Friday, December 01, 2006


Ring the living bell,
Ring the living bell.
Shine the living light,
Shine the living light.

That's Melanie's "Ring the Living Bell" (written by Melanie) and the gang has it playing. C.I.'s off in the corner in the midst of an intense discussion about reconstruction in Iraq. I'm so tired, I collapsed in a chair as soon as we walked in. Feeling sorry for me, because I said I had to post tonight, Jim went and got his laptop and handed it to me.

Usually when I post at C.I.'s, I'll go to C.I.'s bedroom because it's far from the crowd. And also pretty cool. Plus, I'm a snoop when it comes to music and I'm always curious to see what CDs people have out.

"Woah" is the word for the evening. It's not even nine o'clock and I'm wiped out. However, we were in the Eastern time zone so it's feeling like a bit away from eleven. This was a whirlwind of a trip. I'm reminded of my earlier decision to only join C.I. on those trips if they stayed in this state.

But I heard about this trip last week and I really wanted to go. I had no idea it would be so cold. We even saw snow. I was never so glad to get back to California.

I was excited about the snow for about ten minutes and then the cold got to me and I started thinking "I'd be safe and warm . . ." ("California Dreamin'").

I like Melanie, her CD is on right now. It's a collection. I'm not getting up to find out the title. If someone passes, I may ask. That's how tired I am.

But, years and years ago, I used to listen to Melanie quite often. She had a very distinctive singing voice and a distinctive writing one. I hadn't forgotten about her but I really hadn't pulled out any of the vinyl until the gang really fell hard for "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)" last year. Then I started pulling out the vinyl a bit at a time and, before I knew it, I was back in the Melanie circle.

Of her covers, I love "Lover's Cross" by John Prine the best. Of her originals? I couldn't pick just one.

The thing about Melanie, and this may be due to the youthful quality of her voice, a song seems to say just one thing on the first listen and then it draws you in.

"Peace Will Come (According to Plan)" hooked me with the images in the lyrics at first. Then I saw it more as a prayer, with the repeated title.

We could use Melanie today. We could really use her.

With a new batch of songs, providing some sense of this chaotic mess.

I've started to wonder about some of the artists that either moved away or stayed around but had little to offer.

Donovan, Melanie and others had a great deal to say. Did they go away because the world seemed calmer (ha!) or because the world just didn't want to think about it anymore?

I loved Polly's report on Donovan's recent concert and I'd snap up a new CD by him in an instant. But Peter Gabriel, for instance, has written so many wonderful songs. But what hit were the easiest ones.

While it's true that music has lost its soul today in most of what gets airplay, I wonder how much of that has to do with the times? When a nation lives in denial, maybe there's not a great deal of room for real art to be welcome?

I think of the "Cumbaya" jokes by the 'hipsters' trying to talk tough.

"Cumbaya"? What's wrong with that song?

I doubt they'd feel free to go to town on "Amazing Grace" the way they do on "Cumbaya."

I can think of a 40-ish radio type who slams that song and peace. He's 'left.' In another time, he couldn't have gotten away with that. He would have been called out and considered a square. Today, we're supposed to root him on.

I don't know that being the legal partner of professional slim leaves him much room to point fingers at others. But I'm guessing he never really got the 60s and, in fact, they frightened him. He couldn't take the idea of involvement. He wanted a kind of 'activism' that was no more than 2 hours a day and then to go home and zonk out to ZZ Top or whomever.

Was art moved into a smaller box in the "Me" decade? (And what followed but a repeat of the Eisenhower era?) Artists could explore their own lives but anything more and suddenly it was time to holler and complain.

I see Mike's highlighted Dave Zirin's "Organizing the Jocks for Justice" (CounterPunch) and I think that applies to music as well. Melanie's "The Nickle Song" really reflects that (and is on right now). The audience wanted to drop in the coin and get an easy-pleasing song. And if you speak out on something, it had better be something acceptable. I was really disappointed to read an interview with Moby this week. I wasn't the only one. A student was complaining about at one of the places we went and I checked it out after. It was just so 'safe.' It was the sort of thing I could've read in 1994 or 1998. At one point, he talks about growing up in an organization for war resisters and I was thinking, "Okay, he's about to talk about Iraq and war resistance today." If he did, it got cut from the interview.

When even Moby's sidestepping the big issues of today (and hiding behind the acceptable talk of the Dems will change things), it shows you how tired or scared the last few artists are.

The e-mails have been very kind about music, by the way. Everyone says, "Take your time." I'm sorry, I'm just not up for reviewing right now. That was another reason I went on the trip this week, to avoid the guilt of not being able to produce a review. Brenda e-mailed to say if I didn't have anything until I did a year-in-review, that was cool. While I appreciated that (and still do), I won't feel cool if that happens.

Right before I left, I was working on two reviews. Thanks to C.I. taking down dictation, I got one completed. But I also wanted to review the other one. I just haven't felt inspired.

The funeral really took a lot out of me as did the lead up to it.

But give me two weeks, I'll have a new review.

Now I'm yawning (probably like most of you reading this). So let me put up the snapshot. I think I'm going to crash here. I don't mean this chair -- although if everyone went into another room, I could probably fall asleep right now. I think I'll grab one of the empty bedrooms. I'm just not up to driving home tonight, too tired. After this post, I think I'm just going to close my eyes and groove on Melanie for a bit. (That'll be my excuse for not moving still.)

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

December 1, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, early numbers for November indicate a dramatic rise (another dramatic rise) in the number of civilian deaths, does the puppet of the occupation feel the EARTH . . . MOVE . .. under his feet (nod to Carole King "I Feel The Earth Move"), and the James Baker Circle Jerk continues to raise eyebrows.

Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that the Iraq Interior Ministry has released their statistics for November's death toll in Iraq, 1,850 -- and increase of 44% from their count of 1,289 for October. Macdonald reminds, "Although it does not appear to encompass all violent deaths in Iraq, the Interior Ministry's statistical series has reflected trends".

