Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

All comments welcome, pro or con. Passionate ok, but let's be civil. ...Pertinent comments will be published on this blog. Air your viewpoints.


Skyline - Houston, Texas

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bloggers Against Violence (crossposted)

My online friend Sometimes Saintly Nick has asked his readers to "blog against abuse" today. He has his post up, full of images of the many forms abuse and violence can take.

I often write about the news in my small central CA city. The local paper has begun a series of articles about abuse. This is the first of a series and far from the only incident of violence to occur here. We've had far worse and it sickens me.

I've had personal experience with A Woman's Place here. They're wonderful people, working on a shoestring to do what they can and they're making a difference.

From the Merced Sun Star last week:
Reporter Corinne Reilly

Excerpt from a 911 call made to the Merced Police Department, Dec. 4, 1999: "There's somebody at my house that won't leave and he has a gun. He's standing outside and he's trying to get back in. He's breaking the window right now ... His name is Lucio Rivera ... He's trying to open the door. Oh my God. He's in my room.

He's coming in. He's coming in. Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Stop! Lucio, stop! ... Oh my God. He just shot it. He just shot the gun ... (screams, then silence) ... He shot her! He shot her! Oh my God! He shot her!"

Eight years after Elida Rodriguez's ex-husband dragged her from the closet where she hid and shot her in the neck, they still feel the pain at A Woman's Place.

In 1999, Elida and her two-month old daughter sought refuge at a shelter run by the nonprofit, which provides an array of services for victims of domestic violence across Merced County. Though Elida stayed only a few weeks, those who worked with her say they watched her turn from a battered victim into an independent single mother.

The transformation proved to be her fatal mistake.

A month after Elida left A Woman’s Place, the 23-year-old was dead. Her ex-husband, Lucio Rivera, discovered where she was living. On an early December evening in 1999, enraged by her show of grit and strength, he broke into her apartment through an unlocked window. He found Elida crouched in a bedroom closet, pulled her out by her shirt and shot her at close range with a .22-caliber handgun.

“Hold your baby for the last time,” Rivera told Elida, her roommate later testified.

Eight years after her murder, Elida remains a nonprofit’s call to arms.

AN ICON WITH ONE NAME She is widely known to the staff at A Woman’s Place by just her first name, even to those who joined the organization long after Elida’s death. Her photo has appeared on the organization’s brochures. Its Westside shelter is dedicated to her memory. Her case is cited during most new-hire trainings and her murder revised the way A Woman’s Place evaluates risk to victims.

"Elida changed the way we do business," said Diana Almanza, executive director of A Woman’s Place. “She left us with some very important lessons.”

Along with a photo of Elida, Almanza keeps in her office a copy of the 911 tape from the night Elida died. The tape holds the frantic screams of Elida’s then-roommate, Victoria Beltran. It is played whenever Almanza wants to impress upon someone -- a funder, a newspaper reporter, or a new staff member -- the urgency of the nonprofit’s work.

Almanza can recall many news reports about women in this community who have died because of domestic violence. In fact, about 60 percent of female murder victims are killed by their husbands or male partners, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

But Elida is one of only two clients that A Woman’s Place has lost at the hands of an abuser since Almanza started at the organization in 1991. And her death hit close to its heart. "We all remember Elida,” said Susie Bubenchik, public relations director of A Woman’s Place. "Even the staff who never met her.”

A SISTER’S MEMORIES To Lidia Rodriguez, Elida isn't a poster child. She is a sister. “She loved to draw, and she had a really good voice so she was always singing,” said Rodriguez, 28, who works as an aide at Farmdale Elementary School in Merced. “And she loved her baby. She was so excited about buying her clothes and watching her grow up.”

Elida was born in Hollister in 1976 to immigrant parents who came to the United States from Mexico in search of a better life. She was the oldest of three children. Rodriguez recalls her big sister as a responsible child, always more concerned about the rest of the family than about herself. “She always helped me with my math,” said Rodriguez. “She would stay there with me, showing me until I got it. She never got frustrated.”

Elida moved with her family to Dos Palos as a teenager and graduated from Dos Palos High School in 1994. She met Rivera there, but Rodriguez says the two weren’t friends at the time. “They didn’t like each other in high school,” Rodriguez recalled.

Elida moved to Fresno for a short time after high school, where she took classes to become a dental assistant, though she never finished. She eventually returned to Dos Palos, where she began dating Rivera in 1997.

“It was a relatively short relationship, but it was violent right from the start,” said Almanza.

