Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Iraq, Watada, Rebecca and Dave Zirin

I was planning on starting with a photo scan that's on some community sites but I'll do that tomorrow. My favorite professor stopped me on campus today and he was mad. At first, I thought he was mad at me. That wasn't it. As most people know, C.I.'s documented "war porn" and "war pornography" (while a lot of others jerked off on other things). He had a thing in his hand, a print out that used "war porn" and used it wrong. He was furious. Photos of the dead, taken for whatever reason, are reality. They are not porn. It may be a horrible event captured. It's not war porn. We should see those photos, calling it "war porn" won't help that. War porn is selling the war, getting people excited about it, talks of "strategy." "War porn" is anything that gets you excited about war, teases you back into the fold. "Oh my God! Oh my God! It's winnable!"

If someone wants to steal, like my prof pointed out, let 'em steal. But get it right.

Why does it matter?

You call photos taken by journalists or soldiers of tragedies (taken for whatever reason) "war porn" then you've labled them "porn" and you're giving one more excuse not to show them, not to print them. They aren't porn. They are reality. The person writing the thing (and using the term wrong) thinks the photos should be seen. We agree on that, they should be. But calling them "porn" doesn't help that happen.

They're reality. They should be on the front page of every newspaper.

I don't have my favorite prof this summer. I'm signed up for the fall. But a guy brought that thing into class and said, "He's writing about 'war porn' but I don't think he gets it." He doesn't get it. Photos of the destruction and death aren't porn. Porn is the jerking off that the fluffers do where they won't say what they think of the war because 'we're already over there' and it's a 'policy decision' but they'll waste everyone's time with one article after another on failed 'strategy.' By their argument, what does their strategy matter? Just as we're already over there, haven't we already done what's done? So if you can't address the issue of HOW we got over there because we're over there now, why are you addressing the WAYS you think it could have been fought from the beginning since it WAS NOT fought that way? That's war porn. Look up Michael R. Gordon in the dictionary and he's probably there with: "War pornographer. One who spins and fluffs. One who justifies the slaughter of people at a TV station -- civilian target -- and then, later on, tries to act like he didn't do that because the war's not so popular. So now he wants to talk about what the strategy could have been or should have been THREE YEARS AGO but will never address the issue of HOW we got over there or even go on the record as to IF we should be over there." Michael R. Gordon's still doing his war pornography. If the week hadn't been such a busy one for C.I. the fact that Gordon's now doing his usual "sources say" on North Korea would have been noted.

If the definition's too hard for someone to understand, here's a rule of thumb: if you think something needs to be exposed and given more play, DON'T label it "porn." You've just shot yourself in the foot when you do.

This was reposted at the site that ripped me off, by the way. My prof didn't know about that. He told me he told everyone who is against the war to stop going there. He told the ones who were for it to go there. But he read a thing (he's going to e-mail it to me) about how the dipshit was saying (again) that America couldn't leave. Dipshit, if you need to rip me off to get a good idea, do so. But quit selling your WAR LIES. I told him about that site and also how they attempted to get dirt on some of their visitors by sending out e-mails to me. That site's a joke. I told him I wrote about it awhile back and would send it to him. He's going to show that to the classes and tell them not to go there because ripping off (and they've got a history) other people rules them out of being discussed in an academic environment.

Now we'll kick things off with Democracy Now! and right after that, I'll give the update that I've had e-mails on and that I know people who haven't written are worried about as well.

Lynne Stewart Asks Court if Gov't Illegally Spied On Her
There is an update in the case of Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart -- she is the New York attorney convicted of terror-related charges for her work representing her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Stewart filed court papers on Monday seeking to learn whether any warrantless or illegal electronic surveillance was conducted on her or anyone involved in her case. Stewart maintains that the government's case against her would be compromised if it engaged in illegal surveillance. The Bush administration has already admitted it monitored jailhouse conversations between Stewart and her client.

Lynne Stewart should not even have a conviction on her record because she DID NOT BREAK A LAW. But good for her that she's fighting. (She'd said she would.) That should really embarrass a lot of us. This is a grandmother with cancer and she's fighting. Not for her. Don't think it's for her. If she was doing something for her, she'd be focusing on herself. Think about it, if you were ill, you'd be focusing on yourself too. She's a woman who's made her whole life about justice and she's still doing that -- at a time when she's earned a break. So you should be rooting her on here, this is a fight for all of us.