And for the living? Not much better as
Dahr Jamail discussed with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday. Dahr explained how the violence was so common, the attacks so rampant, that for fear of their safety, many Iraqis no longer sent their children off to school (approximately 30% was the number given). On the topic of the daily violence and the people effected, Isam Rasheed (Alive in Baghdad) provides a video report from a clinic in Adhamiya where Ahmed Hameed (cigarette vendor) explains how a car bombing resulted in his hand and leg being lost, "I was working and someone left a car bomb. It blew up shortly after they had left. I woke up and found myself thrown against a wall beside my friend Shukri."; Shukri Abdul (owner of the Al-Areesh restaurant) then explains being outside his restaurant speking with an ice vendor when the car bomb went off "And I can remember landing on the ground. I was blown into the air, and when I landed, everything piled on top of me, the pots & corrugated metals." Shurki Abdul also lost his arm and foot and experienced severe damage to his back. This is the daily reality and, as Dahr pointed out, the only area under US control was the Green Zone section of Baghdad but now even the Bremer walls that wall off the section do not translate as 'safe.' Dahr spoke of speaking with a US marine stationed in Ramadi where he was part of 200 US forces expected to provide order to a city of 400,000.

Dahr noted that move to pull forces out of Ramadi and the rest of the Al-Anbar Province in order to send them to Baghdad to secure the capital. Earlier this week,
Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on a Marine Corps intelligence report entitled "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar" which tagged the area "a failed province," one that was beyond US control. Also earlier this week, Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reported that, in an effort to 'secure' the capital -- 'crackdown' in any version didn't, the Pentagon is weighing pulling the 30,000 US troops out of the province and redeploying them to Baghdad.

Also addressed by Dahr was the issue of the realignmment on the ground in Iraq's parliament where new alliances are being formed with Muqtada al-Sadr's group and Dahr wondered exactly how much longer the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, would be in place?
CBS and AP report that Tariq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, has stated "he wanted to see al-Maliki's government gone and another 'understanding' for a new coalition put in place with guarantees that ensure collective decision making" while Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie (handmaiden to the puppet) has said the fault lies with the presidency (a ceremonial position) and not with the prime minister he (al-Zuabaie) serves under. If the memo Stephen Hadley penned November 8th is taken at all seriously don't be surprised to discover US monies are being tossed around right now in an attempt to ensure that new coalitions will be to the US administration's liking. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) examines the events and notes "the sudden move by al-Sadr's Shiite bloc, which pulled out of the Baghdad government over al-Maliki's meeting with Bush, provides the anti-occupation coalition with significant, perhaps decisive, power, if they choose to bring down al-Maliki's shaky coalition." [Hayden's earlier reports on the al-Maliki upset are: "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance."]

Did someone say shaky?

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report a double car bombing claimed one life and left six family members wounded in the Sadiyah section of Baghdad; while mortar rounds "near Muqdadiya" killed three and left 14 wounded; and, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took two lives and left three wounded. CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad ("near a fruit and vegetable market") that killed two and left 16 more wounded. AFP notes, "A bomb exploded in the centre of Baghdad on the east side of the Tigris river, killing three people and wouding 16, while another car bomb killed three people on the outskirts of the capital."


Alastair Macdonald and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) report: "Machinegun fire rained from U.S. helicopters in central Baghdad . . . the Interior Ministry said one soldier had been killed and nine people wounded, including five soldiers." Reuters reports three people were killed by gunfire (two police officers, one civilian) in Samawa.


Reuters reports that 20 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and fourteen in Mosul while noting the fourteen had been kidnapped on Thursday.

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that, Thursday, "Hadib Majhoul, chairman of the popular Talaba soccer club" was kidnapped.

In addition, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations here Nov. 30." The death brings to 2,888 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war according to ICCC's count and CNN's as well. Twelve away from the 2900 mark.

This as
Antonella Cinelli (Reuters) reports that "Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Friday, lowering the tricolour flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003."

Meanwhile, although the
Iraq Study Group has released its findings, people continue to ponder the James Baker Circle Jerk. As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today, the James Baker Circle Jerk is rumored to call for a 2008 'withdrawal' that is not, in fact, a withdrawal. It's a continuation of the air war that Norman Solomon has been describing for months now. It's also the James Baker Circle Jerk stroking themselves on the public dollar. The onanistic nonsense not only revolves around the air war, it also pushes embedding US forces with Iraqi police squads and forces.

For those who've forgotten how Patrick McCaffrey died and the battle his mother Nadia McCaffrey has had to fight to force the US government to get honest could see the 'suggestion' as worthy of suggesting. (Patrick McCaffrey and Andre Tyson, with the US National Guard, were killed in Iraq. The US government told the families that the two men were killed by 'insurgents.' In reality, they were killed, June 22, 2004, by Iraqi security forces they were training.)

Addressing the James Baker Circle Jerk on this week's CounterSpin,
Gary Younge (Guardian of London; The Nation) observed to Steve Rendall,, "The fact that this study group was necessary itself highlights a flaw in American politics. Democracy should have been able to deal with this, not an appointed study group." As Younge explained the responsibility the group was tasked with was Congress' own responsibility . . . until they outsourced it.

In peace news,
Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports that the revelations of the US government spying on peace activists is not slowly plans for the march in Washington, DC January 27th. Among the groups spied on were CODEPINK, United For Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, the War Resisters League and the American Friends Service Committee.

War Resisters League will be presenting Sir! No Sir! tomorrow (Saturday, December 2nd) at both seven pm and nine-thirty pm. This kicks off the War Resisters League and the Brecht Forum's Screenpeace: An Antiwar Film Festival that will hold screenings of other films on Fridays during January.

In other activism news,
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are asking for a National "Mandate for Peace" Call-in Day, Monday, December 4th. To sign the petition click here. To phone your rep and senators, you can dial 202-224-3121. PDA notes: "On Election Day, voters said enough is enough -- we want a new direction. Let's make sure Congress hears it again by jamming the switchboards on Dec. 4 with our pleas to bring our troops home immediately."

the washington postdafna linzerthomas e. ricks

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kyle Snyder

The illustration is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The lack of passion in independent media (print division)" and I was in Ireland when Kyle Snyder came back to the United States, from Canada, and turned himself in. I was in Ireland when the military screwed him over and he self-checked out again.

Kyle's underground now. He surfaces to give speeches and to do things like, last week, help with the repairing of New Orleans.

Who needs to be behind bars? Kyle who had the smarts and guts to say no to the illegal war or Bully Boy who lied us into it? Kyle who goes to New Orleans to help out or Bully Boy who should have ensured that the damage was fixed a long time ago?

I think Kyle's a hero.