Twice before Elida came to A Woman’s Place, Rivera was criminally charged for abusing her. The second time, Almanza said, Rivera had pulled a gun and smashed Elida in the face with it because she couldn’t quiet their baby as the family drove to a welfare appointment. “He was ruthless,” said Almanza.

The couple eventually married, though Rodriguez says there was no big wedding or celebration. According to news reports published in the days after Elida’s death, Rivera’s relatives said they didn’t know he’d been married.

Before she died, Elida had filed for divorce. “I think that was the real trigger for him,” said Almanza. “It was the ultimate stand for her independence, and he responded with the ultimate punishment.”

A BATTERED WOMAN SEEKS SHELTER Elida came to A Woman’s Place with her baby, Jasmine, in October 1999. She stayed at an emergency safehouse run by the organization for about a month. She received counseling for the abuse she’d endured and obtained a restraining order against Rivera.

“She made a lot of progress in a very short time,” recalled Almanza. Elida decided she’d go back to school. She hoped someday to become a nurse. While living at the safehouse, Elida kept a journal. In an entry dated Oct. 25, 1999, she wrote that she dreamed of having her own home, a job and of her parents feeling proud of her again. “I feel like I’m ready for anything that comes along,” she wrote. “... He’s no longer in my way. I just want to be who I used to be.”

The following month, Elida moved out of the safehouse and into an apartment on K Street with Beltran, who’d also sought refuge at the safehouse. A month later, Elida was dead.

Rivera, now 30, fled on foot after the shooting and was captured a short time later. His court-appointed attorney argued during his 2001 trial that the gun accidentally went off. A jury found Rivera guilty that December. The following March, a judge sentenced him to 66 years in prison. He remains at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga.

The couple’s child, now 8, lives with Elida’s aunt in Mexico.

“When the call came in that night, all we knew was that Elida had been shot,” said Almanza. The news of her death, which came a short time after A Woman’s Place advocate responded to the scene, struck a paralyzing blow to the organization, said Bubenchik, the public relations director. “A lot of us knew her, and we knew the baby. It was incredibly difficult for the whole agency,” she said.

BREAKING THE TRAGIC NEWS Almanza was among the three A Woman’s Place staff members to accompany a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy to tell Elida’s parents, who lived in Firebaugh at the time, that their oldest child was dead. “We didn’t want strangers to show up at their house in the middle of the night, so we went,” said Almanza.

Rodriguez says she knew what had happened as soon as she saw them at the door. The sheriff’s deputy didn’t speak Spanish, so someone had to interpret for Elida’s parents. The deputy asked Rodriguez to tell them. “I told him, ‘I can’t do that. I can’t tell them that,’” said Rodriguez. So Almanza, who is fluent in Spanish, stepped in. “There’s no good way to say that to a parent,” said Almanza. “So I just said it as plainly as I could.”

A Woman’s Place helped the family make arrangements for Elida’s funeral, which many of the organization’s staff attended. Many also attended Rivera’s trial.

After Elida’s death, A Woman’s Place conducted a “death audit” -- a thorough review of Elida’s case to determine what the organization might have done to prevent her murder.

Among the measures A Woman’s Place added as a result is its now-standard lethality assessment, a series of questions that determines the degree to which a domestic violence victim’s life is in danger.

If the organization had used the assessment when Elida came to them, Almanza said, “she would have been off the charts.” Her abuser didn’t have a job. He’d been in and out of jail. He had access to a gun. And he’d been arrested before for domestic violence. “Those things are all huge,” said Almanza. “Today, we would have probably advised her to move out of the county for her safety.”

Genevieve Bardini, who began working at A Woman’s Place two years after Elida’s death, is well versed in her story. “Our training was saturated with Elida’s case,” said Bardini. “She was always the example that was used. She’s a constant reminder of the need for safety plans and lethality assessments. She’s a reminder that we have to think about things like access to weapons ... and that a restraining order is just a piece of paper.” Camila Cortez, who now oversees A Woman’s Place’s two safehouses, says she’s told Elida’s story to countless other victims to impress upon them the importance of remaining vigilant, even after they’ve escaped a violent home.

Elida’s legacy for Cortez: “To me, she is the answer to the question, ‘Why do we do all of this?’”

Reporter Corinne Reilly can be reached at (209)385-2477 or

About A Woman’s Place

A Woman’s Place is a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of services to local victims of domestic violence and rape. Among its programs are a 24-hour crisis line, an emergency safehouse, temporary food and housing, counseling, a variety of legal services, transportation, support groups, training for law enforcement officers and treatment programs for batterers. Its services are among the most comprehensive in the state, and they are free to all victims.


