo throughout
the Bay Area for generations to come.
In her 57 years teaching piano, she has instructed 445 students,
some of whom have become heavy-hitters in the Bay Area music scene,
holding positions at the Stern Grove Music Festival and the San
Francisco Conservatory of Music. Others have become piano teachers
Oral Lee Brown's 1st-graders reach
for finish line
Kelly St. John
Monday, May 12, 2003
LaTosha Hunter beamed as she walked across the stage in her black
cap and gown and collected her diploma. Then she retreated from
the searing Mississippi heat to a shady spot, where she embraced
Oral Lee Brown, the Oakland real estate agent whose remarkable
promise 16 years ago got her there.
In 1987, Brown told Hunter and two dozen other first-graders
at Brookfield Elementary School that she would put them through
college if they graduated from high school. Four years ago, most
of them did, with 19 enrolling in college.
A 20-year-old Marine reservist showed up at the gates of his
San Jose base Tuesday -- conscientious objector papers in hand
-- ready for punishment for not joining his unit's deployment
Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk said he had had a lapse in judgment
when he signed up as a 19-year-old, swayed by his recruiter's
pitch of new skills, camaraderie and a naive belief that it would
be "like the Boy Scouts."
At the San Jose base, Marine Capt. Patrick O'Rourke said Funk
must report for duty at 7:30 each morning while his application
"The Marine Corps understands there are service members
opposed to the war, " O'Rourke said. "He'll be treated
Funk is one of several service members in today's volunteer military
who are seeking conscientious objector status.
The recruits say their idealistic expectations of military service
-- travel, tuition and adventure -- jarred against the harsh realities
of killing another human and ran afoul of deeply held religious,
ethical or moral views.
"They don't really advertise that they kill people,"
Funk said. "I didn't really realize the full implications
of what I was doing and what it really meant to be in the service
as a reservist."
In San Diego, Marine Staff Sgt. Nick McLaren said the new recruits
are clearly told about combat and involuntary recall to active
duty in the case of a national emergency. Recruits also must declare
whether they have conscientious objector reservations stemming
from firm or fixed beliefs.
Funk said his moral quandary had begun at boot camp, where he
was trained to shout "kill, kill" as he slashed with
his weapon. He said he felt like a "hypocrite." He shared
his qualms with military chaplains.
When his unit was deployed Feb. 9 for active duty, Funk failed
to show up. He has prepared a statement on his pacifist beliefs
and will be interviewed by a military chaplain, psychiatrist and
investigative officer before his fate is clear.
"There are so many evil things about war," said Funk,
who is originally from Seattle. "There is no way to justify
war because you're paying with human lives."
His mother, Gloria Pacis, 49, said she prayed daily for her son.
"I'm proud of the fact that he owned up to his reservations
and was not a hypocrite," she said.
The military acknowledges that recruits may change their views
during training and allows service members an exit if they prove
a religious, ethical or moral objection to war. Conscientious
objector applications can take up to one year for review. The
outcomes range from a noncombat job, still in the military service,
in the United States to, in the worst case, a court martial and
possible prison terms.
Funk's attorney, Stephen Collier -- a member of the National
Lawyer's Guild Military Law Task Force in San Francisco -- said
he would seek a general discharge for his client.
Anti-war groups report that their hot lines have been flooded
by calls from service members. The "GI Rights Hotline"
that counsels service members logged about 3,500 calls in January
and 3,100 in February -- double the monthly average in 2002.
Teresa Panepinto of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors
in Oakland, which runs the hot line, says in today's mostly volunteer
military there is "economic conscription" as young people
join the forces for job skills or tuition -- not to fight wars.
"The ads for the military are sold as a scholarship tool.
There is no footage of combat," she said. "It is a real
bait-and-switch that is costing young people their lives."
Critics of conscientious objectors, however, say it is disingenuous
to volunteer during peace time and then seek an escape hatch when
war breaks out.
Jason Crawford, 23, who founded the Internet site Patriots for
the Defense of America, said: "I think it is a grave dishonor
to back out when your country needs you. There aren't any proper
objections to this war. It is a just war."
Funk is being helped in his bid for a discharge by 1991 Gulf
War conscientious objectors: Army reservist Aimee Allison, 33,
of Oakland who ultimately took her fight with the military to
federal court and was given a discharge, and Marine Corps reservist
Erik Larsen, 35, of Milpitas who spent five months in the brig
and was granted a dishonorable discharge after his case was handled
by Amnesty International.
"There is nothing un-American or unpatriotic about saying
killing is wrong, and I won't kill," Allison said.
According to the Center on Conscience and War in Washington,
D.C., there had been an estimated 3,500 conscientious objectors
in World War I; 37,000 in World War II; 4,300 in the Korean War;
more than 200,000 during the Vietnam War; and 111 during the 1991
George Houser, 86, who once lived in Berkeley and now lives near
New York City, said he and seven others had spent a year in federal
prison in Danbury, Conn., for defying conscription. "For
me, that year in prison was an important slice of my life,"
he said. "It led to other things, one step at a time."
Chronicle staff writer Maria Alicia Gaura contributed to this
report. / E-mail Pamela J. Podger at email@example.com.
From 1962 to 1993, Cesar Chavez dedicated himself to organizing
a farmworkers' movement in California. How will history remember
Some may be content to define him simply as an historic labor
leader and founding president of the United Farm Workers union.
But his vision for the movement encompassed far more than organizing
a union. And his elevation to the status of a revered icon has
less to do with his union activities than with the personal sacrifices,
commitment to nonviolence and deep religious conviction that marked
his life of service to impoverished farmworkers.
April 23 marks the 10th anniversary of Chavez's death. Forty
years after he began organizing California farmworkers, what is
his legacy? Why does state government celebrate a holiday today
in his honor? Why are there now parks, streets and schools throughout
California and the Southwest named after Cesar E. Chavez?
Chavez was an indigenous, self-educated Latino leader, born in
Arizona and raised in California. He was a farmworker, a veteran,
a community activist, an organizer and the founder of the farmworkers'
movement. At great personal sacrifice -- including the sacrifices
made by his wife and eight children -- he accomplished what no
one had done before. In the face of undying opposition from agribusiness,
the state's largest industry, he built a farmworkers' union.
Following in the tradition of Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther
King, Jr., he built this union through the use of militant nonviolence.
The most compelling aspect of Chavez's life was his decision
to live in voluntary poverty. When I first met him in 1963, he
did not have a telephone, a dress suit, a TV or a washing machine.
He rented a two-bedroom house in Delano, much too small for a
family of 10, and drove an old Volvo. (After the Volvo expired
during the first few months of the grape strike, Chavez never
again owned an automobile.)
His commitment to live in voluntary poverty for the sake of helping
farmworkers inspired -- and challenged -- others to join him.
They viewed Chavez as authentic and altruistic, not a self-appointed
leader out to get rich at the expense of others. Because of his
own example, Chavez was able to demand that all those who worked
for him would be paid subsistence wages. Because of Chavez's personal
example, no one would ever enrich him or herself at the expense
of the farmworkers' movement.
For more than a decade, Chavez's movement provided the grist
for churches and synagogues to discuss the application of the
principles of social justice when weighed against the call of
the farmworkers' union for an international consumer boycott of
California grapes. It is worth remembering that most of the growers
also attended church or synagogue and were generous in their support.
Mainline churches played a significant role in the development
of Chavez's National Farm Workers Association long before the
grape strike in 1965. Once the picket lines were formed in Delano,
they carried Chavez's message to urban congregations throughout
But Chavez, in turn, helped make the teachings of the church
and synagogue relevant to their religious members, who tipped
the scales in favor of the cause of the nation's most impoverished
workers. Whether canonized or not, Chavez has been enrolled as
a modern-day saint and prophet.
