Friday, July 14, 2006

My thoughts

The Operation Happy Talk goes on.
Sean McFarland becomes the biggest doofus outside the administration by delcaring, "I think we have turned a corner her in Ramadi." MacFarland is both an Army Col. and a Happy Talker.
In news that's a little harder to Happy Talk,
Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports that of the 1000 Sunni soldiers who made up the May 2006 graduating class "only about 300 of them have reported for duty".
In other news from the real world,
Reuters reports that the US Congressional Budget Office predicts: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years".
These projections come at a time when, as
Martha Burk has pointed out (Ms.), the US government has cut "[d]omestic-violence prevention by $35 million, Medicaid by $17 billion over five years and child care programs by 1.03 billion over five years."
In other costs paid,
Reuters reports 12 corpses were discovered in Tal Afar. CBS and the AP note a corpse ("shot in the chest . . . signs of torture") discovered in Azizyah".
noted earlier this morning, seven people were killed ("after Friday prayers") when a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was bombed. Meanwhile Reuters reports that a mosque in Balad Ruz was hit by mortar rounds leaving at least two dead and four wounded while a car bomber in Mosul who killed himself and five others. The AFP covers a mortar attack in Baghdad that left one person dead and nine wounded.
Shooting deaths?
Reuters notes that two policeman were killed by a sniper in Tal Afar while a minibus near Kut was attacked "with machine gun fire" resulting in five dead ("including a wwoman and a child"). Meanwhile, the AFP reports attacks in two cities: a car was "ambushed" in Tikrit by assailants who shot the father dead and wounded the son; and, in Mosul, two different attacks left a police officer dead as well as the bodyguard of a judge. And the Associated Press reports a drive-by in Baghdad that killed a taxi driver.
BBC noted the death of several Iraqi soldiers (12 at that point) in Kirkuk when they were attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns". AFX raised the number dead to 13 (citing "colonel Mahmud Abdulla").
following yesterday's kidnapping attempt that left wrestling coach Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib dead, the AP reports that: "Iraq's national wrestling team [has] pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates".
In the United States,
Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon.
In DC (and across the globe -- over 22 countries), the fast led by
CODEPINK and others continues. As Thursday's The KPFA Evening News reported some Congressional members, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast on Thursday. Ann Wright, who ressigned from the State Department on May 19, 2003 and is taking part in the actions stated: "The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante".
Wednesday July 19th, San Antonio, TX will be the location for a "public hearing held by the the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves" -- "in the Iberia Ballroom of the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, 112 College Street, San Antonio."
There will be two panels with the first lasting from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focused on "
roles and missions to funding requirements" and the second, lasting from 2:00 pm to 4 pm, focusing on how reserves were "involuntarily mobilized after September 11, 2001".

C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" above, in case you didn't know. I was asked in e-mails why I wasn't weighing in on Democracy Now! and figure I better note that here so the issue can go away. I didn't link to it on my blogroll and the reason was because I took from it what I could use and left the other stuff alone. Rebecca's "is there a price tag on your ass?" writes about the problem I had with a 2004 episode. Reading C.I.'s "Community note" and finding out that the guest who was supposed to 'debate' was, as David Ray Griffin said on air, someone who makes a point to go around sneering 'crackpot' really made me mad because I wasn't aware of that. (The article, I asked C.I., appeared in CJR, the one where he sneered about Pacifica Radio.)

So my concern this week and last and the week before hasn't been the program. C.I. really does like the program (there was no attempt to hide that online) and my concern was more with C.I.
I read Beth's column in the round-robin this morning and I know how many members are thrilled that the program's not being noted anymore. I understand the wish of the community.

But I guess where it comes in for me is, as important as that is, C.I. is the one who writes those entries that go up at The Common Ills. I just thought another road could have been found. Or should have been. And if anyone is bothered by that remark, let's remember C.I. started the fast on the Fourth and is still on it. This was a lot of crap to get dumped on C.I. That's how I see it. And that would have been at any time, but especially when someone's fasting for days and days.

I knew there was stuff going on so I stayed out of it until I saw the thing Thursday. Then I went over to C.I.'s and we called Betty to hear how her latest chapter was going (it's "The War Paint Council" so make a point to read it). C.I. didn't hide in the entry announcing the community had come to a decision that the decision was personally depressing.

I mean. I don't know. I just think if it needed to be done, if the community wanted it enough to put the kind of pressure behind their opinions that they did, I think everyone could have waited another week.

Now maybe that's not a "news" decision. It was probably going to do more harm over a week's time. But I kept coming back to how tired and depressed and hungry C.I. already was. It honestly just struck me as the wrong time to pile on with any topic.

We ended up buying CDs last night. I went over on a cheer up mission. After we were done talking to Betty, C.I. thanked me for stopping by and was intending to get back in bed. I said, "No, no, no. I need the new Thom Yorke. Come on, I'm going CD shopping, you can tag along."
When we were there, I remembered Jess saying no one could find Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun, so I suggested that and then really started saying, "Come on, buy the store out."

