Friday, October 12, 2007

Joni Mitchell, Dave Lindorff

Friday, so let's start off with music. From Charles J. Gans'"Joni Mitchell's Muse Returns on 'Shine'" (Associated Press via Washington Post):

Now, at age 63, newly inspired by family, nature and anger at today's politics, Mitchell is enjoying an outburst of creativity. The iconic Canadian singer-songwriter, whose poetic verses on songs like "Both Sides, Now" have inspired countless musicians from Madonna to Wayne Shorter, has released "Shine," her first album of new songs in nearly a decade.
[. . .]

"At the time, I just sang folk songs but then a tragedy occurred in my life. I had a daughter and I gave her up and that puts a big hole in a woman that's hard to explain. I was destitute ... and three years later I had a career and money," said Mitchell, whose first album, "Song to a Seagull," came out in 1968. "But I didn't like fame. ... I understood the price of it at an early age."
Mitchell enjoyed her biggest commercial success in the early '70s as she exposed her emotional vulnerabilities on such albums as "Blue" and "Court and Spark," but she found the folk-pop sound too constraining for her complex lyrics. She turned to unorthodox harmonies, jazz and world music, and edgier social commentaries, starting with 1975's "The Hissing of Summer Lawns."
"I did five albums, four with praise, and then for the rest of my career it was always unfavorable," said Mitchell, dressed elegantly in a black Issey Miyake outfit, her silvery blond hair down over her neck. "You're supposed to get a decade, the artist from the '60s, the artist from the '70s ... Then the industry tries to kill you off."
Record company executives today, she said, "want clones ... They don't love music. They love golf and porno."

I reviewed the Shine CD last week and I thought I grasped a huge number of the levels to it but this article only illuminated additional levels. You need to read the article and get the CD. Go to Starbucks. Buy it.

Rebecca and I made a list of the six essential Joni albums for us. We had huge disagreements which is good. We're very passionate about Joni's music. So these were our picks for the six:

Court & Spark
Dog Eat Dog
For the Rose

We both love Taming the Tiger and if Shine hadn't been released, it probably would have made the list. Turbulent Indigo was another that came close as did Ladies of the Canyon. But we went with those six. You might pick six others and that's cool. But listen to Shine and see if it would make your top six. I think it would have to.

We then started to compile our list of favorite songs but that was just too difficult. If we thought it was hard to pick the six best (because there are so many great choices, not because there are too few), try picking her best songs. I don't think that even a casual fan could do that with just ten slots. And if you're a long term fan, you'll be ripping your hair out. I thought I was doing good and then Rebecca says, "Well 'Cactus Tree' has to make the list." Yes, it does. And we'd come up with four when she tossed that one out there and quickly -- as we listed others -- realized, it can't be done in ten. It can't be done in twenty. I could do it in thirty if I gritted my teeth and invented all these qualifications such as "only one __" whatever.

As difficult as it is to try to pick just ten or twenty of Joni's greatests is the question Dave Lindorff's asking "Can the Democratic Party be Saved?" (This Can't Be Happening):

Can the Democratic Party be saved?
That is a question that exasperated progressive Democrats across the country are increasingly asking themselves and each other.
Last November, when Democrats took control of both houses of Congress--fairly decisively in the House and by a whisker in the Senate--there was widespread relief in progressive circles. Anti-war activists thought there would finally be an end to President Bush's criminal enterprise in Iraq. Civil libertarians thought that finally the Bush/Cheney administration’s Constitutional depredations would be undone, and that perhaps one or both men would be put in the dock of an impeachment panel in the House.
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead of that, we have watched in growing anger and frustration as the Democratic Congress approved $120 billion to continue the war, actually funding a 30,000 increase in troops there, and as it has actually legalized the warrantless spying on Americans' communications by the National Security Agency, a campaign which the president had brazenly conducted in clear violation of the law for over five years. (And now that Democratic Congress looks ready to approve another $200 billion in war funding, enough to keep the Iraq War in high gear right through the end of Bush's presidency.)
Not one of the three best-funded candidates in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination has been willing to promise that she or he will pull plug on the War in Iraq before the end of her or his first term of office. And not one of those leading candidates (or any of the others who are running, except for former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel) has called for the impeachment of the current president, despite a list of constitutional high crimes and misdemeanors that would make Willie Sutton or Richard Nixon blush.
For almost half a century, as the Democratic Party has moved away, first gingerly and then almost at a full run, from its New Deal heritage, progressives have labored tirelessly to try and turn it around--to tear the party loose from its suckling grip on the corporate teat and make it responsible instead to a public that wants universal, publicly funded healthcare, better funding for education, cheap public university tuition, regulation of predatory financial institutions, limits on price gouging by utilities, a serious national attack on global warming and environmental pillage, safe workplaces, and end to imperialist military adventures.
The results of this decades-long effort to “work from within” have been pretty dismal.

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

Friday, October 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a new possible outbreak in Iraq, Democrats in Congress no longer just cave -- now they whine too, torture continues and women remain under attack.

As Denise Winebrenner Edwards (People's Weekly World) notes, this was to be the week of the second court-martial of Ehren Watada until US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted a stay through at least October 26th. Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports on an October 8th San Francisco press conference held by Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee where Luke Hiken (of the National Lawyers Guild Military Task Force) explained, "Under our constitution, the military is under the judiciary of the United States. In other words, all federal court systems, up to the United States Supreme Court, have authority over the conduct of military personnel when appropriate. Accordingly, federal district courts, all the way up to the courts of appeal and U.S. Supreme Court, intervene when there are violations of U.S. military regulations or laws that contravene the U.S. Constitution. The trial council indicated that there was no jeopardy attached to the case, because the defense had not completed its entire presentation, which is nonsense. In (such a case) jeopardy is attached the second the first witness is called by the prosecution." Hiken is referring to the double-jeopardy issue. In February, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided. Opening arguments were presented. The prosecution called their witnesses. And their witnesses did a pretty good job of making the defense's case. That was day two. Day three was when Watada was supposed to testify. Instead, Judge Toilet was suddenly shocked by a stipulation he had read, he had agreed to, and he had explained to the jury. Despite his own involvement at all steps of the stipulation, suddenly Judge Toilet wanted to say Watada didn't understand it. This was the excuse Judge Toilet created to call a mistrial. He did so over defense objection. Because the trial had started, double-jeopardy had attached -- as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has pointed out since the start.

Through Thursday, November 1st, we'll be including, in the snapshots, this National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force announcement: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Watada is only one Iraq War resister. Courage to Resist reports on James Circello Jr. who self-checked out in April of 2007 and writes about his experience in the poem "I saw kids turn into animals:"

I saw kids turn into animals.
Members of my own unit, who I will never speak negatively about,
doing things that one day I know
will haunt them.

I saw soldiers mistreating detained Iraqis.
Detained on nothing more than pure suspicion in some cases.
But why not, it was the Old West, anything goes and anything did go.

Questionable shootings.
Questionable decisions by superior commanders.
Nothing ever questioned by your superiors.
You as the Soldier were always in the right.

