Saturday, August 05, 2006

Quick Saturday post

Starting with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, August 4, 2006 and one of the locations is only a surprise to those not paying attention to yesterday's (US) Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. There was a key section that was apparently missed by several. Mosul's one of today's hot spots so let's draw back to this exchange from yesterday's hearing:
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
transcript of this (Congressional Quarterly) can be found at the Washington Post. For audio of the above (most), check out Leigh Ann Caldwell's report which aired on Thursday's The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News.
Mosul? That's where the 172nd Stryker Brigade (scheduled to be back home before their year deployment got four additional months added to is) was pulled from, Abizaid testified.
Reuters is reporting: "Heavily armed insurgents battled U.S. and Iraqi troops in the restive northern city of Mosul on Friday where at least four policemen, including a top officer and four militants were reported killed."
That is the "strategy" (being generous) and it's the very point McCain was making yesterday. (McCain generally uses that type of observation to support adding more troops to the slaughter, I believe the troops themselves add to the conflict.) The exchange was not heavily stressed in most reporting but McCain was outlining what currently passes for "strategy" in Iraq -- a "strategy" that once again (always) blew up in the military geniuses' (and the administration's) faces.
BBC notes that the US announced last week the withdrawal of 5,000 troops "to re-deploy them in the capital, Baghdad". AP places the figure at 3,500. China's Xinhua notes that "Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Reuters reports that, in Mosul, "authorities have ordered everyone off the streets until Saturday and closed the city's bridges across the Tigris river."
AFP notes that, today, "Mosul woke to a dawn blitz of six bombs and a hail of mortars which killed at least nine police officers and triggered a six-hour gunbattle in which an unknown number of insurgents were killed." One bomb, Reuters notes, resulted in the deaths of "police Colonel Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards". The Times of London estimates that, in Mosul alone, 24 people died today from car bombs of various kind.
AFP reports a man was shot dead in Amara. The Associated Press reports that two police officers were shot dead in Falluja and describes one of the incidents: "armed men attacked several government buildings and police patrols in central Fallujah at about 8:30 s.m. (0430 GMT), leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded".
AFP notes that a couple enroute to a hospital in Baquba for the impending birth of their child were killed by a roadside bomb (cab driver and mother-to-be's sister were wounded) and that, in Baghdad, a civilian was killed by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol. Reuters reports that a bombing in Hadhar, during a football game, resulted in 10 dead and 12 wounded. A police officer described the attack ("suicide car bomber") to the AFP: "He drove into the police guarding the pitch, and blew up." KUNA notes of the attack on the football game: "the football field was for the use of Hadhar policemen and police department staff only."
CBS and AP notes one corpse was discovered (in the country). AFP notes the interior ministry declared twelve corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes that six corpses were found in Kut with "four of them decapitated".
In court news,
prosecutor/Captain Joseph Mackey delivered his closing argument in the Article 32 hearing of Corey Clagett, William Hunsaker, Raymond Girouard and Juston Graber, who stand accused in the May 9th deaths of three Iraqis. Mackey argued that the three Iraqis were not killed while trying to escape but had, instead, been released by the four US troops and then killed by them, "For this they are not war heroes, they are war criminals. And justice states that they face trial." As Reuters notes, all four accused elected not to provide testimony to hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury).
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Eleanor Hall and Conor Duffy discussed the latest development's on The World Today (Australia's ABC) noting that "military standing orders" were not followed with the transportation of Jake Kovco's body (contractors with Kenyon International were used instead) and that, while the Australian government alleges this was for speed, Jake Kovco's roommates say it was due "to cost and they told the inquiry that they thought that if it had been a foreign dignitary or even a more senior officer, that military aircraft and US military morgue would have been used throughout the whole procedure."
For anyone arriving late to this story and wondering why Kovco's destination back to Australia matters, Kovco's body was somehow switched and the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic was sent to Australia while Kovco's body remained at the motuary.
AAP notes that Alastar Adams ("first secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kuwait") testified that "he had not checked the photo against the corpse of a Bosnian carpenter . . . he had taken a quick look . . . told the mortuary staff they could close the coffin and stamp it with the embassy's official seal."
AAP also notes the following which appears to back up Kovco's roommates' judgement: ". . . air force warrant officer Chris Hunter told the inquiry he believed the body mix-up could have been prevented if the civilian morgue had not been used. He said Pte Kovco's body was transferred from a professional and clean mortuary facility in Baghdad run by US troops to a rund-down morgue remsembling 'a third world country hospital'. WO Hunter stopped eight of PTE Kovco's soldier mates, who had accompanied the boday as a bearer party, from entering the morgue, fearing they might start a riot upon noticing its condition."
In court news in the United States, the
Justice Department is announcing that Faheem Mousa Salam "has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering to bribe an Iraqi police official" at the start of this year by offering "approximately $60,000 in exchange for . . . [help] facilitating the sale of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million." Though the Justice Department fails to note it, he was then employed by Titan Corporation.
In peace news, Phil Runkel is in "a federal courtroom in Alexandria" today facing "a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for his war protest last March"
reports Dennis Shook for Runkel and other peace activists (51 in total) were arrested March 20th in front of the Pentagon. Brian Huber (GM Today) notes that the activists were wanting to meet with Donald Rumsfeld and that some climbed or went "under a temporary fence that Runkel said was erected to stop them, resulting in their arrests."
Activists on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan --including Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden and Diane Wilson -- have arrived in Amman. Cindy Sheehan (Truth Out) reports: "The most horrifying testimony of the day was when we met with "Dr. Nada," an Iraqi doctor who stayed in Baghdad to help her people during the sanctions and the invasion. She didn't abandon her country, or sell it out like many privileged people who exited during the Baathist regime (like Iyad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi) or the sanctions ... which she, as a supervisory physician at a major Baghdad hospital, said killed two million children. The children died of pollution and sicknesses from depleted uranium during the first gulf mistake of George the First. The babies died because of the war, but also because there is no medicine and very limited medical facilities to treat them. Dr. Nada brought the daughter of a friend, three-year-old Farrah, who had short brown hair and big brown eyes. There were so many young children playing in Queen airport yesterday when I got here and dozens running around the hotel. My heart almost bursts with sorrow when I think of all of the children in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan who have had such horrible lives and had many of their lives cut short by the evil war machine that seems to be running our world."
Troops Home Fast continues ("We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war")
with at least
4,350 people participating from around the world on the 32nd day since the action began. Some are fasting long-term, some are grabbing a one-day, one-time fast, some are grabbing a one-day fast each week. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports that Ehren Watada will likely face an Article 32 hearing August 17th because Eric Seitz's pretrial offer of a "reprimand, fine and reduction of rank" has not yet been accepted. As noted before, this offer was twice refused. Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."

