Friday, August 03, 2007

Bad music magazines & hideous Sam Power

So the August 9, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone tells us (page 22) that CD sales have again plummeted and downloads are "leveling off" with the best selling album of the year (in CDs) selling only 1.7 million copies. And in more depressing news, Dave Matthews is about to release a new live CD (without "Band"). They do an album, it's time for the live one. They do a greatest hits, issue a live one. If there's anything worse, it can be found on page 55, a full page pic of a bloated Axel Rose (from 1986) onstage, shirtless, in a jock and chaps. Page 60 contains a photo of professional drug addict Scott Weiland which makes me wonder about all the "bad girl" press and how Weiland has avoided similar press despite repeated and public drug problems. The only semi hottie in the magazine is skateboarder Ryan Scheckler who's shown shirtless on a bed but he's missing about half his nose (pug nose) and is 17 so pass.

Not much worth reading or looking at to be honest. And another Guns 'N Roses cover? Another article on Where Is Axel? They've done that article at least three times now.

Spin's August 2007 issue. (I ignored RS' political section because it ignored Iraq.) Uglies sight? Page 17 (I think, the first 20 or so pages aren't numbered). Michael Stipe without a shirt modeling Marc Jacobs. Lot of pigs in the magazine including Glenn Danzig (if you don't know him, no loss). He's what now, 67? He tosses around thing like "It's the whole p.c. thing, you know what I mean?" Uh, no, did you just arrive via a time travel machine? How old you must sound to the kiddies. He whines (when his wealth is noted), "I don't thinkanyone can ever be financially sound in this day and age, unless you're a multibillionaire." I'm sure the kiddos are howling, "I relate!" I'll praise Charles Aaron's article on actors who try to become rockers but that's it.

The Senate just gave Bully Boy what he wanted -- more spying on Americans. Disgusting.

Equally Disgusting Samantha Grab The Axe Power has written and displayed more of her stupidity in The Atlantic. It's a defense of Obama for any who pay close attention and for any who wondering why it's because she was an advisor to him when he made it into the Senate. I hate that mental midget, War Mongering, piece of trash.

Noam Chomsky provides a smackdown here and this is one paragraph from it:

There's a lot more like this. It's of some interest that Power is regarded -- and apparently regards herself -- as a harsh critic of US foreign policy. The reason is that she excoriates Washington for not paying enough attention to the crimes of others. It's informative to look through her best-seller Problem from Hell to see what is said about US crimes. There are a few scant mentions: e.g., that the US looked away from the genocidal Indonesian aggression in East Timor. In fact, as has long been indisputable, the US looked right there and acted decisively to expedite the slaughters, and continued to do so for 25 years, even after the Indonesian army had virtually destroyed what remained of the country, when Clinton, under great international and domestic pressure, finally told the Indonesian generals that the game was over and they instantly withdrew -- revealing, as if we needed the evidence, that the immense slaughter could have been easily terminated at any point, if anyone cared. The implications cannot be perceived.

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

Friday, August 3, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the puppet tries not to notice the government collapsing around him, the National Lawyers Guild issues a report by Heidi Boghosian on the state of rights in the United States, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Cindy Chan (Epoch Times) reports on the creation of the War Resisters Support Campaign "launched shortly after an American deserter from the Iraq War named Jeremy Hinzman arrived in Canada seeking asylum that January" in 2004 and how it was quickly realized that both a legal and a political effort would be needed and that's certainly true with both war resisters Hinzman and Brandon Hughey's case now being appealed to Canada's Supreme Court following the Federal Court of Appeal's decision that "rights of conscience" could be applied to "a refugee claimant [who] is a high-level policy-maker or planner of the military conflict" but not "a mere foot soldier". So apparently Henry Kissinger, for instance, could get refugee status for his war crimes in Canada but Canada will not give asylum to war resisters. As Chan notes, that was not always the case. During Vietnam, the Canadian government stood up but that's when they had a prime minister who wasn't a lackey of the United States. Chan notes that Hughey and Hinzman are expected to hear this month or next whether the Supreme Court will hear their case.
Just as during Vietnam, war resistance is on the rise. "I think something similar is beginning to happen now because those same unities coming together to oppose the war say, 'No, we're not going to continue fighting in this war.' We have the organization I belong to,
Iraq Veterans Against the War, we have up to 500 members, the majority of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are saying, 'No, we're not going to continue to fighting this war.' And you know by the Pentagon's own estimates we have since the war started 8 to 10,000 troops who have decided not to go back to the war. To put it in perspective, that's a division size element that's been wiped by desertion and AWOL," explains war resister and CO Camilo Mejia on this week's Progressive Radio, Matthew Rothschild interviewed Mejia who has told his story in the recently released Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press).

Matthew Rothschild: Did you get a lot of negative feedback from either people who saw you on the media or from soldiers or former soldiers?

Camilo Mejia: Definitely there was some negative feedback but by and large the feedback was very positive partiicularly when it came from the members of the military. People in the army, or in the armed services, don't really feel that they have the right to go public with their views and opinions . . . but secretly in a more private way a lot of people came up to me and said they agreed with me although they didn't feel they could do so publicy. The feedback was very positive.

Mejia described the things he saw at the POW camps for Iraqis and Rothschild asked if he realized then that the Geneva Conventions were being violated? Mejia replied that he didn't realize it at that point, "It just felt wrong." Mejia explained that the events "on a daily basis" in Iraq didn't allow him much time for reflection but he had that time while he was on leave back in the US. He and Rothschild discussed the bond (socialization) within the military and how that can effect choices made. Mejia stated the people need to "realize that there's a greater tragedy in Iraq . . . The people of Iraq, 90% of the people who are dying are civilians, you know children, unarmed men, women, the elderly, the entire life being destroyed, the infrastructure is being destroyed so we have got to step outside our own fears and our own interests and our own feelings to look at the bigger picture and realize that saying that we're fighting for one another is no reason enough for participating in this criminal war."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian 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, 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. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

Mejia was interviewed on Monday on
WBAI's Law and Disorder as was Adam Kokesh spoke with hosts Dalia Hashad, Michael Ratner and Michael Smith (Heidi Boghosian, the fourth host was not part of this broadcast, but we'll cover Boghosian in a moment). Kokesh is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and he discussed the military brass' efforts to suppress his freedom of his speech. Kokesh wore his fatigues (without markings or name tags) in Operation First Casualty in DC (and elsewhere but DC was the one that led to retaliation) which is street theater meant to convey for Americans what life is like for Iraqis during the illegal war.

"The media stories that we've read haven't captured this accurately," Dalia Hashad noted. Kokesh explained that, after the DC action, he got an e-mail which he didn't know what to make of -- was it for real? -- and he discussed it with Tina Richards (
Grassroots of America) who explained that her son Cloy Richards had received similar e-mails from people in (or claiming to be) the military and out of it. So Kokesh replied to the e-mail and the brass response was "which is completely unprecedented" because he had already been honorably discharged by the military and placed in the IRR Kokesh described it as a kick in the stomach and a surprise, "They can't do this, legally there's no grounds for this. You know it says Article II of the UCMJ it doesn't apply to the IRR it says in my enlistment contract". Dalia Hashad asked to explain about the IRR and Kokesh offered that "when you're in the IRR you're only responsibilites are to maintain a valid address and to show up if called back to active duty."

