Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Justy, we'll be your man!

Mike and Wally here. Doing a joint post to fill in for Kat who will be back in the country shortly. We were trying to figure out what to write about and then we started laughing about the joke-of-the-week, Justin Timberlake.

In "Sexy Back," Justy chants about how he's a "slave/ Whip me if I misbehave."

Justy's got a purdy little face. It's like a lady's.

Or maybe like a teenage girl's.

If it's humiliation and discipline you crave, Justy, we think we can help you out.

Having heard your music, we'd be happy to give you a good ass kicking or ass 'whupping -- your choice. Whatever floats your boat.

Just show us your "sexy back" and, if we can stop laughing, we guarantee to give you the punishment you crave.

We don't blame you for wanting a good beating. If we'd recorded all the bad music you have, we'd be in the streets begging people to beat us. (Not "beat us senseless" because, listening to that music, it's obvious that you are already senseless.)

Kat's back soon. All you Kat lovers, stop the KAT HOME NOW! fast. :D

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

Iraq snapshot
Chaos and violence continue and the Puppet finds how hard the strings can be yanked.

Reuters reports that Hoshiyar Zebari (Iraq's foreign minister) stated that Iraq will condemn Hizbollah just in time to allow Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki to address the US Congress. Reuters also provides the Puppet's Lament -- noteworthy only due to the laugh factor: "Let us not allow what happened in 1991 to repeat itself, because if it does history will not be merciful to any of us."
"Us"? Pretty strong words for someone who bailed on his own country and wasn't, in fact, in Iraq in 1991. If a struggle wasn't finished in Iraq in 1991 (George H. W. Bush did not march to Baghdad, etc.) maybe the last person to be criticizing should be an Iraqi who was hiding outside of the country? Maybe if it meant so much to him, he should have gone to his country and not expected another country to do the work he was too scared/chicken to do?
If that seems especially harsh, it needs to be noted these thoughts aren't uncommon in Iraq. As the illegal occupation picks one exile after another to be puppet, Iraqis are offended (rightly). If al-Maliki thinks things were left unfinished in 1991, why's he blaming George H. W. Bush -- where was al-Maliki in 1991? Not in Iraq -- he only returned after the US invaded in 2003. He's a funny kind of 'brave,' a funny kind of 'leader,' shouting: "Stand with me! After others clear the way for me!"
There's a reason that various people have loyal followings in Iraq -- they were there before the invasion. They are a part of the country's history. These exiles returning and being appointed to positions of authority do not represent the average Iraqi and that's yet another factor in the hostility towards the puppet government.
al-Maliki was missing his cod-piece but, in front of the US Congress, he demonstrated he could strut and bluster as well as the Bully Boy. How bad was it? So bad Tony Snow has had to declare that "the president is not a puppeteer in this case." Only in this case?
While that nonsense went on, in the real world, the chaos and the violence continued.Bombings?The Associated Press notes the death of police officers (also brothers) in Baghdad from a roadside bomb. The AFP identifies one as "Lieutenant Colonerl Khadum Bressam" and notes the death of "one civilian" from a roadside bomb in Baghdad as well as a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left four wounded.
Reuters reports that three police officers were killed in Nahrwan and four others wounded; a wedding was the location for an attack where "Gunmen on a motorcycle sprayed three men with bullets"; and, in Baquba, an attack on a police patrol left with civilian dead, one police officer dead and one police officer wounded. AFP covers the patrol attack in Baquba and also notes that a family that had "gathered their possisions and prepared to flee" were attacked by "gunmen" leaving one family member dead and two others wounded.
AFP reports five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("tortured and shot").Also in Baghdad, Reuters is reporting that seventeen people were kidnapped from an apartment complex in Baghdad ("10 men, five women and two children from different families"). The mass kidnapping comes on a day when "police brigadier Abdulla Hmood, the director of the residency office in Baghdad" was also kidnapped.
Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) continues to speak with actual Iraqis. Is it a civil war? The conclusion of the people Cockburn speaks with is that it a civil war with one telling him, "When our so-called leaders go to Washington they always produce a rosy picture of what is happening in Iraq for the Americans, though they know it is a lie."
In England, the BBC reports that the families of four soldiers who died in Iraq have won their right to a judicial review. The AFP reports that Britain's Court of Appeal means the defendants "have won a key legal battle in their bid to force a full public inquiry into the legality of Britain's decision to go to war." The BBC notes the families' attorney, Phil Shiner, explaining: "The government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal. That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade [Iraq] was lawful." 114 UK troops have died in Iraq. Also today in England, the AFP reports, Tony Blair was delivering a health care speech when he was interupted by a war protestor who wrote across his chest and back: "Impeach Tony Blair."
In the United States, a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll reports that, among Democrats, 31 percent i.d. the war "as the top problem for the country while 14 percent listed the economy". For all respondents, regardless of party i.d., the AP reports: "The problem mentioned most often by all adults polled was the war -- in Iraq and conflicts in general -- 22 percent." (500 participants, plus/minus 4.5 error of margin.) Breakdown of the data here.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Professor Alexander McFarlane, head of psychiatry at Adelaide University" that "[t]he probability that Private Kovco intentionally committed suicide is very low." Speaking with Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy reported: "Eleanor, this psychiatrist, his name is Professor Sandy McFarlane, and he specialises in trauma and the state of mind of troops in war zones. One of the first things he said was to rule out suicide as a possibility. He said that Private Kovco was actively planning for the future in his diary, and there were also two occasions in his diary when he'd mused about suicide. The first one was about a month before his death, when he had a dream where he'd shot himself, and he said he ruled out suicide after that and he didn't like the idea of suicide at all. The other time was after a suicide bomber had attacked some building in the green zone, and he was trying to empathise with the suicide bomber and trying to imagine how he could have done this, and he said that he couldn't at all. And I quote directly from what he said, from what Private Kovco wrote, he said: 'They have a f .. ked up state of mind, the sooner they are exterminated the better'. And he couldn't understand those suicidal actions at all."
Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that McFarlane stated: "In his diary his sense of vigilance had changed when he returned to picket duties at the Australian embassy. He perceived that this was an environment with a significantly lower level of threat. Private Kovco was in a somewhat playful state of mind."
Doherty reports that Jake Kovco's former roommates ("Soldiers 17 and 19") are returning to Australia "to give evidence in the inquiry next week" and that "another of Private Kovco's comrades, known as Soldier 14, who was on duty with Private Kovco on the day he died" to testify to the inquiry in person in Australia. On that development, Conor Duffy reports that the former roomates "will arrive in Sydney on Friday . . . [where] [t]hey're expected to undergo tests to determine if they are the source of the mystery DNA on Private Kovco's pistol."
In peace news, Cynthia Oi (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) addresses the topic of war resister Ehren Watada, noting: "Lt. Watada became the object of our discontent, the body mass on which to dump the toxic products of unease generated by the relentlessly horrible war." Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
It is day 23 of the Troops Home Fast with at least 4,350 people taking part from around the world. The strike is ongoing and people can grab a one-day fast or grab a multiple-day fast while. More information can be found at CODEPINK.

