Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nation magazine damage becomes an illness

Rebecca and I are blogging across from each other. We'll be in DC for Saturday's actions. (We're getting the word out on it -- along with Ava, C.I., Cedric, Dona and Wally -- Jim, Jess and Ty are due shortly.) Mike's coming in with Elaine and since she has an evening group (that's her vet's group) with enough time for a dinner before her last day session and the group, Rebecca told Mike that she and I would blog early and he could take Elaine out for a nice dinner before group. So let's hope they're already seated and in the midst of their dinner. Rebecca and I flipped to see who was grabbing what? I got John Nichols.

I don't dislike John Nichols. He always seems like such a sweet guy. C.I. and I are already pulling for Juan Gonzalez for "Truest statement of the week" (at Third) based on his question below to Nichols (from today's Democracy Now!):

JOHN NICHOLS: There’s some really significant stuff going on, Juan. And if we had a media that actually covered the war as an issue rather than playing around it, this would be much better known.
The most significant action of the summer came from Bill Richardson of all people. Now, Richardson presents himself as the foreign policy expert, the most experienced candidate, and practically he is, a former cabinet member, former member of Congress, representative at the UN, diplomat in places all over the world. And what Richardson did during the summer was come out for essentially an immediate withdrawal, getting all US troops, not just a substantial portion, but all US troops out of Iraq in six months. This position actually did him a great deal of good in some of the early states. He moved into, if you will, a middle tier.
And it put a real scare into both Edwards and Obama, both of whom have now moved to much stronger antiwar positions. Obama gave a speech yesterday in, of all places, Clinton, Iowa, in which he laid out a very strong -- or two days ago, I should say -- a very strong antiwar stance, very, very critical in saying the war cannot be won militarily, that the troops do need to leave. But still, I think the important thing to understand at this point is --
JUAN GONZALEZ: But did he actually say that the troops -- my understanding is that he still favored maintaining some US troops in Iraq.

John Nichols, suffering The Nation damage, seemed to struggle a bit with the truth. After this, he will respond, "Precisely right, Juan, precisely right."

Of course Juan is right. The question is was John Nichols wrong?

Was John Nichols planning to get to that at any point? Is there a rule at The Nation that Obama must always get a tongue bath even when he deserves criticism?

"A very strong antiwar stance" is not, as Juan points out, "maintaining some US troops in Iraq."

John Nichols always seems like a sweet guy and I feel like the meanest bully on the playground here but the reality is John Nichols was praising Obama. If Juan hadn't cut him off, would Nichols have ever made it to that point?

That's actually the point you start with. The mainstream media gives you goo and buries the truth. The alternative media isn't supposed to.

I would have preferred grabbing Phyllis Bennis but Rebecca got her.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the 'model' province suffers a setback, Bully Boy is in wardrobe and makeup preparing for his live comedy bit on American television tonight, energies move towards DC for the actions including the "die in" on Saturday led by IVAW, UFPJ releases a report that doesn't please all student activists, and more.

Starting with war resisters and returning to the roundtable where
Brian Lenzo and Kyle Brown (US Socialist Worker) speak with war resister Eli Israel, war resister Camilo Mejia and Phil Aliff. Lenzo and Brown asked Mejia and Israel why they made a decision to resist?
Mejia replies, "I got tired of being afraid. I realized that with everything that happened in Iraq -- and a lot of messed-up sh*t happened, from the torture of prisoners to the killing of civilians to the unnecessary exposure of our own troops -- and the inability to stand for what I believed was the right thing to do, and being there with the political conviction that the war was wrong, freedom really has nothing to do with not being in shackles or chains but with your own ability to do what you believe in your heart to be the right thing to do. I had to overcome my fear. I knew all along what the right thing was but I hadn't had the freedom to act upon that belief. It got to the point where I could no longer conciliate my conscience with my military duty, and I decided that whenever being a good soldier and being a good human being came into conflict, the right thing to do was be a good human being."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Resistance is ongoing in the US and gearing up for Saturday, September 15th (see
ANSWER for more information) mass protests will be taking place in DC and IVAW will lead a "die-in". This will be part of a several days of action lasting from the 15th through the 18th. September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. CODEPINK will be conducting a Peoples March Inside Congress (along with other groups and individuals) on September 17th. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc.

