Saturday, July 21, 2007

Talking entry on Iraq, Borders and more

When logging in this morning, the screen showed that I had done 371 posts. I thought I'd talk about that a little. (We all stayed out late and had some fun. It was the first break C.I.'s had in who knows when.) Rebecca was nursing her baby and we were both saying, "I don't know what to write about." I feel bad for her because she's got Alberto Gonzales for a topic which does always give her something to write about (or usually does) but it also means she's got to do a lot of work before she writes one word.

So I thought I'd explain about this site since some new people have been e-mailing.

In the beginning, I did reviews for The Common Ills and helped out a little (not much and not every weekend) with The Third Estate Sunday Review. Now C.I. does 8 million things and with that example and Dak Ho saying, "Kat, you should do your own blog" -- and Toni parroting him and saying if I didn't and the illegal war was still going on in 2020 I would feel bad -- I finally agreed.

It's been going on for over a year now. Maybe two years? I have no idea when I started. It's all a long, long, drunken, blind drive home. I started in May 2005. C.I. just came through the kitchen (I'm at C.I.'s and Rebecca and I are blogging in the kitchen) and I asked. I have no idea when I started, C.I. doesn't even pause, immediately replies, "May 2005."

One of the things we quickly fell in to as a community was that our blogging would be a way to take some of the pressure off others. C.I. started. Rebecca followed, then Third Estate Sunday Review, then A Winding Road (now no longer blogging), then Betty, etc. Rebecca and C.I. were posting things at night originally. Rebecca still does. She always said, "I'm an evening paper! I'm not fit to see in the morning!"

But let me list the sites because I don't want to come back in and do links:

The Common Ills
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Mikey Likes It!
Cedric's Big Mix
Like Maria Said Paz
The Daily Jot
Trina's Kitchen

That's the order in which the current sites in the community started. And in case anyone's confused (like AlterPunk was) about who writes where:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

I think I started out doing it twice a week. A Tuesday and a Thursday more than likely. During non-vacation weeks, Elaine's always off on Thursdays. Originally Cedric posted three times a week and grabbed Thursday's always because Elaine was off. At some point, a site not listed had a freak fit that C.I. was posting entries in the evening and arguging that drives the community away from "us" (the person's not a part of the community) so usually C.I. only does an entry on Sundays and Thursdays evenings and otherwise is done by the "Iraq snapshot" during the week. The Third Estate Sunday Review always posts on Sundays. Betty started out twice a week and then Thomas Friedman's column schedule got reworked and screwed up her entire schedule (her site is an online novel written from the prespective of Betinna Friedman, Thomas Friedman's wife).

But I was like the soap's B-plots. I don't know if they still have them. I haven't watched soap operas in years. But, back in the day, I would watch shows like Dark Shadows, The Doctors, Edge of Night and Love of Life. Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, you had the most popular ones. Let me use All My Children here because I did watch that a little in the 90s (it's Maggie's favorite soap to this day). You'd have Erica and whomever she was involved with on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you'd get Brooke who was popular but not that popular.

That's honestly how I've always (and still) see this site. I'm the B-plot. You come here, I give you a cup of coffee and we do the recap about what everyone else has done to catch the viewers up. Maybe you think, "Man, I wish they'd give Kat her own storyline!" But you never think (hopefully), "I wish they'd write Kat off!"

Now days I do five posts a week. And it can be wonderful that my CD reviews are so well received (thank you) but sometimes I do feel the need to scream, "I'm doing five posts a week now!" I also think that in retrospect, people are remembering the reviews coming out more often than they did. I could be wrong, but I think if you counted all my music stuff at The Common Ills for 2005, you'd probably get about the same number as in 2006 and 2007. Possibly not because C.I. was in DC for the 2005 January inauguration (protesting it) and I said I'd fill in and did two or three posts in one day at The Common Ills (all on music). (C.I. also did entries on the New York Times before someone reading thinks, "So C.I. has taken a day off!" Nope. Never.) (2004 should just be three music things. A review and 2 commentaries.)

But as we got done tonight/this morning and were headed back here, I was suddenly in a panic and Dona asked me why? I said I wouldn't be able to do a review this weekend. I was already too tired. Dona said, "That's nonsense, you just did one Sunday." Which is true, but it's also true people are already e-mailing about when's the next one?

And again, it's great that people care. But just to be sure we're all on the same page here, I either did the same exact amount in 2006 and 2005 that I'm currently doing or I'm doing a little more today (it feels like a little more) in terms of the CD reviews. Add in that I'm now doing this site and that does eat into the time. (Even a talking entry like this one takes time.)