Now pick up your paper and see how much of that is noted? I'm not seeing any. I'm seeing a lot of coverage on a lot of other things (apparently the Mexico City protests are being catered -- got to love those spontaneous protests!). Iraq falls off the radar. Again. Elaine has a wonderful post entitled "Bully Boy on the run but the press is too busy playing Red Cross" that is a must read.

Jess says C.I. has a powerful thing ready to go up "As soon as you post!" I didn't know I was holding anyone up, my apologies. Martha hasn't gotten the e-mail on RadioNation with Laura Flanders -- she always forwards that but it hasn't been sent out yet. I was hoping to note who was on this weekend and if Laura was back. Also to plan whether or not I'd be listening. (I'm sure a substitute host is wonderful but I've got a busy day today and if Laura's not on, I'll probably try to wrap up a few things on my "Must Do" list.)

Since I'd planned to blog on that and can't, let me toss out a few questions you can ask yourself this weekend?

*Is war still waging in Iraq? If so, where's the coverage?
*Do any reporters in the mainstream intend to mention the peace meeting in Jordan?
*What "hot" topic will be the next excuse for the lack of coverage of Iraq?
*When even our independent media loses interest, should they really be giving speeches about the mainstream media's failure?
*What's it going to take to end the war?
*What have you done already? What more are you willing to do?

That's it for me. Check out Betty's "Not much tonight from me" from last night. She's done a wonderful job filling in for Rebecca during the vacation that turned into a honeymoon. I think she's written some amazing posts and, remember, at her own site, she has to stay in character and write from Betinna's perspective. She can (and has) really let loose during her substitution gig. Speaking of Betinna, if you haven't already read it, please read "Thomas Friedman focuses on foundation." Very funny. And check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! STILL BULLY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!" about the US plans for Cuba.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Bully on the Run"

