Thursday, June 15, 2006

2500 dead

Hot today. First things first, Point of View is a link I'm tossing out here. Why? I owe ES an apology. ES wrote on July 7th and I just now got around to reading that e-mail. (It was a really a nice e-mail.) From the title I thought it was another "Dearest one, I have throat cancer but my father was the President of Yukos Oil and if you will send me your bank account number . . ."
Ava and Jess have been on my ass whenever I bring up e-mails. I haven't been reading the spams and I haven't been reporting them. They help with The Common Ills e-mail and with the public account, they have to stay on the spam. That means more than deleting it but hitting the button to report it or else it will keep coming in the inbox instead of junk box. I don't get that amount of mail and also I always think with junk mail, "Well maybe someone somewhere's making some money by doing this and this might be the only way they have to make money?"
But Jess text messaged me today reminding me that I said Sunday I would start marking spam.
So I went through and read to make sure stuff was spam before marking it and saw ES's nice e-mail. Point of View is ES's website. Sorry for not knowing it was a real e-mail. (ES also had some real nice stuff to say about Kat too, by the way.) ES's e-mail was so nice I'll forgive the fact that it brings up the Year of the Ox. :D That's my Chinese birth year or whatever. They told me that when they interviewed me at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Speaking of that interview, C.I. delinked from a site Sunday (for good reason). The person who ripped off my "blogging is like losing your cherry in front of the world" is now at that site as quite a few e-mails have pointed out this week (and pointed it out when it happened). I'm glad the site's gone, they waste everyone's time trying to be Details or whatever when they're supposed to be a political magazine. As for being ripped off, I didn't forget. I never read that writer because I might think, "Oh, that's smart" and in reality the truth is the writer just ripped off someone else again. I was telling Tony about the e-mails coming in on that when we were talking today and he said, "Mike, ____ ripped you off twice in an eight day period." I didn't even remember the second time. That's really sad that someone who gets paid to write would rip off some college dude's website when all the writer had to do was say, "I saw this as Mikey Likes It! and I'm going to write about it too because it made me think of . . ."

We're all supposed to be going out in November of 2008, shutting down the sites. If I do that, I'll probably make my last entry about ___ and I'll name ___ and show you what days I wrote the two things and what days ____ turned out and ripped me off. Then we can all know (every community member knows) what a loser and ass wipe ___ is for ripping off some college kid and not giving any credit. ____ got a lot of praise from other site's for being "so original" and "so funny." Anybody notice that ____ hasn't been called that in some time? That's partly because a lot of people know now that ____ ripped off. It's also because when ____ started getting attention for ripping off, ___ had to start writing their own thoughts and, no surprise, there's nothing funny or original about what ____ has to write.

Those were from my first weeks of blogging and maybe I should be honored that someone who gets paid to write would come to my site and steal because they thought it was that good? I'm not "honored." I think it was cheap and sleezy and says a lot about ___. (If the round-robin was
NOT coming out tomorrow morning, I'd write up something for it right now and see if Gina and Krista would run it, but I'll save it for my farewell post.)

So that's me and the e-mails. (Yes, I was glad C.I. delinked. It needed to be done but I understand why C.I. gave them time to get their act together. They couldn't, so they're gone. Nah, nah, nah. :D)

I'm really soloing tonight. Not only am I without my blog twin Elaine (who has a session she does on Thursday evenings) but I'm also without Nina! She's got a friend's bridal shower tonight. Hope she's having fun. (And not putting all her money in some guy's g-string! :D)
Let's get things started with Democracy Now!

Kerry Calls for Troop Withdrawal
Today’s debate comes as major splits continue to emerge within both parties over the war. On Tuesday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry told a gathering of liberal voters at the "Take Back America" conference in Washington that the Iraq war was a mistake and he was wrong to vote for it. Kerry announced he is introducing a resolution for a withdrawal of troops by the end of the year. Kerry attacked the war's architects as "armchair warriors whose front line is an air-conditioned conference room." In an interview with the Boston Globe, Kerry later added: "It is both a right and an obligation for Americans to… end a war in Iraq that weakens the nation each and every day we are in it." Kerry's proposal would keep some troops in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers.

