Friday, January 19, 2007

Diana's Dud

C.I. calls today. One, to ask about an e-mail that came in on KPFA's Guns and Butter? C.I. didn't hear it (on the road speaking) and wanted to include if it I could verify the program aired that (it did) and was going to check with three friends in military brass. So it's in the snapshot. That's the good news.

The second thing? Quote: "Who told you Diana Ross had a CD coming out in March?" Dak Ho. Or rather MSNBC via Dak Ho. He presented me with a print out. It was an AP story and the sentence with the date is now gone, but I do have the print out.

C.I. explained it was already out and that "It should be at the house." So I went over excited (though C.I. warned, "word of mouth is really bad") and Jim I started opening packages and going through books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, etc. in them. (We didn't read any letters to C.I.) There it was! I Love You. I grabbed it. I was so excited. Ty and Betty love her too. So I invited Ty over and I called Betty to say I'd be listening tonight and could call her to play some of it. She was thrilled with the idea.

So with Maggie, Toni, Dak Ho, Sumner, Ty and myself in the flesh and Betty there via the phone line, we listened tonight.

Do not get this CD unless you need to maintain the collection. (Toni has every CD by Diana.)

It is awful. We were all so disappointed.

At one point, I was looking at the case and saw "Take My Breath Away" -- the old Berlin song from Top Gun. I was thinking, "Okay, that's a piece of fluff, they can't screw that up." They do. "You" Take My Breath Away, she insists each line as though she's an English teacher trying to impart grammer or something.

We're split on the vocals. 1/2 of us think it's some of her best singing, the other 1/2 think it's her worst. (Dak Ho is among the latter and especially critical of her enuciation -- even making cracks about it sounding like her dentures were slipping. That was a crack at her age, I do not believe Diana has dentures.) What we could all agree on was the music sounded awful.

Forget Vegas, it sounded like she was being backed by musicians working at a dive trying to pass as a supper club. The song choice doesn't help.

Diana Ross is out of it. She has no grasp of today which I'd understand (considering her age) but I can't forgive that she has no grasp of yesterday. Not even of the time period she came to fame in. The songs do not work as a collection and they don't work individually. The same songs could be a set list for Kathy Lee but you get the feeling that even a joke like Lee would consider a few challenging songs to mix with them.

"The Look of Love" owes no debt to Dusty's classic interpretation but sounds like the worst cocktail jazz version in the world and, for a singer so noted for her sexy voice, it's amazing how Diana rushes the tempo and has nothing to add to it.

By the time she's including "More Today Than Yesterday," you have to remind yourself that this isn't Connie Francis, Sammy Davis or any of the others that had hit the recording graveyard while Ross was still racking up the record for most number one hits sung by a female artist. (I believe Mariah Carey surpassed her recently.) (No. I just counted. Mariah's got 17 number one hits, unless I'm missing something. Diana has 12 with Supremes and 6 solo for 18.)

So let me urge you, unless you are a collector, you don't need this. If you're a fan, it will probably make you very angry. I'm considering writing a review on this. If I do, I'll be more specific about all the faults.

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

Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.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.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt)University of Illinois-ChicagoContact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,

*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty)Busboys and Poets

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blame Blogger/Blogspot

Blogger/Blogspot. When it goes down at the start of the week, it has trouble all week and that's obviously the case tonight.

KPFA's Guns and Butter had Webster Tarpley on as the guest and I had a lot to write about until I waited and waited for Blogger/Blogspot to go up and now I'm just so angry that I can't even remember what I was going to write about. Dallas e-mailed to say he'd missed it but would be listening tonight so I should just e-mail or call him and ask him what to write. (I'm joking.) Tarpley was talking about the lust for empire and how, watching Bully Boy's speech last week, he saw a desire to widen the war including Iran and others.

I'm looking at my notes (and can't figure out what most of them were about) but I had one I made: "Esclation." If the Dems don't fight the current escalation has anyone stopped to consider what happens when Bully Boy claims Iran attacked US troops and so he just had to send them into Iran? We'll hear the same crap if that happens. We'll hear how the troops are in Iran, we can't cut off the funds! We can't talk about bringing the troops home! We can't . . . do anything. That's really Bully Boy's message, "You can't do a thing, I'll do whatever the hell I want."

I really believe the only answer is to impeach his ass.

Tarpley talked about the attack on the Iranian consulate by the US forces and how that violated diplomatic conventions -- and how frightening this was because it was a violation of international law and begging for war. Which is what the Bully Boy's hope is, to get some real or faux (like the Gulf of Tonkin) excuse to expand the war.

He also spoke of how Bully Boy's bringing in naval people 'for Iraq' could also indicate his desire to start the war on Iran. (He noted the carriers and the subs lurking in the region -- US carriers and subs.)

I meant to note Cedric's "Serving symbolism and trying to pass it off as the real thing" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT'S A SYMBOLIC WORLD AFTER ALL!" yesterday. I loved that joint-post and I'm the worst about remembering to note things here. I'm usually thinking, "Hurry up! Hurry up!" to myself and just trying to get through. But if you're getting tired of "symbolic action" taking the place of real action, read their joint-post.

That's going to be it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and note the Watada news and the Abeer news:

Thursday, Janurary 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, accuses Bully Boy and Condi Rice of helping "terrorists"; new developments in the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza and the murder of three members of her family by members of the US military emege; and support for Ehren Watada continues -- even as the 'judge' in the military 'justice' system does his part to railroad Watada.

Starting with war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 'judge' of the pre-trial has issued a ruling on what is and isn't acceptable in the February 5th court-martial. As Courage to Resist notes "ALL POLITICAL SPEECH CHARGES GO TO TRIAL."
Teresa Watanabe (LA Times) reports that Watada has called for everyon to "stop the war so the death and sacrifices of American soldiers will not be in vain" and "I firmly stand by my belief that this war is illegal and immoral."

"Judge" Head issued his rulings on Tuesday and since Watada will not be allowed to present a defense, why even waste time and money on a court-martial? "Judge" Head has refused Watada's right to present a defense and, in his ruling, "Judge" Head is quite clear about "
a preponderance of evidence" and is disallowing any evidence that could counter it so the kangaroo court-martial will go foward but the ruling is already pre-determined and contained in "Judge" Head's ruling. That's the only 'value' in the ruling (well, that and the revelation that, by his signature, John Head apparently thinks he's a young starlet).

AP reports that "Army officials said in a statement that they had full confidence in the military justice system". Of course they're gloating -- JUDGE TOOL handed them a win before the first argument is made in the court-martial. Now if they had any self-respect, they'd realize that this isn't justice and that obviously there's no faith in their abilities to fairly prosecute Watada.

