Saturday, July 29, 2006

Weekend! Don't forget Iraq

Friday!! At last!! Hope everyone read Elaine's "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" (she says it's not just by her and notes the two great people who helped her with it). Boom! Lisper thinks he can take a dump and stink up the place and nobody's going to call foul? Wrong.
It was the most popular thing on campus today. I never even brought it! :D It started the second I hit campus with people hollering to me, "Yea for Elaine!" and giving the thumbs up. I mean people from classes that I had never spoken to. Then Tony's all, "Dude, everyone's talking about it" and I'm all, "It's amazing." Cause it is amazing. The three of them (Rebecca e-mailed me and called herself, Elaine and C.I. "the Charmed ones" -- like in the TV show :D) got the power. Don't mess with them. Mess with one, mess with all.

If you missed it, go read "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" right away. Tony asked me if I could tell any parts that were more one of them and I could. I know them too well. :D When I got on the phone with Elaine today, I was like, "This is all you, this is Rebecca, this is C.I., this is all three, this is you and Rebecca, this is Rebecca and C.I., this is you and C.I." and just going through the whole thing. It's perfect. The power of three :D.

Elaine was all, "I wasn't trying to drag them in" and I know she wasn't. I was the one who called C.I. And C.I. doesn't raise a voice with me -- I'm one of the "children." :D Me and Wally can get away with anything. One time, here, I talked about the round-robin without checking with Gina, Krista or the person whose thing I was talking about and I won't say I got my ass chewed because that's really not C.I.'s style. But it was made very clear that I did a no-no. I felt bad and did apologize (and noted here that I shouldn't have talked about the round-robin's contents without permission). But when I told C.I. what was going on I got a "What?" so loud I had to shake my head and take the cell from my ear. I told C.I. about the two jerks again. C.I. wasn't surprised about the nasty e-mails due to the fact that Elaine's noting the actions of the Israeli government but that the two professional writers would engage their nonsense did piss C.I. off.
I had a feeling that C.I. was going to call Rebecca when we got off the phone.

In her e-mail, Rebecca wrote that the first words were, "Okay, I never call you during something like this unless it's important . . ." Rebecca wrote that she was glad C.I. called and that there was no reason people couldn't call. And she was real glad C.I. called her in on this because it did need to be dealt with immediately.