Gonna put this on hold on a minute and go out and grab a pizza. No, you won't know this was on hold until you read this but if someone goes, "Geez, slow typer, no kidding, it took him even longer tonight!" I got the house to myself, my folks to my sister somewhere, and I'm hungry so I'm going to run out and grab a pizza. BRB.

Back. Didn't make it. Got half-way there and traffic was so packed and crazy, I pulled into a gas station, grabbed a coke and some candy and headed back. I was going to get one of those pizzas you toss in the oven but they didn't even have any of the big ones. Just those soggy little ones that fill a single plate and seem so big when you're a kid if you don't have to share them with your brothers and sisters. You know the kind I'm talking about, where "pepperoni" is these little tiny bits, flecks of something red. I'll hunt around the fridge or go out later. So I'm parking the car and my cell goes off. It's Cedric and he wants to know if I want to do items with him from Democracy Now!? Does a junkie want a fix! We're on the phone from the car on up to the front porch and then inside the house and he goes, "I thought you said no one was home?" I go, "Just me." He goes, "I didn't hear any keys."

I'm all, "Ma, is that you?" But Ma does the same thing. We all do. If we're the last one in the house and we're making a quick trip, we don't usually lock. I was expecting to be carrying in two big boxes of pizza. But if it's a short trip, we know all the neighbors, they all know us. Cedric was all, "I walk inside, first thing I do is lock the door." I told him that with all my brothers and sisters and they're spouses or dates or whatever coming in and out all the time, locking the door would mean getting up every half-hour to go open the door. While I was telling him that, my oldest bro came by to go through Dad's clothes. Not to steal! He's getting him something for Father's Day and needed to know Dad's size. He goes, "Tell Dad it was me because he's going to know someone went through his stuff."

And boom, he's out. That's how it is here all the time. I'm one of eight kids and it's just me and my younger sister at home now so between that and my grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins and . . . There's no point in locking the door unless you want to be getting up and down and up and down all evening. Dad locks it at night and always says, "You come in after that door is locked, you lock it." Seven kids through me and we never screwed up but my kid sister did just that last week. First time ever.

So anyhow, John Kerry spoke out about the need to bring the troops home on Tuesday. (Same day Hillary got booed and the Take Back America people stabbed CODEPINK in the back, same event.) You're going, "Uh, Mike, 2500!" I know but the Pentagon announced that after Democracy Now! or it would have been in the headlines and I would've made it the first thing up. It's covered in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot." But 2500 dead in a "cake walk." Good thing it wasn't a steaming pile of crap. Oh, wait! It was. They just lied to us about how it would be a cake walk like they lied about everything else. The blood of countless Iraqis, many coalition forces and American troops are on Bully Boy's hands.

Reporters, Attorneys Barred From Guantanamo Bay
The US has barred journalists and lawyers from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. A group of visiting reporters was forced off the island Wednesday under a directive from the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesperson said the removal was ordered following complaints from other media outlets who had complained they were being denied equal access. But questions are being raised over whether the removals were motivated by the reporters' coverage of the aftermath of Saturday's three detainee suicides. Their articles included interviews with the detainees' attorneys who criticized their clients' treatment. The reporters work for the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald and the Charlotte Observer. A Pentagon spokesperson said the revoking of the permissions came not from Guantanamo commanders but from the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Meanwhile, lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees have also been barred from visiting their clients at the prison. A lawyer representing a group of detainees said she was told the ban will be lifted on Monday. In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented scores of detainees, said: "At a time when the administration must be transparent about the deaths at Guantanamo, they are pulling down a wall of secrecy and avoiding public accountability. This crackdown on the free press makes everyone ask what else they are hiding down there? The Bush Administration is afraid of American reporters, afraid of American attorneys and afraid of American laws."