Earlier this month,
Watada spoke with Lance Holter and Ave Diaz (Haleakala Times) and shared his expectations of the trial: "I certainly expect the army to make an example out of my stand and what I'm speaking against." He was correct. Holter and Diaz also note US war resister Pablo Parades who was allowed, in his court-martial, to argue his case. From Parades' statement at his court-martial (via Democracy Now!): "I am convinced that the current war in Iraq is illegal. I am also convinced that the true causality for it lacked any high ground in the topography of morality. I believe as a member of the Armed Forces, beyond having duty to my Chain of Command and my President, I have a higher duty to my conscience and to the surpreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect, in the current aggression that has been unleased on Iraq. In the past few months I have been continually asked if I regret my decision to refuse to board my ship and to do so publicly. I have spent hour upon hour reflecting on my decision, and I can tell you with every fiber of certitude that I possess that I feel in my heart I did the right thing."

Ehren Watada will not be allowed to present a similar defense. What is the military afraid and what sort of 'judge' acts in such a cowardly craven manner?

Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that what Watada will not be able to present in 'court' of 'judge' Head, he will be able to present "this weekend, a 'Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq' will convene in Tacoma to address that issue in support of Watada." The hearing will take place at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus on January 20th and 21st from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day. Among the participants will be Antonia Juhasz, Ann Wright, Daniel Ellsberg, Enis Halliday (who was on yesterday's Flashpoints speaking with Dennis Bernstein about the deaths caused by sanctions against Iraq), Bejmain G. Davis, Richard Falk, Francis Boyle, Dennis Kyne, and US war resister Darrell Anderson. In addition, Karen Hucks (The News Tribune) reports that Daniel Ellsberg ("who started a national uproar in 1971 when he released the Penatagon Papers") will speak in Tacoma Friday "from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Washington State History Museeum, 1911 Pacific Ave. The University of Washington Tacoma is sponsoring the free event." In addition
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance on the edge of Fort Lewis to show their support for Watada.

Ehren Watada spoke in Seattle on Monday (MLK day) and Kay Suzat (PSL) reports: "A tremendous standing ovation greeted Watada and concluded his remarks. The crowd demonstrated its solidarity and support for his refusal to deploy to Iraq and be part of the imperilist occupation."

Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

And, good news!, you can find information about a war resister at The Nation . . . provided he's a resister of the Vietnam war, a professional athlete and a household name.
Dave Zirin
covers sports and he's always managed to cover the war (unlike The Nation). To read his column "
Muhammad Ali: The Brand and the Man" use the link freely, it takes you to Yahoo and not to The Nation which still can't manage to show interest in war resisters.

Turning to the topic of 14-year-old
Abeer Qasim Hamza who was gang raped and murdered on March 12, 2006 by what was spun as 'insurgents.' The reality is that it was by American soldiers who also murdered her five-year-old sisters and both of her parents. The soldiers watched the 14-year-old, making her uncomfortable with their inappropriate attention to the point that she complained to her parents who immediately began making arrangements to get their daughter the hell away from perverts supposedly stationed in their area to protect the Iraq people. Abeer was due to move but, before she could, Paul Cortez, James P. Barker, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and Steven D. Green wanted to have a little 'fun' and, boozed up to the gills in a war zone, they decided the most 'fun' they could have would be in murdering a family after gang raping the 14-year-old daughter. So they changed into civies, approached the home via a hole in a fence they'd already created, and the 'fun' began -- adult males holding down a 14-year-old girl to take turns gang raping her while her parents and sister were shot dead and then, after the gang rape, murdering Abeer.

At the Article 32 hearing in August, Captain Alex Pickands declared: "
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."

In November, James P. Barker confessed to his role in the planning of the war crimes and to his raping Abeer. He also named Steven D. Green as the one who shot and killed Abeer, her parents and her sister. He identified Green as taking part in the gang rape and also identified Paul Cortez as taking part in the gang rape. Green has denied any involvement and will be tried in a civilian court because the US military had discharged him before the crimes were uncovered. Last week, Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Green had been diagnosed by the Army Combat Stress Team with "homicidal ideations" on December 21, 2005, three months prior to the rape and murders. Today, Ryan Lenz reports that William Cassara, attorney for Paul Cortez, has stated, "Sgt. Cortez is going to go in and accept the responsibilities for his part in what occurred" which would be WAR CRIMES and that "Our version of events is that he knew what was going to take place and participated as an observer." According to Barker's confession, Paul Cortez took part in the gang rape -- that's a bit more than 'observing.'

AFP is now reporting that Cortez "has pleaded guilty in the rape and murder" of Abeer

Silence has largely greeted the story of Abeer in many media outlets (big and small). The same sort of silence that leads many to wrongly hail the 'symbolic' bi-partisan nonsense in the Senate.
Cedric and Wally addressed that yesterday. The Senate resolution championed by US senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Chuck Hagel and others is a joke. Reporting on what proposals are in the US Congress currently, Leigh Ann Caldwell (aired on Free Speech Radio News, The KPFA Evening News) termed the Jo-Jo proposal "the tamest of them all" noting US Senator Christopher Dodd's proposal calls for Congressional approval before any more troops are sent to Iraq and caps the total number of US troops at the number in Iraq on Tuesday, noting US Senator Ted Kennedy's proposed legislation "would not fund any troops increase" and noting that US Senator Hillary Clinton ("I do support cutting funds for Iraqi forces if the Iraqi government does not meet set conditions") has spoken of a cap on the level of US troops and cutting off funds for the Iraqi military. Caldwell's report quoted US Rep. Lynn Woolsey on the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act which she, US Rep. Barbara Lee and US Rep. Maxine Waters have proposed: "It will save lives, bodies and minds and it will give Iraq back to the Iraqis. It is an important step in regaining our credibility in the region and our credibility throughout the world."

Caldwell noted that the proposed legislation would lead to withdrawal of US troops in six months, fully funded health care for veterans and two years of funding for the training of Iraqi forces.
Woolsey's speech can be read, heard or watched at Democracy Now!

While Waters, Lee and Woolsey propose legislation that, get this, actually does something, Levin, Biden and Hagal propose legislation that does nothing. It provides politicians with cover to hide behind in the 2008 elections (a point I believe Robert Knight made on yesterday's
Flashpoints) but it has no teeth and is non-binding. Consider it a poll of the pulse in the Senate and nothing more.