Michael Smith asked about wearing "a uniform" in street theater? Kokesh explained that a JAG attorney was activated from the reserves, Jeremy Sibert, for the prosecution team. Sibert is the Criminal Division Assistant US Attorney in the Del Rio Office [Texas} for the Department of Justice. Attorney Mike Lebowitz spoke on the program as well and (as requested by Eddie) we'll one more time go over that what Adam Kokesh and others do in street theater is
not an issue the military has any say in. Daniel Jay Schacht took part in street theater during Vietnam. He and others staged it outside a military recruitment center. At that point in time, the military thought they had rights that they didn't. Schacht was arrested for wearing a military uniform in the production. The military's reasoning was that it gave the armed forces a bad name -- the play, the performance, whatever. At that point, the military would allow or disallow theater productions the 'right' to utilize uniforms or not. In 1970, Schacht v. United States was heard by the Supreme Court. The Court found in Schacht's favor noting that the military had been granting permission to some. By denying permission to others, this was now a free speech issue. The US military, the Court determined, had no say in theater productions -- if some could use the uniforms, all could. The military had no say over what Schacht or anyone said in a theater production when they wore a uniform and they had no say over whether the uniform could be worn. This was true of all productions, including street theater. Justice Hugo Black wrote:

Certainly theatrical productions need not always be performed in buildings or even on a defined area such as a conventional stage. Nor need they be performed by professional actors or be heavily financed or elaborately produced. Since time immemorial, outdoor theatrical performances, often performed by amateurs, have played an important part in the entertainment and the education of the people of the world.
Kokesh is appealing and, due to the Supreme Court's 1970 verdict, it should be an easy win; however, Schacht v. United States should have ensured that the matter never went as far as did.
"The idea that citizens are free to dissent is ingrained in the American mythos, a concept even older than the Declaration of Independence itself. Equally important in this value system is the conviction that no nation state can survive as a democracy unless it safeguards political expression and activity," so writes Heidi Boghosian in Punishing Protest. And yet, Kevin Egler has a pre-trial date August 9th in the Portage County Municipal Court in Kent, Ohio. His crime,
as David O'Brien (The Record Courier via Common Dreams) explains, placing an "IMPEACH" sign on public party. And yet, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) reported last month on the White House's policy of keeping people out of tax payer events -- something clearly taking place throughout the 2004 campaign but the White House put it in writing. In the United States, the Los Angeles Times reports a record $1 million settlement by the District of Columbia due to the police round ups of demonstrators against the illegal war in 2002. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that the monies will go "to more than one hundred demonstrators" and that "D.C. previously agreed to pay more than $640,000 to fourteen other demonstrators. A larger class-action suit covering more than four hundred people awaits trial." The money involved in the DC payout may seem great but does it really cover the cost of violating people's First Amendment rights? And many other attacks on free speech and the right to assembly go under the radar. The National Lawyers Guild has just released Punishing Protest written by Heidi Boghosian (available online in PDF format for free and avaible in book format for $3 at the National Lawyers Guild website).

We're going to zoom in on one section (from page six) and just to provide background (by me, take it up with me, not Boghosian) 2004 was a presidential election. Though some voices, such as Naomi Klein, sounded alarms about the peace movement allowing itself to be subverted into a get-out-the-vote drive for a candidate who was not calling for an end to the illegal war (Democratic nominee John Kerry), most went along with it. One of the biggest peace demonstrations took place in NYC during the GOP convention. In the lead up to the rally and march, the Bloomberg administration denied (wrongly) Central Park access and along with attempting to fight that ban, the peace movement also had to deal with the middle age panice so many (such as Toad) were in the grip of -- alleged lefties who were saying that protesters shouldn't come to NYC or swearing they were leaving NYC for the entire convention. With that background in mind, on page six Boghosian addresses the importance of the media in providing a light and in demonizing and silencing:

For example, the New York print media engaged in hyperbolic coverage months before the 2004 Republican National Convention. The cover of the May 17, 2004 issue of New York magazine promoted companion articles, accompanied by a photograph of a protester wrapped in a U.S. flag. One headline taunted: "Cops to Protesters: Bring It On." The other read: "The Circus is Coming to Town: A Bush-hating nation of freaks, flash-mobbers, and civil-disobedients is gathering to spoil the GOP's party." Nearly the entire front page of the July 12, 2004 edition of the New York Daily News contained an exaggerated proclamation: "ANARCHY THREAT TO CITY Cops fear hard-core lunatics plotting convention chaos." Inside the paper, a two-page headline announced: "FURY AT ANARCHIST CONVENTION THREAT. 'These hard-core groups are looking to take us on. They have increased their level of violence.' -- Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly." The Daily News reported how "Kelly and company have to combat a shadowy, loose-knit band of traveling troublemakers who spread their guides to disruption ovre the Internet." Although the New York Daily News is a tabloid, and prone to sensational headlines, it has the largest circulation and readership in the New York market.

Boghosian then quotes Mara Verheyden-Hillard (NLG's co-chair of Mass Defense Committee) explaining, "Such misleading news coverage is part of an effort to get the activists and the legal community to buy into the police line that there are 'good protestors' and 'bad protestors' and therefore agree that there is a real threat that then necessitates police response to protest. Take action against the fictional bad protestors but don't trample on the rights of the 'good' kind of response, which diverts from those who are the real violent actors over and over -- the police." Also on the press coverage, Boghosian notes a study that found "college newspapers are generally doing a better job reporting on local antiwar events than other local newspapers" while the corporate (alleged grown up) press "fail to research accurate attendance numbers, or fail to mention estimates entirely". Boghosian covers the varying fees applied to some groups but not to others, police pre-demonstration raids on the premises where activists are staying (that harrassment also takes place in Canada, as Naomi Klein explains in Fences & Windows) and may 'find' or invent "a housing violation as a pretext to close down the premises." On page 27, Boghosian addresses the appalling "free speech zones" in Boston during the DNC convention, the containment pens endorsed by the Bloomberg administration which are a saftey hazard for demonstrators as well as a violation of free speech, the issues of bail, illegal spying, infiltration, court room shenanigans and more. The report, to be clear, is not focused on the peace movement. The report is about the erosion of rights in a democracy (or possibly, in an alleged democracy the way things are currently going) and also addresses the war on environmentalists, on Critical Mass and other cyclists. Among the points Boghosian sums up in her conclusion is this:

Decades ago, government spying, infiltration and disruption tactics of the FBI and CIA against domestic political groups (Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO) led to the establishment of guidelines limited federal investigative power. Under the Bush Administration many of those guidelines are being loosened or abandoned altogether as the government engages in the same surveillance and infiltration activities through advancing a policy of preemptive "warfare." And once again, the executive office, working in close coordination with all levels of federal and local law enforcement, is engaging in what Justice Powell called "dragnet techniques" to both intimidate and silence its critics, the very practice that led to the Fourth Amendment and its protections against overreaching government searches and seizures.
By characterizing those who speak out as 'enemies' or 'terrorists,' as the government is increasingly doing, those charged with upholding the constitution are defying it in a cowardly fashion.

Again, the
PDF format of the report is available online -- 89 pages -- and it can be purchased for $3.00 at the National Lawyers Guild.

In Iraq realities are captured at
Inside Iraq where an Iraqi journalist working for McClatchy Newspapers offers a post that really needs to be read in full but will excerpt from the end:
All these good-doers, thousands of them, in four years, what have they presented to the poor Iraqi Man that they all wish to serve?

Thousands of reconstruction contracts have been awarded -- and the projects said to be implemented.

What are they?
Where are they? Where are they?

Wouldn't a sinking government jump at the chance to show such accomplishments -- had there been any?
Wouldn't an accused occupier jump at the chance to show some
succesful, truly fundamental infrastructure developments and shout them from the roof tops?
Do we have sanitary drinking water?
Do we have electricity?

Do we have medical services or basic neighbourhood services?
Thank you, but no thank you.
But you see . . . no one asked me.

Great Britain's
Socialist Worker notes Oxfam's report and judges it "a daming report on the state of Iraq four years into the occupation" while also noting that Iraqi children "are the biggest losers in the occupation, with 28 percent malnourished, compared to 19 percent before the invasion, while nine out of ten children suffer learning difficulties." The Oxfam report also found that 70% of Iraqis do not have "access to adequate water supplies." This as CBS and AP report: "Much of the Iraqi capital was without running water and had been for at least 24 hours, compounding the urban misery in a war zone and the blistering heat at the height of the Baghdad summer. Residents and city officials said Thursday large sections in the west of the capital had been virtually dry for six days because the already strained electricity grid cannot provide sufficient power to run water purification and pumping stations. Baghdad routinely suffers from periodic water outages, but this one is described by residents as one of the most extended and widespread in recent memory. The problem highlights the larger difficulties in a capital beset by violence, crumbling infrastructure, rampant crime and too little electricity to keep cool in the sweltering weather more than four years after the U.S.-led invasion." They note 52-year-old Jamil Hussein who has two children with "severe diarrhea" due to the water and that he and they will have to continue drinking it. That's criminal, the potable water is still a longed for dream all this time after the illegal war began is criminal.

In some of the rare reporting on today's violence (the soccer team returned -- or parts of it -- so it's time for everyone in the press to don a jock strap and go into fluff mode) . . .