The reason I started was to make sure I was doing my part re: the illegal war. I think that's the most consistent (possibly only consistent) thing you'll find here. I am opposed to the illegal war, I was opposed to it before it started. I have never adopted a new position or adapted my own to justify the illegal war and never will. It needs to end and it needs to end right away.

That's why I do try to go with C.I. whenever C.I.'s speaking in this area (500 mile radius) and will also hit the road with C.I. for an out of state trip if I have time to (work is required to pay the bills).

I think it was the summer of 2006 when I upped my output here. That was the summer when CODEPINK really was unstoppable. They had one action after another. (They are still active today. They get less attention probably because they're now a DC based group and they're doing one long action. I love CODEPINK but I do think the real action is outside DC and wish they would go back to that inventive and free wheeling style of 2006 and prior when they always bowled you over with their latest tactic. I'm not insulting them or calling them out. I am saying in terms of inspiration, they gave me more before they rented the house in DC. I'm sure they're doing outstanding work in DC but I think the really important work these days is coming from outside the Beltway. And the summer in DC really bores me because DC bores me. I'm speaking only for me. If someone wants to tattle on me to C.I. feel free. I'm not saying anything I haven't felt since the DC house first opened. I'm also not calling them useless or saying they've lost their way. I do worry that they will go the way of NARAL which used to be about abortion rights but now is nothing but a lobbying arm of Congress and a weak one at that. I miss the inspired and passionate days of CODEPINK. They probably still exist in large numbers this summer but nothing puts me to sleep quicker than DC. And I should note that locally, CODEPINK is still out in force, still creative and still fighting. Locally is the Bay Area.)

Being able to travel to different campuses with C.I. has just been inspiring. Tiring to be sure. Sometimes I feel (and I'm not going out every week with C.I. and whomever else) like I'm Cher or something on the never ending Farewell Tour. In my college days, I caught a few legs of a tour while I was doing music press and that was fun but I was always glad when it was over. But it's been really interesting to see the changes going on in the country and the things that students are doing. They aren't apathetic. They are building their own orgs and tools and they are out there trying to be heard. ("Crying to be heard," I think Stevie Nicks sings in "Twister.") That is so inspiring and they create the pressure that goes back to DC and forces the Dems to at least go through the motions of ending the illegal war (even though they lack the will to end it).

So that's what these days. And try to have a life. After the illegal war the biggest shock personally in my own life remains the end of Tower Records. I still can't believe it's over. There are days when I'm in the car and hear a song. I'll have my mind on something else and start automatically heading to Tower. Only it's not there anymore. Forget death of childhood, it's like the death of my life. And it's one more way our society is becoming less communal.

That's not me griping "kids today" but it is my noting that entertainment used to be something shared. Now we watch movies on our TVs, download our albums and probably very soon sit down in front of the TV for concerts instead of buying tickets. We really are, as C.I. pointed out a week or so ago, being encouraged to stay in our own little box. Go out in the world and work, then return to your box until it's time to work again.

People still listen to music and still share it with their friends. But most of my friends are people I would bump into at Tower and we'd both be the only ones who knew about whomever and we'd strike up a conversation. Then we'd see each other in Tower again and talk again. Pretty soon, we were meeting outside of Tower as well as in it. Sumner had just come to the US (from France) and knew no one at all when we were both looking for the new Maria McKee and ended up talking.

That sort of exchange can probably take place online today. You can encounter and meet. But you're really doing that from the safety of your box and I do worry that we're seeing an ever greater breakdown than ever before. That's not in a "things were so much better then" nostalgia. The past is the past. But if you think how hard it's been (and is) to end this illegal war, imagine 60 years from now when everyone's been conditioned to stay in their boxes and to think of signing an online petition as the height of activism?

I sometimes feel like we're being forced into our boxes to make us easier to manage. And that's my big fear. Tower? I miss it. I could buy at Borders very easily but feel like I'll next be grabbing a latte and driving a Volvo. Tower was my childhood, my early adulthood through present and I'm sorry it's gone. But what really concerns me is that at the same time we're losing our commons to Big Business we're also losing the spaces we carved out that weren't supposed to be our's. The stores and cafes that we made our own. Now individual places will fade and something will replace it. That's been the story in the past. But what I fear is that it's not being replaced. Instead you're being offered new reasons to stay in your box.

