Monday, July 17, 2006

Iraq, Israel and more

It's a Monday and doesn't that say it all? We got wars all over the place and a Bully Boy who does nothing. (Oh wait, he did say "shit" today.) We have no leadership and it's depressing to realize how awful it is and how much worse it can get. But let's get things kicked off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

The US tries to firm up a commerce deal in Iraq, Jake Kovco's family learns more details and despite all the happy talk, chaos and violence continue with one single event that is being called the "bloodiest" by many.
A US soldier was "fatally wounded" in Baghdad today, the
AP notes pointing out that since Saturday four US soldiers have died "in the Baghdad area." Baghdad, location of the month-plus security 'crackdown.' Sunday, in Basra, a British soldier died and the BBC reports that he was John Johnston Cosby. Also on Sunday, Reuters reports that Laith al-Rawi ("local leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party") was killed in Haditha.
Today, the
AFP notes that six died in Baquba. The biggest attack (AFP calls it the "deadliest since the July 9 bloodbath") took place in southern Iraq. Reuters notes that, in Mahmudiya, "[g]unmen stormed a crowded market" and at least 56 are dead with at least 67 wounded according to "a local hospital" (Ministry of Defence says 42 dead). James Hider (Times of London) reports that along with attempting to downgrade the number of those killed "a Defence Ministry spokesman tried to convince reporters that the deaths had been the result of two car bombs, insisting that no gunmen had been involved. That statement was flatly contradicted by the testimony of survivors."
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) explores the events and notes Muayyad Fadhil, mayor of Mahmudiya, stating: "There was a mortar attack. Then gunmen came from . . . the eastern side of town. They came into the market and opened fire at raondom on the people shopping." The AFP notes the attack was "a coordinated assualt of car bombs, mortar attacks and rampaging masked gunmen". One victim, Muzzaffar Jassem, tells AFP: "About six cars with at least 20 masked gunmen blocked the market road from two sides, got out of the car and opened fire randomly on women, children and elderly people in the market".
As the violence heats up, the so-called coalition gets smaller.
Reuters reports that Japan has pulled "[t]he last contingent" of their troops out of Iraq today.
In Australia, some feel answers are arriving as to the death of Jake Kovco; however, his family wants more answers. As
Bruce Scates (Sydney Morning Herald) notes: "It has been almost three months since Private Jake Kovco's body was finally returned to Australia." Australia's ABC reports that Dr. Johan Duflou, who performed the autoposy on Kovco, told an inquiry board that "his opinion was the death was the result of an accidental discharge of a weapon." Kovco's parents are requesting that "several soldiers" in Iraq give testimony to the board about the events of April 21st when Kovco became "the first Australian soldier" to die in the current Iraq war. Members will remember the Judy and Martin Kovco as well as the parents of Jake Kovco's widow Shelley (David and Lorraine Small) were bothered, not only by the fact that Kovco's body was lost when it should have been returning to Australia, but also angered by what they saw as an attempt to smear Kovco with baseless rumors.
Kovco died on April 21st but, due to mix ups on the part of the military, wasn't buried until May 2nd.)
Yesterday on
KPFA's Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky, Bensky and Aaron Glantz discussed Iraq and Glantz noted, "The Iraqi paliament is on the verge of putting together a referendum demanding a timetable for the US withdrawal from Iraq and when they put forward that proposal, I think it will become a little bit more difficult for the Bush adminstration to say that we are there to help the Iraqi people when the Iraqi people say very clearly that they want the US military out within a specific amount of time."
Despite Dexy Filkins' 'reporting' for the New York Times, the issue Glantz outlined was one of "the Bush administration [. . .] rounding up these supporters of this idea including some people who are very high ranking in many of the political parties and this is the latest thing that we've been covering, the political crackdown by the US military of the people who want a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "
Saturday, we linked to a recent Glantz article on this topic.]
In other parliament news, as noted by Brian Edwards-Tiekert on
KPFA's The Morning Show today, Shi'ites stormed out today in protest over the Mahmudiya killings.
In commerce news, Australia and Iraq have reached an agreement over the June 21st death of Abdul Falah al-Sudany's bodyguard by Australian soldiers.
Reuters reports that compensation will be paid to al-Sudany (trade minister) and that al-Sudany has stated: "We don't have any vetoes on importing Australian wheat and we hope to go back to a normal relationship with Australia."
Also in commerce news from Iraq,
CBS and AP report that: "U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Guiterrez arrived in the Iraqi capital for meetings aimed at jump-starting the economy." Though the US press is seeing this as some sort of 'big win,' the AFP reports Abdel Falah-al Sudany (the same trade minister noted in the pervious item) is much more cautious and declared that privatization would not happen "for at least five to 10 years."
Possibly the excitement stems not from a lack of caution but a desire to turn the topic away from
William Lash III -- the topic Gutierrez was addressing this weekend: "Bill was a passionate, committed and hard working individual . . ." following the news that former assistant commerce secretary Lash had apparently killed himself after killing his 12-year-old autistic son.
In peace news,
Eric Seitz, attorney for Ehren Watada, states that there is a date scheduled "tentatively" for "Watada's Article 32 hearing . . . Aug. 17 or 18." Seits tells Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that this hearing would "determine whether sufficient grounds exist to warrant a court-martial" and that the maximum punishment for Watada's refusal to serve in the illegal war could be 7 and one-half years in prison.
Tommy Witherspoon (Waco Tribune-Herald) reports that the county of McLennan (where Bully Boy's ranch-ette is) is attempting to move Cindy Sheehan's lawsuit against the county into the federal court. The issue is whether or not Camp Casey can return to the activities and protests that first took place last summer or whether the county can now "ban parking and camping along roads leading to" Bully Boy's ranch-ette.
The Legal Defense Network reports that Rhonda Davis participation in a June 3rd rally in support of sam-sex marriage has resulted in the US Navy bringing "discharge proceedings against a 10-year veteran." Davis states: "I am a proud, patriotic American who happens to be gay. My sexual orientation has never stood in the way of getting my job done, and I was looking forward to continuing my Navy career. Unfortunately, federal law places discrimination ahead of national security and gay service members are caught in the crossfire. It is past time for our leaders in Washington to repeal this senseless law and allow gay Americans who want to serve, like me, the opportunity to do just that."