I don't know what was going through his head on October 31st when he turned himself in and was waiting for the paper work to be done. But I think I'd be shocked to realize I was being burned again. I think I'd probably wonder what to do? Go through with it? Self-check out?

I think he's a hero.

I think there are a lot of useless. Who are the cowards? The people who try to look the other way. One group of useless that hid behind generals is now hiding behind a major.

I think they need to lose their elitist attitude before they expect their pieces on economic justice to be greeted with more than a giggle.

I'm sick of the useless.

Once again, I'm seeing students and, guess what, they give a damn about this war. Don't blame the students, don't tsk-tsk "Kids today." The failures are the adults running magazines who waste everyone's time with crap instead of actually addressing the war.

"The major"? I heard about it. I heard about how "The Elector" magazine still can't cover war resisters. I heard angry young people trash the magazine. People who should be their natural audience. But they feel hyped and manipulated. They feel that the magazine doesn't give a damn about the war.

This was a very informed, very political group and they were all Democrats (most aren't too happy with the party).

The way it works is C.I. talks a little about Iraq and then who ever else is along (me this time) speaks a little and then it's bring the issues up that you don't feel are getting attention and what's allowing the war to continue.

There were four groups I spoke with (I was too tired for the fifth, sorry, C.I.'s solo on that) and this was . . .

I don't know what to say, they could outline everything (and we may be addressing one point raised repeatedly this weekend at The Third Estate Sunday Review). They were mad, they were angry. This went beyond disappointment.

And I started thinking during this, I wasn't wading into it (I also didn't think the examples they were giving were wrong), how awful it would be to be in charge of a magazine that became the one with the highest circulation on the left and to still be in charge if it then nose dived?

C.I. can work a crowd. I never fail to be impressed with that. And C.I. likes "The Elector". (I like it less and less and may not be renewing my subscription.) So I was interested in where this was headed. C.I. asked, after everyone had a chance to voice their opinion, what sort of commentary they were looking for. There were a few suggestions and C.I. said, "Sounds a lot like Alexander Cockburn, doesn't it?"

Which did get some agreement. And lowered the anger in the room. Then C.I. turned it into, "When the media fails, when even the independent media fails, what do you do to make a difference?"

Which led to a really informed discussion.

I've heard complaints about "The Elector" before, about how the war coverage isn't cutting it. But it was never like this. One woman even spoke of the fact that The New Republic (or, as she called, "The Fucking New Republic!") had a war issue and "The Elector" gives little indication that they're even aware of the war except as an issue to that impacted the election. (The woman said, "If the issue influenced the election, don't they think people want to read about the issue?)

So that's it for me. Check out the Iraq Study Group's recommendations. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

November 30, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Baker-Hamiliton Love-Fest sucks up more headlines than the addled-brain panel deserves, shifts on the political ground occur but the media's too busy being whimpering little dogs chasing after their master to note reality, and peace organizations call for a show of support for war resisters and for some action.

Starting with yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News where Sandra Lupien spoke with Global Exchange's Raed Jarrar who explained that some members of Iraq's parliament were under the impression that they would be discussing the possibility of renewing the UN mandate for US forces next week and were unaware that the puppet of the occupation had already 'addressed' that (on Tuesday). Jarrar discussed how what support there was for the puppet had faded as it had been apparent how ineffectual Nouri al-Maliki was, how he's now seen as a failure and how hope is pretty much destroyed.

Raed Jarrar: Let me add one thing, during the last three days some major developments are happening. Yesterday one of the secular groups pulled out of the government -- a group called Reconciliation and Liberation Front, they pulled out from the government. And today a southern group pulled out from the government. And tommorow it's a big possiblity that a number of secular and Sunni and Shia are planning to pull out from the government as well and form this newly, form a front under the name Iraq Salvation Government or the National Iraqi Salvation Front or something.

So all of these things are happening now, at the same time that Maliki is meeting with Bush, so it seems the Iraqi political map is going to change radically within the next few days or

Staying with that topic (the one the New York Times may trip over and discover tomorrow),
CNN reports that Muqtada al-Sadr announced a possible new political alliance with Sunnis and Christians. Calling the group" you know this is coming "'a national front,' the head of al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament -- Falah Hassan Shanshel -- said the groups would target the U.N. Security Council's decision to extend the mandate of 160,000 multinational force in Iraq for another year."

Meanwhile, the
Iraq Study Group has issued their findings: (1) All US troops should be brought home immediately; (2) Reparations shall be paid by the US government to Iraq through the United Nations; (3) The US Congress should immediately begin impeachments hearings; (4) A War Crimes Tribunal should hear testimony into the destruction of Falluja; (5) Dexter Filkins shall be charged with crimes against humanity for his 'reporting' on Falluja and, in fact, all of his reporting on or from Iraq.

The findings were published today by the original Iraq Study Group, not the lame Lee Hamilton-James Baker Circle Jerk. The findings are signed by the original chairs: Nina, Tony and
Mike. And if the findings seem more democratic than those of the James Baker Circle Jerk, well one was of the people, the other was created to provide cover for the US administration.

Turning to news of the James Baker Circle Jerk. They did not recommend withdrawal.
David E. Sanger and David S. Cloud (New York Times) reported in this morning's paper that the James Baker Circle Jerk would recommend that 15 combat brigades be stationed at bases in Iraq or neighboring countries and the James Baker Circle Jerk would not endorse withdrawal of US troops. The James Baker Circle Jerk hopefully checked with "neighboring countries" because, as many will remember, Turkey got aid from the US while hemming and hawwing and, woops, what do you know, their air space would not be used for Bully Boy's illegal war. The James Baker Circle Jerk was a way for him to tap into the Saudi monies he's always tapped into and greed merchants like Lee Hamilton got to go along for the ride. At 75-years-old, there may be nothing left for him to do but stand around open mouthed. But then the James Baker Circle Jerk was never about the "best and brightest." It was, instead, the tired, the corrupt and the cronies.

The Davids are back with their update to say, "Our sources were right." Yes, in what passes for bravery at the Times, all that sucking up allows them their exclusives about reports that will be released. So they've twice wasted everyone's time stroking their sources off on in print while real issues went uncovered and critical abilities (which are supposed to be in a journalist's bag of tricks) again get shoved to the curb. They've chased after Bully Boy, they've chased after the James Baker Circle Jerk.

