Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tired (and tired of the not-so-brave)

One day until Friday. Betty had a question and called. She's subbing for Rebecca and she wanted to use Isaiah's comic but had forgotten how to post pictures in Blogger. (She said, "I always call C.I. and say, 'Talk me through.'") So I talked her through. And she asked if I was mad, "Because you sound strange." I wasn't mad, I'd fallen asleep when I got home. I thought I was just going to lay down on the bed with the fan on and enjoy the a.c. after a really hot day but I ended up falling out. My throat was so dray and that's probably why I sounded strange (that and just waking up). If she hadn't called, I'd still be asleep and probably wouldn't wake up until tomorrow morning. Ma said she tried to wake me up for dinner and so did Dad but I was out of it. Looking at my cell phone I see I slept through a call from Nina, a call from Tony and a call from "PRIVATE." I hate it when that shows up on the caller i.d. If you're calling me and making it a secret from me, I'm not picking up.

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

Chaos and violence continue.
At least five bombs went off in Iraq today, according to Reuters. But don't fret for the Operation Happy Talkers, the military is pushing "Operation Baghdad is Beautiful" wherein the "trash, debris and barrier materials" are being removed. While it is true that Lady Bird Johnson had a beautification program in the United States, she didn't try to implement it in Vietnam. This as William Caldwell (US major general) announces that attacks in the "Bahgdad area" have incresed 40% this month. Is that 'beautiful' as well? Maybe they can slap some blue bonnets on it? Meanwhile the BBC notes: "But the US military admitted on Thursday the massive security clampdown that followed the killing of al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had achieved only a 'slight downtick' in violence." Or, as Adnan Dulaimi told Borzou Daragahi (LA Times), "What is happening in Iraq is a disaster and a tragedy."
The Associated Press notes that ten are dead as a result of a car bombing near a gas station in Beiji and one dead (and seven wounded) from a car bomb in Kirkuk. Reuters reports five were wounded near Karbala from a roadside bomb; a bomb that exploded near a police patrol in Baghdad killed two (wounded 11 including 5 police officers); while another bomb in Baghdad (the third for the day) killed three; ten people were wounded from a roadside bomb near Najaf; and one person was wounded from a bomb near Diwaniya.
Reuters notes the shooting death of a cab driver in Diwaniya; three oil engineers in Baiji; police officers in Tikrit and Falluja (one in each city); and one in Baghdad.
CBS and the AP report that four corpses were found in Baghdad. The AFP notes that Iraqi police are saying the number is 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours." Reuters reports that Baghdad morgues' figures for July, thus far, are "about 1,000 corpses." Reuters notes a cab driver whose corpse was found in his taxi in Numaniya; two corpses discovered near Balad; and the corpse of a translator who had been kidnapped Tuesday was discovered near Tikrit.
Centcom announced "A Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today."
Reporting on Iraq yesterday Aaron Glantz (The KPFA Evening News, Free Speech Radio News) explored the security situation speaking with a number of people including one Iraq male, Ali, in charge of investigating the Tuesday bombing in KUFA who delcared, "The police doesn't have any information about anything. They're just kids. They don't really check anything at checkpoints, they just ask people where they are from and let them go without checking anything. Until recently you didn't any kind of diploma to get into the police. Now they have changed it so that you have to have graduated from middle school to apply to be a police officer." Glantz also spoke with an Iraqi professor, Shakir Mustafa of Boston University, in the US who is attempting to get his family out of Iraq. The professor explained how neighboring countries are growing less welcoming to those who flee from Iraq with Glants noting the UN predictions of how things would grow increaingly worse for Iraqi refugees (child labor, sex traficcing, malnutrition and poverty).
Meanwhile, Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports on a refugee camp in Baghdad which Um Abdullah says was attacked with gunfire and that this and other events have caused all but five of thirty-four families to leave the camp. Reuters estimates that over 30,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and become refugess in the last three weeks.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April death of Jake Kovco continues. Australia's ABC reports that Judy Kovco walked out on the inquiry when Wayne Hoffman gave testimony that the wounds that killed her son were self-inflicted. Hoffman's testimony included a twelve-point presentation and flies in the face of the testimony given by Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes which found DNA other than Jake Kovco's on the gun believed to be the weapon. Hayes wants "up to thirty" of Kovco's fellow troops in Iraq to submit to DNA tests and homocide detectives have left for Baghdad to begin testing. Belinda Tasker (Courier-Mail) reports that attorneys for Judy and Martin Kovco, Lt Col Frank Holles, and for the solider's widow Shelley Kovco, Lt Col Tom Berkley, objected to Hoffman's arguments noting "There are a number of assertions in there ... which aren't conclusive of the findings they purport to reach," and "at the end of the day you can't say whether the firing of the firearm was intentional or unintentional, it's all predicated on the fact that it was Jake."
Yesterday in Iraq, an attack in Basra indicated the level of hostility some Iraqis feel towards the occupation. As Daveed Mandel noted on The KPFA Evening News: "Today, assailants slit the throats of a mother and her three children in southern Iraq where the family had fled to escape threats stemming from accusations that they cooperated with Americans. The mother's sister was also slain in the southern city of Basara. Five other family members were rescued but they almost bled to death."
And yesterday in the United States, the AP reports, an Article 28 hearing was held to determine whether or there is evidence to warrant a trial of Nathan B. Lynn and Milton Ortiz Jr. for alleged actions in Ramadi where they are accused of killing an Iraqi man on February 15 of this year and then planting a gun by him to make him look like an "insurgent." The AP notes: "Ortiz also faces one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said."
Finally, the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza will not be exhumed reports Reuters. The family is refusing the request and Reuters quotes Muayyad Fadhil as saying, "It is disgraceful to remove a body after burial." Abeer Qassim Hamza and three members of her family were murdered in March. Six US soldiers have been charged in the incident (one with failure to report the incident) and five with rape and murder. Of the five, four are currently serving in the military. Steven D. Green is the only one charged (with rape and with murder) who has left the military. Reuters notes: "U.S. court documents in the case of Green indicate that other defendants say he killed three family members then raped Abeer al-Janabi and killed her too. They accuse one other soldier of raping the girl and a further two of being in the house during the killings." The five others charged are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard (Yribe is the one charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident).