U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murdering Iraqi Detainees
Three U.S. soldiers have been charged in connection with the killing of three Iraqi detainees last month in the town of Thar Thar Canal. The soldiers -- all members of the 101st Airborne Division -- reportedly detained the Iraqis during a raid on a former chemical factory. Then the soldiers allowed the Iraqis to flee the scene so they would have an excuse to shoot them. The men are also accused of threatening to kill another soldier if he assisted investigators.

Tony doesn't think this is getting a lot of attention. Is it? My mind's been thinking about a friend since Sunday morning or Saturday night. Whole community's probably been in a haze. But Tony says that it's not getting a lot of play. He's comparing it to Haditha which is still only an investigation (no charges yet) and the shock by some (and justifying by others) and taking that and comparing/contrasting it with three being charged for murder. He's not seeing a lot of coverage. That may be because so little is known of the actual events (like even the victims' names).

Rebecca's "nancy keenan, rick hertzberg (the useless 1s)" goes into what most of heard Saturday night or Sunday morning when we were all working together. She miscarried Saturday. She wasn't that far along and she knew what was happening. None of us knew she was pregnant because she'd told NO ONE. That was because of the last pregnancy (which she's written about) and the test results and the abortion. She was hoping that, if this went to term, there would be some sort of "statistical miracle" and she'd be able to carry to term. But she wasn't that far along and she wasn't planning on saying anything until she was further along. Did she use contraceptives? "Funny, you think a photo of James Dobson and a chastity-pledge braclet will do the trick." That was her joke. Yes, she did. But contraceptives aren't 100% effective. (Something to remember as the Supreme Court is about to hear an abortion issue that's already been settled -- but that was when O'Connor was on the Court.) We talked yesterday and I had permission to post the above yesterday but she hadn't written about it yet and I wasn't going to post anything until she had.

I spoke to her today and there was some good news and some bad news and she says she's "okay." She plans to blog tonight and is asking Elaine and C.I. too as well. They both dropped everything to be with her today because she hates going to doctors (other than dentists) for any reason but especially on something like this. There's tests and other stuff still waiting but she said she heard what she expected to.

She says she appreciates that everyone's been concerned but she'll be fine and if she wants to talk about, she'll do it at her site so if you e-mail with questions, you'll only get "I'm fine" back. She says it's too much to write much more than that but if she's in the mood too, she'll do it at her site. (Or maybe at the round-robin. I didn't think of asking about that.) Elaine and C.I. are both staying over with her tonight. Flyboy thinks they'll probably fly out with C.I. and spend some time out there. (Rebecca will be able to blog during that time if they do it. She has a laptop.) Rebecca and Flyboy have a two week vacation coming up and Elaine and her current boyfriend already had plans to go on that. Flyboy says he's cool with doing a vacation before the vacation (which is what Rebecca's wanting) and that he thinks it's a good idea. She'll get the test results over the phone and if she needs to follow up, she'll follow up with a doctor C.I. knows. She told me this evening I could put in if anyone thinks, "Oh, she's just going to travel" that she really hates being in her house right now (since that's where she was when she miscarried). So they'll be some packing tonight and some traveling tomorrow.

If I forgot something and remember, I'll add it later. And if she wants me to pass on something so that she doesn't have to write it up at her site, I will too. I hope it's clear that if it's up here, she's trying to let people know what's going on (and hoping they won't worry) but she doesn't want to e-mail about it so please don't e-mail her asking her for more details.

If I messed something up, you can write me and I'll ask Ma about it. I don't claim to know a lot about pregnancies.

If you're wondering why me? I blog daily. Wally does as well but is doing a humor site. (And has a hard time being funny but still managed to do so even though he says it's meant a lot of staring at the screen.) It's C.I., Wally, Rebecca and me that blog at least five days a week (obviously C.I. does it more than that). So when I called on Monday to ask what I could do she said if I didn't mind being the buffer zone that would help. Glad to do it and anything else she needs or wants.

I had an e-mail asking why we didn't all show up to support her. She agreed only to Elaine coming to the doctor with her. Elaine didn't even stay over last night because Rebecca asked her not to. She drove out this morning and wasn't surprised to see C.I. there because they'd already talked and agreed that even though Rebecca was saying, "Don't fly out," she'd appreciate it if it happened. Elaine was surprised that C.I. had stayed over. Then she found out about the "gifts" and thought, "I should have thought of that!" :D But Elaine and C.I. have known Rebecca since college and all so to aovid crowding her, it was just them. Elaine may write about the "gifts" tonight but she will write because Rebecca wants people to "stop moping, we've got a Bully Boy to battle."