And let's give self-shout outs. Check out "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY'S PUPPET TAKES A LEAK!" (Wally) and "I'm bringing laughter back . . . with Justy's help" (Mike).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

C.I. guest posting for the vacationing Kat

C.I. here filling in for Kat. Let's get the snapshot out of the way, "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continues but the media's more interested in seeing if al-Maliki will give Bully Boy class and if Bully Boy will give al-Maliki . . .
Reuters reports a bomb ("car driven") in Mosul left eleven wounded, "rocket-propelled grenades" fired "on the main road between Kirkuk and Baghdad" at "two fuel trucks" killed two drivers -- a third was kidnapped; a roadside bomb in Mosul wounded three Iraqi soldiers; and, in Baghdad, a road side bomb took the life of one police officer and left three wounded. AFP reports three bombs going off in Baghdad "killing two civilians and a policeman wnd wounding many bystanders." Allowing for the police officer in Baghdad noted by AFP and Reuters to be the same person, that leaves five dead.
Reuters reports a shooting death in Ishaqi which took the life of a police officer, a drive-by that killed a police officer in Baghdad, four wounded in Daquq ("working for a private Iraqi company which deals with the U.S. military") and two dead ("gunned down inside their car") in Baghdad. The "inside their car" noted by Reuters appears to be "a family of Shiite civilians" who had been threatened and were attempting to flee but were killed with another family members wounded (AFP).
Reuters reports six corpses were discovered in Baghdad, seven in Suwayra ("shot dead . . . blindfolded), and two near Falluja ("gunshot wounds").
That's all the media has to spare for events in Iraq as the rush is to DC to note the new romantic comedy When Bully Met Puppet . . .
Here's the set up. An obnoxious, paunchy post-middle-age male decides to invade Iraq. He and his flunkies make a lot of false claims and assertions that are generally known to be false in real time. For example,
Michael Ratner, Jennie Green and Barbara Olshanksy will write in 2002: "Despite the pervasive use of the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction' in many of the Bush Administration's speeches discussing Saddam Hussein throughout 2002, there is no evidence of a developed nuclear weapon program in Iraq. Indeed, all reliable, detailed evidence from independent experts reveals that the current weapons capacity in Iraq is small -- smaller and far less advanced than that of other counries around the world that are actively threatening peace in their respective regions" (Against War With Iraq). But out of some desire to let the lifelong loser make yet another stab at 'success' in some form, in any forum, the mainstream media largely either stays silent or cheerleads.
The spoiled playboy gets his hobby (and many die). He toys with and discards Ibrahim al-Jaafari (the cad!) and along comes Nouri al-Maliki. Cue love theme on the soundtrack. Puppet is Bully Boy's favorite kind of Iraqi -- one that's spent over two decades out of the country.
Now after long distance exchanges and one brief (shining) moment, they're face to face and the question for the audience is: "Are their sparks?"
Don't expect sparks to fly but expect the Puppet to get a lesson in who pulls the strings.
The BBC offers this recap: "When the two leaders met in Baghdad last month . . . The mood then was unusually positive, reports the BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington -- but this latest meeting comes on the back of a failed security operation in Baghdad." The AFP reminds: "Baghdad's descent into chaos has claimed more victims as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Washington under pressure to restore order and pave the way for the departure of US forces. As gunshots and bomb blasts echoed around the capital, the Iraqi leader went into talks with US President George W. Bush knowing that both the Americans and his own supporters are disappointed with his handling of the situation."
A meeting of two leaders? Sounds more like a performance review.
Getting far less attention is
the reconciliation meetings going on Cairo with (AP): "Some 30 delegates representing Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller minorities are participating in the discussions sponsored by the Cario-based Arab League."
In peace news,
the Latin American News Agency reported Friday: "Costa Rican filmmaker Daniel Ross . . . won the prize of the screenplay contest called by the Program for the Promotion of Production and TV Coverage of the Ibero American Documentary (DOCTV-IB)." Ross will now have $100,000 for the budget of his film, Dear Camilo, which "will portray the story of [Camilo] Mejias, from the perspective of two Costa Rican friends, former classmates he meets after 10 years." On the subject of activist and war resister Camilo Mejia, he is not 24 years-old. Those who've noted coverage of an accident in Florida involving a 24 year-old Camilo Mejia and wondered, it's not the same Camilo Mejia (the activist Mejia was born in 1976).
After serving in Iraq, Mejia returned to the US and went AWOL, surfacing in March of 2004 at a news conference held at the Sherborn Peace Abbey
Alison O'Leary Murray (Boston Globe) reports that Sherborn Peace Abbey, "founded in 1988," is in need of funding. Along with being the setting for Meija's news conference, the abbey also "was involved in a protest by a group calling itself the Peace Chain 18, who chained themselves togeter at Natick's Army Labs to protest military intervention in Iraq."
Writing for The Huffington Post,
Michael Brune notes that he and others with the Rainforest Action Network "are joining Code Pink and thousands of others around the world who are fasting to end the war in Iraq and to bring our troops home now." Brune writes: "Each day we wake up, rush to work, get together with friends, get caught in traffic, get caught in office politics, get caught in emails . . . and each day so many time zones away, another family is terrorized at gunpoint, another young soldier is killed, a home is destroyed, a child is killed while her sister is raped. And if you live in America, it's being done in your name."
YubaNet notes: "hunger strikers who started fasting against the war on July 4 will set up 'Camp Al-Maliki' across from the Iraqi Embassy to await response to a letter sent by the group to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki." Today is DAY 22 of the Troops Home Fast action -- at least 4,350 people from around the world are participating. The fast is ongoing and people wishing to grab a one-day fast to show their support can do so at any point. If you missed the July 4th start, you haven't missed out on the protest. Information can be found online at CODEPINK.
Finally, in Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues with "Soldier Two" (Kovco's platoon sergeant by most accounts) testifying.
Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that Soldier Two testified that he "had heard the commotion in Private Kovco's room on the night of April 21 and found the private's room-mates, Soldiers 17 and 19, kneeling beside the body. He saw the nine-millimetre pistol on the floor and shifted it aside with his hands in case someone accidentally discharged it." Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Kovco's platoon sergeant did not want to look again" at Kovco's body. This is presented as the reason why the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic ended up arriving in Melbourne and not the body of Jake Kovco. Soldier Two is quoted saying: "I was devastated and am still upset by the mix-up." Australia's ABC notes that Soldier Two was flown in from Baghdad to testify and that he "said he was not given detailed instructions of his role as escort, and was not told that he had sole responsibility for identifying the body during the repatriation process." Doherty notes that Soldier Two's DNA was tested and "neither Soldier 2 nor three military police officers involved in the initial investigation" match the DNA found on the gun ("its slide, handgrip and trigger"). Doherty concludes with: "The two soldiers who were in barracks room eight with Private Kovco when he died will be DNA-tested when they arrive back in Australia later this week."
Note that this is the inquiry's stated goal/action today and that another turnaround wouldn't be surprising at this point considering its past history.