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...
Thank you for this post, Ann. Corinne Reilly’s article unfortunately truly relates the horrors of domestic violence and abuse. In my years as a social worker I encountered many stories similar to what she relates. I hope there is a way to end it; in the meantime, I thank God for organizations like A Woman’s Place.
Thursday, September 27, 2007 9:40:00 PM
Daniel said...
America is a violent country. Its history, its movies, its gun ownership, some of its sports, its war-mongering, all embrace violence.America needs a complete cultural change!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007 6:44:00 PM
Comment deleted
This post has been removed by the author.
Sunday, October 07, 2007 12:36:00 PM
Steph said...
Unfortunately this happens everywhere. I've read about similar cases in Canada too as a social work student here. At least if people speak out then organizations such as this can try their best to help those in need.
Sunday, October 07, 2007 12:41:00 PM

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Little Rock - 50 Years Later

This is from The Huffington Post today.

The article about the integration of Central High School is interesting and so are the comments following.

The high school's been back in the news lately. From the little I've read, the more things change the more they stay the same.

(Ray's doing well, incidentally - thanks to those of you who asked).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Personal Post Updated 9-22-07

Here is what I just posted on "granny".

Ray and I will both appreciate your keeping us in your thoughts. It's a little scary for both of us right now.

Thanks - I'll be back when I can.



Ray underwent triple bypass surgery this morning. His surgeon just called from the hospital in Modesto. All went well, he's in recovery. I'll make the trip tomorrow; he'll be pretty much out of it today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Guess I Should Just Sit Down and Shut Up

This just came into my mailbox from

(I just checked - the links in the email don't work here but I'm sure you can read the entire thing at If not and you need them, let me know. I'll forward a copy of the actual email.)

The U.S. Senate just told you to sit down and be quiet when they passed a Republican amendment condemning MoveOn.1

Every day, our brave men and women are dying in a bloody civil war this Senate has done nothing to stop. Yesterday, they couldn't even pass a bill to give soldiers adequate leave with their families before redeploying.2 But they're spending time cracking down on a newspaper ad?

So, we're making clear where America stands. We're releasing a statement from MoveOn members—and anyone else who feels the same way—saying, "We will not be quiet, we will fight back. We will keep speaking out until Congress forces an exit plan for this awful war."

Clicking here will add your name:

Maybe you liked our General Petraeus ad.3 Maybe you thought the language went too far. But make no mistake: this is much bigger than one ad.

It's part of a larger campaign by Fox, the right-wing echo chamber, and Republicans like John McCain (who said we should be "thrown out of the country").4

They're doing it because they're hurting: Polls show last week's Bush Administration PR blitz increased the number of Americans favoring withdrawal5 and vulnerable Republicans are sinking lower and lower in the polls (or announcing their retirement).

And it has one purpose: to intimidate all of us. To send a message that anyone who speaks unpleasant truths about this war will pay. To make everyone—especially politicians—think twice before they accuse the administration of lying.

If it looks like we're on the run, people will think twice before they speak out. Will you send a message today to Dick Cheney, Fox, Bill O'Reilly, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove—and the Democrats without the guts to vote against this—that it's not working?

We've changed our home page to just run the names of people who sign on. We'll report the totals to the media all day. And if we can find an electronic billboard in Washington, D.C., we'll run the names there, too.

And after you add your name, you can go one step further. We've put together a fair but hard-hitting ad that highlights how, yesterday, Republicans blocked a bill to give our troops adequate family leave before going back to Iraq. If we can raise enough money, we'll air this ad across the country and take the fight back to the real issues—this terrible war and its impact on our troops and the Iraqi people.

Clicking here will add your name to our statement:

This morning, the Senate didn't pass an exit strategy for Iraq. They didn't pass a bill to cover millions of uninsured Americans or combat the climate crisis. Nope—they condemned 3.4 million Americans for speaking out against the war.

Let them know them it's not going to work.

Thank you for all you do, every day, to get the truth out.

–Eli, Aaron, Adam G., Adam R., Anna, Carrie, Daniel, Erik, Ilyse, Jennifer, Joan, Justin, Karin, Laura, Marika, Matt, Natalie, Nita, Noah, Tanya, Tom & Wes Political Action
Thursday, September 20th, 2007


1. You can see the resolution text here and the roll call of who voted for it here. Absurdly, it claims that MoveOn "impugns the honor and integrity of ... all the members of the United States Armed Force"—despite the fact that MoveOn includes hundreds of thousands of veterans and military family members, who've led our campaign to bring our troops home.

