Friday, November 17, 2006

Iraq, Watada, et al (C.I.)

Honolulu-born Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's challenge to the legality of the war in Iraq will be discussed Sunday afternoon at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus.
Sponsored by the Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, "Ehren Watada: Conscience and Constitutionality" will feature Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada, along with the 28-year-old lieutenant's attorney, Eric Seitz, and UH Richardson School of Law professor Jon Van Dyke, who will address the constitutionality of Watada's actions.
The free public event runs 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the School of Architecture auditorium and will include questions.
Since being charged June 22 for refusing to deploy with his Fort Lewis Stryker unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Watada has been assigned to administrative duties and prohibited from traveling beyond a 250-mile radius of his base in Washington.
Earlier this month, Fort Lewis, Wash., commander Lt. Gen. James Dubik recommended that the Army proceed with a general court-martial against Watada for refusing to deploy. Watada and his attorney had been in negotiations with the Army since an Article 32 hearing on Aug. 17 to avert a trial, but talks broke down this month.

The above is The Honolulu Advertiser's "Forum to discuss Watada challenge to Iraq war" and Joan noted it. I'll carry it over to The Common Ills tomorrow morning but I'll note it here tonight because it does keep war resister Ehren Watada's name in the foreground. C.I. here, filling in for Kat. Kat is back in the US. She'll be back at her own home next week.

The snapshot will be at the end but Beth e-mailed asking me to clarify something. At the end of the snapshot, I note that a friend at C4 had phoned (repeatedly) and that was about the abductions Thursday in Baghdad which have gotten very little attention. (The mass kidnapping, Thursday, in south Iraq grabbed the spotlight.) In the first entry this morning (at The Common Ills), I wrongly thought Reuters had gotten it wrong in placing where the kidnapping took place.
I'm not home, I'm on the road. Thursday evening, we were in Betty's area so we stopped in to visit and stayed with her overnight. Kat's there right now in fact. As she did on her pleasure trip (the trip she's back from wasn't pleasure), she stopped in Atlanta to visit with Betty and Betty's kids.

I couldn't pick up a cell phone signal, was without my usual morning papers, and rushing the entries so Dona and I could catch our plane. There were a few e-mails from visitors saying "The kidnapping Thursday wasn't in Baghdad" and I went online to the Times where Kirk Semple was writing about a (but I thought the) kidnapping in Iraq on Thursday which took place in southern Iraq. So I just assumed I was wrong and Reuters' breaking story had misidentified. I posted, Dona and I caught our flight and there were so many voice mails on the cell that I didn't have time to return all of them while we were on our way to a campus to speak. When the first one was finished, I tried to go through as many voicemails as possible and a friend from C4 had called repeatedly. He was saying (repeatedly) there was a kidnapping in Baghdad on Thursday.
So we talked about that and I asked if they had anything on their website (C4 doesn't have the sort of website that BBC News does). (C4 is Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.) He starts telling me about the report on that and an interview with the Iraq Minister of Higher Education.

I'd already told one friend I'd called "maybe" on something going in the snapshot and another that their suggestion wasn't going in. So I knew I'd hear from them about the fact that C4 got in. (And I did.) So that note (indicated by "*") was just to give a thank you and make sure there weren't hurt feelings. (If I'd put in the snapshot, it runs at the bottom, it would have prevented hurt feelings. The two that called later Friday to complain hadn't seen the note at the bottom.)
After I got off the phone with the friend from C4, I immeidately called Jim to ask him to add a note to the morning entry stating there were two kidnappings. Which he did and thanks to Jim for that and thanks to Ava who added to the second entry.

Beth got two groups of e-mails. One asking for the backstory and one asking why it wasn't in the text of the snapshot but at the end? She's taking this coming week off (she writes a weekly column, she's the ombudsmperson, in the gina & krista round-robin) and felt that might pile up while she was gone (e-mails on the topic). So she asked if I could grab it here. It wasn't in the text because it wasn't a member. Community members who point out something get credited in the text.

For last Friday, I asked for topics or questions and there were a number. Brandon's didn't get answered here because I used it as a topic for the following Sunday's column in Polly's Brew. But I noted that, in addition to Brandon, there were others e-mailing and if I was filling in Friday, I'd tried to grab some more (of the ones already sent in). I also noted that Maria, Francisco and Miguel were starting their newsletter the first week of December. They have decided on a title so let me note that, El Espiritu. That'll be the first week of December, Gina and Krista interviewed them in Friday's round-robin (e-mail addresses to them are included) and Polly has a piece on them (e-mail addresses included) for Sunday's Polly's Brew. So if you're a member and you're interested, contact them so they can put you on the weekly mailing lists. They will be going out each Sunday.

Kevin wanted to know about the "holiday schedule" for Thanksgiving week. (Which is now next week but seemed a bit futher away when he wrote last week.) For The Common Ills, there will be posts. Other community sites are still figuring out what they'll be doing. We haven't taken a day off -- which is a curse, not a boast -- and we'll have posts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I'll have a full house of guests so they may go up when I can grab time, but they will go up. Isaiah's hoping to have a bonus comic during that time. If he does, that's wonderful. If not, he's doing The World Today Just Nuts for The Common Ills, he's doing illustrations and comics for the gina & krista round-robin, Polly's Brew and will be doing them for El Espiritu as well. But there will be entries going up. Based on my own time and what's going on Iraq, there will be a snapshot on either Friday or Thursday. (If there's a great deal going on in Iraq, there will be snapshots both days; however, time constraint may mean they're tiny snapshots.)

On a related note, Rebecca's "illustrations, iraq, women voter turnout in 2006, ..." noted Kat was back in the US Thursday and e-mails have come in wondering about her next review. She just got back, she's not even home. She was dealing with a dying relative and then with the funeral. Those of us who have filled in while she was gone have told her we could go another a week if she needs time. By the same token, she doesn't need to be focusing on a music review right now unless (a) she has the time and (b) she feels like it. She might and she may. If so, great. If not, that's fine too.

Also related, Betty's "The Girth of the Tabby" went up Thursday. She will be posting a new chapter next week. The latest provides more details into the Betinna story. Clues have been dropped all along and next week's chapter should be very interesting so (a) look for that and (b) know that's one site that will be posting over the holiday.

Markus wondered why we were ignoring Margaret Kimberley? We weren't trying to. I didn't have time for that question here last Friday, but I did reply to Marcus on Tuesday of this week. (I'm way behind in e-mails. If it's something anyone helping with the e-mails can grab immediately, they do. Otherwise, the e-mails that need a response from me are put into a folder and I go through them as time permits.)

Back story, Margaret Kimberley is a columnist and a voice that's very popular with the community. Members enjoy her no-nonsense approach to looking at the world and her writing style. We usually highlight all of her weekly columns. We haven't highlighted her since August.
The Black Commentator went on their summer vacation and we highlighted her last column. When they returned from vacation, there was nothing by her. I know that because after a few weeks of e-mails, I started checking myself. (E-mails wondering why her column wasn't at The Black Commentator.) At one point, I even checked her own site to see if there was something up there.

