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thedrifter
09-29-07, 08:11 AM
Berkeley blogger off to war zone — again
Grandmother to embed in Iraq with U.S. Marines
By Kristin Bender, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 09/29/2007 02:43:07 AM PDT

BERKELEY — Berkeley blogger Jane Stillwater has been approved to embed with the U.S. Marines and will leave for the Iraq war zone on Oct. 6.

In March, the 65-year-old grandmother filed 17 reports on her blog jpstillwater.blogspot.com from a borrowed computer in the Combined Press Information Center in the U.S.-protected, fortified Green Zone.

This time, she will be embedded with the Regimental Combat Team at Camp Ripper and will spend time in Al Asad and Fallujah, according to an

e-mail Stillwater received Friday from the center's media embed coordinator Spc. Michael R. Sherman II.

"I'm just totally excited. ... I'm just really jazzed," said Stillwater, who is not a professionally trained journalist but is a colorful writer and a probing interviewer.

Stillwater said she is going to Iraq because she has dedicated her life to spreading a message of peace. She also said she hates injustice and corruption in anyform, especially injustice and corruption paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

As with her last trip, she said she secured press credentials with the help of a small Texas newspaper, The Lone Star Iconoclast. She also writes for the Web sites OpEdnews.com and the Black Commentator.

She said she plans to blog from Iraq again but will take a slightly different approach this time.

"Last time I was just bloggin' like crazy all the time, but this time I think I want to observe and absorb," she said. "I want to do quality blogs with lots of insight. I'm hoping I can go to more press conferences."

While in Iraq last spring, her entries dealt with everything from the variety of Meal, Ready-to-Eat to flying in a helicopter to Diwaniyah — skimming over rice fields, adobe brick compounds, sheep and cows — on her way to a news conference about a cleanup action conducted there.

Stillwater also wrote about some scary events.

On April 12, the day a suicide bomber blew up the Iraqi Parliament restaurant, Stillwater had been there interviewing two female Parliament members about their views on the situation in Iraq.

An hour later, a suicide bomber set off an incendiary device that killed two and injured about a dozen more.

The violence didn't keep her from wanting to return, but she wasn't sure she'd be allowed because of two sensitive questions she asked Sen. John McCain,

R-Ariz., and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell at a press conference.

Stillwater asked McCain "Since the invasion of Iraq was such a disaster, are you going to go ahead and invade Iran?"

He declined to comment.

To Caldwell, she asked, "The American people are against the war in Iraq. Does that mean you are going to pull out of Iraq?"

Caldwell responded that the military was staying in Iraq.

Stillwater, a mother of four adult children and a grandmother to one, has been working on her embed request since returning to Berkeley in April. She also spent a month in sub-Saharan Africa taking a volunteer AIDS education training course.

In her spare time, she wrote a book called "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," a 532-pager she published through a publishing house she launched. She said she was just getting ready to go on a book tour when she got the e-mail that she's been allowed to return to Iraq.

Contact Kristin Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com or 510-208-6453.

Ellie