Chavez has also been held up as a symbol marking a new era in
the history of California and the Southwest: the beginning of
the Latino century. This year, according to state records, more
than half of all children born in California will be Latino, while
the majority of California students now attending urban elementary
schools are Latino. This ethnic sea change is reflected in Chavez's
Chavez always sought to avoid being referred to as a "labor
leader." He had created the NFWA not as a labor union but
as a self-help membership association for farmworkers. Nevertheless,
he became the nation's most respected and revered labor leader
of the past half-century. His humble lifestyle, his stubborn independence
and his vision of a union's role in the lives of its members made
Chavez as much a scourge to those labor leaders who operated in
the rarefied atmosphere of state and national capitols as a pillar
of inspiration for those union leaders searching for relevance,
renewal and reform.
What is Chavez's legacy for the rest of us? He taught us how
to organize, how to make something powerful out of nothing more
than conviction and perseverance. Results guaranteed, but only
if we are willing to make the personal sacrifices and the life
commitment required to motivate and inspire others to join with
us to overcome all obstacles, for as long as it takes.
Chavez has now been buried 10 years. He waits to be resurrected
by yet another indigenous leader who will rise up, in the spirit
of Gandhi and King --and Chavez -- to free people from injustice
and oppression. Chavez's life advanced the cause of human rights.
That is legacy enough.
LeRoy Chatfield worked with Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers'
movement from 1963 to 1973.
Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Kevin Barner, considering joining the military,
and Kathe Burick speak during a march.
San Francisco -- With each new dawn in the war on Iraq, another
day's pay is lost for Berkeley piano teacher Rich Hubbard.
It's not that he's away at war -- he's protesting it almost daily
on the streets of San Francisco.
"I've turned down opportunities to make money tuning pianos
because this is a more valuable investment of my time," said
Hubbard, 41, who sat in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco
on Monday waiting for protesters to arrive from downtown. "If
I don't get involved in this, then the blood is on my hands."
Hubbard is one of hundreds of protesters who have interrupted
their lives nearly every day since the war began Wednesday night
to carry signs and shout for peace.
Those with such flexible time are usually students, homemakers
or, like Hubbard, self-employed. Some have arranged their lives
to be free to protest or lobby for issues they care about. Others
protest despite having employees or colleagues who count on them
to be somewhere else.
David Otten is one of those. He was easy to spot Monday sitting
among the protesters blocking the Turk Street entrance to the
Federal Building. Most of them wore faded jeans and sweat-shop-free
jackets from Thailand. Otten wore a suit and tie.
"This is my new full-time job," said Otten, 32, CEO
of Telectroscan Inc., a medical imaging research firm in Berkeley.
"It's not helping the company, I'll admit."
It was about 10 a.m, and Otten was due at a board meeting at
2. Just then, police announced over the bullhorn they would arrest
anyone who didn't immediately leave the vicinity. Otten stayed.
He slipped a departing reporter his cell phone number just as
police closed in.
"I'm scared," Otten admitted over the phone.
Was he having second thoughts?
"Not at this point," he said. "Complacency is
As the officers slipped plastic handcuffs around the protesters'
wrists, it was time for Otten to put down the phone. "I may
have to miss that board meeting," he said.
Jon Cody, a 25-year-old car salesman who has been protesting
daily since last week, found his own way to reconcile social values
with his day job: He quit.
"I just don't feel that I could work for the industry in
good conscience until they make cars that can run on something
else," Cody said as he protested outside the Transamerica
Sherry Larsen-Beville, 60, didn't have to quit her job as head
ticket- seller at the Oakland Coliseum to rally against the war.
She and her husband, Frank Beville, 66, decided when they married
28 years ago that she would take part-time work so the family
could devote time to peace and justice.
It wasn't easy because the couple raised nine children, and Beville
held one job as an electrician and another as chaplain at the
Oakland County Jail.
Though he is now retired and the kids are grown up, it still
isn't easy. Neuropathy and a hip injury make walking painful for
Beville. But he and Larsen-Beville were on the streets Monday,
wearing black in recognition of the funereal theme adopted by
"It gets down to whether we believe the rhetoric of the
and I have to say no," Beville said. "Besides, a pre-emptive
strike is just not the American way."
Kevin Barner, 21, was standing among the peace activists on Turk
Street because he had nothing better to do. Though opposed to
the war, he happened to mention his plans to join the military.
"Oh, please don't do that!" cried Kathe Burick, a 53-year-old
San Francisco City College dance teacher.
Barner, who dropped out of school in 10th grade, said, "But
if I don't do something, I'll be out on the street."
Burick said, "I'd rather see you on the street than in the
grave." She suggested he return to school.
"I want to go back to school," he said.
"I'll take you right now," Burick said, promising to
show him the financial aid office. They left to find a Muni station.
Chronicle staff writers Joe Garofoli and Kathleen Sullivan contributed
to this report. E-mail Nanette Asimov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It isn't as lonely as it used to be way out there on the far
A year and a half after casting the lone vote opposing President
Bush's global campaign against terrorism, Congresswoman Barbara
Lee has become the name attached to the anti-war movement.
When Lee came to the stage at last month's peace rally in San
Francisco, she heard the chant "Barbara Lee for president."
She has heard it before, and seen it on signs, from Oregon to
That's a long ways from Mills College, where she graduated 30
years ago. Now a fourth-term Democrat representing Oakland and
Berkeley, Lee, 55, gets all the inspiration she needs walking
into her district office in the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building
Q: On the Barbara Lee for president movement.
It's a humbling moment when you hear that. I recognize I have
represented this area for five years in Congress, and I was in
the state Senate and Assembly since 1990. But when you hear the
shouts "Barbara Lee for president," you have to say,
"Where's that coming from?" It's not coming from me.
It's not coming from my staff. That's for sure.
Q: On the "I told you so' temptation.
On Sept. 14, 2001, right after the horrific attack, when I voted
no, I knew then that it was wrong for us to give the administration
a blank check. That was giving the president too much power to
use force without coming back to Congress at all. I believe, and
the Constitution requires, that the Congress declare war, that
we engage in debate with regard to war and peace. So I would cast
the same vote today. No second thoughts.
Q: On no longer being the one lonely anti-war vote.
I offered the Lee Amendment as an alternate with regard to disarmament
and finding diplomatic solutions to our problems with inspections.
We received 72 votes [Oct. 10, 2002]. When you look at the last
vote on the use of force, we had 133 no votes on that resolution.
Q: On North Korean missiles pointed at the Bay Area.
During the debate on Iraq, some members of the Progressive Caucus
really made the case for the missile scenario in North Korea and
said, "That's where we need to begin talking about containment."
I don't think the general public knew, because it's been "Iraq,
Iraq, Iraq" from the administration.
Q: On the solution.
We need to re-engage. During the Clinton administration, there
was engagement going on. For the first 18 or 19 months of the
Bush administration, there was no engagement at all. Next what
do we hear? The president goes to Congress and cites the "Axis
of Evil." We must re-engage with North Korea, and we must
do that immediately. It's a very dangerous situation - certainly
more dangerous than Iraq.
Q: On the peace movement.
This doctrine of pre-emption and first strike - Iraq is first
on their list,
and this is a policy that this administration is dead-set on
implementing. We see Iraq now, Iran, North Korea. Who knows what
country is next? I just hope it doesn't take hold, and that's
why I'm so happy and delighted to see the peace marches throughout
Q: On naked spellouts.
I've seen the pictures. People are finding creative ways to protest.
These women chose to express their views in this way. That's a
manifestation of their determination to make their statement.
Q: On becoming an activist at an early age.
I was born on July 16, 1946, in El Paso, Texas. When my mother
went to have me, they wouldn't admit her to the hospital because
she was black, and she almost died. I heard my mother tell me
this and I was really upset. They left her to die on a gurney.
Q: On growing up a civil rights activist.
I was raised in Texas and the schools were segregated. I wasn't
allowed to go to public school. I went to Catholic school. They
were the only ones that would let black folks in. I can remember
my dad in his uniform - he was an officer in the military - and
we'd go to restaurants and they'd say, "I'm sorry we can't
serve," and they used the N word. So I was always fighting
for what was right.
Q: On an Army brat becoming a peace activist.
My father is a retired lieutenant colonel. When I cast the one
vote against the war, he said, "That was the right vote."
He was in the Korean War and he's very clear on issues of war
and peace. My mother too. They're my source of strength.
Q: On mentors.