What may be most offensive is the way Joe Biden speaks when he attempts to sell it (listen to Caldwell's report): "The president ignored the advice of every major voice, every major voice! In the government, outside the government, military personell in the government, military personell outside the government, former secretaries of state, former secretaries of defense, and leading foreign policy scholars! He has to listen!"

Every major voice, Jo-Jo? Who did you leave you out? The most obvious major voice: THE PEOPLE. Considering that Jo-Jo's job depends upon public support (votes) and that he intends to run for 2008 president, someone might want to tell him that the advice from the people is "major" and possibly the most important anyone occupying the Oval Office should heed. Reporting on what the people are saying,
Ronald Brownstein (LA Times) covers the results of the latest LA Times & Bloomberg poll which found three-fifths of respondents stating that they opposed Bully Boy's planned escalation (21,500 more troops in Iraq), "more than three-fifhts of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting" and "half said they believed he deliberately misled the U.S. in making his case for invading Iraq."


In Iraq today.


Salam Faraj (AFP) reports five car bombs went off in Baghdad with three going off "almost simultaneously in the southern district of Dora, leaving 10 people dead and 30 wounded" in an attack on "the Rasheed vegetable market, the main market in southern Baghdad that is often crammed with residents shopping for food." Reuters notes, in Baghdad, a car bomb attack on police that killed 4, a car bomb in the eastern area of the capital that took 3 lives and left seven more wounded, and, in the New Baghdad district, a car bomb kille 2 and left four wounded; while in Mosul a car bomber killed 1 civilian wounded six people and a bomb tossed "at a police checkpoint" took the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded. That's a total of 21 killed by bombs in Iraq that were reported.


Reuters notes an attack on "a wedding convoy in Mosul" that left 2 people shot dead and four more wounded.Corpses?

Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Iskandariya.

And the
US military announced: "A Sailor assigned to 16th Military Police Brigade, Camp Bucca, Iraq, died Jan. 17 in a non-combat related incident."

Lara Logan (CBS) reports on the corpse of a young Iraqi: "He was young, possibly in his early twenties, and he'd been shot three times. It was hard to tell at first, because of his clothes, but I could see the small bullet hole next to his nose. Funny how the entry wound often doesn't look like much, it's the exit wound that tells the real story of how much damage that bullet has done. That's where it gets really messy. [. . .] Here was somebody's son, probably someone's brother, possibly someone's husband or lover. I didn't know anything about him or why he'd been killed or who may have done it. That's part of the strategy here with these murders -- remove all identification, obscure the facts and make it that much harder to find the truth. If you're lucky -- and most of the killers usually are -- then that will be enough to make sure no one even looks for you, let alone finds you and holds you accountable."

CNN reports that the US military has explained their violations of the Sudanese Embassy in Baghdad with this pithy statement: "The compound was searched as part of an operation aimed at denying insurgents safe haven to carry out attacks against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens." Having already shown no respect for diplomatic areas with their raid on the Iranian consulate, the US military does not, this time, attempt to wiggle out of whether or not the facility was a recognized diplomatic site -- instead, they simply say, "We don't give a damn." An attitude that will have historic consequences in the future.

Meanwhile, as US Senator Hillary Clinton states she approves of cutting off funding the Iraqi army (if they can't meet set goals), suddenly the puppet of the occupation springs to life.
No, not the laughable claims that Nouri al-Maliki is finally addressing the issue of Shi'ite militias. The puppet of the occupation is whining,
reports Stephen Farrell (Times of London), that the US won't give Iraq "sufficient guns" -- since US guns abound in Iraq, possibly al-Maliki could just buy them off the black market the way other Iraqis do? (Or is he still attempting to play Big Spender -- on the US dime -- by continuing to dole out millions to neighboring countries?) Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that al-Maliki says the comments by the Bully Boy and Condi Rice "probably helped the 'terrorists'" because they "give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort" and yada, yada, yada.

Remember how Bully Boy trots out the lie that anyone who questions him undermines his illegal war and the so-called war on terrorism, apple pie and who knows what else? Well al-Maliki also takes time to criticize the Bully Boy's administration -- naming US Secretary of State Condi Rice specifically and claiming that Iraq's government is
undermined by the US administration's talk of "borrowed time." Realities must be ignored, argue both the Bully Boy and al-Maliki, or 'freedom' is undermined. Today, that laughable argument gets tossed back in Bully Boy's face.

democracy now
ronald brownstein

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Diana Ross

I Love You. Do I really? No. That's the title of Diana Ross' upcoming CD to be released in March. Myself, I'd like nothing better than to see her release a good album. Doesn't even have to be great. But if you've been a fan for any length of time, you know how that goes and how unlikely it may be. (But I'm hopeful.)

I did see her on the last concert which ended abruptly -- the tour, not the concert I attended. I was kind of pissed that it ended because I thought it was the best she'd been in years and, during the concert, had said to Dak Ho, "She should record this." She was so on. That may have just been the night I saw her but if she'd captured any of that relaxed nature on an album, it would have sold. She was funny, she was energetic. It was "Baby Love" come to life. I don't mean that song, I mean the bouncing kind of feel the song has. "Baby Love" isn't one of my favorite Supreme songs but I know a lot of people love it.

She was interacting with the audience (which was very sizeable), talking to us, responding to things people were shouting. Generally song titles. "I'm Living In Shame" kept getting shouted out by two people and she said they hadn't rehearsed that one. That's another thing, she took requests on stage. If you've ever seen her, you know that's not the norm. The act's usually so choreographed that you get the feeling if she blinks, she may have to cut 30 seconds from something. She was really relaxed. The audience was having a great time and she looked like she was having the time of our life on stage.

That's why I was so upset when I heard the tour was cancelled (this was the one with the two Supremes -- from later in the group). I really thought, "Okay, someone's going to tell her, 'Diana, you are on fire, you have to record these performances' and we're going to get the Diana album we've been waiting years for."

It didn't happen.

Every Day Is A New Day had come out right before the tour started and that was so disappointing. More so than even Working Overtime which I think is the worst album she ever recorded. Unlike Working Overtime, Every Day Is A New Day was listenable. But there was too much where it didn't happen. Whole songs. That made the songs that did happen (the title track and "Not Over You Yet" worked for me) all the more disappointing because she obviously still had the magic.

