Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ehren Watada

Almost Friday, feeling a little better. Let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:

Chaos and violence continue.
Today in Iraq,
CBS and AP report that a car bomb "near Ana town" wounded two. While the AFP notes car bombs in Baghdad that resulted in at least three dead and at least eight wounded. And the bombing of buses in Kufa has killed at least twelve and wounded over forty. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports that: "The bomber drove his car between the two Iranian coaches as they arrived at the Maithem al-Tamar shrine".
KUNA reports that six corpses were discovered in Kirkuk, Reuters notes "a beheaded" corpse was discovered in al-Zab, AFP reports "the discovery of 35 corpses of the last 24 hours, despite a three-week old security crackdown in the capital". The "crackdown" we're not supposed to notice the failure of.
Among the many of victims of violence has been Alaa Hassan. Hassan, 35-years-old, was an unembedded journalist who died in Iraq Wednesday June 28th: "
When Alaa crossed the bridge Jun. 28, gunmen sprayed his car with machine-gun fire, killing him with six bullets." Aaron Glantz remembers his sometimes co-writer in "A Story IPS Never Wanted to Tell" (IPS). Hassan and Glantz co-authored: "Basra Begins to Fall Apart" (IPS) and "U.S. Military Hides Many More Hadithas" (IPS). (That's not a complete list.)
Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the illegal occupation and the current prime minister, turns chatty.
KUNA reports that he says Iraq is "determined to hound the 41 outlaws" (including Saddam Hussein's daughter) and again bragged about how tight he was these days with the so-called insurgents. He then began recounting his whirlwhind trip in recent days (when he might have better served Iraq by addressing the issue of the alleged rape and murders in as they were happening as opposed to waiting over five days later to even make a public comment) but somehow left out the assurances he gave everyone about how 'stable' Iraq is now and how they should start investing. Though one might expect such statements to be greeted with loud laughter, greed knows no reality. IRIN reports: "Kurds approve foreigner-friendly investment law" and Reuters reports "[a] top United Nations envoy" was in Baghdad today to extoll the IMF and World Bank, and to promise international aid and support provided "Baghdad will commit itself to a series of yet unedfined political, economic and security steps."
Bloomberg notes this on al-Maliki and others' attempts at a peace 'scam': attempts at Happy Talk: "Harith al-Dari, who heads the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told AFP on June 30 that the amnesty offer was meaningless because it excluded those who had targeted foreign soldiers. He also said most insurgent groups had rejected the plan because it offers no timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, AFP reported.
As noted during
WBAI's Pacifica news break at noon anchored by Mitch Jeserich*, Ehren Watada was charged by the Army yesterday for his refusal to serve in the illegal war. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes that "Watada said he was morally obligated to obey the Constitution, not what he claimed were unlawful orders to join in an illegal war." Courage to Resist notes: "Supporters in Washington State's Puget Sound area will gather . . . July 6, at 5pm over Interstate 5 on the Exit 119 overpass (adjacent to the entrance to Ft. Lewis)."
In other news, Mitch Jeserich also noted: "Anti-war activists are at the White House" protesting with
CODEPINK and, as Medea Benjamin stated, hope to encourage the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do as was done during Vietnam, give harbor to the war resistors.* The fasting is to put pressure on the administration and Congress to withdraw US troops from Iraq; to say no to permanent bases; to create "a massive reconstruction effort but with funds going to Iraqi, not U.S. contractors." For more information, click here.
And in trash news, does editing the Independent for a publicity stunt mean London's Independent goes easy on you? Apparently so as
Andrew Buscombe works over time to defend the piggish 'rock star' Bono.
Fat and happy, if not exactly peaceful, Bono has long decided to play his own version of corporate raider (picking off the bones of others) but Buscombe appears unaware of that as he rushes to provide cover for Bono's part in releasing a videogame that brings the "joy" of declaring war on Venezuela to your own home. Unlike an earlier game Bono was involved with ("unwittingly" Buscombe would no doubt rush in to say), Mercenaries 2 World In Flames does not appear to have been financed with either US Defense Department money or CIA money. While Buscombe provides Bono with so much cover he's practically spooning him, Wednesday's
KPFA Evening News provided a more in depth look at the "rock star" and his business. Though quite happy to put out videogames where one gets to attack Iraq or, now, Venezuela, Bono infamously told Jann Wenner, for the November 3, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, that he didn't feel he could "campaign" against the illegal war in Iraq. Though he may suffer from "War Got Your Tongue?" that doesn't prevent him from profitting.
*Note: Thanks to
Ruth for passing on both Mitch Jeserich items.

