Saturday, July 21, 2007

Talking entry on Iraq, Borders and more

When logging in this morning, the screen showed that I had done 371 posts. I thought I'd talk about that a little. (We all stayed out late and had some fun. It was the first break C.I.'s had in who knows when.) Rebecca was nursing her baby and we were both saying, "I don't know what to write about." I feel bad for her because she's got Alberto Gonzales for a topic which does always give her something to write about (or usually does) but it also means she's got to do a lot of work before she writes one word.

So I thought I'd explain about this site since some new people have been e-mailing.

In the beginning, I did reviews for The Common Ills and helped out a little (not much and not every weekend) with The Third Estate Sunday Review. Now C.I. does 8 million things and with that example and Dak Ho saying, "Kat, you should do your own blog" -- and Toni parroting him and saying if I didn't and the illegal war was still going on in 2020 I would feel bad -- I finally agreed.

It's been going on for over a year now. Maybe two years? I have no idea when I started. It's all a long, long, drunken, blind drive home. I started in May 2005. C.I. just came through the kitchen (I'm at C.I.'s and Rebecca and I are blogging in the kitchen) and I asked. I have no idea when I started, C.I. doesn't even pause, immediately replies, "May 2005."

One of the things we quickly fell in to as a community was that our blogging would be a way to take some of the pressure off others. C.I. started. Rebecca followed, then Third Estate Sunday Review, then A Winding Road (now no longer blogging), then Betty, etc. Rebecca and C.I. were posting things at night originally. Rebecca still does. She always said, "I'm an evening paper! I'm not fit to see in the morning!"

But let me list the sites because I don't want to come back in and do links:

The Common Ills
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Mikey Likes It!
Cedric's Big Mix
Like Maria Said Paz
The Daily Jot
Trina's Kitchen

That's the order in which the current sites in the community started. And in case anyone's confused (like AlterPunk was) about who writes where:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
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 Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

I think I started out doing it twice a week. A Tuesday and a Thursday more than likely. During non-vacation weeks, Elaine's always off on Thursdays. Originally Cedric posted three times a week and grabbed Thursday's always because Elaine was off. At some point, a site not listed had a freak fit that C.I. was posting entries in the evening and arguging that drives the community away from "us" (the person's not a part of the community) so usually C.I. only does an entry on Sundays and Thursdays evenings and otherwise is done by the "Iraq snapshot" during the week. The Third Estate Sunday Review always posts on Sundays. Betty started out twice a week and then Thomas Friedman's column schedule got reworked and screwed up her entire schedule (her site is an online novel written from the prespective of Betinna Friedman, Thomas Friedman's wife).

But I was like the soap's B-plots. I don't know if they still have them. I haven't watched soap operas in years. But, back in the day, I would watch shows like Dark Shadows, The Doctors, Edge of Night and Love of Life. Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, you had the most popular ones. Let me use All My Children here because I did watch that a little in the 90s (it's Maggie's favorite soap to this day). You'd have Erica and whomever she was involved with on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you'd get Brooke who was popular but not that popular.

That's honestly how I've always (and still) see this site. I'm the B-plot. You come here, I give you a cup of coffee and we do the recap about what everyone else has done to catch the viewers up. Maybe you think, "Man, I wish they'd give Kat her own storyline!" But you never think (hopefully), "I wish they'd write Kat off!"

Now days I do five posts a week. And it can be wonderful that my CD reviews are so well received (thank you) but sometimes I do feel the need to scream, "I'm doing five posts a week now!" I also think that in retrospect, people are remembering the reviews coming out more often than they did. I could be wrong, but I think if you counted all my music stuff at The Common Ills for 2005, you'd probably get about the same number as in 2006 and 2007. Possibly not because C.I. was in DC for the 2005 January inauguration (protesting it) and I said I'd fill in and did two or three posts in one day at The Common Ills (all on music). (C.I. also did entries on the New York Times before someone reading thinks, "So C.I. has taken a day off!" Nope. Never.) (2004 should just be three music things. A review and 2 commentaries.)

But as we got done tonight/this morning and were headed back here, I was suddenly in a panic and Dona asked me why? I said I wouldn't be able to do a review this weekend. I was already too tired. Dona said, "That's nonsense, you just did one Sunday." Which is true, but it's also true people are already e-mailing about when's the next one?

And again, it's great that people care. But just to be sure we're all on the same page here, I either did the same exact amount in 2006 and 2005 that I'm currently doing or I'm doing a little more today (it feels like a little more) in terms of the CD reviews. Add in that I'm now doing this site and that does eat into the time. (Even a talking entry like this one takes time.)

The reason I started was to make sure I was doing my part re: the illegal war. I think that's the most consistent (possibly only consistent) thing you'll find here. I am opposed to the illegal war, I was opposed to it before it started. I have never adopted a new position or adapted my own to justify the illegal war and never will. It needs to end and it needs to end right away.

That's why I do try to go with C.I. whenever C.I.'s speaking in this area (500 mile radius) and will also hit the road with C.I. for an out of state trip if I have time to (work is required to pay the bills).

I think it was the summer of 2006 when I upped my output here. That was the summer when CODEPINK really was unstoppable. They had one action after another. (They are still active today. They get less attention probably because they're now a DC based group and they're doing one long action. I love CODEPINK but I do think the real action is outside DC and wish they would go back to that inventive and free wheeling style of 2006 and prior when they always bowled you over with their latest tactic. I'm not insulting them or calling them out. I am saying in terms of inspiration, they gave me more before they rented the house in DC. I'm sure they're doing outstanding work in DC but I think the really important work these days is coming from outside the Beltway. And the summer in DC really bores me because DC bores me. I'm speaking only for me. If someone wants to tattle on me to C.I. feel free. I'm not saying anything I haven't felt since the DC house first opened. I'm also not calling them useless or saying they've lost their way. I do worry that they will go the way of NARAL which used to be about abortion rights but now is nothing but a lobbying arm of Congress and a weak one at that. I miss the inspired and passionate days of CODEPINK. They probably still exist in large numbers this summer but nothing puts me to sleep quicker than DC. And I should note that locally, CODEPINK is still out in force, still creative and still fighting. Locally is the Bay Area.)

Being able to travel to different campuses with C.I. has just been inspiring. Tiring to be sure. Sometimes I feel (and I'm not going out every week with C.I. and whomever else) like I'm Cher or something on the never ending Farewell Tour. In my college days, I caught a few legs of a tour while I was doing music press and that was fun but I was always glad when it was over. But it's been really interesting to see the changes going on in the country and the things that students are doing. They aren't apathetic. They are building their own orgs and tools and they are out there trying to be heard. ("Crying to be heard," I think Stevie Nicks sings in "Twister.") That is so inspiring and they create the pressure that goes back to DC and forces the Dems to at least go through the motions of ending the illegal war (even though they lack the will to end it).

So that's what these days. And try to have a life. After the illegal war the biggest shock personally in my own life remains the end of Tower Records. I still can't believe it's over. There are days when I'm in the car and hear a song. I'll have my mind on something else and start automatically heading to Tower. Only it's not there anymore. Forget death of childhood, it's like the death of my life. And it's one more way our society is becoming less communal.

That's not me griping "kids today" but it is my noting that entertainment used to be something shared. Now we watch movies on our TVs, download our albums and probably very soon sit down in front of the TV for concerts instead of buying tickets. We really are, as C.I. pointed out a week or so ago, being encouraged to stay in our own little box. Go out in the world and work, then return to your box until it's time to work again.

People still listen to music and still share it with their friends. But most of my friends are people I would bump into at Tower and we'd both be the only ones who knew about whomever and we'd strike up a conversation. Then we'd see each other in Tower again and talk again. Pretty soon, we were meeting outside of Tower as well as in it. Sumner had just come to the US (from France) and knew no one at all when we were both looking for the new Maria McKee and ended up talking.