Cody's Books, that's another meeting place we lost in the Bay Area. And what's replaced it? Nothing. There's nothing like it. Go into Borders (if you know Cody's) and you'll see what I mean. It's very different, a very different vibe. Get your purchase and get out is the real vibe there. No time to browse and talk, no time to just look around. "Can I help you?" "Can I help you?" over and over to the point that it sounds like, "Buy something or get out."

And maybe that's just age or knowing what I want. But the reality is whenever I visit Borders, the answer is "No, you can't." If I ask about a CD, they'll go to their computer, punch in some stuff and then say, "It should be . . ." But I already checked. And it wasn't. Well that's where it should be. Same thing with a book. So despite their asking, "Can I help you?" the reality is that they can't and they don't want to.

I have a niece and I made the mistake of going to Border's one Christmas (because it was closer). My brother wanted a book with a baby opening presents. It was Christmas Eve. Could they help me? No, they couldn't. The 16-year-old (probably 19 but looked 12) listened to me explain that this was my niece's first Christmas where she'd really understand it (she was going to be four shortly) and my brother wanted a book where a child opened a present. It could be a drawing with a child doing so poorly or doing so well. Didn't matter, just something to read to them that night to prepare them for the next day. If it was poorly, that would be a "This isn't what to do" type lesson.

So he punches in some words on the keyboard of the computer and then tells me they have nothing like that in the store. They have a children's section. It's Christmas. There has to be a book -- Christmas, Birthday, what have you, where someone in a picture or illustration is opening a book. No, the computer doesn't show it.

Can he help me look? He sighs. He walks with me to the children's books and I'm looking at a table display he's pointing to (with nothing that's going to help me) before he suddenly disappears on me. I'm there for an hour going through picture books and narrow it down to six (out of twenty). When I settle on the six, I pass him talking on his cell phone to a friend and he says, "Psst!" I turn around and he explains it would really help him out (help him out!) if I mentioned when I checked out that he had helped me find the books.

It would have really helped me out if he had HELPED ME FIND SOME BOOKS.

But that is your typical Borders' employee from my experience. The last time I was in one, back in March, this blonde woman (14?) was giggling at the front counter with seven others while I waited in line to be told "Next." I was one of twelve people in line and we waited and waited. I later learned she was in management. That goes a long way towards explaining why Borders' Books sucks so much.

Twelve people in line at the front counter while eight employees laugh and chat and no customer is being waited on. There's also the guy who patrols the DVDs. He may have a job but everytime I see him, he's on the phone to his mother or his boyfriend (cell phone) having a loud conversation with one of the two while he walks around scowling. I don't mean to be a pain in the ass, but maybe if you're retail you shouldn't be allowed to have your cell phones on you?

Maybe if you're retail, you should leave your box at home and focus on the customers?

I especially love the Borders' employees who specialize in pointing. When Laura Flanders' book came out, I told C.I. I'd get it because I wanted to pay for to show my support for Laura. (True Grit is a great book, pick it up.) (C.I. had a friend at the publisher's who had sent several copies.) That was my first encounter with the breed of Borders employees who are trained in and specialize in pointing. "Can I help you?" "Do you have Laura Flanders' new book?" He pointed. Not at a bookcase or display but over to non-fiction which is a huge section. Well thank God for him! Otherwise I might have spent hours flipping through the music section trying to find Laura Flanders' new book among the Ben Harper CDs.

Now I don't need my ass kissed. I don't need phoney greetings (and hate stores that have those standardized greetings). I don't need anything but help when I ask for it. If I don't ask for it, you can leave me alone. I'm also aware that they probably make very little money. I don't expect to hear, "So good to see you again." But I do think that if you're working in retail and you're asked to help, you do help. I also think, sorry to anyone who works at Borders, that if I were a manager at Borders, I would tell everyone who worked there, "You do not take your cell phone out on the floor. If I catch you with it, you're fired." It's as though the snooty attitude of women's dress stores (where no one ever wants to do anything but chat on the phone) has invaded all walks of life.

So there's my rant. Let me post this and help Rebecca with her post. We're also supposed to wake Wally and Cedric in an hour because they want to get their post up early (to avoid C.I. having to wait around this morning).

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

Friday, July 20. 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the death toll mounts, a military judge sends the message that even if you're convicted in the killing of an innocent Iraqi you won't get any prison time, and the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk is Operation Push-Back.

