Thursday, July 27, 2006

Iraq and the Middle East

Thursday. Did you see much coverage of Iraq in your paper? Or are you smart enough to give up on them? I grabbed a few minutes of KPFA (a few because I only had a few) and they were pointing out the mainstream coverage of the Middle East. My opinion (and I agreed with the points being made)? It's not even worth following the coverage in the mainstream media because it's so bad. Elaine said it last night: "From the beginning, the coverage of the conflict in big media has been less reporting and more choosing sides. I'm thankful for the brave voices who speak out against the one-sided coverage and against the actions taken by the Israeli government." And by the way, if the Arab haters want to start storming me with filthy e-mails, bring it on. Elaine's gotten nothing but filty e-mails from visitors (community members have had no problem with her comments) and it just gets worse. There's one little wuss that if she read at work today. Sunny's been printing them up because she's probably gotten 200 filthy e-mails. But this one piece of filth, he's professional filth. There's actually two pieces of professional filth. One wrote once and the other's written three times now. Come on little wussie boys, you can talk real tough to a woman, bring it on over here. Or are you too scared? You just feel better using your filthy mouths to scream at women? Bring it on over here.

I have no use for those little prissy men who think they're so tough talking trash to women. There's not a word Elaine's written that doesn't go for everyone of us in the community, so bring it on you little ass monkeys. Doubt you will. You're filthy minded punk-thugs who get your kicks from talking trash to women because you always wanted to talk trash but knew you'd get your ass kicked if you tried that around men. So with the women, you try to strut around to make up for all the prancing and hiding you did past the locker room -- not in it. You've got a big chip on your shoulder because you never got to trash talk with the guys and you're still too scared to try because you know if you pulled the nonsense your pulling with Elaine, you'd get your pimply little butts kicked.

Chicken shit artists like the Lisper and the Professional Drunk. Bring it on over here you little boys. Elaine was reading some of those (and again, two are from supposed journalists -- though if you've read their writing, you know they're anything but) over the phone and I could not believe it. That pissed me off and it's pissing me off right now. So come on, put down the bottle, Drunk, stop spitting on everyone, Lisper, and bring it over here you big cowards.

Enough of the fantasy worlds of the middle-aged, pasty, cowardly, Arab-hating men. But I am pissed and I know Elaine's not going to be able to blog tonight so I wanted to put that out there. Don't you mess with my blog twin.