The September 15th March to Stop the War will take place in DC (meet up at noon in front of the White House) and a mood of police brutality appears to be settling over the US capital. Last week Tina Richards and Adam Kokesh took part in a peacefull press conference in Lafayette Square that police felt the need to break up. Richards and Kokesh both attempted to put up flyers for the March on fhe 15th and, for that 'crime,' were subjected to extreme force. Richards has declared, "I have been asked if knowing all that would happen, the intimidation, the injuries and pending legal costs, would I do it again. 'Yes,' I have answered. 'Any day is a good day for the first amendment'." On Monday, attempting to hear Davey Petraeus give testimony to the House, Rev. Lennox Yearwood (IVAW and Hip Hop Congress) was attacked. He spoke with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales (Democracy Now!) about what he experienced:

REV. LENNOX YEARWOOD, JR.: Well, on September 10, I went to hear the hearing,
[. . .] So I was going in, in essence, to make government more transparent. It was also critical for me as a person of color to be in the room to report back to my community. But instead, when I got there, I was waiting in line. I was standing there. I had to do a radio interview. I asked the officer, I said, "Can I step out of line for a second to do an interview?" He said, "No problem." I did my interview. I came back to the line. I got back in the line. I was waiting. And then, all of a sudden -- it was somewhat suspicious -- another officer came down, was passing out blue post-it notes. And as he was coming in the line, he actually came to me and actually Colonel Ann Wright, who was standing with me. It was amazing. The two officers who were going in to hear General Petraeus, he actually told us both, "You can't get in," and then walked past us. And so, me and Colonel Ann Wright looked at each other and said, "Why can't we get in?" He said, "You can't get in." And so, we went up forward, and we kept walking to the front of the line and said, "Why are we being denied?" "You just can't get in." And so, somebody came and passed one of the blue post-it notes to Colonel Wright and put it in her hand. And she showed it to him. "I didn't give you that." She said, "I know. Why can't we get in?" He said, "Well, OK, you can get in." And she said, "What about Reverend Yearwood?" He said, "No, he can't get in." And that's when it started. I said, "Why are you singling me out? What is going on?" It's important to know. We have this huge rally at the White House, and a march to the Capitol is coming Saturday. And I know my picture is on the flier. But regardless, I asked, "Why are you singling me out?" At that point in time, they became to be aggressive, and they got around me. And I said that -- "You're going to be arrested." I said, "What am I going to be arrested for? What have I done? I just want to go inside and hear the hearing for myself." At that point in time, one came behind me, said, "You're going to be arrested." And then somebody grabbed me on my shoulder. And I kind of turned. Amy, by the time I turned, I was on the ground. And I actually just felt myself going headfirst into the concrete. [. . .] And so, when they pulled out of -- they actually didn't pull me out. They just stopped me from getting in, and they wouldn't tell me why. They just stopped me. What was worse, when they leaped on me, started to beat me in the halls of Congress. And I say, here I am, a former officer lying in the halls of Congress, while there's another officer in the hearing lying to the Congress. And here I am just lying and being beaten. I couldn't understand.

YouTube video of the assault of Yearwood is played on Democracy Now! and will in the DN! archive even if vanishes from YouTube at some point. Yearwood being thrown to the ground and assaulted in the Capitol by the Capitol police is and should be shocking. It is also part of a rising pattern. As The Third Estate Sunday Review editorialized Sunday, "What happened to Richards, Kokesh, Thompson and the rest -- including the press -- should be seen as the seminal moment it is. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention. And if you don't call this out, be prepared for the next Ohio because it will come bit by bit. Get angry. And don't use stuff the anger, let it fuel you to make demands of your elected representatives, to practice civil disobedience and to insist that the illegal war be ended and Bully Boy be impeached. If you don't know where to start, many trying to make a difference will be gathering in DC on September 15th."