Ron Dellums is a phone call away. We work on issues together.
He's probably made more of an impact on me than anybody, in terms
of policy. He worked very hard to get this federal building here,
and every time I walk in, I think of Ron.
The following is a copy of Mary (Ann) Wrights letter
of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wright was
most recently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy
in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She helped open the U.S. embassy in
Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2002.
March 19, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell
US Department of State
Washington, DC 20521
Dear Secretary Powell:
When I last saw you in Kabul in January, 2002 you arrived to
officially open the US Embassy that I had helped reestablish in
December, 2001 as the first political officer. At that time I
could not have imagined that I would be writing a year later to
resign from the Foreign Service because of US policies. All my
adult life I have been in service to the United States. I have
been a diplomat for fifteen years and the Deputy Chief of Mission
in our Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan (briefly)
and Mongolia. I have also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. I received the State Departments
Award for Heroism as Charge dAffaires during the evacuation
of Sierra Leone in 1997. I was 26 years in the US Army/Army Reserves
and participated in civil reconstruction projects after military
operations in Grenada, Panama and Somalia. I attained the rank
of Colonel during my military service.
This is the only time in my many years serving America that I
have felt I cannot represent the policies of an Administration
of the United States. I disagree with the Administrations
policies on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea
and curtailment of civil liberties in the U.S. itself. I believe
the Administrations policies are making the world a more
dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally
to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and
to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement
I hope you will bear with my explanation of why I must resign.
After thirty years of service to my country, my decision to resign
is a huge step and I want to be clear in my reasons why I must
I disagree with the Administrations policies on Iraq
I wrote this letter five weeks ago and held it hoping that the
Administration would not go to war against Iraq at this time without
United Nations Security Council agreement. I strongly believe
that going to war now will make the world more dangerous, not
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a despicable dictator
and has done incredible damage to the Iraqi people and others
of the region. I totally support the international communitys
demand that Saddams regime destroy weapons of mass destruction.
However, I believe we should not use US military force without
UNSC agreement to ensure compliance. In our press for military
action now, we have created deep chasms in the international community
and in important international organizations. Our policies have
alienated many of our allies and created ill will in much of the
Countries of the world supported Americas action in Afghanistan
as a response to the September 11 Al Qaida attacks on America.
Since then, America has lost the incredible sympathy of most of
the world because of our policy toward Iraq. Much of the world
considers our statements about Iraq as arrogant, untruthful and
masking a hidden agenda. Leaders of moderate Moslem/Arab countries
warn us about predicable outrage and anger of the youth of their
countries if America enters an Arab country with the purpose of
attacking Moslems/Arabs, not defending them. Attacking the Saddam
regime in Iraq now is very different than expelling the same regime
from Kuwait, as we did ten years ago.
I strongly believe the probable response of many Arabs of the
region and Moslems of the world if the US enters Iraq without
UNSC agreement will result in actions extraordinarily dangerous
to America and Americans. Military action now without UNSC agreement
is much more dangerous for America and the world than allowing
the UN weapons inspections to proceed and subsequently taking
UNSC authorized action if warranted.
I firmly believe the probability of Saddam using weapons of mass
destruction is low, as he knows that using those weapons will
trigger an immediate, strong and justified international response.
There will be no question of action against Saddam in that case.
I strongly disagree with the use of a preemptive attack
against Iraq and believe that this preemptive attack policy will
be used against us and provide justification for individuals and
groups to preemptively attack America and American
The international military build-up is providing pressure on
the regime that is resulting in a slow, but steady disclosure
of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). We should give the weapons
inspectors time to do their job. We should not give extremist
Moslems/ Arabs a further cause to hate America, or give moderate
Moslems a reason to join the extremists. Additionally, we must
reevaluate keeping our military forces in the Middle East, particularly
in Saudi Arabia. Their presence on the Islamic holy soil
of Saudi Arabia will be an anti-American rally cry for Moslems
as long as the US military remains and a strong reason, in their
opinion, for actions against the US government and American citizens.
Although I strongly believe the time in not yet right for military
action in Iraq, as a soldier who has been in several military
operations, I hope General Franks, US and coalition forces can
accomplish the missions they will be ordered do without loss of
civilian or military life and without destruction of the Iraqi
peoples homes and livelihood.
I strongly urge the Department of State to attempt again to stop
the policy that is leading us to military action in Iraq without
UNSC agreement. Timing is everything and this is not yet the time
for military action.
I disagree with the Administrations lack of effort in
resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Likewise, I cannot support the lack of effort by the Administration
to use its influence to resurrect the Israeli-Palestinian peace
process. As Palestinian suicide bombers kill Israelis and Israeli
military operations kill Palestinians and destroy Palestinian
towns and cities, the Administration has done little to end the
violence. We must exert our considerable financial influence on
the Israelis to stop destroying cities and on the Palestinians
to curb its youth suicide bombers. I hope the Administrations
long-needed Roadmap for Peace will have the human
resources and political capital needed to finally make some progress
I disagree with the Administrations lack of policy on
Additionally, I cannot support the Administrations position
on North Korea. With weapons, bombs and missiles, the risks that
North Korea poses are too great to ignore. I strongly believe
the Administrations lack of substantive discussion, dialogue
and engagement over the last two years has jeopardized security
on the peninsula and the region. The situation with North Korea
is dangerous for us to continue to neglect.
I disagree with the Administrations policies on Unnecessary
Curtailment of Rights in America
Further, I cannot support the Administrations unnecessary
curtailment of civil rights following September 11. The investigation
of those suspected of ties with terrorist organizations is critical
but the legal system of America for 200 years has been based on
standards that provide protections for persons during the investigation
period. Solitary confinement without access to legal counsel cuts
the heart out of the legal foundation on which our country stands.
Additionally, I believe the Administrations secrecy in the
judicial process has created an atmosphere of fear to speak out
against the gutting of the protections on which America was built
and the protections we encourage other countries to provide to
I have served my country for almost thirty years in the some
of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world. I want
to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the
policies of this Administration and cannot defend or implement
them. It is with heavy heart that I must end my service to America
and therefore resign due to the Administrations policies.
Mr. Secretary, to end on a personal note, under your leadership,
we have made great progress in improving the organization and
administration of the Foreign Service and the Department of State.
I want to thank you for your extraordinary efforts to that end.
I hate to leave the Foreign Service, and I wish you and our colleagues
Mary A. Wright, FO-01
Deputy Chief of Mission
Following is the text of career diplomat John Browns
letter by which he resigned from the Foreign Service.
Dear Friends and Colleagues: FYI. John
To: Secretary of State Colin Powell
March 10, 2003
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am joining my colleague John Brady Kiesling in submitting my
resignation from the Foreign Service (effective immediately) because
I cannot in good conscience support President Bushs war
plans against Iraq.
The president has failed:
To explain clearly why our brave men and women in uniform should
be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at this time;
To lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the
extent of innocent civilian casualties;
To specify the economic costs of the war for ordinary Americans;
To clarify how the war would help rid the world of terror;
To take international public opinion against the war into serious
Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated
with the unjustified use of force. The presidents disregard
for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public
diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century.
I joined the Foreign Service because I love our country. Respectfully,
Mr. Secretary, I am now bringing this calling to a close, with
a heavy heart but for the same reason that I embraced it.
'Democracy Now!' Host Amy Goodman Is Making
Her Voice Heard on Iraq
by Michael Powell
March 10, 2003
NEW YORK -- And now for the news:
"President Bush last night claimed a war in Iraq would set
the stage for peace in the Middle East, but he did not set any
deadline or detail any specific steps." . . .
"The Financial Times describes the Bush administration's
financial analysis as 'a piece of fiction.' " . . .
"In Australia, 43 legal experts warn that an attack on Iraq
is a violation of international law." . . .
"And the United States asks aid groups in Baghdad for civilian
satellite coordinates in Iraq" -- pregnant pause here --
"Is it to bomb them or save them?"
"This is 'Democracy Now!' " says the anchor. "The
war and peace report." Cue the lilting Bob Marley reggae
This is not the news as Brit Hume construes it or Dan Rather
intones it. In a "Showdown: Iraq," Blix-is-nixed, pack-my-trench-coat-honey
testosterone media age, Amy Goodman and her radio show, "Democracy
Now!," beam in as if from some alternative left galaxy.