Courage to Resist also has an interview (transcript and audio) with war resister Mark Wilkerson conducted by The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz. At one point, Wilkerson explains, "I discussed many of these issues with a lot of other soldiers there [in Iraq]; a lot of them just didn't want to think about it at all. And then when I got back, to see the way the media portrayed the war and the way many people thought the war was going on, and then finally, after a few months, seeing some resisters coming on television -- I remember seeing Camilo Mejia in an interview and thinking, 'Wow, there are people out there like me, who are confused and angry and upset.' This 'conscientious objector' that I applied for, it was a very rough patch for me. It was a period of -- I ended up applying for conscientious objector in June. I took the rules fo conscientious objector home, and in the course of one night, I answered all the questions. I filled out my form. It was mostly seething. I was very angry, so I put all the emotion into what should be a very proper, very well thought-out document and application. I turned it in. I was told that I had a week to fill it out. And then over the next several months, I sometimes got in many arguments and heated debates with my chain of command -- my first sergeant, my platoon sergeant, some military chaplains, military investigators, military psychologists . . ." November 2005, he was denied CO status -- as most who apply are -- and decided to self-check out. He announced he was turning himself in August 2006 at Camp Casey and was eventually sentenced to imprisonment in Fort Still, OK.

Sunday in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today. Paul Fattig (Mail Tribune) reports that Condon will also "give a talk about his work at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Earlier this week, National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn (at Truthout) addressed the issue of torture noting that the administration continues to deny it tortures when the reality is the White House has okayed torture for some time, "Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody." AP quoted former president Jimmy Carter declaring this week on CNN, "Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime." Yesterday the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released (PDF format warning) "Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007" which found many human rights abuses but let's zoom in on the issues having to do with imprisonment. Those being held went from 17,565 in March to 21,112 by the end of June leading to overcrowding in holding facilities across Iraq, prolonged periods of waiting for something resembling justice to arrive, denial of "access to legal counsel and to family visits," and "reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facitilities under Ministry of Interior facilities, including police stations. Several such cases were document during the reporting period, where UNAMI was able to interview and examine victims of physical abuse shortly following their release or following their conviction and transfer to a Ministry of Justice prison." So torture and abuse is alive and well in Iraq. For all the Bully Boy's grand words of creating a torture free Iraq, Abu Ghraib (and other earlier, less well known events) demonstrated that the US will torture so it's no surprise that the Iraqis placed in charge (by the US and its puppets) will as well. Dropping back to the snapshot on September 6th:

Turning to retired generals, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security".

The US is as aware of what's going on as is the United Nations -- in fact the US is aware of their own tactics and, if the United Nations knows about the US tactics, it's doubtful they would report them. Joshua Partlow and Column Lynch (Washington Post) report today that the UN report was ready months ago (August) "but release of the final version was delayed for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official." Of course, the delay was really to make sure nothing flashed a little reality while Crocker and David Petraeus were in the midst of Operation Happy Talk on Congress. But the reality is that, forget what the US itself does, torture being conducted by Iraqis placed in charge -- known torture -- reflects back to the US and turning a blind eye does not make it any less culpable of War Crimes charges for the torture.

Sticking with war crimes, yesterday Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. More information can be found here at CCR and in Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' "EXCLUSIVE - Family Members of Slain Iraqis Sue Blackwater USA for Deadly Baghdad Shooting" (Democracy Now!) from yesterday. The lawsuit is over the September 16th Baghdad slaughter where Blackwater employees killed as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. Anne Penketh (Independent of London) quotes Ivana Vuco ("the most senior UN human rights officer in Iraq") declaring, "For us, it's a human rights issue. We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed" and -- pay attention because this applies to torture as well -- there is a "responbility to investigate, supervise and prosecute those accused of wrongdoing." "I don't recall" and "To the best of my memory" may have allowed the Reagan administration to avoid convictions but possibly Bully Boy should just stick with the classic "I am not a crook"?

Stayin with the UN report and human rights issues, one of the key areas to emerge in the report is Kurdistan which -- despite the p.r. hype -- has never been 'safe.' Human rights organizations have long been documenting the problems in the northern region. The new UN report (PDF warning) notes the 'peaceful region':The human rights situation in the Kurdistan region remains of concern in a number of areas, including continuing incidents involving violence against women, the abuse of detainees and the prolonged detention without charge or trial of hundreds of detainees held on suspicion of terror-related offences. UNAMI is encouraged, however, by sveral measures adopted by the KRG authorities in recent months in an effort to address some of these concerns, including the review of long-standing detention practices followed by the regional authorities' security forces. UNAMI hopes that such measures, if seriously followed up, would pave the way for greater accountability for government officials suspected or known to have abused their authority.Along with the targeting of journalists (and the Kurdish response that 646 licenses have been given to news outlets -- and how that has nothing to do with the targeting -- arrests and detentions -- of journalists) and the persecution of Assyrians and Turkoman, the region has an 18% increase in violence against women ("15 deaths caused by blunt objects, 87 deaths by burning and 15 deaths by shooting for the first quarter of 2007; for the second quarter, there were 8 deaths caused by blunt objects, 108 deaths by burning and 21 deaths by shooting"), a serious lack of punishments for these deaths (both in arrests and -- when the rare arrest is made -- in sentencing). The situation for women throughout Iraq is awful. Earlier this week, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Article 41 in the still unfinalized constitution which "women's rights activists and legal scholars" argue "opens the door to rule by draconian interpretations of Islamic law that could sanction the stoning of adulterous women, allow underage girls to be forced into marriage and permit men to abandon their wives by declaring, 'I divorce you,' three times" while Basra is demonstrating "signs of religious extremism being used to rein in women. Police say gangs enforcing their idea of Islamic law have killed 15 women in the last month" -- over "what the women wear or because they are using makeup." It smells like 'freedom' to Bully Boy and Laura Bush. To the rest of the world, it smells like something else.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


AFP reports, "Iraqi civilians bore the brunt Friday of a bloody start to Eid al-Fitr, as a US air raid killed 15 women and children, and a sinister suicide attack on a playground shocked a northern town." This is the attack noted in yesterday's snapshot. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes this is "one of the highest civilian death tolls acknowledged by the military since the March 2003 invasion" and also notes the playground attack which claimed the lives of 2 children with seveteen wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives (Iraqi police officers) and left fifteen more injured and a Salahuddin bombing ("inside a bag of flour on a handcart") in which "[a] woman was killed and 16 people most of them children".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in an attack in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead and his wife injured in a home invasion in Kut.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mahaweel.

Torture, bombings, lack of potable water, cholera, what else? Reuters reports the latest issue, "The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it had asked Iraqi authorities to probe media reports of several cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals. The viral disease primarily affects animals but can infect humans through handling of blood or ogans of infected animals, leading to high rates of disease and death, according to the United Nations health agency."

Turning to US politics. As Cedric and Wally noted yesterday US Senator Barack Obama who would like to be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president has a new "trust me" campaign. Having repeatedly run on the fact that he was against the illegal war in 2002 but unable to vote because he wasn't in the Congress, he's now taking Senator Hillary Clinton -- who would also like to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee -- to task for voting for what some see as an authorization for war on Iraqn. Obama is highly offended by Clinton's recent vote in the Senate. So offended that some might wonder how he voted? Answer: He didn't vote. He's taking her to task for what is a bad vote but he didn't care enough about the issue to be present to vote. That's leadership?