So they did and it is hilarious. Now let's do C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. And, as Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) observe: "Bush's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in violence-racked Baghdad has forced commanders to extend the tours of 3,500 soldiers and appears to eliminate prospects for significant withdrawals of American forces this year."
And as the US administration prepares to extend the tours of duty of 3,5000 soldiers (who were due to leave Iraq),
Hassan Abdul Zahra (AFP) reports that Abdel Azia Hakim (Shi'ite leader; head of Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) declared in a speech today that the security of Iraq should be left to Iraqis. Zahra also quotes Mahmud Mahdi al-Sumaidaie (iman and Sunni Muslim Scholars Association member) saying: "The US occupiers are responsible for what is going on with the violence and destruction -- they are the ones controlling the security file." This as John Tully (Colonel, commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade) informs reporters that in the Shi'ite section "south of Baghdad" attacks on US troops have incresed "by about 25 percent".
In another sign of how bad things are on the ground in Iraq, new "security" measures are being taken by individuals. At the start of this month,
Terry McCarthy (ABC -- America) reported on how fake identification sells for the US equivalent of ten and fifteen dollars and many Iraqis are puchasing them to reduce risk to their lives at checkpoints and noted: "Now many Iraqis carry two IDs in their pockets and will produce one or the other, depending on who is asking for it." Now Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports a swap greater than IDs: "Fearing sectarian death squads, Iraqis are trading homes with trusted friends from the other sect, surrounding themselves with those who share their faith but creating segregated neighborhoods increasingly wary of one other." Castaneda is reporting from Nasser Wa Salaam but notes the problem is not confined to that one location.
AFP reports the bombing of a Shia shrine "to Imam Askar between the towns of Balad Ruz and Mandalay". This as Reuters notes four are dead in Baghdad from a mortar attack on a Sunni mosque while a roadside bom wounded two police officers in Baquba. AP notes that the Sunni mosque bombing in Baghdad has left nine wounded.
KUNA reports: "Iraqi police source added an improvised bomb exploded in one of the patrolling police vehicles on the main street of Kirkuk, while a similar attack targeted Multi-National Force (MNF) vehicle on the way to Kirkuk."
If the police source is correct, that's a new development -- bombs planted in cars of unsuspecting drivers.
In Kirkuk,
KUNA reports the shooting death of an Iraqi soldier. In addition to that shooting, AFP also notes the Kirkuk shooting deaths ofa police officer "and a bystander"; two shot dead in Tikrit; and "a train station official" shot in Baiji.
In addition,
KUNA notes that "a security personnel from the Al-Qadisya area close to Kirkuk power statiion" was kidnapped.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues.
Australia's ABC reports that "a Lance Corporal" has informed the inquriy that Kovco was "reprimanded twice for misuing his pistol during his deployment in Iraq." Whether or not the witness can affirm to two times should be in doubt because the second incident finds the "Lance Corporal" saying he's 'aware' of it as opposed to knowing it or witnessing. At any rate, the "Lance Corporal" has offered that Jake Kovco was reprimanded for "pointing his pistol at the torso of another soldier" which would probably be pertinent if Jake Kovco were accues of killing one of his roommates. As
"Lance Corporal" (or "Soldier Four") makes the news with his statements,
Tracy Ong ( covers what everyone else seems to have missed: "But other statements tendered yesterday were at odds with Soldier 4's recollection, many saying they had never seen Kovco playing 'quick draw' -- pulling a pistol out of its holster as quickly as possible -- or mishandling his weapons. One corporal from 3RAR said he had never had to 'pull Private Kovco up on his weapon handling'."
On April 29th,
Damien Murphy, Phillip Coorey, Ed O'Loughlin, Tom Allard and Cynthia Banaham (Sydney Morning Herald) reported: "Private Jacob Kovco grew up with guns. They were part of everyday life in his small home town of Briagolong in the Victorian high country. Come April each year, the four-wheel-drive vehicles from Melbourne would roar through the hamlet late on a Friday night on their way to bush camps in the nearby foothills for the start of the deer hunting season."
In peace news,
Honolulu's KITV reports that a demonstration of support was held last night at Kalani High School for Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned military officer known to refuse deployment to Iraq. Showing their support for Watada (who faces an Article 32 hearing August 17th to determine whether or not a court martial is in order) were the Japanese American Citizen's League of Hawaii, the American Friends Service Committee "and others at the Nagasaki Peace Bell near City Hall" -- including: "Hawaii People's Fund, Code Pink Hawaii, Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, Veterans for Peace, World Can't Wait and Not in Our Name." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that "Watada has again offer to resign his commisson from the Army and is willing to accept any type of administrative punishment in place of court martial" including "a reprimand, fine and reduction in rank". Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, tells Kakesako that this is the third time the offer has been made (it was refused twice prior). Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
In "The Fifth Book of Peace", Maxine Hong Kingston writes: "During war, mothers dream this dream: she -- mother -- is winged, and flies, swooping down upon the son, the brother, soldier, criminal in danger, and picks him up by the straps of his overalls or by his belt, or catches him up in her arms, and flies him high and away. Unable to fly, she would go to the war in her son's place. She would go ahead of him, walk point herself."
With news of the September events in DC,
David Swanson (American Chronicle) reports that Camp Democracy sets up September 5th with many activities and, among many worthy goals, the intent to build "toward the International Day of Peace on September 21". Swanson notes that Cindy Sheehan "will come to Camp Democracy following Camp Casey (Aug. 16 - Sept. 2 in Crawford Texas)".
Sheehan is currently participating in
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast. It is day 25 of the Troops Home Fast action with over 4,350 people fasting to the end the war all over the world. The AP reports that Diane Wilson has thus far lost "20 pounds from her 170-pound frame" while taking part in the fast. Of fasting, Wilson states: "Ghandi always called it 'soul power' because it's got a real spiritual component to it."

The part above I tried to star Friday evening before going to the discussion group. I didn't finish. Now I'm going to talk about today (which is now yesterday because it's Saturday but I haven't been to bed yet so today/yesterday whatever -- I mean Friday until now and it's not Saturday until I get some sleep!)

I fasted today. We also went to Tony's for the Iraq discussion group. Elaine and Wally are visiting and they got to attend. They shared and had a lot of great points. This friend of Dad's goes, "Mike, I got the snapshot." :D I was happy. I'd printed up today's to share but he was already on it. We talked about Kovco and Watada and Wilson and the many other stories we're interested and would read about or watch if our papers or shows covered them. A few months back, I would've steered people somewhere but now, as most of you know, I wouldn't. (And you know why.)

But the hunger for coverage was what really hit me. Not just "Where is the Iraq coverage?" the way it has been before but people sharing specifically what they wanted covered. Suzanne Swift, Camilo Mejia (that false rumor about him being injured in accident traveled fast), Watada, the Troops Home Now fast. One woman said she knew Maxine Hong Kingston and mentioned Woman Warrior (hope I got that right) but what was this Fifth Book of Peace? Elaine took that one. (Ma could have handled it too but she and Dad don't get back from California until tomorrow.)

People weren't just saying, "More coverage!" They had concrete ideas of what needed to be covered. Of what should be covered.

We also laughed about the story Tony highlighted. Serious story about the spying on peace groups. But we laughed because we wondered if we had any spies present? If we do, they came early in the meetings. We're too big now and we've dropped the "sure, bring along anyone" policy we had the beginning. We talked about how it was supposed to be a one hour thing and is already a three hour thing each Friday night and how there are people who want to speak that may not get to because we've grown so large. (Some people are more comfortable listening because they're not big on speaking in crowds. Those people always get first dibs on talking if they have an issue they want to bring up.) So in November, we're going to break it down to smaller groups. They'll all be Friday night because that really seems to work good for most people. It's the start of the weekend (for most) and they can hang out without worrying about work or school the next day. And like Ma's best friend said tonight, "It's more entertaining than a movie and you don't feel like you've been robbed." So Fridays will be the night. But we'll go from one group to six groups.