Not trying to slam the ACLU or anybody else but more and more it seems like to me that the Center for Constitutional Rights is about the only thing preventing Bully Boy from declaring martial law. They're fierce. (They're also members of the ACLU and I think Dalia Hashad was on staff there until she moved over to Amnesty recently.) They put out the Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush book. Michael Ratner and Michael Smith are part of it but Dalia and Heidi Boghosian may be too. They've got a woman who's co-written a book on impeachment and I'm forgetting her name (she co-wrote it with David Lindorff). C.I. will read that and go, "Mike . . ." And I'll do my puppy-dog face. :D

But they don't take crap. They stood up for the rights of the Guantanamo prisoners (and still do) and they stood up against the illegal spying (and still do) and you name it. Bully Boy can't mess with them. They're like Phoebe on that episode of Friends when she goes, "They think they can mess with us? They think they can mess with us!" :D Heidi's with the National Lawyer's Guild and they're pretty tough too. I did not know that. I really didn't know a thing about the group but I asked C.I. one time, "What's this National Lawyer's Guild?" and I got an earful about Drake and about a hundred other things. I think they're providing the lawyer for Suzanne Smith too. And let me note that Suzanne Smith's mom was a guest on Democracy Now! this morning: "'Our Military is Being Treated as Human Fodder' - Mother of Soldier Arrested for Refusing to Return to Iraq." I must have said that to C.I. once too often, about how tough the Center is, because I got sent an ad on them where it's a crying baby and they say something like, "We didn't just cry." It's a cool ad. Tony's hung it in his room because he saw it and goes, "That's f-ing cool!" They could probably sell that as a poster. Tony framed it and everything.

So there's the Center doing it loud and proud again. I had never heard of them before a year ago. I just mentioned that to Cedric and he groaned and goes "One second." He came back and read me the text of the ad: "WE DIDN'T WHINE ABOUT THE PATRIOT ACT STRIPPING OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS." And then a smaller sentence: "WE GOT A KEY PROVISION RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND THROWN OUT." Cedric also goes it's on the back of an issue of The Nation that C.I.'s got like forty or fifty copies of. :D (That's true too.) So I'll ask C.I. if I can have another copy so I can frame it too. :D (Dad's got a copy too. As soon as Cedric told me who was on the cover, I remembered Dad saved that copy. Dad's not going to let me tear it apart though.)

So the Center's left to tell the truth about the Bully Boy again. Not with cautious words but in a strong voice. They've been working with Guantanamo prisoners all this time.

Check out Cedric's "Law and Disorder, Dahr Jamail & Amy Goodman on Falluja, the death of two Iraqi women, Ramadi and more, and Jason Leopold" because Cedric's covering a lot of things including the second part of WBAI's Law and Disorder.

