The bloody face of war...

An Ozark E-Zine

If you read no other article about the war, read the following one written by a British reporter embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq:

US Marines Turn Fire on Civilians at the Bridge of Death
By Mark Franchetti, Nasiriya

The light was a strange yellowy grey and the wind was coming up, the beginnings of a sandstorm. The silence felt almost eerie after a night of shooting so intense it hurt the eardrums and shattered the nerves. My footsteps felt heavy on the hot, dusty asphalt as I walked slowly towards the bridge at Nasiriya. A horrific scene lay ahead.... (read full article)

Waging peace...
I understand that each of us likely has a strong opinion about the war in Iraq, and I want to go on record among you about two things:

#1 -- I support our military men and women. Their courage and bravery is overwhelming. Their loyalty, determination and effort on behalf of what they have been ordered to accomplish in the name of liberty and justice is unfathomable. I am in awe of each and every one of them... They are the finest and the best of "US".

#2 -- I am fully cognizant of the justification being propositioned by a number of my fellow citizens, which is well summarized by a newspaper cohort of mine, Ralph, who recently editorialized: "As much as I hate war, I wonder how our world would have been changed had some leader of the world in 1938 had the guts to take out Hitler before he invaded Poland. I know that 6,000,000 Jews would have lived to a ripe old age."

My response is that one thing has nothing to do with the other... And besides, if we're going to play "what if," then I'm equally entitled to construct my own imaginary scenario and credit it with just as much "what if-ing" weight.

On my scale of balance, I'd be duty bound to acknowledge that we have, here in the USA and everywhere across our planet, a great body of warm-hearted, intelligent, magnificently creative human resource and capability, coupled with the finest technology found anywhere in the known Universe. We exude greatness. We are destined to do fantastic things. And the time is now for all of us to take a leadership role in the abolition of war and violence by dedicating ourselves to  discovering NEW and BETTER ways to ensure and enable individual liberty and social justice here at home and around the globe.

And I wonder what would have happened IF we'd done this in 1938, or at any time ever since then.

Thus I concur the statements of Buckminster Fuller: "Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment."

Respectfully folks, this is the only race we must win... Because we all know it is impossible to plant onions and harvest sweet potatoes and -- with love, respect and admiration for both soldiers and civilians -- we in our wisdom and using the full force of our leadership MUST apply this simple logic to the making of every decision that faces us now and from now on. 

Thus I humbly yet adamantly suggest that we immediately put the full force of our military to work on the implementation of strategies to vigorously wage peace... which, no matter who spins it, sure as hell ain't what we're doing right now.

In the interest of legitimate proaction, I point you to the Buckminster Fuller Institute and also to the website of Congressman Kucinich who is a leading spokesperson for peaceful resolution of international conflict, universal health care, honorable working conditions, human dignity and Jeffersonian Democracy. And if you find a better candidate (from any Party or Independent) for US President in 2004, I'd love for you to let me know.

I’m not going to line-item a blow-by-blow recap of events from last December leading up to this moment because that story has, by the media, been powerfully told. Yet the way it has been told in the press needles my conscience because what I’ve seen prevail throughout the majority of column inches given to recent events at Community Water Service (CWS) has, in my opinion, amounted to an ignorant and bias distortion of the truth.

That is, if you read through the tales told about all the circumstances which first came to light regarding CWS last December and follow through the stories addressing this 3-month series of events, you will most likely come away with an overwhelming conclusion that “the CWS board of directors was right and that Greg Smith did something horribly wrong.”

Respectfully, I submit to you that this assessment contradicts the facts. And if we could turn back the clock so you could sit side-by-side with me at all the meetings and read through the reams of FOI documents I’ve researched since then, I sincerely believe that every open minded seeker of knowledge and truth would confirm that the case for Smith’s innocence and the evidence of bias plainly speak for themselves.

As only one example, though there are scads, look at the newspaper article published on March 12, 2003, by both the Fairfield Bay News and the Heber Springs Sun-Times. This article, addressing the CWS Special Audit Report, overviews the findings of a special audit which was requested specifically by the CWS board of directors in search of evidence to prove their claims against Smith. That article reads, in part:

“Focusing on the Faulkner/Cleburne water rate ratio, a total of $25,356, an amount derived from several different sources, could not be accounted for. Winham stated in his report that ‘Records and documentation in support of this adjustment could not be located.’”

These statements, as published, are factual. Yet the overriding truth that readers are not told is that roughly $20million in CWS expenditures for the 3 year period ARE accounted for and have been variously certified by 3 annual audits and 1 special audit as “in compliance” with all fiduciary tests. In other words, 99.9% of everything was done perfectly and I want to know who among us can make this same claim about our own checking account?

Of course omission of such information does not constitute a crime. But maybe it should. Especially when a person’s professional reputation is at stake. I mean, doesn’t the perpetration of ungrounded bias which culminates as public ignorance and prejudice constitute real harm? Inspect another paragraph of the aforementioned article and judge for yourself:

“The Holley Mountain Job No. 360 had been targeted for examination because there had been no record of billing from the installation of water service lines in December 2001. However, the work order was still open at the end of 2002 and the job had not yet been billed. The amount of unbilled work for employee overtime and equipment usage is $1,057. Greg Smith owns a lot at the Holley Mountain Air Park.”