If I Love You is even remotely enjoyable (a) I'll be happy and (b) I'll review it because I am a Diana fan. My favorite Motown CD is The Boss, my favorite RCA album is Swept Away. The Boss is my favorite of all the Motown albums but I'll even note that The Force Behind The Power is my favorite Motown album after she returns to the label. Favorite song she's recorded? Too hard. But I can pick my favorite single, if I take a second. Okay, and I'm honestly surprised as I was ticking down various songs in my head. I'd go with "It's My Turn." It's a great song and she performs it wonderfully.

So this was a music post and it was, in part, to prepare myself not to get my hopes up. When I saw that she had a new CD coming out, even after the misfires of the decade before last, I was so excited. I had to keep reminding myself, "You'll settle for good, you'll settle for good."

Here's C.I.'s blistering, sizzling "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; two more US troops are announced dead; Mad Maddie sticks up for her daddy's favorite pupil; Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters stand strong in the US Congress; the US military is accused of again breaking diplomatic policies and flouting the law in Iraq; and US war resister Ehren Watada learns just how hollow 'justice' can be.

Starting with the latest news of
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. A strong stand that took tremendous courage (even his parents, Bob Watada and Carolyn Ho, have spoken of how they attempted to talk him out of it because of the scorn, silence and hostility he'd be greeted with). He faces a court-martial on February 5th and Lt. Col. John Head -- the so-called judge -- has issued a decision based on arguments presented in the pre-trial hearing earlier this month. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized it today: "The judge in the case has ruled Watada's defense won't be able to present evidence challenging the legality of the war nor explain Watada's motive to resist deploying to Iraq." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes it is "a major blow to the court-martial defense," which is putting it mildly, and quotes Watada's attorney Eric Seitz who declares, "We have been stripped of every defense. This is a disciplinary system, not a justice system. Otherwise, we would have been entitled to defend ourselves."

Which they are not. Ehren Watada was just stripped of any defense. As
noted on January 4th when the prosecution presented their pre-trial arguments: "What the military would like to do in today's pre-trial hearing is reduce everything to whether or not Watada deployed with his unit? The answer, of course, is that he did not. The military does not want the issue of the legality of the war addressed. By closing off this discussion, they not only would destroy Watada's right to defend himself, they would be able, as the Bully Boy long has been able to, set the terms of the discussion and control what is and is not discussed."

Political Affairs offers a survey of the travesty and notes that Head's ruling reads: "The defense motion for a hearin gon the 'Nuremberg defense' is DENIED. The government motion to prevent the defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war is GRANTED." Of the political prosecution (let's be honest, Watada's being politically prosecuted), Political Affairs notes that, in the pre-trial hearing, "Kueker replied that there are two separate prosecutions going on. The first is for Lt. Watada missing movement to Iraq -- a prosecution where his MOTIVE is so irrelevant that it needs to be barred from the military jury. The second prosecution will be for Lt. Watada publicly explaining his MOTIVE! Apparently this Orwellian formulation passes for military justice."

Apparently and sadly it does. It's complete nonsense. It's doesn't remotely resemble justice. It's a political prosecution of
Ehren Watada where he is silenced to the point of being gagged. (Shades of the Chicago Eight.) He can be charged with crimes that, if convicted, carry six years of prison time, the prosecution can do whatever they want in the court-martial, but Ehren Watada cannot make the best defense he is entitled to. Not only can his attorney not put forth the best defense, the reasons for the actions he is now being persecuted for, those reasons cannot be discussed by the defense.

The prosectution can discuss it. They'll be discussing what
Ehren Watada said here or there and why it is supposedly so objectionable but Ehren Watada will not be allowed to explain why he acted as he did, why he said what he did.

That's not justice. It's railroading him. It's denying him the right to offer any response to a government case against him. But the
Coward's Silence will continue to cause many in independent media to ignore Ehren Watada. Follow that closley and note who stays silent. Those that stay silent are useless. They'd stay silent if you needed them as well.

Ehren Watada has been prevented from arguing any kind of defense. His court-martial now consists of nothing more than "yes" and "no" answers from him. That's not a defense. He took a stand. He's shown bravery. There is no hemming or hawwing, there is only standing up on his part. And for doing that, for saying no to an illegal war, he faces six years in prison -- all the more likely when he's not allowed to make his case.

To repeat, during
the Article 32 hearing, Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. These three witnesses addressed the issue of the war, it's legality, and the responsibilities of a service member to disobey any order that they believed was unlawful. The testimony was necessary because Watada's refusing to participate in the illegal war due to the fact that he feels it is (a) illegal and (b) immoral. That will not happen now, 'judge' Head has denied that, has denied Watada the right to argue any sort of defense.

While the military attempts to throw the book at him (and asks that he stand still and repeat, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?") and independent media plays dumb (with few exceptions) the people react differently. On Saturday,
Ehren Watada spoke at the Coupeville Recreation Center in Washington. Paul Boring (Whidbey News-Times) reports that over a 100 people showed up to hear him and burst into applause at various intervals. Watada asked: "Do we wanta a military that without hesistation, will turn on people simply because they ordered to do so? . . . What I have embarked upon and what I sacrifice today is for those who have lost their lives and for those still struggling to stay alive. . . . I do have the power to make you aware of why soldiers are dying and why this war is unjust. I do have the power to compel you to care. It is the American people who have the power to end this war. . . . They can try me, convict me or acquit me. My life does not matter. The lives of thousands of soldiers do . . . it is one thing to end a war. It is another to ensure it never happens again. We have the power to change history."

We do have that power. But only if we use it. Mark Taylor-Canfield reported for
Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News yesterday on a speech Ehren Watada
gave as part of Seattle's MLK celebration where, no surprise, he received a standing ovation. The people are hearing him (which no doubts scares the military to death). Taylor-Canfield also noted
Camp Resistance had set up "just outside the gates of Fort Lewis where Watada's hearing is being held." So that's two independent media outlets that have noted Camp Resistance -- will anyone be next? In a show of support for Ehren Watada, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance and intend to maintain it through the court-martial. They need money, volunteers and press attention.

