Saturday, May 05, 2007

Highlights

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Which, sadly, I didn't realize it was until C.I., Jess and I ran to get some produce this morning.

Will there be a review today? If there is, it will be Patti Smith. I've heard that more than anything else this week. That's not a complaint. If I'd been home, I would've had a review of Tori Amos ready to go. But I wasn't home because Rebecca gave birth and we all headed East for that.

I have followed the news mainly through C.I.'s snapshot and conversations with others. I missed KPFA.

I've been up for about two or three hours but I wake up slowly and I do get jet lag. Yes, I know, flying in a plane should not make anyone tired. It's not as though I flew home flapping my wings. But since I'm so out of it, I'm going to do some highlights (which I should do even when I'm not tired).

"White House in fear" & "THIS JUST IN! MYSTERIOUS LETTER SHOCKS D.C."
-- Cedric & Wally's joint post on Bully Boy's latest bluster.

"The grind (Mike filling in for Rebecca)" -- I really enjoyed this piece by Mike. I was sipping my coffee and read it slowly to savor.

"Grab bag (Betty blogging for Rebecca)" -- If I didn't love Betty's site so much, I'd say, "Chuck it out the window!" She's a natural blogger. At her site, she's got to stay in character, work with an outline, etc. When she gets to fill in for one of us and just blog, she's always delivering something amazing.

"Greg Palast, Gregory Levey" -- Thursday, Elaine and I stayed at Rebecca's. We had a lot of fun and Rebecca's baby is a beauty. But Elaine said that she just knew, come Friday, she'd have nothing to blog about because the week's been a busy one and she was so tired. I understood completely. However, unlike me, she actually did end up having something to blog about Friday night. When we got back here (Ava, Jess, Ty, Dona, Jim, C.I. and myself), I did head to my place and log on the computer. I probably stared at the screen for 30 minutes before I told myself, "Just go to sleep." Smartest decision I could have made. (Though I am still sleepy.)

"Corn & Onion Casserole in the Kitchen" -- I got to visit with Trina this week as well and that is always great. Here she's offering a recipe (as she does on Saturdays) and is addressing why, although meaningless, Hillary Clinton should issue a statement saying she made a mistake in voting for (and funding) the illegal war. (Voting for authorization of the illegal war. Technically, the war isn't authorized.)

"The Friedman 'Big Dumb'" -- Betty called this morning. She said, "Oh, I woke you up!" She had even called C.I. first to run the latest by hoping that would let sleepy head me be wideawake for the scheduled phone call. It didn't. But I was laughing when she read it to me over the phone. You will laugh too.

"Charles R. Larson wins the Dumb Ass award" -- you have to wonder, do the gas bags even try to find out any facts? Mike's taking on one in this post. The only thing I would add to it (and I know Mike was in a hurry when he wrote it) is that Larson shouldn't say Americans mute their TVs or don't read stories unless he knows that's what they do when Iraq comes on. He doesn't know it and there's no study to back up that (false) assertion.

Okay, that's going to be it for me. I'm at C.I.'s and I think I'm going to grab a guest room and go back to sleep. Sorry but I am jet lagged.

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

Friday, May 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more service members, the mainstream press gloms on an apparent lie, a US senator floats his inablity to stand (no spine), and more.


Starting with news of war resisters. Today
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed US Senator Daniel Akaka, the junior senator from Hawaii. Ehren Watada was brought up. Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. A February court-martial ended in an mistrial. This month (the 20-th through the 21st), pre-trial motions are scheduled. If the judge elects to ignore the Constituion's ban on double-jeopardy, Watada would then be court-martialed beginning July 16th. Before the Febuary court-martial, he spoke to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Tuesday, January 23, 2006 and Goodman and Gonzalez played a clip for that for Akaka today:

In my preparation for deployment to Iraq, in order to better train myself and my soldiers, I began to research the background of Iraq, including the culture, the history, the events going on on the ground and what had led us up into the war in the first place, and what I found was very shocking to me and dismaying, and it really made me question what I was being asked to do, and it caused me to research more and more. And as I found out the answers to the questions I had, I became convinced that the war itself was illegal and immoral, as was the current conduct of American forces and the American government on the ground over in Iraq. And as such, as somebody who has sworn an oath to protect our Constitution, our values and our principles, and to protect the welfare and the safety of the American people, I said to myself that's something that I cannot be a part of, the war. I cannot enable or condone those who have established this illegal and immoral policy. And so, I simply requested that I have my commission resigned and I separate completely from the military, because of those reasons, and I was denied several times, and I was basically given the ultimatum: either you deploy to Iraq or you will face a court-martial.

Noting that Akaka is opposed to the war, that Carolyn Ho had visited him in DC to ask for his support for her son,
Goodman asked Akaka, "Do you think he should be court-martialed?"

Akaka: I know him and I know his dad and his mom very, very well in Hawaii. I admire his position and, for me, it's a position that has grown with him being reared and brought up in Hawaii in a diverse population and with diverse culture and a care for people. And what he has done is so difficult for any young man to take a position like that, to the point where he is willing to resign his position as an officer and to leave the service of the United States. But he bases it on the mistakes that this country has made. And so, he needs to be admired for that. But he has had a difficult time to convince the military courts, as well, to just let him resign. But for me, we'll let the courts decide that. But I admire his position. It's very difficult, and we know that we all love our country, and I know he does too. But his reasons are, as I said, moral and that's really basic for anybody as he makes a difficult decision as he has.

For those lost in Akaka's useless wordage, the answer is "no." He will not do one damn thing. Would the answer have been different if Goodman or Gonzalez had raised the issue of double-jeopardy?