We need knowledge to battle and for that here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq. Outside of Iraq?
noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, "the so-called coalition of the willing continues to shrink:" Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister of Japan, declared that Japanese troops are leaving Iraq by "year's end.". Reuters notes that, although no Japanese troops were "killed or wounded in Iraq," "six Japanese citizens, including two diplomats, have been killed by insurgents in Iraq." China's Xinhau reports that the prime ministers discussed the intended withdrawal "with leaders of the ruling coalition and opposition parties" on Tuesday morning "shortly before the announcement." As Amy Goodman reported, Japan joins Italy with the announcement of pulling troops out by year's end and that "Spain, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Nicaragua, the Philipines and Honduras have already pulled out." Noting "Japan's Kyodo news agency," the Financial Times of London states the withdrawal "process could be completed by the end of July." Xinhua notes the same possibility and credits word on it to "Japanese government officials."
While Japan prepares to remove troops from the ground in Iraq, in the United States, a watered-down, weaker version of John Kerry's call for US troops out of Iraq is allowing
for posturing. Caterwauling on the Senate floor today, Bill Frist exclaimed, "We cannot surrender. We cannot go wobbly. The price is far too high." Possibly a mantra he once repeated to himself while dissecting felines? Meanwhile, always one to run from a fight, Harry Reid's less concerned with exit plans for the US, and knowing there's no democracy in Iraq, focuses instead on a possible amnesty plan Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki. Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi was fired/resigned following his comments to the press regarding the potential plan. But it's a nice, dead-hypothetical to rage and rattle about as opposed to dealing with reality. In other news on the spineless, John Walsh (CounterPunch) reports that what recent book sales didn't get across, phone calls might have -- Baby Cries a Lot took three calls complaining about his War Hawk position on the war. Walsh does not note if Baby Cries a Lot attempted to garner sympathy by sobbing, breaking into tears or using his own children to justify an ongoing war (children who do not and have not served in Iraq or, for that matter, the military). In non-spineless news, AP reports that Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold and John Kerry "intend to push for a vote on their own proposal."
In Seattle yesterday,
Sara Jean Green reports: "Ann Wright appeared with 1st Lt. Ehren Watada and his parents at a news conference at University Lutheran Church to announce a national day of action June 27, when anti-war demonstrations will be held in cities across the country in support of Watada." Green reports that Wright, "retired army colonel and former State Department official," will appear at a "news conference today at University Lutheran Church on behalf of another Fort Lewis soldier, Suzanne Swift". Watada, whose parents joined him for yesterday's news conference, is the first commission officer to refuse deployment in Iraq. Click here to sign an online petition supporting Watada. Suzanne Swift was arrested last week after deciding she couldn't return to Iraq and going AWOL.
In Iraq, as
reported by Jonathan Finer (Washington Post), Kristian Menchaca and Thomas L. Tucker, two US soldiers who were abducted last Friday, were found dead "near a power plant in Yusifiyah." The discovered corpses are said to have signs of "barbaric" torture. Meanwhile, the Mujahedeen Shura Council is claiming credit for the deaths. The Financial Times of London concludes: "The news will tarnish the positive image US and Iraqi officials have been projecting recently of a government that is gradually getting to grips with the security situation and turning the tide against the insurgents."Other corpses were discovered in Iraq today, Reuters notes that two were found in Hilla ("blindfolded and hands tied") while in Baghdad, five corpses were found ("handcuffed with gunshot wounds in the head").
Bombings? Baghdad saw a series of bombings.
RTE News reports on one near "a second-hand clothes market in central Baghdad" which resulted in at least two dead and and at least 28 wounded. Al Jazeera notes that roadside bomb as well as a cra bomb "in a a crowded market in the eastern district of Jamila in Baghdad" that left seven dead and 18 wounded. The BBC reports that, in Basra, "at least one elderly woman was killed along with a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside a home for the elderly". Reuters notes that five others were wounded. Another car bomb went off in the Hurriya district of Baghdad "killing at least five people and wounding 11".
Reuters reports that while the US miliatry is saying Ramadi is not the target for a major offensive, the Red Cross has "voiced concern on difficult living conditions in Ramadi". Reporting for IPS, Dahr Jamail and Ali Fdhil write: "A week spent in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad, reveals that residents are suffering from lack of water, electricity, cooking gas and medical supplies for the hospitals. The streets are eerily empty, and it appears that many people have now left the city, althought possibly as many as 150,000 still remain in their homes, either because they are too afraid to leave or they have nowhere to go."
As noted by Sandra Lupien on
KPFA's The Morning Show the US military is claiming an exchange was aimed at insurgents with 15 dead while Iraqi witnesses disputing the official (US) account*. The exchange took place in Bushahin ("village . . . north of Baghdad") The AP reports that "AP Television News footage showed blood splattered on the ground and matresses and spent bullet casings inside a poultry farm, where residents said the civilians were killed." Reuters quotes Mohammed Jaba al-Qaduir, father of Jassem and Mazen killed in the raid, "They did not attack any Americans or Humvees. We don't have any problems with the Americans. We don't have any foreigners here." Reuters mentions that one of the corpses, according to a "police source" was that of a twelve-year-old boy."
Barbara McMahon, Michael Howard and Julian Borger report (for the Guardian of London) that four prosecutors in Rome have signed "[t]he request to charge Mario Lozano, a national guardsman from New York, with the murder of Nicola Calipari." As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!: "Calipari was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena after she had been released by kidnappers. U.S. troops opened fire on their car killing Calipari and injuring Sgrena. . . . Tune in to Democracy Now on Thursday when Giuliana Sgrena joins us in the Firehouse studio." Also remember that: Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)
*Thanks to Zach and Mia for passing on the Lupien item.