So I'll note that Bono's disgusting and talk about it a little but leave it mainly to Kat because this is one of her big issues -- the cowardice of Bono. I grew up hearing how he was our 'guy' -- the one doing this and that and everything. When?

In the 80s? (C.I. and Kat can talk about this at length and also talk about the reality as opposed to the image of Bono.) That was the eighties ended over 16 years ago. What have we had to show for it since? A weak ass supposed statement about AIDS (that he undercut and continues to everytime he talks about the song)?

A lot of ego, a lot of bad CDs (Pop was cow plop). People my age aren't into U2. He's like Rod Stewart or something. He's about as useful musically as Rod Stewart. He's a joke and the band's a joke. They're like the Gin Blossoms or something. They have meaning for those that listened in the 80s, I guess, but for those of us who weren't listening then (I was too young), they're just a really bad band with a singer who bleats out these 'universal' statements that really don't have anything to do with our lives because we're not middle-aged.

That's not, "Where is the love song!" They do lots of love songs, lots of really bad love songs. People my age are concerned about the war and important stuff. We're not getting excited that Bono and Bully Boy hold hands. He, or his ego, killed the group.

So the UN's getting ready to bring the IMF and World Bank in, huh? After Bremer passed all of those laws taking away any rights Iraqis had. You got to read Antonia Juhasz's The BU$H PLAN. It's filled with so many facts and so many important things that you may know already but I'm not sure if you've connected all the dots. Think things are bad now? They're about to get even worse if Iraqis start seeing all these foreign companies coming in and doing good while they take all the money out of Iraq.

I'm sorry about Alaa Hassan. He's one more person that wouldn't have died if it weren't for this illegal war/invasion/occupation. I also want to note that Aaron Glantz did something else the last few days, something really important, he wrote "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed:"

Why won't the Pentagon tell the public how many civilians they've killed in Iraq? We know they're counting.

Pretty big news.

I'm signed up for alerts with Courage to Resist and here's something from their e-mail on the charges:

We are asking you and your organization to do what you can to make support for U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada a priority in the coming weeks and months.
We believe that Lt Watada's stand offers a historic opportunity to assert our power to challenge and end the illegal war and occupation and to support the courageous soldiers and officers who fulfill their commitment to refuse illegal orders to participate in illegal war, occupation and war crimes. We intend to make Lt Watada's stand count as a significant step towards a better, just and more peaceful world.
Refusing illegal war and occupation is not a crime
Today, Lt. Ehren Watada was formally charged with three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: missing movement (Article 87), two counts of contempt towards officials (Article 88) - specifically President G. W. Bush, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman (Article 133). If convicted of all six charges by a general court-martial, Lt. Watada could be sentenced to over seven years in a military prison.
Lt. Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said this morning: "We expected the missing movement charge, but we are somewhat astounded by the contempt and conduct unbecoming charges. These additional charges open up the substance of Lt. Watada's statements for review and raise important First Amendment issues. We are delighted that the Army has given us the opportunity to litigate these questions." Most previous prosecutions of Article 88 took place during the Civil War and World War I, and the last known prosecution was in 1965 (Howe vs. U.S.). Lt. Howe was protesting the Vietnam War.
Even before Lt. Watada refused to ship out to Iraq on June 22, the Army was focusing their investigation on his speech. The formal charges confirm that the Army’s primary objective is silencing Lt. Watada’s dissent.
Emergency response support events tomorrow
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada is encouraging supporters that have the ability to hold a vigil, or other support activity in their community tomorrow to do so.
Supporters in Washington State’s Puget Sound area will gather tomorrow, July 6, at 5pm over Interstate 5 on the Exit 119 overpass (adjacent to the entrance to Ft. Lewis).

International day of action; Mass mobilization at Ft. Lewis
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada is calling for an international mobilization of support the day before Lt. Watada is scheduled to be court marshaled – possibly sometime in September.
We are asking groups to begin planning demonstrations, rallies, marches, vigils and/or educational events at appropriate sites in your community (federal buildings, military recruiting centers, highly visible intersections, etc.).
Groups and individuals in the Pacific Northwest, and friends that can travel, are asked to converge at Fort Lewis (south of Seattle/Tacoma, north of Olympia) for the actual court martial and a series of educational events and actions prior.
Illegal war and occupation education and action campaign
We are asking supporters to make a concerted effort in the coming months to educate their groups, networks and community about Lt. Watada’s stand and about the illegality of the war and occupation of Iraq.
This could include articles in newsletters, on websites, letters to the editor, guest editorials, teach-ins, video screenings, etc.
We will send out updates and post information on the website with education ideas, resources (videos, ideas for teach-ins, down-loadable educational materials, etc), and more in coming days and weeks.

