Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Good evening. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday and got to see some friends or family, maybe a little rest. (Tony made the mistake of going in for some new tires. Ended up there from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon.) Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Military Probe: Marines Killed 24 Iraqis in Haditha Massacre
Military investigators have determined that U.S. Marines wantonly killed unarmed Iraqi civilians -- including women and children -- in the city of Haditha last November. An internal investigation determined that the Marines fatally shot as many as 24 Iraqis and then tried to cover up the killings. One 10-year-old Iraqi girl said she watched Marines kill her mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, four-year-old cousin and two uncles. The incident is being compared to the massacre in My Lai during the Vietnam War. Several Marines involved in the killing are now being held in the Camp Pendleton brig in California. At least one Marine has spoken to the media about what he witnessed. Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones told the Los Angeles Times he was not involved in the killings but took photographs and helped remove the dead bodies. Briones said "They ranged from little babies to adult males and females."

This is a war crime. You can't sugar coat it. Elaine's writing about this at length tonight. So please check out Like Maria Said Paz. She's very upset and I think we all should be. This isn't something we should sweep aside or treat like an isolated incident. If you read the Iraqi snapshot C.I. does every day, you know that this is one more feature of the illegal occupation and why every American should have been screaming "Troops home now!" a long time ago -- even those who supported the war. There's no excuse for staying silent or not having a view on this war.

Deadly Anti-U.S. Riots Hit Kabul, Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, thousands took part Monday in the most violent anti-U.S. protests in the capital of Kabul since the fall of the Taliban. The riots were sparked by a traffic accident involving a U.S. military truck. Within hours of the crash, protests had spread throughout the city. By day's end at least 14 people died and another 100 were wounded. Police stations were set on fire. Hotels came under attack. The office of CARE International was torched to the ground. Stores were ransacked. The U.S.--backed government imposed a night-time curfew for the first time in four years. Protesters called on the U.S. to end its occupation of Afghanistan.
Ajmal Jan: "We want America out of this country! we hate America! They have no responsibility! Their army wrong and they are driving on the road killing innocent people! We want America out of this country sooner or later! We hate America!!"
Meanwhile U.S. forces killed about 50 Afghans in an air strike in the town of Helmand in Southern Afghanistan. Over 400 people have now died in the region over the past 10 days.

That's another attempted occupation. I say "attempted" because the United States isn't in charge over there and never has been. As soon as we were done bombing, we were happy to make nice with war lords, put them back in charge, act like this was "democracy" and ignore the fact that outside of the cosmetic changes in Kabul, nothing's changed.

Bully's Boy p.r. may have faded some with the falling polls, but we don't seem to be willing (still) to examine the lies of Afghanistan and Iraq. The people seem to be willing to act as if Hurricane Katrina revealed a callous and cruel Bully Boy -- as though the effects of two wars hadn't already revealed that.

We've got a lot to do, a long ways to go, apparently before we're willing to look at what goes on in Afghanistan (on the ground, or in Iraq)

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

Chaos and violence continue.
Turkish Press notes that May has led to the "highest monthly death toll . . . since the US-led invasion" for England. So far, nine British troops have died this month in Iraq bringing their official total, since the beginning of the illegal invasion, to 113. This as Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and occupation puppet, is reported by Reuters to have said, "I'm giving them a final deadline to give their opinon on the candidates now."
al-Maliki was referring to his cabinet which still hasn't been fully staffed -- this depsite the May 22nd constitutional deadline having passed.
the US moves 1,500 more troops into Iraq, the Associated Press reports on what they've dubbed the "coalition of the dwindling." William J. Kole, reporting for the AP, notes Italy's statements that all of their troops will be pulled by year's end, South Korea's intent to "withdraw about 1,000 of its 3,200 soldiers" and Denmark's decision to pull 80 of its 530 troops from Iraq. Kole also notes that rumors that Japan will pull troops by year's end and Poland's continued evaluation of whether or not to keep their 900 troops in Iraq.
In Baghdad, the
Associated Press reports a mortar atatck ("fired by remote control from a cary near the Interior Ministry") resulted in the deaths of "two female employees" and wounded a police officer, "two janitors" and, from a mortar that "landed in a park," "two city workers." Reuters notes the wounding of "four policeman . . by a rocket which landed near the ministry." The BBC notes the death of a police officer, killed by a roadside bomb. Reuters notes that death and the wounding of three more police officers. Reuters reports the murder of a "preacher of a Sunni Mosque in the Shula district of the capital" Also murdered were four mechanics, reports the AFP. The BBC notes the discovery of three corpses ("blindfolded and handcuffed"). The AFP notes those three plus three more, including "the corpse of a policeman kidnapped two days earlier . . . [and] a taxi driver."
As noted
by Reuters and Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show, in Hilla, a car bomb has resulted in deaths and wounded -- the current estimate is "at least 12" dead and at least "36 people . . . wounded." In Balad, Reuters notes the kidnapping of "an employee of the Oil Protection Facility."
And finally,
CBS News and the Associated Press report that the corpses of two US marines who have been missing since their helicopter crashed on Saturday have been found -- one corpse was found on Monday and the other today.

Nina wanted me to highlight something. It's from a really good book, a long one, but a good one. So if the excerpt below makes you want more, click on the link and read more but also considering reading the book. This is Noam Chomsky's "Why It's Over For America:"

An inability to protect its citizens. The belief that it is above the law. A lack of democracy. Three defining characteristics of the 'failed state'. And that, says Noam Chomsky, is exactly what the US is becoming. In an exclusive extract from his devastating new book,"Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy," America's leading thinker explains how his country lost its way.
The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern for human welfare and rights is, naturally, a subjective matter. But there are a few choices that seem unavoidable, because they bear so directly on the prospects for decent survival. Among them are at least these three: nuclear war, environmental disaster, and the fact that the government of the world's leading power is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of these catastrophes. It is important to stress the government, because the population, not surprisingly, does not agree.
That brings up a fourth issue that should deeply concern Americans, and the world: the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy, one of the reasons for the fear, which cannot casually be put aside, that, as Gar Alperowitz puts it in America Beyond Capitalism, "the American 'system' as a whole is in real trouble - that it is heading in a direction that spells the end of its historic values [of] equality, liberty, and meaningful democracy."
The "system" is coming to have some of the features of failed states, to adopt a currently fashionable notion that is conventionally applied to states regarded as potential threats to our security (like Iraq) or as needing our intervention to rescue the population from severe internal threats (like Haiti). Though the concept is recognized to be, according to the journal Foreign Affairs, "frustratingly imprecise," some of the primary characteristics of failed states can be identified. One is their inability or unwillingness to protect their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction. Another is their tendency to regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and hence free to carry out aggression and violence. And if they have democratic forms, they suffer from a serious "democratic deficit" that deprives their formal democratic institutions of real substance.
Among the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and one of the most important, is to look honestly in the mirror. If we allow ourselves to do so, we should have little difficulty in finding the characteristics of "failed states" right at home.

I'd also urge you to check out Ava and C.I.'s "TV commentary: About the women" and Nina's reading over my shoulder and says, "Read it! It's wonderful." It is, they're covering about five things. Maybe more. 1) Elizabeth Vargas. 2) Bob Woodruff. 3) ER. 4) Susan Faludi & Newsweek. 5) Reba. 6) Charmed. Read it.