They just can't find Iraq with a seeing eye dog and an escort. (Should that read a heavily armed escorts? It should.) As
Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) noted Tuesday, on potential findings of the cover group, "It only postpones the inevitable, the need to exit Iraq before the blood of war sills over into the national presidential election."

Let's leave the James Baker Circle Jerk to the boys (and Sandy Day O'Connor) and instead focus on reality. The
BBC reports that two Iraqi women were killed in Baquba on Wednesday by US forces which follows by one day the killing of "five girls . . . by US tank fire in Ramadi." This comes at a time when the ICRC issues a statement ending with: "The ICRC calls again upon all parties to the conflict to respect the rules of international humanitarian law and to spare civilians and civilian property. In addition, it urges all those who can make use of their moral and political influence on the ground to call for respect of human life and dignity." "All parties." Yes, the Red Cross/Red Crescent would be referring to "all parties" which does include foreign fighters such as the US.

Al Jazeera reports Bully Boy has stated no troops are leaving, that they'll remain till his "job is complete" which apparently means his Blood Lust has yet to be satisfied, after three years, and more will need to die as a result.

A lot is being made of the brief meeting (Brief Encounter?) between Bully Boy and Nouri al-Maliki that finally took place on Thursday.
'A 'speedy handover' (of Iraq forces) to the puppet!' pants CBS and AP. Did no one read the memo yesterday? The memo was published (online) by the New York Times. Did anyone bother to read it? What did Stephen Hadley write about ways that the puppet could look strong? Handing him "additional control over Iraq forces, although we must recognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces."

Apparently there was no point in the Times publishing that memo, even those who read it appear to act as though they hadn't.

AFP notes Bully Boy wanted to put an end to the "speculation" that the US might attempt "some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq." No word on whether Bully Boy belched after that remark but the lack of grace hardly needs underscoring after three years of an illegal war.

While Bully Boy demonstrates his lack of grace, common sense, et al,
AFP reports that South Korea is pulling their 2,300 troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007. KUNA reports that: "The government also accepted the ruling party's proposal to draw up an action plan for the all-out withdrwal by June 2007, according to Yonhap News Agency." The so-called 'coalition' gets increasingly smaller. Meanwhile, Nouri al-Maliki announces, according to Reuters, that Iraqi troops can take over control in June 2007. Predictions from the Puppet who couldn't meet the Constitutionally mandated deadline for selecting his cabinet? The man who went on to miss the 'bonus' time he gave himself to select the cabinet?

As the press rushes to cover the circle jerk or the Bully Boy,
Dave Clark (AFP) reports: "Baghdad's overlowing morgues have welcomed another grim daily harvest of bullet-riddled coprses".


DPA reports three Iraq police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in al-Mosayyab and three more were left wounded. Dave Clark (AFP) reports that mortar attacks wounded 13 in Samawa.


Thomas Wagner and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that, in Basra, Nasir Gatami ("deputy of the local chapter of a group called Sunni Endowment) and three of his bodyguards were shot dead. The BBC raises the number of bodyguards killed to six. Dave Clark (AFP) reports six shot dead in sectarian conflict in Baquba while a police officer was shot dead in Falluja.


BBC reports that "At least 80 bodies" were discovered in Iraq "in the past 24 hours." The Daily Telegraph notes that 58 of those corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

That's the reality of Iraq -- some of it. What managed to get reported by the ones not confusing the James Baker Circle Jerk or the Bully Boy's travel itineray with the Beatles landing at JFK. Worshipful fans don't generally make for solid reporters and, for those noticing how Iraq has been sidelined by "Follow The Officials!", that's tragically clear.

Not tomorrow, but the Friday after next, December 8th,
Courage to Resist will beging three days of public action:

Military resisters, their families, veterans and concerned community members call for public action Dec. 8-10th!
It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI's who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights. We call for the following:1) Support for War Objectors 2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection 3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's 4) Sanctuary for War Objectors. We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in supportof GI Resistance and GI Rights!
Participating Groups and Individuals
Downloadable Organizing Kit

United for Peace and Justice notes:

It takes courage to say that you will not fight -- especially if you are a soldier. As more members of the U.S. military step forward for peace, the peace movement must step forward to support them.
Large numbers are now refusing to serve: The Department of Defense estimates that there are about 8,000 AWOL service members. The
GI Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) is currently receiving about 3,000 calls a month.
Most importantly, a growing number of soldiers are speaking out, against the illegality and immorality of the Iraq war and the orders they are being told to carry out. These brave men and women are risking jail time and their futures to stand up against the war.
Click here to find out how you can support them.

On Monday,
WBAI's Law and Disorder interviewed Jonathan Hutto with Appeal for Redress which is gathering signatures calling for Congress to bring the troops. Signatures of those currently serving in the military. Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith spoke about the historical importance of this and how the rights for those serving were won, not given and Hutto stated that currently they have "a little over 1200" signatures.

War resisters also include Kyle Snyder,
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, Joshua Casteel, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Patrick Hart, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are only some of the names of those resisting who have gone public.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Soldier Say No!, the War Resisters Support Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't gas bag on Tower, spare us all

Thank you to Elaine for passing on a very lame article on Tower Records to me. What's it saying? Nothing that couldn't have been said in August.

To write about it at this late date, you need to have something to offer.

How about the fact that long term employees aren't scheduled for as many hours because they're being forced out. That started with the announcement and continues. How about a store refusing to let employees use the store's bathroom because they're convinced that employees will shoplift since the store is closing? How about working for the last 2 months without knowing when the store will close?

I wrote about Tower in August and while I was gone the e-mails piled up. The stories from people working at Tower are pretty much the same all over. A two-disc Smashing Pumpkins CD (I'm guessing the one with "1979" on it) was sold. The buyer is walking away from the counter and opening it. He doesn't even get to the door, and has been in full view the entire way when he discovers only one CD is in the case. He tries to return it. "All sales are final." The clerk, who wrote me, explains the guy was upset (and the clerk didn't blame him). He asked for a manager and the manager refused to come up front. (The 'manager' on duty wasn't part of Tower. He's part of the liquidation firm.)

I read, in all the e-mails from people working at Tower, that they were freaking out wondering when their last day was. Some stores have told them upfront that they'll show up at work one day and be told at some point during their shift that the store is closing. Those who have been told that have been told that they don't want the employees 'doing something.' So they're not going to tell them ahead of time.

