I'm online for one reason tonight. I'll note three things. Two political at the beginning and end and the middle one is why I decided to blog. (I'll grab any excuse not to, if you haven't figured that out about me yet.)
You need to read, listen or watch Democracy Now!'s "Troops Home Fast: Nationwide Hunger Strikes Protest Iraq War" because it's too important to miss. Here's a section:
AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. First off, yesterday, as the newsmakers were coming out of the studios, particularly Senator Richard Lugar, people who are involved in the fast, who are part of CodePINK, confronted him. Why? And what happened?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, part of this fast is to put pressure on our elected officials, and sometimes we can reach them in their offices, and sometimes we can reach them in other places, like when they're appearing on the talk shows. And so, we were out Sunday morning, early, to try to talk to Richard Lugar -- we also talked to Christopher Dodd -- tell them why we're doing this fast, how determined we are to end this war, ask them to come out and stand with us in front of the White House one day to show their support, but more importantly, ask them what they're going to do to end the violence in Iraq.
And we are -- this morning, we have a team of fasters who are going through the halls of Congress and leaving letters to every single member of the House and of the Senate with several boxes in them, asking them: Do you support the fast and the call for the troops to come home? Will you join us one day in front of the White House? Will you fast for one day? Or do you not support these efforts? And we want it to be clear who in Congress and who in the Senate -- where they stand. So this is one of the major points of doing this fast.
AMY GOODMAN: And what has been the response of the White House, your standing outside of the White House?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, we never get any response directly from the White House, but we are out there every time they're doing a press conference. For example, they just had a press conference with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and we were out there talking about Canada's recent role of being much more supportive the of the Bush administration and refusing to give refugee status to the U.S. war resisters who have gone to Canada and managed to get on major Canadian television, in the major Canadian papers. We will be out there when the foreign minister from England is there this week. So when we're outside the White House, we do get a chance to at least interact with some of the visitors who are coming.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how the fast began, how the gathering took place on Independence Day weekend?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, first I should say that it was many of us talking about what more we could do. We really can't just sit around and watch the violence escalate and felt like there was -- we had to go to a deeper space in our confrontation with these policies. And so, we decided to start this hunger strike.
On July 3, we launched it walking from the Gandhi statue to the White House, and it was a very beautiful ceremony with hundreds of people. We laid out a beautiful pink tablecloth in front of the White House. We had Food Not Bombs there to cook dinner for 200. We called it our fast supper. And we had a very spiritual evening, with people joining us from different faith-based communities. And that evening at midnight, we launched the fast. On July 4, was our first day, Independence Day, we tried to march in the Independence Day parade here in Washington. Unfortunately, we were not allowed. And when two of our members, including a Vietnam veteran, tried to get into the parade, he was arrested, as was a 71-year-old member of CodePINK.
Reason I'm blogging. Call your mothers! Call your mothers and tell them you love them. Why do I say that? I just read Trina's "Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen" and read it, everyone. Her commentary after the recipe, when she says something to the effect of she's not making any sense, she's making perfect sense. Read it and you'll call your mother. (I just got off the phone with mine.) Read it. I'm not joking. When she writes about Mike and how she felt when she grasped he was an adult, it will make you think. Call your mothers!!!!
Back to political, I'll close with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Violence and chaos continue.
Bombings, shootings, corpses, kidnappings -- characteristics of daily life in Iraq -- continue while the miliary releases the name of the five US troops charged this weekend in the Mahmoudiya incident and Iraq attempts to overturn the immunity law that exempts suspects from being charged in and by Iraq (foreign troops and contractors).
The AFP notes that a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least ten and left at least fifty-one wounded. The Associated Press notes that this car bomb happened "near a repair shop on the edge of . . . Sadr City". Al Jazeera notes the second bombing which occurred "outside a restaurant near the central bank in central Baghdad" resulting in at least six dead and at least 28 wounded. A third bomb, roadside, resulted in the wounding of five police officers according to Reuters.
Also in Baghdad, CBS and AP note that a bus was "ambushed" with the seven people on it killed (six passengers and the driver) and the bus set on fire.
As Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, "violence came despite a security crackdown in the capital raising new questions about the effectiveness of the police and Iraqi army."
Outside of Baghdad, Al Jazeera notes a roadside bomb in Hillah killed one police officer and wounded four while, in Kirkuk, "a sucide truck bomb struck an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" leaving five dead and twelve wounded. Reuters reports a roadside bomb in Yusifya that took the life of one person and left two more wounded; and a car bomb in Baquba that left eleven wounded. CBS and the AP note a bomb in Mahmoudiya that left ten wounded and a car bomb in Ramadi that wounded four US troops.
The BBC notes that Adnan Iskandar al-Mahdawi ("member of the provincial council in Diyala province") is dead as a result of a drive-by. CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, a doctor was "forced . . . out of his car . . . and killed in front of his family."Reuters notes two attacks in Baghdad -- one which left three police officers dead and wounded another and a second where two "bodyguards of a judge" were killed and three were wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses were found in Suwayra, one in Kut ("shotgun wounds") and one near Dugail ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") while CBS and AP note the discovery of "two bullet-riddled" corpses in Baghdad and notes five corpses, not one, discovered in Kut.
Reuters notes that "an agriculture official" was kidnapped in Dujail.
The Associated Press reports that the latest five charged in the incident involving the alleged rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza as well as her murder, and that of three members of her family, are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard. Yribe is identified as the one who, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, is "charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime." The AP notes that "[t]he others face more serious charges as participants" as well as the fact that two of the five charged are sergeants (Cortez and Yribe). The five join Steven D. Green who was charged on June 30th.
The names of the five are released as Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that the US crafted laws for Iraq are facing a challenge according to Wigdan Michael (human rights minister in Iraq) who states "We're very serious about" requesting the "United Nations . . . end immunity from local law for U.S. troops". Michael tells Karouny: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."
In peace news, Amy Goodman and Medea Benjamin discussed the Troops Home Fast today. Benjamin stated: ". . . we think this fast is one way that they can do it. We've had people who have read about the fast in the paper, and they're in West Palm Beach, for example, and just jumped on a plane and came and joined us. We have a woman from Vancouver, in Washington state, who heard about the fast and decided that she had to do something more, came and joined us for this week. People who thought they were going to fast for one day have ended up fasting for the entire week and are going into their second week. This can really be a catalyst if people join. Every day we have hundreds more signing up on the troopshomefast.org website and saying they want to participate."
In other peace news, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has stated, of her son's refusal to deploy to Iraq for the illegal war, "He is sending that message to all the armed forces, the message that they need to examine carefully the war they are choosing to fight." Ehren's father, Bob Watada, is comparing the fight against the charges the military has brought against his son to a competition and tells Alyssa S. Navares (Honolulu Star Bulletin), "I have always been one of those dads at every game and practice . . . Although I whip him in a singles match, together we pravail on the court. And trust me, we're going to do it again when we fight these charges."
Finally, Reuters is reporting that 200 ex-police officers ("fired . . . for forgery and bribery") stormed the Muthanna governor's office "demanding they be reinstated in their jobs in the southern city of Samawa, the capital of Muthanna province."