Starting with war resisters. Ian Munro (Australia's The Age) explores the "estimated 250" US service members who have self-checked out and moved to Canada and zooms in on Dean Walcott and Phillip McDowell. Munro writes, "Mr Walcott's life was up-ended in 2004 at a military hospital in Germany when burns survivors from the Mosul mess tent bombing were shipped in." Like Walcott, McDowell served in Iraq before deciding to self-check out. Munro quotes McDowell stating, "I believed everything the Government told us about weapons of mass destruction, that there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. I was aware of the international opposition to going in, but growing up I always trusted my government" and reports, "By the end of his tour he saw the war as wrong, illegal and counterproductive, and was disturbed by the treatment of some prisoners. But he thought he was clear by the middle of last year when his enlistment expired. Then the army called him back. With his family's support, he and his partner Jamine took the Canada option in Ocotber." Jeffry House tells Munro that he estimates the number of war resisters in Canada to be 250 and, "Some don't want to go through the war resisters because they are a political group. Some people want to make the point about their concern but don't want to be part of a campaign." House represents many including Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key and Jeremy Hinzman. Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign tells his story, how he self-checked during Vietnam and moved to Canada -- where he's lived ever since and happily (to refute some of the nonsense offered earlier this week by a spokesperson for a group that does not represent self-checkouts) and he estimates there are hundreds who have self-checked out from today's illegal war and moved to Canada.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Yesterday, Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) noted that alleged 'withdrawals' pushed by Democratic leadership in the US Congress some how tend to factor in leaving troops in northern Iraq and the effects the Kurdish separatist movement has on neighboring Turkey which has its own Kurdish separatist movement. Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Gonzales and Juan Gonzales addressed the issue with the independent journalist Scott Peterson (Peterson reports for The Christian Science Monitor which actually is an independent publication and structured as one). As noted before, Turkey has an upcoming election and the tensions flaring between the regions has only increased -- whether or not for electoral gain is for someone else to determine. The region of northern Iraq has its own elections coming up which will determine its autonomy and with very little coverage from Western media, Kurdish flags have been planeted, families run off and those belonging to religious minorities have been either run off from the region or killed. Turkey alleges and identifies the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) as a terrorist organization and has argued that it is granted harbor in northern Iraq. Mortars have been exchanged and, on at least one occassion, Turkish troops have recently entered northern Iraq. From the broadcast:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Scott Peterson, this allegation by Turkey that the United States is indirectly assisting the PKK, is there any evidence of that, given the fact, obviously, that the -- isn't the PKK really a more, historically more of a leftwing insurgency, a secular insurgency that would be unlikely to be supported by the United States?
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, the PKK really disappeared as an organization for the past five or six years. In 1999, its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by the Turks, in fact. And in his first appearance in court, Ochalan said that the PKK had made a number of mistakes during the fifteen-year separatist war, that they should now try and work within the state and with state structures to find recognition of Kurdish rights and recognition of Kurdish culture. And he also said that they're no longer fighting for a separate Kurdish state. So those were all quite important changes that really kind of took the wind out of the PKK sails for many years. What we've seen in the last year or two now is a surge of PKK activity in terms of attacks -- certainly in terms of attacks that the government attributes to the PKK, and those are both in Ankara, others also in Istanbul, some targeting civilians and many targeting also soldiers, especially in Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey. Now, of course, the issue of who is supporting the PKK is a very thorny one, because, of course, the PKK remains on the list of terrorist groups, as officially designated by the US State Department. The United States has identified and chosen a special envoy specifically for countering the PKK. That's the title of Joe Ralston, General Joe Ralston. And so -- and, of course, the US denies that it is giving any support to the PKK, but from the Turkish point of view they say, Wait a minute, there are American forces who control all of Iraq, and therefore since the PKK has bases in northern Iraq, that means that by definition there are -- you know, that the US is somehow involved, if nothing else, in turning a blind eye. And you've also got apparently safe haven given to the PKK by Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq. And the reason for these latest accusations or allegations is, just in the past ten days or so there was a press conference that was purported to be from four PKK members who had fled northern Iraq. They appeared in Ankara at a press conference wearing masks and saying, we have just fled, that PKK militants are leaving their bases, expecting a Turkish invasion, and that also they had witnessed, they say, American troops actually offloading weapons at PKK bases for the PKK. And I have spoken to senior Turkish police officers who feel that the entire story is concocted, and I'm sure that would be the American view, too, but, again, it really does raise a lot of popular questions in the minds of Turks.