KUNA reports 3 prisoners killed in "Badoush detention camp" by "the Multi-National Force" (US forces) who used "tear gas, live ammunition and rubber bullets to put down the riots." Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports: "A spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, said an aide to the cleric was shot and killed Thursday by gunmen in Najaf. Less than two weeks before, another Sistani aide was stabbed and killed near the cleric's office in Najaf, and another aide was killed a month before in a drive-by shooting."


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 13 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

Today the
US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital August 2. Four of the injured were treated for minor injuries and were returned to duty." This brings the August total to 5 US service members killed in Iraq and the total since the start of the illegal war to 3665.

In news of the attempts by the US administration (and elements in the US Congress) to steal Iraqi oil for the benefit of corporations,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "Support is growing in the U.S. for Iraqi oil workers striking against the U.S.-backed oil law under debate in Iraq. The main union representing American oil workers is calling on Congress to stop pressuring Iraq to pass the law and to shift support to the Iraqi oil workers' demands. In a letter to House and Senate leaders, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard says: 'The oil privatization law now under consideration by Iraq's government is designed to benefit the multinational oil companies; not the Iraqi people'." And the Iraqi parliament, like the US Congress, is now off on a month long vacation. Jonathan Steel (Guardian of London) observes, "Glad tidings from Baghdad at last. The Iraqi parliament has gone into summer recess without passing the oil law that Washington was pressing it to adopt. For the Bush administration this is irritating, since passage of the law was billed as a 'benchmark' in its battle to get Congress not to set a timetable for US troop withdrawal. . . . Just as General David Petraues, the current US commander, is due to give his report on military progress next month, George Bush is supposed to tell Congress in mid-September how the Maliki government is moving forward on reform."

Earlier this week the Iraqi Accordance Front withdrew from the puppet government.
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports that "Iraqi and Western observers say Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his inner circle appear increasingly unable to pull the government out of its paralysis. At times consumed by conspiracy theories, Maliki and his Dawa party elite operate much as they did when they plotted to overthrow Saddam Hussein -- covertly and concerned more about their community's survival than with building consensus among Iraq's warring groups, say Iraqi politicians and analysts and Western diplomats." Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports, "Withdrawals from the government by individual ministers and by political groups was the first sign of the end of al-Maliki's political life, but the U.S. government has remained insistent on keeping al-Maliki at the top of Iraq's leadership" and notes, "Security, basic services, and all measurable levels of Iraq's infrastructure are worse now than under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, the U.S., Britain and Iran all continue to support this government."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Property rights discussions never seem to include the public's property

Okay, this is the intro to "With New Internet and Cell Phone Rules, Federal Communications Commission Approves Mass Sell-off of Public Airwaves" (Democracy Now!) today:

As Rupert Murdoch's purchase of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal dominated headlines this week, another media story of great significance has been overshadowed. The Federal Communications Commission has approved a set of rules to auction off a sizable chunk of the public airwaves. These rules will guide how the FCC sells licenses to use the public airwaves for wireless phones and Internet access.
This story might not have made the front page of your local newspaper, but the FCC's actions will likely affect the lives of everyone in this country that uses the Internet and mobile phones. To explain what the FCC is doing, Craig Aaron is still with us in Chicago. He is communications director at Free Press. We are also joined by Wally Bowen, executive director of the Mountain Area Information Network, a non-profit Internet Service Provider that offers Internet service in western North Carolina. He is also the founder of the low power FM station WPVM.

Now that should appall and disgust you but do we think about it? At most, we probably feel robbed and we should because this is ours, this is not something to be given away to for profit businesses. But do we think in terms of the long run? I don't mean the obvious. I'm thinking, as I listened today, about other countries. You can go with Cuba or Venezuela or Bolivia or any one you want. When a populist leader is elected in those countries, there is an effort to do land reform or other measures. And the Big Business organs in this country start moaning and screaming about "property rights" and how they are being disrespected. From a huge distance, let's be clear. The New York Times, for instance, has no property rights in Cuba. But do we get why land reforms and others are needed?

It's because of power grabs and give aways of the public's property. If the above is addressed (I doubt it will be) in the US in twenty or thirty years, it will not be billed as a return to the public of what is their own or as payment to the public for their own property. It will be billed as an attack on big business.

By the same token, our national parks are up for sale under the Bully Boy. Should "land reform" ever come to the US and the Bully Boy's wrongful sales be addressed, the Big Business press organs will speak of how unfair it is to big business. Do we get that reforms are needed and why?

In any Latin America country (or our own country), take your pick, you see the people's property repeatedly turned over to business and then that fact gets forgotten on down the line. Suddenly, it is an attack on property rights and business for the imbalance and theft to be addressed. If tomorrow in, say, Honduras, the government took public property and sold it off (undervalued) to United Fruit, wouldn't the people of Honduras have a right to object? And if a land reform bill came to be 30 years later, would it really be fair for the press to portray United Fruit as having paid top dollar for the property (when they didn't) and to refuse to address that the land should never have been sold? Can we go further and point out that United Fruit (like the companies stealing our airwaves today) knew damn well that they were engaged in a purchase that shouldn't be taking place and wasn't fair?

Think of all the Times' editorials on property rights and wonder if you'll see them now, or ever, stick up for the people's proerty when it's under attack?

I'll get off my soapbox, and wrap up, in just a second, but what's taking place is serious and if it's ever addressed (IF!) think about how it will be played out in the press: They want to take away what the Tele-coms own!

It's the equivalent of a mugging to me. If you don't see it that way, think of it as some prized possession you have, something passed down in your family, and how, one day, you learn while you were out of town and a friend was house sitting, he or she decided to sell it off. The buyer knew your friend had no right to sell it off. Your friend knew it as well. But now it's gone.

Reforms happen for a reason but the press always wants to play as if they are this attack on Big Business that has come out of nowhere when they are simply an effort to redress an injustice that has taken place. (Usually taken place repeatedly.)

So that's my thoughts for tonight. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a talking point falls apart (to only the MSM's suprise), the US military announces more deaths, convcitions in a war crime case are announced, Baghdad goes without running water, Robert Gates attempts to (yet again) shift the blame for the puppet government off on the Iraqi people and more.

Starting with the talking point that imploded. By making July about the slow trickle in announcements, the US military repeatedly misled on the number of US service members dying. The press didn't want to call it out. They'd pretend multiple deaths on a Sunday being announced on a Thursday was perfectly normal (and in their print editions this morning, include a late announcement but refer to it as taking place "Tuesday" and not in "July" which is the height of dishonesty having all run with the "July" "count" the day prior).
A week ago, what was already noticeable was underscored when Lt. Gen Raymond T. Odierno was selling to the press that after April, May and June all saw US troop fatalities climb past 100 each month, the figures were down for July (he ignored the reality that the air war had been beefed up -- a time tested manner for the US to reduce deaths somewhat) and even though the slow trickle of announcements was known, everyone played dumb in their reports and ran with the talking point despite the fact that hours after Odierno's Thursday spin the US military would announce 7 more deaths with none of them taking place that day -- all "backlogged" and on the slow trickle. The US miiltary was back to the old tricks used in 2003 and 2004 and for much of 2005: hold off on death announcements in light of the first day of the month when outlets would run with their "looking back on the month" pieces. They dropped that stunt in 2005 in part because they were caught doing it once too often but also because many outlets were already bored with the illegal war and no longer interested in filing the obligatory monthly piece. Odierno puts the US military's official stamp on the talking point and suddenly all the outlets are back to doing monthly pieces and all are stressing on August 1st that July deaths were down, that July deaths were the lowest of the year. Some went with 72, some went with 74. The count was incomplete (as would be demonstrated throughout that day) but qualifiers were in short supply. The lowest number of deaths for 2007! was the talking point and all ran with it. July 2007 was also the deadliest July of the illegal war for US service members (and for Iraqis the death rate tripled) but it was sell-sell-sell that this was some 'good news'. One of the few exceptions was Stephen Farrell (New York Times) who did note a qualifier in a piece that ran on the morning of August 1st:
"Estimates of the death toll varied, but Iraq Coalition Casualty Count put the July total so far at 74, down from 101 in June and the lowest number since November 2006. Some casualties in late July may be reported after the beginning of August, so the count is not yet definitive for the month." But even Farrell forgot to consider past Julys when touting the 'progress' that wasn't really there. Today,
ICCC reports that the number for US service members' announced deaths in July has risen to 81.Those who are confused can check out ICCC's period details but, remember, you were supposed to be confused. That was the point of the slow trickle of announcements. (In the period details, you can also note that all but four announced deaths -- there may be more coming -- for July have already had their names announced by the Defense Department.) 81, for those who've forgotten or never paid attention, is the number of announced deaths in February and March. July, despite the burst of press enthusiasm and stupidty, was not the lowest of the month of the year for US fatalities nor was it the lowest since 2006 (November of 2006 saw 70 deaths announced). Who will run the corrections? Reporters aren't responsible for writing headlines; however, the headlines have all been seen by readers yesterday proclaiming that July was 'good news' or, as the New York Times worded it, "U.S. Death Toll In Iraq in July Expected to Be Lowest in '07." By whom was never said but only a fool "expected" that to happen and only the fools are attempting to cover themselves now in embarrassment because JULY IS NOT THE LOWEST IN '07.

