Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Keith Harmon Snow was the guest on today's Guns and Butter (Ruth)

Ruth with you tonight (tonight my time) and I need to thank community member Dallas who usually helps with the links for my reports (along with C.I.) and is on the phone with me tonight talking me through links. As Betty noted here yesterday, Kat's left for Ireland due to a family illness. For those asking, there is no time line right now. It is a serious illness and, short of a miracle, there won't be a happy outcome.

When Kat and I spoke on Monday, she asked me to make that point clearly because she was afraid Betty, due to her positive and caring nature, would word it in such a way that people might fill her e-mails while she was gone with messages of hope. The family member is very old and at the end of life. (Which, I believe, was behind Kat's choice for the title of her last post.)

Death is a part of life, which does not make it any easier. But her point, as I understood it, was not wanting to face e-mails of hope on the topic when she returned. I can put myself in her shoes and think of my parents or my husband's death. Especially with my husband's death, I bumped into someone neither of us had been close to at the grocery store on my first official visit out of the house after he died. The woman asked me how I was doing and I answered briefly. Then she asked how my husband was? She had no idea. Someone else was left to explain because I turned and walked out of the store, to my car, drove back home and did not leave the house for another week.

I see that I have already gone beyond the three paragraphs that Kat asked to set as a limit. She does not want anyone spending "all their time" attempting to fill in while she is gone. But she knows I can be wordy so I will go ahead and note today's Guns and Butter which is hosted by Bonnie Faulkner and airs on KPFA. While more information can be found at the show's website, I believe that KPFA has the archived broadcast up sooner. If you missed it, the program already should be in the KPFA archives.

Today, Ms. Faulkner spoke with the journalist Keith Harmon Snow about the situation in Darfur. The community will enjoy this broadcast because it continues Ms. Faulkner's efforts to go beyond the obvious story. Mr. Harmon Snow is a journalist who has appeared prior on the program when they broadcast a forum discussion on the topic of Darfur. His perspective is a left perspective; however, it is not one that I have heard outside of Ms. Faulkner's show and that does bother me.

It makes me wonder if, a hundred years from now, books will be written about how people were fooled into calling for action in an area where the violence was fueled by the desires of big business to have "action" there for their own interests? As Ms. Faulkner remains the only host I am aware of to explore this topic from outside what Mike has called The Sammy Powers Movement and The Modern Day Carrie Nations, I do have to wonder why other programs continue to act as those there is only one "answer."

The answer itself bothers me. If you are new to the topic, the answer is supposed to be that we all beg the Bully Boy to "take action." The same Bully Boy who took "action" in Iraq and Afghanistan which, as even mainstream reporting notes, created nothing but tragic messes.

Mr. Harmon Snow rightly noted the factions fueling this "movement" from within the United States as well as the business interests that are involved. He made the point that the leaders of the "movement" were able to get an audience with the Bully Boy on the eve of their March protest. The point is that Bully Boy is eager for this "action." In Congress there are efforts to provide funds for the "action." Mr. Harmon Snow is one of the voices attempting to ask that people take the time to examine the issue. I do not feel the issue has been examined on most programs. All appear to operate from the assumption that two "lefties" must be right. At least one of them advocated for war with Iraq on "humanitarian grounds." People should be asking questions but the independent media seems unable or unwilling to do that. Instead, as Mr. Harmon Snow noted, we get an English professor making every increasing claims that are not proven.

The same independent media that wanted to burn Judith Miller at the stake now wants to advocte, for "humanitarian reasons," that military action in Sudan. Many months ago, The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Darfur" and "Head on Home (a musical in four scenes)" addressed this nonsense. I do feel it is nonsense. If all the claims being made by those advocating for action, which I seriously doubt, how the answer could come via the Bully Boy still should raise serious questions. More recently, The Third Estate Sunday Review offered "The Tears" which quoted from a colum by Jonathan Steele entitled, "Sorry George Clooney, but the last thing Darfur needs is western troops." Mr. Steele writes for The Guardian of London and, strangely enough, on other topics, he has frequently been a guest on independent media programs in this country. On this topic, Mr. Steele's opinions are apparently not to be sought.
Anyone eager to hear another argument on the conflict should listen to the latest weekly installment of Guns and Butter. I will be noting the program here each week while Kat is in Ireland and my plan is to do so on the day the program airs. If I am not able to do that, I will note it on Thursdays, the day after it airs.

Kat asked that anytime I fill in here, I note the snapshot. The only problem with that is my copy and paste talents. So bear with me as I attempt to figure that out. Like every member of the community, I appreciate the snapshots and appreciate that, within the community, they have maintained a focus on Iraq at a time when media ("big and small," to use C.I.'s phrase) has largely turned its back on Iraq. Here is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2006. Chaos and violence contine in Iraq with CBS calling it a "blood soaked morning in Iraq", a war resister turns himself in, Basra operations appear aptly dubbed as England lives out a fable, Bully Boy flashes the public but refuses to reveal all, Bill Clinton provides a cringe-worthy flashback in England, and the US military learns that just because they say so doesn't make it true.