(I was joking.)

I bought Yorke and three other CDs (and, instead am listening to Aimee Mann which just got returned this morning -- The Lost Arm). C.I. bought gifts and probably 20 or so personal CDs. Including Ben Harper which I'm sure someone walked out of C.I.'s house with or C.I. is really, really tired. (Or both.)

Ten days of fasting is tough. I did two days and that was tough. Ann Wright and Diane Wilson and others are doing these really long-term fasts and that's amazing. But I just didn't think the timing was right.

I understood why the community felt it was. This had been building for some time due to any number of issues. (And if you read this and think, "Oh, I'll write C.I. that I'm okay with the show . . ." Don't. The decision is made. That's another reason why I didn't blog during this. I didn't want someone saying, "Oh we could have stopped noting it but Kat had to butt in.") But I really think, if only for the issue of the ongoing fast, that this could have waited. I know this was very depressing to C.I.

On the plus side, it shows, for any doubters, that it's a community and no one person controls it. On the other hand, I just would have, if I was advocating delinking, waited a week or so. I wouldn't have said, "Okay, Saturday C.I.'s off so I'll e-mail Saturday." I would have given it until at least next Monday to give someone a chance to really get back on their feet.

Beth makes good points and members make good points in her column in the round-robin. But in terms of the timing for C.I., I've really only seen (online) Mike express any regret about the fact that this happened during a fast.

So that does bother me.

My attitude on the show is that sometimes it has something valuable and sometimes it doesn't. And I do agree that there have been a lot of less valuable moments of late. I mean, there was stuff to do during this. C.I. was speaking and doing the site and the first day that C.I. made time off for was Thursday. The fact that the day was spent sleeping for the most part should indicate that this wasn't a good time.

I'm not trying to act like I'm the best person in the world. I'm not. I don't think anyone demanding the delinking was a bad person, either. But, for instance, Thursday after we got done shopping, I swung by a food place and ordered take out. I was really hoping, fast be damned, C.I. would eat something. There was a deep sniff and a comment on how good it all smelled but C.I. stayed on the fast.

So in this, my concern was the timing.

It's over. Nothing can be changed. But if there's something to take away from this, I hope it's that the community is listened to, does decide so if there's ever a need for something similar, some thought is given as to whether or not this is a good time.

That's all I'll say on it. It's over. Aimee Mann's singing:

So, like a ghost in the snow
I'm getting ready to go.
Because baby, that's all I know --
how to open the door.
And though the exit is crude
It saves me coming unglued
for when you're not in the mood
for the gloves
and the canvas floor.
That's how I kne wthis story would break my heart.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Call your mothers!!!!

I'm online for one reason tonight. I'll note three things. Two political at the beginning and end and the middle one is why I decided to blog. (I'll grab any excuse not to, if you haven't figured that out about me yet.)

You need to read, listen or watch Democracy Now!'s "Troops Home Fast: Nationwide Hunger Strikes Protest Iraq War" because it's too important to miss. Here's a section:

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. First off, yesterday, as the newsmakers were coming out of the studios, particularly Senator Richard Lugar, people who are involved in the fast, who are part of CodePINK, confronted him. Why? And what happened?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, part of this fast is to put pressure on our elected officials, and sometimes we can reach them in their offices, and sometimes we can reach them in other places, like when they're appearing on the talk shows. And so, we were out Sunday morning, early, to try to talk to Richard Lugar -- we also talked to Christopher Dodd -- tell them why we're doing this fast, how determined we are to end this war, ask them to come out and stand with us in front of the White House one day to show their support, but more importantly, ask them what they're going to do to end the violence in Iraq.
And we are -- this morning, we have a team of fasters who are going through the halls of Congress and leaving letters to every single member of the House and of the Senate with several boxes in them, asking them: Do you support the fast and the call for the troops to come home? Will you join us one day in front of the White House? Will you fast for one day? Or do you not support these efforts? And we want it to be clear who in Congress and who in the Senate -- where they stand. So this is one of the major points of doing this fast.
AMY GOODMAN: And what has been the response of the White House, your standing outside of the White House?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, we never get any response directly from the White House, but we are out there every time they're doing a press conference. For example, they just had a press conference with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and we were out there talking about Canada's recent role of being much more supportive the of the Bush administration and refusing to give refugee status to the U.S. war resisters who have gone to Canada and managed to get on major Canadian television, in the major Canadian papers. We will be out there when the foreign minister from England is there this week. So when we're outside the White House, we do get a chance to at least interact with some of the visitors who are coming.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how the fast began, how the gathering took place on Independence Day weekend?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, first I should say that it was many of us talking about what more we could do. We really can't just sit around and watch the violence escalate and felt like there was -- we had to go to a deeper space in our confrontation with these policies. And so, we decided to start this hunger strike.
On July 3, we launched it walking from the Gandhi statue to the White House, and it was a very beautiful ceremony with hundreds of people. We laid out a beautiful pink tablecloth in front of the White House. We had Food Not Bombs there to cook dinner for 200. We called it our fast supper. And we had a very spiritual evening, with people joining us from different faith-based communities. And that evening at midnight, we launched the fast. On July 4, was our first day, Independence Day, we tried to march in the Independence Day parade here in Washington. Unfortunately, we were not allowed. And when two of our members, including a Vietnam veteran, tried to get into the parade, he was arrested, as was a 71-year-old member of CodePINK.