Tonight Ugly Bully follows
Ugly Betty in primetime as Bully Boy -- currently at a 36% approval rating in the latest CNN poll "unchanged from an August poll and barely above where it was in January" -- attempts to resell his illegal war all over again. But there's a problem with the sales pitch. The "model province" was Al-Anbar Province (if you believed the soft and easy press -- that was never reality). And now . . . a plot twist.

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Sheikh Sattar Abo Risha, the head of Anbar awakening council was killed in an IED explosion targeted his armed car near his house in Ramadi city today afternoon. Abo Risha's nephew, his aid and two of his guards were killed in the explosion." Jay Price and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) explain that the late Sheikh "lunched with President Bush during the president's brief visit to Anbar just 10 days ago" and that this "was the second assassination of Anbar tribal leaders key to the anti-al Qaida rebellion that has become the Bush administration's No. 1 example of progress in Iraq. In June, four sheiks of the Anbar Salvation Council were killed along with eight other people when a suicide bomber slipped past security at a Baghdad hotel and detonated a bomb he was wearing." The BBC summarizes their correspondent in Baghdad, Hugh Sykes, evaluation of the "severe blow" of the assassination as: "It may undermine the new movement against al-Qaeda in Iraq, he says, or it could strengthen resolve to resist the insurgents, who are regarded by an increasing number of people in Anbar as unwelcome invaders." Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) offers that "Abu Risha assumed a high profile, appearing on television as a symbol and spokesman of the movement while making public appearances in and around Ramadi, as if daring al-Qaeda to kill him. His death might deter others from taking a similarly public role. Without a charismatic spokesman willing to be the Anbar Salvation Council's public face, the movement's morale could falter." Martin Fletcher (Times of London) writes, "The Times has interviewed Sheikh Sittar twice in the past year. Urbane, chain-smoking and impeccably dressed in long white robes and headdress, he was a sheikh from central casting. . . . During the second interview, two weeks ago, as his three children played on the grass, he joked about how his grandfather had fought the British in the colonial era. When I asked how many times he had escaped assassination he laughed. 'Many times. I can't count,' he replied, as his children played on the lawn in front of him." Al Jazeera's correspondent James Bays declares, "This is a man who had a controversial past, but in recent months he has become a very prominent figure even meeting George Bush." CBS and AP note that no one has come forward to claim credit or "responsibility for the assassination" and that "[p]rivately, two U.S. officials said earlier that his assassination would be a huge setback for U.S. efforts in Iraq, because it sends a message to others who are cooperating with coalition forces or thinking about cooperating against al Qaeda." CNN notes, "It is unclear if the bomb was remotely detonated or triggered by the convoy."

In other violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives and left ten more wounded, and a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left three injured. Reuters notes a Falluja roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer (two more injured)


Reuters reports a police officer was shot dead in Mosul with four others wounded,


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Yesterday in another
softball interview conducted by Anderson Cooper (CNN) in Iraq (where are the charges that he's just in Iraq for the ratings?), Cooper counted it a success that he was able to get the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki to concede that "there is a problem in parliament, in ministries, in how ministries are selected . . . ." Coops was so thrilled about it that he forgot to point out the heads of all cabinets (ministries) were appointed by whom? al-Maliki. And as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed today, "The apparent collapse comes amidst a new White House effort to convince lawmakers US goals in Iraq are being achieved. Pushing through a new oil law has been high on the list." What? As James Glanz (New York Times) noted, the theft of Iraqi oil appears on hold and al-Maliki is convinced that "there is a simpler reason the Sunnis abandoned or at least held off on the deal: signing it would have given Mr. Maliki a political success that they did not want him to have." Glanz white washes the reality of the law that would provide for the theft of Iraqi oil, but that's the Times for you, right? Andy Rowell (Oil Change International) notes that "Iraq's oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani" declared the proposed deal between Hunt Oil Company and the Kurdish north "illegal."