That sort of exchange can probably take place online today. You can encounter and meet. But you're really doing that from the safety of your box and I do worry that we're seeing an ever greater breakdown than ever before. That's not in a "things were so much better then" nostalgia. The past is the past. But if you think how hard it's been (and is) to end this illegal war, imagine 60 years from now when everyone's been conditioned to stay in their boxes and to think of signing an online petition as the height of activism?

I sometimes feel like we're being forced into our boxes to make us easier to manage. And that's my big fear. Tower? I miss it. I could buy at Borders very easily but feel like I'll next be grabbing a latte and driving a Volvo. Tower was my childhood, my early adulthood through present and I'm sorry it's gone. But what really concerns me is that at the same time we're losing our commons to Big Business we're also losing the spaces we carved out that weren't supposed to be our's. The stores and cafes that we made our own. Now individual places will fade and something will replace it. That's been the story in the past. But what I fear is that it's not being replaced. Instead you're being offered new reasons to stay in your box.

Cody's Books, that's another meeting place we lost in the Bay Area. And what's replaced it? Nothing. There's nothing like it. Go into Borders (if you know Cody's) and you'll see what I mean. It's very different, a very different vibe. Get your purchase and get out is the real vibe there. No time to browse and talk, no time to just look around. "Can I help you?" "Can I help you?" over and over to the point that it sounds like, "Buy something or get out."

And maybe that's just age or knowing what I want. But the reality is whenever I visit Borders, the answer is "No, you can't." If I ask about a CD, they'll go to their computer, punch in some stuff and then say, "It should be . . ." But I already checked. And it wasn't. Well that's where it should be. Same thing with a book. So despite their asking, "Can I help you?" the reality is that they can't and they don't want to.

I have a niece and I made the mistake of going to Border's one Christmas (because it was closer). My brother wanted a book with a baby opening presents. It was Christmas Eve. Could they help me? No, they couldn't. The 16-year-old (probably 19 but looked 12) listened to me explain that this was my niece's first Christmas where she'd really understand it (she was going to be four shortly) and my brother wanted a book where a child opened a present. It could be a drawing with a child doing so poorly or doing so well. Didn't matter, just something to read to them that night to prepare them for the next day. If it was poorly, that would be a "This isn't what to do" type lesson.

So he punches in some words on the keyboard of the computer and then tells me they have nothing like that in the store. They have a children's section. It's Christmas. There has to be a book -- Christmas, Birthday, what have you, where someone in a picture or illustration is opening a book. No, the computer doesn't show it.

Can he help me look? He sighs. He walks with me to the children's books and I'm looking at a table display he's pointing to (with nothing that's going to help me) before he suddenly disappears on me. I'm there for an hour going through picture books and narrow it down to six (out of twenty). When I settle on the six, I pass him talking on his cell phone to a friend and he says, "Psst!" I turn around and he explains it would really help him out (help him out!) if I mentioned when I checked out that he had helped me find the books.

It would have really helped me out if he had HELPED ME FIND SOME BOOKS.

But that is your typical Borders' employee from my experience. The last time I was in one, back in March, this blonde woman (14?) was giggling at the front counter with seven others while I waited in line to be told "Next." I was one of twelve people in line and we waited and waited. I later learned she was in management. That goes a long way towards explaining why Borders' Books sucks so much.

Twelve people in line at the front counter while eight employees laugh and chat and no customer is being waited on. There's also the guy who patrols the DVDs. He may have a job but everytime I see him, he's on the phone to his mother or his boyfriend (cell phone) having a loud conversation with one of the two while he walks around scowling. I don't mean to be a pain in the ass, but maybe if you're retail you shouldn't be allowed to have your cell phones on you?

Maybe if you're retail, you should leave your box at home and focus on the customers?

I especially love the Borders' employees who specialize in pointing. When Laura Flanders' book came out, I told C.I. I'd get it because I wanted to pay for to show my support for Laura. (True Grit is a great book, pick it up.) (C.I. had a friend at the publisher's who had sent several copies.) That was my first encounter with the breed of Borders employees who are trained in and specialize in pointing. "Can I help you?" "Do you have Laura Flanders' new book?" He pointed. Not at a bookcase or display but over to non-fiction which is a huge section. Well thank God for him! Otherwise I might have spent hours flipping through the music section trying to find Laura Flanders' new book among the Ben Harper CDs.

Now I don't need my ass kissed. I don't need phoney greetings (and hate stores that have those standardized greetings). I don't need anything but help when I ask for it. If I don't ask for it, you can leave me alone. I'm also aware that they probably make very little money. I don't expect to hear, "So good to see you again." But I do think that if you're working in retail and you're asked to help, you do help. I also think, sorry to anyone who works at Borders, that if I were a manager at Borders, I would tell everyone who worked there, "You do not take your cell phone out on the floor. If I catch you with it, you're fired." It's as though the snooty attitude of women's dress stores (where no one ever wants to do anything but chat on the phone) has invaded all walks of life.

So there's my rant. Let me post this and help Rebecca with her post. We're also supposed to wake Wally and Cedric in an hour because they want to get their post up early (to avoid C.I. having to wait around this morning).

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

Friday, July 20. 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the death toll mounts, a military judge sends the message that even if you're convicted in the killing of an innocent Iraqi you won't get any prison time, and the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk is Operation Push-Back.

Starting with war resisters. Ian Munro (Australia's The Age) explores the "estimated 250" US service members who have self-checked out and moved to Canada and zooms in on Dean Walcott and Phillip McDowell. Munro writes, "Mr Walcott's life was up-ended in 2004 at a military hospital in Germany when burns survivors from the Mosul mess tent bombing were shipped in." Like Walcott, McDowell served in Iraq before deciding to self-check out. Munro quotes McDowell stating, "I believed everything the Government told us about weapons of mass destruction, that there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. I was aware of the international opposition to going in, but growing up I always trusted my government" and reports, "By the end of his tour he saw the war as wrong, illegal and counterproductive, and was disturbed by the treatment of some prisoners. But he thought he was clear by the middle of last year when his enlistment expired. Then the army called him back. With his family's support, he and his partner Jamine took the Canada option in Ocotber." Jeffry House tells Munro that he estimates the number of war resisters in Canada to be 250 and, "Some don't want to go through the war resisters because they are a political group. Some people want to make the point about their concern but don't want to be part of a campaign." House represents many including Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key and Jeremy Hinzman. Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign tells his story, how he self-checked during Vietnam and moved to Canada -- where he's lived ever since and happily (to refute some of the nonsense offered earlier this week by a spokesperson for a group that does not represent self-checkouts) and he estimates there are hundreds who have self-checked out from today's illegal war and moved to Canada.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Yesterday, Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) noted that alleged 'withdrawals' pushed by Democratic leadership in the US Congress some how tend to factor in leaving troops in northern Iraq and the effects the Kurdish separatist movement has on neighboring Turkey which has its own Kurdish separatist movement. Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Gonzales and Juan Gonzales addressed the issue with the independent journalist Scott Peterson (Peterson reports for The Christian Science Monitor which actually is an independent publication and structured as one). As noted before, Turkey has an upcoming election and the tensions flaring between the regions has only increased -- whether or not for electoral gain is for someone else to determine. The region of northern Iraq has its own elections coming up which will determine its autonomy and with very little coverage from Western media, Kurdish flags have been planeted, families run off and those belonging to religious minorities have been either run off from the region or killed. Turkey alleges and identifies the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) as a terrorist organization and has argued that it is granted harbor in northern Iraq. Mortars have been exchanged and, on at least one occassion, Turkish troops have recently entered northern Iraq. From the broadcast:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Scott Peterson, this allegation by Turkey that the United States is indirectly assisting the PKK, is there any evidence of that, given the fact, obviously, that the -- isn't the PKK really a more, historically more of a leftwing insurgency, a secular insurgency that would be unlikely to be supported by the United States?
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, the PKK really disappeared as an organization for the past five or six years. In 1999, its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by the Turks, in fact. And in his first appearance in court, Ochalan said that the PKK had made a number of mistakes during the fifteen-year separatist war, that they should now try and work within the state and with state structures to find recognition of Kurdish rights and recognition of Kurdish culture. And he also said that they're no longer fighting for a separate Kurdish state. So those were all quite important changes that really kind of took the wind out of the PKK sails for many years. What we've seen in the last year or two now is a surge of PKK activity in terms of attacks -- certainly in terms of attacks that the government attributes to the PKK, and those are both in Ankara, others also in Istanbul, some targeting civilians and many targeting also soldiers, especially in Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey. Now, of course, the issue of who is supporting the PKK is a very thorny one, because, of course, the PKK remains on the list of terrorist groups, as officially designated by the US State Department. The United States has identified and chosen a special envoy specifically for countering the PKK. That's the title of Joe Ralston, General Joe Ralston. And so -- and, of course, the US denies that it is giving any support to the PKK, but from the Turkish point of view they say, Wait a minute, there are American forces who control all of Iraq, and therefore since the PKK has bases in northern Iraq, that means that by definition there are -- you know, that the US is somehow involved, if nothing else, in turning a blind eye. And you've also got apparently safe haven given to the PKK by Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq. And the reason for these latest accusations or allegations is, just in the past ten days or so there was a press conference that was purported to be from four PKK members who had fled northern Iraq. They appeared in Ankara at a press conference wearing masks and saying, we have just fled, that PKK militants are leaving their bases, expecting a Turkish invasion, and that also they had witnessed, they say, American troops actually offloading weapons at PKK bases for the PKK. And I have spoken to senior Turkish police officers who feel that the entire story is concocted, and I'm sure that would be the American view, too, but, again, it really does raise a lot of popular questions in the minds of Turks.