Leadership? Let's turn to other non-leaders. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Wednesday, David Swanson (AfterDowningSt) noted Pelosi's latest bits of insanity including her despair that people would protest outside her mansion ("If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering!" hissed our modern day Marie) and how people like her weren't "advocates. We are leaders." Rebecca noted in her post to Pelosi, "poor nancy. oh the horror! in her botox mansion with americans outside! she might have been so troubled by the sight that her frozen face almost registered emotion. the horror! 'they are advocates,' sputters the cowardly trash, 'we are leaders!' well where the hell are you leading the country, princess crap?" Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan notes (at CounterPunch) that Pelosi's attitude "is truly the problem with what was once a Representative Republic and now is a country run by 'elected' officials who believe that they, indvidually and collectively, are above any accountability and are not answerable to their constituents. Our public servants erroneously believe that they are leaders! . . . No, Ms. Pelosi, you are not a leader. You have proven time and again in what you laughably believe is a 'mistake' free run as Speaker of a Democratic House that you will do anything to protect an Imperial Presidency to the detriment of this Nation and the world, particularly the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. This Democratic Congress supported BushCo's disastrous and deadly surge; handed him over billions of their constituent's tax dollars to wage this murder; have by their silence and votes countenanced an invasion of another country; approved more restrictions on the rights of the citizenry to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure; Ms. Pelosi does not even know if 'torture' (which violates international law and the 8th Amendment in our Bill of Rights) is an impeachable offense; and worst of all the impeachment clauses were taken 'off the table' in an ongoing partnership with BushCo to make the office of the presidency a Congressionally protected crime conglomerate that is rapidly sending this Nation down a crap-hold of fascism."

Meanwhile the Dems in leadership are crying. David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) notes that there is "tension between Democratic lawmakers and their base" and provides the opportunity for Dems to once again blame the voters as opposed to taking a look at their own actions. The Republican base gets frustrated with their leadership all the time. And Republicans generally respond to that. They don't blame the base, they don't whine about the base, they don't publicly insult the base. But, taking the lead from Pelosi, Democrats in Congress have no problem hectoring and trashing the voters who put them in power. When you have to make non-stop excuses for your actions, then the problem is probably you and not the base. When you're so ineffectual that you continue to cite the minimum wage nonsense as your point of pride (blood money because Dems snuck it into an Iraq bill), you've got nothing to be proud of. Instead of whining at and blaming the base, Democrats in Congress need to grow up real damn quick and grasp that the 2008 elections that they feel are the end-all-be-all are not going to benefit from the repeated trashing of Democratic voters. Leadership needs to take some accountability and Pelosi especially needs to stop trashing Democratic voters publicly.

And for those who don't get how weak Congressional Dems have been, note this from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about wiretapping, the controversy now, the frustration that people have with the Democrats, supposedly the opposition party, going along with the Republicans.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, the background is that after 9/11, as we all know now, Bush gave the military the authority to wiretap phone calls without warrants, in defiance of a 1978 law that required warrants for that situation. And he used a very aggressive legal theory about the President's powers as commander-in-chief to bypass laws at his own discretion. Because that program was only legal if that theory were true, that meant that the fact that they did this set a precedent that says that theory is true, and future presidents will be able to cite that precedent when they want to evade any other law that restricts their own authority.
So now, going forward, one of the ways this agenda has been able to be so successfully implemented was that there was no resistance from Congress. At the very moment there was this stronger push coming out of the Vice President's office to expand the presidential power as an end to itself in any way possible, because of one-party rule for six years and because of the atmosphere of crisis after 9/11, there was no push back. And that's how the ball was moved so far down the field.
And one of the things that's been very interesting about the last year is now we have split control of government again, and so the question was, how is that going to change things? And what we've seen from the Protect America Act in August and the dynamic going forward is that even with split control of government, the dynamic is still there. Congress is just as it was for the first twenty or thirty years of the Cold War, when the original imperial presidency was growing under presidents of both parties, by the way. Congress is again unwilling to push back against the White House's assertion that it needs ever more authority, and checks and balances will result in bloodshed. And so, I think, going forward, that you can see that this dynamic is going to be with us. And, of course, two years from now, we may have one-party control of government again, the other party, but that will just sort of hurl us further down this path, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of the President seeking to protect those in the corporate world who go along with his policies -- well, first of all, obviously, there was the retroactive immunity to the airline companies after 9/11 for their failure to act to provide a kind of security on their planes, giving them immunity from any possible lawsuits, and now this effort by the administration to try to provide retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that went along with his surveillance program.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, and what this is, is because Congress has demonstrated that it's really not going to do anything about the basic fact that the President asserted he could bypass a law and then he acted on that assertion, and, you know, that established he can do that, or whoever else is president at any given moment from now on can do that, that the one sort of last place where critics of this sort of extraordinary development could still have some traction was the lawsuit against the companies, which had also evidently broken privacy laws by going along with this. So, by seeking retroactive immunity, it's sort of the last place closing off the possibility of accountability.

Meanwhile the Illinois Green Party holds a fall membership meeting Crystal Lake, IL October 13th and 14th at the McHenry County College.

Candidates in attendance will hold a press conference Saturday from 1 to 2 pm at McHenry County College and they include:Kent Mesplay (Presidential)Jerome Pohlen (U.S. Congress, 3rd District)Moe Shanfield (U.S. Congress, 9th District)Dave Kalbfleisch (U.S. Congress, 10th District)Rodger Jennings ( U.S. Congress, 12th District)Steve Alesch (U.S. Congress, 13th District)Tony Cox (State Representative, 9th District)Kevin O'Connor (State Representative, 41st District)Sandy Lezon (State Representative, 50th District) Charlie Howe (State Representative, 115th District) James Geocaris (McHenry County Board, 3rd District)

On PBS this weekend, Friday October 12th in most markets, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


John Atcheson has a piece at Common Dreams entitled "Democrats: Slack-Jawed Yokels at a Three Card Monty Festival." If I thought it was worthless, I wouldn't provide a link. But I disagree with most of the points.

First off the WalkOn ad. Best thing they've done in years, if you ask me. Atcheson puts the blame on the press and spineless Dems and I agree with that but I don't agree that it was a "bad pun". Nor do I agree with this statement by Atcheson, "Whatever else he may be, Petraeus has served this country and worked diligently to defend it." When did Petraeus serve this country? He's served in the US military. That was his choice the same way it was my choice to go into photography to pay the bills. I'd argue betwen my baby photos, wedding photos, etc., I've done more to "serve" the country than Petraeus and that's true of just about everyone. He made the decision to go into the military. He wants to be there. Whether he serves the military or not, I'll leave to those in the military to judge but he has not served the country.

He graduated high school in 1970 and went to West Point. He wasn't drafted. He left West Point in 1974. He was never in combat before this decade (Iraq 2003 was the first time he was in combat). So where's the service? He's had a military career. That's what he wanted. Some people want to be florists, they probably serve the country more than Petraeus as well.

I'm really get sicking of this "service." I didn't ask for the illegal war, I didn't cheerlead it. He's not serving me and I imagine -- no, I know -- there are many people in this country who feel the same way.

I'm so sick of this glorification of the military. This is his career, it's not service. Service is teaching, nursing, doctors, etc.