Check out Mike's "Lot of things." Elaine's "Sent By Earth (Alice Walker) and thoughts on the media 'coverage'" is a must read and a number of community members have noted it since it went up last night. Wally's latest is "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY PULLS AN ALL NIGHTER!" and Cedric's is "Thoughts on the Bully Boy."

I'm tired and I don't know what to write about but Martha e-mailed that a fun post (to read) might be about "TV: 24 -- like 60 Minutes with less action" which Ava and I wrote.

We're both glad people enjoy reading them. Sometimes, they're fun to write. Usually, we have fun in the writing stage. But it can be a pain in the butt. For instance, this week, we have no idea what we're going to write about Sunday. I'm busy, Ava's busy and there are times when Friday rolls around and a friend takes pity on us and gives us some copies of their show. There really have been times when we've been too busy to pick anything out and we blink -- it's Saturday. (So thank you to the many people who were kind enough to provide tapes.)

But when we finish those things, we're done with them. We don't reread them. We don't say, "Hey, remember when we wrote . . ." In fact, Elaine once read random (apparently humorous) lines to me without saying they were from the TV reviews and I didn't even recognize them.

We're just trying to get done. On a good week, we've spoken to someone with the show or someone involved in it (on some level). On a bad week, we're scrambling to get something together.

Martha noted that one person was offended by a review. Actually, it was two people. They'd provided tapes of their show and we said it had cancellation written all over it in our review. (I know that's in there because it was screamed at me over the phone by one person who was offended.) Both have gotten over it.

Ava and I don't make any deals. We never say "Give us tapes" or talk to us and you'll get a rave. We have trashed shows friends were working on and except for that one show, everyone's been fine with it. I don't mean fake fine with it. I mean calling one of us in laughter and wanting to read their favorite line.

There was that one time and that's the only time it's happened. Are others on or with a program offended? Yes. We know that ahead of time and we honestly don't care.

If someone we knows is doing a great job, they'll get praise. If they're not, they'll get noted. Or we'll note that we're taking a pass on them. (We also took a pass on one person's acting -- and noted this -- because we didn't care for the person at all and felt our feelings were too strong to evaluate the person's acting.)

Martha (and others) have several times e-mailed asking what our favorite one was? The one from the week before because it's done. Good or bad (we never think they're any good), it's done and we don't have to worry about that.

There are writing sessions where the last thing written is the TV commentary. We're working with everyone on the other pieces and there's no time to grab until near the end. By then, we're about to fall over and that's happened too many times. It's soured our enjoyment probably.