Elections in Turkey take place Sunday and for more on that you can read Scott Horton's latest piece in today's Christian Science Monitor. In addition, Katharine Kendrick (Turkish Daily News) reports that political parties in Turkey have forgotten to court one group: "recent Turkish citizens." Some context re: the conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey. The US administration is attempting to lay the groundwork for a potential attack on Iran with a lot of loosely sourced claims which -- at best -- if true would only demonstrate that some Iranians have involvement in Iraq. The US administration uses that unproven link to argue that the Iranian government, therefore, must be assisting. In Bite Back In Your Own Ass news, Today's Zaman reports that not only has Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdulla Gul declared that the US is arming the PKK in Turkey but also: "The US Department of Defense has launched an investigation into US-registered weapons sent to the Iraqi army ending up in the hands [of] the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq."In addition, the paper reports, "Former members of the PKK escaping from mountain camps in northern Iraq recently gave testimony in which they told securities authorities and prosecutors they had seen US trucks delivering arms to PKK camps." By the US administration's 'logic' with regards to Iran, Turkey should be drawing up their battle plans. Reuters reports that Turkey was shelling northern Iraq. Meanwhile the Turkish Daily News reports conflicts between Turkey and Austria after Austraia refused to arrest "Ali Riza Altun, a founding member and the chief financial operator of the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States" when he surfaced in Austria this month before moving on to northern Iraq.

Turning to England, the United Kingdom's Military of Defence announced: "It is with profound sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of one serviceman from 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and two servicemen from 1 Squadron RAF Regiment on Thursday 19th July 2007. They were killed in an indirect fire attack on the Contingency Operating Base in Basra, Iraq." Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that British forces are "the second-largest contingent of the American-led coalition in Iraq." ICCC lists the total number of British troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 162. ITV News reports that 126 of the deaths are classified as having "died in action" while the BBC reports the three deaths come after the announcement that "british troops in Iraq will be cut to 5,000 by the end of 2007." Michael Evans and Fiona Hamilton (Times of London) observe that the three deaths come "ten days after three British soldiers were killed in the same area of southern Iraq" Earlier this week, Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reported, on a new study by the Royal Stastistical Society that "found the death rate of British troops has now surpassed that of Americans, following a sustained upsurge of violence in the southern city of Basra."

Turning to the United States, today on
KPFK's Uprising, Sonali Kolhatkar spke with Erik Leaver of IPS (Institute for Policy Studies) on the topic of empire, Iraq and more topics addressed in the new report [PDF format warning] "Just Security." With regards to Iraq, the first step, stressed repeatedly, is getting all foreign troops out of Iraq. Kolhatkar brought up the demonizing the administration is attempting to do with regards to US Senator Hillary Clinton. As The Chicago Tribune reports: "Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, accused Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) of aiding the enemy by calling for contingency plans for a troop pullout. 'Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,' Edelman wrote in reply to Clinton's May inquiry. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Edelman's letter 'outrageous'." The demonization of Clinton for reqeusting information on contingency plans (which do already exist) is part of a full out assault by the administration, a push-back effort attempting to resell the illegal war long after the majority of Americans have turned against it and are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.
That's why, yesterday, US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, did a song and dance (via video link) for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Wally ("
THIS JUST IN! THAT'S A CROCK!") and Cedric ("It's a Crock") covered it in their joint-post. Crocker was selling the 'fear' because the administration knows to get what they want, honesty doesn't work; however, if they can scare the American public, they might stand a shot. Starting with the Crock which existed to sell the fear (as did all parts of the marketing). Reneee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) reports US Senator Richard Lugar asked, "Are you planning for an eventual change of mission or redeployment of American forces in Iraq?" But Crocker refused to admit a Plan B existed or was being created. Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) report that Crock said the benchmarks weren't being met and probably wouldn't. Cloud's whines were laughable since the US administration created the benchmark talk long before Congress even considered legislation on it.

But with more bad news coming, they needed to stall with something. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) would be reporting today, "A committee directed by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Bush to accelerate the transfer of security responsibility to Iraq's army and police has warned that Iraq is lagging in a number of categories. The quarterly report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, says the Finance Ministry is blocking the Iraqi military from spending $660 million to build a logistical network; that militias are an obstacle to handing over to Iraqis responsibility for security in three mainly Shiite Muslim provinces; and that competition among rival security organizations has prevented the country from settling on a national security structure."

