Friday, April 13, 2007

David Ray Griffin, etc.

I love Ava and C.I. Let me be Mike ":D." I was looking for a post I did in August and I came acrosss the roundtable we did then (Rebecca was moderator). The stuff Ava and C.I. are hitting on in that? Still pertinent. I am just blown away. I should check out roundtables at The Third Estate Sunday Review for that sort of thing. But that was just really amazing to me to read that, now nearly a year later, and see how on the money they were then.

I'm so lazy, I'm just copying the links from the roundtable:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; and Mike of Mikey Likes It!.

Everyone did a wonderful job.

Guns and Butter Wednesday was a rebroadcast of a show that aired on August 30th. This is what I wrote then:

David Ray Griffin was the guest and he and Bonnie Faulkner discussed the recent NORAD tapes (the heavily hyped NORAD tapes). If we're to believe the new explanation, as Griffin and Faulkner pointed out, then we have to believe that the military lied prior. In most press coverage, my point, if someone admits to lying in previous testimony (I believe the admission on this is along the lines of "Oh, I forgot"), they're no longer seen as credible in the press.

I wasn't able to find David Ray Griffin's article at that time but you can read it here.

I had an e-mail from a visitor who felt I was stalling on Bonnie Faulkner because I'm not interested in mentioning the program when it covers 9-11. I'm sorry the visitor felt that way. It's not true. "Respectability keeps you silent," he wrote. I guess I should thank him for assuming I was (or wanted to be) respectable. Trust me, of all the things I've been called over the years, "respectable" has never been one.

There are questions that need to be answered about 9-11. The ones who have said, "Oh be quiet!" or whatever, they may be trying to be respectable. (They may be showing a very genuine belief.) But I'm not interested in "respectable."

What does respectable do? Get you into the White House? I'll pass.

I love Bonnie's show. I love Bonnie. I am very grateful that I can hear the show each week. She's a real reporter who is not afraid to explore topics -- even topics that everyone says "Shut up!" about.

If Ruth were covering the show, she could give you quotes and other things. I'm not Ruth. (I'm very lazy, one difference.)

It's also true that I have increased my actions re: Iraq. I see people like C.I. just giving everything they have (and then some in C.I.'s case). I've noted that here before and how I should be doing more. I talked and talked about that and then got more active. So that does take time.

But, no, I'm not interested in being "respectable." The same government that lied us into war could have lied about 9-11. Take out the "could have," there have been enough exposed lies for most to grasp that we were lied to.

What other lies are still being told? I don't know. I have suspicions, but I don't know. I'm sure others have suspicions as well.

Historically, the government has lied to us frequently. Their "credibility" is lower than my "respectability."

There are many, many theories. Many conflict, many agree. At some point, 100 years from now, the government may admit something. It may be something as simple as, "They knew it was going to happen but did nothing to use it for perpetual war." It may be something more complicated. But I don't believe the government has told the truth at all.

I wasn't offended by the e-mail. It's really not about me, although it was directed to me. What it's about is the attempt by others to shut the discussion down. So it's understandable that someone might worry I was doing that. I'm not. I'm just lazy. And, I hate to type this, tired.

I hate to type that because I know others do more than I do on Iraq. I feel like a real runt (or worse) for whining "I'm tired" when I think about, for instance, C.I. this week and the speaking schedule. I am, by the way, going out on a speaking trip with C.I. shortly. And I'll be even more tired then.

But I didn't get angry about the e-mail or feel hurt. I understand that no one's supposed to talk about it. I got that message, just like everyone else, when it seemed like every 'independent' voice was lining up to scream, "Shut up." I don't listen to people when they say, "Shut up." I get louder.

But at a time when we have been told "shut up," it makes perfect sense to me that someone would see what I have here and worry, "Oh, they shut her up." They didn't. Just lazy. If you're in the Bay Area, Bonnie has an event on April 21st. Mickey Huff will be one of the speakers. It's two sessions and it's at 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Berkeley City College, basement auditorium, free and open to the public. Betty's latest is up, "Flop House" -- be sure to check that out.

C.I.'s got a powerful snapshot today. July 16th is the new date for Watada's court-martial. The person C.I. was dictating it to ("had her hands full, I was talking way too fast," C.I. says) meant to go back and look up the date but there was so much to type so quickly that it didn't happen. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war will reach 3300 shortly (3299 currently), tensions flare between northern Iraq and Turkey and the refugee crisis continues so the US Senate offers help to "up to 500" of the estimated 3 million Iraqis internally and externally displaced.

In war resister news, we'll focus on
KPFA and Brian Edwards-Tiekert. Responding to a commentary by Marc Sapir in The Berkeley Daily Planet last week, Edwards-Tiekert wanted to address the issue of war resisters. Edwards-Tiekert is an important part of KPFA's news staff and does strong work, but appears to think much more is being covered than actually is. Sapir, sharing his feelings and fears regarding KPFA, wrote (this was not the thrust of his commentary), "How could KPFA be a useful tool for the GI resisters' movement, the immigrants' rights and sanctuary movements, the prison reform and opposition movements, the new sds [SDS] (already at 160 chapters), . . . if such an edict is upheld?" Sapir is referring to the fact that KPFA can promote events; however, they can not say "Be there" (as Sasha Lilley explained on the Listeners' Report earlier this month). Edwards-Tiekert grabs the subsection of that sentence and responds (this was not the thrust of his response), "Clearly, he [Marc Sapir] wasn't listening the week Aaron Glantz traveled to Fort Lewis, Washington, to produce up-to-the minute rports on the failed court martial of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada." Was Edwards-Tiekert? Aaron Glantz' reports were largely filed for Free Speech Radio News and re-aired duing the KPFA Evening News and during Aileen Alfandary's newsbreaks during The Morning Show. Sandra Lupien and Alfandary each spoke with Glantz once during the court-martial on programs other than the Free Speech Radio News. But, as Edwards-Tiekert well knows, Free Speech Radio News is an independent program, it is not a KPFA program.

Aaron Glantz did a wonderful job reporting on the court-martial for
Free Speech Radio News, for IPS, for His voice gave out and, possibly, had that not happened he would have done more reporting on it for KPFA. But in terms of reporting (not interviews days after the mistrial was called), Edwards-Tiekert appears to believe that Glantz was reporting on KPFA programs more than he was. This could result from the fact that it was usually announced (by the news staff) that he would be reporting but, in the morning or evening, what instead aired was a rebroadcast (sometimes edited down) of a report Glantz had done for Free Speech Radio News.

Ehren Watada's court-martial is important. His upcoming court-martial () will also be important and, hopefully, KPFA will do a better job covering it than they did with the February one. For that coverage, Aaron Glantz deserves praise. KPFA? Not so much. That was February. Since Watada's court-martial,
Agustin Aguayo and Mark Wilkerson have been court-martialed. Aguayo was court-martialed in Germany, possibly that's why it wasn't covered (reading wires doesn't really replace first person reporting)? Wilkerson was in Texas. Texas is much closer to California than DC (Edwards-Tiekert notes KPFA's DC coverage in his response) but it might as well be across the Atlantic. What of Robert Zabala's historic court case? Where was KPFA? Again, reading wire reports (or local press) on air doesn't really replace on the spot reporting.

Edwards-Tiekert muses, "Perhaps Sapir doesn't listen much to the radio station he maligns." As
Ruth pointed out regarded Sasha Lilley's declarations in the Listeners' Report, Lilley doesn't seem to listen a great deal. In the listners' report she maintained that KPFA news staff promoted, on air, the KPFA webpage of local events when, in fact, that wasn't the case. KPFA is an important radio station and a historic one. Edwards-Tiekert is a strong member of the news staff. His commentary (and recent call in on air to Larry Bensky) only fans simmering flames for many. I'm not interested in that. (Ruth may be. She can write whatever she wants in her space.) I am interested in war resisters.