Got a song lyric tonight. First, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue on the ground in Iraq today, Thursday, August 3rd, Donald Rumsfeld speaks like an excited child, Bully Boy plots a getaway from a vacation getaway, and peace activists and members of Iraq's parliament prepare for their face to face meeting to address reality.
the peace activists that will be taking part in the Friday and Saturday meetings in Jordan are Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and Diane Wilson. Katy Hillenmeyer (Santa Rosa Press Democrat) takes a look at another activist making the journey, 72-year-old, retired nurse Barbara Briggs-Leston. Barbara Briggs-Leston explains the peace summit: "We're trying to call attention to the Iraqi's own plan, as opposed to the United States' plan. Let's let the Iraqis decide what happens to them. We've been deciding, and we've done an appalling job."
CODEPINK and Global Exchange are co-sponsoring the trip which stems from the attention the Troops Home Fast actions garnered "after 28 days of fasting." The fast is continuing: "We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war" and today at least 4,350 people are fasting around the world.
As some advocate for peace, others say more of the same. Such as
Donald Rumsfeld's latest remarks (reported by Kristin Roberts and Vicki Allen, Reuters):
"If we left Iraq prematurely as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave
Afghanistan. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us and all those who don't share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines. And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do." And . . . and . . . and . . . What might be cute in a five-year-old child just makes Rumsfeld appear he needs to call time for a pee break.
He certainly needs to learn how to make a non-circular argument but, at this late date, even the War Hawks find it difficult to call their weak excuses for US troops remaining in Iraq "logic."
His circular statements, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, come a day after he struggled to define what the meaning of "is" is in a Defense Department press conference. After noting that "Sunnis are killing Shia; Shia are killing Sunnis,"
Rumsfeld went on to muse, "Does that constitute a civil war? I guess you can decide for your yourself. And we can all go to the dictionary and decide what you want to call something. But it seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage. It certainly isn't like our Civil War. It isn't like the civil war in a number of other countries. Is it a high level of sectarian violence? Yes, it is. And are people being killed? Yes."
It was all so far from reality, he came off like
Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president) claiming yesterday that by the end of this year (that would be four months from now), Iraq security forces will be in control of all 18 provinces. Rumsfeld's performance yesterday was refuted by the BBC report of William Patey (England's "outgoing ambassador in Baghdad) warning Tony Blair (poodle and prime minister) that civil war, not democracy, awaits Iraq. The BBC's Paul Wood characterized the document as "a devastating official assessment of the prospect for a peaceful Iraq, and stands in stark contrast to public rhetoric."
In the United States, John Abizaid (head of Centcom) testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee. Abizaid offered that "
the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it. And that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war" (CNN). Reuters notes that Abizaid stated that a year ago this time, he never would have predicted the possibility of a civil war.
Looking at the Patey memo,
Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of London) concludes "whatever happens, the vision set out for Iraq by George Bush before the invasion in 2003 of a beacon of democracy for the Middle East is not going to happen."
And in Iraq? The
BBC's Paul Wood probably best sums up life in Iraq post-invasion:
"An Iraqi man, Ahmed Muktar, told me a typical story of these times. His family fled sectarian violence in the suburb of Dora. But his brother-in-law returned to check on his house. He was kidnapped. The police, the hospitals, the morgues - none had any official record of the missing man. So his family went to the dumping ground for bodies on the edge of Dora. There they found him, amid a pile of 50 corpses, hands tied behind his back, shot in the head. They had to recover him while under constant automatic fire, the police and troops nearby too scared to help."
Reuters reports that a new US target is apparently the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr:"U.S. troops opened fir on a convoy carrying supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr . . . wounding at least 16 people." CNN notes a Wednesday home invasion that led to four dead in Wajihiya. Reuters notes that it was the home of a police officer (apparently not home) and the dead were three women and one man (not the police officer).
The worst known took place in Baghad.
AP reports that "at least 12 people" are dead and 29 wounded from a bomb "hidden in a parked motorcycle." The BBC notes that the explosion "set ablaze" surrounding shops.
Reuters reports two police officers wounded from a roadside bomb in Latifiya; three Iraqi soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb in Balad;
Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Samarra, one in Kut, one in Numaniya, and three in Dujail.
In Latifiya, two passengers of a car were injured and the car and driver "snatched" by assailants in an attack,
Reuters reports, while, in Isahqi, a "food contractor for the Iraqi army" was kidnapped.
In legal news,
AFP reports that the "[f]our US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners refused to give evidence as a military hearing heard that one of the captives' brains were blown out as he lay injured." This is the May 9th incident in which US soldiers allegedly killed three Iraqis who had been detained and handcuffed. The AFP observes: "The troops followed the lead of several of their superior officers Thursday, invoking their right not to incriminate themselves before a legal panel set up at their unit's base camp in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit." The four accused who are refusing to testify are: William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber.
In Australia, the
most recent news from the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco is that Alastar Adams will give testimony from Kuwait, "via a video link," as to how the coffin shipped back to Australia supposedly containing the body of Jake Kovco instead contained the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic.
Some would argue Bully Boy ran from the National Guard -- some might agree he's running from Cindy Sheehan. The
AP reports that Bully Boy, the vacationing leader, will have far less than his usual weeks and weeks of summer vacation, and has instead reduced it to "nine days" based at his ranchette in Crawford. Bully Boy plans to return to DC August 13th. Camp Casey, on land Sheehan now owns in Crawford, will open on August 6th this month. Camp Casey will be open from August 6th through Septemeber 2nd. On the importance of Camp Casey, Sheehan writes: "Camp Casey in Crawford is more important than ever, now. Not only has this administration, with the eager approval of Congress, committed genocide on a massive scale, they are taking away our civil rights and our right to be heard and counted. We cannot allow these same leaders who accuse the peace movement of a political agenda to use our soldiers and the babies of Iraq as political game pieces in the folly of elections when there is so much overwhelming evidence that our elections have been compromised, and while election after election is stolen, no one does anything about it. It is up to us all, nobody else."

Get it? Bully Boy's on the run. Can't hide out in Crawford this August, Cindy Sheehan's ruint it for him. Oh how sad, the Bully Boy can't go to Crawford and bask in the death and destruction he's caused. We'll soon be at 2,600 Americans killed and how many Iraqis? Normally, Bully Boy would be spending his August on his ranch, kicking back and basking in the blood letting that is Iraq. Things changed for him last summer and now home's just not home, not with all those protests and activists.

In honor of the new reality for Bully Boy, Jess, C.I. and I came up with our own song today. We sing it to the melody of Paul McCartney & Wings' "Band on the Run" and call it "Bully on the Run:"

Safe inside these four walls
Safe inside my bubble
Don't want to see no one nice again
Like you, Cindy, you, Cindy, you.