Goals for the Lt. Watada support campaign
These are the goals that are guiding the support campaign for Lt. Ehren Watada.
1) No punishment for Lt. Watada.
2) Build mass public support for Lt Watada and others who uphold international, military, and US law by refusing to participate in illegal war and occupation.
3) De-legitimize the illegal Iraq war and occupation.
4) Create a social, political and economic cost to prosecuting illegal war and occupation refusers and to continuing the illegal Iraq war and occupation.
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada

There's a link where you can donate but I can't get that to copy and paste. And from them, here are links to the earlier demonstrations to support Watada:

Over a thousand people in more than thirty cities and towns rallied to support Lt. Ehren Watada last week on Tuesday, June 27! On behalf of the friends and family of Lt. Watada, "Thank You!" to everyone who made this day a success. Below are the photos and reports from this important first step in building a national campaign to support Ehren and to help end the illegal war and occupation of Iraq.
Fort Lewis, WA: Photos Report ~ Amherst, MA: Photos ~ Atlanta, GA: Photos & report ~ Boston, MA: Photo & report ~ Charlotte, NC: Report ~ Cleveland, OH: Photos & report ~ Corvallis, OR: Photo & report ~ Eugene, OR: Photos & report ~ Gardner, MA: Photo & report ~ Harrisburg, PA: Report ~ Honolulu, HI: Photos & report ~ Kansas City, MO: Photo & report ~ Kona, HI: Photos & report ~ Lauderhill, FL: Photos & report ~ Lawrence, KS: Photo & report ~ Los Angeles, CA: Report ~ Nanuet, NY: Photos & report ~ New York, NY: Photos & Report ~ Oakland, CA: Report ~ Oklahoma City, OK: Photos & coverage ~ Philadelphia, PA: Photos & report ~ Pittsburgh, PA: Photos & report ~ San Diego, CA: News coverage ~ San Francisco, CA: Photos & report Photos Video & photos ~ Seattle, WA: Photos & report ~ Tacoma, WA: Photos & report ~ London, United Kingdom: Report ~ Toronto, Canada: Report coming soon ~ Vancouver, Canada: Photos & report ~ Venice, Italy: Report

It matters to me. I hope it matters to you. Here's a story you should check out from Democracy Now!:

Vietnam-Era Veteran Arrested at VA Medical Center for Wearing Peace T-Shirt
Mike Ferner, a Vietnam-era veteran, says he was arrested at the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center in Chicago for wearing a Veterans for Peace T-Shirt. We also speak with longtime peace activist Kathy Kelly about the crackdown on dissent.

So am I still "mopey"? A little. C.I. called last night to cheer me up and then, selfish pig that I am, I got a call today to go to X (a music store) for a pick up. Dashboard Confessional's new CD.
That was really nice and I've listened to it non-stop but I really wasn't trying to hint (to C.I. or anyone), "Give me a gift." I know C.I. doesn't think I was so that helps.

It's just a lot of disappointments coming down at once. (If you read my column in Polly's Brew about the places that ignored Nancy Youssef's article, you know what I'm not saying. I've said it about ten times here and keep deleting it.) But it's a great CD and it cheers me up some.

I don't know, maybe other people are doing fine? I just feel like so much isn't getting out. Ramadi's under seige and it's going to be Falluja November 2004 all over again. I know everybody says that the troops won't come home overnight but I would've thought that we could at least prevent the slaughter of another city. It's just depressing and one more thing on my mountain of depression.

And like with Ehren Watada, I feel like banging my head against the wall. C.I.'s real good about saying stuff like, "I can't control what anyone else does elsewhere." And I guess that's the best attitude to have. You're only responsible for what you do. Just focus on what matters to you and if others don't, that's their problem. Sunny's filling in for Elaine and yesterday she wrote "Substituting for Elaine" so be sure to check that out. Also check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BITTER SWEET BIRTHDAY FOR BULLY BOY!," Kat's "Kat subbing for Betty who's subbing for Rebecca" and especially C.I.'s "NYT: Dragging the war out" which was like a morning cup of coffee to me and actually got me up and running this morning. On the plus about all this moping, Jess says it makes it that much easier to do this weekend's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. (You'll see.)