Broadcasting on the Pacifica Radio network from a book-strewn
loft in an old firehouse a half-dozen blocks from Ground Zero,
Goodman is a daily polestar for those who crave the antiwar perspective
that mainstream networks and newspapers often consign to the margins.
"War coverage should be more than a parade of retired generals
and retired government flacks posing as reporters," Goodman
says after the show. "Why not invite on some voices that
are not Pentagon-approved?"
Her 9 a.m. magazine show mixes investigative scoops (a recent
report detailed how the Bush administration quashed an FBI investigation
into Saudi Arabian funding of terrorist organizations), reports
from foreign correspondents, and very few generals. She and her
co-host, New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, speak, unabashedly,
to those who oppose a war with Iraq, a roomier club than one might
imagine from watching cable television news channels.
A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that six in 10 Americans
harbor doubts about using force in Iraq, while 40 percent are
opposed to any invasion.
The audience for "Democracy Now!" is small but growing,
and the show is influential among antiwar activists. More than
120 stations carry it, including WPFW-FM (89.3) in Washington
and some public radio affiliates. And in the last two years, it's
begun broadcasting on Web TV (via www.democracynow.org)
and public access television channels around the world .
And starting today the formerly 60-minute show expands by an
hour to accommodate more reporting on the war.
Its politics can veer toward communion for the progressive choir.
But in this age of corporate media conglomeration, when National
Public Radio sounds as safe as a glass of warm milk, "Democracy
Now!" retains a jagged and intriguing edge.
Goodman is the show's center, a slight 45-year-old in a pullover
vest, jeans and sneakers. Her unruly brown hair is streaked with
gray. She can break out a playful smile, and punctuate an interview
by opening a hatch in her office floor and sliding down a fire
pole to the floor below.
More often, though, her intensity burns through.
In two decades of reporting for Pacifica, she's been beaten bloody
by Indonesian soldiers as she charted East Timor's battle for
independence. And she's wandered the deltas of southern Nigeria
charting the environmental and human rights degradations of the
Nigerian army and Chevron Oil Corp.
For such work, she's received some of mainstream journalism's
highest honors: The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the George
Polk Award and the Overseas Press Club Award (an honor she declined
at the podium on awards night -- more on that later).
But the awards seem beside the point. Her Edward R. Murrow comes
always with a twist of Emma Goldman.
Goodman leans forward in her chair, trying to explain what's
so very clear to her. "I feel this is a very urgent time,
for this nation and the world," she says. "The clock
is ticking towards war. We can't do enough, we absolutely can't."
She begins broadcasting at 7 a.m. every morning, and works until
near midnight, talking to sources, reading documents and talking
up funders. (Although the show raises $2.5 million annually for
the Pacifica network, it, more than any other program, runs on
a shoestring budget: $800,000.) Each Friday, she heads to the
airport, hopping planes to such places as Seattle and Albuquerque,
Boston and Cleveland and Ithaca, N.Y., to talk about the coming
war with Iraq.
Her eye sockets look a bit hollowed out. It's hard to leave phone
messages for her because her voice mail keeps filling up.
"She doesn't say 'no' very well," says Michael Ratner,
a friend and an attorney with and president of with the Center
for Constitutional Rights.
Sleep? Her friend, Elizabeth Benjamin, head of the Legal Aid
Society's Health Law Unit, chuckles.
"I wish she got more of it. Amy has so much passion to right
the wrongs of the world."
The Amy & Bill Show
Three years ago, President Clinton placed an Election Day call
to "Democracy Now!" For Clinton it was supposed to be
two minutes of get-out-the-vote happy talk with a progressive
radio show and then: Gotta go.
Except Goodman began by asking: "You are calling radio stations
telling people to vote. What do you say to people who feel the
two parties are bought by corporations and that at this point
their vote doesn't make a difference?"
"There is not a shred of evidence to support that,"
And they were off and running, Amy and Bill, debating American
politics, the health effects of sanctions against Iraq, and whether
Clinton would pardon native American activist Leonard Peltier.
Why, she asked, did he fly back to Arkansas in 1992 during the
presidential campaign to execute a mentally impaired man?
Goodman is the reporter who sinks her teeth in and never lets
go, and he was the president who never gives up hope of winning
you over. "You have asked questions in a hostile, combative
and even disrespectful tone," he scolded Goodman at one point.
Then he kept on talking.
In this insider media age when oh-so-serious reporters measure
status by access to the powerful, Goodman is the journalist as
uninvited guest. You might think of the impolite question; she
asks it. She torments Democrats no less than Republicans.
When former senator Bob Kerrey called a news conference to defend
himself against charges he committed a war crime while a soldier
in Vietnam, Goodman asked if perhaps a war crimes tribunal should
be set up to examine the guilt of the war's architects, such as
Kerrey's halting demurral made a few television broadcasts. But
Goodman's question displeased some establishment media worthies.
That Sunday, NPR reporter Mara Liason went on "Fox Special
Report With Brit Hume" and complained that Goodman was not
really a journalist and that no one would have asked such a question
Last year Goodman sneaked into the World Economic Forum, a hermetically
sealed gathering of the powerful (and a few well-behaved journalist
guests) in Manhattan. She found Nicholas Platt, a former U.S.
ambassador to the Philippines and asked him if American support
of Indonesia was worth it, given that its military killed tens
of thousands in East Timor.
Platt squinted at her and inquired (on the air): "What ax
are you grinding right here?"
"I survived a massacre in East Timor," Goodman responded.
Growing Up Amy
Goodman grew up a movement child, the daughter of radical parents
in Bayshore, N.Y., across from Fire Island. Her father, a physician,
was featured in a poster for nuclear disarmament, the image of
a mushroom cloud in his stethoscope. (Going further back, she
is descended from prominent Hasidic rabbis, although she counts
herself a secular Jew.)
After graduating from Harvard in 1984, Goodman came to New York
City. She fiddled with the radio dial and found WBAI, the New
York affiliate of the cacophonously left-wing Pacifica, a network
founded in the 1940s by pacifist Lew Hill. She heard vegans and
pagans, performance artists and beatniks, jazz musicians and black
"It was New York, in all of its beauty and all of its ugliness,"
she recalls. "And it wasn't trying to sell a thing. I was
She took a video documentary class, began volunteering at the
station and a few years later became the station's news director.
She's never left.
In 1991, she traveled to East Timor with journalist Allan Nairn.
They fell in step one day with a Timorese memorial procession.
As the procession passed a row of Indonesian troops, the soldiers
brought rifles to shoulders and began firing, killing 250 men,
women and children. Nairn and Goodman huddled on the ground as
the soldiers began beating them with rifle butts.
"Allan put his body over mine," she recalls. "I
thought we would die."
Photos show them afterward, bruised and bleeding from head to
foot. The Indonesians expelled them. But Goodman and Nairn made
a documentary that drew attention to this distant island, and
not incidentally explored the American complicity in backing the
As she accepted a prize for that work, Goodman was asked to explain
her approach. She replied: "Go where the silence is and say
She has lived that advice, traveling to Yugoslavia, Haiti, Cuba,
Israel's occupied territories and Mexico, often recording reports
in the face of danger. In 1996, she started "Democracy Now!"
as a daily newsmagazine.
The shows are of varying quality. The politics can sometimes
seem predictable and the overseas telephone lines can sound as
if sanded with gravel. And sometimes the guests are a bit . .
So on a recent day Ramsey Clark, the 75-year-old former U.S.
attorney general and patron saint of very lost causes (former
Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and the North Korean government,
to name two) wandered in to talk up his campaign to impeach Bush
But on its best days, Goodman's show has the quality of a good
reporter peering under unexpected rocks.
Goodman talks with a reporter for the German newsmagazine Der
Spiegel about his investigation into complicity of American and
European companies in selling biological and chemical weapons
supplies to the Iraqis in the 1980s. Another recent guest details
an investigative report in British papers that found the United
States was tapping the phones and reading the e-mails of United
Nations Security Council members during the debate over Iraq.