If I ever get to Crawford
Gonna' sleep it all away
Like a bad hangover

Won't you protect me, Secret Service, if I get to Crawford?
(If I ever get to Crawford).

Well, the movement exploded like a thunder clap

In the summer of 2005
From the first Camp Casey to the second one
She was ruing all my fun.

Bully on the run, bully on the run
And the Secret Service and FBI
They're searching ev'ryone
I'm the bully on the run, bully on the run
Bully on the run, bully on the run.

Well Condi clutched her head and sighed
At what the Mid East had become
And Dick Cheney took to the chat & chews
Snarling "cut & run!" ("cut & run!")

Bully on the run, bully on the run
And the Secret Service and FBI
They're searching ev'ryone
I'm the bully on the run, bully on the run
Bully on the run, bully on the run.

Once I could clear the brush and tell a joke or two
It was a quiet town.
Then the camp set up and they were ev'rywhere
Now no peace can be found.

Bully on the run, bully on the run
And to tell the truth, I hold a grudge
And what's more, I'm pissed and sore
I'm a bully on the run, bully on the run
Bully on the run, bully on the run.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Grab bag post

Today's LA Times, "Gibson Arrest Probe Centers on Why Information Was Withheld" by Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Megan Garvey:

The head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department civilian oversight office said Tuesday that he has concerns about what motivated sheriff's officials to try to conceal Mel Gibson's anti-Jewish statements and belligerent behavior from the public and is troubled by the department's initial description of the arrest as uneventful.
[. . .]
Still at issue is whether Gibson -- who issued a second apology Tuesday explicitly acknowledging that he had made anti-Semitic remarks and asking to meet with Jewish leaders -- was given special treatment by sheriff's officials because of his celebrity status.Sheriff's Department officials confirmed to The Times on Tuesday that a uniformed deputy drove Gibson from the Malibu-Lost Hills station to a tow yard to retrieve his Lexus LS sedan after he was released on bail Friday morning. Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said the 10-mile ride in a marked patrol car was not unusual.

Later in the story, on Mel Gibson's "apology":

"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge," the statement said.

No, I'm not leaving it alone. Mike and I were talking about this on the phone. You may have to be Catholic (and someone who knows the faith) to have really been offended by that hideous passion play that was so "wonderful." It was anti-Semitic and it was that by the Church's teachings. It sure was interesting to see people split hairs over that, as though there was room in the Church for "passion plays." Mike mentioned something he saw in his paper and he e-mailed it to me so here's the opening of an editorial from the Boston Globe, "Gibson's ugly passion:"

DESPITE concerns about anti-Jewish images in Mel Gibson's 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ," even pointed critics from the Anti-Defamation League refrained from labeling Gibson himself as an anti-Semite. After all, how could they know what was in Gibson's heart? Gibson answered that question last week with a vile anti-Semitic tirade unleashed during his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving in Malibu, Calif .

It does matter. This like when he attempted to mitigate his gay slurs by doing a little "Visit my set" p.r. for GLAAD. Now maybe that was good for GLAAD but I felt they swallowed his glad handing and gave up their voice. I fear that's what will happen with this issue as well.