Markus e-mailed Thursday. I added The Black Agenda to our links Thursday night (our links at The Common Ills). I have no idea what happened (Markus has a few guesses) but the voices we were highlighting at The Black Commentator are now at The Black Agenda. There wasn't time to note that Thursday night. I'd hoped there would be time Friday morning, but there wasn't. But members should check out The Black Agenda where you'll find Kimberly and Glen Ford, among others.

Thanks to Markus for passing on that they had moved to The Black Agenda.

Lewis wrote: "I think the biggest story of our time in this country [United States] is the Iraq war." He wondered if I agree. The community certainly does because they've requested (and voted) that the emphasis be on Iraq. There are always a number of important stories -- ongoing stories -- in any period of time. I'd put Iraq at the top of the list due to the fact that it is an ongoing (illegal) war, the fact that so many are dying, that the US is openly involved in it (Bully Boy started it), that it has an immediate impact and that it will have an impact for some time to come. On the latter, I'm not referring to the historical impact (though that's true as well). I'm referring to what will come after in the United States. The civil rights movment and the peace movement created and sparked many other movements during the Vietnam era and immediately after. Some examples (not all) were the feminist movement, Black Power, the Chicano movement, and the LBGT movement. When people come together to work on an issue, other things spark from that. They may, as women did, notice that the topic of 'freedom' and start to question why 'freedom' is being applied only to men?

Back then, you heard all this talk of 'division' and 'identity politics.' It struck me then (and does today) as nonsense. A gay person noting their own historical struggle isn't playing 'division,' he or she is affirming themselves. Women saying "We don't have to just fetch the coffee, we should be involved in the decision" isn't 'division.'

Unless you accept that the White straight male is the benchmark and the norm. If you accept that, then certainly anything that focuses on any other aspect is 'identity politics.' (Which always seems to be said with a sneer.) The Toads seem to feel that anything that travels beyond their accepted notion of what is 'political' and what is 'acceptable' is and should be off limits.

That may be the White straight male (of a certain class) perspective but it isn't an encompassing perspective and it shows little understanding of conflict theory (sociology) despite so many having dabbled in that to some degree in the sixties. They'll make, today, their lofty speeches about how the economic needs to be focused upon and that will solve everything. No, it won't.

Pre-Stonewall, gays and lesbians with money may have had a cushion but they were still discriminated against. (BLGT people are still discriminated against today.) It wasn't just about money. Racism isn't just about money.

Issues that effect women, issues that weren't discussed before last century's second wave of feminism, weren't just about money. A well off woman could be as likely to be battered as a woman struggling to get by. Rape didn't effect only one economic class.

Little (White) boys have been allowed to draw the lines on what is acceptable and what isn't for too long. Today, some still can't recover from the fact that the sixties tore down a lot of that and destroyed that pompous voice they thought they were entitled to speak in and that all would be forced to listen to.

They like to pass themselves off as 'objective,' but they're the most subjective of all. Taking their own experiences and extrapolating that it is the 'norm.' Some women do like sports. Some don't. And not every man likes sports. But they think nothing tossing out their sports analogies, the little boys, and assuming that anyone who is bored isn't part of the norm. It's like the scene in 9 to 5 where Dabney Coleman is speaking to Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda about that b.s. of "a team is only as strong as it's weakest link" and blah blah blah. (Funniest moment is when his chair rebels. He's not as in control as he -- or the little boys -- would like to believe.)

Pay attention this March when "March Madness" rolls around as those who hector others about being 'serious' suddenly find time to gab about that. I'm thinking of one in particular (who loves to sneer that people who aren't as serious as him should just stay home and bake something -- his sexism is on serious display everytime he makes that remark) who can't let March (often other big sports periods as well) pass by without gabbing about that. He'll drop everything for that while sneering the rest of the year when very real sexism is noted and discussed (like with Summers' sexism) and trash people for not being 'serious.'

Why can he do that? Because he thinks he is the norm, he thinks he is the defining mark and we all have to follow him.

We don't (have to follow him) and he isn't (the norm). The same racism and sexism that's behind the right-wing tract The Closing of the American Mind is on display on the left in those who want to dismiss very real issues that effect people -- but not them -- because being White, being male and being at least middle class prevents them from ever having to live with the discriminations many others do on a daily basis.

Those little boys (and a few Queen Bees) are behind the attempts to drop reproductive rights from the Democratic Party. If you never had to face the realities of pregnancy (wanted or unwanted) and if you were so pompous and full of yourself that you couldn't take into account anyone else's experience, it would make perfect sense to see reproductive rights as a 'drag' on the Democratic Party.

But the reality is that reproductive rights are more popular (with women and men) than the Democratic Party. But if you're one of the little boys (or Queen Bees), it makes perfect sense to say, "Drop it."

More women voted in the 2006 election than men and more women voted Democratic than men. That's reality. Reality is also that the Democratic Party ran some anti-choice candidates and, in fact, forced out pro-choice candidates in primaries to get those male candidates on the slate.

Feminism isn't identity politics. Feminism is concerned with equality for all. You can't say the same about the little boys who run from issues of race and gender and sexuality. And the little boys who want to push the notion that they are the norm might do well to wake up to the demographic fact that women are the statistical norm in the US.

Iraq matters because it's an illegal war, it matters because people are dying, it matters because it (again) demonstrates that change comes from the bottom, not the top, it matters because people are taking brave stands, it matters because people are getting involved, it matters because it's creating a sense of accountability (which the Bully Boy is ignoring -- his ignoring of that is registering as well) and it matters because people working on this issue will see other issues and find other sparks that will carry through in the immediate future after the illegal war has ended.

The 'single issue voters' are the little boys. It's not women and men concerned about gender, race and sexuality. The single issue voters are the ones who bandy about "It's the economy, stupid." They're the ones focused on only one thing. As though social justice will come about because of an economy?

This week, Dona and I traveled to four states speaking with high school students and college students. The spark, the connections, are already being made. There's change coming in the future. Those young people who are working on ending the war will be impacting the future.

Sadly, it appears that the changes coming will take many by surprise because not many have bothered to cover what's going on. But desk jockeys rarely know about the world around them.

Here's today's "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 17, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Bully Boy's long journey to Vietnam is complete (you can refer to the various stops since Tuesday or you can take it back to his days in and out of the National Guard); Ehren Watada's father Bob wraps up his current speaking tour Friday night; Tony Blair may have lost a supporter; war resister Kyle Snyder still needs support; and the US military has all sorts of announcements and numbers including 57,000 US troops to deploy to Iraq next year.

Starting with yesterday's kidnappings -- there were two. Reuters cover this: "Passengers from up to six minibuses may have been abducted after being stopped at a fake security checkpoint in the capital, police and local residents said" from yesterday and, in addition, there was a kidnapping in southern Iraq.

England's C4 reported on the mass kidnapping in Baghdad one of the few that did.* Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) noted: "Much of the day's other violence was directed at Shiite Muslims. Gunmen erected fake checkpoints in a Sunni neighborhood and seized Shiite passengers off minibuses." Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) noted: "Six missing minibuses were mostly carrying Shiites when gunmen, some in uniform, pulled them over for bogus security checks, police sources said."