So here's some news on Iraq via C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Iraq snapshot.
Today, Thursday, June 15, 2006, the fatality count for US troops in Iraq has officially reached 2,500. The Pentagon noted the loss of lives today. The Bully Boy marked the milestone by signing a Broadcast 'Decency Enforcement Act (because illegal wars are apparently 'decent') and by apologizing for insulting Peter Wallsten, reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who had the 'nerve' to ask the Bully Boy a question while wearing sunglasses. As 2,5000 Americans have now lost their lives in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice, there's something illuminating in his actions a) what he considers 'decent' and b) compassion is trumped by his sense of entitlement that allows him to mock someone who, it turns out, "has Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss."
While Bully Boy marked the milestone with his usual lack of attention or sense of gravity, in Iraq, chaos and violence continue. In Baghdad, the "crackdown" continues. As Bloombergs News notes of the "crackdown" : "Measures include increased checkpoints, a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and enforcement of weapons laws, the military said in an e-mailed statement today." The AFP reports that the "crackdown" also includes "a vehicle ban [which] was announced for during the Muslim midday prayer hours on Fridays."Despite, or because of, the "crackdown" (but certainly "during" the "crackdown), the AP reports that kidnapping continues in Baghdad (an engineer) as does killing (an engineer and a "a detergent factory worker"). How common are those actions in Baghdad at this point? The Guardian of London reports those two deaths and the kidnapping while stating "but no major violence was reported in the capital." Not noted by the Guardian, but noted by Bloomberg (citing AFP) was the fact that discovered corpses remain a regular occurrence of the illegal occupation: in Baghdad on Thursday, seven corpses were found.
With "26,000 Iraqi soldiers, 23,000 Iraqi police and 7,2000 coalition forces deployed in Baghdad" (Bully Boy figures) for the "crackdown," what's happening elsewhere?
The AP reports that 10 Shi'ites were pulled from a bus and shot dead in Baquba -- "as they were heading to work" notes Reuters. In Qara Taba, Reuters notes an explosion in a graveyard which wounded "[a] woman and her son." In Tikrit, the Guardian notes the storming of "a Sunni mosque . . . killing four people and wounding 15". Reuters notes that three roadside boms in Tal Afar "killed five [Iraqi] soldiers" and wounded at least six; the death of another Iraqi solider in Haweeja; and, in Baquba, the death of "police Colonerl Ali Shakir Mahmoud, director of units protecting oil installations in Baquba".
Meanwhile in Ramadi, Al Jazeera reports that roads were "blocked, and a giant wall of sand has been piled up around the perimeter, and everything went silent preparing for the final onslaught, a scene we saw two years ago in another Iraqi city, Fallujah". Al Jazeera reports that the city is surrounded on all four sides; "jet fighters" and helicopters "hover over the city"; that American troops are preventing anyone from entering or leaving while they have cut "off all electricity supplies . . . as well as drinking water facilities": and that American forces have "shelled medical supply stores, closed down all medical clinics and confiscated all medical supplies". The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment are hoping to rename "the highway connecting Fallujah and Ramadi" "Darkhorse Drive" according to Marine Corps News. Possibly they should call it "Press Blackout Avenue"?
Stephen Fidler (Financial Times of London) reports that since "victims are killed by between four and 12 bullets, the cost of taking away a life in Baghdad is now $2.40." Reminder -- the US averages the worth of an Iraqi life at approximately $2,500 judging by compensation figures. As noted by Amy Goodman this moring, marine corporal Joshua Belile has stated his "song was intended as a joke and bore no connection to the killing of Iraqi civilians by US Marines." Margaret Neighbor (Scotsman) describes the song thusly: "In a four-minute video called Hadji Girl, a singer who appears to be a marine tells a cheering audience about gunning down members of an Iarqi woman's family after they confront him with authomatic weapons." As Sandra Lupien reported Wednesday on KPFA's The Morning Show the song included lyrics such as: "the blood sprayed from between her eyes." As Lupien noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the apologetic Belile stated that "People need to laugh at it and let it go."
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has found that, "The global refugee population has begun to rise for the first time in four years, largely due to instability in Iraq" according to the AFP, resulting in "644,500 more Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria in 2005".
Along with noting the death of 2,500 American troops since the inception of the illegal war, the Pentagon also stated today that 18,490 troops have been wounded while serving in Iraq. On KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Phyllis Bennis addressed the realities versus the photo ops noting that the flight in and out of Baghdad earlier this week by the Bully Boy was "One more attempt to add to a list of so-called turning points . . . We have a litany of talking points and turing points. . . . . [Reality in Iraq] is the lack of water, lack of electricity, lack of education and, worst of all, the lack of security." Commenting on the Pew Research Center poll that noted a decline in support for US policies around the world, Bennis noted that there was a line drawn between the government of the US and the people of the US in many minds because of the awareness of the peace movement against the war which "speaks to how much attention it gets globally even when the mainstream press in this country ignores it."
Meanwhile, as 450 Iraqi prisoners were released for US run-prisons in Iraq, the United States Senate voted the emergency funding bill that continues to fund the illegal war in Iraq (as well as other things -- the cost continues to be tacked on in a bill here, a bill there).
In Ireland, Owen Bowcott (Guardian of London) reports that the discovery of the "handcuffed and manacled marine . . . on board a military charter flight at Shannon airport" has led to Ireland's foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern making statements that random inspections are now on the table involving US planes landing at Shannon. (Bowen reports the handcuffed marine was allegedly being transported to Georgia, reportedly accused of stealing clothes.)Finally, again, the Pentagon has confirmed that 2,500 American troops have lost their lives in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice.

Go read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IN THE CHURCH OF THE BULLY BOY ..." and C.I.'s "Other Items (Phyllis Bennis on KPFA's The Morning Show)." And haul your ass over to Cedric's Big Mix to get Cedric's thoughts of the day.