The talking point has imploded but we'll all supposed to pretend otherwise.It was nothing but another wave of Operation Happy Talk in the same way that
a nothing soccer match was repeatedly treated as some sort of sign of 'progress' in an illegal war with many alleged reporters writing allegedly of Iraqi response but focusing only on the men (who ripped their shirts off, fired their guns in the air and generally must have given the boys in the press a heady dose of homo-eroticism to sniff). A better indicator was Oxfam's "Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq," released this week, but it addressed reality and didn't jibe with the latest waves of Operation Happy Talk so it was largely ignored.

While the boys of the press beat themselves excitedly in frenzy over some Iraqi males shirtless, Oxfam provided less of a sexual high as they noted, "
Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from 'absolute poverty'. According to some estimates, over half the population are now without work. Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 per cent now." Hard to get your jollies on that so the press elected to under report or ignore the realities of what the illegal war had really brought.

Throught the reporters of Jock Boy High's jock boy high, bombs were exploding and mass fatalities were taking place, but that fact was more or less ignored in the push for: "It's soccer!" Today
CBS and AP note that "at least" 142 Iraqis died yesterday but look through this morning's paper to find that headline. You won't because when it's time to sell-sell-sell the illegal war again, realities have to drop out of the picture. In this case, 142 Iraqis dying is judged unimportant. For the New York Times, the big news, the front page piece, is Mark Mazzetti pondering fantasy at length in the latest push to sell the illegal war. Elisabeth Bumiller's "White House Letters" had nothing on Mazzetti (and her "letters" didn't run on the front page). Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) points out the ugly reality: "The death toll from the car bombings was the highest for Baghdad since February, when the United States began increasing the number of troops in the capital in an effort to cut violence." No change in US military deaths, no change in Iraqi deaths. The realities of the Bully Boy's escalation which he initiated over the strong objections of the US public and over the 'symbolic' rejection of the Democratically controlled US Congress. Despite these realities, CBS and AP report that the administration is claiming "security is improving".

Repeating, the announced deaths for July thus far have now reached 81 making it not the lowest of the year nor the lowest since 2006. Do not expect to see any outlets run corrections to their earlier (false) coverage. As Aimee Allison and David Solnit point out in their book Army Of None, "Corporate media's steady stream of lies, distortions, and repetition of the United States government 'war on terror' rhetoric was essential in propagating the pretense for the invasion of Iraq and is key to maintaining some level of public support for the war and occupation" (p. 155).

Turning to war resistance, David Zieger (director of the amazing
Sir! No Sir!) observes of an earlier illegal war, "Like the Vietnam War itself, the GI Antiwar Movement started small and within a few years had exploded into a force that altered history. And like the times from which it grew, the movement involved organized actions and spontaneous resistance, political groups and cultural upheaval. Between 1966 and 1975, groups of soldiers -- some small and some numbering in the thousands -- emerged to challenge the war and racism in the military. Group action and individual defiance, from the 500,000 GIs who deserted over the course of the war to the untold numbers who wore peace signes, defied military discipline and avoided combat, created a 'F**k the Army" counter culture that threatened the entire military culture of the time and changed the course of the war." That also can be found in Allison and Solnit's Army Of None (p. 146), the new book published by Seven Stories Press and available for purchase ($14.95) at Courage to Resist. Though little attention has been given to the matter, Eli Israel recently became the first service member to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war while stationed in Iraq. Little attention has also been given to the military's investigative team that locates self-checkouts (or tries) and then tips off the police after their hours of surfing the net and, in one instance, crawling through MySpace pages. Despite the fact that the US military crossed the Canadian border and posed as Canadian police while attempting to shake down Canadian citizen Winnie Ng at her home in their attempts to locate war resister Joshua Key, little attention has been given to that either or the US military ordering the arrest of Kyle Snyder, by Canadian police, on his wedding day. It was a way to screw with Snyder (charges had to be dropped and Snyder released because it's not a crime in Canada to resist the US military) and a way to postpone the wedding, even for a few days, because Snyder would be marrying a Canadian citizen (and he did) putting him out of the reach of any efforts to deport him or refuse him citizenship in Canada.

In a really bad but overly praised recent article in The Nation, the magazine continued their long standing practice of ignoring war resisters (and added censorship to their list of tools by annoucing, in the article, that the magazine was in possession of "dozens" of photos of abuses but the magazine refused to print any). They could speak to members of a centrist organization, they could speak to members of a White House front committee and readers were supposed to be thrilled that at least a few members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War got included. Or that Camilo Mejia was included. The term "war resister" wasn't applied to Mejia, despite the fact that he freely uses it; however, the magazine could label him a deserter. Someone save us from the faux left and those who fancy themselves 'celebrities' as opposed to journalistic editors and publishers. As Mejia himself explained on WBAI's Law and Disorder this week, "Let me start by saying that when I allegedly went AWOL, I didn't really go AWOL because when we received orders to go to Iraq I had pretty much come to the end of my eight year service. So what happened was that I was extended from the year 2003 to the year 2031 by this thing that they called 'stop loss'." It's an important point -- and was to US Senator Bill Nelson when Mejia was in Iraq and his contract was ending -- but one lost on The Nation.

Also lost to The Nation was the
War Resisters Support Campaign which the magazine's overly praised article pointedly ignored. The War Resisters Support Campaign is a Canadian organization helping and raising awareness of war resisters who go to Canada. Meet Christian Kjar (who was wrongly billed as "Christian Care" by many -- including myself, my apologies). War Resisters Support Campaign informs, "Christian Kjar, 21, is originally from California. Christian joined the US Marine Corps in 2004. It was not long before he found that, despite the motto of 'Honour, courage, commitment' posted on the recruiting office wall 'this was not the place to go if you value human dignity.' While posted in North Carolina Christian decided he could not participate in the Iraq war. He arrived in Canada in October 2005, and currently lives in Toronto." Canadian Mennonite reported that the Santa Barbara raised Kjar
began questioning his decision to enlist in boot camp quoting Kjar stating, "I knew it was stupid and foolish and wrong. This was not the place to go if you value human dignity. Instead, it was an extremely violent atmosphere where they train you to change a human being into an object by using phrases like 'communist bastards' and singing about stamping on Iraqi children. It's very difficult to go against the grain in that setting because it's a group thing. So I kept trying to reassure myself that I could be a warrior. But I couldn't let go of the fact that the intent was taking the life of a living breathing human being. When I was posted to Cherry Point [a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, in preparation for deployment to Iraq], it was eating me inside that I couldn't express how I felt to others. Prayer and meditation were very important to me at that time. During a four-day grace period [before deployment], I had time to really reflect and come to grips with what my conscience was telling me. One day I opened the Bible at Deuteronomy 5 and read, 'Thou shalt not kill.'
'After that I was honest with myself. I now knew what I didn't want to be. Also, the just war thing didn't work for me…. I knew there is no justice to be complicit in the suffering of people of differing faiths and origins, and was convinced that the U.S. government has failed utterly and miserably in preserving the dignity of human life in Iraq, where thousands of people have died."
Irene Kuan (The Eyeopener) reported that after learning of the War Resisters Support Campaign and speaking with attorney Jeffrey House, Kjar began the trip to Canada via Buffalo after saying goodbye to his girlfriend who remained in the military. Audio and video of Kjar speaking can be found here.