The dickering over this kidnapping among Iraqi's various members of government follows the pattern after Tuesday's mass kidnapping which Kirk Semple (New York Times) observed was being seen (by Jalal Talabani, Iraqi president) as a potential "complete collapse of the government"). Queried by Jon Snow, of England's C4, as to whether "you think there are other ministers in the government who are complicit?" in the kidnappings, Iraq's minister of Higher Eductation, Abd Dhiab, stated he did believe that and, while refusing to answer whether he personally believed the police could be trusted, he noted that "the people" do not feel they can be.

Jon Snow: You seem to be describing a situation of anarchy here?

Abd Dhiab: Anarchy clearly, nobody can deny that.

Jon Snow: But, I mean, if you feel you have to resign then in a way we're beginning to see the disengration of the government?

Abd Dhiab (in a rambling answer) agreed. Kirk Semple noted Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi (Muslim Scholars Associaton) declared on Al Jazeera TV, "I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other." The willingness of officials go to public with their own stark observations about Iraq comes as Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is in Turkey. Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that al-Maliki believes the matters can wait until next week to be resolved in a meeting of his cabinet.

Bully Boy believes that the answer for a 'win' is, as Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) reports, "a last big push" that could result in increasing US troops in Iraq -- not withdrawing them. Tisdall also reveals that sources say "Bush family loyalist James Baker" and others on the supposed independent Iraq Study Group are now doing the bidding of the Pentagon and will include the following points as "victory strategy:"

1) Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq.

2) Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

3) Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others.

4) Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces.

David Jackson (USA Today) reports that Bully Boy declared in Hanoi that "he was unaware of a British newspaper report that he is considering an additional 30,000 troops in Iraq."
20,000 and, if Bully Boy's denying, chances are it's true. (Flashback to his performance of "My Guy" to Rumsfled right before the election and then, after the election, his rendention of "Hit the Road, Jack.") The AP reports that Bully Boy has compared Iraq to Vietnam yet again and offered, "We'll succeed unless we quit." Not quite as catchy as "stay the course" but certainly many of lemmings will show up, possibly in face paint, at his domestic gatherings to change "We'll succeed unless we quit." Of course, the reality is you suceed unless you lose and, more reality, the illegal war is lost.

CNN reports it's whack-a-mole time again "as 2,2000 more Marines are being deployed to Iraq's volatile Anbar province". Interviewed by Joshua Scheer (Truthdig), US Congress Rep. Dennis Kucinich noted of al-Anbar that it's "a place which was already declared 'lost' for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out."

This as Al Jazeera reports Rabah al-Alwan of "the Union of Lawyers in al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq" is asserting that 211 families have been thrown out of their homes in Al-Anbar Province so that the US military can occupy them. Among the homes seized is al-Alwan's and he states: "Ten months ago, the US army seized my house and dozens of houses in the neighbourhood where I live. Residents were not allowed take any of their savings, jewellery, furniture or clothes. . . . They [US snipers] killed a lot of people, such as Ayad Mutar and Muhamad Ayad, for approaching their [own] houses to try to get some of their families' clothes and belongings." al-Alwan tells of promises to compensate families for their homes with money that never got handed over, of attacks on the homes now that the US military is lodged in them, and the continued occupation of the home have led former occupants to join the resistance.

Hearts and minds? Or are they supposed to take comfort in the empty words mouthed by the Bully Boy, as noted by Mark Tran (Guardian of London), "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."
A while? What is known is that the illegal war hits the four-year anniversary in March of 2007 -- four months from now.

What is known also includes the fact that yesterday's other kidnapping, in southern Iraq, resulted in the kidnapping of at least five people. The BBC reports that the abducted were four Americans and one Austrian. Will Weissert (AP) reports that two of the abducted turned up: an Austrian who was dead and an American "gravely wounded" -- in addition, Weissert notes that "[n]ine Asian employees" were kidnapped and that they have been released. Xinhua reports that 14 people were kidnapped and that the area was under the control of Iraqis having been turned over to them by Italy in September. Kirk Semple (New York Times) identifies the site of the kidnapping as the Nassiriya. AP places the location as Safwan. Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that searches are ongoing to find the abducted but that there are denials of any of the kidnapped being released or found.

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes that four police officers were shot dead outside a bank in Baghdad, that two brothers are dead from a Baghdad attack, that a civilian was shot dead in Kirkuk and "his baby daughter" injured and, in Baquba "Lieutenant Colonel Sattar Jabar, chief of police media" was shot dead. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports "the British military said a British private security guard was wounded in a clash with Iraqi police. The police said two policemen and another Westerner were killed" and that Zubayr was where "police said colleagues stopped an unmarked car. Western in civilian clothes inside opened fire, killing two officers and wounding two women passers-by. Police returned fire, killing one of the Westerns and wounding another." The 'Westerners' may or may not be British or American.


Reuters notes two corpses were discovered near Falluja and and two near Numaniya. CNN reports that 25 corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered in Baghdad today.

Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by small arms fire Thursday during combat operations in Diyala province." The total number of US troops who have died thus far this month to 45, and to 2865 since the start of the illegal war. This as Donna Miles announces on behalf of the Defense Department that 57,000 US troops will being deploy to Iraq (8,300 to Afghanistan). The 57,000 will be part of the rotation to keep the total number of US troops on the ground in Iraq at 144,000 -- the increased number that was put in place last summer for the now-cracked-up Baghdad crackdown.

In other signs of the dissention in the puppet government, Hannah Allamn and Mohamed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the Shi'ite dominated Interior Ministry "issued an arrest warrant for one of the country's most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics, charging him with violating antiterrorism laws." The BBC notes the cleric, Harith al-Dhari, is the head of the Association of Muslim Scholars and that he is currently in Jordan. Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that the reaction to the warrant (issued while both al-Dhari and al-Maliki were out of the country) has been intense with the largest Sunni political party (The Islamic Party) calling it a "mercy bullet" that would put the dying government down. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that the Association of Muslim Scholars is requesting "Sunni politicians . . . quit Iraq's government" in response to the arrest warrant and notes that: "The move came as cracks emerged within Iraq's six-month-old unity government over the numbers of government employees taken in a mass kidnapping on Tuesday and whether some were tortured and killed." In addition to the above support, Al-Dhari also received support from Sunni clerics and, as Will Weissert (AP) reports, from one of Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, who stated that the warrant "is destructive to the national reconcilliation plan." And CNN updates to note that the Iraqi government has backed off ("clarified") the warrant which they now maintain was never to arrest al-Dhari but merely to "check security files linked" to him.

In other news, Mike Corder (AP) reports that De Volkskrant, Dutch newspaper, has reported that "Dutch military interrogators abused dozens of Iraqi prisoners in 2003, dousing them with water to keep them awake and exposing them to high-pitched noises and strong lights" and conducted by "members of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service in November 2003 in buildings of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Samawah, 230 miles southeast of Baghdad." Alexandra Hudson and Nicola Leske (Reuters) report that the report, which emerged Friday, has already resulted in announcement from the Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp that he knew abuses were possible but an earlier investigation had not turned up anything -- now he's "announced an independent investigation into the earlier study by military police and his own conduct in the affair." As the BBC notes, the revelations come "days before the country's parliamentary elections."