Elections in Turkey take place Sunday and for more on that you can read Scott Horton's latest piece in today's Christian Science Monitor. In addition, Katharine Kendrick (Turkish Daily News) reports that political parties in Turkey have forgotten to court one group: "recent Turkish citizens." Some context re: the conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey. The US administration is attempting to lay the groundwork for a potential attack on Iran with a lot of loosely sourced claims which -- at best -- if true would only demonstrate that some Iranians have involvement in Iraq. The US administration uses that unproven link to argue that the Iranian government, therefore, must be assisting. In Bite Back In Your Own Ass news, Today's Zaman reports that not only has Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdulla Gul declared that the US is arming the PKK in Turkey but also: "The US Department of Defense has launched an investigation into US-registered weapons sent to the Iraqi army ending up in the hands [of] the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq."In addition, the paper reports, "Former members of the PKK escaping from mountain camps in northern Iraq recently gave testimony in which they told securities authorities and prosecutors they had seen US trucks delivering arms to PKK camps." By the US administration's 'logic' with regards to Iran, Turkey should be drawing up their battle plans. Reuters reports that Turkey was shelling northern Iraq. Meanwhile the Turkish Daily News reports conflicts between Turkey and Austria after Austraia refused to arrest "Ali Riza Altun, a founding member and the chief financial operator of the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States" when he surfaced in Austria this month before moving on to northern Iraq.

Turning to England, the United Kingdom's Military of Defence announced: "It is with profound sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of one serviceman from 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and two servicemen from 1 Squadron RAF Regiment on Thursday 19th July 2007. They were killed in an indirect fire attack on the Contingency Operating Base in Basra, Iraq." Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that British forces are "the second-largest contingent of the American-led coalition in Iraq." ICCC lists the total number of British troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 162. ITV News reports that 126 of the deaths are classified as having "died in action" while the BBC reports the three deaths come after the announcement that "british troops in Iraq will be cut to 5,000 by the end of 2007." Michael Evans and Fiona Hamilton (Times of London) observe that the three deaths come "ten days after three British soldiers were killed in the same area of southern Iraq" Earlier this week, Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reported, on a new study by the Royal Stastistical Society that "found the death rate of British troops has now surpassed that of Americans, following a sustained upsurge of violence in the southern city of Basra."

Turning to the United States, today on
KPFK's Uprising, Sonali Kolhatkar spke with Erik Leaver of IPS (Institute for Policy Studies) on the topic of empire, Iraq and more topics addressed in the new report [PDF format warning] "Just Security." With regards to Iraq, the first step, stressed repeatedly, is getting all foreign troops out of Iraq. Kolhatkar brought up the demonizing the administration is attempting to do with regards to US Senator Hillary Clinton. As The Chicago Tribune reports: "Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, accused Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) of aiding the enemy by calling for contingency plans for a troop pullout. 'Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,' Edelman wrote in reply to Clinton's May inquiry. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Edelman's letter 'outrageous'." The demonization of Clinton for reqeusting information on contingency plans (which do already exist) is part of a full out assault by the administration, a push-back effort attempting to resell the illegal war long after the majority of Americans have turned against it and are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.
That's why, yesterday, US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, did a song and dance (via video link) for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Wally ("
THIS JUST IN! THAT'S A CROCK!") and Cedric ("It's a Crock") covered it in their joint-post. Crocker was selling the 'fear' because the administration knows to get what they want, honesty doesn't work; however, if they can scare the American public, they might stand a shot. Starting with the Crock which existed to sell the fear (as did all parts of the marketing). Reneee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) reports US Senator Richard Lugar asked, "Are you planning for an eventual change of mission or redeployment of American forces in Iraq?" But Crocker refused to admit a Plan B existed or was being created. Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) report that Crock said the benchmarks weren't being met and probably wouldn't. Cloud's whines were laughable since the US administration created the benchmark talk long before Congress even considered legislation on it.

But with more bad news coming, they needed to stall with something. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) would be reporting today, "A committee directed by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Bush to accelerate the transfer of security responsibility to Iraq's army and police has warned that Iraq is lagging in a number of categories. The quarterly report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, says the Finance Ministry is blocking the Iraqi military from spending $660 million to build a logistical network; that militias are an obstacle to handing over to Iraqis responsibility for security in three mainly Shiite Muslim provinces; and that competition among rival security organizations has prevented the country from settling on a national security structure."

None dare call it progress. Which is why the big talking point is "Forget September, We Need To Wait Until November." As
Kat noted last night, the new 'deadline' is supposed to November. Barbara Slavin's "General: September too soon to assess Iraq" (USA Today) noted that "the number two" (in Iraq), Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, was leading that pushback. Shanker and Sanger (New York Times) report, "Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that while he would provide the mid-September assessment of the new military strategy that Congress has required, it would take 'at least until November' to judge with confidence whether the strategy was working."To really make the push, Bully Boy left DC and the national press corps hoping to yet again get soft press from local outlets. James Gerstenzang (Los Angeles Times) reports the stop yesterday was Nashville to the always hyper-enthused audience of a local Chamber of Commerce, "Such visits draw little national attention, but the out-of-town stops gain extensive local coverage sought by the White House to counter the steady beat of the Iraq war on news pages, websites, television and radio. And they provide a backdrop of a White House seeking, city by city, to portray the president as focused on the breadth of his job and not just the war."

The pushback comes as Nouri al-Maliki's promise that Iraqi troops would be ready to take over responsibilities in Iraq is revealed to be just one more bad sales pitch.
CBS and AP report Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, did everything but sing Don Henley's "Not Enough Love In The World" as he declared that promise was no more: "We had hopes and intentions to take over security in all provinces and command of all army divisions before the end of the year. But there are difficulties and challenges that appeared along the way, in arming, equipping, recruiting and training our armed forces."

Al-Rubaie droned on about how difficult it was "to predict a certain time." A difficulty al-Maliki wasn't bothered by in April. And the endless, illegal war that doesn't result in the puppet or his masters getting upset has now claimed the lives of
52 US service members this month and the lives of 3631 US service members since the start of the illegal war (ICCC). The number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war gets closer to one million but no reason for a puppet government, hidden away in the Green Zone and protected and flattered by foreign forces and government, to care too much.

In the real world . . .


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala mortar attack that injured eleven. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that injured a police officer. DPA reports, "An Iraqi civilian was killed in a US helicopter attack in Mosul . . . The Iraqi civilian was killed and five others wounded Friday morning when a US helicopter bombed a residential area in Mosul" and two of the injured were children while two more women.


