Lt. Ehren K. Watada's resistance to the Iraq war continues to inspire activists from coast to coast, three stories published during the past week show.  --  On Tuesday, the Muscatine (Iowa) Journal, a paper that once counted Samuel Clemens on its staff, devoted an article to a cross-country "March 4 Peace" that began on May 1 in San Francisco and that should culminate on Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C.  --  Muscatine is on the banks of the Mississippi River.  --  Isabelle Salmon, 23, of Seattle, joined the group near Muscatine and told reporter Melissa Regennitter that "I’d have to say inspiration comes from Lt. Watada and my belief in world peace.”[1]  --  On Sunday, the Contra Costa (California) Times reported that at a recent meeting the El Cerrito City Council passed a resolution supporting Lt. Watada.[2]  --  On Jul. 25, the Hudson Reporter (Hoboken, NJ) reported that Jersey City, NJ, actor and playwright Erik Anders-Nilsson has made a film entitled "Confessions of a Liberal Actor-vist" that attempts to show "the point of view of four U.S. Army soldiers who gained national attention during the war," one of which is Ehren Watada.[3]  --  The Reporter called the film "a smart, well-thought out piece that explores the back-story behind our nation's involvement in Iraq." ...



By Melissa Regennitter

Muscatine (Iowa) Journal
July 31, 2007

MUSCATINE, Iowa -- A duo marching for peace just added two more to its peaceful protest.

What started out as a California teen’s idea led her to meet another teen from across the United States in a mission for recognition of nonviolent solutions to the world’s problems and an end to the war in Iraq.

More supporters have now joined the two who dared to take their issues across the nation on foot.

Ashley Casale, 19, Clinton Corners, N.Y., and Michael Israel, 18, Jackson, Calif., met in San Francisco on May 1, only 10 minutes before the duo would trek on foot to Washington, D.C. The mission, March for Peace, was intended to be a mass march of supporters of peaceful living and an end to the war in Iraq.

Israel decided to meet Casale after reading about her mission for a rally march on the Internet.

They finished walking through Iowa, the sixth state they’ve been through, when they ended up in Muscatine Monday evening and stayed with a host family close enough to enter Illinois via Illinois Route 92 and the Norbert F. Beckey Bridge this morning.

What was two for the better half of the march became three on Saturday night, when Antonio Kies, 31, of Omaha, Neb., joined in Iowa City.

Three became four Monday afternoon after Isabelle Salmon, 23, of Seattle, Wash., was dropped off on Iowa Highway F70 between Muscatine and West Liberty.

Salmon flew in to Peoria, Ill., and was dropped off with the marchers by support vehicle only two hours before they rounded the corner from F70 to Mulberry Avenue, near Saulsbury Bridge Recreation Area.

“This is something I wanted to do six months ago but I had to wait until I finished college,” Salmon said. “I’d have to say inspiration comes from Lt. Watada and my belief in world peace.”

Ehren Watada was a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Army who publicly refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006, stating that the war is illegal and his participation would be contribution to war crimes. Watada’s trial on this matter is schedueld for Oct. 9.

Salmon, feeling fresh compared to the others, appeared excited.

Kies just completed his second full day of the March Monday night, but said he walked part of the way to Iowa City from Omaha.

“I’m all for marching for peace,” Kies said as he tugged on a small bag slung over one shoulder. Kies took time off from the bookstore where he works to make the trip -- after persuading his boss.

As the group walked the five-mile stretch toward Muscatine, averaging about 3 mph, Kies limped along on blistered feet and his white T-shirt with the words “March 4 Peace” written in green was streaked with sweat.

Still, they all held their heads high.

“Throughout the whole trip we’ve been committed,” Israel said of himself and Casale. “We never just wanted to pack up and go, even though there have been some hard times.”

The terrain of the western deserts and the Rocky Mountains was definitely not a cake walk for the two.

The teens agreed that along their journey they’ve learned a lot about America and themselves.

“There’s not just a clear divide between liberals and conservatives,” Casale said. “And for myself, I’ve become more trusting because I have learned that people can be so kind. I never expected we’d meet so many giving people and have enough mutual trust to stay in their homes, eat dinner with their families.”

Along the way, individuals, non-profits, and businesses have been giving handouts to the marchers, which Casale said is their only real means of getting by until the trip is through. They plan to arrive in Washington D.C. by Sept. 11.