And Tony's point about the spying was to remind people, you invite people you know. Not people you think you know. Yeah, who knows who is an informant, but you should know whether your best friend or family member is with the FBI. All we're doing is talking about the war and peaceful ways to end it, Tony said -- hold on for the kicker because I laughed -- we're not doing anything illegal and we'll be happy to share our activities with Alberto Gonzales as soon as Gonzales shares with the American people the exact scope and nature of the illegal spying on us! :D

I loved that. The government's spying on peace activist and that's okay (in their minds). But the American people don't have a right to know what the government's doing?

They wouldn't have had to be inside, spies, tonight because there were so many people that Tony's pop had to move the whole thing out to the backyard. That is so cool that so many people care. To hear the gas bags talk, America doesn't care about the war. That's not the case. When we started this (and Goldie's house party was what got me to start this so give credit to Goldie, a middle school student who inspired adults to do more), Tony and me thought, "Well maybe six people will come?" It's full of people. Because people do care. If they don't care around you then you may not be talking about the stuff that matters (or you may not be able to win out over the "junk news" everyone else keeps tossing). It is really something to see, when people start talking like that and bringing up stuff and debating and thinking and brainstorming.

Three people, counting me, were fasting today (one-day fast) so that was pretty cool too. A guy asked me about that and I turned it over to Wally because he fasted on the Fourth and is grabbing Mondays (and also I don't want people to think, "Every time that Michael talks and talks! Let other people speak!" :D). So that was pretty cool.

Wally's like Mr. Serious. I was calling him Ice Man after. When he's talking to people he is just Mr. All Business. It works and all so I'm not picking on him but I like to toss in a funny thing or two. I was joking with him after when we were helping Tony and his pop clean up and going, "Hey check out Mr. Broadcast News here!" :D

He was just real professional. Real cool. He's a cool guy anyhow but he was like cool as a cucumber while he was speaking. Tony's pop was all, "You don't really write those funny things" at The Daily Jot? And then Wally cut loose and he was like, "Okay, you are a college kid." :D
But in the meeting he was Mr. Broadcast News, back to you. :D

Now here's a thing from Free Speech Radio News:

Israeli Attacks Escalate in Palestine
Israeli troops withdrew from Northern Gaza early this morning after a bloody two-day sweep that killed over 30 Palestinians. Saed Bannoura reports from the West Bank that Israeli forces continue nightly raids there, taking 22 Palestinians prisoner last night alone:
Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians have increased this week, particularly in the Hebron area. And in Jerusalem today, Israeli police have been preventing anyone under 40 years old from praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque, firing tear gas and concussion grenades at worshipers. Meanwhile, negotiations appear to be underway for a possible release of the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza. Abu Obeidah is with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, who are holding the captured soldier: "The issue of the soldier we are holding prisoner is not just an issue of the Qassam Brigades, or Hamas, it's an issue of the Palestinian people - there are over 10,000 Palestinians inside the Occupation's prisons, behind bars. The Palestinian people are united, all factions are united. No Palestinian politician can demand that we release the captured soldier with nothing in return." Earlier this week Palestinian groups offered terms for a truce, but the Israeli side has thus far refused to negotiate. So far, the latest round of Israeli attacks has killed over 100 in Gaza.

We're going to grab a headline for awhile from that program. It's Eli's favorite and we can grab that. We thought we'd have our format figured out by now but weren't counting on a side trip to Mexico for Rebecca's wedding. What I want to point out the above is something that people might not get (hopefully everyone coming here gets it), the 10,000 Palestinians behind bars -- they're like Guantanamo prisoners. In fact, you want to look at Bully Boy's 'terror' state, take a look at Israel. And before the next ass wipe in this country starts saying, "Oh we could do like in Israel" (which a lot of them right after 9/11 -- pointing to airplane security and other stuff), take a look at Israel. Is that what we want? 40 years of continual violence?

We don't need to be looking there for examples but it seems like we have. Torturing suspects? Seems like we picked that up there. It's a police state for the occupied territories and that goes on year after year. We really shouldn't be looking to Israel for "ideas."

Wally just came in and goes, "Do you know what time it is?" I'm in my bedroom and Elaine's visiting and has her laptop plugged in so she was just writing away. We got home late from the meeting. The meeting didn't end until like midnight and all three of us were helping clean up and pick up. So it was probably two something (okay, we were shooting the shit with Tony and his folks too! Busted! :D but you got to take them to talk with the people who matter in your life). So I'm about to hit the sack. Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and Wally and Cedric did a joint entry tonight, or I guess this morning. I want to find out how Cedric's meeting went but it's too late for me to call him. If I'd known Wally was calling him (better not have used our landline you ungrateful house guest! :D -- I'm joking), I would have asked to holler while Wally had him on the phone.