2. "Effort to Shift Course in Iraq Fails in Senate," New York Times , September 19, 2007.

3. You can read the ad text and why we ran it here:

4. "McCain To MoveOn: Get Out," CBS News, September 14, 2007.

5. "Poll: Most Say Bush Iraq Plan Falls Short," CBS News, September 17, 2007.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee


Here are the NO votes. Of the candidates, Biden (is he still in?)and Obama weren't voting.

Clinton and Dodd voted no.

My California Senators split which wasn't too surprising. My senior senator leans further to the right each year and each year I become more disappointed.

Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

I've been a member of since 2005. I don't agree with everything they do. I don't have to. They do have a right to speak out against the current Administration and the lies we've been fed by them and their lackeys in the MSM.

The Administration has lied to us since long before the Iraq was began. Some of us knew it then; almost the entire country knows it know. Why should we suddenly believe everything they tell us?


ThomasLB said...
Are they going to pass judgement on every political advertisement from here on out?It sounds very much like they want to return to the days of McCarthyism and the House Unamerican Activities Committee.
Thursday, September 20, 2007 5:55:00 PM
fjb said...
I think it's time for rebellion you guys. To someone on the outside looking in, your government representatives are getting scarier by the minute. You used to pride yourselves on living in a free and democratic society, but I'm not seeing a whole hell of a lot of democracy or freedom down there. What's next, Gulags? Are you really going to let them continue do this sort of thing to you?!?! No joking folks, you might want to start reminding these bastards whose country it is. Yours. This makes me feel sick.
Thursday, September 20, 2007 7:47:00 PM
The Future Was Yesterday said...
I guess that means I'm in trouble then, because I don't know how to sit down and shut up!
Thursday, September 20, 2007 11:55:00 PM
Daniel said...
Keep up the great work, Granny! We can't let the bastards grind us down, can't let 1984 become a nightmarish reality.We, the people, have to move against the small minority who would enslave us.
Friday, September 21, 2007 8:38:00 PM

"Electoral Reform" in California

The neocons are trying to cheat their way into yet another term and they're starting with California.

The takeover attempt in my state isn't exactly current news but, for the first time in ages, I've been able to post a link to Bob Herbert in the NYT.

Today they took down their fire wall and opened their archives going back to 1987. I emailed them thanking them for reversing one of the worst decisions I've ever seen.

I've had some problems with the content of the Times but I do like most of their op-ed people and I've missed reading them. It wasn't the money; I could have managed that. It was the principle. They could have charged for an online subscription and I probably would have paid it. Instead they singled out the best of the op-eds (along with a couple I don't read except to see what the other guys are doing) and charged for them. Nuts, and I told them so.

Thanks to my "anonymous" friend who's been updating me on the columns I've missed. I can read them myself now.


OldOldLady Of The Hills said...
Yes Yes Yes! Though I agreed with you about this "TimesSelect" thingy...(Even the name is elitist....ugh...), I went ahead and subscribed to it...I just couldn't miss my Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich and the wonderful Bob Herbert....So when I got the email on Tuesday...TUESDAY???? That said, they were quiting this TimesSelect crap, as of Wednesday morning, today, that is...I was overjoyed! And they said I would get a refund....(HA HA, no doubt....they just made me pay again, less than a month ago...!!!!)So now even the NY TIMES is back to getting their mind back from having lost it!This thing they are trying to do here in our wonderful state....ISN'T THAT ILLEGAL??????Help Us And Save Us!
Thursday, September 20, 2007 2:27:00 AM
Dem Soldier said...
This can not be allowed to happen. This is what they do when they can't win votes...don't let blacks vote, don't let prison population which is growing one can't vote due to the GOP, and now they want to change most populated blue state in the Union. They must be crazy!
Thursday, September 20, 2007 3:22:00 AM
Granny said...
Welcome Old, Old Lady and thanks for your comment. Also, thanks for the heads up which I posted to "granny".Dem Soldier, we're fighting it and I hope we'll succeed.Of course they want California.
Thursday, September 20, 2007 3:51:00 AM
David Cho said...
This is about the dumbest proposal. They say this will force the candidates to campaign in California, which is completely untrue. There are only 2-3 competitive districts in the state, and nobody will come to California to campaign there.The Democratic proposal is not much better either. They want to award all of California's electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote. What if its really close? Who's going to pay for recounts?
Thursday, September 20, 2007 9:37:00 AM

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP)

From Bill Scher writing at Tom Paine Common Sense today:


SCHIP: Are You For Good Government or Bad Government?