Calling Betrayus a "bad pun" isn't defending WalkOn. It wasn't a "bad pun." It was a pun. It got the point across. If people hadn't caved to the backlash (and the public didn't cave -- just the press and politicians), the Republicans wouldn't have had their p.r. marketing blitz. But everytime Petraeus is glorified, which the article does, it makes it that much harder to address the truth later. It's past time the left cut out the crap.

I also agree with the Dan Rather crap and argue if you're counting on Dan Rather to save you, you are in a lot of trouble. Here's reality, Greg Palast tried to give Rather the 2000 election scandal. This was before 9-11. This was before Bully Boy was installed by the Supreme Court. Rather is an ego maniac and a fraidy cat.

He couldn't stand up to Poppy Bush in 1988. This is our great hope?

Dan Rather has filed a multi-million dollar suit against CBS over his departure. His departure how many years ago? He shut up in 2004 when he should have been fighting.

Three years later, he realizes he should have fought. Maybe after the court battle, he'll realize how he should have fought in court?

He knew everything that was going on and chose to march in lock step with the Bully Boy. He cried like a baby on Letterman after explaining he takes his marches orders from Bully Boy. This is the pillar of strength we're all going to count on?

You can't slam the press without grasping that Rather is the press. He was the worst of the worst. Mary Mapes got him his stories. She did a good job of that. Rather is a disgrace who left CBS in disgrace.

Rather has not had an awakening. He's just realized his reputation is trash and he has no legacy. So he's pissed (which is why he made those sexist comments about Katie Couric) and he wants to try to fix his name.

If CBS tosses him a bone, he'd drop the lawsuit in an instant. He's stuck on some crappy cable network that most of America doesn't get (let alone watch) and the only thing he's insterested in is himself. That's all he's ever been interested in. He's backed down more often than he's stood. So I'm not going to pin my hopes on Dan Rather's Ego saving anyone (including Dan Rather).

I think the article is searching for a number of things and that's what I did enjoy about it. There's a lot of thought in it and it's written in lively way that makes it enjoyable to read. But my two beefs are (a) glorification of military and (b) misreading of Rather. I'd be interested in reading more by JA because it's a long piece but it doesn't bore you. But I do think it is a mistake for us to grab their narratives and try to use it against them in this manner. All we do is reinforce the narrative.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Big Monty plays with her own feces on NPR, pretend not to notice the lowering standards for US enlistment, the US military announces another death, the Center for Constitutional Rights files a law suit against Blackwater USA, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Sunday
in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) broke the news that the Center for Constitutional Rights was filing a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. CCR's Susan Burke explained that, "We were approached by the families of three gentlemen who were shot and killed, as well as a gentleman who was very seriously injured. They came to us because they know of our work representing the torture victims at Abu Ghraib, and they asked us whether it would be possible to try to get some form of justice, some form of accountability, against this rogue corporation. So we put together a lawsuit that is being filed this morning in federal court in the District of Columbia on behalf of the families of three gentlemen who were killed: Mr. Atban, Mr. Abbass and Mr. Ibraheem The three gentlemen, amongst them, had fourteen children, including one, Mr. Atban, had a newborn baby daughter. So, needless to say, we are very interested in holding this company accountable and in pursuing the lawsuit vigorously." This is relation to the September 16th incident where the mercenaries slaughter at least 17 people in Baghdad. CCR explains that they filed the case and joining them in the filing were the firms of Burke O'Neill LLC and Akeel & Valentine, P.C.: "Filed in Washington, D.C. federal court by Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the deceased men Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem the lawsuit claims that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated U.S. law and created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company's financial interests at the expense of innocent human life. The complaint alleges that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing extrajudicial killing and war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision." Among Paul Bremer's orders was CPA Order 17 and the latest report from the United Nations (more on that later in the snapshot) notes, "While CPA Order 17 also enables the US Government to waive a contractor's immunity, to UNAMI's knowledge it has not done so to date." Susan Burke explained on Democracy Now! that "one of the interesting things to point out is that the Bremer order, which is widely viewed as immunizing these contractors, actually just says that the Iraqi courts will not have jurisdiction over them. So I think as a practical matter that the general choice of law principles still apply that Iraqi law would apply. But in addition, the conduct that we're talking about offends and violates the law of every nation. So when we bring the lawsuit here, whether you apply, you know, the law of the District of Columbia or the law of Iraq, you come to the same conclusion: you're not allowed to gun down innocents." CCR's president Michael Ratner declares, "Blackwater's repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, U.S. law, and international law harms our nation and it harms Iraq. For the good of both nations, as well as for countless innocent civilians, the company cannot be allowed to continue operating extra-legally, providing mercenaires who flout all kinds of law. This lawsuit, like the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi government investigations, cannot bring back those killed at Nissor Square but it can make Blackwater accountable for its actions." (Ratner is also a co-host -- along with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith -- of WBAI's Law and Disorder -- which also airs online and on other radio stations across the US.) Meanwhile the Blackwater 'investigations' become more of joke. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Michael Gordon (New York Times) report Iraqi investigators and the US military are both complaining about the US State Dept which is not sharing information from their own alleged investigations and Iraqi investigators see the same stalling from the FBI. And in other non-communicating, non-sharing news, Farah Stockman (Boston Globe) reports that,"US military officials say they have launched a successful effort to reduce the number of such shootings by training soldiers to give more visible warnings, but the Pentagon so far has declined to release data to back up the assertion. That refusal has sparked a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking copies of military reports on such escalation-of-force shootings. Key members of Congress have also called for the release of the documents."

On Tuesday, Geneva Jalal Antranik and Marani Awanis Manouik were killed for the 'crime' of driving with approximately 30 bullets fired into their vehicle. As
Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Meanwhile in Iraq, mourners buried two Iraqi women killed Tuesday by guards with another private military firm. The victims were driving home from work when their vehicle came under fire by guards with the Australia-based Unity Resources Group." Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reports, "Mournful members of Iraq's Armenian Christian population bowed their heads and recited the Lord's Prayer over an altar of burning incense at a funeral here on Wednesday for two Armenian women killed by private security contractors, the second such fatal shooting in less than a month. Relatives also called for justice on Wednesday, though security contractors are immune from prosecution under Iraqi law." Scott Horton explains to Alissa J. Rubin and Paul von Zielbaer (New York Times) that
despite all the violence contractors have inflicted on Iraqis, "there has yet to be a prosecution for a single incident of violence." Kramer reports that Marany Awanees was a cab driver and "the youngest of nine children in the Momook family, including three brotehrs who are part of the Armenian diaspora in Europe and the United States" and quotes Paul Mammok stating, "She was a lovely sister, my younger sister, a lovely, lovely sister."
Democracy Now! quotes an unidentified relative (presumaly of Geneva Jalal Antranik) declaring, "They called me to Basra and told me that the security firms have shot them dead. She is a housewife." As Jeremy Scahill noted (on Democracy Now!) today re: Blackwater USA's September 16th slaughter, "We have to remember that upwards of a million Iraqis have died since the beginning of the US invasion and the names of the victims of both the US military and these private military companies are almost never reported." [Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.] Christian Berthelsen and Said Rifai (Los Angeles Times) report that Marani Oranis had been a scientist with the country's Agriculture Ministry until she and her husband Azad decided to start a family (Nora, Karon and Alice are the three daughters) but in 2005 her husband died and she began using her 1990 Oldsmobile as a cab to support herself and her three daughters and Marani's niece tells the Times, "She was forced to traverse the roads of Baghdad on a daily basis in order to provide for her daughters. This turn of fate is something that every single one of us Iraqis expects on a daily basis. We are all targets for elimination, leaving for work and school in the mornings and not knowing whether we will make it back home safely."