Let's move to C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq but after the 'jokes' of "at least 44" made it into print today, other 'cut-ups' apparently want to have their fun too.
First up, Iraq's president who will surely be the lead in all the stories today though, come December 31st and January 1st, don't look for news outlets to lead with his happy talk not panning out.
CNN reports that Jala Talabani has predicted Iraqi forces will control all eighteen provinces by the end of 2006. For those with any short-term memory left in them, it wouldn't be surprising if this thought was the focus: "The U.S. military is moving at least 3,700 soldiers from Mosul to Baghdad and is gearing up for a new security operation to wrest control of the capital from Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, kidnap gangs, rogue police and freelance gunmen" (Robert H. Reid, AP). Those with short-term and long-term memory may flash back on other things, such as Jun 8, 1969 when a beaming Tricky Dicky Nixon and South Vietnam puppet Nguyen Van Thieu boasted and . . . the war didn't end. (For more on that sort of deception, see Ruth's "Ruth's Report" from Sunday.) Fall elections are coming up and, just as surely as the leaves will brown and fall, false promises will bloom at heightened levels. The BBC quotes Talabani self-describing "We are highly optimistic." And apparently just high, period.
Good drugs, apparently are back in vogue and not confined to the Green Zone (well they went in and out of Vietnam back then as well). Which might explain
AFP's DC based report on the supposed degradation of the US military. Whenever they scream "More money!" they offer up this same scenario. While that's what the War Mongers & War Hawks do, there's no reason AFP needs to josh readers: "Members of the group comprise a Who's Who of moderate-to-liberal political thought in the United States, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Samuel "Sandy" Berger, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman John Shalikashvili, and retired four-star general and fomer presidential contender Wesley Clark."
"Moderate-to-liberal political thought"? Howl with laughter.
Then return to reality.
If you're thinking things can't any worse (you're wrong) read
Omar alIbadi and Michael Georgy's (Reuters) report on the Shi'ite non-pilgrimage describing events that sound like scare tactis hollered by some from the halls of the US Congress in the fifites ("Red" hunt). Thing is, the US administration is supporting these type of "demonstrations" that are taking place. al-Ibadi and Georgy report: "Young men in civilian uniforms and headbands, all members of what is known as the popular committees, chanted as a speaker called on them to crush "terrorists" and loyalists of ousted President Saddam Hussein leading a Sunni Arab insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government."
This as
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Shi'ite Muslim leaders are speaking of the country falling "into full revolt." Youssef quotes Sheik Bashir al Najafi stating: "The government formed after the fall of the regime hasn't been able to do anything, just make many promises. And people are fed up with promises. One day we will not be able to stop a popular revolution."
In court news,
Robert F. Burns (AP) reports that the inquiry into the November 19, 2005 deaths of 24 Iraqis "suppots accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday." This as Frank Wuterich ("staff sgt.") files a libel suit against US Representative John Murtha for libel claiming that his reputation has suffered from "false and malicious lies" about those involved in the 24 killings.
In other courtroom news,
Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Bradley Mason testified in court today that he was threatened by four fellow soldiers (William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber) if he spoke of the May 9th events around the shooting deaths of three Iraqi civilians. Mason also testified that "Col. Michael Steele" (of Black Hawk Down 'fame') instructed them to: "Kill all of them." Finally, Mason testified that when the news of shooting the detained and bound three Iraqis was learned that the others "just smiled" but he informed Girouard that he wasn't "down with it. It's murder." The AFP reports that the notorius Steele "has signed a document declaring his intention to refuse to testify in the case to avoid incriminating himself".
In Baghdad, on a soccer field,
AP reports nine "young people" (ages 15-25) died from "hidden bombs" and three ("younger than 15") died from a mortar shell that landed on the soccer field. Reuters reports that an Iraqi soldier died near Diwaniya and three were wounded from a roadside bomb; two and a civilian died from a roadside bomb in Hawija (four civilians left wounded); a police officer died from a roadside bomb in Mosul; and three roadside bombs claimed three lives and left nine wounded in Baghad. On the soccer bombing, the BBC reports that "the bombs had been buried in the middle of the football pitch" and notes that it "came hours after Iraq's president said Iraqi forces would take over the security of the entire country from US-led forces by the end of 2006."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, "gunmen in a car opened fire on a checkpoint outside the Ministry of Oil building . . . injuring three guards". Reuters notes these shooting deaths: in Baquba, the chief of traffic police (Ahmed Adbel Hussein) and his bodyguard; and in Diwaniya "an employee of a human rights group outside his home".
CNN notes that "two traffic police were killed and two other officers wounded in Khalis".
Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Qamishli ("blindfolded . . . hands bound"); eleven corpses were fished out of the Tigris ("Near Suwayra . . . . shot . . . signs of torture"); and, in Kirkuk, a handcuffed corpse was discovered ("signs of torture . . . gunshot wounds in the head").
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad goes on and it's like no inquiry most would be familiar with. The press runs with a tale of Kovco as someone who played with his gun based on . . . Eye witness testimony?
No. There's been none. Soldier 17 stated he'd heard of it Kovco playing with his weapon. The entire inquiry is based, not on facts, but on second-hand testimony.
Dan Box was among the first to tie in today's hearsay with the earlier hearsay writing: "The inquiry had previously heard that Kovco was reprimanded twice by senior officres in the month before his death for mishandling his pistol." They heard that but the witness could only affirm one incident -- the second one was hearsay.
Now with Soldier 17's hearsay testimony today, it needs to be noted that Soldier 17
made comments on May 10th about this and on that day and while testifying in the inquiry, Soldier 17 refuses to provide names of the "others" who saw what he did not but is claiming happened: that Kovco played like a "cowboy" with guns. Frank Holles (Judy & Martin Kovco's attorney) stated: "I put it to you when it suits you, you will not provide invormation." Which pretty much sums up the testimony being trumpeted as "Cowboy Kovco" in the news.
Conor Duffy reporting on The World Today (Australia's ABC) and I'm adding bold print: CONOR DUFFY: That's right, Eleanor [Halll]. We've just seen a statement that he gave to NSW Police just after the shooting, and in it he said that other members of his unit in Baghdad had detailed instances of Private Kovco messing around with weapons. He said he never saw this, but he was told that other people had seen Private Jake Kovco imitating old school weapons. He said, 'Like quick draw and you spin it around and all that sort of s[**t].' And he mentioned specific instances of him spinning the pistol around on his finger. He said that he didn't see that, but he said he'd seen other soldiers in the unit in Baghdad messing around with pistols, and on one occasion he said he was upset when another soldier had pointed a pistol at him and he wasn't sure if it was loaded."
Now let's note Soldier 17's "defense" as to not providing names of these alleged witnesses or fellow gun players: "
They said if I didn't wish to give I didn't have to." Well, as long as "they said" it, then no problem, I guess. But when you think about the description he's giving (of "Australian soldiers in Baghdad" playing "games with their pistols, including 'quick draw' and twirling them like gun-slinging cowboys" as Peter Charlton sums it up), the fact that both he and the other roommate claim not to have seen Kovco holding a gun though they were in the room with him, you're left with questions and hearsay 'testimony' doesn't answer any.
In peace news,
Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Gael Murphy, Diane Wilson, Tom Hayden and Geoffrey Millard will soon be en route to Amman, Jordan today where they will meet with memebers of the Iraqi parliament. In NYC tonight at 9:00 pm (JFK Airport), Cindy Sheehan and Tom Hayden will hold a press conference. KWTX carries a report that states the meeting will take place "Friday and Saturday" and that those fasters on that trip will then end their fast.
The Troops Home Fast action continues. Today
at least 4,350 people are participating. The fast is to be ongoing until September 21st.
In other peace news,
Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace will hold a press conference Thursday (Aug. 3rd) across from the Russell Senate Office Building in DC at 11:00 a.m. to note the end of the first phase Operation House Call and begin phase two. Those scheduled to speak incldue Jennifer Davis (whose husband is with the 172nd Stryker Bridgade that was due to come home this month but have now had their stay in Iraq extended by at least four months), Gilda Carbonaro (mother of Alessandro Carbonaro who died May 10, 2006 from wounds received in Iraq, and Larry Syverson (who has three sons in the military including one treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which didn't prevent the military from sending him to his current post on the Kuwait/Iraq border).