Meanwhile, in England, the Guardian of London reports that Margaret Hodge has created a stir in England. The MP Hodge is seen as an ally of Tony Blair so it came as a surprise to some when it was reported that she called the illegal war Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs" while speaking to the Islington Fabian Society where she also noted that she accepted pre-war claims because "he was our leader and I trusted him."

In peace news, Vietnam war resister Gerry Condon has posted a letter at Soldiers Say No! on Kyle Snyder. To recap, Snyder, on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war.

Condon is requesting more calls supporting to Snyder:

Thanks to all of you who have made calls to the Commanding General at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The phones have been ringing off the walls there. Now it is time to make the phones ring at Fort Leonard Wood. Say hello to Fort Leonard Woods's brand new commander, Major General William McCoy, Jr., recently returned from the U.S. occupation of Iraq (you can read his emotional address upon assuming his new command at are the numbers to call at Fort Leonard WoodOffice of the Commanding General (that's how they answer) 573-596-0131Public Affairs Office, tel. 573-563-4013 or 4105, fax: 573-563-4012, email: want to deliver one clear message:RELEASE KYLE SNYDER WITHOUT ANY PUNISHMENT
Kyle Snyder is a US war resister and part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes people such as Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.)
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.

Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, is wrapping up a speaking tour he and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) have been on to raise awareness on Ehren Watada. The tour winds down tonight, a full schedule can be found here, and this is the final date:

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition, to Atlanta, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

iraqehren watadabob watada
kyle snyder
the new york timeskirk semple
the washington postsudarsan raghavan
gregg k. kakesako
joshua scheer
edward wong

[*Thank you to a friend at C4 for calling -- repeatedly -- to pass the C4 interview on.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Curiosity (Ruth)

Ruth with you, filling in for Kat who should be back shortly. I haven't done a report yet this week and I may wait until this weekend. I just feel pretty disgusted with independent media and the continued ignoring of Ehren Watada. So, if you thought you missed it, you have not.

Tonight, we can talk about KPFA's Guns and Butter. Bonnie Faulkner's program is revisting a topic from 2002 that I missed in 2002 because I did not even know of the show then. If, like me, you are fairly new to Guns and Butter you may have missed it to. The guest is John Judge and it's a two-part show with the next episode airing next Wednesday. The topic is the assassination of JFK and that should be more than enough to peak interest.

I found the program fascinating, as I usually do, and I am betting it will hook you as well. I do enjoy Noam Chomsky and have for years; however, I have never grasped his blind spot with regards to the assassination of JKF. One of my sons actually studied the assassination for a high school project. He took the project very seriously.

I just hit the wrong button and published. Hopefully no one was checking out the site then or else they'll wonder why the last thing I typed was "He took the project ver"?

As I was saying, one of my sons made this his high school project. He went very deep for a high school student. My oldest son would not stop picking on him and the project. Since he was in college at the time, it was especially irritating because he should have known better being older and a "college man." That argument did not work on him.

What finally did was pointing out the things he believed in, the things he was so sure of that others might not agree with. After he was thinking about it from that viewpoint, he was willing to admit how easy it was to dismiss what his brother believed in even though he really had nothing to back it up other than the fact that mainstream media says "Don't look!"

Once that happened, he could listen and enjoy the discussion. He could be proud of the high grade his brother received for the project.

I was talking to him about Ms. Faulkner's show tonight and he was actually interested in it. I reminded him of how he had originally treated his brother and he requested that I note that he thinks he behaved that way because he was scared.

He was scared of his brother being considered a "crack pot." He was scared of the topic. Today, his attitude is that he does not know what happened but he doubts the answers will ever come from any of the people dismissing others who search for the truth and uncover details.

My husband and I tried to raise our children with a sense of curiosity and the ability to refuse easy answers. I wonder what kind of a world it would be if we all did that?

This may be the last entry for me because Kat may be back next week. I wish I had something like Betty's "Grab bag (Betty)" but I will remind myself of Kat's slogan: "It is what it is."

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

November 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; there are some indications that there may be justice for Abeer and her family; testifying before Congress, John Abizaid appeared to think he was at an Atlanta Brave (check the hand gestures) and blathered on repeatedly making it clear there was no plan for Iraq; Ehren Watada's father Bob begins winding up his speaking tour; and real discussions on Iraq take place (outside of Congress).

"It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." Today, an honest discussion on Iraq took place but it wasn't in the US Senate. On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman hosted a discussion with former US senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich and someone scraped off the bottom of the right-wing non-thought tank AEI. The AEI-er appeared to be attempting some sort of homage to the character of Audrey with his constant whining. (Clea Lewis intended to be humorous when she played Audrey on Ellen.) He whined "Let me have my turn" repeatedly and also referred to Goodman as "Miss moderator" proving that Iraq wasn't the only thing he failed to grasp, he'd also missed the last forty years (try "Ms. moderator"). Meanwhile Kucinich challenged the AEI-er with, "It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." The AEI-er, Joshua Muravchik, wasn't up to the truth and tossed around the usual (pre-9-11?) nonsense of 'blame America first' and 'blood is on your hand' but has no answers. Goodman asked if he was "proposing staying in Iraq and bombing Iran?" to which he replied "Yes and yes."

McGovern reminded, "Well they were saying the same thing they're saying about Iraq. We were told all during those long years when I and others were trying to terminate our military involvement in Vietnam -- an intervention that the chief architects now say was a dreadful mistake -- and they said that if we pulled out, maybe it was a mistake, to go in, but if we pulled out there would be a slaughter of people in Vietnam of indescribable dimensions, that Ho Chi Minh and his people would just slaughter everybody in the country that disagreed with him. We also were told that the countries next door would start toppling into communism if we left Vietnam. None of that happened. There was no great bloodbath inside Vietnam and the Vietnamese became our friends almost immediately after we took our army out of their country. They assisted us in trying to locate missing American soldiers. They were ready for diplomatic relations. We have no problem with Vietnam today and as a matter of fact none of the countries next door toppled into communism so those were the scare tactics that were used to keep us in Vietnam for about twenty years. The president has said recently that maybe we have to stay [in Iraq] until the year 2010 and that's another four years during which time we'll probably kill several thousand more American troops and the terror now going on inside Iraq that began when we invaded the country will only get worse. No country in the long term wants a foreign army lodged in their country."

Goodman asked: "How did, how did it ultimately end up that the troops were pulled out of Vietnam?" McGovern replied, "Well, you know, we were finally forced out. You remember the pictures of the American ambassador being air lifted off the, off the roof of the embassy there and Vietnamese trying to cling to the helicopters that took him out? I don't want to see that happen in Iraq. I don't want to see us just kicked out. I want to see an orderly withdrawal that would begin next month in December and be completed by June and we can do that. Let me cite one poll that was conducted recently in Iraq. It was conducted by our newspaper USA Today, CNN -- the television network -- in cooperation with the Gallup polling organization, America's oldest polling. And they asked the people of Iraq 'Do you regard the Americans as liberators or as occupiers of your country?' 81% of the people said they didn't see us any longer as liberators, they see us as occupiers of the country and they made it very clear they want us out."