Now I wrote about Tower in August. Could you do that? Could you keep working a job knowing it was about to end and not knowing the day? You better believe the liquidation company knows damn well when they're closing. So if you're writing about it today, all this time after, maybe you could lay off the techno lecture and try to write about how the workers are getting screwed?

I wouldn't work anywhere that wouldn't let me use the store bathroom. The liquidation company employees can and do use the bathrooms. Meanwhile, others are having to trot to stores and fast food places (Subway is very popular) to use a bathroom.

And let's be really honest, Betty had heard about this from the gang and wrote about it while I was in Ireland, there is no damn discount.

40% is meaningless for Tower. They've gone up to list prices on everything. Let's use The Best of Carly Simon because I like Carly (and the new CD has been pushed back to January so look for it then). You could get that at Tower for $6.99. Now they are asking $12.99 for it and you get to take 40% off. And they took forever to get to 40% but do the math. Round it to thirteen dollars. That's $5.20 off thirteen dollars. Which is $7.80. Considering that you could get it for $6.99 any day of the week (it was always a sale CD, all the seventies CDs that sold well were) and now that they're closing and have their big liquidation, they want to sell it to you for $7.80. You're being ripped off.

I haven't gone there since I got back to California. I hope I don't. It's like a friend who's dying and it's just too painful. (I would visit a dying friend.) No, it's like a friend who's dying because someone is killing them and they won't listen to you so what's the point in seeing them?

From what Jess and Jim have said, people have been stupid. They went while I was out of the country. They didn't buy. They couldn't believe the prices (being so high). They couldn't believe the people wandering around buying.

It's not a bargain. But they said it was so slow in getting to 40%.

So the employees and the customers are getting screwed. I don't want to see that. I'd rather remember Tower as it was.

And if you've got nothing to offer, please don't pollute my memories with your gas bagging. Dona clipped the New York Times article (mentioned by the gas bag)and that was pretty lousy as well. I've been to the New York City store, it was a joke. J Riggins, or whatever the big music store in their area is called, had more to offer. That was like being on campus and seeing a little Taco Bell stand compared to a real Taco Bell. (I'm not a fan of Taco Bell. I am on the road with C.I. and we were talking with some students who did have a Taco Bell in the food court of their campus so I'm using that as an example.)

I'm glad that little store meant something to you but don't think you know the Tower experience if that's your point of reference.

The gas bag gives a few sentences to Wal-Mart but never really explores the pressure they put on not just other retailers but on labels to get better deals. That's the Wal-Mart effect and gas bags might want to explore that. But don't give your techno lectures and think you've said a damn thing about Tower because you haven't.

Maybe people who never visited Tower will be impressed but anyone who shopped there will see you as a poser trying to fill some column inches. In this community, others have commented on the techno aspect and on the Dollar Stores sprouting across the nation. Is that what we're left with? That's what can make it in a Bully Boy market? What does that say about our economy?
Try pondering that instead of trying to act like you know a damn thing about Tower. That includes the NYT guy with his, "Oh, look at me, I'm so learned for buying classical at Tower."

Is Tower in Fun With Dick and Jane? The original? I think it may be one of the stores Jane Fonda and George Segal rob. Whatever store, that gives you more of an idea of Tower (the shots of the store) then these dopey gas bags coming along to gas bag while they pretend they're exploring the deeper meaning.

I'd love to know what Tower the gas bag shopped at?

I wish I could be nice about it and find something worthwhile in that piece of crap article but don't fuck with people's memories of Tower to fill your column space. Those of us who shopped there didn't just make a purchase and this is really personal.

It's like the funeral's about to start and gas bags are walking up, patting us on the shoulder and saying, "Well, people die."

No shit.

But no one needs to hear your gas baggery.

No one needs it.

Any person who logged serious time at a Tower shouldn't be in the mood for the simplistic techno lectures. I'm reminded of the phrase, "You just don't get it." And that's what I feel like when some gas bag wants to tell me "Well, technology changes."

Downloads are up 200%! Wow, that's enlightening.

I'll assume that includes ringtones. I'll also assume that more people, right now, this second, buy CDs than get their music from downloads. I'd bet downloads could double 200% more and still not approach CD sales.

The column had no heart, no soul. It was someone rushing in to gas bag after reading several articles. It was a travelogue on Paris by someone who'd never been to France.

I'll stop here mainly because Blogger/Blogspot is going down in seven minutes. As Elaine pointed out yesterday, when they do an "outage" announcement, they usually do that for several days in a row. I plan to post tomorrow and plan for it to be a short post. But if Blogger/Blogspot has an outage, I may not. C.I.'s speaking to students and I was tired but tempted. I told myself blogging was a way of contributing (that was before I read the article Elaine e-mailed me) and planned to write on a deep topic. Like John Lennon sang, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

"Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a classified US assessment, jotted down in memo form by Stephen Hadley, finds the puppet of the occupation untrustworthy; whack-a-mole continues to be the game of choice for US military heads, and the big meet up in Jordan hits a snag right out of the box.

Starting with
the memo:

We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.

Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so. Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks.
Despite Maliki's reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki's government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister's office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq's most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries -- when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi's (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings -- all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.

Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) reports that author of the memo is National Securtiy Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and that Hadley wrote the memo November 8, 2006. The memo was based on conclusions Hadley drew while visiting the Green Zone on October 30th, a visit John F. Burns and David E. Sanger (New York Times) noted was spoken of "only in the vaguest of terms". The memo's distrust of Nouri al-Maliki and its suggestions fly in the face of what Geroge W. Casey Jr. was publicly pushing immediately prior to Hadley's visit. As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported the US' military commander's claims of Iraqi security forces 'success' was doubted by American troops on the ground.

The memo covers a number of topics. Mainly it attempts to chart how the puppet can be propped up if he agrees to continue to following orders from the US administration (such as "support the renewal of the UN mandate for multinational forces" -- done yesterday -- through the end of 2007 as Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News). If that is the case, US tax dollars can be used to prop up political parties that do not support Moktada al-Sadr and thereby sideline al-Sadr from the process. ("This bloc would not require a new election, but would rather involve a realignment of political actors within the Parliament.") Mainly the memo's concerned with appearances, ways to make it appear the puppet is independent and strong. Such as: "Encourage Zal [Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador] to move into the background and let Maliki take more credit for positive developments." As noted in previous snapshots, Zalmay-Take-Me-Away is on his way out. His supposed 'success' in Afghanistan began to implode in front of the world shortly after he was shipped to Iraq to create more 'success.' Reality didn't wait and Zalmay is on the way out.