We just want done. We want it over. We do laugh during it and if one of us laughs outloud we usually think, "Well, there's at least one laugh in there." But what stands out the most for us is how tired we are when we get around to writing those things and how we just want it over.

We watch the episode or episodes together. (Even if we focus on only one episode in our review, we've usually seen more than one episode.) Either physically in the same room or over the phone. At some point during that, an offhand remark will be made by one of us and will forget it. Then we're looking at our notes and realize that offhand remark is really how we see the show. There are times when we watch something and after we'll know we hated it or loved it but that's really all that we're registering and then come across that comment in our notes and realize that's chief in whatever response we had.

Would we like a week off? The site always says it will take one off and never has. Yes. But if we took a week off and the site had new content, we'd hear about it. So, like I do with The Common Ills, Ava's got a calendar and we both mark off the days as though we're serving time.

On a good session, after we start writing, we can dash something off quickly. However, it's also happened that we're winding down a review when it hits us that something stood out more and we'll trash it and start all over.

There are a lot of e-mails that go to the site (and Ava and I avoid reading those) that Ty will ask a question on so he can write a reply. (Thank you, Ty.) Ava and I are asked why we hate everything occassionally? We don't hate everything.

We don't care for rip offs that add nothing. We don't care for bad writing or bad acting. We think a lot of shows get passes for various reasons. Do a sitcom with a "plain" or "ugly" cast and you'll usually be judged (elsewhere) as funnier than you are. (Think Taxi or The Office.) But is it really funny? Funny, to us, is it makes us laugh out loud. In terms of drama, it has to move us.

Bad drama can move you, bad comedy can make you laugh. Usually that has to do with the perfomers when that happens. And it's also true that performers with a ton of energy can make a bad show bearable or even good.

We both have favorite shows but not many of them on today. If I had the time, I'd watch Medium. We watched and gave it a rave. I've seen it once since. That's it. I don't have the time to sit in front of a TV. If there were more shows like Medium (which NBC has pulled from fall and won't air until spring), I'd feel like I was missing something.

I don't feel that way. And I'm someone who, in better TV times, could sit in front of the TV and watch and watch and watch. Shows I've loved? (Incomplete list, just what comes to mind.)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Seinfeld, Roseanne, Murphy Brown, Will & Grace (until the series finale) . . . When they added Addie to Gimmie A Break, the show was very funny to me. Telma Hopkins and Nell Carter played off one another very well. Sometimes it can be that simple -- two performers on a so-so show lifting it higher due to the chemistry between them and the fact that their delivery makes the lines funnier than they are.

Dramas? St. Elsewhere comes to mind.

And there are performers I'll watch in anything. It can be the worst show in the world and I'll watch it if someone I enjoy is on. Susan St. James is someone I'd watch in anything. She's very funny. Jane Curtain is also very funny. Beyond the script for both women.

I don't care for the shows where women sit on the sidelines. If they're comedies, I don't care for women who play 'straight men.'

I'm sure I go in, before watching a show we review, with a prejudgement. That doesn't mean my mind can't change. I thought we'd rip Kelly Rippa apart. (Hope & Faith.) We watched it and she was zany. She was a wonderful sitcom actress in that part. She surprised me and I'm never afraid to note that or to note when someone does.

Some of the biggest complaints come from when we note reality -- that a teen heart throb can't act. Nick Lachey being one example. His fans (male and female) feel he is very good looking. That's fine. Dream and drool if he's to your taste. But don't kid yourself that he's an actor. (He could become one at some point, but he's not acted yet. He's posed.)

People were offended that, in the first season of the show, we said Joey was hideous. It was hideous. It was never going to be funny. It's what happens when people have no ideas and start tossing out a grab bag of "this will be off the wall!" It wasn't. And, as we noted, most shows about the entertainment industry aren't funny and aren't successful. For every Cybil or That Girl, there are a thousand shows where the lead wants to be famous in whatever art form and it's just not funny. (This fall there will be two shows about the entertainment industry -- one a drama starring Amanda Peet and Matthew Perry; the other produced by Tina Fey and a half-hour sitcome with, among others, Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin.)

I grew up watching TV (watching what everyone considered "too much" TV). I'm not opposed to the TV. I'm not opposed to watching (I don't have time these days). But I don't like watching bad TV.