Edwards-Tiekert may feel Watada was covered by the KPFA news. He really wasn't. (Off topic, but needs noting again, Philip Maldari, not part of the news staff, did a wonderful job last summer interviewing Bob Watada.) That false impression may come from on air announcements such as, "Tomorrow morning in the first half-hour of The Morning Show, Aileen Alfandary will speak with Aaron Glantz . . ." -- announcements that were made of coverage that never took place. (That's not a slam at Alfandary. Glantz' voice was giving out early on.) But announcements of intended coverage are not actual coverage. And re-airing reports done for a non-KPFA produced program (Free Speech Radio News) on KPFA news and news breaks does not indicate that KPFA itself provided coverage.

In February,
Kyle Snyder was hauled away in handcuffs (and in his boxers) by Canadian police. Joci Perri (Citizenship and Immigration) stated the arrest was requested by the US military and that deportation was supposed to follow. Did KPFA listeners hear about that on the news? Joshua Key is being 'shadowed.' Winnie Ng reported the incident that happened at her home. She was visited by three men, she was told they were Canadian police. They were looking for Key (Joshua, Brandi and their children stayed with Ng early on after moving to Canada). Ng's character was called into question (including by some 'friends' in Canada) and the police said it never happened. Turns out, it did happen. The Canadian police, WOOPS, did send out one officer . . . with two members of the US military. Has the KPFA news informed listeners about those developments? Dean Walcott self-checked out of the US military and went to Canada in December of 2006. How often has his name came up during news breaks or newscasts?

Here's where the real fault is, the real problem. Four years into the illegal war and
KPFA still has not created a program to focus on Iraq. Flashpoints started to cover the first Gulf War. KPFA can't spare one half-hour or hour a week for a program that focuses on Iraq? Of course they can. The fact that they haven't is more embarrassing than any of the back and forths or the old history (covered in both Edwards-Tiekert and Sapir's commentaries). Is KPFA frozen or paralyzed when it comes to new programming? No. In fact it did an election series for the 2006 elections. One would think that an illegal war was at least as important as a mid-term election.

Dean Walcott, the latest to go public, part of the growing movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

Yesterday in Iraq, the Green Zone was the target of an attack.
AFP notes today that the US military is now saying that the bombing in the parliament's cafeteria killed only one person (but "an Iraqi security officer" maintains "three people died"). Though Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) prefers to call it the "International Zone," as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) notes of the Green Zone, "The Zone is officially known as the international zone, a less inflammatory label that suggests non-U.S. control, but everyone knows the truth." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for the bombing and that it was a suicide bombing and that the Iraqi parliament met today ("about 90 minutes") but turnout was low due to the traffic ban and to the fact that many were visiting the wounded from yesterday's bombing. While AP repeats that the culprit is thought to be a bodyguard to a Sunni lawmaker, The Australian reports that three cafeteria workers are being questioned as well as "some parliamentary guards". CNN notes that this is due to the suspicion that the bombing was an 'inside job'. Robert Burns (AP) reveals: "The U.S. military will not take over security of the Iraqi parliament building in the wake of the deadly suicide bombing in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, a top commander said Friday. Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said "it is clear we still have a long way to go to provide stability and security to Iraq." Michael Howard (The Guardian of London) informs, "US officials admitted last night that the bombing of the Iraqi parliament shows that not even the heavily fortified Green Zone is safe any more, despite the security crackdown launched earlier this year in the Iraqi capital." Despite that reality, Robin Wright and Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) report that John McCain, "who this week spoke of 'the first glimmers' of progress in the new U.S. effort, said the attack on the parliament building does not change the 'larger picture'."

Or, as
William M. Arkin (Washington Post) observes, "For the past few weeks, we have been told by the administration and the military that the Baghdad Security Plan and the surge are working. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had his Snoopy in the tank moment walking through a marketplace in a well-oiled photo op, accompanied of course by American Humvees and soldiers and roof-top snipers. The Senator and his delegation then repaired to the 'relative safety' of the Green Zone, speaking of their safe drive to and from the airport to downtown, a trip by dignitaries that is usually made by helicopter. The boast itself spoke volumes about the truth of the Green Zone, and of Baghdad."

Security and refugess was a topic today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, where Andrea Lewis and Aaron Glantz spoke with guests including Dahr Jamail and Sarah Holewinski (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict). (20 minutes in, Dahr speaks for the first time other than the normal greetings.)

Dahr: Well without a doubt, I think offering someone $2,500 when they've had a loved one killed by occupation forces is - is quite an insult especially now with the rate of inflation and the conditions in Iraq. I think the primary thing that I'd absolutely agree with her with is that the Iraqi people who are sufffering right now as we speak and all those who have lost loved ones certainly deserve and justifiably have earned compensation levels that are very, very fair and, in my opinion, I think that they should be compensation levels like we see in the United States when someone dies in a plane crash and there's a lawsuit or when someone dies in a car crash, typically millions of dollars are awarded to someone. How would people in the United States react if they lost a loved one and the government offered them $2,500?
[. . .]
I would start by amending the numbers that Nabil just said. I have updated numbers from meeting with Sybella Wilkes yesterday who is the UNHCR regional public information officer. And according to UNHCR, there are, there's 1.2 million is the minimum estimate they have in Syria alone. The governement of Syria, who UNHCR admitted probably has more accurate figures than they do, estimates there's between 1.4 and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here [Syria], hundreds of thousands of those are Shia as well. I think people in the US are led to believe that it's only the Sunni population that's leaving and, while they are the majority, it's important to note that there's a giant number and growing number of Shia up here in Syria as well. But really the situation is really -- even just those numbers, as if they're not staggering enough by themselves -- the situation here is UNHCR has only actually registered approximately 70,000 of these people. So that means these are only the 70,000 that literally have so little of anything that they have to literally go there for food and in some way to find some housing. So the crisis is certainly going to grow exponentially as these other Iraqis here, and I have met with many of them, are living on their savings right now. What are they going to do when their savings run out? Syria right now has approximately a 20 to 25% unemployment rate. Add in another between 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqis, so already that figure is too low. And as time persists, of course, the situation will worsen. And we have between 30 and 50,000 more Iraqis coming into Syria alone every single month.

Andrea Lewis: And Dahr what are some of the refugees telling you, other than concerns about their finances which obviously are important, what other things are you hearing from the people you're talking to?

Dahr: Well I'm actually sitting here right now with two friends who just came out yesterday from Baquba and they're telling me things like the US military has absolutely zero control of that city. There's only one street where one kilometer of that street is controlled by the US military and that's because that's primarily where their base is. The banks in Baquba have zero money whatsoever. It's a ghost town in the middle of the day. There's no marekts open. Of course, no one is working. And, as they described it, al Qaeda is in total control of that entire city and they state that the US military there is doing little to nothing to stop them.

Aaron Glantz: Well that's where Zarchawy was killed and we all remember Abu Musab al-Zarchawy. He was a big enemy and now he's dead and he was killed in Baquba.

Dahr: Right and clearly the situation has done nothing but degrade. As they said, it's like something out of a scene of a movie where literally it's a ghost town, nobody leaves their homes, nobody goes out. Even traveling from there to Baghdad, which is just barely 20 miles away, people just don't even make that trip. For them to even come up to Syria, they had to go, completely bypass Baghdad, and go to the north in order to come up here. Of course it was very far out of their way. But that just gives you an idea of how horrible the security situation is. There's literally no security and no regular life there to be found.

Turning to news from the US Senate,
Reuters reports that legislation passed allowing for the admission of a whopping (yes, that is sarcasm) "500 Iraqi and Afghan translators into the United States a year because their lives are in danger for helping U.S. forces during the wars."

Last month,
Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) noted that it was past time for US citizens to ask exactly who their tax dollars supported in Iraq. This month (at The Huffington Post), Hayden notes: "The time has come to understand the new de facto US policy in Iraq: to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs." Hayden argues that the training of police fails to acknowledge who is being trained and for what -- as with El Salvador the 'blind eye' is a pretense upon the part of the US government. Tom Hayden proposes a series of recommendations including "peace advocates and critics must focus on the new reality that American blood and taxes are being spent on propping up a sectarian government that wants to carry out an ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population."