First I must ask, why is it that the total amount paid to date by Holley
Mountain Airpark, which exceeds $114,000, is not mentioned as a means of showing legitimate context?

Then too I must question why no mention is made about the Holley Mountain Airpark water system project delivering multiple benefits to the Lexington / Hwy 110 CWS-initiated project, including the upsizing of key distribution lines and the construction of 5000 new feet of water line to Dodd Mountain, toward which the Airpark will be paying an additional $39,000.

In other words, it seems self-evident that both CWS and the neighboring community are deriving measurable value and benefit from CWS’s contractual relationship with Holley Mountain developers, yet the published paragraph (which includes a libelous inference of dirty dealing by referencing Smith’s personal ownership of private property in the development) leaves quite a different taste in one’s mouth.

Finally, I’ve got to ask why this article says NOTHING about the fact that the auditor found NOTHING to indicate that Smith was culpable of any crime. In fact, if you had attended that meeting with me, you would have heard the special auditor state plainly and simply, time and time again, that the CWS accounting processes conducted under the administration of Greg Smith were for the most part well documented and something “to be proud of” in nearly every sense.

You would have heard the auditor say that he had cross-checked many sets of records to see whether expenses (for things like credit card charges, automobile expenses and air travel costs) were in balance with the requisite corporate activities and in compliance with regulatory protocol, and that he’d found everything to conform. And, if you were truly astute, you would have gathered that ALL the incongruence the auditor noted dated back to the year 2000, during a time when a new CWS financial controller had been hired and was ultimately dismissed (by Smith) due to this person’s inability to grasp and master the complexity of the accounting work.

You would also have heard the auditor say that he would, in essence, attribute the various causes of the boards’ concerns (such as those mentioned above) to innocent errors, unintentional mistakes or common forgetfulness. And that in accord of his findings, the auditor could discover NO CAUSE to allege any sort of criminal intention or willful impropriety to Smith’s actions, behaviors, motives or professional work.

Thus the truth as I see it, having now gotten a first-hand experience of all the players involved, is that Greg Smith is a decent, hard working, community loving guy who was, to the very best of his admirable ability, playing by the rules and doing what he believed was the best thing to do to ensure stable water rates and high quality service for every person who depends on getting their tap-water from CWS.

And that the CWS board of directors did, in my humble opinion, make mountains out of molehills, lose their cool, fail to do their homework, blow things out of proportion, take actions based on rumors, innuendoes and hearsay, inciting a fervor of distrust throughout the CWS workforce and membership community, and now having been provided with various credible proofs that their allegations were false, rather than wiping the egg from their faces and working together to find a mutually dignified means of regrouping (including public apologies where they are due), these board members are arrogantly refusing to acknowledge that any error on their part has been committed and they continue to do their damndest to drive Smith’s longstanding reputation of excellence into the ground.

Respectfully folks, in my humble opinion this constitutes cruel and overbearing misconduct bordering on malfeasance by the CWS board. Their actions have shattered fiduciary confidence in the overall organization and will ultimately come back to haunt each of us as escalating water rates.

For all of this calamity, I hold the media equally accountable for bearing false witness, too.

Christine Weiss

This morning... Inbox was stuffed with messages calling for various types of action to "protest the war." And, respectfully, I deleted all of them.

For the record, however, I must say that my position on war has not changed. I oppose war. I believe that civilization is capable to -- and in fact must -- discard war. The we must revoke all thinking about war as an option, even as a last resort.

Yet I also believe that we shall not accomplish this victory by means of protest or civil disobedience since such actions, to me, are simply a form of retaliation "against" something that seems "out of control."

And, in my opinion, every "act of againstness" is the derivative of a war-like mindset.

Thus I would humbly ask for all of us who are convinced that a better way exists to eradicate paralyzing quagmires of injustice and fascism to focus our actions on and invest our time in the doing of things the way we know will work to empower our shared goal.

Wage peace.

Commit acts of random kindness.

Love our neighbors.

Love ourselves.

Come together in trust and dignity.

Be thankful.

Hug each other and keep smiling peacefully through the tears until war is no more.


Peace Light
Be one with the Global Wave of Light for Peace at 7pm (your local time) tonight (Sunday, March 16, 2003). Dedicate one hour of prayer, pilgrimage, or your personally preferred version of sacred celebration to:

  • Honor the memory of all those among us who have, of loyalty and passion, given their lives in tribute to liberty and justice.

  • Beseech every "Power That Be" to come to the communal table with open arms and the heartfelt will to build and establish a new regime of global cooperation wherein every man, woman and child is nourished and cared for, together enjoying health and everlasting sustainability.

  • Kindle acts of reflective reason and fuel eternal hope, standing firm in the faith that we are one in shining our light of peace.