When we say a show is worth watching, we're not playing "Excellence in TV programming!" We're looking at whether or not it's worth watching for the entertainment value. If it's not, it's not. It can have all the praise from the usual water cooler set and be a really bad show. We don't try to hype or tell you what's 'hot.' The people who read those reviews (at least when we used to read the e-mails) are looking for something to watch. Something that they can watch beyond a 'everybody's talking!' phase.

We're also usually discussing the way it treats women and people of color. (On the latter, for most shows, by ignoring them.) But if you like something, you like it. What we write shouldn't change your mind. We may point out something you didn't notice but you're the one watching.
I mean, Somebody Loved Raymond. Not everyone, but somebody did.

We'll note if someone's undressed a great deal because there are young parents among the readers who want a heads up if some show is something they can watch with their kids or not?
We should do the same with language but most of the time, that probably flies over our heads.

We are trying to be funny (and always convinced we're not pulling it off). Some readers never watch the shows and they just read the reviews to laugh. We try to have a point, even if we don't belabor it. And we are providing a feminist critique. ("A," not "the.")

So that's what we're going for. What's been most popular? The Bully Boy press conference (which we treated as a sitcom) was very popular, Nick & Jessica Reporting for Duty was, the review of Barbara Walters' interview with Colin Powell, Prisonbreak, and by the time we're getting to that, it's probably based (my opinion of whether or not it was popular) on friends and not e-mails. The CSIs have been popular and the Law & Disorders. Commentaries like "Katie Was A Cheerleader." But, although we usually remember a point we were making or trying to make, we don't usually remember the lines. Mike was telling us the other day that his friend Tony loved the line in the Supernatural review about the show being like gay porn where the leads forget to take their clothes off. We didn't remember that joke. We're really just trying to get through those things and get to sleep. The hours are long on the editions -- usually over 15 -- and since they start in the evening or at night, we've already both been half a day. So it's over 24 hours and we just want to be done.

The jokes are there to (hopefully) make someone laugh. We're usually more focused on the points we're trying to make. So maybe that was interesting, maybe it was boring. Who knows?
This was my third guest post for Kat. I'll try to do one more this week. Kat does return shortly. She'll be back before August 1st. If I had a calendar in front of me, I could say when exactly.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A very tired Cedric guesting for Kat

I am exhausted. Mike asked me if I needed to him grab this since we're filling in for Kat. I said, no I'll do it. (Cedric here.)

But I'm warning everyone, I'm dead tired.