Keeping the above in mind and turning to the northern section of Iraq, yesterday
Umit Enginsoy (Turkish Daily News) reported on the conference in DC regarding the the upcoming, proposed referendum that would etermine the fate of Kirkuk (an Iraqi citiy that "sits on nearly 40 percent of Iraq's oil") which Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is pushing (Talabani fell ill as the latest wave of the crackdown began earlier this year, he was represented at the conference by his son Qubad Talabani who is also "the representative for the Kurdistan regional government"). The issues revolve around the oil, obviously, and also around the demographic makeup of Kirkuk and who gets a vote with Turcomen and Arabs concerned over what "hundreds of thousands of Kurds [who] have flocked into Kirkuk in recent years while the number of Kurds expelled under Saddam's regime could be measured by tens of thousands."

Laith al-Saud (CounterPunch) explores the issue of the resettling, "Since the 2003 invasion of the country myth has taken precedence over history and Kurdish politicians have adopted the methods of that other myth-based nation-state in the region-Israel, to establish claims . . . During the invasion, Kurdish peshmerga (militias) entered Kirkuk and established de facto control of the city. Since then, as has been reported by the Center for Research on Globalization, Kurdish militias have forcibly evicted people from their homes, engaged in Murder, assassination and a slow ethcnice cleansing. The first victims in this regard have been the Arabs. Since the Arabs there are largely associated with Baa'th policy they have seen little support from the regime in Baghdad. Less publicized has been the targeting of Assyrians and other smaller minorities in the region. But the largest group in the city -- and the one that promises to be the most resistant to Kurdish aggression -- is the Turcomen. Ethnically Turks, the Turcomen have lived in the area for over eight-hundred years and have strong ties to Turkey."

Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) notes of the referendum: "The Kurds expect that large areas of eastern, northern and western Ninevah province will join theKRG, not not Mosul city itself because it has an Arab majority. The Kurds are absolutely determined to get what they consider their rights after years or persecution, expulsion and genocide. They rightly think that they now have an historic opportuniy to create a powerful near independent state within Iraq: They are America's only effective allies in Iraq; they are powerful in Baghdad; The non-Kurdish parts of the Iraqi government are weak."

At the conference, the US appeared to waffle (we'll get back to the point).
Michael Kuser and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) note that Turkey's concern is that "an independent Kurdish state" will be created. This stems from Turkey's own issues in the southern part of its country where a historical and ongoing battle by Kurdish inhabitants of the area to gain self-autonamy has been rejected.If Iraq is partitioned off into regions and/or Kirkuk and other northern areas become their own independent body, Turkey's concerns include how such a breaking up could effect their own country. Chris Toensing (Foreign Policy In Focus) summed up the recent conflict within Turkey: "Since the invasion [of Iraq], the Turkish military and security services -- known to Turks as the 'deep state' -- have reasserted themselves, to the detriment of Turkish democracy. They are resisting even the Justice and Development Party's modest efforts to reach out to the country's Kurdish population, and inveighing against any ceasfire with the renewed Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. Far-right social elements associated with the 'deep state' are rallying in favor of chauvinistic versions of Turkish nationalism; in January, one such militan murdered an Armenian-Turkish journalist who sought to reconcile Turks' and Armenians' understanding of the 1915 Aremian genocide."

Another concern on the part of Turkey
pointed out by Kuser and Dinmore is that their border is not respected by "combat rebels from the Kurdish Wokers party (PKK)". Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit has "asked the government" of Turkey "for approval to launch a cross-border incursion into northern Iraq, signaling growing frustration over a lack of action by Iraqi and US forces against Kurdish guerrillas. This follows, as Umit Enginsoy notes, that the head of Iraq's Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, stated last week if Turkey did not stop interfering in Iraq's northern region, Iraq would "retaliate by intervening in Turkey's Kurdish-related matters. The rising tensions come as Turkey's president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, prepares to step down (the parliament electes a new president in May). The Turkish Daily News presents a sample of Buyukanit's press conference where he touched on a number of issues, including political ones.

As the tensions rise and some commentators wonder what the US is doing -- signaling both ways is the answer. Fortunately, the issue is in questionable hands: Hoover Institute's Barbara Stephenson is now a 'diplomat' ("
deputy senior advisor and coordinator to the secretary of state"). In 1998, she was a "homemaker" and apparently $519,200 in donations is all it takes to buy a job at the State Department under US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice. (It's also a good little circle jerk since, Rice was "the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute"). Stephenson's main claim to fame/infamy may be her declaration of Iraqis, "They need to want this more than we do." Spoken by the person who some would argue bought her way into an administration.

From the north to the south,
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the protests that took place Monday calling for foreign troops (all non-Iraqi troops) to leave the country. Historian Mahmood al-Lamy tells al-Fadhily, "Basra is the biggest southern city and the only Iraqi city that has a port near the Gulf. It is now controlled by various militias who fight each other from time to time over an oil smuggling business that is flourishing under the occupation."
Simon Assaf (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reminds that the protest on Monday (in Najaf) "was the biggest in Iraq since the massive unity demonstrations in the early days of the occupation" and that uniformed Iraqi soldiers joined in the protest.


Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one civilian dead from a roadside bombing in Baghdad, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed one person and left 15 wounded,
"a primary school was exploded in Instar village of Bani Saad," "a public clinic at (Tibtib) village" was bombed, and "LC Falih Hassan of the Iraqi national police was killed today after a road side bomb targeted his vehicle today after noon. Three of his body guards were killed."
CBS and AP note a Baghdad roadside bomb claimed the life of a police officer and left four other officers injured as well as one citizen injured. Reuters reports a second Baghdad mortar attack killed two people and left 8 more wounded, a Hilla bombing killed a police officer and left three others wounded, and a mortar attack in Iskandariya wounded 10 people.


Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman wounded during an attack on a police patrol. Reuters reports that Mohammed Abd al-Hameed ("Mosque imam in the northern city of Mosul . . . well known figure in the Sunni Muslim Scholars' Association") was shot dead in Mosul, three guards of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party offices were wounded in an attack in Hilla, and an attack on a barber shop left two people "seriously wounded."


Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five corpses discovered in Baghdad,
Reporters Without Borders notes that two corpses were discovered in Mosul yesterday: Iman Yussef Abdallah ("journalist for a radio station operated by a group of Mosul trade unions") and her husband. She "was the second journalist to be murdered in Mosul this year and the 13th in Iraq."

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died April 12 due to a non-battle related cause." And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire north of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting a security patrol when the attack occurred." [Both were noted last night. They were announced Friday Iraq time.] And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad April 12. The unit was conducting a security patrol in the area when the attack occurred." And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded when their patrol base came under attack by anti-Iraqi forces south of Baghdad April 12. Two Iraqi interpreters were also killed in the attack." ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 3299 and 52 is the total for the month thus far.

Finally, the
Austin American-Stateman weighs in with an editorial commenting on the decision by the White House to extend tours of duty to 15 months while, at the same time, searching for someone ( a war 'czar' -- "The first and most obvious is that a war szar already exists: the president of the United States is the commander in chief. The novelty of the idea doesn't make it viable.") to run the illegal war in Iraq and concludes, "It is especially troubling when you consider that the Bush administration is asking more and more from military personnel who can't appoint someone else to do their jobs for them."

Thursday, April 12, 2007


What do you get tonight? Not much. I've got drainage. I love having my windows open at night. But I've got sinus drainage, on my left side, and the whole side of my throat (left) hurts. So I've just popped two over the counter sinus meds and they're going to kick in quick and make me sleepy.

Before they do . . . From Rolling Stone's April 19, 2007 issue:

Tori Amos
OUT May 1st
For Amos' ninth album, the singer came up with a new concept: She wrote and sang the songs from the perspective of five characters. "These women are symbolic of different personality traits and different beliefs," says Amos. "It's no different than Ziggy Stardust as an extension of David Bowie." She also gets explicitly political on the anti-Bush tunes "Yo Goerge" and "Dark Side of the Sun" and fleshed out her classic piano-driven sound with some new influences: "I had myself open up to the Clash and the Doors," she says.