The State Children's Health Insurance Program battle — soon to heat up once Bush vetoes a bipartisan compromise and attention turns to the politically tenuous House Republicans — is about two things.

One, of course, is the children themselves: 6 million currently covered under SCHIP (less if conservatives get their way) and 9 million still uninsured.

Without more health insurance, more kids will get sick and die. Period.

Conservatives, being compassionate and all, will swear up and down they don't want more sick kids. They just don't want "big government" to deal with them.

Now, I could give you some defensive arguments to insist SCHIP really isn't "big government." States take the lead in implementing the program. Private insurers generally deliver the coverage.

Which would be true. But that would leave out a critical part of the program's success: our federal government.

We all chip in and fund children's health insurance through our federal government. And we make sure the coverage is decent by regulating the private companies involved.

In return, we all save money and strengthen our economy as kids get more preventative care, instead of waiting for grievous illness to take them to the ER.

This is not theory. While more and more adults have had to go without health insurance, SCHIP has increased the percentage of kids with health insurance.

It is simply a proven success.

And local media has begun introducing their readers to kids< alive and well thanks to that success.

None of this was happening, or would happen, without government - without us citizens calling on our federal government to invest our taxes and set ground rules to solve this problem.

Having said that, this is not really a debate of government versus no government.

This is a debate between good government and bad government.

As I wrote in an earlier post:

Bush and fellow conservatives are just fine with government subsidies to prop up Medicare Advantage private plans, even though they cost taxpayers more than the traditional Medicare public plan.

They are just fine keeping the children's insurance program, so long as we underfund it and millions remain uninsured.

As Robert Borosage commented earlier: "faced with a choice of providing children with health care or protecting the profits of private insurance companies, the president chooses the latter."

Conservatives fear losing the SCHIP debate, because they fear losing the entire health care debate. This fear is unchanged from 1993, when they decided they had to kill universal health care, because "[i]ts passage will give the Democrats a lock on the crucial middle-class vote and revive the reputation of the party."

Politics over policy. Party over people. Bad government over good government.

SCHIP is not health insurance for all. It's just a rare bright spot in our overall inefficient, convoluted, patchwork, private-sector dominated health care system.

Expanding SCHIP does not automatically get us to quality, affordable health insurance for all.

Nor does defeating SCHIP -- and further upsetting the public by worsening our health care system -- ensure conservatives (despite their delusions) that they can stop the momentum for universal health insurance. Perhaps the opposite.

And that bigger debate is rapidly coming, as Sen. Hillary Clinton's new health care proposal joins plans from Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards.

To address the myriad of domestic problems that Americans want solved, including our shoddy health care system, we need effective government.

To win these debates with the public, we need to be able to propose solutions that involve our government.

That means when we have a program where our government has shined, we must praise it for that very reason.

The fundamental question that is always before the public is: whose people and which philosophy knows the difference between good government and bad government?

We must make it clear: if you're against SCHIP, you don't know good government. And you can't be trusted to lead on the challenges we all face.

More information on the State Children's Health Insurance Program »

Monday, September 17, 2007

Constitution Day

The Constitution was ratified on September 17, 1787. The Bill of Rights was added in 1789 because the Founding Fathers realized the citizens needed protection from an overzealous federal government.

In case any of us have forgotten because they've been ignored and trampled on, here they are.

From Wikipedia:

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights:

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.[27]


* First Amendment – Freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceable assembly as well as the right to petition the government.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

* Second Amendment – Right to keep and bear arms.

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

* Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

* Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

* Fifth Amendment – Due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, private property.

No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

* Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and other rights of the accused.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

* Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

* Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

* Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

* Tenth Amendment – Powers of states and people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Blackwater in Hotwater

From truthout and the BBC today

Iraq Shootout Firm Loses Licence
BBC News

Monday 17 September 2007

Iraq has cancelled the licence of the private security firm, Blackwater USA, after it was involved in a gunfight in which at least eight civilians died.

The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq.

The Blackwater workers, who were contracted by the US state department, apparently opened fire after coming under attack in Baghdad on Sunday.

Thousands of private security guards are employed in lawless Iraq.

They are often heavily armed, but critics say some are not properly trained and are not accountable except to their employers.

The interior ministry's director of operations, Maj Gen Abdul Karim Khalaf, said authorities would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force.

"We have opened a criminal investigation against the group who committed the crime," he told the AFP news agency.

All Blackwater personnel have been told to leave Iraq immediately, with the exception of the men involved in the incident on Sunday.

They will have to remain in the country and stand trial, the ministry said.

US Investigation

The convoy carrying officials from the US state department came under attack at about 1230 local time on Sunday as it passed through Nisoor Square in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Mansour.