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

Chaos and violence continue.
But will you hear about it? (How bad is the coverage -- in terms of quanity? So bad that Mark Silva's Chicago Tribune article is titled "
Remember Iraq?") And, if you do, will you hear of the 'relative calm' or any other dubious phrase?
Following Sunday's bombings that
claimed the lives of at least 66 and left over 200 wounded, today's events may not 'impress' enough to get the coverage they deserve.
It's after 10:00 pm in Baghdad, here are some of the events reported from Iraq.
Reuters reports two roadside bombs in Baghdad (one killing an Iraqi solider and wounding three more ; the other killing a civilian and wounding three police officers); a car bomb in Mosul killed five Iraqi soliders and wounded four; a roadside bomb killed one person in Mosul; and mortar bombs in Baghdad wounded at least eight people. CBS and the AP report a car bomb in Samarra that killed two Iraqi police officers and wounded 17. That would be six bombings with ten killed (plus the driver of the car bomb in Mosul for eleven -- Evening Echo News notes that the "car driver accelarted toward the house before detonating the explosives" -- the police were using the house as a command station). Of the car bomb in Mosul that killed the Iraqi soldiers (not the police officers), RTE News notes: "The Iraqi vehicle was driving behind a US patrol at the time of the explosion, although no US personnel were reported injured in the blast."
Reuters reports "an agricultural engineer" was shot dead near Kerbala; gunfire near Hilla left two dead and 17 wounded; and four died from shootings in Mosul. AFP reports the shooting death of "a bodyguard of a Sunni politician" in Baghdad. That would be eight dead.
AFP reports 23 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi prime minister (in name if not deed) Nouri al-Maliki splits from Iraq and goes to London.
James Hider and Jenny Percival (Times of London) note the departure this way: "As he flew out of his embattled capital yesterday at least 63 people were killed in bomb attacks and a dozen were shot dead in relentless drive-by shootings or kidnapped and murdered." Or, as Paul Schemm (AFP) worded it: "Nevertheless, while Maliki began a trip to Britain and the United States, the violence raged on at home."
BBC reports that on their radio program Today, Nouri al-Maliki has declared that Iraq "his country would not slide into a civil war." Reuters quotes him saying, "Civil war will not happen." CBS and the AP report him declaring, "There is a sectarian issue, but the political leaders have succeeded and they are working on putting an end to the sectarian issue. There is continuing efforts in that direction, the civil war will not happen to Iraq." The Puppet meets the Bully Boy in DC on Tuesday while he preps new 'believeable' lines -- possibly that no one takes a cut off the house's take in Vegas?
This as
Patrick Cockburn (London's Independent via Belfast Telegram) reports on a conversation with Hoshyar Zebari (Iraqi Foreign Minister) who spoke of how "in theory the government should be able to solve the crisis because Shia, Kurd and Sunni were elected members of it. But he painted a picture of a deeply divided administration in which senior Sunni members praised anti-government insurgents as 'the heroic resistance'."
Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) quotes an unidentified White House flack saying: "In terms of the civil war question, I would simply say there has been a rise in sectarian violence.. . That in itself does not constitute a civil war,’’ the official said." In terms of the news value of that quote, I would simply say there is none. That in itself, a flack lips flapping, does not constitute news.
AP reports that Muqtada al-Sadr's followers have released a statement on the impending meet up between Bully and Puppet: "We want him to cut his visit and not to sign any paper leading to occupation forces remaining in Iraq." And Robert H. Reid (AP) quotes one al-Sadr 'follower,' Jalil al-Nouri, stating: "We are the only group that rejects the occupation because we are nationalists. We are the only political group that rejects their presence in the country and we demand that they leave. We are to the point, and we are clear."