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was shot dead in an attack on a car in Baghdad (three were wounded) and notes 2 more shot dead in Al Muqdaya suburb and 2 women shot dead "in Nawfal" and that an attack in Al Wajehia has left numerous people displaced and at least 5 dead -- Jenan also notes that on Wednesday "gunmen attacked Waheda Abd Al Muhsan Member of Salahudding governorate council. The gunmen shot her convoy when she was going to Tikret."


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports and that a corpse was turned over to Al Muqdadya hospital while, yesterday, the corpses of Zena ans Suha Khusai (sisters kidnapped two days prior) were discovered in Mosul. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi (New York Times) report that 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad yesterday.

Turning to legal news. Yesterday, we noted that Trey A. Corrales and Christopher P. Shore were each charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian on or around June 23rd. Today, AP reports that Albert Corrales Sr. has stated his son is innocent (though "he hadn't talked to his 34-year-old son about the death") and quotes him stating, "I think that it's wrong because the people he supposedly shot, they were terrorists and he was under orders to clean them out, and he did." In other father and son legal news, Michael Vick (19-year-old) and James Vick (44-year-old) have both been charged. Lindsay Wilcox (KLTV, Tyler, TX) reports that the father's been held by authorities since May while the son "was arrested at DFW Airport [Dallas, TX] on Tuesday after returning home from Iraq" and that the two men are charged in the sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl and a nine-year-old girl who had been foster children in the Vick home during 2003 and 2004. Cindy Mallette (Tyler Morning Telegraph) spoke with Sgt. Wendell Wilcher of the Anderson county's sheriff's department who stated that "the Army released Michael Vick from his Iraq duties after the sherrif's department obtained a warrant for his arrest. He said the Army is considering Vick's status and may discharge him at some point in the future." Paul Stone (The Palestine Herald) also spoke with Wilcher who has been interviewing other children who stayed with the Vicks and states there will be more names added: "There's definitely going to be more than two. We may have a considerable amount of children. It's hard to say." AP notes the bail for each man is set at $300,000 and that Michael Vick is "assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington." On Wednesday, marine Trent Thomas was found guilty in the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was dragged from his home, bound and murdered. Thomas was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder by a jury of his military peers. Although he could have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, the military judge instead decided murder, lying, and more was no big deal. AP reports Trent Thomas' 'punishment' is to be discharged from the military and face a reduction in pay. And? That's it. No prison time for the man convicted by his peers in the murder of an innocenct civilian.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Now they want to wait until November

Did you see it coming? From Barbara Slavin's "General: September too soon to assess Iraq" (USA Today):

The No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq said Thursday that it would be at least November before he could fully assess whether the U.S. military strategy in Iraq is working.
The Bush administration has urged Congress to wait until a report in September from Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker before considering a reduction of the 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, Petraeus' deputy, told reporters at the Pentagon via video link from Baghdad that there had been "significant success in the security arena" in recent weeks but that September might be too soon to say with certainty whether the progress was "just a blip."
"In order to do a good assessment, I need at least till November to do that," Odierno said.

Oh, they're going to restart the clock again? November's now the due date?

I don't think so. I don't think an illegal war that officially launched in March of 2003 needs anymore time to determine it's outcome. It was lost years ago.

But that's what they think they can do. They think they can ignore the will of the people. The people have spoken. Congress jerks the people around and Bully Boy just lies to us over and over.

The question is how much longer are we going to put up with this crap?

At what point do we stop saying, "I'm against the illegal war" and start screaming, "Ending this f--king war!"

I'm pissed that they think they can get away with this and I'm even more pissed that they probably will get away with it. I hope you're angry, pissed or ticked off. I hope you can manage more than miffed. Miffed isn't going to end the war.

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

Thursday, July 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more service members, funding the war is funding the killing and more.

Starting with war resistance. Joshua Key began serving in Iraq in April 2003. Approximately six and half months later, he made the decision to self-checkout. In Michelle Mason's brilliant documentary
Breaking Ranks, Key (and others) share some of what we they saw in the illegal war. The section with Key in the film that may stand out most is when explains coming upon "heads and bodies. And American troops in the middle of them saying 'we lost it.' . . . I seen two American soldiers kicking the head around like a soccer ball." Key has also told his story in this year's The Deserter's Tale which has consistently earned strong reviews. In the book, Key charts his life growing up in Oklahoma, his time in Iraq, his decision to self-checkout and the decision for his family (Joshua and Brandi Key and their four children) to relocate to Canada. Among the many incidents he witnessed in Iraq was one on the way out of al-Habbaniyah where they passed many onlookers including an unarmed man sitting in a chair.

As we approached, I saw the seated man raise his leg to bare the sole of his foot at us, a sign of disrespect. We all knew that this was the Iraqi equivalent of the middle finger -- a clear "f**k you." As I watched, Sergeant Gurillo -- perched atop an APC just ten feet ahead of mine -- put the man in the sights of his semiautomatic rifle. Gurillo's rifle had a lever allowing it to be used as a machine gun or for firing single bursts, and Gurillo -- a short stocky guy who was known to us all for getting love letters from both his wife and his girlfriend -- must have switched the level to single-shot mode. He tipped the barrel of the rifle down ever so slightly, squeezed the trigger, and shot the man squarely in the foot.

That incident is one of many recounted (p. 140 for that one) throughout the book. It's actually one of the milder incidents in the book. But someone offers the equivalent of the middle finger and they get shot. All of the incidents Key observed and took part in, as well as the illegal nature of the war itself, resulted in Key's conclusion that he had no choice but to say no to illegal war, From page 99:

My own moral judgment was disintegrating under the pressure of being a soldier, feeling vulnerable and having no clear enemy to kill in Iraq. We were encouraged to beat up on the enemy, we picked our fights with civilians who were powerless to resist. We knew that we would not have to account for our actions. Because we were fearful, sleep-deprived, and jacked up on caffeine, adrenaline, and testoserone, and because our officers constantly reminded us that all Iraqis were our enemies, civilians included, it was tempting to steal, no big deal to punch, and easy to kill. We were Americans in Iraq and we could do anything we wanted to do.

If he had stayed silent, if he'd refused to take a stand, who knows how many media outlets would hail Key as a hero? Saying no to an illegal war is heroic. As
Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) observes, "It is not that these soldiers are evil. They are victims who have been assigned an evil job. Some in the military -- people with extreme courage -- have resisted, have spoken out, have risked court martials, have refused orders, have deserted, but it is too much to ask most men and women in such a situation to be similarly courageous." Which is why those who do take a stand need to be supported and applauded.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