Reason I'm blogging. Call your mothers! Call your mothers and tell them you love them. Why do I say that? I just read Trina's "Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen" and read it, everyone. Her commentary after the recipe, when she says something to the effect of she's not making any sense, she's making perfect sense. Read it and you'll call your mother. (I just got off the phone with mine.) Read it. I'm not joking. When she writes about Mike and how she felt when she grasped he was an adult, it will make you think. Call your mothers!!!!

Back to political, I'll close with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Violence and chaos continue.
Bombings, shootings, corpses, kidnappings -- characteristics of daily life in Iraq -- continue while the miliary releases the name of the five US troops charged this weekend in the Mahmoudiya incident and Iraq attempts to overturn the immunity law that exempts suspects from being charged in and by Iraq (foreign troops and contractors).
The AFP notes that a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least ten and left at least fifty-one wounded. The Associated Press notes that this car bomb happened "near a repair shop on the edge of . . . Sadr City". Al Jazeera notes the second bombing which occurred "outside a restaurant near the central bank in central Baghdad" resulting in at least six dead and at least 28 wounded. A third bomb, roadside, resulted in the wounding of five police officers according to Reuters.
Also in Baghdad, CBS and AP note that a bus was "ambushed" with the seven people on it killed (six passengers and the driver) and the bus set on fire.
As Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, "violence came despite a security crackdown in the capital raising new questions about the effectiveness of the police and Iraqi army."
Outside of Baghdad, Al Jazeera notes a roadside bomb in Hillah killed one police officer and wounded four while, in Kirkuk, "a sucide truck bomb struck an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" leaving five dead and twelve wounded. Reuters reports a roadside bomb in Yusifya that took the life of one person and left two more wounded; and a car bomb in Baquba that left eleven wounded. CBS and the AP note a bomb in Mahmoudiya that left ten wounded and a car bomb in Ramadi that wounded four US troops.
The BBC notes that Adnan Iskandar al-Mahdawi ("member of the provincial council in Diyala province") is dead as a result of a drive-by. CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, a doctor was "forced . . . out of his car . . . and killed in front of his family."Reuters notes two attacks in Baghdad -- one which left three police officers dead and wounded another and a second where two "bodyguards of a judge" were killed and three were wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses were found in Suwayra, one in Kut ("shotgun wounds") and one near Dugail ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") while CBS and AP note the discovery of "two bullet-riddled" corpses in Baghdad and notes five corpses, not one, discovered in Kut.
Reuters notes that "an agriculture official" was kidnapped in Dujail.
The Associated Press reports that the latest five charged in the incident involving the alleged rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza as well as her murder, and that of three members of her family, are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard. Yribe is identified as the one who, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, is "charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime." The AP notes that "[t]he others face more serious charges as participants" as well as the fact that two of the five charged are sergeants (Cortez and Yribe). The five join Steven D. Green who was charged on June 30th.
The names of the five are released as Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that the US crafted laws for Iraq are facing a challenge according to Wigdan Michael (human rights minister in Iraq) who states "We're very serious about" requesting the "United Nations . . . end immunity from local law for U.S. troops". Michael tells Karouny: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."
In peace news, Amy Goodman and Medea Benjamin discussed the Troops Home Fast today. Benjamin stated: ". . . we think this fast is one way that they can do it. We've had people who have read about the fast in the paper, and they're in West Palm Beach, for example, and just jumped on a plane and came and joined us. We have a woman from Vancouver, in Washington state, who heard about the fast and decided that she had to do something more, came and joined us for this week. People who thought they were going to fast for one day have ended up fasting for the entire week and are going into their second week. This can really be a catalyst if people join. Every day we have hundreds more signing up on the website and saying they want to participate."
In other peace news, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has stated, of her son's refusal to deploy to Iraq for the illegal war, "He is sending that message to all the armed forces, the message that they need to examine carefully the war they are choosing to fight." Ehren's father, Bob Watada, is comparing the fight against the charges the military has brought against his son to a competition and tells Alyssa S. Navares (Honolulu Star Bulletin), "I have always been one of those dads at every game and practice . . . Although I whip him in a singles match, together we pravail on the court. And trust me, we're going to do it again when we fight these charges."
Finally, Reuters is reporting that 200 ex-police officers ("fired . . . for forgery and bribery") stormed the Muthanna governor's office "demanding they be reinstated in their jobs in the southern city of Samawa, the capital of Muthanna province."