Kucinich spoke the words many shy from: Congress voting to cut off funding of the illegal war in Iraq. "I believe that we're going to be able to get a consensus among progressives to cut off funds . . . I think support is growing in the direction of getting out of Iraq and I think that we'll see a cut off of the funds, we'll use the money in the pipeline to have the orderly withdrawal that Senator McGovern so wisely spoke of. People want a new direction. They know that we have to involve the world community and they know that the direction has to be out of Iraq. I mean, we're losing soldiers at an increasing clip , we're seeing the civil violence increase, the Iraqi people want us out, the American people by and large want us out of Iraq. We need to take a new direction."

On The KPFA Evening News Monday, Mitch Jeserich interviewed US House Rep. Lynn Woolsey who stated she would consider cutting off Congressional funds but no one wanted to make that their first choice. She also felt their support was for this option in Congress.
(The interview may have been for Pacifica's Informed Dissent which Jeserich hosts or for WBAI's Wakeup Call where Jeserich is the news editor.)

The realities of Iraq were also explored . . . in Congress? No, on KPFA's The Morning Show today. Philip Maldari spoke with Carl Conetta (Project on Defense Alternatives) and Natalie Goldring (Security Studies Program and Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown). They discussed the possibility that the US Congress would be inactive on the Iraq war and Goldring pointed out that this would lead to spreading the blame and allowing the GOP presidential candidate in 2008 to point to the Democratic controlled Congress as part of the problem with regards to the illegal war. Concetta noted it would "tar the Democrats as co-signers" to the war. Goldring noted that it wasn't clear how the administration or the United States "would bring stability to Iraq" and Concetta noted that the spin made "withdrawal . . . always on the horizon, two years in the future" that never seems to arrive. (Or 12 months, a favorite with the US military and tossed around by John Abizaid today -- we'll get to that shortly.)

What does arrive, daily in Iraq, is continued chaos and violence.


CNN reports that eight people are dead and 32 wounded in Baghdad from a car bomb apparently targeting a gas station. CNN updated the figures to twelve dead and 33 wounded while also noting an attack on a Baghdad funeral that claimed the lives of three and left 12 injured.


CNN reports a council member and his bodyguard were shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two construction workers were shot dead and three wounded while they traveled in a car. Xinua reports that journalist Fadiyah Muhammad al-Taie and her driver were killed in Mosul while she was on her way to work.


CNN notes the discovery of 55 corpses ("bullet-riddled") in Baghdad. Reuters notes that four corpses were discovered in Mosul and one in Samarra.

The US military announced today: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." That announcement was followed by this one: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 11:30 p.m. Nov. 14 when their vehicle was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northwest Baghdad while conducting combat operations."

In legal news, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was mudered and raped in Mahmoudiyah on March 12, 2006. Also killed in the attack were her parents, Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, and her five-year-old sister. Abeer was fourteen-years-old. Five Americans are accused of being the ones who committed the crimes. Last week, Steven D. Green entered a plea of 'not guilty' in a federal court in Kenutcky. Green had been discharged from the US military before the revelations of the crimes was revealed. Due to the fact that Green is no longer in the military, he is being charged in civilian courts. The other four charged with rape, murder and arson are Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker. Today, AP reports that James P. Barker has enter a plea of guilty. Writing for the New York Times about the then expected plea, Paul von Zielbauer continued the paper's long tradition of rendering AbeerQassim Hamza al-Janabi invisible by providing twelve paragraphs of text that never once managed to give Abeer's name. By contrast, the Guardian of London features a photo of Abeer and manages to name her. The Guardian notes that Cortez "has deferred entering a plea" and that "Spielman will not enter a plea until December." The Guardian notes the following based upon Barker's written statement: ". . . Green dragged the father, mother and younger sister into a bedroom, while Abeer was left in the living room. . . . Barker said Cortez appeared to rape the girl [Abeer], and he followed. He said he heard gunshots and Mr. Green came out of the bedroom, saying he had killed the family, before raping the girl and shooting her with an AK-47."

At the Article 32 hearing for the four still serving in Iraq (plus Anthony W. Yribe, charged with dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident), AFP reported the testimony of an Iraqi doctor who discovered Abeer deceased and "naked with her legs spread". Al Jazeera added that Abeer was also "burned from the waist up, with a single bullet wound beneath her left eye." During that military inquiry in August, US military investigator Benjamin Bierce testified that "Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl" -- Bierce also testified that prior to the rape and murders, those accused spent their time consuming booze and hitting golf balls only to, after the murder and rape, grill chicken wings. Bierce's statements were basedupon what James Barker had already told him. The fact that Barker had already confessed to the crimes may be what prompted today's guilty plea. Howard? As Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported, Bierce testified that Howard was the designated lookout. Zoroya's report also notes Justin Watt who came forward with what he was hearing in June about the crimes that took place in March. [Watt was not present, was not involved. He has however received death threats for coming forward.]

At the August hearing, Captain Alex Pickand closed his argument for prosecution noting: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

Decked out like Janet Jackson on the cover of Rhythm Nation, John Abizaid, the general, blathered in Congress today. Quote: "Blah blah blah blah blah [karate chop with hand] blah blah blah." CBS and AP report that Johnny says no timetables because they don't give him 'flexibility' and that he stated he "remains optimistic that we can stabilize Iraq." The yearly physicaly doesn't include some sort of mental evaluation? How bad was it? So bad that John McCain had to declare: "I'm of course disappointed that basically you're advocating the status quo here today, which I think the American people in the last election said that is not an acceptable condition." What may have prompted the battle of the Johns was that Abizaid didn't advocate for more US troops on the ground in Iraq -- something McCain favors. Andrew Gray and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) report Abizaid declared, "I believe more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, taking more responsibility for their future." [The gut wrenching sobs you hear are Michael R. Gordon crying for all the war pornographers.] Abizaid also saw 'progress' since August. Apparently, no one handed him a copy of today's newspaper with the front page stories of the mass kidnappings yesterday in Baghdad? To recap, Abizaid said, "Blah blah blah no withdrawal of US troops blah blah blah no timetables blah blah blah I need to be flexible blah blah blah watch me touch my nose blah blah blah."

AP notes US Senator Carl Levin's remarks: "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months."

Meanwhile Jason Szep (Reuters) interviews Ann Clwyd, British MP, who proves you don't have to be a general or American to spin -- Clwyd is against an "early withdrawal" she informed Wellesley College -- because certainly there's nothing more important for a British MP than to address US college audiences in the midst of a war. While MP Clwyd is quite sure of herself, Terri Judd and Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) report that Ted Elliott, father of British soldier Sharron Elliott who died Sunday in Basra. Ted Elliott wonders, "Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?"

He won't find the answers from Clwyd, Abizaid or the Bully Boy.