Today the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released a (
PDF format warning) report "documenting widespread human rights abuses and recommending specific measures in response, including due process for detainees, punishment for perpetrators of 'honor killings,' and investigations into deaths caused by private military firms operating in the country." The UN report ("Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007") finds, "Daily life for the average Iraqi civilian remains extremely precarious. The violence remains in large part indiscriminate, targeting public places where large numbers of people gather to inflict maximum casualties and foment fears of further descent into chaos and loss of any semblance of state control. The violence has affected all of Iraq's ethnic groups and communities, including minority groups. Targeted assassinations, abductions for ransom or other motives, and extrajudicial executions, continued to be reported on a regular basis. As in the past, professional groups remained a prime target of such attacks, among them media professionals and members of the leagl profession, as highlighted in this report." During the period of the report, UNAMI found that "88 civilians were reportedly killed during air strikes conducted by MNF forces. They included the following: nine civilians killed in five villages in the al-Anbakiya area near Ba'quba on 11 March; two civilians killed in Dulu'iya in Salahuddin Governorate on 15 March; 16 civilians killed in Sadr City in Baghdad on 30 March; 27 civilians killed in Khaldiya, Ramadi, on 3 April; four civilians killed in Sadr City and four others west of Taji on 26 April; three civilians killed in Basra on 30 April; seven civilians killed east of Baghdad on 5 May; one civilian killed in Sadr City on 6 May; and eight civilians killed in Basra on 26 May. On 8 May, seven children were reportedly killed when helicopters attacked an elementary school in a village in Diyala Governorate near the Iranian border. Following this incident, a spokesperson for US forces in Iraq, Lieutenant-Colonel Christoper Garver, announced that the MNF authorities were conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the children. However, the findings of such investigations are not systematically publicized. On 28 June, UNAMI wrote to the MNF Chief of Staff, seeking further information on all these recorded incidents in which civilians were said to have been killed during air strikes." BBC reports today that the US military is admitting that even if they killed 19 'insurgents' in Lake Tharthar, they also killed "15 civilians, including nine children" in an air strike (that happened when? -- no date given).

In other violence reported today . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Baghdad roadside bombings resulted in nine people being injured (two were police officers), while a Baghad car bombing claimed 8 lives with twenty-five more left wounded, a Mosul truck bombing targeting the PUK party headquarters left eight wounded and a Kirkuk car bombing aimed at Col Salar Ahmed ("head of Kirkuk traffic police") claimed 7 lives ("two of his guards and five civilians") and left thirty-five people wounded. Reuters notes 8 dead and twenty-five wounded from a car bombing targeting a Baghdad internet cafe. And Reuters reports: "Wednesday night's rocket or mortar attack on Camp Victory, the sprawling U.S. base near Baghdad airport that houses the U.S. military headquarters, killed two coalition soldiers and wounded 38 others, the U.S. military said. Two foreign civilian contractors were also wounded." To which the Los Angeles Times adds: "The victims' nationality was not specified. The military also said two 'third-country nationals' were injured in the "indirect fire" attack at Camp Victory, near the Baghdad airport." With CBS and AP adding it's still not known whether it was a rocket or mortar attack and "No further details on the attack were immediately released."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Kirkuk police shot dead 3 suspects. Reuters notes "the son of an Islamic Party official" was shot dead in Mosul and an attack on a police station outside of Tuz Khurmato that left 1 police officer dead.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpse of Haythem Nadeem ("former Iraqi athlete") was discovered in Mosul "five days after he was kidnapped' and two corpses were discovered in Latifiya. Jenny Booth (Times of London) notes that the last attack on Camp Victory to have resulted in a death was on a rocket attack. And the US military announced today: "One MNC-I Soldier died of wounds suffered during combat operations in eastern Baghdad Oct. 10."

Staying on the topic of the US military. Having already lowered standards and reduced target goals, the US military managed to squeak back with a little good news this year though there are already concerns about recruitment in 2008. Which may explain some new 'efforts.'
Aamer Madhani (Chicago Tribune) reports that they have "enlisted thousands of new soldiers with criminal records and fewer who have earned high school diplomas" via what's known as a "character waiver" (FYI, that's how Steven D. Green -- accused of being the mastermind behind the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer and the murder of her parents and her five-year-old sister -- got it into the military) with "[m]ore than 11 percent of the Army recruits . . . [needing] waivers for problems with the law -- up from 7.9 percent the previous year and more than double the percentage in 2003, the year the U.S. invaded Iraq." So if everyone's comfortable with the US military is allowed to sign up felons (1,620 for the Army alone in 2007), they can meet the reduced target goals. But can they keep them (provided they aren't court-martialed for war crimes)? Richard Lardner (AP) reports one plan for keeping members of the Green Berets and Navy Seals -- give 'em big bucks "more than $100 million in bonsuses" and the Pentagon expects "to spend another $43.5 million on commando bonuses in fiscal year 2008, which began Oct. 1". This as the commander of the US marines, Gen James Conway, is calling for marines stationed in Iraq to be sent to Iraq and leave Iraq in the (foreign) hands of the US army, CNN reports. Of course, also the US air force but that must have slipped Conway's mind. Fortunately, AFP remembers what the brass forgot and reports that "the shift would mean changes as well for the air force. The army relies on the air force in both countries for combat air support, while the marines have their own air operations." On recruitment, AP reports that 6 "main Iraqi insurgent groups" are forming a "political council" with a "political program to liberate Iraq" and the spokesperson (unidentified) explains, "First, the occupation is an oppression and aggression, rejected by Islamic Sharia law and tradition. Resistance of occupation is a right guaranteed by all religions and laws. Second, the armed resistance . . . is the legitimate representative of Iraq. it is the one that bears responsibility for the leadership of the people to achieve its legitimate hope." The six groups are the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Mujahideen Army, Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance, the Islamic Movement of Hamas-Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.

Meanwhile, the violation of anthropology continues. Yesterday on
The Diane Rehm Show, chubby little Montgomery McFate -- still a fat child on the inside but "senior advisor to the US Army" is how Susan Page billed her -- worked out her grudge against her parents yet again. (Page was filling in for Diane Rehm.) McFate had one laughable claim after another -- but didn't she reach the height of lying when she claimed her 'schoolmate' was someone five years younger than her?. So poster child for Lifestyles of the Plain & Stupid finally got the spotlight she's so long craved and isn't that really what it's all about? That and landing a blow against the sixties and her parents? How did she word it to War Hark George Packer? " I'm engaged in a massive act of rebellion against my hippie parents." How transparent do your motives have to be before the mainstream press says, "Hey, this nut doesn't belong on the air?" Petty, 'creative' Monty made it onto radio. And insisted to anthropologist David Price (St. Martin's University) that the reason he doesn't know more about the program is because it has "been in existence less than a year." The program -- even just the aspect she was discussing yesterday -- has been going on for more than a year and Monty knows that.