Let's get things started with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
And yes, it's "continue "even if
a mass kidnapping of 17 yesterday didn't make it into the New York Times this morning.
Al Jazeera notes "a car bombing and mortar attack" in Baghdad today that's left "[a]t least 101 people" wounded. That's wounded. The death toll has climbed repeatedly and the AP now reports it at least "31" and raises the wounded to "153." How many bombs? AFP notes that "some witnesses spoke of more" than one car bomb. Of the area in Baghdad where the attacks took place, the BBC notes their correspondent Jane Peel's description of the area as "well protected with a heavy presence of Iraqi troops and several checkpoints". Of course, the entire city of Baghdad is under the supposed 'security crackdown' and has been for over six weeks. The AFP describes the area as one where the "bustling shops still attract customers from both the city's rival religious groups" and they also note a witness who feels there was "more than one car bomb." Jenny Booth "and agencies" (Times of London) state the area is "religiously mixed neighborhood which is home to several leading politicians from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's biggest Shia party."
On the issue of witnesses feeling they heard more than one bomb,
Borzou Daraghi (Los Angeles Times) notes: "Police said four of the five blasts were caused by rockets or mortars. But officials have often attributed such explosions to indirect fire, hoping to stave off blame for allowing drivers to maneuver explosives-packed vehicles past checkpoints that dot the city." (The fatality toll is raised to "at least 32" beginning with Daraghi's report.)
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports one man who died, Hassan Kufi, "was hours away from getting married on Thursday. There were no festivities, just his funerals." He also notes "[a] boy of about 10 with a bloodied head" laying "on the floor." Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes hardware store owner Zuhair Ali Hussein Zaidi, "who left his shop to investigate one blast only to return and find his shop was completely destroyed" saying: "I saw children completely burnt and many injured. People were evacuating the dead and injured by carrying them out." Daragahi reports that many people are still missing ("including one 11-year-old girl on a shopping errand") and that the dead are still be found in the rubble and debris.
Might Iraq grab some serious press attention? Don't count on it.
In other bombings,
Reuters reports two police officers are dead and two more wounded "near Tikrit" from a roadside bomb while one person died and four were wounded in Ishaqee from a roadside bomb. AFP notes a bomb in Baquba which killed "at least five people." That bombing (guessing from the fatality toll) is described by Reuters as one that exploded near "an ambulance headed to Baquba hospital, killing five" and wounding four; in addition, Reuters notes a car bomb (also in Baquba) that left three wounded.
Reuters reports that in Baghdad, an armed clash led to six Georgian troops being wounded (the US military claims five but six is the figure "the office of the Georgian president" is using); in Kirkuk a police patrol and an Iraqi military patrol exchanged gun fire resulting in the death of one soldier and one police officer.
Also in Baghdad,
AFP reports that "three people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen" and Al Jazeera notes that "four security guards outside a Sunni mosque" were killed "in a drive-by shooting."
Micheal Georgy (Reuters) reports that, in Baghdad today, nineteen corpses were discovered ("bullet holes . . . signs of torture").In England, William Patey ("outgoing British ambassador in Iraq") spoke on the BBC Radio program Today and shared this impression: ""There is some evidence that some members of the police are actively engaged with death squads and with militias, and taking orders. And clearly they need to be identified, weeded out, prosecuted. Undoubtedly, the Iraqi people have lost confidence in the police." Quite a bit different than the sort of thing Michael Gordon churns out at the New York Times. Also in the reality news department, Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports: "Many of the reconstruction projects that were built in the first years of the Iraq war failed to make a difference in regular Iraqis' lives. Much of the building has focused on large waterpurification plants, sewage-treatment plants or electrical generators. But the U.S. has failed to do enough to make sure its reconstruction projects provided jobs for unskilled Iraqis, and the lack of a steady supply of electricity three years after the U.S.-led invasion rankles here." Kate Zernike should take notes.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continues.
Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that Professor Philip Mitchell has testified to the inquiry with a similar opinion as that expressed by Professor Alexander McFarlane: it is "highly unlikely Private Kovco would have deliberately shot himself while his room-mates were present, especially as he knew they were about to leave." However, Mitchell also offered the opinion that Jake Kovco might have been attempting to "re-enact" a nightmare of death he'd had a month prior. The continued assumption in the inquiry appears to be that Jake Kovco fired the gun. In April, Judy Kovco (Jake Kovco's mother) stated to Jane Holroyd (The Age): ""He didn't shoot himself. The gun went off. It was near him. It was nearby. (So) what did Jake do? Put his head down near the table so it could shoot him in the head, did he?"
Belinda Tasker (Townsville Bulletin) notes that Mitchell dubbed his theory "highly speculative."
In peace news,
Bill Metcalfe (The Tyee) reports on the recent Our Way Home Reunion in Canada which brought together war resisters from Vietnam and today and featured a showing of David Zeiger's documentary Sir, No Sir, which chronicles G.I. resistance during the Vietnam era. As noted yesterday, CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin took truth to Congress. Refusing to stay silent in the face of one lie after another as occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki talked the war talk, Benjamin protested, chanting, "Bring them home now!" On yesterday's The KPFA Evening News, Darby Hicky reported on this and more can be found at CODEPINK. Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) reported: "Veteran San Francisco activist Medea Benjamin, wearing a 'Troops Home Now' T-shirt, chimed in, standing in the House gallery to interrupt Maliki's address with repeated shouts of: 'Iraqis want the troops to leave. Bring them home now.' She was promptly removed and arrested."
It is
day 24 of the Troops Home Fast and over 4,350 people are participating around the world. Along with Medea Benjamin, Diane Wilson, Cindy Sheehan and Ann Wright, Mike De Souza (CanWest News Service) reports that: "Libby Davies, the NDP House leader and MP for Vancouver East, made the trip to Washington D.C." to show her support. De Souza quotes Medea Benjamin stating, of those participating in the fast, "We're in an emergency crisis, and they're putting their bodies on the line."
The fast is ongoing. Those wanting to participate, for one day or more than one day, can join the fast at any point. It began on July 4th and some have fasted every day. Others have fasted one day and some have chosen one day to fast each week. More information can be found at
Troops Home Fast. The fast will continue in August as Cindy Sheehan and others return to Crawford, TX -- home of last year's Camp Casey demonstrations. Though there has been concern of where the camp would be set up, Jack Douglas Jr. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports that land has been purchased by Cindy Sheehan to put an end to the issue and quotes Sheehan stating, "I can't think of a better way to use Casey's insurance money than for peace, and I am sure that Casey approves." Douglas reports the gatherings in Crawford will take place from August 16th to September 2nd.

If I didn't toss this out here already, I've decided to fast on Fridays. I don't have the kind of strength to do a fast week after week, day after day. I really think those who do are amazing.
And I know C.I.'s been fasting since July 4th -- way to go. I mean that. But I couldn't do it. (I should note that C.I. has specifically pushed the one day fast and not the long term fast. That's online here and offline too. Jess is doing one a week and I think Ava is too.) C.I.'s supposed to go off August 1st and I hope that happens. I know other people are planning on staying longer. Like Diane Wilson, she's strong, she's prepared a will and everything. She says she's fasting until the war ends.

If you're interested in more on the fast, you can go to CODEPINK:

TROOPS HOME FAST! On July 4, we launched an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans expressed their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we're fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. Please sign here to to support us and encourage your friends to do the same. Click here to view photos, and read our blogs! Breaking News - July 26, 2006: Medea Benjamin arrested for disrupting Iraqi Prime MinisterĂ¯¿½s Congressional address.