That's from page 18 of a long article on CDs that will be coming out shortly. Wilco (May 15th), Ryan Adams ("June") and Patti Smith (April 24th) are others that may be of interest to the community. Tori's the one I'm most excited about. This will be her follow up to The Beekeeper.

And that's it. I'm going to boil some water on the stove and shove my head over it for the steam. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and it's strong, hard hitting and funny (I'm sorry, I love the environment, but I'll be damned if I'm going to start using reusable tampons -- if you're late to that, C.I. talks about that crazy here):

Thursday, April 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, war resisters continue standing even when little jerks attack, the puppet pushes the privatization of Iraq's oil, and Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

Starting with war resisters, it must have been a full moon. You had the overgrown "girl" going after war resisters and then you got Little Priss (at the most laughable student newspaper of any college in the US) doing the same. It takes a special kind of voice to 'sing' so passionately about the tough life when Daddy's a big league coach but we're not supposed to talk about that, I'm guessing. Just like we're all supposed to pretend Junior's slug line is in anyway authentic (Little Boys from Suburbia have nasty cases of Big City Envy that force them to lie -- something that was frowned upon in the private, religious school they attended to avoid mixing with other races). Maybe Little Priss can join the overgrown "girl" and assist her in basket-weaving her home-made maxi-pads. What has them up in arms? A nasty case of toxic shock syndrome?

No, a hatred of war resisters such as Camilo Mejia whose new book,
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, will be published by The New Press next month (May 1st). Kirkus Reviews found it, "Timely, courageous and cautionary." Mejia, as noted in Amy Goodman and David Goodman's Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back, served six months in Iraq and, after returning to the US, applied for c.o. status and self-checked out of the military. Mejia was convicted of desertion and sentenced to a year at Fort Still. Upon release, Mejia declared, "Peace does not come easily, so I tell all members of the military that whenever faced with an order, and everything in their mind and soul, and each and every cell in their bodies scream at them to refuse and resist, then by God do so. Jail will mean nothing when brekaing the law became their duty to humanity." Another quote Camilo Mejia is known for, noted by Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker), is "Behind these bars, I sit a free man because I listened to a higher power, the voice of my conscience."

Mejia's book follows Joshua Key's successful
The Deserter's Tale and joins other books exploring the resistance in the military today including Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq. Mejia is also featured in the documentary To Disobey.
As Monica Benderman, wife of Iraq war resister
Kevin Benderman, has noted, there has been little on resistance in many bookstores. Monica and Kevin Benderman intend to do their part to change that by writing their own book.

Mejia and Benderman are a part of a movement resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

In Iraq today the violence continued. So badly that US Secretary of State Condi Rice felt the need to issue a laughable statement: "
We know that there is a security problem in Baghdad." "We know"? Speaking for the rest of the world, "we hope so." We hope you know there is a problem in Baghdad. Still, it is an improvement over her usual "no one could have guessed" statements.

The most shocking incident of violence today for the US administration may have been the bombing inside the Green Zone.
NPR's Tom Bullock notes that the explosion took place "inside the Iraqi parliament building" in the heavily fortified section of Baghdad known as the Green Zone and that it was "a major security breach." BBC offers that the cafeteria where the bombing took place "is for MPs and their staff, some of whom were having lunch there."
AFP, noting that the Green Zone is "the country's most heavily guarded site," observes that the bombing took place "despite a massive US-Iraqi security crackdown". Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes that the bombing was caputed by "news video camera" revealing "the blast: a flash and an orange ball of fire causing a startled parliament member who was being interviewed to duck, and then the smoky, dust-filled aftermath of confusion and shouting." The news team was from Al-Hurrah, the US based and US tax funded propoganda outlet. Abdul-Zahra also notes that two legs, apparently belonging to the person who detonated the bomb, can be seen on the videotape. There is dispute as to whether a person carried the bomb in and it exploded on his/her person or whether the bomb was planted somewhere in the cafeteria. Dean Yates and Ross Colvin (Reuters) sketch out the basic procedures of entry: "the confrence centre is restricted to accredited parliamentary staff, deputies, security guards and journalists. Only MPs, police and kitchen staff can access the cafeteria. Two Shi'ite lawmakers said the metal detector used at the VIP entrance was working, but a Sunni legislator said when he arrived there was a power cut and bags were being manually searched. A Reuters cameraman said the scanner at a second entrance used by staff and journalists was operating." Those steps are to access the cafeteria. AFP notes gaining entry to the Green Zone "is restricted to visitors carrying picture identity cards and required to pass through multiple checkpoints and metal detectors."

James Hider (Times of London) explains the bombing, in "practical terms," means "the incident also whosed that the bombers can get straight into the heart of what was meant to be the most protected place in Baghdad. Therefore, in effect, it serves to send out the message that nobody is safe and that the insurgents can get suicide bombers in anywhere. The reality is that, despite its reputation as a heavily fortified and protected area, the Green Zone isn't actually that impenetrable. Within the zone itself live 15,000 Iraqis who go in and out every day." CNN states that 14 MPs were wounded (reported number is currently as high as 20). AP notes three members of parliament dead -- Taha al-Liheibi (Sunni), Mohammed Awad (Sunni) and Niamah al-Mayahi (Shi'ite) -- and that they are part of the total eight reported dead. Martin Seemungal (CBS News) spoke with a parlimentarian in the cafeteria who stated that 6 MPs may have been killed in the bombing.

The Green Zone is where Iraq's puppet government offices are, where the stadium-size US embassy is, where many journalists are. As a result, that bombing has cast a lengthy shadow over an earlier one today.
BBC reports that a truck bomb took out the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad during rush hour traffic and that it "sent several cars toppling into the River Tigris below." CBS and AP report: "Cement pilings that support the bridge's stell structure were left crumbling. At the base of one laid a charred vehicle enigne, believed to be that of the truck bomb." CNN notes 10 dead, 26 wounded and that "two large sections in the middle of al-Sarafiya bridge collapsed into the river." AFP reports that "River police raced to the scene on patrol boats and divers donned oxygen cylinders to search the murky waters for survivors after officials said four cars tumbled off the bridge." Reuters reminds that, "The Tigris River cuts Baghdad in half and the Sarafiya bridge is a key artery in the northern part of the city."

James Hider (Times of London) offers his opinion of the message sent with the bridge bombing, "the attack on the al-Sarafiya bridge is also believed to be extremely symoblic. The east of Baghdad is mainly Shia while the west is mainly Sunni, and the Parliamentary speaker today said that the insurgents are conspiring to divide Baghdad in two. The particular bombing -- destorying one of the main access points uniting the city -- illustrates this well. . . . There are, of course, other ways to get across the city apart from this particular bridge. But the fewer there are, the greater the chance of those who use them getting caught up in the bombing." BBC News' Jim Muir observes that both "attacks are major blows to the much-trumpeted security surge now in its third month".

The puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is in Seol and, from miles away, issued a statement on the bombings. It was apparently more important that he be present in South Korea for the big push that Iraq will raise producting of oil to 3 million barrels per day. In doing so, he was also selling the privatization of Iraq's oil (something the US Congress is on board with). Reuters notes: "The world's top oil comapnies have been maneuvering for years to win a stake in Iraq's prized oilfields such as Bin Umar, Majnoon, Nassiriyah, West Qurna and Ratawi, all located in the south of the country." In Baghdad, however, it was all smilles as Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs) met with Hassan Kazimi Qumi (Iran's ambassador to Iraq) where they discussed the upcoming meeting in Egypt and Iraq's help in obtaining the release of one Iranian diplomat. Strangely, considering Little Willie's big press conference yesterday, bombings and weapons weren't a topic of the meeting.

Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes, the US government has their eyes on Iran and US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are 100% all options for war (all repeating the "no option" off the table mantra). Despite this, Solomon notes, is pushing the myth that "Hillary Clinton has provided some much needed leadership on" the issue of war with Iran -- apparently Hillary cried, "To the barricades!" Solomon concludes: "To praise Hillary Clinton for providing 'much needed leadership' on Iran -- and to mislead millions of e-mail recipients counted as MoveOn members in the process -- is a notable choice to make. It speaks volumes. It winks at Clinton's stance that 'no option can be taken off the table.' It serves an enabling function. It is very dangerous. The stakes are much too high to make excuses or look the other way."

Meanwhile, in the ruins of Iraq, another anniversary passed yesterday but it wasn't as crowd pleasing as the staged take-down of a Saddam statue.
Haydar Baderqghan (Azzaman) reminds that it is four years of "the looting of Iraq Museum," that the Ministry of Archaeology and Terrorism issued a statement condeming "the barbarism of wars and their destructive outcome," and that only 4,000 of the 15,000 stolen artifacts have been recovered (four years later).

In other violence today . . .


Reuters reports 2 roadside bombing in Kirkuk killed 6 and injured 21, a Baghdad mortar attack that left one person dead and one wounded.

Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) notes a Baquba bombing that killed 4 police officers and injured two more and another Baquba bombing that wounded two people;


Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one person shot dead in south Baghdad and another shot and injured and one person shot dead in east Baghdad. Reuters reports a police officer "guarding civil servants on a bush" in Mosul was shot dead.


Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) offers a breakdown of the areas of Baghdad that 12 corpses were discovered in today.

Finally, in the United States, a passing deserves noting,
from Democracy Now!:

And finally, the author Kurt Vonnegut has died. He was eighty-four years old. Vonnegut authored at least nineteen novels including "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle." In recent years, Vonnegut was a fierce critic of the Bush administration and a columnist for the magazine In These Times.

Transcript, audio and video of Vonnegut can be found
here at Democracy Now!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Random musings

Susan enjoyed the thoughts yesterday on Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns and that was all I was shooting for. I know I have my days where I just want something that speaks to me as well. The e-mails from others who enjoyed are an added bonus. Elaine's "Laura Flanders, Kathy Kelly" shares a few thoughts on the album at the top of her post.

I love my place but I really wish I had a yard. C.I. just did a night entry (rare if it's not Sunday or Thursday) and Ty came over and said I had to check it out. If I had a yard, "Vote Insane! Vote John McCain!" would go up in it. John McCain is crazy.

I wasn't by the radio this afternoon, I was running errands. I did tape Bonnie but I haven't had time to listen yet. (I always tape her for Betty. I also tape The Morning Show for Betty.)

This is from Mickey Z's "Death from Above" (Information Clearing House):

I find it virtually impossible to avoid analysis of the omnipresent "support the troops" concept. The latest opportunity presented itself as I walked through a parking lot in suburban Texas. On the rear window of a pick up, I saw a decal that read: "Death from Above." Translation: The truck owner (or someone the truck owner knows) is affiliated with some sort of airborne military unit. To them, "Death from Above" is a source of martial pride and patriotic passion.
In reality, "Death from Above" means nothing less than mass murder from 15,000 feet. It means daisy cutters, bunker busters, cruise missiles, napalm, and white phosphorous. It means depleted uranium and cluster bombs littering the landscape for decades. It means rubble, destruction, the ruination of lives by the hundreds, by the thousands and more. It means Dresden, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. It means "shock and awe." It means 9/11. It means more than space allows me to explain, yet it's perfectly normal for an American to slap a "Death by Above" decal on his/her vehicle...right next to "support the troops" sticker.
Many of us don't like the idea of our tax dollars paying for the aerial bombing of civilians but who do you think does the actual bombing? Our
(sic) troops. Yeah, the same volunteer soldiers given a free pass by folks across the political spectrum.

I saw that and thought a lot of people wouldn't link, including some who agree. I agree with Mickey Z. That little slogan was created to silence dissent (as Noam Chomsky long ago pointed out) and it really grates on me when I hear people on the left using it. When it's someone that is aware of Chomsky's work and they still use it, they drop tremendously in my eyes.

That slogan . . . It's as though they've been handed a loaded gun to blow their heads out with and they take it with a smile and even squeak out a "thank you." When you know it was created to silence dissent, the idea that you're going to 'steal it back' is just insane.

Yes, I added some links as a few e-mails noted. I did that this morning. I've been meaning to forever but I am the Queen of Procrastination. I actually had a list I'd been keeping and I did those three and thought, "Oh, I'm sick of this. I'll do more later." So, probably three to four months from now, I'll add some more.

I am still tossing two different reviews around in my head (of three CDs) and I hope to have one done in the next seven days. The one on the two CDs I could sit down and type right now but there seems to be a desire (in e-mails) for me to cover a CD that came out this week. So let me toss it around and live with the CD for a few more days. (I do want to review it but I had pretty much worked out the other review in my head.) (Worked out means I was close to the opening and the ending. As long as I have those, I'm comfortable writing because I know where I'm starting out and where I'm ending up -- the adventure comes in between.)

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Crazy John McCain intends to continue running for the GOP presidential nomination until the men in white coats cart him away, The Savannah Morning News merges with the US military, the International Red Cross issues a report that doesn't contain the preferred amount of happy talk, and the refugee crisis grows.

Today the
US military announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial April 11." And they announced: "One MDN-B Soldier died and another was wounded after their unit came under attack in the southern portion of the Iraqi capital April 10." This brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3294 with 47 for the month of April alone, reports ICCC.

We're starting with the above for a reason,
Crazy John McCain. Last week, Crazy John McCain took The John McCain Showboat Express to Baghdad and became a topic of ridicule for his boldface lies that things were getting better in Iraq and that he could walk freely through a Baghdad street. Robert Knigh ( Flashpoints, Monday, April 2nd) described the 'free walk' this way: "McCain, in defiance of various independent reports that Iraq's daily death toll actually increased last month, nevertheless declared that the so-called 'surge' was 'making progress' and that Americans were 'not getting the full picture of what is happening in Iraq'; however a zoom out from McCain's photo op shows that he was actually surounded by orbiting F16 fighter planes, three Black Hawk attack helicopters, 2 Apache gun ships, more than 100 US troops, snipers and armed vehicles, a flak jacket and personal body armour. The presidential contender and Congressional comedian concluded his celebration of April Fool's Day by declaring with a straight face that 'There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today. These and other indicators and reasons for cautious optimism about the effects of the new strategy'."

Crazy John McCain lost some of his luster over that and went on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday where Scott Pelly asked him about the claims he'd made re: Iraq and Senator Crazy responded, "Of course I'm going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do in the future. I regret that when I divert attention to something that I've said from my message but you know that's just life, and I'm happy frankly with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun." Never deny a crazy their fun. Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, Crazy John McCain was at it again, kissing ass and telling lies and he asserted that he was speaking "to an audience that can discern truth from falsehood in a politician's appraisal of the war," then went on to dub the illegal war as "necessary and winnable" and attempted to drum up sympathy by stating his Crazy Walk through Baghdad left him at the mercy of "a hostile press corps". Crazy spoke of "memorable progress and measurable progress" and some probably fell for the crap. Those who did probably have forgotten the outline General John P. Abizaid presented on March 14, 2006 (link goes to Centcom, click here). He's also bragging about Baghdad where, as AFP notes, "the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a new report that the operation had not yet stabilised Baghdad." His bragging comes as Bruce Rolfsen (Air Force Times) notes "more than 850 wounded and injured service men" and service women "out of war zones during March, according to the Air Force. In February, the Air Force flew out 767 patients.

Senator Crazy went on to declare that the armed battle included a "struggle for the soul of Islam" sounding as insane as the Bully Boy when he originally used the term "crusade." Senator Crazy was, no doubt, amusing himself again with thoughts of bombs being dropped, rockets launched, bullets shot all for a "struggle for the soul of Islam." Senator Crazy remains the undeclared GOP candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination and with all the crazy remarks he makes, it's easy for the electorate to miss some of them. When
Scott Pelly (60 Minutes) pointed out that the majority of US citizens want and wondered to Crazy when Crazy would "start doing what the majority of the American people want?"