No. Akaka is as useless as his words. "I know him . . I know his dad and his mom . . ." Yes, he does know them. He was happy to have Bob Watada work his butt off for his campaign and many others. And while Akaka's happy to pose as BRAVE SENATOR AGAINST THE WAR he can't won't lift a damn finger to help anyone that's suffering for Akaka and other senators' useless manuevers. What is Akaka so scared of? He was just re-elected in November of 2006. He is 82 years old. Is he afraid he won't be able to be a senator at 88 if he shows some damn courage? When
Time magazine picks you as one of the Five Worst Senators maybe it's time you stepped aside ("As a legislator, though, Akaka is living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise. After 16 years on the job, the junior Senator from Hawaii is a master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee.") Voting against the war doesn't mean a damn thing if that's where you courage ends. Staying on dumb and useless, let's turn to Hawaii's other Senator (though let's note that when it's time to stand up for drilling in the AMWR, Akaka is present and accounted for), Daniel Inouye. Like Akaka, Inouye has strongly benefitted from the work of Bob Watada. Inouye is 82 as well (he is actually four days older than Akaka).

Inouye voted against authorization for the illegal war. At 82, why is he so scared to speak up in defense of Watada?
Greg Small (AP) reported on Inouye's attitude towards Watada last August: not "too happy," rushed to note "he wasn't praising Watada" . . . So two senators, damn well old enough to know better, can't do one damn thing. They can't end the war, they can't speak out for someone forced to take a stand (one they themselves are too feeble or cowardly to take). They both knew Bob Watada. They're thanks for all the hard work he put in is to turn their backs on his son? May voters show them the same sense of 'loyalty' if the OLD FOOLS are idiot enough to run for re-election (2011 for Inouye, 2012 for Akaka). Inouye and Akaka the strongest reasons today for a mandatory retirement age for the Senate.

In other war resister news, this week Camilo Meija's
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, he will be joining Agustin Aguayo Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Aguayo wants to take part in that but may not be released in time. If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Where's Augie?" All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, 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, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others. (Filling in for Rebecca, Betty wrote about Sir! No Sir! last night.)


Now let's turn to the apparent lie.
CBS and AP report that Manouchehr Mottaki (Iran's Foreign Minister) "walked out of a dinner of diplomats where he was seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, on the pretext that the female violinist entertaining the gathering was dressed too revealing." Cute. Kind of like the lie that Hugo Chavez said Noam Chomsy was dead, no? Other versions take greater strides to note that Rice wasn't walked out on, she wasn't present. But they love this apparently false claim of the scantily clad violinist -- in Egypt? the US State Department can't lie any better than that? -- and most include this non-diplomatic quote by Sean McCormack who is a spokesperson for the State Department: "I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state." What's the truth?

Oh, you don't think it's coming out of the braying mouth of Sean McCormack, do you?
KUNA reports: "On Thursday evening, Mottaki left dinner in Sharm el-Sheikh before Rice arrived to sit at the same table" and "Asked why he did not meet Rice, Mottaki told a news conference: 'There was no time, no appointment and no plans. A meeting between foreign ministers has certain requirements (such as) political will and it also has to be clear on what basis such a meeting would be held." AFP, to its credit, noted the comments being put out by "US officials" were "a swipe" on the part of "US officials" but somehow Mottaki's press conference just slipped everyone's attention.

McCormack's statements aren't diplomatic but they are the sort of calculated cheap shots. So nice of so many in the press to run with them just because US officials said they were true. Our Hedda Hoppers of the press.

Staying on the topic of the press, in the current issue of
Extra! (March/April 2007, put out by FAIR), Pat Arnow explores (pp. 9-10) the censorship the press doesn't fight. Using a photo (by Robert Nickelsberg) that ran with Damien Cave's "Man Down," Arnow explains how the New York Times groveled and apologized to appease the US military, "apparently removed the photos from their website" in order to gladly go along with the latest dictates of the US military: "Now publications of pictures of casualties violates new media ground rules for Iraq from the Department of Defense. The regulation states, 'Names, video, identifiable photographs of wounded service members will not be released without service member's prior written consent' -- which seems absurdly unlikely." The US military has declared that photos of casualties taken in a public area are not, in fact, public. It's the sort of thing one expects from Team Crusie, but not from the US military, and the sort of thing one doesn't expect for news reporters (as opposed to feature writers) to ever go along with; however, go along with it the Times and other outlets have (Arnow also names the Washington Post). Arnow concludes, "Photos of American suffering or suffering caused by Americans might indeed sicken and offend viewers. But by acquiescing to the military's censorship and avoiding most of these images of American involvement, the media does not offer a true portrayal of the consequences of war. . . . By accepting military censorship without discussion, though, the media demonstrates cowardice." (It should probably be noted that no one has yet to touch the much talked of incident where the Times pulled a reporter from Iraq to appease the US military.)

Barry Lando (The Middle East Online via Common Dreams) notes the "pretense that they [journalists] actually know what is going on in Iraq. It is more showbiz than fact. Because of the fearful security situation, they are restricted to the artificial enclave of the Green Zone, literally cut off from the rest of the country. When they venture out, it is usually only with helmet and flak jacket, safely embedded with American military units. Most of Iraq and most of its people are unknown territory. . . . Most reporters also avoid reporting that the claim of the squabbling do-nothing politicians in the Green Zone to be the government of Iraq is another fiction promulgated by the Bush administration. Everyone -- the media, visiting congressmen and officials all seem to play along -- but as retired General Barry McCaffrey recently pointed out: There is essentially not a single province in the country where 'the centeral government holds sway.'"

Today, the
New York Times grabbed some ribbon and tied a 'terrorism' bow around any story they could. Damien Cave tries to fix the mess of official statements in opposition and ends up coming off like Faye Dunaway in the My-daughter-My-sister scene in Chinatown. So after wasting a ton of space and ink this week on whether or not this 'terrorist' was killed or that one was, Damien Cave tells us that the US military asserts they "killed a senior propagandist . . . who was involved in kidnapping Westerners, including the American journalist Jill Carroll." Though repeating every word purred by the Giddiest Gabor Green Zone (Willie Caldwell), Cave misses basic reality. As Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) reports "Carroll says she doesn't recognize the photo released by the military of [Abdul-Latif al-] Jubouri." That much was known yesterday. Murphy also reports that Caroll identifies Abu Nour as a major player in her kidnapping and there is "no doubt in her mind that he was the most powerful of the captors". Murphy also reminds that "Over the past the year the US military has detained a number of figures believed to have been involved" in Carroll's kidnapping and that of Tom Fox and three members of CPT. Somehow, Cave misses all of that. But then, he is working for the paper that early on could have interviewed members of the resistance but a vexed look from a US military official was enough to send Dexy Filkins off to his corner, whimpering and sucking his thumb.