On yesterday's mass kidnappings, John F. Burns and Michael Luo (New York Times) reported in today's paper that the number of people kidnapped was still not clear and that remains true. CBS and AP report that currently 70 people kidnapped have been released. Strange when you consider that both the 'informed' puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the US military put the number much lower when attempting to downplay the reality of what took place --- al-Maliki went with 50, the US military with 55. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) provides the details of Tuesday's mass kidnapping: kidnappers came in the front door, told the receptionist they were police (and were dresed accordingly), divided the males and females, left with victims and "blood smeared on the gray floor . . . dirt outlines of boot prints on a door" and also quotes the brother of one of those abducted who wonders, "Where can we go? The police kidnapped him?" It's doubtful comfort will come from AFP's report that puppet al-Maliki has "demanded Wednesday the arrest of all those who were behind the kidnapping operation of 100 government employees on Tuesday." That's how bad the situation is. al-Maliki has to "demand" that kidnappers be arrested.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili, Iraq's Minister of Higher Education, has turned in his resignation and states he will follow through on it if nothing is done because "I have to protect my people." CNN estimates that 40 people remain missing and 70 who were kidnapped have been freed. That would result in at least 110 people having been kidnapped on Tuesday. At least. Possibly the puppet and the US military flacks should spend more time addressing reality and far less time spinning?

Spending his time getting the word out on his son Ehren Watada, Bob Watada continues his speaking tour. Cordell Whitlock (St. Louis' KSDK) noted what was at stake: "Lt. Watada will go to trial early next year in military court. A panel of officers will serve as jury. If convicted, Watada could spend six years in prison and be dismissed from the army."
Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, the military announced that they had decided to proceed with a court-martial against Watada. Bob Watada and his wife Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) are finishing a tour, a full schedule can be found here, this Friday to raise awareness on Ehren's stand:

Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo, DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com, 757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174

Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,
Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in "Sir, No Sir!"), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy

Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

amy goodmandemocracy now

Monday, November 13, 2006

Grab bag (Betty)

Betty here, filling in for Kat for at least 1 more Monday. There's a good chance she'll be back before next Monday. If she is an needs some time (Ireland wasn't a pleasure trip), I'll gladly fill in for her next Monday. And if she doesn't make it back in time, I will as well. If she is able to make it back as planned, I get her this weekend. Seriously, she's going to try to fly into Atlanta to drop by and see her 'best friend.' (My daughter says Kat is her best friend, not mine. It's no longer just that Kat is her friend, now Kat is her best friend, you understand.)

A package from Kat arrived today because she knows my oldest son is collecting stamps this year for school. The teacher thinks it will give them a basis in geography that they can draw on in later years. I actually love that idea. A lot of ideas, I'm like, "Well, I guess they know best." But I really do believe in this one. My brother had puzzles, a globe, a board game and so much more. In 2004, there was this thing circulating in the office, where you tried to identify all 50 states. It's online somewhere. But people were getting 20 and 30 of the 50 states. I got them all before the time ran out due to the fact that my brother had the puzzles, the globe and all the rest. I didn't learn that in school. I learned that at home. I didn't learn it in college either. (I have an associates, not a bachelors. I'm no big brain but would like to go back when the kids are older.)

So the idea that stamps will help him is a good one. I really applaud his teacher for thinking that far ahead. You really do need to pick up those concepts before you get into a geography class. I remember the first country I knew of other than the United States was the Philippines. I could find it on the map in second grade. Why? Because there was a boy named Philip in one of my classes. I thought he was the cutes thing. I just wanted to be Philip's girlfriend. (Which meant, then and pretty much through middle school, that he would write me at least one note a day and sit with me at lunch.) (Sadly, I think I'd settle for that today in a man. I'm only semi-joking.) My best friend, Tarita, told me Philip was from the Philippines. He wasn't. Born and raised in Georgia. But I believed her. So I started trying to find out all about the Philippines which, first, meant finding out that it wasn't a state in this country, not even one of the northern ones. (Some could argue we've treated it as though it was a state and not an independent country.)

When we were finally together one day in the sandbox, I got up my never and started reeling off facts while he was playing soldiers (toy soliders with another kid, making 'forts' that looked like ant hills, I was making a castle). "The Phillipines were a colony of Spain. A colony is . . ." He was looking at me like I was crazy and Tarita was laughing her butt off. Sadly, I did not catch on. (I was just in second grade.) Having finally spoken to him (or around him), I continued to do that for weeks until he finally asked me if I was from the Philippines. I said something like, "I wish." Then he asked me where they were. "Aren't you from the Philippines?" That's when I found he wasn't.

I didn't speak to Tarita the rest of the day, and probably for part of the next as well. Even as a small child, I could be played for a sucker when it came to men.

See, this is why Ruth and C.I. write better posts when they're guesting for Kat, they have something to say and I'm just babbling away about something that happened in second grade or my kids. Which I'll continue for at least one more thing.

My oldest wanted to read his book. That's all he wanted to do tonight. We went to the library this weekend and he found a book he loves so much he's reading it again. Which is wonderful, I'm not complaining. But he didn't even want to eat dinner. I told him, "You are eating dinner. No book if you don't eat." One of the things we were having, which he likes, was creamed spinach. He tried to lodge a protest about whether or not it was healthy.

Sucker that I am, I thought he was serious and put on my Mom voice and started explaining how the 'bad' spinach was gone now and this was 'good' spinach, and, yes, the 'bad' spinach had made a lot of people sick . . .

Finally, he looked at me and told me that he was just trying to get out of dinner. He ate the spinach. He ate everything on his plate. But he was so cute when he rolled his eyes while he was explaining to me that he knew about the 'good' and the 'bad' spinach.

I made the mistake of saying that which resulted in my daughter saying, "I'm the cutest." There's a game she and my mother play where they tell each other, "You're the cutest" and "No, you're the cutest." They can go on with that thing for hours. Seriously, it's like peak-a-boo with younger children, they never get tired of it. Sometimes, one of us will get bored hearing it (my sisters, my sons, my nieces or nephews or me) and we'll pipe up, "No, I'm the cutest!" That always makes my daughter mad and my mother will take her into the kitchen for cookies. But she's never said, "I'm the cutest." Never before. I think the game is going to her head. (Though she and my mother are very beautiful. Not pretty, beautiful.)

So what else can I bore everyone with? Ruth helped me out awhile back by noting that my niece is always willing to loan me her laptop. I really appreciate that and I had hurt her feelings by not noting that one night when I was blogging here about how I wasn't able to listen to streaming audio on my computer (unless that's all I want to do). I felt so bad for that and still do so let me state very clearly that my oldest niece loves my site and is always asking me, "Aunt Betty, do you need to use my laptop?" She is very sweet (and the oldest grandchild which requires a lot of patience). So especially since this might be my last fill-in post, let me note that.
My sister (her mother) thinks she and I are a lot alike but I'd argue my niece has a much better head on her shoulders than I did at her age. (Probably a better one than I have today.)