The Blackwater security guards "opened fire randomly at citizens" after mortars landed near their vehicles, killing eight people and wounding 13 others, interior ministry officials said.

Most of the dead and wounded were bystanders, the officials added. One of those killed was a policeman.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Baghdad later confirmed there had been an incident in which state department security personnel reacted to a car bomb "in the proximity", and that they had been shot at.

"We are taking it very seriously indeed," she told the BBC, adding that discussions were still taking place about Blackwater's status now that they had been ordered to leave.

When asked if Blackwater was complying with the order, the spokeswoman said she could not comment because the investigation into the incident was still in progress.

The BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says it is generally assumed that Iraqi courts have no authority over foreign private security contractors.

However, the US embassy spokeswoman said the question of their immunity from prosecution was "one of the many issues" raised by the incident.

Blackwater has not yet commented on the incident.

Civilian Toll

Sunday's violence followed the publication of a survey of Iraqis which suggested that up to 1.2m people might have died because of the conflict in Iraq.

A UK-based polling agency, Opinion Research Business (ORB), said it had extrapolated the figure by asking a random sample of 1,461 Iraqi adults how many people living in their household had died as a result of the violence rather than from natural causes.

The results lend weight to a 2006 survey of Iraqi households published by the Lancet, which suggested that about 655,000 Iraqi deaths were "a consequence of the war".

However, these estimates are both far higher than the running total of reported civilian deaths maintained by the campaign group Iraq Body Count which puts the figure at between 71,000 and 78,000.


  • Founded in 1997 by three former US Navy SEALs
  • Headquarters in North Carolina
  • One of at least 28 Private Security Companies in Iraq
  • Employs 744 US citizens, 231 third-country nationals, and 12 Iraqis to protect US state department in Iraq (May 2007)
  • Provided protection for former CPA head Paul Bremer
  • Four employees killed by mob in Falluja in March 2004
  • Personnel have no combat immunity under international law if they engage in hostilities

Friday, September 14, 2007

The new computer has been delivered! It has a flat screen monitor which leaves me so much more room on my desk. I love it. Now waiting most impatiently for son Terry to complete his contract in New York, return to Texas and hook up all the necessaries to the new computer and download the necessaries from the old one. I finally got the Compaq's mouse to work but the keyboard is still balking so I am at Jo's farmette using her computer. I will be very happy when the new computer is up and running and I am back online. Thanks to Granny for holding down the fort during my absence.

Jo called last night and said their base had been mortared. I want my daughter back home!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Action Notice

I received an email this afternoon from Enigma4ever urging me to come over to Watergate Summer. So of course I did.

Rather than my trying to paraphrase what she said, here is the link to her post.

She was right; it's urgent.


enigma4ever said...
Thank you we all need to do what we can to stop the Insanity....unreal....( I have tried to call DC...and I can't get through..I am taking that as a good sign..I will keep calling)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 11:43:00 PM

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eliminating Public Schools

I've been catching up on my blog reading and ran across this from The Old Hippie.

Eventually I'll stop borrowing and start writing but meantime thanks to all of you for allowing me to pass your thoughts along.


peppylady said...
We sent our boys to our local public school and I would do the same all over again.
Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:50:00 PM
enigma4ever said...
good to see you back and blogging and around...missed you...
Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:55:00 PM
The Future Was Yesterday said...
Eliminating our public schools has long been a goal of the right.
Sunday, September 09, 2007 2:57:00 AM
Jolly Roger said...
I'll tell you what the wingtards will NEVER do. They'll never try to redirect public educational institutions to their original goal, which was to get everyone who attended school to learn the art of critical thinking. If there were critical thinking in this country, the conservotards would all be doing time, or handing you your change at Burger King. And even then, you'd have to make sure they didn't skim any of it off...
Monday, September 10, 2007 10:11:00 PM
enigma4ever said...
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 6:34:00 PM

Health Care and the Working Poor

Every once in a while, an aText Colorrticle in the local paper catches my attention.

Merced, CA (the city and the county) is fairly typical of small cities in the US. This woman's story typifies what far too many people are experiencing across the country. It shouldn't happen to anyone but it does.

I tried to copy the story but got a little lost trying to remove some of the codes.

Here's the link.


enigma4ever said...
so so sad....and not right...47 million is an awful big club...the dems should be ashamed....
Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:57:00 PM

Abolishing Corporate Personhood

Blogger Flashl, writing in Democratic Underground, reports that Humboldt County, in Northern Coastal California, has voted to abolish Corporate Personhood.