Even with the program stacked in her favor, Monty yet again found herself with feces in her hands. During the first section of the show, listeners heard no dissenting viewpoint as the US military presented their version via Monty Col John Agoglia and Lt Col Edward Villacres. At fourteen minutes and seventeen seconds, David Price was allowed to present some of the serious issues such as the need for "meaningful, voluntary, informed consent. This is a fundamental Principal of all human research in the social sciences. And if populations are being studied in theater there are big questions about how you get voluntary informed consent for research. Now the military doesn't really have to worry about these sorts of things but social sciences do."

Monty spun, "they are not conducting covert or clandestine activities. They identify themselves by name and the unit that they're with to anyone they talk to so it's not a secret program by any means." She then declared that "no one is forced" to talk to the anthropologists and everyone who does is making a choice which completely ignores the issue Price was raising (maybe not intentionally -- Monty's never been all that bright) which is how do you get consent in a war zone? How does someone tell you "no" when you roll up to their home with the US military? Monty says that people can tell the difference between "a lethal unit of the US military and a non-lethal unit of the US military" and that's HIGHLY DEBATABLE but more to the point, do countries that are occupied by a military contain an occupied people and it is the height of stupidity for anyone to claim that an occupied people can refuse to be test subjects without fearing that doing so will result in retribution towards them from the occupiers.

On the issue of anthropologists identifying themselves, Price pointed to David Rohde's "
Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones" (New York Times) and declared it "talks about an anthropologist I think named Tracy and that's the only name that's given. So anthropologists need to be transparent about who they are and who they're working for. . . . But I worry how transparent the program is if the people who are doing it aren't being self-identified? Now the story says it's being done for security reasons and so on. But if you go to the New York Times story and look at the nifty, little video they have -- you know backing the story, it's very strange because they don't show the anthropologist -- they intentionally withhold the person's identity. Yet they show all these people who are talking to the anthropologist which of course they're doing so at some personal risk, one would assume, in Afghanistan. And I worry about any sort of program where there's a one-way mirror that's going on."

Susan Page: . . . there was a New York Times article last week which actually prompted us to do this show today. And it did talk about this anthropologist named Tracy, but it wasn't clear to me, Montgomery McFate maybe you know, whether her [full] name was just not disclosed to the New York Times article, or if her full name is not being disclosed to the people she's interatcing with in Afghanistan. Do you know -- do you know the answer to that.

Monty [quick intake and slow first word -- always a clue Monty's inventing -- seriously, that was evident when she was a child]: Her name was held from the New York Times story and in other media that's come out of Afghanistan at her own request.

Susan Page: But does she give her [full] name to the Afghanis that she's talking with.

Monty: Yes, she does.

Remember that. Monty is wrong as usual. David Rohde joins the panel late, after the above exchange took place, and it turns out Monty's inventing again.

About Tracy in the Times' story, Susan Price asked, "But the Afghans -- the Afghanis that she's dealing with, do they know her name, her full name, does it seem transparent for them or does she also go just by her first name?

David Rohde: Um, she was transparent with them. I don't think she gave her full name, I think she does identify herself as an anthropologist. I saw her briefly, but I don't know what she does at all times. She personally, um, actually chose to carry a weapon for security that's not a requirement for members of the team, I've been told. And she wore a military uniform which would make her appear to be a soldier, um, to Afghans that she wasn't actually speaking with.

Susan Price: And so you think Aghans knew that she wasn't a soldier even though she was wearing a military uniform and carrying a weapon? Or do you think that they just assumed that she probably was?

David Rohde: I would think that they assumed that she was.

Earlier, Monty declared that an anthropologist (cited in an article by the New York Times) in Afghanistan was 'transparent' and gave her full name. Turns out, Monty was wrong. Gives her first name, wears a military uniform and carries a weapon. And yet wants to pretend she's a social scientist and Monty wants to pretend that people who encounter these 'weaponized' anthros feel they can reasonably refuse to participate in a scientific study. There's also the issue (and Packer had the same problem) that the majority involved in this don't want to be identified. Why? Because they fear the backlash from their own peers. And that backlash started long before it was known that antro "Tracy" is suiting up in military drag and carrying a weapon. That's not science. That's not 'embedded.' A reporter who put on a uniform would not be considered an 'embed.'

Rohde would also explain "From the reaction of American military officers, they seem very interested in a new approach. One UN official said basically that the [US] military's realized that they can't end these insurgencies by military means and they're desperate for finding other ways to counter the insurgency." Monty loves her 'influence' and being 'an angel' but she should worry about her responsibilities in terms of War Crimes.

Price and Roberto J. Gonzalez (at CounterPunch) tackled this issue last month, "The Department of Defense, intelligence agencies, and military contractors are aggressively recruiting anthropologists for work related to counter-insurgency operations. These institutions seek to incorporate cultural knowledge and ethnographic intelligence in direct support of US-led interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Pentagon is increasingly relying on the deployment of 'Human Terrain System' (HTS) teams in Afghanistan and Iraq to gather and disseminate information on cultures living in the theatre of war. Some of these teams are assigned to US brigade or regimental combat units, which include 'cultural analysts' and 'regional studies analysts'." Concerned Anthropologists is attempting to raise awareness on this issue and to insist upon ethical anthropology.

andrew e. kramer

david h. price

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tori Amos, Dems caving

The 44-year-old Amos' set was culled primarily from her ambitious "American Doll Posse," a harder-than-usual collection of songs that found the artist assuming five archetypal personalities based on feminine gods in Greek and Roman mythology, each of whom have their own personality and (of course) wardrobe.
Purple gauze turned red as she came out smoking -- literally and figuratively -- and sat down at a long black grand piano. The crowd screamed as the bass-heavy "Yo George" filled up the high ceilings of the old theater.
A crack band of guitar bass and drums stood in the darkness as Amos weaved her spells sweet and sour. Tribal drums propelled the anxious "Devils and Gods;" "Almost Rosey" swirled like a top; "Big Wheel" got the crowd clapping at the predestined moments, while the pounding "Sugar" was unearthly and powerful from a scream to a whisper. The sultry "Cornflake Girl" (from "Under The Pink") was another high point. "Mother Revolution" was haunting and spare, "Caught a Lite Sneeze" was mechanical and rigid, while "Ireland" and "Marianne" were both little treasures.
Amos was alone at the piano for the staggering take on Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat." Soon the band rocked out again with the ominous "'Code Red," and the thunderous "Precious Things" and "Tear in Your Hand" as the audience stood in awe.

That's from David Malachowski's "Amos casts wondrous spell at the Palace" (Albany Times Union). Wally's going to catch her in his area next month. I'm hoping to catch her shortly myself. American Doll Posse is a great CD and so is The Beekeeper but what Ava, C.I. and I are cursing this week is that we didn't pack Scarlet's Walk for the road.

From Tori to the sewer (a huge dip). This is from Anne Flaherty's "Democrats Give Up Withdrawing Troops Put Debate on Troop Withdrawals on Hold" (AP via DemocracyRising):

Congressional Democrats have put on the back burner legislation ordering troops home from Iraq and turned their attention to war-related proposals that Republicans are finding hard to reject.
The legislative agenda marks a dramatic shift for party leaders who vowed repeated votes to end combat and predicted Republicans would eventually join them. But with Democrats still lacking enough votes to bring troops home, the party runs the risk of concluding its first year in control of Congress with little to show for its tough anti-war rhetoric.
"We can no longer approach the discussion on Iraq as a partisan issue," said Rep. John Tanner, a conservative Democrat from Tennessee. "Our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Guardsmen aren't fighting as Democrats or Republicans but as Americans."