These days, very few outlets could get an interview with anyone in the resistance.
Alive in Baghdad did get an interview this week, with a member of the Islamic Army in Iraq which has been dubbed "a resistance group" by Iraq's vice president Tareq al-Hashemi. Below is a transcript of the masked man's statements:

In the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. The new security plan is a huge failure. We have nothing against the American people. On the contrary, we know there are educated Americans and Americans who like the Iraqi people. Our problem is with the American occupiers who invaded our country. I ask any American, if an invader broke into his country, what would he do? Welcome them? He is going to use this weapon by the will of Allah. God is supporting us. Concering the execution of the hero martyr Saddam Hussein, I call on all the TV networks to visit Iraq and find someone who supported the execution of the Iraqi president. May God have mercy on his soul. When he executed the 148 men as the media claims, they were traitors when we were at war with Iran. If the American president faces an assassination attempt, what is he going to do? Is he going to release them from prison? He'll find the terrorists. This is very normal and the Iraqi president was in a war situation where he was about to be assassinated. So what could the man do? Iran sent these men and supported them and even Iranian weapons were found. My late uncle was a senior official in the state. He saw these weapons. All of them were made in Iran. Where did they get them from? From Iran. They say that the Iraqi president was Sunni and execute Shiites but that is a lie. Those executed by the president were traitors. They didn't deserve to live on the land of Iraq. So he was not sectarian. The late Iraqi president was a patriot who loved his country & people. He made us live in safety,
although the country was going through economic difficulties because of the embargo imposed by the Americans and the Kuwaitis. It was what God willed. This security plan has failed and the Iraqi government is loyal to Iran, to the Safavid [Iranians]. This government is unable to run a group of people. So how can it run an entire country with 28 million Iraqis? I call on the Americans to leave Iraq and re-build the former Iraqi army. By the will of Allah, I call upon the American people to withdraw their sons, brothers, and fathers before they are buried her in Iraq because we noble Sunnis do not accept that and the biggest proof for that was how the late president sacrificed himself and his sons for the sake of Iraq and the land of Iraq. And as it is said, we are people who will never surrender.

Alive in Baghdad does a contextual wrap around (at the end they're noting the Mongols) including: "We are aware that some may find this content objectionable or irresponsible, but we feel it is completely in line with our mission to detail facets of daily life in Baghdad." Those who find it objectionable may do so because they've become so used to what passes for reporting in the mainstream press. Alive in Baghdad, as BBC reported last December, "won a crop of 'Vloggie' industry awards for showing the human face behind Iraq's daily toll of deaths and kidnappings."


Bombings?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that killed 5 police officers and left 2 more wounded, a Baghdad taxi bombing that wounded one police officer, and a Babil car bombing that claimed 1 life and left 21 wounded. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A car bomb and two roadside bombs went off overnight in Kirkuk, killing six Iraqis and injuring at least 33" while a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 2 lives.

Wednesday's rocket attack on the Green Zone killed four contractors.
Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Two of the dead were from India, one was from the Philippines and one was from Nepal." Thursday's snapshot, citing Reuters, noted the four were all from the Philippines.

Shootings?

Hussien Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 guards were wounded by gunfire in Baghdad (Habibiya neighborhood) and two guards of the Imama Ali mosque (in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood) were wounded in an attack that also led to the mosque being burned down, a Shurqat attack that left a police officer dead, and "For the last five days, the tribes of Shimar who live at the villages of Kinaan have been on fighting with the terrorists there with no help from the government having one man killed and five injured."

Corpses?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 8 corpses in Suwayra, 6 in Baiji (all police officers) and 9 in Falluja. AP notes 7 corpses "found floating in the Diyala River in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, and snipers were preventing police and medical teams from recovering from the remains along with other bodies spotted in recent weeks from the waterway, police said."

Today the
US military announced: "An improvised explosive device targeting an MND-B patrol killed one Soldier and wounded three others in a western section of Baghdad May 3."
And
they announced: "An MND-B Soldier was killed and six others were wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital May 3." And they announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad today." Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that there were 65 attacks using projectile bombs.
The deaths announced today brought the total number of US service members to die in the illegal war to
3363.

Finally
Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported yesterday on an ethics study the US military conducted on marines stationed in Iraq. The study found that 40% was the number who stated they "would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and Rogers reported: "The report indeed showed that longer deployments and multiple tours of duty were increasing troops' rates of marital and mental-health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder." Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports on the study today and notes that "55 percent of Army soldiers would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian."







damien cave

Thursday, May 03, 2007

3 things

I'm noting 3 things tonight. This will be short.

1) Where's Guns and Butter? I haven't heard it. We all came East to be here for Rebecca (she gave birth). In fact, I got to be the lucky one here tonight. (Elaine's on her way right now.) We've all taken turns so we weren't crowding her. I thought C.I. would stay over but C.I. said, "Kat, you know you want to." I did and I've had a lot of fun. Rebecca (and Flyboy)'s baby is so small and so beautiful. So that's my focus tonight and I'm only blogging briefly.

2) Tori Amos? Yes, I forgot her when I made my list. I'm not sure I'll be able to do a review this weekend. If I do, it may be Tori.

3) Camilo Mejia's book is out. Ironically, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez spoke with "authors" today. Mejia wasn't one of them. Nor did they note Salon's story (see snapshot below). Possibly you can't note the story when they're dealing with crap? Such as a promoting a BAD book that came out this week? Such as promoting a book written by Mad Maddie's right hand and really bad actor who showed all he had on Booker? The Modern Day Carrie Nations ("Get the axe!") march on and do so thanks to people refusing to call out Sammy Powers and her ilk, refusing to book Keith Harmon Snow -- who has experience in something more than running bits of dialogue with Richard Grieco.