War resister
Agustin Aguayo, like Mejia and many others, attempted to get CO status but was repeatedly (and wrongly) denied (even in civilian courts) and he's now speaking out about his experiences in Iraq, his court-martial and more. Joan Trossman Bien (Ventura County Reporter) covers a speaking engagement from last week where Aguayo discussed his introduction to military life in Iraq via a speech delivered upon arrival, "They said to us, if you guys think as medics that you have to follow the Geneva Conventions, you're very wrong, This is Iraq. This is the real thing." And people wonder how Abu Ghraib or the gang-rape and muder of Abeer happens? Aguayo reflected, "It was so sad. We would harass civilians for no reason, cursing at teenagers for no reason, taking stuff from Iraqi homes for no reason. We have found the most immoral thing that could possibly be done to these people who have done nothing to us. So the message then is, these people are not like us. It's OK to hurt them."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian 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, 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.

In Iraq, the US installed puppet government is falling apart. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates tries to go philosophical and spread the blame beyond the US by declaring,
as AP reported, "In some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation. The kinds of legislation they're talking about will establish the framework of Iraq for the future so it's almost like our constitutional convention ... And the difficulty in coming to grips with those, we may all have underestimated six or eight months ago." As for the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, Stephen Farrell (New York Times) notes he has "reacted cautiously to the Sunni walkout". The walkout, noted yesterday, refers to the Sunni Accordance Front's decision to leave the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and the heads of five ministry. Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) observed it was "the latest indication of growing Sunni frustration with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported, on the withdrawal,"The pullout reduces Iraq's Shiite-dominated government to little more than caretaker status. Barring a major political realignment, it also makes it less likely that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's regime will be able to reach significant compromises on legislative benchmarks sought by the Bush administration to help quell sectarian strife. Tawafiq member Tariq Hashimi retains his post as one of Iraq's vice presidents.The bloc's pullout cast the gravest challenge yet to Maliki's tenure as prime minister. His government has been burdened for months by talk of conspiracies, most prominently featuring former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi." Some of the conspiracy talk has come repeatedly from al-Maliki who, while under siege by his puppet masters, probably shouldn't have regularly held press conferences where he declared every plot (real and imagined) he has detected to oust him. Parker notes that along with former CIA asset Allawi, Ibrahim Jafari and Adel Abdul Mehdi are also being mentioned as potential replacements (both are Shi'ite) and that "At least one plan for an alternative government to Maliki's has been submitted to the U.S. Embassy by Iraqi political leaders." Nancy A. Youssef (McClathy Newspapers) reports six may be about to become seven as Tariq al Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni vice president, has informed "he also is on the verge of resigning" and that he's already informed Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, of that possibility. Speaking of a possible resignation, al Hashemi explained, "We need these major political moves to tell everybody that what is happening is in no way tolerable. Nobody on earth or in Iraq is happy with the performance of the government." Nor is it in any way a legitimate government. CBS and AP do a head count and not that "only two Sunnis in the 40-member Cabinet" are left.

Meanwhile the chaos and violence caused by the illegal war continues.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left another person wounded, a Hashiimiyat car bombing that claimed the lives of 4 police officers and four civilians ("including the head of Hibhib communications department with some members of his family"), three people wounded in a Kirkuk explosion "inside a shop for making military uniforms," a Mosul mortar attack that claimed 1 life and left four more wounded, a roadside bombing outside Kirkuk that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, and a Basra mortar attack that wounded a police officer. Reuters notes the death toll of the bombing attack in HIbhib on the police station has risen to 13 dead, that a Balad moratar attack claimed the life of "one girl and wounded five other children," that a Balji mortar attack claimed 3 lives and that a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 3 lives.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Baghdad shooting death of the general managr "of the ministry of industry" and three police officers injured in a shooting in Kirkuk. Rueters notes: "Three people were killed and two wounded in clashes between a tribe and insurgents in the town of Jbela 65 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad. An Iraqi army patrol responding to the incident was hit by a roadside bomb that wounded two soldiers, police said."

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 24 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 14 corpses discovered in Hibhib. Reuters notes that the corpses of five brothers were discovered to the south of Kirkuk.

Turning to legal news. Starting with Abeer.
CBS and AP report, "A soldier in prison for conspiring to rape an Iraqi girl and kill her and her family has left military prosecutors at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, struggling to recover after his testimony. Specialist James Barker admitted yesterday that he previously made false statements implicating a comrade. Barker testified he deliberately misled prosecutors depending on how they posed their questions, and had allowed investigators to draft sworn statements for him that implicated Private First Class Jesse Spielman of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in the crime." Steven D. Green, who maintains his innocence, has been fingered as the ringleader of the war crimes by Barker, Paul Cortez and others involved. No doubt his attorneys will have a field day with Barker's admission. (And for any slapping their heads and proclaiming "Spielman was innocent!" -- no, he is not. He has already confessed to his role in some of the crimes. Largely at stake now is what he knew and when he knew it.)

In other legal news,
Tony Parry (Los Angeles Times) reports that a military jury made up "of five officers and four enlisted personnel" reached a conviction on Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins, Reuters notes that he was found guilty of "murder and larceny, made false official statements and participated in conspiracy in the crime." Neither report names the victim or notes that he was a grandfather. In fact, details of what took place take a second seat to courtroom details -- as though the whole issue had to do with presentation and not an actual murder. For that reality, news consumers had to turn to Democracy Now! today where Amy Goodman noted another conviction in the same case, "Corporal Marshall Magincalda has been found guilty of conspiracy to murder, larceny and housebreaking but acquitted of pre-meditated murder. The victim, Hashim Ibrahim Awad, was dragged from his home, shot, and then planted with a weapon to make it appear he was planning an attack. Six other service-members have been convicted in the case." No victim (named), no crime, is that the MSM way of handling these court cases? Can you picture domestic coverage of a US murder trial that didn't name the victim? The planted weapon was to make it appear that the grandfather and former police officer was an 'insurgent'. In addition to planting the rifle, they also planted a shovel by the body to make it appear that he was on a mission to dig a hole and plant a roadside bomb. These were war crimes but search the Los Angeles Times or Reuters for any indication that an innocent man was pulled from his home in the middle of night (actually early morning hours) and made to look like an 'insurgent' to justify the kill.

AP reports that Hutchins "was convicted Thursday of unpremeditated murder in the killing of an Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania during a frustrated search for an insurgent. Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, 23, had been charged with premeditated murder but premeditation was stricken from the verdict that was returned by a military jury. Hutchins was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, making a false official statement and larceny. He was acquitted of kidnapping, assault and housebreaking." They also note "no mandatory minmum sentence for unpremeditated murder" which could mean Huthins walks the same way Trent Thomas did after a jury convicted him in the same incident but a military judge decided Iraqi life was so unimportant, murder didn't require prison time. For more on that travesty, see Monica Benderman's "Facing the Truth" (CounterPunch).

In other criminal news,
Steven R. Hurst (AP) reports, "Much of the Iraqi capital was without running water Thursday and had been for at least 24 hours, compounding the urban misery in a war zone and the blistering heat at the height of the Baghdad summer." With temperatures regularly topping well over 100 degrees (F) and with the US administration repeatedly citing water 'progress' this is criminal.