Yesterday, we noted that Agustin Aguayo has received not the expected charge of being AWOL but the charge of "desertion." With Aguayo the US military is attempting to send a message both due to Aguayo's standing up and saying "no" and due to the fact that (as Mike pointed out last night) Aguayo didn't just sue the US military, he's made it up all the way up to the DC Court of Appeals. With Ehren Watada the US military is also attempting to send a message, to initmidate and frighten others from following in Watada or Aguayo's footsteps. Guess what? It's too late. It's already happening. (About the only one scared at this point is a healthy chunk of independent media.) Watada and Aguayo are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, US Congress member Barbara Lee discussed the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act. Which is? Legislation proposed by Lee and fellow Congress members Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters calling for the start of troop withdrawal and the start of "work with the regional countries in the Middle East to come up with a multilateral solution," Lee explained. Repeatedly, Representative Barbara Lee noted that the presence of US troops was fueling the violence. In addition, she noted that the violence "is only going to escalate as long as US troops are there," that "there is no 'win'" and that Bully Boy mentions mistakes but "whether than talk about to rectify it, he's talking about escalating the war." Andrea Lewis asked what everyone could do to support Lee, Waters and Woolsey's proposal and Lee responded that "the bill needs co-sponsors, the more co-sponsors you build, the more chance the bill will get a fair hearing" so start contacting your Congressional reps (especially the House because this is a House proposal) -- get on the phone, on the fax, on your feet, into your e-mail account . . . and tell them you want to see some support for Waters, Woolsey and Lee's bill -- Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.

Also appearing on
The Morning Show was Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) stated, "I hope she gets a whole lot more signers on that" and that "This is what we need. This is what we must from our leadership, we must have courageous leadership." He then discussed how when the talk of escalation was first being floated, US Senator Harry Reid (Majority Leader) was all ready to go along publicly but public outrage changed that. "The Democratic Leadership, if left to their own devices will go along with Bush on that". Rothschild stated he is for all avenues ("Bascially, I'm for everything") including phone calls and e-mails (which he believes are counted -- they are, a tally is kept by your rep) but it's time to get "past the passive protests." He shared how he was speaking with an activist about the events to note the 3,000 mark for number of US troops killed in Bully Boy's illegal war. The activist stated, "We got to do more than candle light vigils 'cause they're fine with candle light vigils" and that until the actions turn to massive civil disobedience ("until we start interrupting Wall St.," his friend told him) "this war's going to go on" -- instead "the volume needs to go up, needs to increase and just passive resistance to this war" will not change anything.

Philip Maldari raised the issue of the way Bully Boy continues to attempt to sell the escalation on every and any outlet that will have him. Maldari noted that Bully Boy was on the NewsHour as part of the push and "he says he has faith in generals -- well, he just changed the generals." Rothschild responded that "The reason they can't defend the policy is its indefenseable" but Bully Boy "views himself as The Great Liberator -- he thinks he's got God talking to him in one ear and Cheney in the other" which is why he can drop the number of Iraqis killed into a speech (Rothschild was referring to last year when Bully Boy decided to use the Iraqi Body Count figure) and "it didn't have an impact on him . . . he just dropped it off . . . At what point will these catostrophic casualty figures coming out of Iraq really make an impact on Bush?"

In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue following what
Leila Fadel and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) term the "worst day of carnage in more than a month".


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that 17 people have died from a car bombing "in the Shiite district of Sadr City". Mariam Karouny and Claudia Parsons (Reuters) report that the bombing left a "mangled wreckage of a white and orange taxi and blood on the street". The BBC notes that this took place "near the outdoor Mereidi market, one of the neighbourhood's most popular commerical centres" and that "[t]he force of the blast shattered windows of nearby stores and restaurants."

Al Jazeera notes a truck bomb which claimed 10 lives in Kirkuk with at least 42 wounded and "[r]escuers are still searching for bodies." CNN notes that the truck bomb was "detonated remotely, police said. The blast heavily damaged the station, leaving a number of people trapped under the rubble and causing structural damage to other buildings."

Reuters notes a roadsidebomb in Basra has left "two coalition force soldiers" wounded in Basra and it is presumed those are British soldiers, while, in Baghdad, one roadside bomb killed a police officer and left three more wounded, another roadside bomb ("near a minibus") left six people wounded and mortar rounds are being used in the continued assault on Haifa Street.


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports in an attack on two brothers who were construction workers, one was killed and the other wounded in Mahaweel,


Reuters reports a corpse was discovered (police officer) in Iskandariya. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes five corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

In addition,
Reuters reports that a "local government official in Mansour district of Baghdad was kidnapped" along with four his body guards.

Today, the
US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday and one Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The two deaths bring the ICCC count to 3028 (3028 is the AP count today as well).

Returning to the bill Barbara Lee spoke of, The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act,
AFP reports that it is "calling for a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq within six months" and that it "would repeal congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq . . . [,] would also force the withdrawl from Iraq of US military contractors, and would prohibit permanent US military bases there, while continuing economic and political aid to the country."

From legal news to diplomatic news, the US military stands accused of raiding another diplomatic mission in Iraq.
Al Jazeera reports that: "Sudan has summoned the senior US diplomat in Khartoum after it said American troops raided the Sudanese embassy in Baghdad, violating diplomatic conventions, a foreign ministry spokesmen has said." Last week, an Iranian consulate was stormed by US forces and diplomatic staff rounded up. Five still remain in US custody.

Staying with the topic of bully diplomacy, Mad Maddie Albright, the Sanctions Queen whose policies under Bill Clinton led to the unnecessary deaths of many Iraqis, marches her bald spot into the US House's Foreign Relations Committee today and, as
KUNA's report demonstrates, proceeds to prop up Condi Rice (who studied with Mad Maddie's Daddy) and to boo and hiss the idea of cutting off funding for the illegal war. Cut off funds? Never says Mad Maddie who cut off medicine and a great deal more while once famously bragging, in an interview with Lesley Stahl (60 Minutes) that a half-million dead Iraqi children was "a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

asked about that by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Mad Maddie showed her churlish side as she snapped and attempted to avoid making eye contact with Goodman. The neo-liberal is here to sell the war and while she may present herself as a disinterested party, Naomi Klein's groundbreaking reporting as 2004 wound down was not just on James Baker's efforts to make a quick buck in Iraq, Mad Maddie was a part of the effort as well. It should also be noted that Mad Maddie argued, immediately prior to the war, for Iraq to be broken up into three regions. She's hardly the disinterested diplomat she attempts to present herself as. But she's never been a honest broker.

While Mad Maddie laughably attempts to portray Condi Rice's Middle East trip as proof the Condi understands the importance of "a meaningful peace process," the reality of the trip?
Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) observes that "Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and five other neighboring states" have issued a statement "warning against foreign interference in Iraq" (excluding the US, of course) and that Rice was "traveling the region this week to build support for President Bush's new Iraq policy." That's why Rice has been traveling to the areas, to drum up support for Bully Boy's desired escalation, it's not about peace in the region. Mad Maddie also burped and growled about NATO.