I meant to note something on Watada last week but didn't have time. And this week's been whatever. This is from Courage to Resist:

June 14, 2006
Contact Army to Demand:

"Drop Investigation into Lt. Watada's Protected Free Speech Against Illegal War"
On Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first U.S. commissioned officer to publicly speak out in opposition to the Iraq War and occupation. Lt. Watada outlined why he believes the war to be illegal, and why he would have to refuse to obey any future order to participate in it.
The following day, Thursday, June 8th Lt. Watada's commanding officer moved to prosecute Lt. Watada for nothing more than his protected free speech. Lt. Watada was read his rights and declined to make a statement without a lawyer present. Although the Fort Lewis military public affairs officer has stated that Lt. Watada "hasn't done anything wrong" so far, an official investigation into his public speech is underway.
When soldiers join the military they swear to uphold our Constitution. They do not give up their basic right to freedom of speech. Outlined in Department of Defense Directive 1325.6, members of the military have the right to say what they think and feel about the military, and even participate in peaceful demonstrations, as long as they are off-duty, out of uniform, off-base, and within the United States.
Please Write and Call:
"Dear Col Stephen Townsend; Please drop the investigation currently underway against First Lt. Ehren Watada of 3-2 SBCT for his protected free speech in opposition to the war in Iraq. Respectfully,"
Col Stephen TownsendCommanding Officer3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry DivisionFort Lewis WA 98433(253) 967-9601
Lt Gen James DubikFort CommanderFort Lewis WA 98433
For background information:
Military attempts to stop Lt. Watada from speaking against illegal war
By Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada. June 9, 2006
When soldiers refuse to fight: Is the US Army trying to silence Lt. Watada?
By Sarah Olson, Truthout.com. June 14, 2006
For up-to-date and additional information:

You gonna help? Last thing, Dave Zirin and John Cox's "Hey Guys, It's Just a Game:"

More than half a century ago, Dwight Eisenhower famously said, "The true mission of American sports is to prepare young men for war." This is the undeniable downside of sports: the way teamwork, camaraderie and competition can be used to desensitize a population to the horrors of war. And it is particularly part of the sporting DNA of what Americans call football, where games are routinely referred to as "battles" or "wars," and NFL quarterbacks are "field generals" who throw bullet passes and bombs for the purpose of advancing on enemy territory.
Consider the bellicose posturing of American striker Eddie Johnson at the World Cup, a few days before his team managed to tie the favored Italians in an
ugly match featuring three ejections.
"We're here for a war," Johnson
said a few days before the game, after visiting US troops at Ramstein Air Base. "Whenever you put your jersey on and you look at your crest and the national anthem's going on, and you're playing against a different country, it's like you do or die, it's survival of the (fittest) over ninety minutes-plus. We're going to go out there and do whatever we've got to do, make tackles, do the things when the referee's not looking...to get three points." Johnson concluded by saying, "It's do or die.... I don't want to go home early." Ironically, most of the American troops Johnson thinks he's supporting would like nothing better than to "go home early" from combat duty in Iraq.