Click on KPFA or Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky and go listen to that program's second hour.
You really need to because Aaron Glantz and two other guests have a lot of strong points to make about Iraq. So does Larry Bensky, by the way. He's the host. The first hour's probably good too but I went to KPFA and just went to the second hour by moving my mouse on the play bar because I didn't have a lot of time today. Iraq is important and it doesn't get coverage right now. Not even on the supposed war and peace report. Tony passed the "dopey digest" over to me via e-mail and it's still link whoring (no surprise) and it's still jerking off (a surprise only if you've missed the last few weeks). Dorky Now still hasn't aired the promised interview with Suzanne Swift's grandfather. She's a war resistor. There were protests on Saturday. So since the interview was promised on air early last week, you might think they'd find time on Friday for it. You're wrong. And they didn't cover the protests today, if they do, they don't mention in the "dopey digest." I really hadn't planned to mention Dorky Now again but Larry Bensky was talking about how he was reading the wires Sunday morning and seeing all of this violence and death in Iraq and realizing that it wasn't being covered in the mainstream media. He has a two-hour show and the second hour Sunday was all about Iraq. I didn't know ahead of time or I would've listened Sunday but when I saw it in the snapshot, I did go listen.

Guess when you're trying to send everyone to the bathroom graffiti about yourself with the hopes that the 'left' site will cover you and increase your audience, you don't have much time to address reality. I don't know anyone who's watching it or listening to it now. I got 50 e-mails saying my line about the journey from East Timor to link whore was funny and right. :D

While Elaine and I are figuring out what we're going to be doing and talking about, Eli asked if we could note a headline from Free Speech Radio News? Eli asks and we do:

To the south, Israeli forces continue their offensive in the Gaza Strip. 92 Palestinians have been killed and 326 injured, in the last ten days of Israeli attacks on Gaza. Saed Bannoura reports.Early this morning, a missile dropped on the home of the Abu Salem family hit just a few feet from a three-day-old baby and his 23-year old mother. The missile did not detonate immediately and the family was able to escape from their home, in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, before the missile exploded. The town of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, has been under continuous attack by Israeli forces all weekend. Air strikes and artillery fire from tanks killed 1 person early this morning and 5 yesterday. Yesterday, the Israeli air force dropped missiles onto the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building for the second time in a week, leveling what remained of the building and injuring several neighborhood residents. Palestinian legislator, Mustapha Barghouthi: [Barghouthi]. The Palestinian fighters holding the Israeli soldier had conditioned his release on the release of 1,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, a demand which was rejected by Israel. For Free Speech Radio News from, this is Saed Bannoura in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