In other news,
Carl Hulse (International Herald Tribune) reports that by a 229 to 194 vote, the US House of Representatives voted on a measure that would "limit how quickly American troops can be sent back to Iraq after serving a rotation there" allowing the troops the rest that
Bully Boy has denied them as he has altered and ignored policies and requirements throughout his illegal war of choice. The Dems are in back-patting mode but Hulse notes the measure may not pass the Senate and it should also be noted that guaranteeing US troops the vacation time they are promised is hardly 'brave' but probably necessary as the US Congress prepares to embark (Friday) on their own month long vacations. The measure was noted included or pursued by Democratic leadership in the Democratically controlled House during Nancy Pelosi's fabled first 100 days. In the same article, Hulse mentions a possible withdrawal measure that could come before the House prior to their vacation beginning and quotes War Hawk Steny Hoyer explaining it would be something to add "to the debate but it is not a major policy document." No need to rush, eh, Steny?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


"Other Items" (The Common Ills):
Turning to periodical news, the Summer 2007 edition of
Ms. magazine is out. The letters from readers are always worth reading and this issue includes a response to "What Are You Doing With Your Women's Studies Degree?" (replies include nonprofit work, working for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and starting the Women's Business Initiative, law clerk for Judge Gregory Jackson in DC) (nice photo, in another letter section of Amy Schmeets and her daughter Sophia). "Keeping Score" is notable quotes and, among them is this by Gloria Steinem: "Women's bodies are valued as ornaments. Men's bodies are valued as instruments." The quote went on a Starbucks cups last month. "How We're Doing" looks at women and the media.
One thing to add on the radio aspect (excellent pie charts, by the way) is that one outlet created to address the declining listenership of women to radio and the declining women on air is
GreenStone Media. Along with The Radio Ritas, Women Aloud, Rolonda and Lisa Birnbach, GreenStone Media is now producing The World According to Giles & Moriarty hosted by Nancy Giles and Erin Moriarty both of whom have much experience in broadcast (including CBS). Their program airs on Saturday mornings and has been added since we last noted GreenStone Media. All programs can be streamed online live or you can listen to archives of recent broadcasts (for free, no sign up, no premium fee).
Back to
Ms., the cover theme is "1-2 Punch" and includes Allison Stevens' "A Major Blow to Roe" and Justine Andronici's "Court Gives OK to Unequal Pay" and you can also pair it with two other articles in the issue. Allison Stevens' "Sticker Shock" addresses the issue of the huge increase in prices for birth control (which both increases the profit for Big Business and limits access for many women). Stevens notes, "Millions of women who purchase contraceptives at student and community health clinics across the country have seen prices go from about $10 a month to anywhere between $30 and $50. Such out-of-reach prices are putting intense financial stress on women who can't afford to pay retail for birth control. And the pressure goes beyond the individual level: Some family planning clinics serving low-income women may be forced to shut down if prices aren't soon reduced, leaving poor women with even fewer resources to determine the number and spacing of their children." That article runs on pages 12 and 13. Jessica Sites' "Police Story" (page 15) addresses the overturning of a 2002 jury verdict agreeing that discrimination based on race was taking place in Los Angeles County's decision to pay county sherrif's deputies more than county police officers. This was a breakthrough case and Sites reports, "Now a three-judge California appellate court has overturned the verdict. . . . Because the appellate court relied on job descriptions to make its decision -- discounting interviews with personnel that showed substantial similarities in the two forces' duties -- there is concern that the ruling opens the door for employers to use different titles and descriptions to cloak discrimination." What happens when visibility increases in the media doesn't come with an increased awareness in the coverage? Nikki Ayanna Stewart explores that in "Black Girls' Dreams" (pages 66 and 67). The arts section includes playwright Susan Miller's essay "Conversations With My Son." This is from Eve Ensler's A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer which features essays by Miller, Alice Walker, Suheir Hammad, Howard Zinn, Jane Fonda, Tariq Ali, Edward Albee, Robin Morgan, Kathy Najimy, Kate Clinton, Patricia Bosworth and others (including Ensler herself). Among the book reviews, Jennifer Pozner's look at Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women (author Caryl Rivers) is a must read -- one sentence from Pozner's review: "With wit, ire and in-depth social-science research, she exposes how corporate media conspire to convince us that despite -- or precisely because of -- women's professional, political, academic and cultural strides, most of us are thoroughly miserable, the cost of all that uppity ambition." Helen Zia reviews Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Julie Phillips reviews Doris Lessing's The Cleft, Nasrin Rahimieh reviews Gina B. Nahai's Caspian Rain, and Frances Winndance Twine reviews Susan K. Cahn's Sexual Reckonings: Southern Girls in a Troubling Age.
That's just a small sampling of the contents of the summer issue of
Ms. Dona says we can note Rebeca Clarren's "The Invisible Ones" (pages 40-45) at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend, Elaine will note Nadia Bernenstein's column tonight at her site Like Maria Said Paz . This was dictated in two parts. Thanks to ___ for typing it up and for the patience.

I stole that from Elaine's post (link and all) entitled "The need to call out and Nadia Berenstein's 'Happily Never Married'" and I can note she did write about the article. I'm still on the mend (and thank you to Jim for checking on me and to everyone who called) but I wanted to do my part to note Ms.' new issue too.

I was planning on writing about music so when I saw Martha Burk's "Bluegrass Liberation" (pp. 50-53), I figured I'd grab that. I don't know from Bluegrass for the most part. I'll tell you when I come in. But it appears Burk does a good job laying out the history of women in Bluegrass, nothing the accomplishments of The Carter Family's Maybelle Carter whose playing influenced everyone ("played the melody line on the bass and middle strings while continuing to rhythmically strum") and Sara Carter who did arrangements for the songs that "became country, old-time and bluegrass standards." Hazel Dickens and her partner Alice Gerrad in the 60s. Aunt Molly Jackson in the 1930s. Then we're up to the 90s and today with Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent and Uncle Earl (all female group).

Okay, problem, Rhonda Vincent won't say she's a feminist. Lose her. I'm serious. I remember the 80s and Ms. When all these pro-women, non-feminists would get coverage. "I'm not a feminist but . . ." isn't a line that needs to be taught this decade. Lose Vincent.

It's not that hard. You have the Dixie Chicks who are not covered at all. They went back to the bluegrass. And they're strong women. (Vincent's accused of, basically, being 'one of the boys by some critics.)

But here's my big problem with Vincent (a vocalist).

Who do you think of when you think of bluegrass women?

Many years after high school (and college), one of my high school teachers had gotten married. She was the cool teacher (she taught science). She knew the war was illegal (Vietnam) and she didn't care who heard her say it. She was close to our age (I think she was probably 24 or 25 when she started teaching at our high school). So I was back home (had my own place) and one of my friends mentioned about the marriage (which I hadn't known about) and how they had a honeymoon and got back about three weeks ago. She was always a cool teacher and had a drop in attitude but she was married now (newly married) so I picked up the phone first to call and make sure it was okay. It was and we headed over there.

I think her husband's name was Scott. I could be wrong on that. (In a matter of days, I'd be working non-stop and partying non-stop and completely out of touch with all old friends.) So Scott was good looking which was good because she was pretty even though she was one of those people who don't know it. But more important, he was a pretty cool guy. She always had a great stereo system and he loved music too.

So he sat the table, and they made dinner, then we all sat down . . . after he'd stacked some vinyl on the turntable. One of the albums was this woman singing in this really amazing voice. I asked who that was? Emmylou Harris. I knew the name, I didn't know the voice. That was the first time I ever heard her sing. I was trying to figure out what she was because she wasn't really country and she really wasn't folk. Scott explained she was bluegrass.

Now maybe I'm off my rocker here, but I always though Emmylou Harris was bluegrass. And certainly Dolly Parton's had critical acclaim in recent years with her own bluegrass work. But Emmylou's sound, as I understood it, came from bluegrass. That was why she was a little more 'rockin' than country. It was that band sound. (I should probably point out that this was when country had gone pop and would shortly go Vegas. Emmylou sounded like no one having country hits at that time.)

So there's that question for me: Where's Emmylou? And there's the issue of I don't need anymore women in Ms. who aren't feminists. Again, I remember the 80s. I don't want to see that come back. (The 80s, due to ownership and financial problems, allowed a lot of women who not only weren't feminist but weren't even progressive to get the cover provided they were a celebrity. Ms. would go ad free and get its heart and soul back, thankfully.)

Staying on music and we're going to page 19 of Rolling Stone for this from Evan Serpick's "Police, Gore Rock for Earth:"

Many environmentalists, however, criticized the events for stopping short of taking direct political action. "It's very misleading to say that if we changge our light bulbs and dirve Priuses, we could solve global warming," says Chris Miller, director of the Global Warming Campaign at Greenpeace. "There is no solution without the U.S. government."

Good point. And reading it, I was reminded who made it in real time. Ava and C.I. with their
"TV: Global Boring." I've been meaning to write about that and, if I did, forgive me, I'm still under the weather.

First, the big question that pops up from some readers was did Linkin Park really say the F-word? They said it at least twice. Once it was bleeped. The second time it wasn't. Jim, Ty and Ty's boyfriend are huge Linkin Park's fans. Ty's boyfriend called and Ty put him on speaker (Ty's boyfriend lives in NY but he is out here tomorrow for at least a week). He said, "Sh!" and put his phone up to the TV for Linkin Park and Jim and Ty are singing along and stop when the f-word comes up to hear if it's bleeped. Then the second time, they stop as it's about to come up and it was not bleeped. This was on NBC. You have about 20 witnesses to that. Ava and C.I. were working their cell phones to get backstory for the concert and they even heard it and stopped talking on the phone.