Starting with the "blood soaked" day in Iraq where the violence and chaos continue.


Reuters reports that two roadside bombs in Baghdad took the life of one and left three wounded; while three police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Mussayab; four were killed by a roadside bomb in Baquba; and mortar rounds in Rashad killed two Iraqi soldiers and left three wounded. CBS and AP report that a police officer was killed in Baghdad by "a bomb hidden in his car". AFP reports that the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, William Caldwell IV, has stated that "this week's suicide attacks were at the highest leavel of any given week" apparently too busy checking the Eva Gabor wig catalogue to register the news reported earlier this month that so-called suicide bombers are not limited to people intentionally exploding bombs. (As reported earlier, those that have been classified as such also include unknowing persons who die when the bombs are exploded by remote control.)


Reuters reports that today's attack in Baghdad ("near a Sunni mosque" resulted in ten civilians being shot dead. CBS and AP report that two people were shot dead in Baghdad and an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Karma. CBS and AP also report that, on Tuesday, two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Baghdad. Also shot dead on Tuesday, Reuters reports, was "Nima al-Yaseen, the sister of Shi'ite MP Ligaa al-Yaseen."


CNN reports that 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and that, since Sunday, 77 corpses have been found in the capital. CBS and AP note that nine corpses "were pulled out of the Tigris river" showing the now common signs of torture and, in addition, they report "the bodies of 23 men were found dumped in the streets" of Baghdad today..
In one of the day's most controversial events, the US military continues to maintain one point of view and everyone else another.

As the
US military tells it: "Coalition forces killed four suspected terrorists and wounded two others during a raid the morning of Sept. 27 targeting a terrorist tied to extremist leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq in Iraq’s Diyalah and Salah ah Din provinces.
As Coalition forces approached the objective, they received sporadic small arms fire from throughout the neighborhood and sustained small arms fire from the objective building. Coalition forces, through their Iraqi interpreters, announced they were in the area, whereupon the shooting ceased from most locations except the target building. Coalition forces killed two terrorists during this engagement. Due to the heavy volume of enemy fire from the target building, they also engaged the building with Coalition aircraft." Apparently the statement was written by an old Sonny & Cher fan who wanted to update an early 70s song to "Mama was a Jidhast Terrorist And Papa Used to Follow All Her Plans."

On a less musical note,
Reuters reported: "A U.S. raid and air strike killed eight people, including seven members of one family, and wounded two others in the town of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military and police said. The U.S. said the four men in the family of seven were suspected militants with links to al Qaeda." And Aileen Alfandary, KPFA's The Morning Show, noted that among those killed in the airstrike was a pregnant woman. Though initially weighting their report heavy on the official US military version, the AP now reports that family members "disputed the U.S. account"; that they "cried and consoled on another as the bodies of the women were taken away"; that Manal Jassim ("who lost her parents and other relatives in the attack") states: "This is an ungly criminal act by the U.S. solderis against Iraqi citizens"; and that the Association of Muslim Scholars call the air strike a "terrorist massacre."

In news of more successful propaganda efforts,
AP reports that the spin-meisters of the American-based Lincoln Group have been awarded a US government contract worth approximately $6.2 million after their bang up job planting 'Happy Talk' in Iraqi outlets (which, despite the continued focus on print was not limited to print and included radio and TV). In addition to continuing to play the mouth of Mary Sunshine of the illegal war (William Caldwell IV apparently having his hands full playing the Giddiest Gabor of the Green Zone), the $6.2 million also covers their "monitoring" of US domestic news outlets inclduing the New York Times. (Apparently in order to crown the new Dexter Filkins -- Sabrina Tavernise appears to be in the lead as the new go-to-guy for the US military when suggesting/planting stories.)

In military news,
AP reports on British troops in Basra and notes that their efforts are part of "the security drive . . . dubbed 'Operation Sinbad'.'' Those with longer memories than the AP my find that amusing for a number of reasons. Literally speaking, Sinbad hails from the epic The Book of One Thousand and One Nights -- a variety of epic tales with one told each night by Scheherazade, to her husband, King Shahryar, to stall her planned execution and allow her to live for another day. Is England attempting to suggest that all the troops are doing is forestalling and, in the end, will have to plead for mercy? A question worth asking because, though the AP sidesteps this, England first began "Operation Sinbad" in Basra on April 6th -- April 6, 2003. A smashing success, to be sure, just like Amara.