With links on their official Web site, such as and, the real moral beliefs of the marchers can be best described.

The Michael and Shelly Maharry family let the marchers stay at their Muscatine home Monday night. Michael’s father, Randall lives in Colorado and hosted the first two marchers more than a month ago, so Michael had planned for them to visit on the way through. He and Shelly took the marchers out to dinner, put a roof over their heads and offered Internet access and a much-needed shower.

“It was the least we could do for people who are so passionate,” Michael said. “I support their cause, but whether you agree with them or whether you don’t, it’s the fact that they are doing something for what they believe in is what impresses me.”

They are getting attention, and that is what’s needed to spread their message, they say.

“Sometimes we meet a person who has a story to tell about their son in the war,” Israel said. “That is sometimes emotional. Just knowing that we are doing this for what we believe in is what matters.”

Reporter contact information:

Contact Melissa Regennitter at 563-262-0526, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The eye on the East Bay


Contra Costa Times
July 29, 2007

It was a jolly time at a recent Piedmont school board meeting, as members couldn't let outgoing president Ward Lindenmayer off the hook without some parting gifts.

Lindenmayer first opened an official-looking gavel and base.

"I'll use this to call my family meetings to order," kidded Lindenmayer, rapping the gavel to try it out.

Next he opened a large, square gift -- the final Harry Potter book.

"I'm not reading this until I finish book No. 6," Lindenmayer said, "and don't any of you tell me the ending!"

Then Lindenmayer opened his greeting card, one of those equipped to play a tinny little song.

Saying she needed to sign it, Trustee Cathie Geddeis kept opening and closing the card, hoping it would be quiet enough to sign, but it wouldn't.

Incoming president June Monach ceremoniously handed off a sparkly gold wand to Geddeis, the new vice president.

"Maybe we can wave this to make the meetings shorter," she joked.

POLITICAL POINTS: Presidential election politics don't usually come into the Eye's view, but two recent items couldn't be overlooked.

One involved a colleague of the Eye who sent a request about information to the Barack Obama campaign regarding a possible East Bay appearance by the presidential hopeful.

After a bit of a wait, he received a reply. Only it wasn't a response to his media request, but an e-mail soliciting campaign donations.

Also catching the Eye's attention was a news release issued by the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee.

In it, Giuliani's California team announced an endorsement -- from actress Bo Derek.

Reading on, the Eye found out that Derek, the world's first "10," supported President George H.W. Bush in his presidential campaigns, campaigned for President George W. Bush and appeared at the two most recent Republican National conventions.

What's more, the release continued, Derek serves as "Special Envoy of the Secretary of State on Wildlife Trafficking and as Honorary Chairperson for the Veterans Administration National Rehabilitation Special Events for Disabled Veterans."

DEMOCRACY AT WORK: An El Cerrito gadfly apparently wanted to prove a point at a recent council meeting, and he did. But it may not have been the one he intended.

During public comments about a resolution supporting Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who has refused to deploy to Iraq, Mayor Letitia Moore told Peter Loubal that he had taken his speaking time to attack the council personally. She said other people were waiting to speak, and that he should be respectful of them. Moore told him to wrap it up.

Loubal responded that he had no respect for council members, and that he would speak as long as everybody else. "Will you shut up and let me speak?" Loubal said. "It is my right to speak."

Moore asked him to "please leave," but he refused. A police officer seconded the mayor's request.

Eventually, Loubal left the speaker's podium and took a seat in the audience.

But after a council member made comments supporting Watada, Loubal suddenly rose and yelled, "This proves just what hypocrites these people are."

Moore said, "Please remove him. Just remove him."

Officers then entered the chamber. Loubal cried out, "You people stink. You don't deserve democracy."

On his way out, Loubal grabbed the microphone and delivered one final thought: "They don't deserve democracy."

The council then took a democratic vote and passed the resolution.

Alice Crane, Linda Davis and Justin Hill contributed to this column.



** Jersey City Peace Movement and Black Waxx team up for film **

Hudson Reporter (Hoboken, NJ)
July 25, 2007

Original source:  Hudson Reporter (Hoboken, NJ)

Aeschylus said that in war, the first casualty is often the truth. Many Americans these days may argue that those words still ring true. One of them is Jersey City actor and playwright Erik Anders-Nilsson, who quotes the Ancient Greek playwright in the film, "Confessions of a liberal actor-vist."