But with al-Maliki due in DC tomorrow, don't be surprised to see the days events described as 'calm' or 'relative calm' (on a day with at least 19 reported dead and 23 corpses discovered) and the rah-rah-'liberation' noises to start up all over again. Don't expect to read many pieces like Michael Gregory's "
None left untouched by daily violence in Baghdad" (Reuters) which notes: "President George W. Bush will hear the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in Washington on Tuesday tell him of plans for stemming bloodshed in Baghdad and repeat assurances he gave on Monday that Iraq is not at war with itself. But talk to people at random in the capital and a picture quickly emerges of a city where virtually everyone has a friend, relative or neighbour who has fallen victim to the sectarian shootings and death threats that Washington accepts are now an even bigger threat than the 3-year-old Sunni insurgency."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Iraq continues. Last week, it was decided (or "decided" since the board of inquiry appears to change its mind regularly -- Olive writes that Judy Kovco should call it the "Keystone Court" as she called the police the "Keystone cops" last week) that the former roommates of Kovco, in the room when he died, would testify from Iraq via videolink.
James Madden (Daily Telegraph) reports that has changed and now the board has decided to summon the two roommates to testify in person. Madden also notes that Dectective Sergeant Phillip Elliott testified to the inquiry that "Pte Kovco's body was washed and his two roommates were allowed to shower after the shooting. The bed linen and the soldiers' clothes were washed, and blood spatter was thought to have been removed from the ceiling and furniture." Australia's ABC notes that Kovco's "clothes were destroyed" prior to Elliott's arrival for the investigation. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports: "In answer to Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Holles, for Private Kovco's parents, Sergeant Elliott said Private Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, differed as to where Soldier 17 was sitting at the time of the shot. Soldier 17 had said he was sitting at the foot of the bed and Soldier 19 said Soldier 17 was sitting at the middle. [. . . .] Sergeant Elliott agreed the two also differed in their accounts of where Private Kovco lay after he fell. Bloodstains on the floor were consistent with him having been turned over after he fell." Austraila's ABC notes, of the decision to have the former roommates testify, "The inquiry has agreed to the application, but it is not yet known when the soldiers will return to Australia."
Meanwhile, the
Herald Sun reports that a witness known only as "Soldier Two" will testify with regards to how Bosnian Juso Sinanovic's body ended up being shipped to Australia instead of the body of Jake Kovoco.
In peace news,
it's day 21 of The Troops Home Fast (21 days since it started, 21 days for those who have been fasting since the Fourth of July -- but you can join the fast at any time). Robert C. Koehler (Tribune Media Services) writes of his decision to fast for one day and join the efforts organized by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace: "We have a war machine that's fed by hate and fear - indeed, by the need for enemies without the least humanity, because that absolves us of the need to have any ourselves. It's the age-old formula for war, but we have entered a time when it is globally life-threatening. When the world's only superpower swaggers through the Middle East with that kind of delusional anger and a military budget of half a trillion dollars that requires annual justification, watch out. It is time for new priorities."
Christopher J. Stephens writes, in The National Ledger, of the cases of Ehren Watada and Suzanne Swift noting: "Veterans for Common Sense [VFC] wrote an open letter to President Bush in March 2005 that noted some ominous possible results of the war in Iraq: 1.26 million Iraqi children under the age of five will die, 500,000 will need immediate medical attention, and 2 million will become homeless. Signatories to this letter included two Navy Vice Admirals, a Brigadier General, 14 Colonels, and 4 Captains."