Last Thursday she interviewed two veteran war correspondents,
Chris Hedges of the New York Times and Robert Fisk of the Independent
in London, about the Pentagon's censorship of reporters.
"The press in the first Gulf War was completely managed,"
said Hedges, who covered that event. "The coverage was absolutely
Fisk and Hedges often worked outside the Pentagon-approved press
pools in that first war and suffered arrests and beatings for
their trouble -- from allied troops. "I was arrested by the
Marines after I was betrayed by a CBS reporter who said I was
not in the pool."
None of these stories and views have gotten much air time on
the commercial or publicly funded airwaves.
"There's such an hunger out there for an alternative,"
Goodman says. "It's almost explosive."
Two hundred thousand people jam the frigid streets of New York
City in early February, protesting the planned war on Iraq. Vast
puppet heads bob in the air, along with placards reading: "Somewhere
in Texas, a village has lost its idiot." And throughout the
crowd, demonstrators tune radios to WBAI and Amy Goodman -- who
is broadcasting live from the march.
Later, you find Goodman, sitting outside in a director's chair
on First Avenue, a pathetic foot-heater kicking out little in
the way of warmth. A techie fixes a webcast video camera on her.
It's another of those alt-media celebrity moments: the anchor
without leg warmers or makeup, but with politics and passion.
Actors Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon, and entertainer Harry
Belafonte and Archbishop Desmond Tutu stop by to chat. The broadcasts
of their interviews draw cheers far up the parade route.
The cold this day is wind-driven and cuts to the bone. And yet
Goodman sounds invigorated. Her life and passions are one -- she
works the vast majority of her waking hours. She is single and
has no children.
Even her friends aren't always sure what drives her, not exactly.
"A lot of us have parents who were political, but we're
not willing to accept a life that has very little room for pure
enjoyment," says Ratner, the Center for Constitutional Rights
president. "Amy will come to our annual baseball game up
in the country each summer, but a couple of hours later, she's
"I would love for her to reserve some part of her life for
Ask Goodman about this and she shrugs. She talks of drawing inspiration
from a century-old grandmother who, when sick, organized her sanitorium.
But quickly she turns the conversation to the war for oil and
empire in Iraq.
She's not so much disapproving as disinterested in the career
arcs of her generational peers.
Two years ago, a new board took over Pacifica and was accused
of trying to pasteurize the network's political edge. Goodman
walked away and broadcast on the Web for eight months. (That board
has since been overthrown and she has returned.) Four years ago,
she was invited to the Overseas Press Club's awards dinner, where
her Nigeria documentary would be honored. She could not afford
the $125 ticket, so she and a colleague sat on chairs in the back.
Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke was the club's keynote speaker
that night, but the club's board, including its chairman, Tom
Brokaw, set the ground rules: Holbrooke would not appear if he
had to answer questions.
Then Holbrooke gave a speech and noted that American bombers
had just hit a Serbian television station. Goodman took the podium
and declined her award.
"He'd just told a roomful of journalists that we've bombed
a television station and yet no one said a word," Goodman
recalls. "I said: 'Thank you, Mr. Brokaw, but no thank you.'
Goodman manages to recount this without sounding terribly self-righteous.
She respects a number of mainstream reporters -- or, in her lexicon,
corporate media -- and she likes nothing better than when they
pick up her stories, with or without credit.
The interview at an end, she slides down the fire pole, and you
swallow hard and follow her. She walks you to the door. Upstairs,
her braided and spike-haired producers prepare for the next day's
broadcast, downloading, cutting, fiddling with soundboards like
so many caffeinated maestros.
It's dark. She's eager to get back upstairs and rejoin them.
"There are so many deeply patriotic voices out there raising
questions about this war, and they aren't being heard." She
says goodbye, and reminds you: "Steal our stories -- please."
In response to tens of thousands of emails
and countless phone calls, letters and personal appeals, I am
moving forward to take the first step towards a candidacy for
the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
In the past year I have had the opportunity
to meet with many of you in dozens of cities across our nation.
The heart of America is yearning for dramatic, transformational
change which can reconnect us with the vision of our nation's
Founders, to be the light of the world.
In the next few months I will be returning
to visit the neighborhoods of America. If the response continues
to be strong, if the financial support is there, the encouragement
and the participation continues, I will schedule a formal announcement
of candidacy sometime in June.
I need to hear from you! I hope you enjoy
our new website and I welcome your suggestions. And most of all,
I need your help.
Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 4, 2003
If the United States attacks Iraq, a former
president of the Pacific Exchange plans to participate in nonviolent
demonstrations aimed at shutting down San Francisco's Financial
District, including his former employer.
Warren Langley of San Francisco, a U.S.
Air Force veteran who was president of the exchange from 1996
to 1999, will work with Direct Action to Stop the War, the activists
organizing civil disobedience on the first business day after
a U.S. attack.
"I felt I needed to do something more
than marching in a demonstration, more than talking to my friends
about it, more than sending e-mail letters to (Sens. Barbara)
Boxer, (Dianne) Feinstein and (Rep. Nancy) Pelosi," Langley
said Monday. "I feel that this is an important enough issue
to take a risk."
The 60-year-old Russian Hill resident expects
to be involved in nonviolent protests in front of the exchange.
A spokesman for the Pacific Exchange declined
to comment Monday on Langley's involvement. Langley will formally
announce his participation at an 11 a.m. news conference today
in San Francisco. Now an independent consultant, Langley resigned
from the exchange during management changes there.
A 1965 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy,
Langley raised money to help fund an acclaimed 1998 documentary
on Vietnam War prisoners of war, "Tom Hanks Presents: Return
with Honor." Several of his academy classmates were POWs.
Now, he wants to speak out against the
Anti-war activists have been planning to
blockade the Transamerica Pyramid, the Pacific Exchange and other
"war-making" corporate and federal headquarters in San
Francisco on the first business day after a U.S. attack.
Since last October, dozens of small affinity
groups, clusters of five to 25 like-minded individuals, have been
planning sit-ins, intersection blockades and theatrical productions
around more than two dozen locations, most in the Financial District.
The activists' goal, as stated on their
Web site and flyers: "If the government and corporations
won't stop the war, we'll shut down the war makers! "
The retired lieutenant colonel participated
in his first anti-war march Jan.
18 in San Francisco -- on his 60th birthday.
"I looked around me, and I was seeing
that a lot of people marching next to me could be living down
the street from me," said Langley. "People had come
to (San Francisco) on BART, or over from Marin. Ordinary people.
"I felt after going to the second
(Feb. 16) march that I definitely had to do something more."
That's when a former colleague sent Langley
a copy of a Chronicle article about the anti-war plans.
Langley e-mailed Direct Action to Stop
the War. Organizer Patrick Reinsborough said he was "a little
surprised to receive it, but it was a very sincere e-mail"
and quickly called Langley.
Over the next week, Langley met and spoke
over the telephone with several protest organizers. He said he
wanted to be sure that he felt comfortable enough with their shared
goal of stopping the war and the methods they planned.
"I think there are a lot of people
out there who feel the way I do, but haven't wanted to come forward
because they're afraid of being identified with a fringe group,"
Langley said. "I don't believe in all the things that all
the (anti-war) groups stand for, but we all do share one thing
in common: I do believe that this war is wrong."
The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of
to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a career
who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing you to submit my resignation
from the Foreign Service of the United States and from my position
as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens, effective March
7. I do so with a heavy heart. The baggage of my upbringing included
a felt obligation to give something back to my country. Service
as a U.S. diplomat was a dream job. I was paid to understand foreign
languages and cultures, to seek out diplomats, politicians, scholars
and journalists, and to persuade them that U.S. interests and
theirs fundamentally coincided. My faith in my country and its
values was the most powerful weapon in my diplomatic arsenal.
It is inevitable that during twenty years
with the State Department I would become more sophisticated and
cynical about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that
sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it is, and
I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But
until this Administration it had been possible to believe that
by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding
the interests of the American people and the world. I believe
it no longer.