So, yes, the f-word did get broadcast. Why didn't the big press note it? Ava and C.I. cover broadcast TV because the primary readers don't have satellite or cable. (Or the original readers.) If you read Alessandra Stanley's piece the Monday after, she's talking about Bravo and other outlets. I seriously doubt she caught the full NBC special. (She doesn't claim to have.)
Otherwise? I think most people doing TV reviews don't know Linkin Park's music. You had Jim and Ty, huge fans, getting everyone to be quiet each time the f-word would come up. (They were hoping it would make it on air.) After the second time, I have no idea because there was all this, "Can you believe it made it on air?" talk.

But it did make it on air at least once.

The review itself. I love their writing. They're always funny, they alwasy see what others don't notice. But Jim loved it. He usually grabs it and reads it out loud to the rest of us when it's done. And we're laughing and nodding and then he gets to the end. He says, it's brilliant but the hate mail's going to come in. He wasn't worried about that, just wanted to note that.

The hate mail never really came in. It was something, on Sunday, when that epic review went up but those points would be echoed in the Monday articles in papers and elsewhere. Ava and C.I. made them the strongest of anyone I read. But that really was the most meaningless and self-congratulary special. The light bulbs nonsense, the texting nonsense, all of it.

And the music? Yawn, yawn, wake up, go back to yawning.

Live Aid was riveting. LiveEarth was a snooze-fest.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, over 100 Iraqis are dead or reported dead today, the press tries to sell the illegal war some more despite reality, the July death toll for US service members rises again, and a pig attempts to book his own title match: Pedophile vs. the Peace Mom (with everyone rooting for Cindy).
Starting with war resistance. In June of 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (after months of working privately with his military superiors, offering to resign, offering to serve in Afghanistan, etc.). In violation of the Constitution's double-jeopardy clause, he faces a second court-martial October 9th following last February's court-martial which ended just as he was about to take the stand in his own defense only to find Judge Toilet (aka John Head) rule a mistrial over defense objection. The October 9th date is considered iffy at this point by his civilian attorneys due to the appeals process that will address issues such as double-jeopardy and whether or not Judge Toilet should recuse himself. Thus far those (and other issues) have not been addressed. (Judge Toilet ruling that his own actions do not violate the Constitution or ruling that he's fit to serve on another court-martial does not make for objective rulings.) Watada's bravery has inspired many and that's not limited to the military. Melissa Regennitter (Muscatine Journal) reports on Ashley Casale and Michael Israel's March for Peace which began May 1st in San Francisco and is headed for DC and added a third person, Antonio Kies, on Sunday and a fourth, Isabelle Salmon, on Monday. Asked why she was joining the march, Isabelle Salmon explained she'd just completed college, wanted to take part in an action to end the illegal war and "I'd have to say inspiration comes from Lt. Watada and my belief in world peace." And exploring the connections between art and activism, Jen Angel (Boise Weekly) recounts, "This past January I spent a week in a chilly warehouse in Tacoma, Wash., making puppets with 20 other activists to support Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to public refuse deployment to Iraq. We were creating a play to perform on Feb. 5 at the vigil outside the gates of Fort Lewis, Wash., where his court-martial -- which would end in a mistrial -- was being held. We spent hours painting, taping, cutting, gluing, eating and talking. For the characters in our play, we created a 15-foot-tall judge with a sculpted cardboard head and papier-mache hands, jurors and witnesses, and, for our finale, doves and suns to end with a vision of a beautiful future."
Watada and others inspire action with the stories of the courage as does
Iraq Veterans Against the War. On June 19th, when Eli Israel decided he couldn't serve in the illegal war, while stationed in Iraq, the response was swift from the military and equally swift was the response of support he received. Last week, Courage to Resist filed an update noting, "Last month Army Spc Eleonai 'Eli' Israel, while stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad with JVB Bravo Company, 1-149 Infantry of the Kentucky Army National Guard announced that he would refuse any combat role in Iraq. Afterwards, Eli noted 'It would have been a lot "easier" for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more weeks, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience.' He is scheduled to be released today [July 26th] from the Theater Field Confinement Facility at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait where he served a 30 day sentence. Eli pleaded guilty to five counts of disobeying orders at a summary court martial. He expects to receive an Other Than Honorable discharge and to be flown to Mississippi within a couple of weeks. After he's out, he plans on fighting for a discharge upgrade as the officer who sentenced him ignored his application for discharge as a conscientious objector or take into account his prior service."