"If we are to hold a vision... simply saying "stop the war" isn't enough. We must clearly articulate a vision of... a world in balance, a world at peace, and a world where the planet's vital natural resources are protected and renewed. This is the ultimate family value, the highest patriotism..."

Thom Hartmann
The Empire Needs New Clothes 

Thanks to Justin...
Thanks to Justin at HyperTech for going far more than the second mile in finding a cure to the technical glitches Gozarks was having!!! We believe that all things are now in order, but if you notice something amiss, please let me know so that further corrective action may be taken!

Good news...
As of late Saturday, the condition of girl who was hospitalized with serious injuries as a result of the accident Thursday night, had improved enough that she was moved from intensive care to a regular hospital room. A group of 9 (two adults, seven teens) went to Little Rock to visit with here Sunday and, thankfully, she making a remarkable recovery.

Services held...
Services were held for Matt Moore, age 15, at 2:00pm, Saturday, March 8, at the First Baptist Church on Hwy. 16 in Shirley.

Tragic news...
The evening of March 6, on one of the winding mountain roads near the town where we live,  four teens were involved in a tragic auto accident. As a result, one of these fine young people died. The driver of the vehicle and another passenger are banged-up but basically okay. The fourth passenger was badly injured and is hospitalized, in intensive care.

All the children involved were friends of our teens, Adam and Shalom, and had been frequent visitors to our home. Making things even more devastating, our children were witnesses to the single-vehicle crash. They were riding with other friends in another pick-up truck and the youngsters in the truck that crashed were behind them on the road when the vehicle went out of control and flipped.

Please pray for these children and their parents, that they may be uplifted by the grace of God to find comfort and solace in this time of tragedy.

River Road - Liverwort Rock

Photo by Mary Alice Beer, Fairfield Bay, Arkansas

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Once in a thousand years..
Several versions of the same essential message have been making the email rounds, calling for a day of "prayer and fasting" on March 3, 2003. It caught my attention partly because that's the day after my birthday, but mainly because I've long been an admirer of Mahatma ("great soul") Gandhi and whenever I think of prayer and fasting I reflect on him.

And, this email calls for the coordinated action of prayer and fasting as a counterbalance to the tremendous energy that's been invested in preparations for war, which is so very much a Gandhi-like thing to do. Thus I was impressed.

And it got me thinking, what would happen if we all did exactly what the email proposes? Would the world be magically transformed before our eyes?

As a believer, I'd have to say yes.

"And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked of Him."
1 JOHN 5:14-15, NKJV

And even as a scientifically minded pragmatist, I doubt that I could say no. Because there is an "energy" in people. There is this thing called "consciousness." There is hope, and goodness, and splendor and gracious good cheer. And I know that when we pray a heartfelt prayer this very best part of all of us just can't help but bubble out.

And I say this inclusive of all those among us who choose to see prayer (and all other religious or spiritual simplicity) as just so much metaphysical poppycock, because I know that in those moments when any one of us connects with that place of sublime sanity at the heart of our deepest core that a mighty prayer of life is vibrantly springing forth from within.

And every time one of us does this, all of us are better off.

Also, I know that there is strength in numbers. That's why the date, 03-03-03, feels significant to me. Aside from the fact that the calendar numbers won't line up this way again for a thousand years, I've always thought of the number 3 as having some sort of potent mystical charm.

"Things come in threes," my mother said, and I've learned by experience that she was right. Religiously speaking, the number 3 symbolizes The Holy Trinity. Plus we all know from elementary school math, that the 3s in "0.333" go on (and on) to infinity. So all this has gotta count for something... right?

Well I say it does count for something. It counts for whatever we "choose" it to. And I'd bet my socks that if and when ALL of us choose to devote even a minute a day to vigorously exercising our personal reverence for living... that the world would be forever changed by our actions... and we would be changed, too.

So I'm voting that we give it a go. I mean heck, we have nothing to lose and so very much to gain. Thus on March 3, 2003, I'll be doing my own unique version of praying and fasting... and I'm hoping that you'll be doing something like this, too.

And remember, this is a once-in-a-thousand-years opportunity because it will be that long before 03-03-03 comes around again!

Wishing all of us the future we prefer, desire and deserve to enjoy...

Christine Weiss

Hey! Come visit us at SassafrasWilds!!!


Wanna see the FLASH
I been playin' with?

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The Battle for OUR Minds:
The War on Drugs
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9.11 casualty compensation disparity "disturbing"
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KFFB's Connell Nominated for "Tourism Support" Award
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Call to Action!
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In the Spotlight

Sun-Times & Gozarks reports on
Community Water System

Guest Editorial "Double Standard" by Bob Mack

Learning set free!!!


Rants of an Agitator

A Special "Reality Check" Report by Gozarks

Cancer cure research buried and ignored.

In the interest of fanning the most valiant flame and adding fuel to a vibrant fire, Gozarks is pleased to debut our brand new Liberty, Justice & Democracy section... which we hope will become a personal treasure for you!!!


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