Turning to true diplomacy,
yesterday we noted the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's report and this statement was included: "Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere" -- first eight months of 2006 -- it was the first eight months. We'll pick back up on the topic of Iraqi women in a moment. But, if you missed it, the reports states that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 and 36,685 were wounded and that the US led forces "restrict the enjoyment of human rights and . . . cause severe suffering to the local population." As Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes: "The report paints a harrowing picture of life in Iraq. At least 470,000 Iraqis have become refugees in their own country" and that "Baghdad accounted for about 75% of all deaths in the last two months of 2006".

The report is harrowing and
Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) interviewed Um Qasim (who lives on Haifa Street in Baghdad) whose life demonstrates the realities -- since the illegal war began, Qasim has seen three brothers die, a sister-in-law die, a nephew, a step-son a son . . . while two of her own sons are imprisoned and her 16-year-old son was just shot dead.

So we've noted that. When will the press get serious about the report and note its findings on honor killings and sucides among Iraqi women? The rapes, the kidnappings, the attacks on women and the destruction of women's rights?

December 9th, on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders and MADRE's Yanar Mohammed spoke about these killings. Mohammed described an 'honor' killing in November where a woman was taken from her home by fundamentalists and then beaten and flogged "in the middle of the street. Then they brought a cable and wrapped it around her neck" and used that cable to pull her to the "nearest football field and they hanged her". That's not isolated. Yanar Mohammed could speak of two other 'honor' killings in November as well.
While grateful that Flanders and Mohammed can discuss it, when will the mainstream media? These crimes are in the UN report.

Ehren Watada is on trial, not Sarah Olson. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) writes about Olson today (that's not a slap at Rothschild) and let's note this, while remembering Rothschild is not a 'creative' journalist (meaning he doesn't invent facts): "Olson says she is not in a position to discuss what she is ultimately going to do or 'what kind of legal strategy I will employ,' she says. But she appears to give a hint when she adds: 'My duty as a journalist is to the public and to their right to know, and not to the government."

Okay, are we all confused again?

She can't support her sources one moment, then the next
she's telling Aaron Glantz she has always supported Ehren Watada and doesn't know why anyone would suggest otherwise. Rothchild writes today and Olson's doing what? Saying she can't declare what she intends to do. And yet . . . Olson goes on RadioNation with Laura Flanders and declares she will not testify. (This page takes you to archives where you can listen or just note "Journalist Sarah Olson on why she won't testify against Lieut. Ehren Watada.")

After we're all over the what-mixed-message-is-she-sending-now moment, it bears repeating that Olson is NOT the story. She is a reporter. Her public drama is boring, tiring and embarrassing. She needs to take herself off the public stage because Ehren Watada is facing six years in prison, not Sarah Olson. Or as Dolly Parton says in Straight Talk, "Climb down off the cross, honey. Somebody needs the wood."

Olson tells Rothschild, she's 'holding up' "just fine." Good. Good to know she's maintaining. Now how about remembering that reporters are not the story? Gregg Kakesako, also subpoenaed, told Rothschild "no comment" -- two words Olson would do well to learn unless "Naval Gazer" is the new occupation she intends to list on her passport. All journalists, say it together, "We are not the story. We are not the story. We are not . . ."

Programming note, tomorrow
KPFA presents LIVE, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the US Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting entitled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice." Larry Bensky will host the KPFA coverage which will begin at 6:00 am PST. Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the committee.

amy goodmandemocracy now

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oil, colds, etc

Iraq's oil industry is in a parlous state as a result of sanctions, wars and occupation. The government, through the ministry of oil's inspector general, has issued damning reports of large-scale corruption and theft across the oil sector. Many competent senior technical officials have been sacked or demoted, and the state oil-marketing organisation has had several directors. Ministries and public organisations are increasingly operating as party fiefdoms, and private, sectarian and ethnic perspectives prevail over the national outlook. This state of affairs has negative results for all except those who are corrupt and unscrupulous, and the voracious foreign oil corporations. The official version of the draft law has not been published, but there is no doubt that it will be designed to hand most of the oil resources to foreign corporations under long-term exploration- and production-sharing agreements.
The oil law is likely to open the door to these corporations at a time when Iraq's capacity to regulate and control their activities will be highly circumscribed. It would therefore place the responsibility for protecting the country's vital national interest on the shoulders of a few vulnerable technocrats in an environment where blood and oil flow together in abundance. Common sense, fairness and Iraq's national interest dictate that this draft law must not be allowed to pass during these abnormal times, and that long-term contracts of 10, 15 or 20 years must not be signed before peace and stability return, and before Iraqis can ensure that their interests are protected.
This law has been discussed behind closed doors for much of the past year. Secret drafts have been viewed and commented on by the US government, but have not been released to the Iraqi public - and not even to all members of parliament. If the law is pushed through in these circumstances, the political process will be further discredited even further. Talk of a moderate cross-sectarian front appears designed to ease the passage of the law and the sellout to oil corporations.

Kamil Mahdi's "Iraqis Will Never Accept This Sellout to the Oil Corporations: The US-controlled Iraqi government is preparing to remove the country's most precious resource from national control" (Guardian of London via Common Dreams). I'm opening with that because it's important and because, last week on KPFA's Living Room, Antonia Juhasz was addressing this and a male guest totally dismissed her and said that any oil law could be fixed years on down the line. Well laws are harder to 'fix' once they're laws and do Iraqis have years to be ripped off (foreign companies would get 75% of the profits under the proposed law)?

I was talking to C.I. about this because it still ticks me off and was provided with the best comparison. C.I. noted how, in The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, Juhasz writes about trying to track down information while she wasin John Conyers' office and being told (by a male, naturally), not to worry her pretty little head about it. That was so how that dismissal played out on Living Room Thursday.

I'm about to go crazy from the cold. I live in Calfornia which should mean warm temperatures but that's not the case. (But you better believe when summer rolls around, we'll all be burning up.) Is it the third or fourth night of cold temperatures? I'm just so tired of it and trying to figure out when it will end?

Hard to tell since we don't usually get this kind of cold weather. Or maybe I'm just being a baby because I'm still shaking the crud that knocked me out weeks ago? I heard Philip Malderi on air one day, I believe last week, but it may have been the week before, and he had the same crud. He was talking about he was shaking it and would be just fine and I thought, "Oh, you have no idea." I hope he had a milder case of it but it was the same thing I had, the same thing Ava and C.I. had. And it knocked us all out. Me more so than them because they didn't stop even though they were sick. But I got over it quicker because I just took two or three days to lay on the sofa and do nothing.