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

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
In Iraq today everything was falling apart.
Lebanon's Daily Star reports that today saw the Sunni Accordance Front resigned today which "pushed the government into a new crisis undermining its efforts to reconcile Iraqis and end sectarian strife." Mairam Karouny and Peter Graff (Reuters) identify the withdrawal as being the heads of "the ministers of culture, women, planning, and higher education, and the junior foreign affairs minister" as well as Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zobaie. And, as The Daily Star also reports, there's the issue of the Baghdad bombings.
Now those who live and breathe by their Operation Happy Talk talking points should take a deep breath because that 'turned corner' just got drop kicked out of the narrative.
Several bombs in Baghdad led to mass deaths.
Al Jazeera notes the "fuel tanker rigged with explosives" and BBC describes the bombing near "a popular ice-cream parlour" using a parked car. AFP says there were 3 "large bombs" in all and notes: "Iraqi forces sealed off the area, as residents and ambulances ferried the dead and dying to city hospitals. Tens of bodies were taken to Ibn Nafees hospital following the explosion". CBS and AP note, "An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the explosion ripped a hole one yard deep and one and a half yards wide in the asphalt. Three minibuses and six cars were damaged by flames and flying debris. Blood pooled in the street."
Al Jazeera and Reuters figures for the dead are at least 70. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) offers more detailed figures noting 20 dead from the parked car bombing near the ice cream shop, 50 dead from the fuel tank bombing and 3 dead from a parked car bombing in Doura (that's the third of the three being reported on by most outlets) and notes 105 were reported wounded from the three bombings.
The numbers will likely rise as the rubble is cleared and bodies are discovered, as some on the wounded list do not pull through. But it may be a big shock for some Americas buying into the latest waves of Operation Happy Talk. It's, as
Robert Parry (Consortium News) has dubbed it, New Pro-War Propaganda": "No need to wait until September. It's already obvious how George W. Bush and his still-influential supporters in Washington will sell an open-ended U.S. military occupation of Iraq -- just the way they always have: the war finally has turned the corner and withdrawal now would betray the troops by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. At one time, the Iraq story line was how many schoolrooms had been painted or how well the government security forces were doing. Now there are new silver linings being detected that will justify a positive progress report in September -- and the U.S. news media is again ready to play its credulous part."
.And hasn't it been glorious? Sell-sell-sell. Ignore realities about the US death counts (see below after corpses), ignore reality period.
Turned corner?
Alexandra Zavis and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report, "The number of Iraqi civilians killed in violenc rose to 1,753 in July. The toll in June was 1,227. The number of bodies found in and around Baghdad also climbed in July, to 619, compared with 540 in June." Lebanon's The Daily Star crunches the figures to note, "New goverment figures also showed civilian deaths in the country rose by a third last month, dealing a further blow to a five-month-old security plan designed to stabilize Baghdad and allow for reconciliation." A blow? Yes. The Daily Star, not a US outlet. Who knows how the New York Times and others will rush to spin it tomorrow (only their military handlers know for sure?) But it's a huge blow. And the escalation which was supposed to bring security for Iraqis? Deaths rose a third. Repeating, deaths rose a third.
73 dead from 3 Baghdad bombings and those weren't the only bombings in Baghdad, nor the only violence.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "Iraqi police said that 4 people were wounded when US army helicopters bombed Zafaraniyah neighborhood southest Baghdad at 4:00 am" in Baghdad, two US Humvees and one US tank were destroyed or damaged in Baghdad by explosions, a downtown Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives (six more wounded), a Baghdad IED exploding claimed the life of 1 police officer (seven more wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 2 lives, and a Falluja bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers. Reuters notes the bombing of a building in Madaen that claimed 4 lives (six more injured) and an Iskandariya roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider (three more injured). That's 20 reported dead. Add the 73 from the other bombings and that's 93 reported dead.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Major Gen. Mahir Nori was shot dead in Baghdad and 2 "men working for the anti terror directorate were killed by gunmen in Saidiyah neighborhood south Baghdad". 96 is now the total reported dead today.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Counting corpses discovered it's 121 reported dead today.Today the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers were killed and six others wounded when an explosively formed penetrator detonated near their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital July 31." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed by small arms fire during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital July 31."
This brings the
ICCC totals for number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003 to 3657 and the number of announced deaths for the months of July thus far to 78 making July 2007 the deadliest July for US troops since the start of the illegal war. The first July (2003) saw the deaths of 43 US troops, July 2004 saw 54, July 2005 also saw 54 and July 2006 saw 43. With 77 announced deaths thus far, this was the deadliest July of the illegal war for US troops.
Which we repeat because
Big Media largely missed that point. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) shared reality this morning, "U.S. commanders meanwhile are touting last month's US death toll as a sign of progress on the ground. Seventy-seven servicemembers were killed in July, the lowest monthly total since November. But the July total is also the highest over the five Julys since the U.S. invasion. The July death toll one year ago was forty-three."
Are there more July deaths to be announced?
Last week we saw deaths announced as late as four days later. It happened this week and, in fact, for the month, the standout feature about deaths was how slowly MNF announced them. The July announced deaths is now at 78. And the press wants to run with the nonsense that this is an improvement? Are they serving Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno? Last Thursday, he gave the Operation Happy Talk point that the deaths were "falling" and cited the July totals as good news. It's not. Nor is it a sign that the escalation is working. But notice how many outlets grabbed that talking point and repeated it today.
Today the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with much sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment in Basra City, southern Iraq last night, Tuesday 31 July 2007. The soldier died as a result of injuries sustained by an Improvised Explosive Device attack which targeted a British Forces Warrior vehicle patrol that was carrying out routine duties in the Mustashfa district of Basra City." This death brings to 8 the number of British soldiers who died in Iraq last month and brings to 164 the total number killed in the illegal war since it started.
Thank goodness we have an independent press. Thank goodness we have a press that doesn't just run with whatever talking point they are fed.
In other news,
the pig who should probably be behind bars is squealing again. Not booked on The Nation cruise -- indicating that perhaps Katrina vanden Heuvel's fine with promoting his work but doesn't wasn't associate with known pedophiles -- he kicks up his own feces at Truth Dig today. (Link goes to Truth Dig's main page. We do not link to that pig.)
Looking at the comments, you will see people are shocked and outraged by the Pedophile's latest nonsense (sliming
Cindy Sheehan, suggesting a National Nazi Program -- that's all his suggestion of 'national service' is, etc.). Where the shock really should be is with those who have felt the need to promote the Pedophile. It's a long list of people (and include Sy Hersh who went on a truck and bus tour with him repeatedly). Whatever analysis the Pig had to offer were of no use after the illegal war started. (Yes, he's repeatedly stated that the US will go to war with Iran -- in fact, he's offered predictions of specific time frames . . . which have all have passed. There's your first clue about his 'analytical' abilities.) As I stated last week, not having promoted a known pedophile, I have no blood of my hands.
Maybe those leaving outraged comments now wouldn't be shocked by the latest nonsense if they grasped that we are talking about someone who the MSM reported was twice arrested for attempting sexual set ups with underage females? Maybe if they made sure everyone grasped that
when he was asked directly about it on CNN, he refused to discuss it and lied claiming he couldn't because the records were sealed (as the defendant, he could speak in this matter, sealed or unsealed records). So the MSM washed their hands of him (rightly) and that had nothing to do with Judith Miller, it had to do with the fact that someone twice arrested for attempting sexual relations with underage females -- a CRIME -- isn't someone to shore up or go rushing to. But small media picked him up, propped him up and acted as though existing reports of the two arrests didn't exist. Which makes you question their committment to their own audiences?
So the Pedophile wants to explain that Cindy Sheehan's a distraction,
David Swanson's a distraction, Hurricane Katrina is a distraction . . . everything's a distraction. Except himself. And John Conyers! Conyers is "one of the strongest antiwar advocates in the U.S. Congress". Well no wonder the country's in trouble! John Conyers isn't an advocate for anything these days. He is hemmed in and allows himself to be hemmed in. (I don't expect the pedophile to know Congress. Most members refuse to meet him.) He gets in the sexist slame that Sheehan lacks "grace". What does he know about grace? Or is he confusing grace with the leniancy he was shown in his pedophile busts?
When the pig first took his attacks on Sheehan public, we called it out (over a year ago) and noted that he wants to turn to the peace movement into the military with himself as commander. In fact, he earned his own special spot in "
2006: The Year of Living Dumbly" (he really earned it):
Another low happened when The Nation, Democracy Now! and about every left and 'left' outlet decided to continue to give a platform to the man they portray as a Cassandra but whom the mainstream media has noted was twice arrested in stings to capture sexual predators. As Chrissie Hynde once sang in "How Much Did You Get For Your Soul," "How much did you, How much did you, How much did you get?" He went around the country with Seymour Hersh slamming the peace movement (and wanting to turn it into the military -- presumably with himself as commander), he ridiculed and mocked Cindy Sheehan in an independent weekly, and despite that, despite the mainstream media's reports of two busts for seeking out sex with underage girls online, he was given a platform repeatedly.
He's a moron and disgusting trash. And he's selling "mandatory national service" like a good little Nazi today much to the shock of many commenting. They should be more shocked that a KNOWN PEDOPHILE can get away with penning statements about what "legally, morally and structurally binds our nation together" becuase, if the MSM coverage is to be believed, were it not for backdoor deals (that led to some firings), the Pedophile would be behind bars where his CRIMINAL ASS belongs. The Pedophile calls Cindy Sheehan's actions "self-destructive". That's rich -- a pedophile wants to speak of destruction. Reality is that the trash should have been carried to the curb. Reality is that the MSM did. It's independent media that's decided a PEDOPHILE is just, apparently, what the world needs now.
And it's time to start demanding accountability from small media. I don't tolerate pedophiles, I have no idea why The Nation, Truthdig and others are welcome to give them a 'pass.' I doubt they'd give the same pass to Mark Folely but the objects of his affection were male. (And it should be noted, Folely does not appear to have attempted anything with anyone under 18 which means he is not a pedophile.) With the Pig, apparently Small Media is saying that it's perfectly understandable for those things to happen. Two busts being reported and the perv refusing to respond to the reports is okay. It's not okay.
But it allows him to trash Cindy Sheehan yet again. And laugh as the twice busted pedophile wants to warn Sheehan's about to destroy "whatever vestige of credibility is left to her as a mainstream activist." This from the Pedophile who has no mainstream outlet because -- unlike Small Media -- MSM was firm in refusing to air the opinions of a Pedophile.
He's never liked Sheehan -- though he pretends today he liked the summer 2005 actions when the reality is he was trashing her at the start of 2006 and trashing the same actions he now pretends to like. Pedophile could never like the Peace Mom. She is a "mom." She's a mother. A wounded mother grieving over her child. Pedophiles need to divorce their victims from any sort of relations other than objects for the pedophile's perversion. Mothers are very scary to pedophiles.
He's a pedophile, he's a right-winger and he can't shut up about "anti-war." He's trashed Cindy Sheehan repeatedly. Why the left wants to embrace him is anyone's guess. But we don't embrace pedophiles. A good question to ask now is why others on the left continue to give him an outlet? Non Credo's remarks stand out among the ones read to me over the phone. From the opening of Non Credo's comments: "How dare ____ smear Sheehan as a 'narcissist.' ____ wants to pose in contrast as the 'manly man'. It's sexist and crass. It's ____ who's preening here, in his pretty uniform. And ___, this idea is nuts. If Bush had us all in his army, we'd all have to shut up, the way he shuts up anybody now serving, on the excuse of military necessity."
Avoid the Pedophile. But call him out if you see him around children -- especially girls.
Finally, as
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, the Oil Ministry in Iraq has put in a place a ban on anyone dealing with the oil unions in Iraq who went on strike in opposition to the theft of Iraqi oil.