The war is illegal. War crimes are being committed.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today that US marine Trent Thomas was found guilty in the April 26, 2006 death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad: "Awad was dragged from his home, shot and then planted with a weapon to make it appear he was a militant planning an attack. Five other service-members have pleaded guilty in the case." Reuters noted that Thomas was "convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder". Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) addressed this yesterday and noted that, throughout the case, the defense maintained that Awad was a "legitimate target" which shows no remorse or accountability. CNN reminds that Thomas had originally pleaded guilty in a plea agreement before changing his mind and withdrawing his plea and that he will be sentenced today. In February, Dave Hasemyer and Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on Thomas' announcement ("stunned the judge"0 that in the midst of what would have been his sentencing hearing, Thomas declared he was withdrawing his guilty plea after having agreed to it three weeks prior. When he entered the guilty plea in January, Thomas told the judge that his own actions had disgraced the military, admitted they planted a weapon on Awad after killing him, and more. But, Hasemyer and Rogers reported, Thomas withdrew the plea at the start of February with the claim that the orders were lawful. Lawful? In January, AP reported on the hearing where Thomas entered the original guilty plea and had Thomas testifying that Melson J. "Bacos started to spaz out, to freak out. He started saying we were going to get caught" and that "Squad leader Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III then called in over the radio that they had spotted a man digging a hole, Thomas said. Someone fired a shot, then he and others in the squad opened fire." At this point Awad was already dragged from his home, already bound, already had a shovel and a gun planted near him -- lawful orders? Lawful orders don't require any of that and they certainly don't require cover stories -- spazzing out or not. Allison Hoffman (AP) reports that one of the defense arguments this week was that Thomas may have "a traumatic brain injury [which] impeded the Marine's ability to say no when his squad leader ordered him to snatch the man from his home in Anbar province". To be clear, that man was not Awad -- when they could not find that man, they went after the grandfather Awad. Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) explains that Thomas was convicted by a jury composed "of three officers and six enlisted personnel" who "deliberated six hours before reaching its verdict."
Goodman also noted, "Two US soldiers have been charged with murdering an Iraqi civlian in Kirkuk last month. A lieutenant colonel has been relieved of command in connection with the case." CBS and AP identify Michael Browder (Lt. Col.) as the commander who has been "relieved of his command . . . although he is not a suspect and has not been charged, the military said" and identified the two charged as Sgt. 1st Class Trey A. Corrales and Spc. Christopher P. Shore. Browder is not a suspect but the US military press release is not blowing kisses and bearing hugs, noting Browder "was relieved by Maj. Gen Benjamin R. Mixon, commander, Multi-National Division -- North and Task for Lighning, based on the totality of the circumstances surrounding this incident and due to a lack of confidence in his ability to command effectively. The alleged murder was committed by Soldiers under Browder's command." The statement notes that the death in question took place ("on or about") June 23rd "in the vicinity of Kirkuk". Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) reports, "The two men, who are based at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii, were stationed near Kirkuk, an oil-rich city that has seen increasing violence and heightened tensions between ethnic groups. Military officials said the murder probe was launched based on information provided by other U.S. soldiers." Al Jazeera notes that charges against two US soldiers for murdering Iraqis were announced last month (and like Trent Thomas' crime, the two are accused of planting weapons to excuse the murders): "Sergeant Michael Hnsley and Specialist Jorge Sandoval were charged with the murder of three Iraqi nationals in three separate incidents . . . between April and June near the town of Iskandiriya".

Staying with war crimes, Tuesday,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted the deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh of Reuters last week had resulted in the "news agency . . . calling for a thorough and objective investigation into the U.S. military action last week that left two of its Iraqi staff members dead. . . . Reuters announced on Monday that it had recovered two cameras that were being used by Noor-Eldeen. Photos on the cameras show no evidence of the firefight described by the U.S. military. Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said: 'Our preliminary investigation raises real questions about whether there was fighting at the time the two men were killed." Eye witnesses last week stated there was no exchange of gun fire going on when the Reuters team arrived. A US air strike killed the two journalists. Today, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the attacks on journalists in Iraq -- the deaths and being held captive by the US military -- with Scott Horton who spoke specifically of AP's Bilal Hussein who has been imprisoned by the US military since April 12, 2006. "He was grabbed in Ramadi by a [US] patrol. The initial announcement by the Baghdad command was that he was caught red-handed in some sort of action. Of course, I interviewed some of the people involved in detaining him. They told me that ws a complete lie, that they had been sent out on a mission to get him and that the instructions had come way, way up the chain of command. In fact, the implication being that it hadn't been decided in Baghdad. It had been decided in the Pentagon, in Washington." From the broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: You referred to the US cameraman. This is the case that you seriously investigated. In fact, didn't you represent him, the CBS cameraman? SCOTT HORTON: The CBS cameraman, that's right.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain his case, to give us some insight. He has since been released.
SCOTT HORTON: He was released one week before Bilal Hussein was arrested. In fact, we think there's some connection between these two events. But he had been taking pictures of an attack on an American convoy that occurred in Mosul in the north of Iraq, and he was shot as he did this. CBS was told in the first couple of hours after the event that he was going to be released, and then he continued to be held. And he kept being moved around. And we learned that the center of decision-making had passed out of Iraq and was being taken in the Pentagon, in Washington. And in the Pentagon and Washington, unnamed senior press spokesmen, we believe an assistant secretary of defense, were telling reporters, off the record and not for attribution, that he had been found with photographs of four separate incidents of attacks on Americans at the time of the attack. And when we got to the end of the case and the trial, we discovered that was a conscious lie. Absolutely not the case. But it was reported, by the way, on CBS on continuous feed for thirty-six -- excuse me, on CNN on continuous feed for thirty-six hours, as well as on FOX News. Neither of them ever corrected the false statements that were put out. JUAN GONZALEZ: What is the impact on the journalists who are in Iraq when you have situations like this of the military just grabbing people and holding them indefinitely without charges?
SCOTT HORTON: Well, we have -- I mean, we need to start with the fact that we have more than 110 journalists at this point who have been killed in Iraq. That’s twice the number who were killed in World War II. The number of journalists who have been arrested is now into the thousands. Most of those arrests are simply for establishing identity, and they are resolved in a period of four to six hours, but many of them have gone on for weeks and indeed months, and it is -- you know, it creates continuous pressure on the journalists. But the most disturbing thing here is a tendency on the part of the US military to view these journalists as, quote, "the enemy." And back three months ago, we actually got to see some classified operational security briefing materials that were prepared by the Department of Defense, in which they labeled journalists in a category together with al-Qaeda and drug dealers as potential enemy, to be treated and viewed as such. That leads to people being killed, by the way.

Staying on 'detentions.'
Baghdad Observer is one of two blogs McClatchy Newspapers provides that cover Iraq. Leila Fadel ("Baghdad bureau chief") writes at Baghdad Observer. Tuesday, she wrote of returning to Baghdad (from Beirut) when two people were not present. First, "One person was missing. One of our senior drivers, an elegant man and former pilot, hasn't been to work in weeks. His neighborhood has deteriorated as Sunni insurgents and the Shiite Mahdi Army, radical cleric Muqtada Sadr's militia, fight for control of the area. He hasn't stepped foot outside his home, afraid that he will be killed. Instead his 22-year-old son is sleeping at the hotel and working in his place." Second, "Hussein isn't here either. Our Iraqi reporter is in Basra visiting his father. The man was detained in May by the U.S. military. We weren't told why. I had been working to get him released and one U.S. military official promised me his papers were being processed for release. On my break in Beirut, I got an e-mail from the bureau. He had been transferred to Camp Bucca in Basra. No release in sight, no answers about why he is in detention."

Staying on the violence, Inside Iraq is a blog done by McClatchy Newspapers' Iraqi journalists. Yesterday, in "
One Question," a taxi ride experience was shared where the cab driver informed the journalist of his life since the start of the illegal war -- a missile resulted in a 4-year-old daughter who can't hear or speak, the driver's three brothers are dead, thugs moved into the neighborhood and his family had to give up their home, etc. leading the journalist to note: "We have more than 100000 US soldiers in Iraq and about 300000 Iraqi security forces. What are they doing? Can Mr. Bush or our Prime Minister Mr. Nouri Al Maliki answer my question?" "Not Enough" went up today and tells the story of two young children ("one still a baby running around bare footed on the lawn with his milk bottle in his hand, his sister chasing him with a big fluffy monster making monster sounds") playing in their yard when a bomb went off in the neighborhood resulting in shattered glass, the "two children, cut up, barely alive".