Meanwhile, on
KPFA's The Morning Show today, Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari spoke with Carl Conetta about the "General's revolt" and the growing resistance among top military brass to the 'leadership' provided by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The issues of concern for the military were the readyness of equipment and US forces both of which, it was argued, are in need of upgrading. The discussion addressed the further lowering of the bar for recruits in an effort to meet targets. Also in news of generals, today's AP report that two generals suffered from food poisioning after dining in DC last week: Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Gen. John Abizaid -- the latter of which had to be hospitalized for three nights at Walter Reed Medical Center.

In peace news,
AP reports that war resister Agustin Aguayo turned himself at Fort Irwin last night. Aguayo self-checked out of the US military, from a Gernany base, on September 2nd after learning he would redeployed to Iraq (even if getting him there required hancuffing him). Adrienne Ziegler (Desert Dispatch) reports his self-checkout came as he was waiting for word on his appeal to be designated conscientious objector status and that his wife, Helga Aguayo, stated, "The greatest lesson he could teach (our daughters) is to stand up for what you believe in, and if you don't, you hurt the people around you. . . . If my husband can inspire one person to become a conscientious objector, then all this hassle was worth it." Like war resister Mark Wilkerson, there is no word on what, if any, charges Aguayo will face. War resister Ricky Clousing, who also self-checked out, has been informed he has been charged with desertion. (A technical charge that may not be levied against Aguayo who was gone for less than thirty days.) More information on Aguayo can be found at his official website.

his own web site, Mark Wilkerson recommends the film Jarhead and writes, "Speaking from my own experience in Iraq: Every day in Iraq was an inner struggle to keep from going crazy and just blasting away into the crowds that gathered around our trucks. I had to make a conscious effort to stay in focus and not use my MK-19 or SAW machine gun to level a whole city block."

Meanwhile, war resister Darrell Anderson intends to return from Canada to the United States on Saturday. If not arrested at the border, Anderson will then turn himself in at Fort Knox. The Purple Heart awarded Anderson was injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Baghdad and, facing a second deployment to Iraq, elected to self-check out in January 2005 and go to Canada. More information on war resisters can be found at
Courage to Resist and that includes information on Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.

Peace resister Bully Boy has his own problems as his efforts to clamp down on discussions of the effects that the (illegal) war in Iraq had on safety for the United States and the world proved unsuccessful. After releasing pre-selected pages (approximately three pages) of the approximately thirty page April NIE assessment,
AP reports that White House Fluffer Tony Snow Job dismissed cries to release the full report under the pretext that doing so would reveal the identities of intel agents and assests whom, apparently, embedded messages within the report such as, "Hi, I'm Jody. For a good time, call me at . . . " AP notes: "In the bleak National Intelligence Estimate, the government's top analysts concluded Iraq has become a 'cause celebre' for jihadists, who are growing in number and geographic reach. If the trend continues, the analysts found, the risks to the U.S. interests at home and abroad will grow." AP also reports the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined US Congress member Jane Harmon's request that the White House release another intel report that is apparently lying in wait to be sprung on the American public after the November elections.

While Bully Boy continues to insist that the US is "safer but not safe" and the "democracy" is taking root in Iraq, both
Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) and Amit R. Paley (The Washington Post) have noted the reality of polls demonstrating that Iraqis overwhelmingly want the US out of Iraq. Look for a third Post, the New York Post, to attempt spin control -- possibly by claiming that the representative pool naturally favored "jihadists."

The results are not surpising (nor new, they reflect ongoing polling since the war started) and
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports on how neighborhoods of Bahgdad are turned into guarded barricades and quotes one resident, Ibrahim Abdul Sattar, as declaring, "We have been living together for 30 years. We've never had such tensions like this before. We are fearing for our future."

Obviously the so-called 'safer but not safe' effect hasn't reached Baghdad (despite the three-month-old 'crackdown'). The polls of Iraqis follow CNN's most recent polling of Americans (see "
Poll: Terrorism, Iraq very important to midterm voters") which found that, as with their polling in August, 59% of Americans oppose the Iraq war and, if you rank all those describing the issue as important to them (includes anti-war and pro-war and the categories about to be lumped together are "extremely important," "very important" and "moderately important") 96% of those polled ranked the Iraq war as important. If only the media shared the same view.

Finally, Bill Clinton went to England to prop up Tony Blair and, no doubt rankled many, with his effusive praise of Tony Blair ("
a stunning success") which may have many recalling that it was Clinton, not Reagan or Poppy Bush, that worked to rehabilitate the justly tarnished image of Richard Nixon. Republican presidents couldn't have done that because Tricky Dick was, rightly, radioactive, so they had to steer clear. It takes a village . . . healer? Though far more popular than the Bully Boy (but then who isn't?) in England, Bill Clinton's remarks ("ringing praise" exclaims Australia's Daily Telegraph) attempting to prop up the increasingly unpopular Blair and to promote prime minister wanna-be Gordon Brown ("brilliant ecnomic leadership") may not carry weight with British voters and, especially the citing of Brown, may lead to the already shaky Labour support growing even shakier.