That may be the last bit of coherence you find in this post. I'm wiped out. (I did write for the round-robin today and that will run Friday.) Let me note that the New York Times got around to writing about Ehren Watada and urge you to read "Officer Faces Court-Martial for Refusing to Deply to Iraq."

In fact, I'm just going to make this a "big mix."

Betty's written "Iraq (it's not 'calm') and thoughts on independent media" which is very powerful. It argues on why 'calm' should never be used in reports from Iraq and she shares her thoughts on her disappointment over some independent media this month. (Community members will be able to provide the names she, being kind, doesn't.) I agree with Betty 100% on that. It was an awakening and I'm surprised, since she's subbing for Rebecca, she didn't call it "losing your cherry." (Rebecca would have called it that. That's not a complaint about Betty. It's a wonderful piece.)

Mike (who is as tired as I am) takes a more laid back approach today with "E-mails and Iraq" by dipping into his e-mails. I think his piece and Betty compliment one another. I think his reaction to the nonsense that got attention at the start of the month was much more immediate and deeper than the rest of the community. His reaction was instaneous while the community seemed to be slowly reaching the same opinion. (An apparent need to self-promote by ___ rushed the community to that opinion. But, I believe, we were all headed there anyway. There had been too many other problems. When we realized that a news format would be used to self-promote what was, as Ava termed it, basically a stall scribble of "For a good time call . . ." the community reached the end of their rope with ___. But it was a long time coming and Mike got there first. Rebecca may have been a hair behind him. She was outspoken on this before her vacation. Very outspoken. And it was during her vacation that it all came to a head.) But my point here is that Mike's reaction now is either awareness or numbness and that's pretty much where I believe the community is headed. Mike was ahead of the curve earlier and I think he's still is.

Elaine's "Sent By Earth (Alice Walker) and thoughts on the media 'coverage'" is quite simply amazing. She's discussing Walker's book (which is a must read) but not in a "And then Walker writes . . ." She's discussing the context of the book and why it was important then and is important now. This is an amazing post and you really should check it out.

Wallace? (C.I. will sometimes jokingly call Wally "Wallace.") Wally's got " THIS JUST IN! SCOTTY MCLELLAN HOWLING WITH GLEE!" That went up late. Through no fault of Wally's. I was talking with him while he was doing that. I know he thought it would hit his site and was surprised/shocked later to learn that it didn't. This will provide you with your chuckle today. (You need one.)

C.I.? Check out C.I.'s coverage of Michael Gordon which is right-on and also will leave you laughing in "NYT: Gordo does advocacy journalism again" and "NYT: Gordo swears he'll talk dirty one day (we believe him), von Zielbauer . . ." But most of all check out C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." Like Betty, I'm amazed anything got written last night. When I read it, I was amazed that it was so powerful.

Me? I'm not a "monster of efficiency." Meaning, I can only do what I do. And I'm too tired for much more than this. (So tired, I'm not even blogging at my own site tonight.) So hopefully that provides you with some reading tips.