At the Times of London, Deboarah Haynes writes about her life as embed in Inside Iraq which might better be called Escorted Through Iraq.
On July 14th, she wrote of accompanying the US military "across the dusty farmland of Arab Jabour, south of Baghdad" and found explosive devices littering the grounds which caused her to note that, since she "had no night-vision goggles," she had to trail closely behind the US soldier ahead of her. She frets over that but somehow forgets that most Iraqis will not have a US military escort in crossing the terrain. A similar myopia occurs as she writes of riding around "in up-armoured Humvees" ("nerve-wracking") while wearing "bulky body armour" and her fretting and free association never seems the least bit aware that she's several times more protected than is the average Iraqi. Reality comes out inadvertantly, seeping through the Noblesse Blondige attitude. Dr. Susan Rosenthal (CounterPunch) notes the dissociation going on in Iraq, in the military and in the media, "The barbarism of the Iraq war is creating mass dissociation in Iraq and America. Iraqis are going out of their minds with suffering. So are their tormentors, the American soldiers who are themselves tormented by what they have seen and done. Ordinary Americans must also dissociate in order to live 'normal' lives while a horrific war looms menacingly in the background. Such dissociation provides temporary comfort, while allowing the war to continue. The media encourages mass dissociation, presenting santized coverage of the war and sedating commentary that drips with lies."
Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) reports the death of 19-year-old Sahwbo Rauf Ali who was murdered by her husband and several of his peers (two of which have British citizenship) in an "honor killing" which are "numerous . . . in the Kurdish region each year" and that the province of Sulaimaniya has had 24 reported honor killings with arrests "made in only five of these cases." As Salih notes, not all honor killings are reported or tracked and some women are encouraged to kill themselves.
Funding the war is funding the killing. Which is why non-cheerleaders aren't doing cartwheels and splits over the Senate Democrats sleep-over.
Joshua Frank (CounterPunch) notes, "Not only were the Democrats' please to set a timetable for withdraw fully pathetic, so too was their moral indignation. . . . The Democrats don't really want to end the war despite their veneer of opposition. If they desired to end the war they would have halted its funding long ago." It's why Dr. Susan Rosenthal (CounterPunch) explains, "The Democrats consistently betray the anti-war movement, and liberal leaders of the social movements tail the Democrats. The recent vote to bring most American combat troops home next April is just another sham. All troops must come home now, combat and occupation forces, because Iraq belongs to Iraqis. Delaying the pullout only compounds the misery and provides politicians with enough time to change their minds." Pham Binh (Dissident Voice) calls out the nonsense as well noting the now failed Levin-Reed measure "would not end the war, close the permanent bases the Pentagon is building in Iraq, or get any troops out of harms way. I've read the text of the doomed amendment. It would require some unstated number of troops to be withdrawn, starting within four months of the bill's passage and ending by April 30, 2008." Norman Solomon (Common Dreams) notes the nonsense as well, "It was a chilling moment on a split-screen history. While the Senate debated the Iraq war on Tuesday night, a long-dead senator again renounced a chronic lie about congressional options and presidential powers" -- Wayne Morse featured in a clip of War Made Easy in a CBS Face The Nation appearance responding to Peter Lisagor's assertion that "the Constitution gives to the president of the United States the sole responsibility for the conduct of foreign policy."

"Couldn't be more wrong," Morse shot back. "You couldn't make a more unsound legal statement than the one you have just made. This is the promulgation of an old fallacy that foreign policy belongs to the president of the United States. That's nonsense." Lisagor sounded a bit exasperated: "To whom does it belong, then, Senator?" Again, Morse didn't hesitate. "It belongs to the American people," the senator fired back. And he added: "What I'm saying is -- under our Constitution all the president is, is the administrator of the people's foreign policy, those are his prerogatives, and I’m pleading that the American people be given the facts about foreign policy --" "You know, Senator, that the American people cannot formulate and execute foreign policy --" "Why do you say that? Why, you're a man of little faith in democracy if you make that kind of comment," Morse retorted. "I have complete faith in the ability of the American people to follow the facts if you'll give them. And my charge against my government is we're not giving the American people the facts."

The film in question is
War Made Easy which uses Solomon's book of the same title as the spring board for a riveting documentary. As Cindy Sheehan (AfterDowningStreet) maintains, "It is my belief that for all of human history, we have been giving 'war a chance' and it has never worked. There has never been a 'war to end all wars.' No matter how much BushCo blather, peace cannot be spread by the use of force and democracy cannot be forced on a people at the end of a M-16. Congressional Democrats are busy throwing up smokescreens . . . or bones . . . to their 'anti-war' left by their meaningless bills after they gave George 120 billion more dollars to wage these wars of aggression and potentially invade Iran. As one of my peace idols, John Lennon said let's 'give peace a chance'." Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is taking part in the Journey for Humanity and Accountability and more information on that is available at Camp Casey Pease Institute.
Reuters notes the bombing of a "minaret" (think column or tower) on a Baghdad Sunni mosque (which will no doubt lead to response bombings), a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 people and a mortar attack in Baghdad that claimed 1 life (seven more injured).
Reuters notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in a home invasion in Hawija

Reuters notes 8 corpses were discovered in Mosul and the corpse of Lt. Col. Salam Shanoun was discovered along with the corpses of his 5 bodyguards following yesterday's kidnapping.

Today, the
US military announced: "Four Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital July 18." And [PDF format warning] they announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed by small arms fire July 19 near Rushdi Mullah."
ICCC total number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it started is currently 3628 with 49 for the month.
Meanwhile, the ICCC total for British troops is 159 and
Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reports, "British troops serving in Iraq are being killed at a proportionally greater rate then their American allies for the first time since the start of the war. The stark finding marks a 'watershed' for British involvement in the conflict, it is claimed, and had led to calls for the Government to set an immediate timetable for withdrawal from the war-torn country. Prof Sheila Bird, the vice-president of the Royal Stastistical Society, analysed British and American fatalities from May 2006 to June 2007, and found the death rate of British troops has now surpassed that of Americans, following a sustained upsurge of violence in the southern city of Basra."
This summer, Tina Richards'
Grassroots America and Iraq Veterans Against the War are launching the campaign Funding the War is Killing the Troops. As Pham Binh (Dissident Voice) notes IVAW's membership is growing. And the new CBS News-New York Times polldemonstrates (yet again) that the public and the illegal war have parted. Support is not coming back for it. 61% of respondents stating Congress should only fund the illegal war if it has a timetable for withdrawal and only 28% believe that Congress should continue funding regardless. 74% of respondents say the illegal war is going badly, 25% live in the land of delusion and say it's going "well." Currently 8% of respondents are saying, "Block all funding." By refuting the lies of US Senator Carl Levin and others, the Funding the War is Killing the Troops campaign can make that 8% number soar much higher.
joshua key

iraq veterans against the war

norman solomon

democracy now
amy goodman
juan gonzalez

mcclatchy newspapers

joshua frank

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

England's Other Queen

You probably know of Queen Elizabeth, but have you met Niall Stanage? He's England's other queen. In a nasty little piece of crap, he issues his own royal edict that Cindy Sheehan is dead, dead, dead, off with her head!

He thinks it matters what Daily Constipation and it's inspid little minions do. Daily Constipation is run by a right winger. He was a Reagan-ite, his life before arriving in the US raises eyebrows, and he's a little snot nothing. It's no surprise he's banned Cindy Sheehan. He also banned the journalist Chris Floyd. He's an idiot whose ass may be kissed even more than WalkOn.

He and his squeaky little voice are among the biggest jokes in US politics. He styled himself as a Democratic cheerleader because he's a businessman and saw an opening.

Niall probably knows that, probably ignores it. That's because Queen Niall is on a mission, the same one the Red Queen had with Alice: Off with her head.

Cindy Sheehan is a threat to Niall because she might run against Nancy Pelosi. Niall has voted for Pelosi in one election after another and . . .

Oh, no. He hasn't. He presumably votes in Belfast. Queen Niall is off the rocker and taking American Congressional politics just a tad too seriously for a foreigner. I don't criticize the late Princess Diana or wrap myself around what Prince Charles has done. I don't fret over it because I do understand my nose doesn't belong in everyone's business.

Queen Niall knows what Americans need most, no, what the world needs most, is his attack on Cindy Sheehan. Queen Niall sat on his throne and crapped. Hopefully, he remembered to flush.

Keeping it short tonight because we've all got plans. (Almost all.) We're doing a group thing.

