Friday, July 21, 2006

It's the weekend

Saturday morning, just! I have the Friday evening thing where we all get together and talk about Iraq. My folks catch a flight tomorrow and I'm in charge! :D Seriously, they get a break without any kids and they deserve it. But some of the older sibs are bent out shape. I'm really kind of surprised. My sister and I are the youngest and we're not acting like babies. But it shows you how little my folks get to get away (never!) that it's a big trauma for some of my older brothers and sisters. They'll live. It's only one week.

Let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. Or else just think of the decision of the extended curfew in Baghdad as the capital beginning to note ozone days. The BBC reports that the Friday daytime ban "now covers most of the day" and that it ends "just two hours before the daily night-time curfew begins." 'Liberation' by unofficial house arrest.
If the 'crackdown' is to cut off all attempts at daily life in Baghdad, how's that hearts & minds strategy going?
AFP reports that in Baquba hearts and minds scatter to the wind when six people were killed and 23 wounded. Killed how? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Among the five dead were an infant and two women. The two adult males are being dubbed 'insurgents' by the US military. The women and the infant? AP trumpets one sentence into a condolence card: "The Americans expressed regret for the civilian deaths." Reuters, using sources other than the military's press release, reports that six, not five (as the AP reports -- the AFP was at the hospital and counted six corpses), were killed and that it came from an air raid bombing of three houses. (AP's iffy on what happened, AFP also calls it an air strike). Though the US dubs the two dead males 'insurgents,' reports indicate that the troops were seen as the 'insurgents.' AFP has an eye witness, Mohammed Omar, who states that the men on rooftop were guards (not an uncommon occurence in Iraq) and they fired at approaching troops believing they were 'insurgents'.
What happened? Probably no one involved, American or Iraqi, can tell you in full. For the military, that's what happens when the people you are supposedly 'liberating' are seen as the 'enemy.' The press release (which the New York Times will probably build from tomorrow -- though we can always hope that isn't the case) outlines (at length) a version of events. Those events aren't reflected in reporting by Reuters or AFP which actually spoke to people involved. And just to repeat, it's a lengthy press release. The AP treats the one 'regret' sentence as though it's prominent or lengthy. It's an afternote. The twenty-three wounded? Women and children in that number as well.
Elsewhere in Iraq today?
AFP reports that, in Baghdad, clashes led to the shooting deaths of three Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi police officers, as well as the shooting death of "a Christian government official". Reuters notes that "[t]wo Salvadoran[,] . . . four Polish soldiers and an Iraqi transloator were wounded when their convoy was attacked . . . not clear how the convoy was attacked." That was "near Numaniya." In addition, Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Mosul. And, in an update, Reuters is noting that a police officer and a civilian were shot dead "in separate attacks in Muqdadiya."
AFP notes one in Baghdad, "outside a Sunni mosque" that killed one person. Reuters notes that another person died in a roadside bomb near a Sunni mosque in Khalis (two others were wounded).
Reuters reports that three corpses were found near Falluja ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") and that they were wearing the uniforms of Iraqi soldiers while another corpse (headless) was discovered in Kirkuk. In addition to that corpse, KUNA notes that the corpse of a two-year-old child was also found in Kirkuk. AFP notes four corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("signs of torture"). And Reuters is now reporting the discovery, in Muqdadiya, of the corpses of five kidnapped victims.
US military announced that a US marine died Friday in the Anbar province. This as Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that "Col. Michael Shields, commander of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team operating primarily in the Mosul area" says that the target of the 'insurgency' is now Iraqi soldiers.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continued as attorneys for Shelley Kovco (widow of Australian soldier Jake Kovco) and Judy & Martin Kovco (parents of Jake) sought to establish that
yesterday's 'key witness' had less than impressive qualifications. Conor Duffy reported on PM (Australia's ABC) that Wayne Hoffman faced questions on the 12-point document he'd prepared with it being noted that his document went beyond his area (ballistics) into a "largely speculative" area. (The reference is into Hoffman's statement that the death was a suicide -- which led Judy Kovco to leave the courtroom yesterday.) Duffy notes a number of things the 'expert' was confronted with such as the fact that, although he'd weighed in with expertise and great authority on the matter, "he was unaware there was another pistol in the room at the time of the shooting, and . . . he hadn't read the statements from Private Kovco's room mates." Dan Box (The Australian) reports that 'expert' Wayne Hoffman testified that he hadn't been able "to find any prints on the gun" -- not Jake Kovco's, not anyone's. Box notes: "NSW detectives will now travel to Baghdad to take DNA samples from those soldiers in Kovco's unit after unidentified DNA was found on the gun, including on its trigger." However, although that's been reported previously, it appears the journey to Baghdad is on hold. Conor Duffy (Australia's ABC) reports that although the expectation was for the testimony of soldiers in Baghdad to be heard Monday (via "videolink" as noted earlier this week), that's not the case: ". . . a spokeswoman for Defence Public Affairs says this has been delayed while a request to conduct DNA on more soldiers in Iraq is considered." So to recap, not only will soldiers not testify Monday via videolink (on hold) but the trip to Baghdad to take DNA samples (which had previously been stated to be a go) is now on hold. As Dan Box notes, the original investigation in Baghdad was made "without any foresensic equipment. In fact, no forensic tests were carried out by the military police." Speaking to Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy noted that Frank Holles [attorney for Judy and Martin Kovco] raised the issue that Hoffman appeared unaware that "Private Kovco was reportedly dancing around to a Cranberries song and communicating with his wife at the time of his death. 'Have you ever seen a suicide like that before?' he asked."
Also covering the inquiry,
Belinda Tasker (Perth Now) reports that Hoffman stated that his reasons for believing that Jake Kovco pulled the trigger "was the fact that the pistol was his own." Tasker also notes that his two former roomates reported that he was joking with them and "singing along to pop songs" but they claim they did not see anything when the gun went off. Finally, Tasker reports that Shelley Kovco "excused herself from hearing much of the cross-examination today."
In news from American courts,
Kay Stewart (Courier-Journal) reports that Steven D. Green, the former Army solider charged with raping and murdering 14 year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza and then murdering three members of her family, "won't be indicted until at least mid-October, under a motion granted yesterday in U.S. District Court in Louisville' at the request of federal prosecutors who would like it rescheduled to November 8th. The other five charged in the incident, Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard -- Yribe is only charged with dereliction of duty for failure to report the incident, "are scheduled for a miliary hearing in Iraq beginning Aug. 6" and the federal prosecutors argue that "[t]he same evidence and witnesses are necesaary components in both prosecutions."
In peace news,
Hannah Charry (Hartford Advocate) reports that John Woods passed on his 60th birthday to take part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! Woods is "striking one day a week" (Fridays) for two months and states that: "His anti-war stance is in part something that he attributes to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he developed upon returning from Vietnam where he served with U.S. forces as an interrogator in 1969." Charry notes that Kat West is following Woods example and "will be fasting five days a week."
And in Canada,
Ken Eisner (Vancouver's Straight) reports: "Fact: Jane Fonda's biggest fans in her antiwar tours were American GIs. Fact: returning soldiers were the vanguard of the out-of-Vietnam movement by the end of the 1960s. Fact: far more veterans of the military now serving in Congress are Democrats than are Republicans. Fact: U.S. soldiers are deserting at a rate greater than at any time since Vietnam." Though truth is always welcome, why is Eisner reporting that? Because the documentary Sir! No! Sir! is opening at the Ridge. Eisner speaks with the film's director, David Zeiger, who says of the film: "This story has been so thoroughly buried, I knew it would take a lot of digging to get it out there. I thought it would be emotionally draining too, and that's one of the things that scared me off. But what I found as the process went along is that it became much more celebratory. This gave a lot of people a chance to tell their stories within a context that would inspire others. The conversations certainly did conjure up painful memories, but overwhelmingly it was a positive experience for everyone involved."
Sir! No! Sir! is currently playing at:




(604) 734-7469


(918) 585-3456
(benefit for Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace organized by the Queens Anti-War Commitee)


(two nights only)


(808) 934-7777
(one night only, benefit for World Peace Society)


(306) 777-6022
(minimum two days)


1515 12th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 267.5380
(minimum one week)


(one night only)

(306) 652-6556
(minimum one week)


(one night only)


900 East AvenueRochester, NY 14607
(585) 271-3361

If it plays near you, haul your ass to see Sir! No! Sir! and while you're hauling ass, go read Andrea Lewis' "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women." Need some laughter? Check out Betty's "Thomas Friedman says, 'Drop the five on the dresser before moving to the bed'" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! VOTE G.O.P. OR THE TERRORIST . . . MIGHT DO . . . SOMETHING!" and Cedric's "A Bully Boy Press and Cedric's Big Mix Exclusive! (Humor)."

If you're trying to follow the events in the Middle East, I say go to Danny the News Dissector Schechter. He's presenting a wide range of sources and views. It's your one-stop if you use it.

And speaking of Danny Schechter, I've been meaning to note something for some time, this is his "Beyond the World Cup: 'Can You Feel What I Feel Today?':"

Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but those doing the fiddling today while the planet broils are far less visible. In fact, some of them sponsor athletic competitions. Didn't Enron have a stadium named after it?
Its time for a new World Reality Cup, and I keep thinking of the song that might be played to kick it off, very much like the national anthem that echoes daily in every baseball stadium in America.
Remember this prophetic tune by Barry McGuire from the early 60's?
The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'
But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?

We are feeling new fears today that are just as apocalyptic as the old nuclear terrors. Barry understood that:
Yeah, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin'
I'm sitting here just contemplatin’
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

"It's just too frustrating!" Yes it is. Perhaps that's why some are looking into the past or into the stars to see the future.

There are a number of reasons I wanted to note that including the World Cup. But one thing I really liked about it then and now was the song. I didn't know it. I told Dad that and he said, "Okay, to the vinyl!" :D I go, "To they vinyl, Batman!" It's a pretty cool song. But even if I hadn't like it, I would've liked that it was included. I think you get to know about people by what they talk about and mention. So one thing you know is that Danny Schechter likes that song. Another thing you know is that he's not one of those "Oh I have to be serious and put on my serious face" people. Even before Dad played the song for me, just the lyrics were interesting. But some people are too stuffy to share something they really enjoy. They'll go with something like they're doing a term paper. I enjoyed the thing for a number of reasons but I like to the thing that he always keeps it real.

A lot aren't keeping it real and probably can't even if they tried. Katrina vanden Heuvel notes some of the reality challenged in "Neonuts:"

According to Newt Gingrich, there is no need to wait at all. On Meet the Press this past Sunday he offered that the Israel-Hezbollah conflict "… is, in fact, World War III" and "the U.S. ought to be helping...."
And how might the US help fight Newt's World War? The Weekly Standard provides the answer: "It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions – and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

Now be sure to check out Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts. And have a great weekend.