Well again, I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.

A memorable, if not winning, campaign slogan if ever there was one.
Crazy John McCain is running for president on the premise that, his words, "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want." Vote Insane! Vote McCain!

Staying with the crazies, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, little Willie Caldwell, grabbed his feather boa and marched before reporters to declare, "They're arming the insurgents, dahling." With the five Iranian diplomats still not released (and US military command announcing today that they weren't going to be), Little Willie strutted and made broad statements. Or, as
the BBC put it, "accused." AFP also uses the (accurate) terminology, noting that Little Willie "accused the Iranians of training Iraqi groups on how to assemble explosively-formed projecticles -- a type of armour-piercing roadside bomb that has caused many coalition casualties." Lauren Frayer, AP's frequent embed, paid to write for a living, somehow fails to utilize "accused" once; however, she did take down good stenography for Little Willie and deploy the term "said" eight times in a 300 plus word 'report' (324 -- check my math).

In other Press Shames,
Joe Strupp (Editor & Publisher) reports what's what at The Savannah Morning News these days. On their front page, they are now running a column by Major General Rick Lynch -- at least it may be by him. The paper's editor, Susan Catron, asked of the names at the end of Lynch's opinion column offers happily, "I can't tell if they wrote it or not." Catron also reveals that the paper is not paying the general for his column. Hmmm.

The editor can't state for the record whether or not the column was written by the general and this weekly column (carried on the front page) requires no payment to the writer? For many, that would be enough to raise red flags but Catron's still recovering from the mighty Sunday comics war that so drained the paper's resources

Strupp reveals that the newspaper staff believes (and they are right) that if the column belongs anywhere, it is "on the opinion page . . . Is this appropriate for a 50,000-reader newspaper that purports to be free from government influence? Staff members feel it has undermined the newspaper's credibility and independence."

Turning to news of attempts to increase leisure time,
AP reports that the US "White House is considering naming a high-powered official to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and report directly to President Bush".

There seems to be some confusion here so let's turn to the US Constitution, Article II, section 2 which reads:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

If anyone's confused (and apparently the White House is) the role being discussed is a Constitutionally mandated role for the occupant of the Oval Office. It's really not something that can be "delegated." Possibly Bully Boy's all tuckered out from his vacation in Crawford?
Mimi Kennedy (writing at Truthout) notes that Camp Casey was in full swing in Crawford last weekend with the Bully Boy in town. Kennedy reports that Friday was spent at the checkpoint singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting "We are here with Cindy/We're here to ask/What noble Cause/We are here with Cindy now" dying Easter eggs and singing; with Saturday revolving around Pink Police actions. On the topic of CODEPINK, they have redesigned their website adding many new features and one of the new campaigns revolves around the video "Toy Soldiers" -- watching it and passing it on.

Cindy Sheehan will be speaking in Indiana Thursday. The South Bend Tribune reports she will deliver "Speaking Peace to Power" at 10:30 Thursday morning on the campus of Saint Mary's College (auditorium in Madeleva Hall). The event is free and open to the public. On last weekend, Cindy (writing at BuzzFlash) notes, "At our five acres of Camp Casey, we also announced phase two of our development from a protest camp to a peace facility. The Camp Casey Peace Institute is partnering with Farm Hands to create a therapeutic farm for Vets and their families and active duty soldiers. We are having our first build on Memorial Day Weekend to put up our lodge building."

Staying with peace news, we'll turn to US war resisters.
Meghan Eves (Canada's Eye Weekly) takes a close look at three war resisters who are among the 300 attempting to find refuge in Canada. Eves notes that Jeremy Hinzman was the first to apply for refugee status and that Hinzman's currently appealing the rejection by the Immigration and Refugee Board "to the Federal Court of Appeals but no date has been set"; that Joshua Key, his wife Brandi and their four children await the response of the Federal Court of Canada on his appeal (all war resisters have been refused refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board) and notes his book The Deserter's Tale, and Dean Walcott who self-checked out and went to Canada at the end of last year (December 2006) -- someone could pass it on to Paul von Zielbauer that Walcott and Key both suffer from PTSD.

Key, Hinzman and Walcott are part of a movment of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

Turning to Iraq, yesterday on
Flashpoints, Emily Howard spoke with Darh Jamail about the Doha conference and Iraq. On Iraq, Jamail noted the growing Iraqi refugee problem and how nothing was being done about it. They discussed his recent article at IPS on the topic of refugees and Jamail spoke of how when attacks were on going, the lucky ones were able to buy themselves or a relative out but, having exhausted their money with that, they were left to wander around or live in refugee tents. Those who could afford to get out, such as doctors, have already left. Dahr spoke of how the problem now was that a country was now in a situation where the people trained and needed for basic needs (electricity, water, etc.) are now leaving. Writing today at IPS, Jamail interviews Iraqi refugees now in Damascus including 68-year-old Abdul Abdulla who recalls of his family's time in Baghdad prior to leaving, "We stay in our homes, but even then some people have been pulled out of their own houses. These death squads arrived after (former U.S. ambassador John) Negorponte arrived. And the Iraqi Government is definitely involved because they depend on them (militias)."

Reuters reports that the International Red Cross has declared that "The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable" (ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl). BBC reports, "Four years after the US-led invasion, the ICRC says the conflict is inflicting immense suffering, and calls for greater protection of civilians." The ICRC issued their report in Geneva today.

The (PDF format) report is entitled "
Civilians Without Protection: The ever-worsening humanitarina crisis in Iraq" and notes:

Civilians bear the brunt of the relentless violence and the extremely poor security conditions that are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions. Every day, dozens of people are killed and many more wounded. The plight of Iraqi civilians is a daily reminder of the fact that there has long been a failure to respect their lives and dignity. Shottings, bombings, abudctions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere in Iraq or in neighboring countries. The hundreds of thousands of displaced people scattered across Iraq find it particularly difficult to cope with the ongoing crisis, as do the families who generously agree to host them.

The report addresses a number of issues including the medical care situation with the 'brain drain' and the violence causing many medical professionals to leave the country at a time when Iraqi hospitals are overcrowed. The report also notes this with regards to the water situation in Iraq:

Both the quantity and quality of drinking water in Iraq remain insufficient despite limited improvements in some areas, mainly in the south. Water is often contaminated owing to the poor repair of sewage and water-supply networks and the discharge of untreated sewage into rivers, which are the main source of drinking waters. Electricity and fuel shortages and the poor maintenance of infrastructure mean that there is no regular and reliable supply of clean water and that sewage is often not properly demanded.

On the subject of prisoners, "Tens of thousands of people are currently being detained by the Iraq authorities and the multinational forces in Iraq" -- often without any news of the prisoners being passed on to their families.

In addition to the above,
Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on the latest efforts to turn Baghdad into a series of "gated communities" -- part of the 220 page plan FM 3024 -- which is based on the fact that the easy areas can be 'secured' and then the 'security' can be spread out wider. More logically, as Fisk notes, is the greater of spreading out and depending on Iraqi soldiers, the less loyalty to the US forces and the greater the ties to Iraqis. (Meaning the Shi'ite or Sunni trained officers is more apt to blow off US orders than turn against an Iraqi who may be a threat to the US but is not seen as an Iraqi threat.)


CBS and AP report a Hilla bombing that killed a police officer and left three more wounded, a Mosul bombing that killed a police officers, wounded two more police officers and left six other people injured. Reuters notes mortar attacks in Baghdad that killed one and left 4 others wounded.


Reuters reports two police officers shot dead outside their homes in Kut, Abdul Abbas Hashim ("general director in the Electricity Ministry" shot dead in Baghdad.


Reuters reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 9 in Mosul.

cindy sheehan

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns

Susan wrote, "I'm so depressed by the do nothing Dems, write something about music tonight if possible, please."

Okay, but I'm not doing a review here. I've got two reviews I'm tossing in my head now. I'm not going to touch on those in the least.