The memo offers that al-Maliki can appear 'strong' if the US administration will: "Seek ways to strengthen Maliki immediately by giving him additional control over Iraq forces, although we musr tecognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces" While pushing appearances, Hadley makes it very clear that al-Maliki is extremely out of touchand that he has one self-presentation "when he talks with Americans" and another at other times. Hadley writes: "But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggest Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."

The memo reveals the doubts, all the times after, that the US administration still has of their puppet.
Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) reports that Tony Snow Job issued a statement of Bully Boy's confidence in al-Maliki which should make the puppet shudder if he's aware of "Heck of a job, Brownie." [Or of November 1st, when Bully Boy was singing Rummy's praises. As Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reported: "Rumsfeld's ouster came a week after Bush told a small group of reporters that he wanted the defense secretary to stay on the job until end of his presidency."]

Silva also speaks with a nameless administration official who states that the memo is about raising questions and it "doesn't mean you're casting judgment" which is either cover up or the nameless hasn't read the memo. The third step Hadley outlines that al-Maliki "should take" is to "Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries."

For those paying attention months ago, al-Maliki's claimed that was happening. He began saying it was happening after he finally got a cabinet semi together. He missed the Constitutional deadline as well as his own appointed deadline. When he finally had a 'cabinet' it was short three positions. As soon as those were filled, al-Maliki began making repeated noises about a 'shake up' that has still not taken place. That was telling when Hadley visited in October, it was telling when Hadley wrote the memo on November 8th and, as November draws to a close, it's even more telling.

As Tony Snow Job tries to spin the memo, the US administration still attempts to deny the reality of the civil war that has been raging in Iraq.
Shatha al-Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) registers quite clearly what she has seen in the last year in the neighborhood she lived, the neighbors who left as strangers began showing up, the talk of impending attacks, the need to build a secret passage way between her home and her parents, the night when violence was only streets away, her baby crying from the mortar rounds falling and her promise to herself to leave if they made it through tomorrow.

In the face of such reality,
the US administration continues to deny Iraq is in a civil war. James Coomarasamy (BBC) reports that Stephen Hadley, of all people, "has said the Iraqi government does not see it in those terms, while the president himself described the latest attacks as part of an ongoing campaign by al-Qaeda militants." The same Hadley who wrote "the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on"? Meanwhile, Diala Saadeh (Reuters) reports Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, has stated, "I would call it a civil war. . . I have been using it (civil war) because I like to face the reality." (Like your blot?) On CBS' The Early Show, Bob Schieffer (host of Face the Nation) offered, "This is not a memo that was leaked by some Democrat in Congress. This is something that obviously came from someone within the administration itself. It shows that the situation in Iraq is the kind of chaos that has been described by others at every level, political and military. It paints a picture that is unlike what we have been hearing from the administration. We've been hearing that things are getting better and so on and so forth, that al-Maliki is doing his best. Now this memo raises questions about those statements."

CNN reports, ahead of the Jordan meeting with Bully Boy, Nouri al-Maliki has seen "his support erode on two fronts Wednesday as a White House memo questioned his leadership and a powerful political bloc suspended participation in Iraq's government." The suspension of participation was made quite clear Friday when al-Sadr's bloc stated that if al-Maliki went to Jordan to meet with the puppet, they would be pulling their support for al-Maliki.

Thomas Wagner and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that "the 30 lawmakers and six Cabinet members" in the Sadr bloc "said their boycott was necessary because the meeting" between Bully Boy and al-Maliki "constituted a 'provocation to the feelings of the Iraqi people and a violation of their constitutional rights'." As Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now! today, the bloc announced they were boycotting because "Bush is a criminal who killed a lot of Iraqis and we do not want him to interfere in Iraq's affairs" but prefer that the puppet instead do business with the U.N. Security Council. Deb Riechmann (AP) reports that the meet up in Amman, Jordan that was due to start today (Bully Boy & puppet) has now been put off with the US administration declaring it would take place "on Thuresday."

Meanwhile the city of Baquba is "
shutdown" by violence. "Shutdown"? The sequel to 'crackdown'? (Which Baghdad is still under.) AP reports bombing raids by US aircraft while "the univeristy, public schools and many stores remained closed" and the deaths of five Iraqi police officers.


AP reports a roadside bomb in Bahgdad left three Iraqis dead and 11 more wounded and
"[t]wo mortar rounds also exploded near the Health Ministry, wounding two soliders" in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
Reuters notes: two car bombs in Iraq (one in central Baghdad, the other in southwestern Baghdad) that left two police officers dead and five Iraqis wounded;
a car bomb in Samarra that killed six police officers; a car bomb in Mosul that left one civilian dead and 23 more injured; On the car bomb in Samarra,
AP notes that it was a coordinated attack using the car bomb and guns and reports that four police officers were killed and four more wounded.


AP reports that the Green Zone in Baghdad was ringed with gunfire "for most of the morning." AFP reports that four guards of the Pensions Department in central Baghdad were shot dead while on duty.


Reuters notes that the corpse "of a teacher with gunshot wounds" was discovered in Diwaniya today.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday. A second Soldier from this unit was wounded and transported to a CoalitionForces' medical treatment facility."; and they also announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Al-Anbar Province? Before we move on, let's note that the count for US troops who have died in Iraq this month thus far is 65. (Which doesn't include Major Troy L. Gilbert whose plane crashed this week and who is classified as missing by the US military while other press reports report he died in the crash or following the crash.)

We're going to
flash back to the August 3rd United States Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when the following exchange took place:

Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?

General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.

Is the situation in Ramadi under control, McCain repeatedly asked?

Ramadi is in Al-Anbar and the entire province is not "under control" (nor could it be).

Edward Wong (New York Times) reported, "American troops killed five girls, including at least one baby" on Tuesday in Al-Anbar Province. Andrew Buncombe and Nick Paton Walsh (Independent of London) report that in addition to the five dead, "Fighting broke out in the city of Ramadi, considered a stronghold of the anti-US insurgency, after a US patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of the city."