Trina's "Turkey in the Kitchen" has some good advice, so check that out. My oldest niece is going to learn to make the dressing and help me stuff it in my mother's turkey this Thanksgiving. She's very excited about that. I am as well. I hate slice and dicing. Plus, it will be fun. She's always got at least three funny jokes. I don't remember how or when that happened but it was sometime around when she learned knock-knock jokes as a very young child, ever since then, when we see each other, she always says, "I've got three jokes for you."

On jokes, what happens when they aren't funny? All of my nieces are, but Saturday Night Live? Read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Saturday Night Dead." And to turn to serious things, "The Full Brobeck" notes one of the saddest things about independent media, the failure to cover war resistance. It's bad enough that the peace movement can't get covered. But if I got to a rally, I'm not really expecting to be arrested or put on trial. People in the military who are resisting the war are risking that and more. So it's a real shame that it's not covered. "Remember Ehren Watada?" deals with how last Thursday the news came out that he was going to be court-martialed and yet it wasn't news to independent media.

I don't know why that is? I am going to assume that it's too 'controversial' and that some need to play it safe by hiding behind generals and other 'safe' topics. As in, "The generals are speaking out against the war! See, it's wrong. Now this is what a general said . . ." The war is illegal. It never should have started. I don't need to hide behind anyone to say that. I don't worry about couching my opinion or hiding. Maybe that comes from being Black? Statistically, we didn't support the illegal war from the beginning. But it's equally true that many people of other races didn't either. And people like Medea Benjamin have been speaking out all along. So why can't independent media? I guess it doesn't matter to them? I guess that they'd rather cozy up to general then get down with the lowly enlisted? I feel the same way about the way my race is covered (usually not covered) by independent media (on that, I'm speaking mainly of magazines). For instance? Why are White people writing or talking about Black people? I don't mean, "Shame on you!" We are all human beings. But, take The Nation, it seems very difficult for a Black person to get into that magazine. Only one columnist is Black (the law professor Patricia Williams). So since there are so few as guest writers or whatever, why give the space to a White person? I was over at my oldest sisters on election night (still mad then and still mad now that the Democratic Party organized a hit on Cynthia McKinney to kill her in the primary) and my niece that I've been talking about had the Pacifica coverage on. There was a guest, a White guest (who I don't care for to begin with), speaking from the south about what Black people were doing. Rebecca wrote about him and he really was an idiot. I don't his religion or if he has one but I was brought up in the church and I go every Sunday morning. I don't know what religious southerners he thought he was talking about with his stereotype (I'm assuming White, but I know many Whites in my area who are religious and they don't fit that stereotype).
They weren't calling for Democrats to water themselves down, religious people of any race.

I think some Black preachers do try to gay-bait. I've noticed that some of those in my area growing up have often had to go elsewhere when it turned out they were involved with some man in the church. I think those gay-baiting need to just take a seat already. It helps no one to gay-bait. I have gay people in my family and I have them in my church. (And my church doesn't gay-bait.) I think the gay-baiting is the last straw of really weak minded preachers who need something to rail against and choose to go after people who aren't hurting anyone (the same way Blacks were done in earlier times) instead of going after the real issues.

I have a cousin who lives in Arkansas and she moved there recently. She had to go to four churches before she found one she was comfortable in because the first three were just these houses to homophobic preachers, as opposed to houses of the Lord. Her theory is that the government funding churches (which I'm against -- and some would argue "programs" but it's funding churches) has led the weaker of our race to attempt to really 'put on a show' in a bid for those dollars. I can see some truth in that. There are a lot of them that my father calls "I loves me some Bully Boy" preachers.

In the meantime, they're propping up hate and an adminsitration's that's helped no one except for billionaires. I really think this will hurt the churches in the long run because we have always had gay members in our churches (Black churches) and we always will. Preaching that hate forces them into the closet (at least at church). The reality is that most of us know a gay person if we don't have at least one in our family. When we realize that and see them as they are, we realize that they shouldn't be demonized.

We realize the things we have in common and the things we don't. I've seen not just acceptance in the last ten years but reaching out and I think that's going to be norm soon enough and it will be an ugly part of our history, Black churches, that we allowed so many of our own to get away with preaching hate when we all should have known better.

It's after ten o'clock. I need to wind down. But I do feel very strongly about that and I know Cedric does as well. We did an entry that I don't have time to search for on this topic. I think the ones who are preaching hate are the last gaspers. And I think they leave a very ugly stain on churches and our historical role (or what our historical role should be). To be of a race or class or ethnicity (or gender) that's been systematically discriminated against and to then turn around and discriminate against another group is not just 'dumb,' it's wrong. We should know better.

I did post Friday (to do a self-shout out), "Thomas Friedman, trained in gas baggery, not economics" and please check out C.I.'s "Ellen Willis" which I thought really had something worth saying.

Okay, I'll shut up. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, November 13, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy meets with tutors (we didn't say they were good tutors), the US military starts the day announcing the deaths of more US troops, the decision to court-martial Ehren Watada continues to receive The Full Brobeck from independent media, and Nouri al-Maliki continues to go on about a "Cabinet Shuffle."

Last week (Thursday), the US military announced they were moving to a court-martial of
Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The court-martial is expected to be held early next year. Sunday, Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reported that Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, is predicting the court-martial will "be a spectacle. It's going to raise a lot of issues that frankly I don't understand why the Army wants to raise." Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq because his studies, encouraged by his superior, led him to realize the Iraq war is illegal. Courage to Resist quotes Ehren Watada explaining, "The reason I spoke out, I saw that what was being in terms of this war was so illegal and so immoral and not being checked. It was a danger to our troops and a danger to our country. So, I think what needs to be done is some kind of accountability in Washington, D.C. and also investigations into how this war started in the first place."

In the first place? The fact that many would rather talk fine-tuning, the reality that the war is illegal and built on lies is too little examined.
Speaking with Joshua Scheer (Truthdig) last week, Congress member Dennis Kucinich declared, "We need to have hearings on Iraq again. We need to go over again why we went there. We need to review the statements and all the errors that were made, and from that we bring the country together to take a new direction. It's all fact-based. And then we start to heal our nation. But we cannot heal America if we continue with policies that are based on lies. We'll never be able to bring closure to this Iraq matter unless we tell the truth about what happened. So America needs a new approach of truth and reconcialiation." [Micah noted that yesterday.] In March of this year, Kucinich declared "Not One more Dime" noting: "After three years arrogance and incompetence, contempt and lies, death and destruction, Congress should say enough is enough and provide not one more dime for this Administration's ill-conceived, ill-advised, misguided and failed Iraq policy." Quite a bit more than many asked by Aaron Glantz on Countdown 2006 were willing to state. Writing for IPS, Glantz notes Pratap Chatterjee on the issue of stopping the war via the Congressional purse: "The main control Congress has is financial. Congress can refuse to pay for the war, which is what they did in Vietnam, but they can't really dictate how it's waged." For the article, Glantz also speaks with Tom Hayden who sees some hope in the public stance Democrats offered against the war but "[w]here they aren't so good yet is what to do about it, and they don't have that obligation yet because they aren't to take back the presidency -- if they ever do -- for two years. There will be an attempt by both parties to keep the war going and get rid of Iraq as a public issue, but that seems to me to be impossible." Writing at The Huffington Post, Hayden advises: "The peace movement needs to gear up for the 2008 elections, by establishing anti-war coalitions that no candidate can avoid in the primary states. The first four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- have large peace-and-justice constituencies."