Toni got it this past weekend and went to the doctor today. He gave her some antibiotics and told her he'd had it and she was lucky to have it now because they'd been experimenting for weeks and finally found what will kick it. I didn't go to the doctor. When Toni told me she had it on Sunday, I told her, "Get your butt to the doctor right away." If you get it, go to the doctor. Yes, it's just a cold but it is persistant. It is so hard to kick. It's not like a normal cold.

If you can't afford visiting the doctor remember that next time the Congress refuses to give us universal health care. And do yourself a favor and mix up the over the counter. By that I mean, do not plan to use your favorite throughout. It seems to build up resistance quickly. I started switching to other things mainly because Sumner and Maggie were buying the cough syrup and cold medicine for me and weren't sure what I used. I've talked to neighbors who've had it and if you mix it up, you seem to get over it quicker. If you stick with Contact, for instance, it builds up a resistance quickly. One of my neighbors got it right before New Year's Eve and only just got over it. He is still hacking like crazy and comes home, sits down for a second and ends up planted there. It just wipes out all of your energy.

I thought I was being a drama queen in the midst of it when I thought I was about to die. But everyone I've talked to has said you just feel awful. You really do. I don't get colds that often but this was like no cold I'd had before. It's still going around so, hopefully, if you do get it, I've provided you with some information. I'll also add that the cough lingers. I've still got it. It's the weakest little cough now and I'm embarrassed every time I cough because it's this little sputter. But this thing lingers.

That's it for me tonight. Oh wait, yesterday's post that appeared at everyone's site participating was typed by Jim and myself. There were typos. Everyone's corrected them (or the ones we could find) but blame Jim and me for the typing. We were tired because Blogger/Blogspot kept going out and rushing to get it posted (at C.I.'s site first) when we finally had a window of opportunity where Blogger/Blogspot was up.

Ava and C.I. took notes (the transcript) and we typed from those but we were tired. (And Ava and C.I. had already left, along with Jess, because they had an thing they had to be at.) So Jim and I both say the typos were our fault and if you're a member of the community and they bothered you, our apologies. If you're not and they bothered you, too bad.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the United Nations issues a report that seems to go unread (or maybe the news industry has decided, yet again, to ignore Iraqi women?) , US war resister Agustin Aguayo has been charged by the US military, Bully Boy explains to 60 Minutes that the ten words last week were meaningless, the US military announces the death of four US soldiers, and the New York Times is going to have actually report on the chaos and violence in tomorrow's paper because with over 100 dead in Baghdad alone today even the desperate to sell the war Timid can't look the other way.

Starting with war resistance within the military, US war resister Agustin Aguayo, a medic with the US army, gave his reasons for refusing to redeploy to Iraq for a second tour in a statement to the US Court of Appeals in DC which was preparing to hear his appeal to be designated a conscientious objector:

With or without non-combatant status I will not deploy to Iraq. I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the reason for refusing to deploy. But that is incorrect. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to do guard-duty, although I chose to carry only an unloaded gun. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to patch-up, treat, and help countless soldiers for "sick-call" in order to facilitate their prompt return to combatant duties. While there as a non-combatant, I was asked to drive soldiers around on patrols, patrols which could have been deadly to Americans and Iraqis alike. I regret involvement in those activities, because ultimately I was contributing to the war mission and enabling others to do what I oppose. By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for "sick-call" as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physically better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do. Although I myself did not pull the trigger, I now realize that what I did as a non-combatant nonetheless supported and enabled these missions. I cannot carry that burden on my conscience. When you know better you do better.

Aguayo self-checked out of the US military on September 2nd and
turned himself at Fort Irwin on September 26. Aguayo has argued that his Last Friday, Kevin Dougherty (Stars & Stripes) reported that the US military has charged Aguayo with desertion and missing movement and that conviction on both charges "could receive a maximum prison term of seven years". The charge of desertion is interesting in that (a) Aguayo turned himself in, (b) he was gone less than 30 days, and (c) the US Court of Appeals was set to hear his case. Also of interest is that, though no date's been set for the trial/court-martial, the military's decided to announce charges when his claim for c.o. status still awaits a ruling from the US Court of Appeals.

Turning to other war resistance news,
Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance to show their support for Ehren Watada who faces a court-martial February 5, 2007. damon reports that they intend to stay "outside the gates of Fort Lewis and on the streets across the nation" in order "to make an impression large enough to influence the outcome of the trial". What do they need? They need:

financial support for getting
IVAW members here at Fort Lewis, particularly on the day of the trial. Also, we envision Camp Resistance FOBs (Forward Operating Base) starting all over the country; in front of recruiter's offices, military bases, etcetera. When we got kicked out of our campsite, we came to the realization that Camp Resistance is not a physical place, but a place within our hearts and minds. If your heart is filled with resistance to this illegal war and Love for LT, you can start a daily vigil in your local area or join us here at Fort Lewis.

They also need attention -- make sure your friends know and start demanding that media, big and small (also known as Useless & Useless) cover Camp Resistance.

Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

Meanwhile Bully Boy does his War Dance In The Pants and claims, that as "The Destroyer," this dance is tyrant's choice. Appearing Sunday on
CBS' 60 Minutes (pre-taped, Bully Boy doesn't do live well), Bully Boy again attempted to pump his ten word teeny, tiny, little culpa into a thing of significance. Scott Pelley asked Bully Boy about the ten words -- the 'mistakes were made' shrug that the press thought was just AMAZING all last week. ["Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."] It wasn't. And for the fools who didn't grasp it in real time, Bully Boy demonstrated in Sunday night's broadcast.

PELLEY: You mention mistakes having been made in your speech. What mistakes are you talking about?
BUSH: You know, we've been through this before. Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.
PELLEY: The troop levels . . .
BUSH: Could have been a mistake.
PELLEY: Could have been a mistake?
BUSH: Yeah. [General] John Abizaid, one of the planners, said in front of Congress, you know, he thought we might have needed more troops. My focus is on how to succeed. And the reason I brought up the mistakes is, one, that's the job of the commander-in-chief, and, two, I don't want people blaming our military. We got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we've asked them to do. And the temptation is gonna find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me 'cause it's my decisions.

A scapegoat is someone wrongly blamed. Before anyone points to the obvious (Bully Boy has had a highly abusive relationship with the English language), let's note that you don't go to the well on the Bible as often as the Bully Boy has publicly without being expected to know the story Aaron. Bully Boy knows full well what a scapegoat is and, Sunday on 60 Minutes, he was revealing the obvious, his ten words were sop tossed out and not heartfelt. But thank you, US press, for wasting nearly a week promoting it as ground-breaking news. It's not as though anything better couldn't have been covered in that time, is it?