Betty's doing a great job filling in for Rebecca while Rebecca's on vacation but you know that Rebecca would be hitting this hard if she wasn't on vacation. (By the way Kat left Sunday for Ireland and Cedric and I will be filling in for her while she's gone.) At least 42 people, at least nine children in the 42, are dead in Lebanon. Did you think you'd see this? A country attacking like Israel's been doing?

C.I. talked about this last night and how all rules are gone thanks to the Bully Boy. He did whatever he wanted and now we're living in that world where everyone else wants to do the same. Israel's warfare has buried Iraq coverage for the most part but what it's also done is buried coverage of Gaza. But I get the sense that they don't matter much to the media anyway.
I think it's past time that serious action was taken with Israel. Economic sanctions for one. Another is that we stop selling our military hardware to the country. Throw in our tractors since it was a tractor that killed Rachel Corrie.

I'm guessing everyone knows about Rachel Corrie but I hope we all get that she wasn't just laying around getting a sun tan when she was murdered. Israel was bulldozing houses that people lived in. Rachel Corrie put her life on the line to try to save people and she was murdered. The Israeli government said that the tractor operator didn't see her. The New York Times ran a photo on the front page. That was the first time it really registered with me how brutal Israel was. I'm sorry that it took an American getting killed because Palestinians have been being killed for years. But when you look at that photo, it's obvious that there's no way the tractor operator didn't see Rachel Corrie. He just didn't give a damn. Why was that? Because there's a culture that says only some lives matter. And we've spent so long looking away and acting like it hasn't happened that now you've got the Israeli military on a warpath/bloodbath and people are still trying to act like it's not happening.

There was even a left site online that Sunday was running a "You can't blame Israel for this!" type headline. We wrote about that in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "The rush to grab that linked article!" -- by the way, read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: 4 Days in 7th Hell" -- it's one of their funniest and that's saying a lot, a whole lot. I always laugh at their TV reviews but this one was even funnier. My sister used to watch that show until fall of 2006 and I know that show because she'd talk about it and say things like, "Simon has an STD!" Then he doesn't. It's just the biggest nonsense in the world. Just a preacy little show that never has any reality to it and wants points for 'tackling' racism (when a White kid gets attacked for being friends with an African-American, that sort of thing, that's all they can handle). So that commentary is hilarious and nails that show with their commercials worked into the storylines perfectly.

For more on what's going on in the Middle East, read Marwan Bishara's "Israel on the Offensive:"

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has exploited the capture of Army Corporal Gilad Shalit to restore the country's diminished deterrence against militant Palestinian factions, to break the elected Hamas government and to impose its unilateral territorial solution on the West Bank. But when the dust finally settles, Israel's offensive against the besieged territories--and now Lebanon--will have left the region with more destruction and death and the Israeli government with the same strategic deadlock. That's why instead of lashing out against their neighbors, Israelis must end the vicious cycle of provocations and retaliations, and pursue meaningful negotiations to end the occupation.
The Olmert government bases its campaign against Palestinian civilian infrastructure on three fallacies: that Israel does not initiate violence but retaliates to protect its citizens--in this case a captured soldier; that its response is measured and not meant to harm the broader population; and that it does not negotiate with those it deems terrorists.
But Israel's offensive did not start last week. The three-month-old Israeli government is responsible for the killing eighty or more Palestinians, some of whom were children, in attacks aimed at carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations and other punishments. Hamas has maintained a one-sided cease-fire for the past sixteen months, but continued Israeli attacks made Palestinian retaliation only a question of time. (Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period--almost always with little or no damage or casualties--but these factions maintained that the attacks were in response to Israeli provocations.)

Check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. And Wally's "THIS JUST IN! EVAN BLAH ATTACKS HIS OWN! TRIES TO EAT 'EM!" is hilarous.