So look at all that happened. Is it going to be enough to get some coverage today? I noticed the New York Times didn't put their poll on the front page -- is that a first for them? C.I. noted the poll yesterday: 56% Americans want a timetable for withdrawal and 63% say it was a mistake to invade Iraq. I read that yesterday and wrote myself a reminder note to pick up the New York Times today. I was rushing from work to campus and didn't have time to check out the paper, just pay for it and the cup of coffee (I was tired, I only drink coffee when I'm tired, usually I'm a Dr. Pepper guy) and get to campus. I get there and when I have time to look at the paper, it's not on the front page. All their polls are on the front page. I think it must be coming out in Friday's paper but I'm flipping around and find it buried inside.

I guess polls only make the front page when they support the war?

You gotta pay attention to the things that matter. The snapshot is all about that. Also paying attention to things that matter (and probably not screaming filth and threats to women in e-mails) is this guy: David Corn's "Why Is the US in Iraq?" (The Nation):

Why is the United States in Iraq?
That is question that is increasingly difficult for the White House to answer coherently--and honestly. This past week, George W. Bush, appearing at a press conference with Maliki, noted that the horrific and intensifying violence in Iraq of recent weeks is "terrible" and that more US troops will be deployed to Baghdad. But who--and what--is the enemy? And what can US troops do about disorder and violence there?
Sectarian violence, according to Abizaid and Hadley, is now the main problem in Iraq (which was predicted by some experts before the invasion). Maliki, for obvious reasons, does not concede that. He wants US troops to remain in Iraq. Consequently, when he spoke to the US Congress on July 27, he depicted the fight in Iraq as a struggle pitting lovers of democracy (his government and the United States) against "terrorists" connected to those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. ("I will not allow Iraq to become a launch pad for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations," he declared, in a line rather reminiscent of the previous work of White House speechwriters.) In a fact sheet, the White House noted that when Maliki met with Bush, the Iraqi leader "made clear that he does not want American troops to leave his country until his government can protect the Iraqi people."
Mission creep is under way. The cause--despite Maliki's Bush-like rhetoric--is no longer combating jihadists (which replaced weapons of mass destruction as the reason for the war). It's making Iraq safe from Iraqi religious extremists. Maliki's government cannot protect Iraqis from their own neighbors, so he is looking to Bush to be his nation's cop-on-the-beat. But can the US military be an effective police force in a society increasingly plagued by sectarian violence that has little, if anything, to do with the fight against al Qaeda and Islamic jihadism? Maliki's own government is even part of the problem. Death squads connected to the Shiite-controlled Interior Ministry have been lead players in the current killing spree. If Maliki cannot control these elements, how can the US military? (In his speech to the US Congress, Maliki didn't address the knotty matter of the government-linked death squads. He briefly referred to "armed militias" but claimed that the rule of law and human rights are "flourishing" in Iraq.)

You'll see that in "And the war drags on" tonight because I called C.I. with that as my highlight. I don't usually do that because, yeah, I'm a community member. But I do have my own site. But to me, that article's pretty important and I think it needs to get out to a lot of people.

Here's a look at what everyone's covering but it doesn't take the mainstream attitude, Richard Harth's "Squeezing the Last Drops from Palestine"

The suffering in Israel's Occupied Territories, however, is not the result of mismanagement or indifference. Instead, it is the consequence of premeditated, often cruelly ingenious strategies to strip an oppressed population of cropland, housing, security, education, basic services, medical care, freedom of movement, functioning government, olive groves, citrus trees, nightly sleepand water.
As with so much else in the Palestinian tragedy, the already lopsided balance of power regarding water resources tipped decidedly against the Palestinians following Israel's lightning victory of June,1967. The region's three primary water sources consist of the Jordan River, and two large aquifers, the Mountain Aquifer of the West Bank and the Coastal Aquifer, extending northward from the Gaza Strip.
Prior to the Six Day War, Israeli land encompassed only three percent of the Jordan River Basin, though in 1964, the enterprising state had already constructed an elaborate conveyance network of canals, pumping stations, reservoirs and pipelines, integrating them into a national water system which diverted 75 percent of the Jordan's flow for Israel's use. After the 1967 War, Israel claimed full control of the Jordan's headwaters. While Israel shares some of the flow with Jordan and Syria, the Palestinians are forbidden any water from the river, forcing them to rely on groundwater pumped from aquifers and springs or delivered, often sporadically, by truck.
Unfortunately, while 83 percent of Palestine's groundwater sources are recharged by rainwater within the borders of the West Bank, only 19 percent of this water is available to the Palestinians, due to transparently inequitable arrangements symptomatic of Israel's racist occupation.
After 1967, Israel also exerted dominion over new groundwater resources, diverting these for Israel's exclusive use, either within the Jewish state or to serve illegal settlements (including the Eastern Aquifer, whose boundaries are entirely within Palestinian Occupied Territory).

I almost forgot! Me and Wally did a joint post last night, check it out: ""Justy, we'll be your man!"