The movie was originally screened at Liberty Hall on June 16. The next screening will be on August 18 at 7 p.m., at Kim's Mediatronics at 88 Pavonia Ave., in Jersey City. "Confessions of a liberal actor-vist" is a documentary version of Nilsson's anti-war performance piece of the same name. It is not just your typical tirade against the government. It is a smart, well-thought out piece that explores the back-story behind our nation's involvement in Iraq, as well as other topics in today's news.

"It's about the world, it's about popular films, it's about fashion, it's my spin on what's going on," said Nilsson, a Jersey City resident since 1992.

The film is also about his experience working as an anti-war advocate. In 2003, Nilsson co-founded the Jersey City Peace Movement, six months [sic] before the United States' invasion of Iraq. "I've always been very political, and for the people, and on the side of truth and peace," said Nilsson.

He noted that the Jersey City Peace Movement also advocates against military intervention in Afghanistan and Iran, as well as 'the war at home,' which, he said, includes making sure that U.S. tax dollars are spent on housing, education, and jobs.

"Confessions of a liberal actor-vist" was originally a play that Anders-Nilsson performed at Victory Hall in November of 2006. It was performed only once, he said, as a political statement.

"We wanted to show the preciousness of life," Nilsson said. "It was never intended to be a documentary."

But Black Waxx Productions founder U-Savior Washington, who had attended and filmed the play, was so moved by the piece that he decided to make a 47-minute documentary.

"It was something special and unique that lasted beyond that day," said Washington. He directed and edited the film, and came up with the movie's score.


Every Sunday from 12 to 1 p.m. Nilsson and other members of the Jersey City Peace Movement go to Journal Square to hand out pamphlets and raise awareness about the situation in Iraq. He hopes the movie will serve the same purpose, reaching out to people who may not necessarily attend a rally, but may be inclined to go see a film or a performance art piece on the topic.

Nilsson said that a number screenings are planned, one for as early August. Until details are worked out, members of the public can request copies of the film from the Peace Movement or Black Waxx Productions.

An actor in the film "The Last Seduction," and currently featured on the television show "Rescue Me," Nilsson said that his political and his artistic interests had not before had the occasion to intersect. "As an actor I usually keep my work separate from my political point of view," Nilsson, a member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1986, said.

But that all changed when he felt he had to write "Confessions of a liberal actor-vist."

"It just came out of me organically," Nilsson said during a phone interview between takes of "Rescue Me." And he was inspired to do more than just write about his take on the war.

The film also shows several fictionalized accounts that Nilsson wrote from the point of view of four U.S. Army soldiers who gained national attention during the war.

In the film, Yamil Vargas is Lt. Ehren Watada, who in 2006 publicly refused his unit's command to deploy to Iraq. Lisa Marie Palmieri plays Lt. Jessica Lynch, the soldier whose "rescue" by U.S. special operations forces has been disputed by Lynch herself, along with members of the media, who accused the Pentagon of fabricating the story. And Iyanna Jones is Lt. Shoshana Johnson, taken prisoner in Iraq and who then became the first black woman prisoner of war for the United States.

"It's really a one-man show with several monologues," Nilsson said.

Besides his monologue, he also performs a piece as Pat Tillman, the professional football player who was killed by friendly fire in Iraq. Tillman's family accuses the Department of Defense of delaying the notice that he died as a result of friendly fire as a way to avoid negative press.


After reviewing the footage he had filmed of Nilsson's play, Washington said, he came up with the idea to make the documentary. He also created a video montage to add to the piece that explains and enhances many of the themes Nilsson touches on.

Washington's Black Waxx Productions Company is involved in the Jersey City community, and produces many community-oriented films. Black Waxx also produces "The ghetto chronicles," a weekly show aired in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. that covers issues facing the black community that many mainstream media outlets ignore.

Washington, who left a job as a music producer to pursue his passion as a filmmaker, strongly believes that creative individuals should follow Nilsson's lead and use their talents for another purpose.

"It's not only your duty, it's your responsibility as a human being to use whatever talents you have," Washington said. "Now is the time to step up to the plate."

For more information on the film, email the Jersey City Peace Movement at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit,, or call (201) 981-1891.