Again, for those not aware, Camilo Mejia wrote a non-fiction book and it was published this week. But apparently fiction was all the rage today as the Bill O'Reillys of the left ("Bub" is all that's missing from the title of crap-fest posing as a book) get hand jobs and tongue baths from journalists who should know better. You can read about Mad Maddie's Boy Toy in Keith Harmon Snow's "Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia?" (Global Research). You can read abou the bad hactor in the pages of a tabloid. Sadly, you could hear (or watch or read) the two-some in full shame via independent media today.

It was and is disgusting.

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

Thursday, May 3, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Democrat leadership continues to indicate that caving is second only to begging for money in their bag of tricks, the attempts to privatize Iraq's oil continues, and the silence on US actions in Canada are broken.

Starting with real news.
Gregory Levey (Salon) becomes the first at a US news outlet to break the silence on a development that has angered Canadians, raised issues of sovereignty, and been an intimidation tactic (at best) meant to clamp down on war resistance. Levey recounts what happened to Kyle Snyder the day before his wedding to Maleah Friesen -- being carted off by Canadian polilce from his home, in his boxers and handcuffs, at the orders of the US military as well as "three men wearing trench coats" visiting the Toronto home of Winnie Ng looking for US war resister Joshua Key who identified themselves as Canadian police. We've gone through this all before, but for late comers, Winnie Ng has always been consistent in her statements on this. It's the Canadian police that have changed their stories repeatedly (short version: None of our officers were there; one was there but he didn't identify the other two -- US military -- as police officers . . . we don't think . . .). Levey notes that "While 3,101 soldiers went AWOL between October 2005 and October 2006, more than 1,700 soldiers deserted in the six months between October 2006 and early April, according to figures released recently by the Army. According to the War Resisters Support Campaign, the number of soldiers coming to Canada over the past six months has risen correspondingly." US war resister Corey Glass (who considered returning to the US following Darrell Anderson's lead but reconsidered when he saw how the military lied to Kyle Snyder) speaks with Levey: "Corey Glass, a former National Guardsman who worked in military intelligence in Iraq before deserting to Canada in 2006, says he once considered it his duty to serve. But he says that in Iraq, he was directed to 'sanitize' intelligence reports. 'I was told to pretty much go with the story you're given, take out the real details, and paint a picture for the commander,' he told Salon. Eventually Glass came to believe that 'they used lies and plays on words to get us over there, and ordered us to commit crimes, in my opinion, against another country'."

Again, that was
Salon that broke the US silence -- not the New York Times and certainly not The Nation magazine. US war resisters within the military are not being silent (even if some in the press -- big and small -- are), as Courage to Resist reports, Agustin Aguayo is supposed to join with war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Aguayo wants to take part in that but may not be released in time. If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Where's Augie?" All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, 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, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others. (Filling in for Rebecca, Betty wrote about Sir! No Sir! last night.)

In other news of resistance,
Noah Shachtman (Wired) reports: "The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say." Veterans for Peace refuses to play along with censorship and notes:

Resistance is NOT futile. It has been happening with soldiers in Iraq for a while, but the movement is growing! Ronn Cantu is one soldier who has been speaking out, and he's been doing so for quite a while. He is currently stationed in Baghdad and is a member of
Iraq Veterans Against the War and a signer of the Appeal for Redress. He runs the online forum, "Soldiervoices.net" where he encourages people to post their feelings on the war. Many that use this forum are using it as a tool to voice their opposition to the war. Lately, more active duty and deployed military personnel are using their rights as citizens to express their outrage at this war. Despite the fact that the military is trying to silence active duty by telling them they have no rights, many brave men and women are speaking out. Active duty military DO HAVE RIGHTS and are allowed to speak out against this illegal war - and many more are beginning to do just that! Two more blogs from active duty in Iraq have surfaced. Active duty blogs [Burst Assunder Army of Dude]

Turning to the trash -- Democratic leadership caving.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "On Capitol Hill, the Democratic-controlled House has failed to override President Bush's veto of an Iraq war spending bill that sets timetables for the withdrawal of [some] troops from Iraq. After the override failed, President Bush hosted Congressional leaders from both parties at the White House to discuss a compromise bill. The Washington Post is reporting the Democratic leadership is now backing down and had dropped their demand for including a [non-binding] timeline to bring troops home from Iraq. Democrats appear to be deeply divided over how far to give in to the White House." How far to give in? That appears to be the eternal question for Democratic leadership -- they appear to have lost not only their spines but their will to fight. Joanthan Weisman and Shailagh Murray (Washington Post) report that, like a lousy poker player who doesn't even know how to bluff, Dem leaders met with Bully Boy Wednesday and right away Dems were "offering the first major conession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq." The Post quotes US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating, "We made our position clear." For anyone paying attention -- non Party Hack -- they certainly did. (For those confused, Steny Hoyer and Pelosi's position is supine.)

Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) observes "the Democrats are seriously contemplating a compromise on an already compromised bill. Now, rather than insist on a deadline for withdrawal that was fudge-able in the first place, they appear to be ready to settle for no deadline at all, just some unenforceable benchmarks for the Maliki government. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyner expects a new bill to pass in the House in two weeks and to become law by Memorial Day. 'We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way . . . without the resources they need,' he said. But resources for what? For continuing the occupation? Or getting the hell out of there? Nancy Pelosi wasn't exactly crystal clear in her statement on the President's veto. The Speaker said the original bill 'honored and respected the wishes of the American people to have benchmarks, to have guidelines, to have standards for what is happening in Iraq.' Those weren't the wishes of the American people. Their wishes were to bring troops home within a year."

Mike Ferner (CounterPunch) observes that, "MoveOn and the DemBoosters are ringing some kind of dizzy alarm: 'Emergency Iraq Rally . . . show our leaders we mean business tell Congress this is the key moment to stand strong against the President's veto.' Come again? For all the wrong reasons The Pretender has briefly delayed the next payment of war money and created a momentary crisis among the Empire's leadership. OK, so don't pin a medal on the guy, but at least define the current state of affairs as one to take advantage of: get serious about occuyping local Congressional offices, tying up traffic, shutting down universities, resisting as if, well, as if lives depended on it."