The policies we are now asked to advance
are incompatible not only with American values but also with American
interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us
to squander the international legitimacy that has been Americas
most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days
of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and
most effective web of international relationships the world has
ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger,
The sacrifice of global interests to domestic
politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and
it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have
not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic
manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The
September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around
us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time
in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather
than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration
has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting
a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic
ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public
mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism
and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a
vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military
and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from
the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much
damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined
to do to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really
our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction
in the name of a doomed status quo?
We should ask ourselves why we have failed
to persuade more of the world that a war with Iraq is necessary.
We have over the past two years done too much to assert to our
world partners that narrow and mercenary U.S. interests override
the cherished values of our partners. Even where our aims were
not in question, our consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan
is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan to
rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and interests. Have
we indeed become blind, as Russia is blind in Chechnya, as Israel
is blind in the Occupied Territories, to our own advice, that
overwhelming military power is not the answer to terrorism? After
the shambles of post-war Iraq joins the shambles in Grozny and
Ramallah, it will be a brave foreigner who forms ranks with Micronesia
to follow where we lead.
We have a coalition still, a good one.
The loyalty of many of our friends is impressive, a tribute to
American moral capital built up over a century. But our closest
allies are persuaded less that war is justified than that it would
be perilous to allow the U.S. to drift into complete solipsism.
Loyalty should be reciprocal. Why does our President condone the
swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies
this Administration is fostering, including among its most senior
officials. Has oderint dum metuant really become our
I urge you to listen to Americas
friends around the world. Even here in Greece, purported hotbed
of European anti-Americanism, we have more and closer friends
than the American newspaper reader can possibly imagine. Even
when they complain about American arrogance, Greeks know that
the world is a difficult and dangerous place, and they want a
strong international system, with the U.S. and EU in close partnership.
When our friends are afraid of us rather than for us, it is time
to worry. And now they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly
that the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty, security,
and justice for the planet?
Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect
for your character and ability. You have preserved more international
credibility for us than our policy deserves, and salvaged something
positive from the excesses of an ideological and self-serving
Administration. But your loyalty to the President goes too far.
We are straining beyond its limits an international system we
built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations,
and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively
than it ever constrained Americas ability to defend its
I am resigning because I have tried and
failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent
the current U.S. Administration. I have confidence that our democratic
process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small
way I can contribute from outside to shaping policies that better
serve the security and prosperity of the American people and the
world we share.
Washington -- In most towns, it might be hard to find a grandmother
who walks across the United States for peace, but not among Berkeley's
great diversity of anti- war activists.
At the city's high-tech end of the spectrum
are the founders of the well- known Moveon.org, an Internet organization
that can mobilize tens of thousands of people and millions of
dollars almost overnight.
And then there's the no-tech but equally
committed Julia Wildwood, a 56- year-old grandmother who left
town in September -- on foot. By herself.
Now she stands 2,500 miles away in the
chilly winter air with the Women's Peace Vigil in front of the
"I walked across the country,"
Wildwood said matter-of-factly when approached by a reporter last
Does she do this sort of thing often?
No, she said, but she had participated
in the anti-cruise missile Women's Peace Camp in Puget Sound 20
years ago and was seeking a way to commemorate that event with
a new protest against possible war in Iraq.
The Sacramento-born Wildwood stopped her
work as a private chef and baker, strapped on a 27-pound backpack,
taped small peace symbols on her bed roll and began her pilgrimage
right after the How Berkeley Can You Be Parade on Sept. 29.
"I wanted to talk with people who
weren't in the peace movement," she said. "This seems
like a really important time now to do something since (President)
Bush seems to be determined to go ahead no matter what the world
At Reedley College not far from Fresno,
Wildwood strolled into the office of the dean of instruction to
ask whether any classes might be interested in hearing her talk.
She spoke to sociology and minority affairs classes.
"All along the way, everyone I talked
to -- no matter what their religion or beliefs, Republicans and
Vietnam combat vets -- they've all been against the war,"
There was a hailstorm near Flagstaff, Ariz.,
and she got sick outside of Houston, but the trip as a whole was
surprisingly free of hardships. She slept outdoors in a one-person
tent, also in motels, homes and a Buddhist temple. "Everyone
was very helpful," Wildwood said.
She didn't do it all on foot, explaining,
"I walked more than I rode, but I also accepted rides."
In Louisiana, for example, a sheriff's deputy offered to drive
her across a no-pedestrian bridge into Mississippi.
She took the southern route through Arizona
to Tallahassee, Fla., then headed north to Atlanta, where she
caught a bus for the big anti-war demonstration Jan. 18 in Washington,
She now sleeps at a Lutheran church, where
she volunteers at its homeless women's shelter, and plans to stay
with the Women's Peace Vigil until it ends on March 8, International
As she stood with two other women in front
of Bush's heavily guarded home, she looked tanned and healthy.
A loose braid of her still mostly brown hair hung to one side
of her head, and she wore the same hiking-shoe sneakers that she
"I think it was good for my health,"
she said with a grin. "I lost about 40 to 50 pounds
since I left. It's another way for post-menopausal women to lose
weight besides hormone therapy and going to the gym."
Twelve years ago, in February of 1991,
I crossed the border between
Saudi Arabia and Iraq with the 24th Infantry Division. Back then
was a 20-year-old Abrams tank crewman, and I fought in several
in southern Iraq. I can say from personal experience, the media
wrong. The first Gulf War wasn't clean, it wasn't pretty, and
precise. In the chaos and destruction of battle, anything can
We killed a lot of people.
Like many of the men and women I served
with, I do not believe that
President Bush or Secretary of State Powell, in his presentation
United Nations on Wednesday, has made the case that Iraq poses
imminent threat to the United States. Without proving imminent
the administration has failed outright to justify its rush to
senior military leaders, including Generals Norman Schwarzkopf,
Anthony Zinni and Wesley Clark, have all questioned the wisdom
another war with Iraq.
Thousands of veterans of all U.S. wars
have stepped forward, marched
in demonstrations and raised their voices to say that the nation
defended should not be attacking other nations. There is no sense
just cause in the U.S. armed forces today. Most recently we veterans
have been joined in our message by families with loved ones in
Tens of thousands of American soldiers
and hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis could die in a long, drawn-out war in Iraq.
We need your help to spread our message
that veterans oppose this war.
We can win without war.
How can you help? Join Veterans for Common
Sense. Whether you are
a veteran, or you have a family member in the military, or you
support our message, you can join us in calling for a common sense
approach to Iraq. We need your support.
Already we have reached across the country
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Add your voice to the growing chorus of
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I PASSED the "Bingo Tonite 7:15" placard in the lobby
and walked to the dining room, where workers at the Redwoods Retirement
Center in Mill Valley were clearing away dishes from breakfast.
"Ruth! Ruth!" a food-service
worker called to a woman heading out behind an aluminum walker.
"Your pills, sweetie, your pills!"
I poured a cup of decaf and waited for
the retirement center's rabble- rousers to join me and explain
themselves. The group had created a spectacle at the corner of
Camino Alto and Miller Avenue last Friday afternoon, landing themselves
on the front page of the local newspaper. They had held signs
that read "Seniors for Peace!" and "No Attack on
Iraq!" Those with walkers and canes hung the signs around
their necks with string. They waved and shouted at passing cars.
I wanted to know why nearly 100 elderly
residents in thick-soled shoes and kerchiefs, some riding in wheelchairs
pushed by their nurses, took to the sidewalk to protest a war
that is not likely to alter their lives in any way. This war belongs
to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"We're old enough to know war is not
the solution," said Nora Boskoff, who is 84.
Boskoff had settled around the table back
in the dining room with Phyllis Hamilton, Eleanor Kennedy, June
Berry, Betty Warren and Leonard Prosser, all in their mid- to
late 80s. They had been the instigators, the ones who, between
hospital stays, shared newspaper clippings about Bush's latest
saber rattling. Last week, in a first-floor room ordinarily used
for opera- appreciation or meditation classes, a decision had
Who was better qualified to protest war
than they were? They had lived through World War II, the Korean
War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
Prosser fought in North Africa and Italy
with the British army, watching soldiers die next to him and killing
young German boys with bullets from his own rifle. The women had
worked in the war effort during World War II and marched against
"Our generation discovered long ago
that if you make a lot of noise and are persistent," said
Kennedy, a longtime civil rights activist, "you can make
the all-powerful people listen. We know because we've done it."