They are dying over there, not serving there. And Iraqis are dying there. This is part of that Council of Foreign Relations (that's intentional, not a typo) and their pushback on the illegal war. They need to sell it a bit more. This is disgusting and all I can say is the Green Party better be serious about 2008 (none of that 'safe state' b.s.) because this could be their election. People are disgusted. We were speaking to a women's group (a long with several student groups) and there were all these women . . . pissed off is the only way to describe it. "I feel stabbed in the back by Nancy Pelosi!" is the way one woman put it and you should have heard the cheers and applause when she said that.

It was a long and exhausting day but it was very, very rewarding. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, more officials are targeted in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths, and more.

Starting with war resisters. In June of 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) ruled a mistrial over defense objection. His second court-martial was to have started this week; however, the double-jeopardy clause of the Constitution means he should not be court-martialed twice and US District Judge Benjamin H. Settle has ordered a stay through at least October 26th while this and other issues are reviewed. Amnesty International issued a statement of support for Watada last week and Susan Lee (the Americas Program Director) stated, "It is unacceptable that Ehren Watada should face punishment for peacefully expressing his objections to the war in Iraq. His internationally recognized right to conscientious objection must be respected." Sam Bernstein (US Socialist Worker) explains, "Watada's attorneys are also asking that he be allowed to leave the Army since his term of service ended in December, but the pending legal proceedings have prevented his discharge. . . . Now there will be three weeks of hearings so that Settle can decide whether a retrial amounts to double jeopardy. If it doesn't, a retrial would begin as early as October 26. Antiwar activists -- led by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak out and Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- will use the next three weeks to organize solidarity protests."

War resister Pablo Paredes has been working in Puerto Rico on the issue of counter-recruiting.
The Canadian Press reported last month that Paredes found the counter-recruiting "campaign has been more welcomed than efforts on the mainland" and quotes him stating, "There's not an ownership over this war. There's definitely a sense of 'That's someone else's situation. In schools that allows for a lot more fairness for groups that oppose the war." Among the many others working on this issue are Aimee Allison and David Solnit who have written Army Of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World (published by Seven Stories Press and available at Courage to Resist). The promotional tour for this book has many dates added to it. Click here for the full schedule. We'll note the October events still to come:

Wednesday Oct. 10th -- Swarthmore, PA. For more information, e-mail:;

Thursday Oct. 11th -- NYC, NY. For more information:;

Friday October 12th, -- NYC, NY Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, 7 pm to 9:30 pm. For more information:;

Saturday October 13th -- New Haven CT, The Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden, CT 06517, 1 pm to 4 pm. For more information:;

Saturday October 13th -- Hartford, CT
La Paloma Sabanera Cafe, 405 Capital Ave, Hartford, CT 06106;

Sunday October 14th - Boston or Western Mass, Traprock Peace Center. For more information:;

Monday October 15th -- Boston or Western Mass, Traprock Peace Center;

Tuesday October 16th -- Rochester, NY;

Wednesday October 17th --
The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 6th Avenue, Troy, NY 12181;

Thursday October 18th -- Syracuse, NY, For more information:;

Friday October 19th -- Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair;

Saturday October 20th -- Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair;

Sunday October 21st -- Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair

That's the October events currently posted. October events have already passed and more may be added. If you're interested in the tour you can
check here and more dates may be added in the new year but currently there are no dates schedule for the southern portion of the US except for Fort Benning in Georgia (November 16 through November 18). Aimee Allison and David Solnit speak with Matthew Rothschild on this week's The Progressive Radio. They addressed topics of military access to students, student and parent rights, the threat of the draft and much more. "create associations that will be more likely to

David Solnit: They have what we call the military recruitment complex which is a whole series of research analysis, cutting edge, major public relations corporations and then the on ground recruiters. So together they spend billions of dollars using the most sophisticated and modern public relations propaganda techniques to, as they say, penetrate youth culture and create associations which will make people more likely to accept the military as a normal or healthy thing.

Matthew Rothschild: Can you give us some specifics because I was at an anti-war protest here in Madison, Wisconsin and there was a counselor for a high school , in a high school, who said the most pernicious thing for him was these military recruiters coming and setting up gymnasium type things -- that a person could do the quickest climb or the most push-ups or the most sit-ups, it really appealed to the macho kids and he couldn't, he couldn't get them out of there.

[. . .]

Aimee Allison: One of the things that I think the military recruiters on the ground rely on are sustained access, regular access to high school kids in particular so they can develop relationships. For the recruiter, they become father or friend or guide and take students out to Burger King and, you know. But of all of the messages that they learn, that recruiters learn, through their hard sell and sustained selling techniques, they never mention the word "kill." And the reason why is because it's very deeply ingrained in human beings not to kill. And we've all had these kind of, someone makes us mad and there's a reason we don't act on that because our church, and our family and our society condition us against that kind of violence. So it's the center of the recruiters' message to tell them all the things they can do with their life without letting them know about what the military really is and that is an institution designed to train someone to kill on command and that was the most surprising thing for me in my own experiences.

On the issue of a draft being brought back, David Solnit stated that the work of the peace movement results in reactions from the other side and while people must keep their eyes open, that's not the overreaching issue today. Solnit and Allison both feel that so much more work needs to be done to build a real resistance within the general public. On the topic of the draft, pay attention once-Young Lions who now puff out the sagging chests and tell the youth of today your half-baked tales,
Louise Bernikow (Women's eNews) provides the history missing in so much of the once-Young Lions reminds that "the anti-war organizing was also being done by women of several generations and many political persuasions. Opposition to wars has always been part of women's history: Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day march for peace filled the streets of Boston after the Civil War. By the 20th century, Women's Strike for Peace had evolved out of the anti-nuclear movement into a visible force against the Vietnam War. Among its founders, and quite visible on Moratorium Day, was New Yorker Bella Abzug, soon to be elected to Congress, where her first official act would be to demand a date for withdrawal from Vietnam. In 1972, Abzug would demand Nixon's impeachment for 'defying the will of the people to end the war.' As night fell in the capital city on Moratorium Day, 15,000 people carried candles around the Washington Monument, led by Coretta Scott King, identified by the press, in the custom of the times, as "Mrs. Martin Luther King." Although young men captured the camera's eye as they burned their draft cards, much of the work of organizing draft resistance was done by women. Singer Joan Baez performed protest songs everywhere with a banner behind her that read: 'Girls say yes to boys who say no.' In Greenwich Village, the Peace Center, directed by writer Grace Paley, organized and counseled scores of conscientious objectors willing to go to jail rather than serve in the war." The poster and the very real involvement of women were dealt with in July.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Geneva Jalal Antranik and Marani Awanis Manouik were killed yesterday in Iraq. Their "crime" was driving. Their killers were Unity Resources Group.
Andrew E. Kramer and James Glanz (New York Times) address the slaughter in 28 paragraphs today and wait until the 26th paragraph to provide the women's names. Apparently you cover the slaughter by burying the dead. Tina Susman and Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) report, "Unity Resources, which is run by former Australian army personnel, was investigated last year in connection with the shooting of a 72-year-old agriculture professor at the University of Baghdad, according to Australian media. The Australian Foreign Ministry at the time said the professor, Kays Juma, was shot because his vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint in the capital.Some witnesses confirmed that a flare was fired, but at least two said guards fired into the vehicle after it had been partially disabled by warning shots. One witness said the vehicle, which carried at least three women and one child, had rolled to a halt when the women inside were shot." Jay Price and Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) add, "A man at a gun portal in the back of the last armored vehicle began shooting an automatic weapon into the hood and windshield of car. Then another guard leaned out of a door and did the same, police said. Between them, they fired about 30 times, said Hamed Ali, an Iraqi policeman who was manning a checkpoint at the shooting site. The car was about 75 yards from the armored vehicles when the shooting started, he said as he showed journalists the skid marks. 'There was no reason at all to shoot at these women,' he said." CBS and AP note the excuses of Unity Resources and quote Marou "Awanis' daughter and a student at Baghdad's Technology University" asking, "What is the use of the word 'sorry'?" Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "The victims were driving home from work when their vehicle came under fire by guards with the Australia-based Unity Resources Group."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack on an official today in Tikrit -- the target: Jassim Jabbar (Head of National Security Center) -- that left 2 people dead and seventeen wounded, a Baghdad bombing wounded two people "near the Vegetable Oils Plant" and a Sulaiman Bek bombing wounded two people. Reuters notes the death toll in the attack on official increased by 4 for a total of six dead, a Zaab truck bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi military service member and left five people wounded (two non-military) "in an attack on an Iraqi army base," a Mosul minibus bombing (targeting the Kurdistan Democratic Party) claimed 2 lives and left sixteen injured and a Diwaniya mortar attack that left eleven female students, "three teachers and a man" of "a girls' primary school" injured.