Mobilizing took place Saturday in Chicago.
Ofelia Casillas and Charles Sheehan (Chicago Tribune) report that Vietnam Veterans Against the War held a ceremony that brought out at least fifty and the closer was US war resister Kyle Snyder who stated: "I followed my conscience. And I'm being persecuted for that." Kyle Snyder self-checked out and moved to Canada after serving in Iraq. He returned to the United States last month and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. As Courage to Resist notes, "At the risk of arrest, he is speaking out bravely on behalf of war resisters and active duty GI's." They are asking that you: "Call Ft. Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Commanding General Major General William McCoy, Jr., 573-596-0131 and the Public Affairs Office, 573-563-4013 email: -- Demand that the Army 'Discharge Kyle Snyder with No Punishment'."

Obscuring the reality of the illegal war's basis provides the coverage for the continuation of it. And all the deaths that come with it. Sunday, the
US military announced the Saturday deaths of three troops in Al Anbar Province. Also Sunday, the British military reports that four of their troops have died and three are injured while they were on boat patrol in Basra which brings the total number of British troops killed in Iraq to 125. The four deaths came on the same day that "UK Forces personnel at home and overseas have been united in paying their respects to the fallen of past and current conflicts" in their annual day of Rememberance.

the US military announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were killed Sunday when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded in the blast and were transported to a Coalition forces medical treatment facility." They also announced today: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed during combat operations when an improvised-explosive device detonated at approximately 10:20 a.m. in Baghdad Nov. 13. Two additional Soldiers were wounded in the same incident." That makes four announced deaths of US troops today. (Seven deaths announced so far this week.)

In other violence . . .


CBS and AP report the mini-bus bomb in Baghdad which took the lives of 20 and left 18 wounded when it exploded "at a major intersection in the northeast Baghdad neighborhood."
Reuters notes that a mortar attck in Baghdad left two injured; a roadside bomb in Baghdad left two people wounded; and a roadside bomb outside Kirkuk wounded three guards of General Anwar Amin. Al Jazeera reports a bomb attack on the "outskirts of the Green Zone" using a car bomb which destroyed 13 cars in the garage but only one person was injured. CNN notes that the bombing was "near the Iranian Embassy and the Green Zone."


CNN reports that Mohammed al-Ban of al-Sharqiya TV and al-Massar newspaper was shot dead in Mosul while, in Baghdad, an attack on an adviser to one of Iraq's vice president resulted in the shooting deaths of "two of his bodyguards". AFP reports that a "Brigadier General of Iraq's traffic police and his driver were shot dead by gunmen as he was driving to work" in Baghdad. CBS and AP report the shooting death of a "civilian" in Baquba,the shooting death of Sunni Sheik Namis Karim in Baquba and the shooting death of Assim Mahmoud Abbas in Diyala. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead in Kut, "[f]our male primary school teachers" shot dead in Kirkuk and five people "ambushed and killed" just outside Baghdad.


Al Jazeera reports that 46 corpses have been discovered in Baghdad today. CBS and AP report that the corpses "of two women who had been shot to death" were discovered. Reuters notes that the man with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Yildirim Tek, kidnapped July 23 was "found dead near Baghdad's airport". Reuters also notes that five corpses were discovered in Yusufiya.

In addition to the above, there were kidnappings.
Reuters notes ten people kidnapped in Latifiya on Saturday, Muhammed Salim (a major in the police force) kidnapped in Baghdad and discovered dead; while another major with the police force, Maher Moussa was kidnapped (from his own home) and hasn't been discovered.

As the chaos and violence continue to rage, al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, continues to make noises about a "Cabinet Shuffle" -- all the while very aware that just as likely as that happening is "The al-Maliki Shuffle" which would leave the puppet on the outside (possibly running the streets of London with 'rolldog' Chalabi).
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that al-Maliki is now whining that he didn't get to pick his cabinet and that some posts were filled by names handed to him right before he announced them.

CBS and AP report that he is also "blaming Sunni Muslims for the country's raging sectarian conflict". On Sunday, Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported on the observations of American army Col. Brian D. Jones who speaks of Iraqi Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulail Hussein al-Kaabi showing up with a list (reportedly composed in Baghdad by Shi'ite leaders) of people who wanted arrested -- Sunni politicians.

Possibly setting himself up to be the next puppet, Iraq's Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi is making soothing noises for the US administration (the bosses of the illegal occupation).
CBS and AP report that al-Obaidi is stating that he doesn't want "to speed transfer of security operations throughout the country to the Iraqi army, saying his men were too porrly equipped and trained to do the job." AFP reminds: "On Wednesday, the main Sunni bloc threatened to quit the national unity government -- cobbled together after December 2005 elections -- warning that they would take up arms if rampaging Shiite militias were not quickly dismantled." Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reports on Moktada al-Sadr and notes that "parties loyal to him control the single larest protion of seats in Parliament and elevated the prime minister to power. They control five government ministeries"; however, "the more settled he becomes in the establishment, the looser his grip is over his fighters on the streets and those increasingly infiltrating the security forces."

While the above goes on, Bully Boy plays like he's Rodney Dangerfield and he's living out Back to School.
Ben Feller (AP) reports Bully Boy met with the tutors his father endorsed, the Iraqi Study Group led by Lee Hamiliton and James Baker and that, afterwards, Bully Boy stated: "I was impressed by the questions they asked." It's rather sad that over three years after he started an illegal war, there are questions that can be asked which surprise the Bully Boy. Not just anyone can meet with the Bully Boy to discuss Iraq, he refused to meet religious leaders before launching his illegal war. For all his supposed piety, he couldn't make time for them. Ahmed Amr dubs them "the fabulous Baker boys" (let's all hope Cheney doesn't put on something slinky and attempt to warble "Making Whoopeee"), notes that it's a dog-and-pony show "to save Bush's face" and concludes: "We should openly declare that we intend to leave ASAP and dismantle each and every American garrison. Immediately cut troop strength by half. The enduring bases will not and should not survive this plan. We should retreat humbly and in sorrow -- for their losses and ours."

Steve Holland (Reuters) reports that the meeting went over the one-hour-and-fifteen minutes scheduled. No confirmation to the rumors that Bully Boy refused to take his fingers out of his ears until Condi gave him a juice box. What is confirmed, as Alieen Alfandary noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, is Bully Boy's enduring unpopularity which
"has plunged to 31% [approval ratings] in the lowest poll by Newsweek."

Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq and, as of Thursday, facing a court-martial in 2007. The speaking tour winds down on the 17th, a full schedule can be found here and upcoming dates include:
Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada,Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B,Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works,Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489, philliseng@yahoo.comNov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814, vfpch61@riseup.netiraq

Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo,
DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com, 757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174

Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,
Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in “Sir, No Sir!”), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy

Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

bob watada