Hamilton nodded. "And at our age,
we've lost any fear of public criticism. We believe what we believe
and we're going to speak out."
Indeed, a few motorists flipped them the
finger, but most honked and waved, they said. Encouraged, they
have decided to stage a demonstration every Friday afternoon between
4 and 5 at the same corner, weather and health permitting. In
fact, they said, a meeting was about to begin for what is now
known at the Redwoods as the Peace Activists Group. On the agenda
was a suggestion to provide hot chocolate, coffee and tea at future
"To me," Boskoff said before
heading off, "patriotism means reminding yourself that the
reason you were born is to make this a better world."
That continues until your last breath,
she said. The responsibility of fighting for what is right and
moral doesn't end at a certain age and fall to the next generation.
It is always your turn.
machetes and mass rapes. Now, Rwanda's women -- nearly two-thirds
of the population -- are learning how to lead their country out
of the darkness.
By Kimberlee Acquaro & Peter Landesman
January/February 2003 Issue
On April 7, 1994, when the genocide was
in its second day, Joseline Mujawamariya, then 17, huddled with
her twin sister and younger brother in the tall grass on the outskirts
of her village, Butamwe, in central Rwanda. They hid for three
days as Hutu men and boys they had grown up with, armed with machetes,
began a rampage of butchery and rape, burning homes and hunting
down their Tutsi friends and neighbors. Then the Hutus set fire
to the fields.
Joseline waited until nightfall, and as
black smoke blotted the last light from the sky, she and the children
fled. They joined a group of refugees that moved under the cover
of night, living for more than two months on food scavenged from
corpse-littered gardens and rainwater collected in cupped hands.
Worse than the starvation and fatigue was the terror, Joseline
says. "The Hutus would stop you to look at your fingers,
your nose and ears to see if you were Tutsi." In late June,
the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front, invading from neighboring
Uganda and Burundi, began to sweep through the country, driving
out the Hutus. Ragged groups of refugees began to trek home, Joseline
among them. When Joseline reached Butamwe, she found a ghost town.
"There was no one left," she says.
One morning last fall, Joseline stood on
a hilltop overlooking Butamwe, her five-month-old son tied to
her back. Before her stretched an undulating sea of banana groves
and valleys creeping with hanging lakes of mist. Columns of smoke
from cooking fires and controlled burns seemed to dangle groundward
from the sky. A hundred Tutsi survivors were building a road over
the mountainside to the capital, Kigali. Machetes arched through
the high grass. Women with infants sleeping on their backs chopped
through the rocky ground with hoes.
Joseline was their leader. Now 25 and a
mother of three, with only a primary school education, she was
elected in 1999 as the area's head of development, after twice
campaigning for other positions. "I didn't know what I was
supposed to do when I was first elected," she said. "I
thought I was supposed to buy a cow for the village." What
she now does is supervise the reconstruction of Butamwe's shattered
infrastructure, as well as its health services and systems of
justice, education, culture, and economy. She is rebuilding her
neighbors' lives while struggling to rebuild her own. From the
hill, Joseline pointed to the ruins of a mud structure crumbling
in an overgrown field. "That was my home," she said
quietly, "where my parents and my brothers and sisters were
The 1994 genocide, one of the worst mass
slaughters in recorded history, was triggered by the assassination
of Rwanda's Hutu president, after a lengthy civil war between
the Hutu-led government and the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic
Front. It was a deliberate effort to eliminate the country's Tutsi
"problem"; books about Hitler and the Holocaust, and
lists of potential victims, were later discovered in the offices
of top government officials. In all, at least 1 million Tutsis
and moderate Hutus died.
But it isn't just numbers that set the
genocide apart from other horrors of the late 20th century. The
ferocity and concentration of the killing were unprecedented,
as was its intimate methodology. The murderers were neighbors,
relatives, teachers, doctors, even nuns and priests, and they
killed not with machine guns or gas chambers, but with machetes,
clubs, knives, and their bare hands. So many men were killed that
Rwanda was left overwhelmingly female and became a nation of traumatized
widows, orphans, and mothers of murdered children. Even today,
the population remains 60 percent female.
The complete version
of Out of Madness, A Matriarchy can be read
in the January/February, 2003 issue of Mother Jones magazine.
Peter Landesman is a journalist, novelist,
and screenwriter. His reporting appears regularly in the New York
Times Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly. Kimberlee Acquaro will
present her photographs from Rwanda at the Holocaust Museum in
Washington, D.C., later this year. Acquaro was awarded a Pew Fellowship
in International Journalism for her work on Rwanda's women. Landesman
joined Acquaro in Rwanda to work on this story, and they married
At 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., reporters
usually shuffle along to a snoozy beat. But anyone who denigrates
the mainstream media in general, or the White House press corps
in particular, should acknowledge that exceptional journalists
do strive to ask deeper questions while most colleagues go through
The latest in a long line of presidential
spinners, Ari Fleischer, began a news conference on Jan. 6 with
a nice greeting: "Good afternoon and happy New Year to everybody."
But his bonhomie didn't last more than a minute.
"At the earlier briefing, Ari, you
said that the president deplored the taking of innocent lives,"
Helen Thomas began. "Does that apply to all innocent lives
in the world?"
It was a simple question -- and, unfortunately,
an extraordinary one. Few journalists at the White House move
beyond the subtle but powerful ties that bind reporters and top
officials in Washington. Routinely, shared assumptions are the
unspoken name of the game.
In this case, Thomas wasn't playing --
and Fleischer's new year wasn't exactly off to a great start.
His tongue moved, but he declined to answer the question. Instead,
he parried: "I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist
attack on Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds."
Of course that attack was reprehensible.
But Thomas had asked whether President Bush deplored the taking
of "all innocent lives in the world." And Fleischer
didn't want to go there.
But Helen Thomas, an 82-year-old journalist
who has been covering the White House for several decades, was
not to be deterred by the flack's sleight-of-tongue maneuver.
"My follow-up is," she persisted, "why does he
want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?"
On a dime, Fleischer spun paternal and
nationalistic. "Helen, the question is how to protect Americans,
and our allies and friends --"
What Fleischer had just called "the
question" was actually his question. He had no use for hers.
Thomas responded: "They're not attacking
you. Have they [the Iraqis] laid the glove on you or on the United
States ... in 11 years?"
Fleischer laced his retort with sarcasm.
"I guess you have forgotten about the Americans who were
killed in the first Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggression
"Is this revenge," Thomas replied,
"11 years of revenge?"
The man in charge of White House spin revved
up the RPMs. "Helen, I think you know very well that the
president's position is that he wants to avert war ... "
But the journalist refused to jettison
her original, still-unanswered question. She asked: "Would
the president attack innocent Iraqi lives?"
"The president wants to make certain
that he can defend our country ... "
Thomas would not back off. She demanded
to know whether Bush thinks the Iraqi people "are a threat
At that point, Fleischer went off message
with a weird statement. "The Iraqi people are represented
by their government," said the man speaking for the president
of the United States. A journalist's persistence had led him to
put foot in polished mouth.
Some people like to play "Hail to
the Chief." I would prefer to say "Hail to the dean
of the Washington press corps -- Helen Thomas." She knows
that asking truly tough questions involves a lot more than echoing
After 57 years as a reporter for United
Press International, she quit UPI in 2000 when it was bought by
News World Communications, a firm affiliated with the Rev. Sun
Myung Moon's right-wing Unification Church. (Among its holdings
is The Washington Times.) Since then, Thomas has been writing
an incisive syndicated column for Hearst Newspapers.
In a speech at MIT a couple of months ago,
Helen Thomas told the audience: "I censored myself for 50
years when I was a reporter." Media professionals are frequently
unwilling to say in public what they know in private. When a mainstream
journalist breaks out of self-censorship, the public benefits.