None dare call it progress. Which is why the big talking point is "Forget September, We Need To Wait Until November." As
Kat noted last night, the new 'deadline' is supposed to November. Barbara Slavin's "General: September too soon to assess Iraq" (USA Today) noted that "the number two" (in Iraq), Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, was leading that pushback. Shanker and Sanger (New York Times) report, "Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that while he would provide the mid-September assessment of the new military strategy that Congress has required, it would take 'at least until November' to judge with confidence whether the strategy was working."To really make the push, Bully Boy left DC and the national press corps hoping to yet again get soft press from local outlets. James Gerstenzang (Los Angeles Times) reports the stop yesterday was Nashville to the always hyper-enthused audience of a local Chamber of Commerce, "Such visits draw little national attention, but the out-of-town stops gain extensive local coverage sought by the White House to counter the steady beat of the Iraq war on news pages, websites, television and radio. And they provide a backdrop of a White House seeking, city by city, to portray the president as focused on the breadth of his job and not just the war."

The pushback comes as Nouri al-Maliki's promise that Iraqi troops would be ready to take over responsibilities in Iraq is revealed to be just one more bad sales pitch.
CBS and AP report Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, did everything but sing Don Henley's "Not Enough Love In The World" as he declared that promise was no more: "We had hopes and intentions to take over security in all provinces and command of all army divisions before the end of the year. But there are difficulties and challenges that appeared along the way, in arming, equipping, recruiting and training our armed forces."

Al-Rubaie droned on about how difficult it was "to predict a certain time." A difficulty al-Maliki wasn't bothered by in April. And the endless, illegal war that doesn't result in the puppet or his masters getting upset has now claimed the lives of
52 US service members this month and the lives of 3631 US service members since the start of the illegal war (ICCC). The number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war gets closer to one million but no reason for a puppet government, hidden away in the Green Zone and protected and flattered by foreign forces and government, to care too much.

In the real world . . .


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala mortar attack that injured eleven. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that injured a police officer. DPA reports, "An Iraqi civilian was killed in a US helicopter attack in Mosul . . . The Iraqi civilian was killed and five others wounded Friday morning when a US helicopter bombed a residential area in Mosul" and two of the injured were children while two more women.


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was shot dead in an attack on a car in Baghdad (three were wounded) and notes 2 more shot dead in Al Muqdaya suburb and 2 women shot dead "in Nawfal" and that an attack in Al Wajehia has left numerous people displaced and at least 5 dead -- Jenan also notes that on Wednesday "gunmen attacked Waheda Abd Al Muhsan Member of Salahudding governorate council. The gunmen shot her convoy when she was going to Tikret."


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports and that a corpse was turned over to Al Muqdadya hospital while, yesterday, the corpses of Zena ans Suha Khusai (sisters kidnapped two days prior) were discovered in Mosul. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi (New York Times) report that 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad yesterday.

Turning to legal news. Yesterday, we noted that Trey A. Corrales and Christopher P. Shore were each charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian on or around June 23rd. Today, AP reports that Albert Corrales Sr. has stated his son is innocent (though "he hadn't talked to his 34-year-old son about the death") and quotes him stating, "I think that it's wrong because the people he supposedly shot, they were terrorists and he was under orders to clean them out, and he did." In other father and son legal news, Michael Vick (19-year-old) and James Vick (44-year-old) have both been charged. Lindsay Wilcox (KLTV, Tyler, TX) reports that the father's been held by authorities since May while the son "was arrested at DFW Airport [Dallas, TX] on Tuesday after returning home from Iraq" and that the two men are charged in the sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl and a nine-year-old girl who had been foster children in the Vick home during 2003 and 2004. Cindy Mallette (Tyler Morning Telegraph) spoke with Sgt. Wendell Wilcher of the Anderson county's sheriff's department who stated that "the Army released Michael Vick from his Iraq duties after the sherrif's department obtained a warrant for his arrest. He said the Army is considering Vick's status and may discharge him at some point in the future." Paul Stone (The Palestine Herald) also spoke with Wilcher who has been interviewing other children who stayed with the Vicks and states there will be more names added: "There's definitely going to be more than two. We may have a considerable amount of children. It's hard to say." AP notes the bail for each man is set at $300,000 and that Michael Vick is "assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington." On Wednesday, marine Trent Thomas was found guilty in the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was dragged from his home, bound and murdered. Thomas was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder by a jury of his military peers. Although he could have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, the military judge instead decided murder, lying, and more was no big deal. AP reports Trent Thomas' 'punishment' is to be discharged from the military and face a reduction in pay. And? That's it. No prison time for the man convicted by his peers in the murder of an innocenct civilian.