One CD I was in the mood for today was Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns. Background, the album didn't do well in the mid-seventies. It wasn't a commercial flop and had a nice sales run in its day but it wasn't Court & Spark (her previous CD -- I'm having trouble with Blogger/Blogspot tonight and no more titles will appear in italics in this entry). Critically, it was really crucified. Joni was taken to task for the photo of herself in a bikini. As she pointed out, she is swimming in the photo. A number of photos were more explicit in the day (and Joni was naked -- backside view -- on For The Roses). There was also criticism of the songs on the album and that included some saying she was writing like an inhabitant of suburbia, a very comfortable in suburbia. This is Prince's favorite Joni Mitchell album and it has always had its supporters.

Warning, Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) and I are both having problems with Blogger/Blogspot tonight. The message that just went up is that only old Blogger/Blogspot is effect -- non-beta sites. That's crap. I called Rebecca and said, "I can't use the italics, I can't do much of anything and now I can't even type." She was having the same problem. It's Blogger/Blogspot. Right now, she can't even log in. (We both agreed to log out, shut down our computers and try to get back in. We did, but I can get in and she just gets an error message -- over and over.)

Due to problems, this will be shorter than planned. But back to Joni.

Joni's offered two theories. They don't conflict with one another. 1) She thinks that it was the build-you-up-to-tear-you-down process. She was riding high, time for the press to come after her. 2) She wasn't writing first person confessional songs on Hissing.

On the second one, that lyrics could offend wouldn't work with more artists as a reason because most people don't even listen to lyrics -- or listen closely. But Joni's base hangs on her every word so I find that as plausible as the tearing down.

I like Hissing. But I have my own reason for why it was less successful than I think it could have been. I think the two reasons Joni offers play into it.

I also think the arrangements are shit poor.

It seems like everyone is playing the same damn note. It gives the music this 'wall' feel (similar to wall of sound but it's just one note so it's not a wall of sound). It mono-chromatic. The rhythms never bothered me. "Shades of Scarlett Conquering" and other songs were on the money. Joni's vocals were strong. But, damn, were those instruments or the Mormon Tab. Choir?

Covering Joni's songs as her backup band on Miles of Aisles, the band was good. The same basic lineup with new material? They sound like a bad Carole King album. Where there's no time or care taken with arrangements. Along with the arrangements, the instrument choices don't help. Would it have killed to have one track on the album with a piano that wasn't being drowned out by an electric piano or electric keyboard?

I've never had a problem with the song writing. The songs are very strong. I have wished Joni would revist the entire project as a live album with real arrangements.

I don't think it's a bad album but the drone (that's what it sounds like, beez buzzing -- and that may fit with the concept that on a weekend day, everyone turns on their sprinklers and you hear the sounds of The Hissing of Summers Lawns) is just too much for me to listen to most days. I have to be in the mood for Hissing. If I'm not, it's a really bad musical trip.

"Bar & Grill," the piano work on that, there's nothing like that here. It's a drone. How many instruments can play the same note? It feels like a competition. Again, this is Prince's favorite album by Joni so if you've never heard it, that alone is reason to check it out.

This was it for me and Joni. I didn't follow the jazz trip. I didn't come back until the reviews for Wild Things Run Fast. I bought that on vinyl and honestly thought I'd been ripped off. I still do. I don't have it on CD. (I do have Hissing.) "Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody" was the only thing that moved me. (I bought Hits to avoid getting Wild Things on CD.) To me the praise for Wild Things was a response to Joni returning to the pop field. That really is an unlistenable album to me.

But that's my opinion and someone may disagree. I think her two other 80s album are much stronger, Chalkmarks in a Rainstorm and Dog Eat Dog. The latter, I think, is brilliant and up to the level of her strongest work. For years, I never found anyone who agreed with me on that. Before I met C.I., when we were just exchanging e-mails, I think I used that as a test, what did C.I. think about Dog Eat Dog? When C.I. wrote back that Dog Eat Dog was an underrated classic, I knew we'd get along. For me, Joni's strength returned on that album and there's been nothing since that I haven't been able to listen to repeatedly. I really love Dog Eat Dog. That is a classic to me. It's also a CD, that like Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, is pretty much always playing, year after year, on my stereo.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Sara Rich continues to tell her daughter's story, the same Congress that won't end the war doesn't listen to the story of Suzanne Swift, and the lies that led to an illegal war are explored.

Starting with the final section of Robert Knight's "Knight Report" on yesterday's

Meanwhile, there's little indication from London or Washington that the occupation will end any time soon. In London a confidential planning document drawn up by the Defence Ministry, called the "Operational Tour Plot," was obtained by the London Telegeraph which today disclosed that British troops will be serving in Iraq and throughout the Arab gulf at least until 2012. And finally in Washington, Congressional Democrats made it perfectly clear they have no serious intention of bringing the war in Iraq to an end before they can capitalize on it in time for the 2008 presidential elections. After a week's recess and backtracking on the non-binding and loophole laden timeline legislation which permits the Bush administration to continue the war in until the next presidential term Democratic leaders retreated even further than they did during the legislative debate. Among the retreaters Senator Carl Levin, the chair of the Armed Services Committee told ABC's This Week that, "We're not going to vote to cut funding." He said that after a veto "There's a number of options. Either we can keep the benchmarks part of the bill without saying that the troops must begin to come back and if that doesn't work what we will leave will be benchmarks for instance which would require the president to certify to the American people that the Iraqis are meeting the benchmarks for political settlement which they have set themselves." And that's some of the news of this Monday April 9, 2007 from exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for

Flashpoints is archived at its own website and at KPFA (which right now is having archive problems and has archived nothing since early Monday morning) and airs live from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday online and over the airwaves of KPFA, KFCF, KPFB and other stations. (A full transcription of Robert Knight's "Knight Report" appears in Hilda's Mix today.) Knight was speaking, first, of the news from the UK. Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) notes approximately half "of the country's armed services have now served in Iraq since the war began in March 2003" and that the revelations that UK forces will be in Iraq through 2012 and that report is "in marked contrast to a statement made by Tony Blair in Feburary giving the impression that British troops would remain in Ira for less than two years." On the earlier issue of the Democrats caving, as Joshua Frank (CounterPunch) notes, "The Democrats may not have enough votes to overturn a Bush veto, but they certainly have enough to filibuster the war-funding bill, which at this point is the only way to stop this god-awful disaster. One brave Democrat could take a stand, filibuster, and 40 more senators could then abstain from breaking the filibuster. That is all it would take. Bush would then have to be the one to compromise and produce a plan that was acceptable to the 41 Senate Democrats who want to end the war. But of course, we are more likely to see Dick Cheney drinking margaritas with Cindy Sheehan on the White House lawn before we'd witness this scenario play out." Tabassum Zakaria and Richard Cowan (Reuters) report that Bully Boy has "invited congressional leaders of both parties to the White House next week" to discuss the non-binding, toothless Congressional measure. That is the same measure he has stated he intends to veto and that Senator Carl Levin says, if he vetos, Democrats will immediately rush to fall in line (no power of the purse for Levin).

From the madness of the governments
To the vengeance of the sea
Everything is eclipsed
By the shape of destiny
So love me now
Hell is coming
Could you do it now?
Hell is here
Little soldier, little insect
You know war, it has no heart
It will kill you in the sunshine
Or just as happily in the dark
-- "No One Would Riot For Less" written by Conor Oberst, off Bright Eyes' Cassadaga

Turning to the topic of war resistance,
Paul Rockwell (CounterPunch) offers an open letter to Major General Charles Jacoby Jr. where he reviews the court-martial of Ehren Watada. In June 2006, Watada became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February of this year, he became the first officer to be court-martialed for refusing to deploy. Rockwell notes that the court-martial ended in a mistrial over the objection of the defense, argues that "now is a good time to drop all the charges against the Lieutenant, to bring closure to a trial that, in my opinion, should never have taken place" and concludes that "history will vindicate the courage of Lt. Ehren Watada." Pretrial motions are currently scheduled for May 20th through 21st and the court-martial for July 16th. Watada is represented by the Seattle based Carney Bradley Spellman and his attorneys are Kenneth Kagan and James Lobsenz.