That's a lot of news. And if you're lucky, your paper will turn it into one small story. If you're not that lucky, you won't even see it in your paper. There's hardly any interest in covering Iraq, that's what it feels like when I pick up the paper each morning. Every day Iraq is off the front page probably adds ten days to the illegal war -- at least ten.

I'm glad Judy Kovco walked out on that hearing, she should have. I used the links and the guy's basically saying, "Jake Kovco shot himself. Maybe he didn't mean to." I don't see how he can testify to that when even Jake's roommates stories don't pan out. She also called them "Keystone cops." Good for her.

Here's some Iraq news from the AP that happened after the snapshot:

The Army, bearing most of the cost for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Thursday its money crunch has gotten so bad it is clamping down on spending for travel, civilian hiring and other expenses not essential to the war mission.
A statement outlining the cutbacks did not say how much money the Army expects to save, but senior officials have said the cost of replacing worn equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan is rising at a quickening pace.

And I'll toss in another thing from AP because, let's be honest, the majority of the media doesn't give a damn about Iraq or covering it right now:

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said there had been an average of 34 attacks a day involving U.S. and Iraqi forces in and around the capital since Friday -- up sharply from the daily average of 24 registered between June 14 and July 13.

If you read that, you get that things are increasingly violent in Iraq so where is the increased coverage? It's not there. Tony forwarded me the "daily digest" from the program, you know the one. They may have had other headlines, but of the 11 in their "daily digest" e-mail, only one has to do with Iraq. And it's about Gail Collins (it just says NYT editor, but that's how it is, C.I. covered this on Sunday in "And the war drags on . . ."). So that's the reality of the so-called war and peace report. As Iraqi refugess increase by over a 30,000 in three weeks, as attacks increase in Baghdad by 40%, as bombs go off and corpses are discovered, while the Kovco family attempts to find out the truth about their son's death, while an Article 28 hearing takes place and it's announced that the family won't let the body of the 14-year-old girl who was murdered and probably raped be dug up, "the war and peace report" is more interested in their grudge fucks with the New York Times than in covering in reality. Why do I say that? What's being noted in the "timely" headlines was, again, covered by C.I. on Sunday in "And the war drags on . . ." -- SUNDAY! Count the days to Thursday which is what today is. That's really sad. That's our leading independent media. We should all be embarrassed.

Since I wrote last night, the guest blogging I hinted about has happened: "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" was Wednesday night and "The Mamas and the Papas (C.I. guesting for Kat)" was this morning. Along with Cedric and me, C.I.'s filling in for Kat. I'll blog there tomorrow or Saturday but you've already had four posts this week there and I'm sure people miss Kat (I do!!!!) but her site's not dark so check it out. You never know what you'll find there. What is it with all these vacations!!!! :D

My folks are going out to C.I.'s next week. They have time and we were all going to go out but my sister and I were talking and we told them they should go out by themselves. They haven't had their own break in forever. We can hold down the fort here and they can get some time where they're not 'parents' and just a couple. I'll be going out there too but I'll go out next month, probably at the start of it.

I really am wiped out. It probably wasn't that hot today but there was a lot to do at work and I had some stuff to do around here too. So I'm wiped.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY DISCOVERS RACISM! NEXT UP: GRAVITY!" -- my bood buddy called me while I was writing this and was trying to wake me up by joking but even that didn't take and he just said, "Mike, man, really crawl into bed." I think I'll do that.