Mark Hull-Richter (AfterDowningStreet) (rightly) calls the vetoed bill "wimpy" and offers that "what smacks of the most unbelievable doublethink of our time, Move-On, which is supposedly opposing the 'war' aka OCCUPATION in Iraq, is furious that Bush won't take the money!!!! Can you believe this BS? Here's what to do: Call your Representative and tell them: DROP IT! If Bush doesn't want the money, even with minor, mild, advisory strings, tell him to pay for the damned thing himself. NO MORE MONEY."

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) notes "that rather than having a lame duck president we have a lame Congress. The only thing that will end the war is constant, organized and focused pressure from Americans who oppose the war. Two peace moms have called on anti-war activists to come to Washington, DC after Mother's Day. Cindy Sheehan is organizing a 'Mother of a March' on May 14, 2007. She is inviting 'all mothers and all people who have mothers' to join her. This will be a kick-off to a 'Summer of Action' behing spearheaded by Marine Mom Tina Richards. This summer peace activists will swarm Congress from May 14 to July 31 to urge an end to the war. You can see an interview of Tina Richards about the 'Summer of Action' [. . .]"

Tina Richards is the mother of Cloy Richards. When attempting to speak with with US House Rep David Obey, she found herself on the receiving end of his tirade. Fortunately for Obey, their will always be men to excuse other men's abuse of and towards women (and didn't the Party Hacks line up to do just that?).
Pham Binh (CounterPunch) notes Obey's tirade and reveals "that the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee, David Obey of Wisconsin, included funding for the construction of permanent bases in Iraq in the war funding bill that Bush just vetoed." Say what? Not the Dream Boy of Party Hacks! Binh continues, "Of course, Obey's bill doesn't refer to the four enormous military installations that are being built in Iraq as 'permanent bases.' Over the course of the last few years, they've morphed from permanent bases, to enduring bases, to contingency operating bases. Contingency has a very termporary sound to it -- the contingency being that if Iraq unexpectedly runs out of oil, they'll close those bases and the tens of thousands of troops stationed in them can come home. Both sides of the aisle in Washington are angling to stay in Iraq permanently in one form or another."

Marc Train (Iraq Veterans Against the War) shares his view of the point of the illegal war and the drum beats on Iran, "This kind of foreign policy, along with the recent naval buildup in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean (featuring destroyer vessels equipped with tactical nuclear cruise missiles) and threatening Iran's existance, has the potential to drop the entir Middle East into instability. An unstable region that large would create plenty of opportunites for the war profiteering companies that currently hold sway over our Commander in Chief. Private military companies (PMC), which already make up the second largest military force in Iraq, would be called upon to support the overstretched American military presence in the region. These PMC's would be able to operate with little to no oversight and would become a primary component in this war profiteering playground."

Lewis Seiler and Dan Hamburg (San Francisco Chronicle via Truthout) also explore the reasons for the illegal war, note Chalmers Johnson ("One of the reasons we had no exit plan from Iraq is that we didn't intend to leave"), note the US military bases (737 around the world) and zero in on the "new Iraq oil law, largely written by the Coalition Provisional Authority, is planned for ratification by June. This law cedes control of Iraq's oil to western powers for 30 years. There is a major opposition to the proposed law within Iraq, especially among the country's five trade union federations that represent hundreds of thousands of oil workers. The United States is working hard to surmount this opposition by appealing directly to the al-Maliki government in Iraq."

The proposed oil law?
Edward Wong and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) report on a fissure, "misgivings that could derail one of the benchmark measures of progress in Iraq laid down by President Bush. . . The White House was hoping for quick passage". In the parliament, the Kurds are saying not so fast and the Sunnis have long expressed opposition.
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) quotes Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman stating, "The whole problem is because this law was made in a hurry, and the Americans were rushing everyone to do it. The details haven't been discussed, that's why there's no agreement." Of course, it would have helped if the parliament -- tasked to write laws -- had written it and not Big Oil. Taking a cue from their puppet leader, Nouri al-Maliki, who appears to have learned from Bully Boy that being a leader means taking a lot of vacations, the Iraqi parliament had intended to begin a two-month summer break. Ravi Nessman (AP) reports that "they might consider shortening -- or even canceling -- their planned two-month summer break to continue working. But they insisted that pressure from Washington is not behind the possible holiday-on-hold. And besides, they say, the U.S. Congress is not thinking of calling off its own recess because of wartime debate." Ben Lando (UPI via US Labor Against the War) reports that Petrolog & Associates Tariq Shafiq (who lives in Jordan, not Iraq) has turned against the law he had a hand in drafting and, Lando writes, "The oil unions and Sunni and Shiite parliamentarians and politicians have come out against the law. Shafiq, whose brother was killed recently in the sectarian violence in Iraq, says now is the time to put the law on hold and deal with resolving key issues first. Shafiq and 60 other experts wrote a letter to the government urging officials to do just that."

Meanwhile,
CNN wonders about leaving Iraq and turn to their resident PIG Peter Bergen who nixes the idea of a "rapid withdrawal" (which is what -- months, years, decades?). No word on whether or not PIG Peter Bergen was enjoying an Afghanistan whorehouse while he was issuing his opinion but then CNN probably wouldn't allow him to brag about that -- he has to save that crap for The Nation which finds it 'delightful.' British General Michael Rose ("Sir Michael Rose") must not have gleaned his knowledge from bordellos. BBC reports that the former army commander says "that the US and the UK must 'admit defeat' and stop fighting 'a hopeless war' in Iraq. Iraqi insurgents would not give in, he said, 'I don't excuse them for some of the terrible things they do, but I do understand why they are resisting'."

Bergen doesn't. Maybe a sex worker could whisper it to him?
Chris Kraul (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A brigade of 3,700 U.S. Army troops arrived in Baghdad this week, part of the Bush administration's troop buildup". The number will reach 160,000. Provided Bully Boy doesn't up the number again. With between 140,000 and 150,000 there currently, the chaos and violence has not vanished. (But Bully Boy says there's a level of violence that 'we' can all live with.)

Bombings?

Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 3 and left 25 wounded, a Kirkuk bombing that injured a police officer, a Diyala mortar attack that killed a woman and left two other people injured. CBS and AP report that today the US announced the deaths of "[f]our Filipino contractors working for the US government [who] were killed in a rocket attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone" which is increasingly under attack. Though announced today, Reuters notes the four were killed yesterday.

Shootings?

KUNA reports that Muthanna Mohammed Taleb ("an official of the Iraqi Community Party") was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters report the shooting death of an imam after a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was stormed. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an exchange in Basra that wounded three gunmen (and the Wednesday shooting deaths of two teachers in Mosul -- Nazal Al-Asdi and Asmaeel Taher). AP reports: "Gunmen stormed the offices of an independent radio station in a predominately Sunni area in Baghdad on Thursday, killing two employees and wounding five before bombing the building and knocking the station off the air, police said."

Corpses?

Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.
And
KUNA reports the discovery of 64 corpses "of unidentified persons in various sports in the governate of Mosul over the past week, which also witnessed explosion of 29 bombs, firing of 23 mortar shells on security positions and a spate of armed clashes between insurgents and government forces" Will the New York Times report 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad in tomorrow's paper or, mirthmakers that they are, go with 4?

Finally, Joan Baez was told "no thanks" by Walter Reed Army Medical Center when she attempted to perform for the wounded. Kat's "
Ban Bush, Not Baez" addresses how wrong-headed the decision to ban Baez was and Cedric's "Banning Baez won't make Stubby feel like a man" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! PEACE BANNED AT WALTER REED!" (joint-post) peer into the soul of the type to ban Baez.









joshua partlow



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ban Bush, Not Baez

Wally's "THIS JUST IN! PEACE BANNED AT WALTER REED! " and Cedric's "Banning Baez won't make Stubby feel like a man" are must reads. If you missed it, Joan Baez is some sort of national security threat that the world must be protected from: she was banned from performing for the soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

So the military can train them for war and when they're injured in an illegal war they think it's fair to deprive them from any performer who is willing to perform for them? Let's be clear that a lot of people are not visiting Walter Reed. I don't care if it was that "Have You Forgotten" guy that I loathe, any one who wants to perform should be allowed to. The wounded should be presented with a wealth of entertainment (the military's not going to present them with a wealth of money -- they'll have to fight for every benefit they're entitled to). So anyone willing to perform should be allowed to. If the soldiers don't like someone or don't like a genre of music, they can skip it. But they certainly should have the opportunity to make that decision themselves and have access to the widest possible slate of music.

I honestly don't think most would have boycotted Joan Baez. She's known for peace. She hasn't blown up any buildings. I think most would have enjoyed her performing two songs with John Mellencamp. I am so offended by this.

I'm offended politically but I'm also offended for the wounded. I went to Ireland last year because I had a relative that was dying. Having to deal with that and seeing others in the same situation, people who are confined to a hospital, you have no idea how much excitement can come into someone's life over the simplest thing. That's why I doubt many would have boycotted. It was some excitement. I am not calling anyone dull. I am noting that when you are receiving prolonged medical attention, the days can just slow down and you can look for anything to provide a lift. I always stopped to get some newspapers, magazines and candy each morning because there were three patients that I got to know while I was in Ireland. You would have thought I was performing. It made a difference. Not because those people were boring, they weren't. But because receiving treatment can be the most regimented, dull thing in the world.

I'm offended on so many levels. I'm offended as a fan of Joan Baez, I'm offended as a music lover, I'm offended that a choice that the wounded could have made for themselves was taken from them.

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Big Oil drools over the oil grab, much time is wasted with people pretending to be shocked (and worse), today is World Press Freedom Day, and more.


Starting with the garbage that's stinking up and taking up too much 'coverage' of Iraq. Bully Boy gave the toothless, non-binding, weak ass measure the Democratically controlled Congress passed a veto. To no one's surprise.
Andrew Ward (Financial Times of London) reminds, "Mr Bush had threatened for weeks to reject any legislation including withdrawal dates". The non-binding and toothless 'benchmarks' (always with get-out-of-the-benchmark-free cards). When the Democratic leadership caved and sold out the American people there was no call for "TAKE TO THE STREETS!"; however, because Bully Boy didn't sign the bill, WalkOn's calling for the closest thing to activism they can manage.

Bully Boy should have signed the bill. Not to end the illegal war. The bill didn't end the war, didn't guarantee anything (reclassification would have allowed Bully Boy to keep the exact same number of US service members on the ground in Iraq). But it would have been a PR victory for him. And then he could have said, "Well the bill didn't anticipate ___ so I've had to ___." He could have done whatever he wanted. The bill neither constrained nor contained the Bully Boy. He could have grabbed a few headlines, probably surprised enough people to leap all the way to 35% approval rating. His not signing a weak ass bill that gave him everything he asked for and put no binding condidtions on him was a sign (yet again) of the press' tendency to create 'boy geniuses' where there are none.

At the end of April,
Gareth Porter (IPS) observed, "The language on a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq voted out of the House-Senate conference committee this week contains large loopholes that would apparently allow U.S. troops to continue carrying out military operations in Iraq's Sunni heartland indefinitely." Now WalkOn and Party Hacks who pretend to care about something other than elections (but don't) have reason to drum up phoney outrage -- they sold the weak ass action by the Democrats as if it were the second coming of FDR's Public Works Administration. Others telling people to drop everything in the middle of the week -- a day after many have participated in actual events for real issues -- and rush out to express your . . . well, not shock. Everyone knew Bully Boy would veto. But whatever it is, express it! Drop everything because the weak ass Democratic leadership just got a wedgie and, we all know, Dem leadership can't defend themselves. As one "key Democratic strategist" bragged to Elizabeth Drew (The New York Review of Books) about the bill, "We don't want to own this war. It's Bush's war, and we want him to keep owning it."