Bradley Mason's testimony should be on the front page of every newspaper tomorrow. Will it be? The operating procedure was to "kill them all"? Seems like news but the "news" doesn't seem too concerned with the news these days. I loved C.I. tying it into that May 1969 nonsense. (If you're lost: war winding down, we're withdrawing X thousands -- and Nixon not only went to war with Cambodia, he upped the carpet bombing of Vietnam. The war didn't end in 1969.)

Did you see this? Dan Eggan's "Pentagon's Version of 9/11 Far from Truth, Panel Found:"

Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 9/11 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public, according to sources involved in the debate.
Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, said several commission sources.
Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, the sources said.

I'm not really done but I'm stopping. The screen just "popped." I'm wondering if it's about to go out? Rolling blackouts again? I don't know but I don't want to lose this. Read Betty's "Thomas Friedman focuses on foundation" -- very funny.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel Gibson, Maria McKee, Iraq

From today's LA Times (this is from Mel Gibson's arrest report):

...Gibson was cooperative with the field investigation. His conduct began to change when I advised him he was being detained/arrested for drunk driving. Gibson became increasingly belligerent as he took stock of his predicament. Gibson angrily stated "Everything's (profanity redacted)," "My life is (profanity redacted)." Gibson became fixated on his notoriety and concern that this incident was going to be publicized.
In order to calm Gibson's concerns, I directed Gibson to the back seat of the patrol car, telling him, if he remained cooperative I would transport him without handcuffing. Gibson quickly turned and bolted toward his own vehicle, as he said, "I'm not going to get into your car." Gibson attempted to escape arrest.
I chased after Gibson, catching up as he reached the driver's side of his vehicle. I (unreadable) onto Gibson's (unreadable) from his back side with my hands and turned him a quarter turn so he was facing his vehicle's left side. Gibson offered no resistance. I placed Gibson's hands behind his back and handcuffed him without...
Page 6
Gibson's belligerent attitude (unreadable). Gibson (unreadable) out profanities (unreadable), calling me, "You mother (profanity redacted)." Gibson repeatedly threatened me, saying, "I'm going to (profanity redacted) you. You're going to regret you ever did this to me."
While en route to Lost Hills Sheriff's (unreadable), Gibson's conduct remained (unreadable). Gibson almost continually threatened me, saying he "owns Malibu" and will spend all his money to "get even" with me. Gibson blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks about "(profanity redacted) Jews." Gibson yelled out, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in! the world." Gibson then asked, "Are you a Jew?"

The f-word is what has been redacted. No, I don't get tired of noting that. I'm not fond of Holocaust deniers. The media bent over backwards to avoid seriously addressing Gibson's views. Frank Rich was an exception. And Frank Rich (New York Times) got trashed for it. The online, latter day Dylan (community members know who C.I. means) appeared to rave over the crap film mainly because Gibson was attacking Frank Rich. So online, latter day rushed in to reveal more ignorance and swore up and down it wasn't anti-Semetic. It was. The Catholic Church ruled passion plays were. Online, latter day, once again, didn't know what he was talking about.

It's easy to say, "Oh, he was drunk." He didn't use "Jew" was a smear once. He did it repeatedly. With his past history, it's not just a case of he was drunk. The 'tolerant' Gibson, some may remember, was "Nancy" it up and having quite a few laughs at gays and lesbians in the 80s and 90s. Some at GLAAD gave him cover in 90s, they shouldn't have. I'll assume that even with the hair loss today, if he wants to lay on the charm, some will be taken in. Today, he says he's "sorry" again but still doesn't apologize for using "Jew" as a smear. He's now willing to meet with 'leaders' -- but he still won't say he's sorry.

He's attacked feminists, gays and lesbians, Jews and pretty much everyone. It's not surprise that the religious right would embrace him. I think it's important to note the reality of what they embraced. I think they should feel uncomfortable right now. As should those who gave his passion play cover.

