For those of you who want an update, I received my first response to my letters to my two Congressman and my eight reps. from Ron Kind (democrat in house). It was a form letter, emphasizing that Kind voted for both intitiatives that the White House has passed regarding Sudan and Chad conflicts. The second boasted 242.4 million in relief assistance. And while that may seem a significant amount, the white house in its second term had commited 38 billion to the “war on terror”, most of which has been focused on Iraq. (This was taken from the Department of Defense website). I just feel so helpless about stuff like this.

I don’t know if you guys read about the misplaced weapons in Iraq, but the Inspector General (who was recently removed from his position by the Bush administration) gave a report on a gross oversight of weapons imports into Iraq. I copy part of the NY TImes article here as a remnder that this country is largely unaccoutable for the number of guns that it produces and distributes internationally. I encourage you to vote against any candidate that strongly supports the NRA.


In its assessment of Iraqi weaponry, the inspector general concluded that of the 505,093 weapons that have been given to the Ministries of Interior and Defense over the last several years, serial numbers for only 12,128 were properly recorded. The weapons include rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assault rifles, machine guns, shotguns, semiautomatic pistols and sniper rifles. Of those weapons, 370,000 were purchased with American taxpayer money under what is called the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, or I.R.R.F., and therefore fell within the inspector general’s mandate.  

Despite the potential risks from losing track of those weapons — involving 19 different contracts and 142 delivery orders — they recorded serial numbers for no more than a few thousand, the inspector general said…The inspector general’s report said that when asked why so many weapons went to Iraq with no record of serial numbers, American military officials in Baghdad replied that they did not believe the regulations applied to them. Still, in their response to the report, military officials said they would keep track of serial numbers for weapons shipped or issued in the future, but in a database outside the small-arms serialization program. They did not present a plan for identifying or monitoring weapons that had already been issued…

There were also significant discrepancies in the numbers of weapons purchased and those in Iraqi warehouses. While 176,866 semiautomatic pistols were purchased with American money, just 163,386 showed up in warehouses — meaning that more than 13,000 were unaccounted for. All 751 of the M1-F assault rifles sent to Iraq were missing, and nearly 100 MP-5 machine guns. 


On another note, I have been listening to Rachid Taha’s Made in Medina album (I put a track from it on J.E.’s world music cd.) It’s really great. I have also been listening to Terry Riley in C, from the WNYC Bang on a Can series. It’s pretty repetitive, but if you’re in the mood for an experimental piece along the lines of Phillip Glass or something it can be good. Strange to think it was recorded live in the World Trade Centers while I was living in NY. I also checked out from the public library the new double cd set of T Bone Burnett (who produced the O’ Brother soundtrack). It has some pretty funny stuff on it. 

Trouble at work and sheer “hecticness” have depressed me quite a bit and music has been a good recourse. Part of it is that I have produced very little art this semester which makes me incredible irrascible.

I continue to read Gene Sharp’s The Politics of Nonviolent Action Part One. He has a fascinating chapter called “Why Men Obey”, which would make for a good discussion sometime. I’d also be interested in all of your comments on his notion of the “zone of indifference”, which is a theory that citizens will tolerate a high level of unethical or disturbing governmetal action, if their standard of living continues at a comfortable level or is increasing.