The attacks on officials continue in Iraq.
KUNA reports that Abdurrazaq Qassem was kidnapped yesterday in Basra where he is "the director of Basra International Airport." Abdul-Razzaq Hashim is the spelling Reuters offers. The targeting of officials continues in Iraq. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) notes his name as Abdulrazzaq Qassim as well. On the topic of the air war, CNN notes 13 dead "west of Baghdad" from a US airstrike.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Railways Commission worker was killed and five injured in a gunfire attack on their bus in Bayaa, 1 person was killed and six were injured in an attack on "a Kia mini bus in Saidiya" while Abdulameer Mahmoud (National Information and Investigation Bureau chief) was wounded in a Kirkuk attack "late yesterday" -- another official targeted.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, Hmood Abdullah Hmood's corpse was discovered in Kirkuk late yesterday (three days after he was kidnapped), and a corpse was discovered in Hawija.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from a noncombat related cause in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Oct. 10." And they announced: "An MND-C Soldier died from a non-combat related event Oct. 10." ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the illegal war began is currently 3820. CNN uses the count 3,821.

Tensions continue to flare on the Turkish and Iraqi border.
CBS and AP report, "Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions of Kurdish rebels near Iraq on Wednesday, a possible prelude to a cross-border operation that would likely raise tensions with Washington." Turkish Press reports that the country's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stated a measure will be introduced in the Turkish Parliament tomorrow calling for "an incursion into northern Iraq to pursue PKK terrorists." AFP notes, "Under Turkish law, parliament must authorize any deployment of Turkish troops abroad." Al Jazeera informs that the prime minister "is under pressure to respond to a series of recent attacks on Turkish security forces by fighters from the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) that killed 15 soldiers. The Turkish leader said prepartations to put the measure before parliament 'have started and are countinuing'. The plan was unlikely to reach parliament before the end of a four-day religious holiday on Sunday, an official from Erdogan's Justice and Development party said." In the United States today, Dana Perino (press flack) gave a briefing in the White House referred to Turkey as "a very valuable ally" and was asked if a Congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide that the Bully Boy had come out against resulted from "Turkey blackmailing the United States" to which Perino responded, "Absolutely not." Perino also declared, "We have said that we want to work with the Turkish government and the Iraqis, the Iraqi government, to eradicate the terrorist problem there in northern Iraq. We do not think that it would be the best place for troops to go into Iraq from Turkey at this time. We think that we can handle this situation without that being necessary." Suna Erdem (Times of London) notes, " Until now, though, Mr Erdogan has appeared reluctant to pursue an act that could result in a military quagmire and cause serious diplomatic problems. The authorities in Washington and Iraq, already struggling to control insurgent violence, are unwilling to condone anything that could cause unrest in the country's most stable region. Turkey's rulers would also probably prefer to do without the complication of a military operation at a time when they are seeking to kick-start their membership talks with the European Union."

Turning to peace news,
September 7th, we noted the police abuse Tina Richards, Adam Kokesh and Ian Thompson were the victims when they attempted to put up posters -- actually, when they attempted to hold a press conference discussing the legal way to poster in DC for the upcoming peace event sponsored by A.N.S.W.E.R. and others. Last Thursday, the Washington Post notes, Richards, Kokesh and Thompson "appeared in court" and were instructed the DC Superior Court trial will start (for the 'crime' of postering) on January 3rd. At his site, Kokesh addresses the Flock of Seagulls (aka Gathering of Eagles): "Chris Hill ('National Director of Ops' for the Gathering of Eagles, a pro-war advocacy group) and other members of his group verbally and physically attacked a Gold Star father of a fallen soldier who was participating in a anti-war march on 9/15. The Gold Star father, Carlos Arredondo, was marching with a picture of his fallen son when Hill and members of the pro-war group began verbally harassing him and then physically confronted him to take away the photo of his son. In the process Mr. Arredondo was knocked to the ground and kicked. Hill wrestled the photo of Mr. Arredondo's son, Alex, away from Gold Star father, claiming to have liberated it. The Gathering of Eagles Group had attended the anti-war march for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the protesters." And (Language Warning) also here where he includes photos of their attack on Arredondo. The "Gathering" is set to land in the Bay Area Wednesday October 17th where they will attempt to bully CODEPINK into stopping their activism at the military recruiting center in Berkeley on Shattuck Ave. Apparently Flock of Seagulls loves war so much they want all to have a right to bleed to death in an illegal war.

In other disgusting news,
CBS and AP note, "The U.S. released 60 Iraqi prisoners, including 10 youths, Wednesday. As a gesture of good will, the U.S. military has pledged to release more than 50 detainees a day during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends later this week." CNN gets in on the nonsense quoting US Maj Gen Doug Stone delcaring that not one "of the 1,000-plus Iraqi detainnes freed in recent weeks have broken a pledge not to return to the insurgency" -- CNN's so caught up in the hype that they fail to make the obvious point that Stone really wouldn't know if they had or not. But is there one damn adult left in broadcast news? If so, might they sound the alarm of these 'releases' which are the sort of things despots do to curry favor. If those imprisoned shouldn't be (and the majority shouldn't), then they get released for that reason, not in "a gesture of good will." This is really disgusting and that it's not registering says something truly troubling about our news media which seems to be longing for a King John.

October 12th,
NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc. In most markets, the program airs on Friday, check your local listings.

adam kokesh
andrew e. kramer