While it appears that you tried to do something? And they can't get away with that lie without an army of enablers which, fortunately, is one thing the Beltway has in surplus. But people are catching on to the con game Democratic leadership tried to play on the voters.
Which is why
Charles Babington (AP) can report -- with little shock from readers -- that with Bully Boy having refused to budge and Dems already caved/collapsed, the 'compromise' is expected to come from the Compromised Party (Democratic Party) and chief among the compromised, House Majority Leader Steny Good Times Follow Me Around Hoyer who "told reporters Wednesday that he hopes to have a new bill passed in the House in two weeks, with a final bill sent to the president before the Memorial Day recess. 'We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way . . . without the resources they need,' said Hoyer, D-Md."

That quote is telling in two ways. First of all, Hoyer's now pushing the very thing used to tar and feather Dems with for the last few weeks (the abused often repeat the language of their abusers). Second, note the pause in the statement. "We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way . . . without the resources they need." As though Hoyer grasped that leaving US troops in harm's way is just what the Democrats -- same as the Republicans -- are doing. But, good news, they'll have "the resources they need."
Babington also reports that Hoyer "said the bill should fund combat through Sept. 30 as Bush has requested, casting doubt that Democratic leaders would adopt a proposal by Rep. John Murtha [. . .] to fund the war two or three months at a time." [Note Babington wrongly identifies Murtha as a Republilcan -- ". . . by Rep. John Murtha, R-Pa., to fund . . ."] US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying, "The president wants a blank check. The Congress is not going to give it to him." No, they are not. They are not going to put it in his hand. They're going to leave it on top of the bureau as they tip-toe out the bedroom door with a big smile on their faces.

The
BBC goes with their DC correspondent James Westhead's call "The Democrats acknolwedge they will eventually have to soften their bill as they cannot risk being accused of undercutting the troops during wartime". For those needing to see the con game from the other end, Noam N. Levey, Maura Reynolds and Joel Havemann (Los Angeles Times) produce the best piece of (unintentional) comedic writing of the year as they enter Bully Boy's head to report what he felt, what he hoped, what he thought, throughout the morning. It's an embarrassment of . . . embarrassments and did no think to wonder if this wasn't heavy on feature writing porn and light on what anyone expected from actual reporting? Let's hope all three wore gloves to protect themselves from bodily fluids.

Turning to Iraqi legislation news, the US allowed Big Oil to draft the Iraqi hydrocarbon law that would -- no surprise -- benefit Big Oil while stealing from the Iraqi people. This morning
Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reported that the law had been "sent to parliament" even though "Parliamentary officials . . . said they were unaware the bill had been submitted to the legislature." Why should it be any other way? Iraqis weren't the ones drafting this law -- not even the parliament which is tasked with drafting Iraq's laws. Raed Jarrar earlier revealed that, in February, when the law was agreed upon, the Iraqi parliament had no idea. Jarrar most recently explained (Raed in the Middle) the three primary reasons the law will harm Iraqis: the law breaks up the nation-state into economic regions and threatens national unity; the sovereignty of Iraq is harmed since the Iraqi government has no say in production limits, the Iraqi judiciary cannot resolve disputes and Big Oil gets seats on the council approving their own contracts; and "Iraq will lose hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign oil companies during the next 35 years because the law doesn't give any preferences to local companies and due to the unconventional type of contracting this law legalizes called the Production sharing agreements (PSA) or the exploration and production agreements."

"Under the proposed law, Iraq's immense oil reserves would not simply be opened to foreign oil exploration, as many had expected. Amazingly, executives from those companies would actually be given seats on a new Federal Oil and Gas Council that would control all of Iraq's reserves" is how
Juan Gonzalez (New York Daily News via Common Dreams) explained it in February, opening with: "Throughout nearly four years of the daily mayhem and carnage in Iraq, President Bush and his aides in the White House have scoffed at even the slightest suggestion that the U.S. military occupation has anything to do with oil. The President presumably would have us all believe that if Iraq had the world's second-largest supply of bananas, instead of petroleum, American troops would still be there." Ewa Jasiewicz (Democracy Rising) observes, "If passed by parliament, the law will mark a milestone in Iraqi history -- a shift of Iraq's massive reserves from public to private hands. It could see private companies develop and profit from Iraq's oil for 15-30 year periods with virtually no possibility for the Iraqi state to renegotiate contractual terms and conditions."

On February 23,
Antonia Juhasz, speaking with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room, explained:

This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue. That is not what this law is about. That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law. This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined. It is also about the distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed. There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority. The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions. The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies. Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground -- they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country. And that's what this oil law is all about.


When Juhasz spoke in February, the Democratic leadership had yet to devise, let alone unleash, their hideous proposals; however, it bears noting that the passing of this law was a "benchmark" on the offensive law. Dems bought the war this year as a time-share with the Bully Boy.

Turning to the the topic of courage.
Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) reports on war resister Agustin Aguayo who "was released from confinement at a U.S. military base in Mannheim, Germany, on April 18, but he's still far from free. [. . .] Helga and his twin daughters thought he would be headed home, but now the Army says that it plans to keep Agustin on active duty for one to two years more. And he remains under the authority of members of his old unit -- the same 'people that tried to take him by force, i.e., shackle, handcuff and carry him onto the plane' for his second Iraq deployment, explained Helga." Heather Wokush (OpEdNews) interviewed Agustin Aguayo for a piece published last Saturday and he stated, "I was determined that I would not hurt/injure others in any way, no matter what the consequences. I actually belileve that this action of not loading my weapon kept me sane. It brought me great sadness to know some soldiers I knew had shot at people and some soldiers I knew were hurt by the actions of others. It was so absurd." On his first tour of duty in Iraq, Aguayo refused to load his weapon. He went to Iraq as a medic and, while there, the realities he saw were in conflict with his own spiritual beliefs. As a result, he attempted to apply for c.o. status. As Helga Aguayo has noted, everyone who interviewed her husband during the process felt he was a c.o. objector but superiors (who never spoke with Aguayo) overruled that. Aguayo has attempted to address the matter via the civilian courts. Robert Zabala is another example of someone who had to go to the civilian courts to be awarded c.o. status (which he was awarded last month). The inequalities (and the fact that some people "in charge" don't even grasp the military guidelines as written) is why the Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

As
Courage to Resist reported, Agustin Aguayo is supposed to join with war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Wheere's Augie?" All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others.