This comes as
Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reports that the "Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad." Has Al-Anbar Province been 'pacified'? No (and it won't be). As the four year anniversary of the illegal war comes ever closer, the US military is still attempting to impose order on Baghdad -- the only area that's ever been 'safe,' the area that's now been under a 'crackdown' (in all its variations) since June. And nothing's stopped the chaos and violence.

So the 'answer,' for the US government, is the same 'answer' they always have, what John McCain labeled "whack-a-mole." Writing in the Guardian of London,
Dilip Hiro proposes another answer: "Now, a revived proposal should have the American and British troops withdraw in stages from Iraq and hand over the stabilization task to a combined force of Muslim countries under UN command. Stationing a Muslim stabilization force in Iraq would dispel the intense alienation that exists now between Iraqis and the Anglo-American troops. The brown-skinned Muslim troops would be seen praying in the same mosques as Iraqis, and they would have an innate understanding of the social and cultural mores of the local people since they come from societies similar to that in Iraq. Unlike the Anglo-American troops, they would not be advancing an agenda like planting a Jeffersonian model of democracy or seeking preference in exploiting Iraqi oil."

Reuters reports, the 'answer' remains to 'shift' "a couple of battalions" here and there. It hasn't worked, it won't work. But the US adminstration refuses to face reality. Which is why CNN reports that "the U.S. military plans to move at least three more battalions of American soldiers into the Iraqi captial". And which is why the illegal war continues to drag on.

Remember, the
Pacifica's Archives is on day two of a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence. It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online. The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives. (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.) Among the voices heard since yesterday MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Medea Benjamin, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis, Ruth Gordon, Malcolm X, Angela Y. Davis, and many others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pacifica Radio Archives

Rebecca just called and said "Blogger/Blogspot's going down in five minutes for a 'scheduled outage'!" That leaves me no time, does it?

I've been listening to KPFA today and enjoying the Pacifica Radio Archives. This is going on right now and runs tomorrow as well. So make a point to listen. I've heard so many wonderful things today. I heard Jane Fonda via Sir! No Sir! and learned that the movie uses some of the Pacifica Archives which I didn't know. I heard MLK and Gore Vidal. Jim Hightower always makes me laugh and I always found June Jordan to be inspiring. Sara Weddington is a new name to me. Sadly. I'm at C.I.'s and just asked, "Who was that woman talking about reproductive rights?" She's the woman who argued Roe v. Wade (successfully!) before the Supreme Court. I should have known her name before today. Now I do. There have been so many wonderful moments.

One of the most surprising was Bette Davis taking questions including about Joan Crawford. That was both funny and educational. So if you're not listening, please do. You've got the rest of today and tomorrow as well. This is our history and you may just enjoy it, as I have most of it, or you may learn some things (as I did as well).

This is airing on all Pacifica stations, you can listen online (read below, at the end of the snapshot) if you don't have a station in your area. I think you'll enjoy it. That's it for tonight. I'll probably right more tomorrow about this special broadcast. Sorry to be so brief tonight but there's no time.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy plays petulant and ignorant (well . . . maybe he's not playing), freedom of speech takes another blow in Iraq, the US Air Force asks for more money, Tony Blair takes a leak in public, and who gave what orders?

Starting with children's games, the US administration remains in denial about the civil war raging in Iraq.
Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports Bully Boy says Iraq is not in a civil war. It's not, it's not, it's not, and if you don't stop saying it is, he's going to run to Big Babs and you'll be sorry. Bully Boy pins the blame on al Qaeda. He's 'assisted' by the likes of Michael R. Gordon and Dexy-Dexy "Pads a Million" Filkins (New York Times) who take dictation very well in this morning's paper as they single-source the 'news' with an anonymous source who just happens to pin the blame on "the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah." Congratulations to Gordo and Dexy for proving that the male secretary is far from a thing of the past.

While the stenogs provide cover for the Bully Boy,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) reports: "Iraq is rending itself apart. The signs of collapse are everywhere. In Baghdad the police often pick up over 100 tortured and mutiliated bodies in a single day. Government ministries make war on each other. A new and ominoous stage in the disingration of the Iraqi state came earlier this month when police commandos from the Shia-controlled Interior Ministry kidnapped 150 people from the Sunni-run Higher Education Ministry in the hear of Baghdad. Iraq may be getting close to what Americans call 'the Saigon moment, the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring." All but the stenogs.

Sunday's stoning of and jeeering and shouting at the puppet of the occupation in the Sadr City section of Baghdad demonstrates the risks of reality intruding when Nouri al-Maliki leaves the heavily fortified Green Zone. And outside of Baghdad, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) report, things are as bad if not worse. Linzer and Ricks report on a Marine Corps intelligence report, "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar," which finds that Al-Anbar Province is beyond US control, that it's become "a failed province" and that the Sunnis in the region are fleeing.

On the subject of fleeing,
The Arizona Daily Star reports that the lifting of the cufew in Baghdad on Monday resulted in "[h]undreds of Iraqi families . . . [making] a beeline for the airport, where they handed over their savings for one-way tickets to anyplace safe. Others ran for the border, with suitcases strapped to cars bound for Syria and Jordan. Families that stayed stocked up on food, kept their children home from school and waited for another round of sectarian bloodshed." IRIN reports that Human Rights Watch is calling "on Jordan to provide a Temporary Protection Regime (TPR) for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in its territory."

In the face of reality, Bully Boy turns a blind eye.
CBS and AP quote him stating, "There's one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." Ask him what the mission is and prepare for vague statements with no concrete markers. As Bully Boy gets pouty, Tony Blair takes a leak on Des Browne and the British public. Yesterday, England's Defense Secretary Des Browne stated, "I can tell you that by the end of next year I expect numbers of British forces in Iraq to be significantly lower -- by a matter of thousands”. Reuters reports today that Blair has declared, "We will remain there (in Iraq) in significant numbers even if there is . . . an adjustment to our role, there will still be a requirement." The promised handover of Basra will apparently change nothing. Meanwhile, AFP reports that South Korea has decided "to extend the mission for another year" in Iraq but will be cutting it's troops from 2,3000 "to around 1,200".

Andy Sullivan (Reuters) reports Bill Keller has issued a statement stating that the New York Times will call Iraq what it is, a civil war. Keller is quoted: "It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war." The article notes LA Times has been doing so since October and that McClatchy Newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Sacremento Bee have called it a civil war. Yesterday, NBC became the first network to officially call it what it was.]