Turning to other news, Wednesday on
WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio, Sue Udry (United For Peace and Justice) spoke with Deepa Fernades about [PDF format warning] "Iraq: The People's Report" which details a number of issues including the Iraqi refugee crisis, the lack of power and potable water. Udry noted, "We're up close to half a trillion dollars -- five hundred billion dollars spent in Iraq. And the Bush administration is asking -- we're still not sure how much more he wants. But between 140 and 200 billion more. But that-that five-hundred billion could have been spent on for example, in the US could have built, over 4 million affordable housing units we could have paid 7 million public school teachers, we could have insured 272 million unisured childred."

The report has many strong points. But it's already led to complaints on campuses we've spoken at this week. The question students want to know (wording it nicely here): Is there a reason Phyllis Bennis and Eric Lever low ball the number of Iraqis who have lost their lives? "Estimates range from 71,017-600,000+" is shameful. If they're going to go with the lower estimate (Iraq Body Count) it is incumbent upon Bennis and Lever to use the correct number from the Lancet Study which WAS NOT six-hundred-thousand-plus. It was 655,000-plus. [PDF format warning] "
Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey" was written by Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy and Les Roberts. From the third paragraph of the summary: "We estimate that as of July 2006, there have been 654 965 (392979-942636) which corresponds to 2-5% of the population in the study area." The number is 654,965 and that was the number through July 2006 -- last year. In October of 2006, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) began the interview she and Juan Gonzalez conducted with Les Brown noting, "More than 650,000 people have died in Iraq since the U.S. led invasion of the country began in March of 2003. This is according to a new study published in the scientific journal, The Lancet. The studdy was conducted by researches at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad." On March 27th of this year, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "BBC News is reporting the British government ignored the conclusions of its own experts when it dismissed a medical studdy estimating more than 650,000 Iraqis have died due to the Iraq war. The study appeared in the British medical journal the Lancet last year. Researches based their findings on interviews with a random sampling of households taken in clusters across Iraq. In newly-released memos, the chief scientific adviser at Britain's Ministry of Defence called the researcher's methods 'close to best practice' and 'robust.' Both the US and Britain publicly rejected the study and criticized its methods."

That may be understandable from government liars. It is not understandable from peace groups. What could have been a strong resource for UFPJ has instead become a source of mockery or a source of anger on several college campuses. And you know what? The students are right to be angry. Saying 600,000 is dishonest. And the number was over 600,000 in July of 2006 -- over a year ago. Things like getting the numbers wrong (intentionally) go a long way towards explaining why so many students against the illegal war are writing off the established peace movement. This is the warning and groups can heed it or they can ignore it. But stunts like that are exactly why students are washing their hands of a number of groups and see them as inherently useless. (The authors of the report should also be paying attention to the reaction. Especially Bennis because she's better known and that's not a good thing in this instance.)

1,040,369 is the current estimate of Iraqis killed during the illegal war. That number is via
Just Foreign Policy which uses the Lancet study as well as the deaths reported since then -- and notes that all deaths are not reported so the number is higher than their estimate. In September of 2007, you need to do better than offer up a number from July of 2006 (which you still get wrong) and when you don't, you better accept the questions you're inviting about exactly how much value you place on Iraqi lives because the student movement has moved beyond the nonsense that's being pushed off on them. They're not the timid crowd and they're not going to take direction from anyone but especially not from those they don't trust. Something as basic as the numbers leads to questions, not trust.

Finally, on PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio: this week (Friday's on most PBS stations), the program expands to an hour for a special look at the Third Infantry's First Brigade which is on it's third deployment to Iraq. A preview is posted at YouTube. The earlier broadcast of interviewing the Third Infantry's First Brigade can be found here. And NOW is offering an online exclusive of interviews with members of the Third Infantry and their spouses.

now with david branccaciopbs