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the Senate Slumber Party ends, the killing in Iraq continues, and more.Starting with war resister Phil McDowell. War Resisters Support Campaign notes: "Phil McDoweel is from Warwick, Rhode Island and a former SGT in the United States Army. He joined the Army in 2001 after the September 11th attacks during his senior year at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie New York, where he majored in Information Technology. As part of the First Cavalry division he served in Iraq from March 2004 to March 2005. A month and a half after being discharged in June 2006 he received notification that he fell under the Army's Stop-Loss policy and was to return to his unit at Fort Hood, Texas for a second deployment to Iraq. Shortly after returning to his unit he made the decision not to take part in the illegal war and moved to Canada in October of 2006. His partner Jamine Aponte, joined him a month later in November. They now live in Toronot where they have started their new life."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.Iraq Veterans Against the War are among those working not only to end the illegal war but to get across the very basic point: Funding the war is killing the troops. Joel Bleifuss (In These Times) interviews IVAW's Vincent J. Emanuele who hails from Chesterson, Indiana, went to Iraq in March 2003 and credits Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 with giving him "a new perspective" and one he was open about while serving. His opinion of the illegal war, "This war is tragic. It was not needed. To die in this war is a wasted death. Had I died, I would have indeed died for nothing -- or maybe not for nothing, but for oil and dollars and cents. To be brutally honest, the war was a money-making machine. And it hurts to think of it that way and that you have been used.""The war's going to end. It's now really," Tom Hayden declared, about "scheming on the part of Machevilians" as to whether they can continue the illegal war as it is or be forced to scale back (and pretend they're ending it). "The other end is that all the military troops" come home and "the military bases are closed down" but no presidential candidate or member of Congress has the will to end the illegal war because "they've bought into the myth that if they end the war our superpower status will end". "What you do, what will all do will determine the behaviors of the politicans going into the election"Hayden spoke in Pasadena and KPFK's Uprising broadcast the speech today. Members who listen (or already have) and want to share comments or want my comments can e-mail. What we're noting from the speech is factually correct or Hayden's opinions. (Comments about Democracy Now! starting up as a result of the Iraq war, for instance, are wrong. Democracy Now! began in 1996 and it started to follow the 1996 elections.) Hayden's newest book is Ending The War In Iraq.Hayden's opinion is that the most likely outcome on Iraq is a partial withdrawal to mitigate popular outrage due to impending elections and continue the illegal war.He spoke of traveling around the country and being "surprised myself" to find that "the anti-war movement" was so large and notes one possible "reason the peace movement today is invisible" in some ways is due to the fact that "generally, it's led by women." (A comment on the marginalizing of women by the mainstream press.) Hayden also explored the topics of the pillars that support war and how "putting people power to the pillars" can end a war.The pillars propping up war include public opinion (which is now gone and has been gone domestically since 2005), bipartisanship (to make it acceptable, to argue "national security" and -- though not noted -- to silence dissent that could kill the war before it starts), troops and the capabilities to add more troops, the budget (where monies could have instead be spent), American 'prestige' around the world, public perception (including your own).Hayden spoke at length on the pillar of troops noting that if you read reporting closely, as well as the James Baker Circle Jerk, you will find the cautionary notes that "the armed forces will not be able to continue past next spring". He noted the increased difficulty of recruiting and stated this "accounts for many of the military, including leadership, but not all, trying to divert" the Bully Boy away from his illegal war of choice.On the topic of "your own perception and your country's perception," Hayden noted that the illegal war "is a dirty war" with secret prisons, "Americans secretly training Iraqis in the black arts of counterinsurgency," etc. On the issue of Abu Ghraib, Tom Hayden noted the press did not break that story, "Joseph Darby, a prison guard, saw them [photos] on a laptop and, for some moral reason, turned them over to his superiors . . . and then and only then did the military start to investigate and the media begin to pick it up. . .. And we still haven't seen all the photographs." Even in a supposed free society and democracy, Hayden noted, we haven't seen all the photographs.Nor have we heard all the details. In speeches, Sy Hersh enjoys mentioning the sodomizing of at least one child in Abu Ghraib but has yet to write about it. (On Iraqn, Hersh obsession of the last three years, Hayden noted that presidents confronted with a losing and unpopular war often attempt to widen it but his personal opinion was that the power structure in this country would not tolerate expanding the illegal war to also include Iran.) Last week, [Language warning -- F-word throughout the clip for those who may listen at work] Information Clearing House posted a video of an unidentified American male discussing his time working at Abu Ghraib which includes being taught various techniques by the CIA, expressing the belief that everyone imprisoned there was guilty because the Iraqis were guilty of not taking Saddam Hussein out of power themselves, and of an Iraqi women that several Americans had sex with (probably rape, but he doesn't use that term) who ended up killing herself (in prison) which was just as well, according to the male, because she probably would have been stoned when she left the prison anyway. We'll return to the topic of Iraqi women but first, the obsession: Democrats in the Senate.Democrats in the Senate invited Republicans to a sleep-over last night. Kay Bailey Hutchison got her bra frozen, Lindsey Graham put Orrin Hatch's fingers in water causing Hatchet-face to wet himself while sleeping, and short sheeted Tom Coburn's cot causing Coburn to hiss, "So what! You think I care? I'm for smaller government!" It was a public relations stunt on the part of the Democrats, an attempt to rebuild their plummeting ratings. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid started off spewing fire and brimstone but, as Shailagh Murray, Paul Kane and Debbi Wilgoren (Washington Post) observed, that changed quickly: "Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) initially warned that votes on legislation to withdraw combat troops could occur at any time during the night, he agreed shortly after midnight to delay even procedural votes until 5 a.m. and to put off until 11 a.m. a vote on legislation to bring home most troops by May." Most? Hold on for that. The usual Party Hacks and Dream The Acceptable Dream types were out in full force. announced, "Republicans in the Senate are planning to block a vote early next week on ending the war. Let's be perfectly clear on this: Republicans are blocking this vote because they know they'd lose. It's time to leap into action. As Repbulican filibuster on Tuesday, we're holding citizens' counter-filibusters on Tuesday night. We'll gather outside Senators' offices and in public places to read first-hand accounts from Iraq vets and military families about the cost of the war. We'll send a clear message to Senators and the media that this isn't about partisan games -- it's about people's lives." Let's be perfectly clear about the pathetic shell game that went on: No proposed legislation was about bringing troops home, no proposed legislation was about ending the illegal war. Let's be perfectly clear, exists to always steer to the path of least resistance. It is not an organization made up of fighters or dreamers. What Tom Hayden was speaking of (and he lavished praise on the pathetic WalkOn) was that the leadership is at a place where they have to do something but ending the illegal war is not the course they will go for unless pushed hard. Fortunately for them, they have supposed independent actors perfectly willing to serve as body guards and publicity flacks giving them cover to continue the illegal war and willing to sell that as an effort to end it.The pathetic Senator Carl Levin made noises, as reported today by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), about the people wanting "to end the war in Iraq. It is time to change the course. And the reason that we are in control of the Congress is because the American people want us to change course in Iraq." He gives lip service very easy, he just can't follow through (as anyone who's lobbied him over the Guantanamo Bay prison over the last few years can attest). As Amy Goodman noted, this is a debate that (if successful) would mean "most combat troops" (US troops) would leave Iraq "in 120 days". "Combat troops" is a classification. Bully Boy could ensure that none of the approximately 160,000 troops leave simply be reclassifying them. If that point seems familiar it's because we've been making it here for some time -- since the US Congress first played the shell game that was the Pelosi-Reid measure. Party Hacks came out to support that non-action as well. The people didn't buy into the fluff and the Democrats' ratings plummeted. It was thought that by doing the same thing with a p.r. stunt like an 'all nighter' would make the do-nothing party leadership look less pathetic. And certainly the usual pathetic centrists were out in force to prop up the lie that the Democratically controlled Senate was attempting to end the illegal war when, in fact, it was doing nothing of the sort. When independent media joins hands with the Democratically controlled Congress in lying to the people, it shouldn't get a dime of support. Thus far The Progressive has ignored the p.r. stunt which may be because it was a stunt or because the points to make have already been made. (Or a combination.) By contrast, the feel-good spirit of The Nation (which leads to censoring evidence of atrocities) means it's all pom-poms all the time. Robert Parry (Consortium News), a true independent, notes the truth and the reality, "If the Democrats really want to prevail over George W. Bush on the Iraq War and on his authoritarian vision of presidential powers, they would put back on the table two options that their leaders have removed: a cut-off of war funding and impeachment. Rather than all-night debates about resolutions that will go nowhere, the Democrats would make the cast to the American people that Bush has trampled on the Constitution; he has ensared the nation in a catastrophic war by lying; and he has his eyes set on more dangerous chicanery in the months ahead." Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) notes that the categories that would remain in Iraq had the Levin-Reed measure passed the Senate (it didn't) and then the House would have been "those conducting special operations against al Qaeda, training Iraqi forces or guarding U.S. facilities." Retired army Col. Daniel Smith (Foreign Policy in Focus) addressing the Skelton measure (similar to the Levin-Reed measure) in the House last week and the deployment issue in the Senate notes that "proposed legislation contains all sorts of caveats, exceptions, and restrictions, all of which the president can waive if he determines them detrimental to national security." Nicholas Johnston and William Roberts (Bloomberg News) report the Levin-Reed measure did not pass. 52 for and 47 against was the count. Gail Russell Chaddock (Christian Science Monitor) explains, "Washington's political theater is part of a deliberate political strategy aimed at living rooms across America." Ron Elving (NPR) notes that the theater was meant to get "the country to notice that the White House has enablers in the Senate." Yes, and some are on the Democratic side. Interviewed by the Socialist Worker, Anthony Arnove noted that the Republicans in Congress are backing away from the illegal war in terms of unconditional support but not calling for an end to it and "elements of this approach are actually similar to what many Democratic critics have in mind: troop reduction, not withdrawal; a greater reliance on air power and 'over the horizon' forces rather than boots on the ground; a retreat to bases and the Green Zone in Baghdad; and a shifting of the blame from the United States and its allies to the Iraqis. In effect, it's a 'blame and hold' strategy. Blame the Iraqis for all the problems we created. Hold onto whatever the U.S. military can salvage in terms of military bases in Iraq -- to have some influence over the future of Iraq's massive oil reserves and some ability to continue military operations in Iraq, and to project power against other countries in the region, particularly Iran."Let's be clear, WalkOn pushing the nonsense of Dream In Monochrome and With Fine (Limited) Tuning is nonsense. The illegal war needs to end it will not do so with measures sold to the people as "End the war" that, in reality, continue the illegal war. Possibly it is an accomplishment that US Senators actually had to make statements about how badly the illegal war was going (I didn't see any press accounts that quoted senators speaking of how badly things were for Iraqis during the illegal war -- possibly that didn't make the Talking Points List?), but applauding nonsense is encouraging nonsense. "Funding the war is killing the troops" is a rallying cry of Tina Richards and Iraq Veterans Against the War.On Januray 4, 2007, the Democrats took control of both house of Congress. The US military announced one death in the illegal war that day, "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol was attacked by small arms fire, killing one Soldier in the western part of the Iraqi capital today." He was later identified as Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen of Wasilla, Alaska, a 28-year-old. The announcement of his death brought the total number of US service members killed to 3006 on January 4th -- the same Dems took control, swept in by citizens wanting an end to the illegal war. Six months later, 616 announced deaths later and the war drags on. Only difference appears to be that these days, the Dems are helping Bully Boy by grabbing an end to help him drag it. Funding the war is killing the troops. Funding the war is killing Iraqis.Bombings?Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 people dead from a Baghdad bombing (four wounded), Baghdad mortar attacks left one woman injured and a Kirkuk bombing killed a police officer escorting a pregnant woman to the hospital (another police officer was wounded, "The woman wasn't harmed in the explosion and reached the hospital and gave birth"). Reuters notes a mortar attack in Kut that left three women (sisters) injured, a roadside bombing in Jurf Al-Sakhar that claimed 2 lives (four more injured)Shootings?Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, 7 bus passengers were shot dead riding near Jizani Al Joul, 1 person shot dead in Baquba, 2 men shot dead "near the Dwiliyah village," one woman shot dead "near Al Shima village," a home invasion that left Dr. Firas Abdul Zahraa Hameed dead (his wife was wounded) in Basra, and one person was shot dead in Kirkuk. Reuters notes one person shot dead in Kirkuk, in front of his home and that a village in the Diyala province (not far from the massacre that killed 29 overnight on Monday) another attack occurred that claimed 1 life and left fifteen injured.Corpses?Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in Baghad today and two corpses were turned over to the Baquba hospital. Reuters notes two corpses were discovered in Mahaweel and one in Daquq. Meanwhile the BBC reports that Suweira is an Iraqi town on the Tigris River that has been the site where "five hundred mutilated bodies dumped into the River Tigris have been washed up in two years". Mona Mahmoud and Sebastian Usher note that many corpses are never identified and that they must be buried quickly (due to the heat and lack of storage)Today, the US military announced: "Two MNC-I Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated next to their vehicle during combat operations in western Baghdad Tuesday." And they announced: "One Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital July 17." ICCC's total currently is 3622 US service members who have died in the illegal war since it began and 43 have died so far this month.And in Iskandariya, Reuters notes, the chief of police -- and five bodyguards -- were kidnapped.Want more holding of hostages? "The Iraq oil was essentially drafter by the US government and forced on the Iraqi government," Antonia Juhasz explained on KPFK's Mid Day News today. The Iraqi oil workers are trying to demonstrate that 'now is not the right time and the oil law is not the right oil law.' The oil law is a 'benchmark' (by the US government) and comes with conditions -- reconstruction funds have been pinned upon it. Unions are protesting the oil law and saying it will rob Iraq of the country's soveriegnty. They are calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces. This as it's decided to ration electricity in Iraq. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that news and notes:The plan, launched nearly three months ago, represents the latest break with one of the biggest promises made after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion: that services such as electricity and water would quickly surpass prewar levels. If anything is seen as symbolic of the United States' failure to deliver on its promise that life would be better without Saddam Hussein, it is the lack of reliable electricity. And as Iraqis endure their fifth blazing summer without sufficient power, it is no surprise that resentment toward American forces remains fierce.Returning to the topic of Iraqi women, Ellen Cantarow (CounterPunch) recommends the book Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present by Nadie Sadig Al-Ali and notes, "A final chapter on the US invasion and occupation makes clear that Iraqi daily life has shut down. Women fear going into labor at night: they are terrified they and their husbands will be killed on the way to the hospitals. Everyone fears going outside on the commonest of errands -- so much that when people leave the house they say a final farewell: each time may well be the last. Women in particular fear venturing away from home because of frequent assaults by criminal and reactionary Islamic gangs, and by 'militias.' Professionals -- doctors, university professors -- have been killed. Kidnapping for ransom is pandemic."Turning to the US, Aaron Glantz (Truthdig) examines the case of Manny Babbitt who was executed by the state of California and had been awarded the Purple Heart for his tour of duty in Vietnam only to receive the death sentence in 1982 for crimes in 1980: "broke into the Sacramento home of Leah Schendel, a 78-year-old woman he did not know. He stripped the clothes off the lower half of her body, took a hot iron to her vagina, beat her to death and robbed her house. Then, less than 24 hours later, Babbitt struck again. He grabbed a 60-year-old woman out of her car when she was on her way home. Babbitt dragged her into close-by bushes, knocked her unconscious, cracked her chest, stole her watch and wedding ring and fled. The woman, Mavis Wilson, survived." Did Babbitt suffer from PTSD caused by his time in Vietnam? If so, what does that mean beyond Babbitt's own story? Glantz notes: "On May 21, 2006, an Army court-martial at Fort Lewis, Wash., sentenced 20-year-old Spc. Brandon Bare to life in prison for killing his 18-year-old wife, Nabila, with a meat cleaver after he returned from Iraq."

antonia juhasz