Meanwhile, in Australia, Peter Tinley, former Australian soldier who served in Iraq and declared the illegal war "morally bankrupt,"
tells ABC's Lateline that Australian forces are maxed out: "I'm not talking about the number of troops on the ground . . . I'm talking about the span of command, the span by which the Defence Force can operate and manage the number of operations."

Can Baghdad be 'managed'?
Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (Times of London) report that
"In the war for Baghdad, mosques serve as garrisons. Sunnis use religious sanctuaries as strongholds to fight for mixed neighbourhoods. Shia extremists covert their mosques and prayer rooms, called husseiniyas, into execution chambers. As Iraq falls apart, people like [Hassan] Mahmoud are now terrified by Baghdad's places of worship, which they regard as potential gulags and gallows in the Sunni-Shiar war."

But the problem? The media. Apparently. As Sandra Lupien reported onn yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News, "Iraq's parliament speaker implemented new rules banning reporters from the legislative building and imposed a thirty minute delay on broadcast of sessions This in an apparent bid to hide from the public what are increasingly bitter debates between Shi'ite and Sunni lawmakers." "Freedom" still doesn't include a free press in Iraq.


BBC reports the deaths of at least four in Baghdad with at least seven wounded as a results of car bombs outside Yarmouk hospital. Reuters raises the wounded from those bombings to 40 and notes a home in Tal Afar which had been "booby-trapped with explosives" and left two police officers wounded while another two police officers were wounded in Mosul from a roadside bomb. Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports that Kirkuk was the site of an assassination attempt on the governor of the province -- "The attacker, wearing a hidden explosives belt, tried to get inside the governor's car, but when he found the door locked he detonated his explosives, killing one civilian and wounding 17 other people, police said." AP notes three dead from a roadside bomb in Baladrooz (four more were reported wounded). And Reuters reports mortars injured 23 people in Baghdad.


AFP notes the shooting deaths of five in Mahmudiyah and seven people shot dead in Baquba.


Reuters reports thirty-six corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today, "One Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Nov. 27 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The announcement comes as Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reports on "a new study by the Caresey Institute" which finds that "[t]he mortality rate for soldiers from rural America is about 60 percent higher than the mortality rate for soliders from metropolitan areas." Glantz notes that the study finds that those "from rural Vermont have the highest death rate in the nation followed by Delaware, South Dakota, and Arizona."

Andrea Shalal-Esa (Reuters) reports that the United States Air Force says it needs "$33.4 billion in extra funding for fiscal 2007 to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and costs related to the 'longer war on terror'."

Current cost of the illegal war,
via counter on Tom Hayden's website, $346,000,000,000.

And all the money going to support the illegal war couldn't be used in a better way, right?
New Orleans?

Kyle Snyder: There are over 20 engineering units, there's more than 20 engineering units in the U.S. military. I was part of an engineering unit. And to see places that look worse than Iraq in my own country makes me sick, it makes me disgusted, that they're not doing any rebuilding effort for the poor, for the African-American community. It's like they just left it there. They're not even cleaning it up. It's a disaster area. It's, logistically, it's the most horrible thing I've seen because we have engineering units in Iraq when they should be here. . . . This should be first priority. . . . Start pulling troops from Iraq and rebuilding in New Orleans.

US war resister Kyle Snyder spent Thanksgiving week by joining with
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Col. Ann Wright, war resister Darrell Anderson and others to protest the School of Americas in Georgia and then going to New Orleans with Iraq Veterans Against the War to work on the rebuilding. Video clips are available at Soldier Say No! and the one quoted from is also available at Google Video. Snyder self-checked out of the US military in April of 2005, moved to Canada and then returned to the US and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 31st, only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Snyder is now underground and on the road.

Also traveling is
CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin who was recently in South Korea and spoke with Christopher Brown (OhmyNews International): ". . . the job of the peace movement is going to be not [to] put down its guard, to really be forcing the Congress to carry out what is a mandate for radical change, and the radical change is to bring the troops home, to stop allocating money for this war and to have no permanent bases in Iraq. And I think the issue of more money for the war will come up very soon in January when the new Congress reconvenes because they are going to be asked for over a hundred billion dollars more for this war."

Benjamin and others were in South Korea to support the people objecting to US base being expanded and asking that South Korea's troops be brought home from Iraq. Other activists on the trip included Cindy Sheehan who was interviewed about it by Jennifer Veale (Time magazine). In her latest column (BuzzFlash), Sheehan considers the proposal of returning to the draft and is "100% categorically opposed to forced conscription" and outlines her reasons which include that the draft didn't stop earlier wars, the "draft will never be fair and balanced," and that "a draft will only give the war maching more of our children to consume to generate its wealth."

The peace movement includes Cindy Sheehan (who sparked it back to life), Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Camilo Mejia,
Alice Walker, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Parades, Missy Comley-Beattie, Agustin Aguayo, Stephen Funk, Carl Webb, Stan Goff, David Swanson (who examines war resistance here), . . . and many more (hopefully including you).

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Hayden notes that "the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq" and, noting the failure of media to cover the movement: "the only recourse is to prepare widespread demonstrations and ground organizing in the key presidential primary states, to make it impossible for any candidate to become president in 2008 without pledging to end the war and occupation. If there is no peace movement, there will be no peace."

What would there be instead? More abuses, probably done more openly. On Saturday,
Reuters reported Janis Karpinski's statement about the letter "signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation." (Karpinski wrote about that in her book, spoke about it with Amy Goodman and Dennis Bernstein.) We can pair that with The Socialist Worker's report on British major Antony Royce's statements in the court-martial for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners where he testified that he was instructed "by Major Mark Robinson, a brigade intelligence adviser, to 'condition' prisoners. Royce said that he then checked with Major Russel Clifton, the brigade's legal adviser, and was again told that 'conditioning' and hooding were acceptable."
[Pru highlighted the article on Royce.]

Lastly, the
Pacifica's Archives is presenting a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence. It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online. The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives. (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.) Among the voices heard today were MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, and many others.

tom hayden
kyle snyder
the new york timesdexter filkinsthe washington postdafna linzerthomas e. ricksdavid swanson
aaron glantzthe kpfa evening news
sandra lupien
cindy sheehan
medea benjamincodepink
the socialist worker