From that worthy topic, we again have to dig through the trash.
CNN reports no one can confirm that Abu Ayyub was killed in Iraq on Tuesday. Had Kirk Semple (New York Times) focused on something more productive, he might have gotten the violence numbers correct in this morning's paper.

The violence continued today and maybe tomorrow the New York Times will cover it? Or maybe they'll continue their undercount when summarizing reported violence?

Bombs?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 dead in Baghdad, 4 wounded from a Baghdad minibus bombing ("IED carried in a plastic bag, left aboard"), 3 Baghdad mortar attack that killed a total of 5 and wounded 29, 4 Baghdad roadside bombs that killed a total of 3 people and wounded 4, a Baghdad car bombing that killed 4 people and left 25 wounded, a Basra bombing that killed one person and a Basra "katiosha missile" attack that wounded a child. Reuters reports 10 dead and 35 wounded in a Baghdad car bombing attack in the Sadr City section of the capital.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two injured people from a Basra "confrontation between gunmen and a British patrol, two gunmen were seriously injured." Reuters reports the Mosul shooting death of Nidhal al-Asadi who had been "a university professor".

Corpses?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 30 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and, in Kirkuk, the corpse of Nejim Mohammed Hussein was found (he had been a blacksmith).

In addition, today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps Soldier was severely wounded after an improvised explosives device exploded under her vehicle at approximately 1:55 pm Wednesday in western Baghdad. The Soldier later died of wounds at 3:25 pm while at the 28th CSH in Baghdad." And they noted: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in a southern section of the Iraqi capital May 2."

In other news of how bad things continue to get in Iraq, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom issued their
press release stating:

This year the Commission has added Iraq to its Watch List, due to the alarming and deteriorating situation for freedom of religion and belief. Despite ongoing efforts to stabilize the country, successive Iraqi governments have not adequately curbed the growing scope and severity of human rights abuses. Although non-state actors, particularly the Sunni-dominated insurgency, are responsible for a substantial proportion of the sectarian violence and associated human rights violations, the Iraqi government also bears responsibility. That responsibility takes two forms. First, the Iraqi government has engaged in human rights violations through its state security forces, including arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without due process, extrajudicial executions, and torture. These violations affect suspected Sunni insurgents, but also ordinary Sunnis who are targeted on the basis of their religious identity. Second, the Iraqi government tolerates religiously based attacks and other religious freedom abuses carried out by armed Shi'a factions including the Jaysh al-Mehdi (Mahdi Army) and the Badr Organization. These abuses include abductions, beatings, extrajudicial executions, torture and rape. Relationships between these para-state militias and leading Shi'a factions within Iraq's ministries and governing coalition indicate that these groups operate with impunity and often, governmental complicity. Although many of these militia-related violations reveal the challenges evident in Iraq's fragmented political system, they nonetheless reflect the Iraqi government's tolerance--and in some instances commission--of egregious violations of religious freedom. Finally, the Commission also notes the grave conditions for non-Muslims in Iraq, including ChaldoAssyrian Christians, Yazidis, and Sabean Mandaeans, who continue to suffer pervasive and severe violence and discrimination at the hands of both government and non-government actors. The Commission has added Iraq to its Watch List with the understanding that it may designate Iraq as a CPC next year if improvements are not made by the Iraqi government.

Also under attack are attorneys.
IRIN reports that, "Threats to judges and lawyers have escalated over the past 14 months in Iraq, in line with a general escalation in sectarian violence after the bombing of a Shia shrine in February 2006. Hundreds of legal workers have left the country because of threats and persecution. This is delaying judicial processes and denying thousands of people their legal rights." The right to the pursuit of happiness (a US right enshrined in the Constitution) never got established post-invasion. Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports: "From the boys selling black-market gasoline from donkey carts, to the abandoned movie theaters, restaurants and liquor stores, from the overflowing sewage to the dwindling food rations, Baghdad has lost its place as a pinnacle of Middle East modernity. Existence has become more rudimentary." Partlow speaks with Um Mohammed (nickname, not real name) who notes that she is now using a "tanoor, a waist-high clay bourd for baking bread over smoldering palm-tree coals" -- a device she's never used before in her life but with her family's cost for monthly bread hitting $70, she's using it now. She tells Partlow, "We are living in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, of prosperity. Where is the prosperity?" Let's repeat "she tells" because the New York Times apparently has the shyest correspondents in the world -- or the most sexist -- since they seem to consider a real chore to speak with Iraqi women.

Just walking along, shopping for food
Stepping out of the line of fire when people are rude
Cheap stuff made in China, someone calls it a sale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
Beat down in the market, stoned to death in the plaza
Raped on the hillside under the gun from LA to Gaza
A house made of cardboard living close to the rail
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
-- "Somebody's Jail," written by Holly Near, off her new CD
Show Up

On
World Press Freedom Day, we'll note Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times) report from Monday about Amal Mudarris ("One of Iraq's most beloved broadcasters") who made the 'mistake' or committed the 'crime' of being "outside her Baghdad home Sunday morning" and was shot repeatedly. Sanders notes: "Police said her attackers had waited in parked cars near her home in the Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Khadra. Mudarris, a Shiite originally from soutehrn Iraq, is a host of a daily call-in show on a station of the state-owned Iraiq Media Network." Reporters Without Borders states she "is reported in a coma" and notes that she is among 167 journalists who have died in the Iraqi war. But will anyone count the women's deaths? This week, two female college students were killed as they attempted to drive from college to their home. If the genders noted, does it seem like it registers? One group who is following and leading on this issue is MADRE which published the report "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML) in March. In addition, the spring 2007 issue of Ms.features Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq." We noted the article on April 19th but it is now up at the Ms. website (click here). The attacks on Iraqi women are very real -- regardless of how much the bulk of the mainstream press attempts to ignore what's happening.


And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my sould
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned in the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairy tale
-- "Somebody's Jail," written by Holly Near, off her CD
Show Up.

Finally, today, Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC),
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci. Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.


iraq

antonia juhaszraed jarrar






joshua partlow