Ehren Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Joshua Key, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

At a rally to show support for
Ehren Watada, Sara Rich ( writes, she and her daughter Suzanne Swift turned out to show their support and Swift asked, "Mom, where are the kids my age? Where is my generation?" Rich goes on to tell her daughter's story, sexually abused and harassed for the apparent 'crime' of thinking a woman could serve in the military, Swift was betrayed by the very system she attempted to defend. As Rich explains, her daughter did not self-check out because of an objection to the war but to save herself when the military refused to do so. Rich: "Confronting imminent redeployment she went AWOL. Later the Army would contend that she went AWOL because of her mother's political beliefs. I only wished it was that. If it was because of my political beliefs she never would have gone to Iraq the first place. Then they tried to say it was because of her own anti war beliefs. That would have been a dream come true. But the truth was that my daughter went AWOL out of pure fear; fear of what her command had done to her in the first deployment and rejection of being treated like a 'deployment whore' again. This was not a decision it was a reaction."

Suzanne Swift's reaction was perfectly normal, even before you get to the fact that she suffers from PTSD, not only was she abandoned by the military command that damn well should have prevented what she went through, the US Congress -- all those brave talking Senators, male and female -- sat on their collective asses which apparently kept their lips from moving. The military conducted a whitewash investigation (that still found validity and confirmation in some of Swift's charges), her offer was sign a paper saying she lied or face a court-martial. Swift was court-martialed, stripped of her rank, sentenced to 30 days and then placed back in the same system that not only did not refuse to ensure her safety, but failed to after she sought help. To repeat, Congress sat on its collective ass. That's Hillary Clinton, that's Carl Levin, that's Barbara Boxer, that's Russ Feingold, that's Susan Collins, that's Mr. uber-goodness Joe Lieberman.

Rich concludes, "It is amazing to me how much we have to be thankful to the Army for. They tried to break my daughter down and shut her up, and in the process created a strong advocate for women around the world. Imagine if they had done the right thing and protected from MLester in the first place or given her an immediate medical discharge when our attorney contacted Ft. Lewis right after she went AWOL and was diagnosed with PTSD. How simple and right it could have been. But the US military did not understand what they were doing or Suzanne's fortitude." A number of Congressional members who are also attempting to campaign for president have issued the "If only we knew then what we know now . . ." junk to excuse their support for an illegal war. What's their excuse for doing nothing about
Suzanne Swift? She should have received an honorable discharge. Congress should have immediately initiated hearings into what women serving in Iraq are actually having to endure. It's not too late for that nor is it too late to push for Swift to get the honorable discharge she more than deserves.

Rich offers that the people her daughter's age are waking up to the realities and will be showing up at protests in greater numbers. In Iraq yesterday,
hundreds of thousands participated in a Najaf rally against the occupation of the nation by foreign forces. Hiba Dawood (Free Speech Radio News) reported by speaking with Iraqis (an apparently novel and new thing to do when you consider how few others bothered to do so) taking part in the protest. One man noted 4 years have passed since the occupation of Iraq and what happened? Hundreds of thousands were killed, hundreds of thousands were wounded and arrested. They humiliate the Iraqi homes every day. The Constitution says that the Iraqi homes are protected but they invade homes anytime they want. We have to always remember Abu Ghraib and the abuses that has happened there including the sexual abuse against Iraqi women and the killing of those Iraqi women with their families." Ahmed Ali states: "The demands in this demonstration are different than the ones we had in 2005, for example. Then people demanded the condemnation of Saddm Hussein and called for the total and immediate departure of the occupation forces. Today, we demand that there should be at least a timetable set up for troops to leave. Our other demand is that want people in the occupying countries in the removal of their military forces from Iraq."

Following yesterday's cry for foreign forces to leave, the war drug on with all the violence that entails.


AFP reports: "A woman veiled in black and strapped with explosives blew herself up outside a police station in Iraq on Tuesday, killing 16 people, many of them volunteering to joing the polic eforce" in Muqdadiyah. CNN reports a Baghdad bombing targeting Baghdad Univeristy that killed at least six college students and left 11 more injured. CBS and AP report that "a rocket slammed into a schoolyard basketball court, killing a 6-year-old boy. AP Television News videotape showed children's backpacks and books still open on classroom desks, covered with shattered glass and debris. Blood was pooled on the dusty tile floor." -- the count given is 17 wounded. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two other mortar attacks in Baghdad that resulted in one death and four wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) notes an Iraqi soldier was shot in Kirkuk and, in Baghdad, an ongoing clash between Iraqis and US & Iraqi forces has left one Iraqi soldier dead and four injured and that "an eyewitness" says "one American reconnaissance aircraft was shot down." CNN notes that the US military states that "minor damage" was done to a helicopter which did not, according to the US military, crash.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Three MND-B Soldiers died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device and secondary explosion detonated near their patrol in a southeastern section of the Iraqi capital April 9. " And they announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Force-West died Monday while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." On the tenth day of April, ICCC is reporting that 45 US service membrs have died in Iraq so far this month. 3292 since the start of the illegal war. 3292 dead. Why?

The mythical mushroom cloud that Condi and Bully Boy pushed? The 16 words in the State of the Union 2003 address (a Constitutional duty of the office of president): "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That lie was
explored today by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), La Repubblica's Carlo Bonini and the Washington Post's Peter Eisner -- excerpt:

Amy Goodman: So we're back to the day that President Bush made his statement within the State of the Union address about Saddam Hussein's attempt to get uranium from Africa.

Peter Eisner, what role did the CIA play in this statement?

Peter Eisner: The CIA actually had attempted to block the statement by President Bush relating uranium purchases in Niger. And, in fact, three months before the State of the Union message, on October 7, 2002 -- strangely, the same day that Rocco Martino handed over the documents to Elisabetta Burba -- President Bush was scheduled to deliver a speech in Cincinnati, and the draft of that speech said pretty much what he ended up saying in the State of the Union message. That was, that the British had found that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium in Africa. The CIA was given routinely a copy of that text in advance and argued that that sentence about uranium should be removed. There was quite an argument between the lower CIA officials and White House staff, including Stephen Hadley, at the time the assistant National Security Advisor, now the National Security Advisor, once Condoleezza Rice became Secretary of State. Finally, George Tenet, the head of the CIA, had to intercede on October 7 and demand that the White House remove the sentence describing uranium purchases in Niger. It was quite a dust-up. As a result of that, the White House, burned, decided that in the interim it would not provide advanced text of presidential speeches to the CIA to avoid having to withdraw information that it didn't want to withdraw. So, the day before the State of the Union message, no one at the CIA had seen the text of the State of the Union message, until the night before. Someone just mildly passed a draft text to George Tenet during a meeting, which was not the normal procedure for vetting a document. And basically everyone at the CIA was surprised when President Bush uttered that statement, which had already been excised three months earlier. The response by the White House staff was, "Whoops! We forgot."

Amy Goodman: And yet, what happened? This was still before the President's address?

Peter Eisner: Well, in effect, George Tenet, the head of the CIA, the day before, received the text, handed it off to an aide, and nobody took a look at it. It could have been stopped, but usually, you know, days before, as the text is being prepared, written, analyzed, someone would look at it. In this case, they didn't, although the Bush administration did have allies elsewhere in the CIA that were kind of giving them cover to be able to make this statement, while a vast majority, I would say, of the intelligence community in the United States did not believe for an instant that Iraq was trying to buy uranium or that Iraq was trying to restart its nuclear program.

Carlo Bonini is the co-author of
Collusion: International Espionage and the War on Terror. Peter Eisner is the co-author of The Italian Letter: How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Cases for War in Iraq. Amy Goodman is the co-author of Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back and she will be speaking at Faneuil Hall in Boston next Monday (April 16th) with Howard Zinn -- event begins at 7:00 pm.