I'm not trying to prevent Disney from releasing his movie. I'm not like the forthy right-wingers who prevented them from releasing Michael Moore's film. I say release it. Release the piece of crap with the current controversy and let's all see his career head completely into the toilet. (It was already there, in case anyone missed it. Lethal Weapon is a thing of the past -- probably the Asian stereotypes will keep it that way. He's not a good leading man in a romantic comedy -- he looks like 8 miles of bad road and has for about the last ten years.)

Disney's just distributing it. As I understand it, he has his own money in this one again. Well, release it and let that money go down the drain. Release it so we can see what hypocrites the people of Disney are. Michael Moore makes a political statement and they can't be near it due to the "controversy" (while their ABC radio stations broadcast political speech all the time -- right wing talk shows). So release it and reveal to a new generation what people my age grasped (though some ending up stocking their homes with children's videos later on), Disney's got nothing to offer other than tired stereotypes.

Elaine, Betty (at Rebecca's site for Betty, she's filling in) and I are noting a song tonight. Just something that stood out to us in the day or when we're writing. I'm going with Maria McKee's "Nobody's Child:"

I'm depending on you
To teach me all the things I forgot I ever knew
Baby you can lean on me
I may lean a little too
Whatever gets us through
And I feel a mountain movin' deep within
At the end of the revival we begin
Take this veil
And I'll dry your eyes
In a world like ours
I'm nobody's child

The music to that song is by Maria McKee and she wrote the lyrics with Robbie Robertson (of the Band fame). You really have to hear her voice rise and fall to grasp how beautiful the song is. It's off Maria McKee and I believe that even new, it's an inexpensive CD. You really have to hear the voice. For more on McKee's music (besides buying some!) you can read a review I wrote of a live CD she did.