Day in and day out, Helen Thomas is conspicuous
for her fortitude at White House press conferences. And let's
also give credit to an intrepid newcomer at such press follies.
The other day, Russell Mokhiber of the Corporate Crime Reporter
was asking a simple question that went unanswered: "Ari,
other than Elliott Abrams, how many convicted criminals are on
the White House staff?"
You can find transcripts of Mokhiber's
many exchanges with Fleischer posted at www.commondreams.org
-- under the heading "Ari and I" -- examples of unflinching
questions and slimy evasions at the White House.
Thank you, Helen Thomas. Thank you, Russell
Mokhiber. It sure is refreshing to see journalists doing their
jobs instead of going along to get along.
Norman Solomon is co-author of "Target
Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You" (Context Books),
to be published in late January.
Women's Enews announces its 21 Leaders
for the 21st Century--2003,
an awe-inspiring, reader-nominated list, with ages between 13
each making news, often at great personal risk, by confronting
of particular concern to women.
NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Women's Enews announced
its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century--2003, an awe-inspiring, reader-nominated
group of newsmakers demonstrating extraordinary commitment to creating
change on behalf of all women.
"And we are filled with excitement,
for what could be more cheerful, charge
our engines more, than reminding ourselves and all our readers
dedication and accomplishments of our contemporaries?" said
Jensen, Women's Enews editor in chief.
Readers Submitted 300 Nominees
Women's Enews advisory board made the final
selection from a list of 300
nominees submitted by readers. Each leader makes news by confronting,
often at great personal risk, issues of particular concern to
women. Women's Enews will honor each of the 21 Leaders for the
21st Century at its annual celebratory dinner, to be held in New
York on May 20th. The event will be chaired by noted broadcast
journalist Mary Alice Williams.
"The quality of the nominations and
the detailed biographies we received were
thrilling," said Henley Jensen. "The responses were
far beyond what we had
hoped, full of exciting, newsworthy leaders making fantastic contributions
the well-being of women. I read each submission and was profoundly
by the sincerity of the nominators and the idealism and leadership
The 21 Leaders, with ages that range from
13 to 83, were selected after the
Women's Enews board members and staff pored over the nominees'
biographies for hours, researching, asking questions, seeking
balance and diversity in every measurable way.
"In the end, we are delighted with
our choices, but still regret that we have
but 21 leaders to honor," Henley Jensen added.
Over the next three days, Women's Enews
will publish biographies of the
21 leaders--2003, but for now, we will tell you just a bit more
Ernesta Ballard, founder, Philadelphia
chapter of the National Organization
for Women; founder and first chair of Women's Way, a fund-raising
organization supporting women's organizations in the Philadelphia
region. Now 83, she remains active in the leadership of Women's
Martha Burk, chair, National Council
of Women's Organizations. Burk has made headlines most recently
for her outspoken campaign to persuade the Augusta National Golf
Club to admit women as members.
Susan Burton, founder, A New Way
of Life foundation, which assists newly
released inmates back into civilian life and helps them find job-training
other social services.
Luisa Cabal, human rights attorney,
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Cabal represented a Mexican
teen who was denied an abortion after becoming pregnant by her
Esther Chavez Cano, founder, Casa
Amiga, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The
organization offers medical, legal and psychological aid to victims
violence and sexual assault in a city rocked by the murders and
disappearances of at least 280 women and girls over the last 10
Eileen Fisher, designer. Her goal
is not only to design a popular clothing line,
but also to create a business environment in which her employees
find joy and
satisfaction in their work. The advertisements for Eileen Fisher
remarkable for the images of women featured, not stick-thin models,
employees. The company also runs socially responsible programs
in the United States and abroad.
Swanee Hunt, former U.S. ambassador
to Austria. She returned from Europe determined to change how
wars are fought and peace realized. She created Women Waging Peace
and is director, Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's
John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Rana Husseini, reporter with the
Jordan Times. Husseini was assigned the
crime beat at the newspaper and began to expose the legal system's
for the murders of girls and young women by their family members.
In addition, Women's Enews will award Rana Husseini the Ida B.
Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. She continues to report
the story of honor killings of Jordanian women despite accusations
that she is tarnishing the nation's image and responding to Western
Kenya Jordana James, at age 13,
is editorial director and founder of
Blackgirl Magazine, a bimonthly publication that promotes healthy
black teens while covering lifestyle and entertainment news.
Jill June, president, Planned Parenthood
of Greater Iowa. In 2002 despite the threat of being jailed, June
refused to turn over the results of hundreds of
pregnancy tests to a district attorney investigating the death
of a newborn.
Ann Kaplan, managing director at
Goldman Sachs. Kaplan heads a group
dedicated to increasing the firm's involvement with women clients
and has leveraged her influence on behalf of women throughout
financial world. She also helped Smith College launch a women's
education program with $2.5 million in seed money.
Her Highness Sheika Sabika Al-Khalifa,
of Bahrain. Sabika led the call
to vote in the country's 2002 election, its first democratic election
in 25 years.
She is also leading a campaign in Bahrain to advance women's rights
changing "the image of Bahraini women."
Jill Miller, executive director
of Women Work! The National Network For
Women's Employment. Miller manages the more than 1,000 programs
serve at least 400,000 women annually in the areas of employment,
and education. She also chaired a United Nations expert panel
training and lifelong learning of women.
Asseta Nagbila, coordinator of the
Hunger Project's literacy classes, health
and nutrition programs and training courses for women in her village
Burkina Faso. In a nation where women are not entitled to own
unusual project focuses on women gaining the rewards for what
has been unpaid labor.
Judy Norsigian, executive director
of the Boston Women's Health Book
Collective, which published the first edition of "Our Bodies,
1970. As a perhaps the most reliable source on women's health,
Norsigian has continued to provide thousands of women each year
the information they need to remain well or cope with illness.
Milbry Polk, activist and co-author
of "Women of Discovery: A Celebration of Intrepid Women Who
Explored the World," a chronicle of the stories of 84 of
history's greatest women explorers whose achievements might otherwise
lost. She writes that "the story of women explorers is as
old as time, as old
as myth, and as real as memory." Milbry is also working to
discoveries of women explorers and scientists are included in
Kavita Ramdas, president and chief
executive officer, Global Fund for Women, a grantmaking foundation
supporting women's human rights organizations around the world.
Born and raised in India and educated in the United States, Ramdas
has spent her professional life working on issues of poverty,
economic development and population. She has brought her international
knowledge and understandings to bear as the fund attempts to assist
women's economic independence, increase girls' access to education
and stop violence against women.
Amy Richards, co-author of "MANIFESTA:
Young Women, Feminism, and the Future." Through her ability
to strongly articulate the experiences and views of a new generation
of feminism--Third Wave feminism--she kindled its growth and broadened
its appeal. She is also a co-founder of the Third Wave
Foundation, which strives to combat inequities and build lasting
support for social activism around the country by empowering young
Elaine Roulet, creator, the Children's
Center program at Bedford Hills
Correctional Facility in New York. The center and other programs
by this member of a Roman Catholic religious order provide mothers
opportunities to be with their children, including living with
for up to one year and a seasonal day camp.
Elizabeth Sackler, philanthropist.
In 2002, Sackler created a permanent home for Judy Chicago's groundbreaking
piece "The Dinner Party" at the Brooklyn Museum of Art
and funded a permanent new wing of the museum dedicated to art
that impacts or addresses women. She also sponsored a major exhibition
of Chicago's other works at Washington, D.C.'s National Museum
of Women in the Arts.
Henna White, Jewish community liaison
for a Brooklyn, N.Y. district attorney where she reaches out to
battered women in the close-knit Hassidic enclaves. White also
co-founded Mothers to Mothers, which promoted dialogue and understanding
between Jewish and African American women in the Crown Heights
section of Brooklyn following the 1991 riots there.
The leaders all have made a significant
impact on the lives of women and girls
by alleviating a problem; striving for change; using the law to
pursue peace and justice; influencing the unaware; or showing
others their human potential and possibility for change. We are
pleased to honor them as our 21Leaders for the 21st Century.
Jordan Lite is assistant managing editor
of Women's Enews.
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