To any of you who may not be familiar with Humboldt, it has beautiful redwoods and some wonderful people. Ray and I almost moved there when I retired (I had several friends there at the time) but decided against it because of the distance from family. Eureka is a lovely little city and Arcata, right next door, is home to a fair sized university. Traveling north up State Hwy 1, it's not unusual to see elk and moose by the side of the road. The route winds along the Pacific Coast; a little scary but lovely.

It's well known for the cultivation of a certain illegal crop as well but we won't go into that here.

Anyhow, those brave souls committed an act of civil disobedience in passing Measure T. It may well be overturned but they took a stand. Perhaps others will follow.

Here's what flashl said:

In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as "corporate personhood."
Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.
By enacting Measure T, Humboldt County has committed an act of "municipal civil disobedience," intentionally challenging "settled law." But voters also recognize that Measure T is an act of common sense. We polled our community and found that 78 percent believe corruption is more likely if corporations participate in politics.
The Measure T campaign was led by women and young people, with critical support from elders and feminist men. This diverse leadership created a culture of cooperation and collaboration that permeated the campaign, and made it as much about community as about a win on election day. For example, the law itself was written using a consensus process, the advice of volunteers was valued just as highly as input from experts and consultants, and we organized numerous parties and social events to help spread the word.
The local Democratic and Green Parties formally endorsed the effort, and leaders of both worked arm-in-arm during the campaign. They were joined by organized labor and every peace, justice, and environmental protection group in the community. Humboldt County modeled a campaign carried out with respectful unity.
This effort did not spring up out of thin air. It was the result of years of old-fashioned community organizing by Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County that included workshops and educational programs explaining how corporations have acquired more rights under the law than people have.
We designed the campaign with "big picture" goals in mind from the beginning. We knew we wanted to claim for our campaign the best and most noble ideals of American history--especially self-governance and protecting people's rights against abusive power. We realize that the founding of this country is deeply flawed, but we used the national creation story to put Measure T on the side of truth and justice.
To that end, our PAC was named the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights, and our website was Our primary outreach tool was a tea bag that reminded voters of the proud history of the Boston Tea Party as an act of rebellion against the most powerful corporation of the day, and called for a modern-day T(ea) Party of our own.

Like the populists of the 19th-century agrarian movement, we believe that genuine change cannot be imposed from the top down. It must proceed from the ground up, and the battles must be waged in local communities.


Mike Pryslak said...
September 17th is the 220th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, which defines our nation of popular sovereignty, boldly opening with three simple words, written large, "We the People." These three famous words convey responsibility equally to all people to make our own laws. But "We the People" has never included all the people. Those in power always try to maintain power. Initially, only land-owning white men voted. It took a century, the Civil War and three constitutional amendments to abolish slavery and let black men vote. The 19th Amendment ratified in 1920 let women vote. In the 1960s, amendments eliminated poll taxes to protect poor, mostly black voters, and allowed Washington DC voters to participate in presidential elections. In 1971, the 26th Amendment established a consistent national minimum voting age. As we removed unfair voting restrictions, the wealthiest among us nurtured better ways to control our governance. Starting in the 1880s, ironically using the 14th Amendment that abolished the legal fiction that a person was property, corporate attorneys convinced a few judges (who were previously corporate attorneys) to create corporate personhood, the legal fiction that property is a person. This gave corporations, which are artificial legal entities for owning property, some of the rights intended for freed slaves. Toiling another century, more attorneys convinced more judges to expand corporate rights to add protections from the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. (Legislators who were elected through the largesse of corporations shoulder the blame for allowing these decisions to stand.)WITH THESE RIGHTS, CORPORATIONS AND THEIR WEALTHIEST OWNERS NOW EFFECTIVELY MAKE OUR LAWS. Using modern media and marketing science, voters are persuaded which candidates to elect. With gifts, campaign contributions and no spending limits on lobbyists, lawmakers are influenced. "We the People" have relinquished control of our democracy. To regain control, we must ban corporations from politics with a constitutional amendment that abolishes corporate personhood. Corporations don't share our morality or mortality; they exist to serve the public good, and they can do that without dominating our governance. But they’ll use their persuasive powers to disagree. They’ll vilify candidates who promise to limit corporate influence. We must be strong and ignore their deluge of ads and pundits, and only vote for candidates who put "We the People" above "We the Corporations."
Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:08:00 PM
Granny said...
Hi Michael and thank you. Do you have a blog? I couldn't find one but if you do I'd like to check it out.Ann (aka granny)
Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:53:00 PM
Daniel said...
Speaking about bottom-up activists, I'm trying to get a World Utopian Movement up and running, Granny. You might be interested in checking it out on my blog. We, the people, have to do something to save this world from self-destruction.Take care!
Monday, September 10, 2007 8:35:00 PM

Friday, September 07, 2007

Baghdad Burning

Riverbend has just updated her blog after a five month absence. She and her family have left Iraq for Syria and she's written a moving post about their preparations and journey.

