remember you: participants in the Chatham Peace Iniative
reading of names.
activists in Chatham take a day to remember the Iraq war’s
Chatham, volunteers spent most of Saturday (Jan. 15) reading
in shifts the names of about 4,700 people who have died in
the current conflict in Iraq. The list included soldiers and
citizens, police, journalists, cameramen, aid workers, contractors,
children—anyone who fell victim to the war.
at a black-cloth-draped podium, volunteers read the names
and ages (with rank if applicable) of victims from their lengthy
list. Participants in the daylong tribute shrugged off the
biting wind that made its way under the small tarp canopy.
the shivering readers’ position was a view of a flag at half-staff
for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a small stone memorial
dedicated “in grateful memory of the services rendered by
the men of Chatham, that the principles of this republic might
be preserved,” dated 1932.
the opening speech to the many conversations among participants,
there was general consensus that the Iraq war is both unjust
and unnecessary, and many of those present expressed solidarity
with King’s ideals of peace and justice.
The activist group Chatham Peace Initiative conducted the
reading of the names. Bob Elmendorf, a leader of the organization,
said one cause for him participating in the reading is to
help end the war, “but the main reason is to honor the soldiers
who fell and the citizens who died in Iraq.” As the name of
a 6-year-old girl from Baghdad was read, Elmendorf described
the war as a total debacle. He said he feels betrayed by the
Bush administration, which he claims misled the people and
Congress with the fear of weapons of mass destruction and
a link between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
Those who searched for the WMDs officially gave up looking
over two weeks ago, and no Al Qaeda link has ever been established.
like to see the U.S. pull out of Iraq and have another entity
come in, such as the U.N.,” said Elmendorf. He said the people
of the war-ravaged country are worse off now than under Hussein,
with the lack of security and multiple torture scandals. Having
the town flag at half-staff every day for the people who are
dying wouldn’t be a bad idea, he said.
Max Grieshaber, also of Chatham Peace Initiative, gave an
opening speech in which he evoked King’s legacy. “Despite
advances, equality remains but a dream for many,” he said.
After his speech he commented, “The military is a polarizing
aspect of our society,” and said economic and racial inequality
has people joining the military out of need and being exploited
for their lack of options. Grieshaber also views the detainment
of people without formal charges to be a major equality problem
Nancy Rothman, the first reader of the day, said she believes
it is necessary for people to hear the names of those who
were killed read aloud. “I feel responsible for these deaths,”
said Rothman. “They need to be acknowledged publicly and often.”
She wishes there were never names to be read. “Our elected
officials need to know we can’t have this killing going on
in our names anymore.”
The 4,700 names come from a list of casualties on the Iraq
Body Count Web site and from the Washington Post’s
Web site. About 3,100 are Iraqis and more than 1,200 are U.S.
soldiers. The list only includes deaths that are confirmed
with the name of the deceased. Iraq Body Count estimates that
the total dead is acutally between 15,365 and 17,582, compiled
from news sources and articles.
The names will be written on thousands of black cards and
mailed to New York Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton Charles
Schumer and Republican Rep. John Sweeney (Clifton Park). All
three voted to authorize President Bush to start the war.
“Do you guys sell candy? . . . . . . . Man,
it smells good in here.”
of a group of kids who burst energetically into
Shining Star on Lark Street, site of the “largest
incense collection in the northeast,” but no candy.
After Guilderland Town Supervisor Kenneth Runion
announced that he had heard no complaints about
a plan to have residents of the town’s animal
shelter killed after 90 days, animal advocates
gave him an earful, and helped him work out a
new, more humane policy for the town’s stray cats
and dogs. Of course, in addition to the lives
of the shelter’s furry residents, more than $120,000
in donations was at stake, as some contributors
had begun asking for the return of their gifts—many
of which had been given because of the shelter’s
aversion to killing.
Coming to Closure
In 1971, a group of inmates in Attica state prison
started a violent riot to protest prison conditions,
taking hostages and killing one guard. When the
state retook the prison by force, 10 more employees
and 34 inmates were killed. In 2000, New York
reached a $12 million settlement with representatives
of the inmates. This week, the state reached another
$12 million settlement, with Forgotten Victims
of Attica, a group representing the state-worker
victims, whose widows say at the time they were
tricked into trading their right to sue for tiny
workers compensation checks.
Warden to Inmate
Army Reserve Specialist Charles Graner Jr.—last
seen standing over a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners
with an ear-to-ear grin—was convicted of assault,
indecent acts and a host of other charges for
his role in the Abu Ghraib prison abuses and sentenced
to 10 years in prison. During the trial, Graner’s
defense argued that forced simulation of oral
sex and naked human pyramids were simply the sort
of frat-party antics found on any college campus
in America. Sgt. Javal Davis and Pfc. Lynndie
England are still awaiting trial.
Not a Paid Advertise-ment (Or Is It?)
While the White House acknowledged last week that
the Education Department paid “journalist” Armstrong
Williams to trumpet the virtues of the controversial
No Child Left Behind Act at every possible opportunity
and without any mention of the contract, the administration
has been conspicuously quiet on possible repercussions.
According to White House spokesman Scott McClellan,
the deal was an isolated incident, but commentators
on both sides of the fence—including Williams—have
insinuated that such arrangements are fairly common.
and Not Quite Out
try to avoid public turmoil over proposed emergency radio
towers in the Adirondacks
controversial plan by Sara toga County to place three new
radio towers in the Adirondack Park remains in limbo this
week after the Adirondack Park Agency agreed on Friday to
extend the project’s permit application for 30 days while
alternatives are evaluated.
The plan calls for towers to be built in the towns of Day,
Edinburg and Hadley as part of a countywide emergency communications
system. Critics of the project claim that more public input
should be sought regarding the complex project, and that clearing
the 10 acres or more of land required for the towers will
violate the APA’s policy on building new radio towers, which
requires that the structures be “substantially invisible.”
is ever cast in stone with policies like that,” reasoned Greenfield
town supervisor Robert Stokes, who also chairs the county’s
According to Stokes, a stipulation in APA policy gives special
consideration to structures used for providing emergency services.
way Saratoga County interpreted it, the tower facilities should
be exempt,” said Stokes.
Yet questions remain about whether the issue will come before
a public hearing, as some—including members of the APA—have
recommended. In a letter to APA project review officer George
Outcalt Jr., the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks
requested that the APA hold such a hearing, claiming that
alternatives to the project had not been “adequately presented
Not everyone seemed thrilled about organizing a public hearing
around the tower project, however. According to Stokes, the
county will continue to work on alternatives for the access
roads—one of the plan’s major sticking points—in the hopes
of reaching some agreement without a public hearing.
public hearings, they have a tendency to go on for months,”
said Stokes, “and they get very, very expensive.”
top of all that, they don’t seem to get much done in the end,”
The county will meet with the APA again on Feb. 11.
sharply critical federal audit released by the
Albany Police Department late Friday afternoon
(a common tactic to get unfavorable news in the
less-read Saturday daily paper), backed up what
city comptroller Thomas Nitido found last year:
that over several years, the APD misspent more
than $40,000 from its seized asset fund
for things outside of the federal guidelines,
such as artwork, automatic car starters, and community
events [“Tough Questions Continue,” Newsfront,
April 1, 2004]. Police Chief James Turley said
that changes already had been made before the
audit began, and also questioned the guidelines,
which stipulate the money must be used for “law
enforcement purposes,” saying they were “vague.”