In the same
60 Minutes interview, Bully Boy rejected the notion that he might "owe the Iraqi people an apology" for not doing "a better job in providing security after the invasion" with "Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant."

Shh, don't wake the tyrant. In the real world the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has released a report and, yes, it declares that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 with 36,685 wounded. The report also states that: "Armed operations by MNF-I continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and to cause severe suffering to the local population" -- MNF being the US led 'coalition'.

The tyrant thinks he 'liberated' does he? The UN report also covers the realities for Iraqi women -- new realities, post-invasion realities, brought to them by Bully Boy Inc. That includes vanishing rights, women's rights are disappearing and they "are reportedly living with heightened levels of threats to their lives and physical integrity, and forced to conform to strict, abritrarily imposed morality codes" which allows them new 'role' -- unclaimed corpse. Women are kidnapped and abused, sexually and then murdered, their corpses don't get buried by the families because to note that is your daughter, your sister, etc. would be to risk family shame. Those women who have been 'liberated' to mass sexual assault and abuse but aren't murdered? Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere. Thanks, Tyrant Bush.

Turning to today's violence which claimed over 100 lives in the capital alone.


CNN reports a coordinated attack on the Mustansiriya University involving two bombs (bomb vest and car bomb) with one "at the back entrance of the school" and the other at the "main gate under a pedestrian bridge where students and employees get public transit." Claudia Parsons and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) note that at least 65 are dead and "many of them young women students". CNN notes that the count rose to 70 dead and at least 169 were wounded.

Also in Baghdad,
Reuters notes a roadside bomb and a motorcycle bomb claimed the lives of at least 15 and left at least 70 wounded in an attack "near a Sunni mosque"; another roadside bomb claimed four lives and left ten more wounded in an attack on a police patrol, while a "bomb inside a car" left six dead and at least 11 wounded in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.

Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five mortars left 10 people wounded in west Baghdad and notes that bomb that exploded inside a car in the Sadr City section of Baghdad "exploded inside a KIA minibus".


Reuters notes a person shot dead in Hawija and three were shot down in Mosul. CNN reports that "gunmen on motorcycles opend fire on a maketplace in the Mehdi Army-controlled Bunouk area of eastern Baghdad and killed 12 civilians. Seven others were wounded."


BBC reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two corpses were discovered in Diwaniya.

Not covered in the above is the fact that the slaughter of Haifa Street (a residential street -- or residential before the slaughter began) continues.
Nancy A. Youssef and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) report: "Eight days after a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive began to take control of the Haifa Street area in central Baghdad, residents said they had no water and no electricity and that people seeking food had been shot at random. They said they could see American soldiers nearby, but that the Americans were making no effort to intervene."

In addition, Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "according to a medical source from karbala health directorate, the directorate yesterday received 80 anonymous bodies from Baghdad morgue with the help of sadr office. those bodies were found 3 months ago in Baghdad and were not be able to be recognized by their families. usually after 3 month of the bodies being at Baghdad morgue if nobody claim them are sent to karbala grave yard to be buried but now the period have been lessen to one month only. this grave yard in karbala is called the anonymous grave yard. also today 85 anonymous bodies were received from Baghdad morgue to be buried at karbala anonymous grave yard."

Meanwhile the
US military announces: "Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division were killed Monday as a result of an improvised explosive device while conducting operations in Ninewa province, Iraq."

Addressing the escalation, Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes that the escalation is Bully Boy's plan and the US, not Iraqis, are in charge:

Initial reports from the US powers running the war explain that the first neighborhoods to be attacked will be primarily Sunni in makeup. Once these neighborhoods are pacified--gunships attack, soldiers come in, the men rounded up and the areas locked down and fenced in, the remaining residents will be issued identification cards which will most likely include retina scans and will be limited in their travels outside of the region assigned to them by the US command. The plan then apparently calls for a similar effort in the Shia areas of Baghdad, including the area known as Sadr City. This is when the Green Zone regime of al-Maliki will be challenged. Will he give in to US demands and support the almost certainly bloody raids into this part of the city? Will he accept the US plan to turn the Shia regions of Baghdad into the equivalent of the Vietnam war's strategic hamlets? Since it is quite unlikely that Muqtada al-Sadr or his followers will, if al-Maliki were to do so, he would most certainly lose the support of this important bloc of Iraqis. If he opposes US attacks and lockdowns of Shia areas of the city, then he would most likely lose his job.
The scenarios outlined above do enough to prove that it is Washington that really runs the war in Iraq. The major difference between the situation before Mr. Bush's speech and now is that the post-speech plan strips away even the pretense that the Iraqi Green Zone government is in control. What this means on the ground is that the US command will no longer even pretend to ask the Green Zone government for permission to conduct its activities. This change was graphically illustrated almost immediately after Mr. Bush's speech when US troops raided the Iranian diplomatic mission in Irbil and hijacked six Iranian consular officials. No Iraqis even knew about this raid until after the fact. In fact, the Kurdish military units guarding the region almost killed some US troops trying to enter the region because they were unaware of their intentions. We will surely see more examples like this in the coming weeks and months.

Turning to financial news, Sunday,
Stephen Foley (Independent of London) reported the GOP donor Bearing Point was having problems which included "falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders". Who is Bearing Point? A company that the US administration has been very happy to give contracts (and tax dollars) to for their work on Iraq ("on" being key). On Sunday's The KPFA Evening News, Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) noted that among the contracts Bearing Point currently has one for privatizing Iraq and one of their own employees sitting on Iraq's Oil Ministry. Juhasz explained:

Bearing Point has played the role on the ground in Iraq as the company tasked with the job of making sure that Iraqi's new oil law is passed. So essentially there's been a Bearing Point employee who's had no other job but to make sure that Iraq passes an oil law that supports the Bush administration's agenda for Iraq which is to get Iraq's oil as privatized as possible and into US corporate hands. And that has been Bearing Point's job and it seems that BP has done that job quite well. Bearing Point has essentially been the workhorse on the ground and also the constant threat the constant presence of the Bush administration on the ground in Iraq, doing nothing but focusing on getting this law completed and potentially passed in Iraq. [. . .] The Bechtels and the Halliburtons and the oil companises, Chevron, Exxon , Connoco, and Marathon. Those companies have all been beneficiaries of policies that Bearing Point helped develop and Bearing Point was developing policies that simply, again, serviced the Bush administration's interests. It's definitely just a tool of the administration whereas the other companises definitely had their own agendas that the administration in some ways was a tool servicing their interests like, in particular, the oil companies.