Now C.I.'s latest "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continues today, Tuesday, August 1, 2006. The bombings continue, the shootings continue, the death continues with the estimated number of the dead jumping in the last hour and half from at least 39 to at least 63. (Possibly Damien Cave will write in tomorrow's New York Times "at least 12"?) Reuters notes that among the dead are "at least 26 soldiers" (Iraqis as well as one British soldier stationed in Basra).
A series of bombings throughout Iraq account for the largest reported fatalities.
CNN places the first as a roadside bomb that targeted "a bust carrying members of the Iraqi military". AFP notes this as "the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul". Al Jazeera places the death toll at 24 minimum. Reuters notes "[t]he charred remains" that "were scattered across the bus" and "[t]wo skulls . . . in the vehicle along an empty highway." AFP reports that in addition to those killed (they say "at least 23"), 20 more were wounded. Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note an Interior Ministry source who placed the number wounded at 40 (killed at 23).
BBC notes "at least 14 people died" in Baghdad when a car bomb ("suicide") went off "outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay." Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show noted the timing and planning involved in that attack. Jane Peel (BBC) noted the "black fumes" wafting from the bombing to the sky and that, "The security forces seem unable to stop the attacks." [*Use "BBC notes" link if this one won't work. On the "BBC notes" link, the link to Peel's report is in the right hand corner.] Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) report: "The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were withdrawing their monthly salaries." Reuters notes a child of 12-years-old "sobbing and tearing his shirt after seeing his dead mother" and kisosk owner Abu Fadhil saying: "We should carry guns to protect ourselves. If we expect Iraqi security forces to protect us we will burn, just like those innocenct people."
Reuters notes that at least seven died and fifteen were left wounded from a car bombing in Muqdadiya. Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) note that the car in question was "a Kia sedan" and that the bombing took place outside a hospital.
David Fickling, Ben Hammersley "and agencies" (Guardian of London) report the death of a British soldier today in Basra forma "mortar attack". CBS and AP note: "The infantry soldier died after being airlifted from a base in Basra to a field hospital outside the city, said the spokeswoman on customary condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy."
In addition to the above,
Reuters also notes a "roadside bomb . . . in northeastern Baghdad" that killed one civilian and left one wounded; a car bomb aimed at "an Iraqi army patrol" that left "two civilians" wounded; and that the US military announced today that a "U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Monday".
RTE News reports the an attack on a minibus carrying electricity board employees which left four dead and four wounded "when their minibus was sprayed with gunfire in central Baghdad." AP raises the numbers to "five killed and injured the other six". Reuters notes two separate shooting deaths in Mosul; in Kirkuk, "A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly . . gunned down"; and, "outskirts of Baghdad," an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint left four Iraqi soldiers wounded as well as one civilian. AFP gives Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi as the name of the ACA member gunned down and notes that he "was shot dead outside his home."
CBS and AP note that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. Reuters also notes that "[t]he body of Adel al-Mansouri, a correspondent for al-Alam television station, was found dumped with bullet holes on a street". By Reuters count, al-Mansouri is the eleventh journalist reported killed in Iraq this year. On April 14th of this year, Dahr Jamail's web site featured the Mosaic Video Stream featuring a report al-Mansouri had done for Abu Dhabi TV. Adel al-Mansouri opened with this statement: "Iraqis hope that their political leaders will be able to overcome their differences and quickly form the new government in order to deal with the problems that plague the country." Not only did that not happen quickly the rumors now float about a shake up in Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet (with the Interior Minister being mentioned most often as at least one person who will be replaced). Since that report, Baghdad has been under the so-called "crackdown" for over six weeks and now an estimated 4,000 US troops are being repositioned in the capitol.
Associated Press is reporting that Asaad Abu Kilal (governor of Najaf) has announced that six buses were "waylaid" and that "45 people from Najaf" have been kidnapped. The AP quotes an Interior Ministry flack who says the number is correct but the kidnappings have taken place "over the last two weeks" and it's "[l]ike two or three people snatched a day." Apparently that's when you panic if you serve in the Interior Ministry -- not when 45 people are kidnapped over a two week period, when they are kidnapped all at once. It doesn't change the number but apparently spreading it out over several days lessens the impact. Vijay Joshi (AP) notes: "U.S. officials estimate an average of 30-40 people are kidnapped each day in Iraq, although the real figure may be higher because few families contact the police."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
AAP reports that Kovco's former roommates (billes as "Soldier 17" and "Soldier 19") provided DNA on Saturday. The gun believed to have been utilized had Jake Kovco's DNA on it as well as unidentified DNA. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the DNA has been tested and the roommates' DNA doesn't match what is on the gun so Wayne Hayes ("Detective Inspector) is heading Iraq "to ask other soldiers in hi platoon to give DNA samples." The current developments were best summed in this exchange on Australia's The World Today -- Eleanor Hall (host) asked, "So Conor, the source of the DNA remains a mystery then?" to which Conor Duffy (reporters) responded, "That's right Eleanor, like so much of what happened in room 8 at the Australian embassy where Jake Kovco died, the source of the DNA on the gun that took his life remains a mystery."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports: "Evidence presented to a military board of inquiry into Kovco's death and failed repatriation now suggests the soldier killed himself in a tragic accident, probably without realising his pistol was loaded. But the army's decision to clean his room and wash his roommates' clothes after he died has destroyed almost all the forensic evidence and may now mean the exact cause of death will never be known." Brown notes that Soldier 19 testified "no way, sir" that Kovco would have committed suicide and AAP notes that 19 states he didn't see the shooting because "he was bending down at a bar fridge in the room". Conor Duffy noted that this would put 19 "probably about one to two meters away from Private Kovco at the time" and that both 19 and 17 are "expected to remain in Sydney for at least this week before they return to Baghdad."
In peace news,
Carol A. Clark (Los Alamos Monitor) reports that Cindy Sheehan will speak at Ashley Pond on August 6th ("this year's Hiroshima Day") for an event that will include others and last from two to nine p.m. and will include "free buttons and balloons, live music, face painting and activities for the kids" as well as "the lighting of 3,000 floating candles on Ashley Pond at dusk."
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on Day 29 with over 4,350 people participating from all over the world. David Howard ( writes about the reasons for participating in the fast including "to end the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don't end up dead, like Tony Butterfield." Tony Butterfield was Anthony E. Butterfield ("Lance Cpl.") who died on July 29th in the Anbar Province at the age of 19. In addition, as Howard notes, Butterfield was "a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High school in Clovis, California." The fast is ongoing (until September 21st) and people can pick a one-day, one-day a week, or more at any point between now and September 21st. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.

A lot going on in Iraq -- even if few are paying attention. The toll later went up to 70 dead and I heard on the radio that it ended up including an American soldier (not the one C.I.'s noting who died Mondy, one who died today).

Monday, July 31, 2006

Back and Iraq

So I'm back home. I had a wonderful time in Ireland and the same in Georgia where I was
Betty's house guest after I got back. That was a lot of fun. Now I'm home and noting two plants are overwatered (yellow leaves) but, otherwise, everything's fine. I probably have twenty plants so two isn't a lot.

Sumner passed on something from the LA Times. I'll type it up and hunt for the link:

Gibson, the report continued, then said he "owned Malibu" and launched a "barrage of anti-Semitic remarks." Those remarks included Gibson's statement that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," the report said.
After that, Gibson allegedly asked the deputy: "Are you a Jew?"

Remember when he was pushing his movie and we were all supposed to avoid asking the question of whether or not he was anti-Semitic? (He was also anti-Catholic but the media let that pretty much slide too.) "Ruth's Report" is something else you should check out. She's right, people really don't get (unless they lived through it or studied it) that the "plan" Nixon had never changed (for Vietnam) and that it hasn't changed for Bully Boy. A "plan" is something that you change or adapt when it's not working. Nixon didn't, Bully Boy won't. People need to know what happened then so they don't fall it right now. The whole time he talked "peace plan" (Nixon), he expanded the war. Bully Boy's not drawing down the troops, he's beefing them up. People need to pay attention. (I'll have the snapshot for today at the end of this post.)

Thank you to C.I., Mike, Cedric and Wally for filling in for me. Lot of wonderful posts.

I've been listening to Maria McKee tonight. Unpacking. Checking the mile that piled up. Nothing big.

C.I.'s latest "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glantz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (, by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitor) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."