Thanks to Enigma for the information. I usually check my feeder for new posts but I've been offline for something like 3 weeks and it will take me a while to catch up.

Personal note:

For any who don't know why I've been offline, my computer and I have been located in different parts of town and are now reunited. I've been updating on "granny" since mid August whenever I could borrow a computer for a few minutes.

Between my trials and tribulations and WA's computer disaster (among other things), it's been a rough couple of months for both of us.

I'll try to get back more often but, as I said in a comment yesterday, I was so backed up I erased all but personal emails so I'm starting from scratch on the political front.

I've either emailed or spoken on the phone to many of you. Thanks again for your kindness and support. I think Ray and I are past the worst now.


fjb said...
Hi Ann,Good to see your life coming back together, and I'm so glad that the worst is over. It's good to see Riverbend back, too, since she was one of the first Iraqi's to speak out, right from the beginning. Her's was one of the first blogs that I read when I gave up on "conventional" news sources, back in '03: what an eye-opener that was. Fiona
Friday, September 07, 2007 10:28:00 AM
David Cho said...
Great to see you back, Granny.
Friday, September 07, 2007 11:40:00 AM
The Future Was Yesterday said...
Welcome "home", Granny! You've been missed terribly!!
Friday, September 07, 2007 1:25:00 PM
betmo said...
glad that you are better- and that you are back! you chicks need to make up for lost time!!! :)
Friday, September 07, 2007 4:20:00 PM

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Compaq Dinosauer has been resurrected! It lives once again.

Unfortunately, as soon as it stirred to life, the mouse and keyboard died the Death. They are fairly new so I do not know what their malfunction may be. I've unplugged/plugged them in to their respective ports and they still refuse to function. Woe is me!

However, Joy is me! I was whining to daughter Jo about Compaq's death and ailments. She called me a few days ago and said she had ordered me a new computer, monitor, etc. and it would be delivered to me between Sept. 5 - 11. Now if son Terry will return from his job in New York about that time to hook it up, I should have a brand new computer to learn about and gripe of its idiosyncracies. I am greatly excited and grateful to daughter Jo!

I hope my printer and the new scanner/copier Jo gave me but never installed on the Compaq will be compatible with this new machine.

I shall return to blogging before too long. Cheers!!


betmo said...
yeah!!!! i hope you have fun with it!!! i am glad that you will be back in the saddle again. :)
Sunday, September 02, 2007 9:31:00 PM
The Future Was Yesterday said...
She called me a few days ago and said she had ordered me a new computer, monitor, etc. and it would be delivered to me between Sept. 5 - 11.ALL RIGHT!! That's a pretty nice Daughter you have there, I'd say! Now we get to learn first hand from a Vista owner....:)
Monday, September 03, 2007 2:19:00 AM
Dem Soldier said...
Labor day to U and yours.
Monday, September 03, 2007 4:03:00 PM
Sometimes Saintly Nick said...
Sounds as if the solution is arriving just when needed!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 12:21:00 AM
Daniel said...
Wish I had a daughter like that, Worried. Lucky you!I've got a Utopian Movement beginning on my blog. Check it out if you can.Take care now and keep smiling.
Thursday, September 06, 2007 6:11:00 AM
Nvisiblewmn said...
What a great kid!
Thursday, September 06, 2007 4:34:00 PM
Granny said...
How great for you. I'm back online as of today but we're still unpacking and sorting (see granny for updates).I had to delete all my non-personal emails unread and the 2,500 entries on bloglines. I'll get back to reading and writing as soon as possible.Love to all.Ann
Thursday, September 06, 2007 5:02:00 PM
fjb said...
Hey Worried, Now that you're getting a new computer, you'll also be getting Vista. Don't panic, and just remember to use the "Help Center". It's really quite good and answers most of the questions you may have. Just take your time to explore and get used to it. The only problems you may have are with some of your older programs if you try to install them on the new computer. Some of them just don't "agree" with Vista.Don't forget to learn about the "Start Search". IMHO, it's the best thing about Vista, and it's actually really good. Here's a link that may help you out too: Vista Help and How Too's. Fiona
Friday, September 07, 2007 10:15:00 AM

WA: Thank you, everyone.