Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Al Harrington, John McCain, Iraq

So I listen to sports radio these days. A lot less depressing. If you're just breezing past, I'm not saying I can't take bad news, I am saying I'm sick of no news unless the broadcaster thinks I'm living in Israel or Lebanon. Which, by the way, I don't. I live in the United States on the East Coast. My country declared war on Iraq. So I'm not really in the mood to listen to 'brave' radio that wants to go, day after day, hour after hour over what Israel did or didn't do today. I kind of thought, as someone living in the United States, that what's being done over in Iraq, in our name, was a bigger story. But obviously that's not the case. Check out Rebecca because Tony passed me something and I said, "I'll check with Rebecca first." Why? She's been noting it. I may take a crack at it tomorrow but this has been her thing and all so when she said a reader, Sherry, had passed it on to her, I said, "Take it."

So before we go further, Indiana Pacers -- what's the point there? They had one great season, how many years ago? Made it to the finals. It was them against the Lakers. I could even agree with some who say they should have won. When Shaq did that flying leap into Austin Croshere's chest, okay, maybe that should have been a foul? But that was how long ago? Years and years. Today, it was like they were the biggest, most important team in the Eastern Conference. Why?
They have signed Al Harrington -- again. They had him before. Now they were saying on the radio that they'll have like 11 new guys on the team. They need 'em. I'd love for this to be the Pacers' time just because I feel sorry for them. They're not my favorite team, they're not the team I hate. But I just don't see anything worth cheering there. They flounder and flounder. It's like they've got Jalen Rose's attitude even after he's off the team.

So that was the thing that stood out to me on the radio today. The 'big' political news of the day is that John McCain's 'criticized' the Bully Boy and his ways of handling the illegal war. It's all a lot of hot air. Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THANK GOD JOHN MCCAIN KNEW IT WASN'T A DAY AT THE BEACH!" takes a big pin to that balloon of hot air. McCain didn't name Bully Boy, didn't say who'd pushed the stupid slogans ("Mission Accomplished"). It was the weakest thing he could do in the face of all the opposition to the war. It's a weak ass attempt to cover his own ass.
It doesn't change the fact that 2613 American soldiers and countless Iraqis have died. But he's hoping it makes him look like 'straight talker.'

And speaking of weak ass, how about that Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times? He wrote up yesterday's press conference of the Bully Boy's. Or was supposed to. Instead it was all hot air and election predictions. Bully Boy's saying we weren't leaving Iraq wasn't even big enough to open with. C.I.'s "NYT: Jim Rutenberg declares, 'I'm ready for my panel, Mr. Russert'" is hilarous.

Remember to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts tonight and you know you gotta read C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, August 22, 2005. A day after the Bully Boy's inner-dialogue in front of the world, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, British whispers say there may be a pull out, a witness says he didn't believe Jake Kovco's roommates told the truth about what happened when Kovco died April 21st, and Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case.
Starting with the Bully Boy of the United States,
Oliver Knox (AFP) reports on the "revolt" Bullly Boy's facing with some Republicans (Chris Shays) calling for a timeframe for withdrawal, some cheerleaders lagging and the general mood of the United States.
On the mood,
CNN's latest polling (released Monday) found that only 35% of those surveyed "favor the war in Iraq" while 61% were opposed to it which is "the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago."
Though Bully Boy boasted yesterday that, as long as he was the leader, US troops would remain in Iraq, there is good news in the CNN poll for Bully Boy as well. He can break that promise without shocking many -- "
Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence."
On the topic of the cheerleaders . . . Did someone cry "War Cheerleader Down!"?
Or was that the sound of Thomas Friedman ripping
another pair of tights/pantyhose? Robert Parry (Consortium News) examines the laughable Thomas Friedman's record of 'analysis' and concludes that it's past time that Friedman and his fellow War Cheerleaders, who got it all wrong from the start, "have the decency to admit their incompetence and resign." Parry digs into the writings/record of Friedman and notes that: "Friedman, despite botching the biggest foreign-policy story in the post-Cold War era, . . . retains his prized space on the New York Times Op-Ed page".
As the War Cheerleaders cheer a little lower and think a little slower (is that even possible?), the
Guardian of London reports that "a senior military commander" (British) has stated that British forces in Iraq could drop from "7,000 to between 3,00 and 4,000 by the middle of next year". This as another British commander, "British Royal Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Fry," calls Iraq "a civil war in minature." Fry tells Robert Burns (Associated Press) that it's "important that the conflict not be described as 'civil war'" (this after doing just that) because, among other things, it "encourages . . . adventurous media reporting." Perish the thought.
As one British commander offers (carless?) whispers of a partial pull-out and another wants to play word games,
Bloomberg reports that "U.K. voter support for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party fell to its lowest in 19 years" and that "[t]he Liberal Democrats, who opposed the war in Iraq and have criticized Blair's relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, gained more than the Conservatives in the past month." The BBC breaks down the poll's findings as follows: "Tories on 40% -- nine points ahead of Labour on 31%, with the Lib Dems on 22%." The Times of London, on the same poll, reports: "Nearly three-quarters of the public believe that Tony Blair's foreign policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists". Support for Blair, like support for Bully Boy, has fallen.
In Iraq?
CBS and AP report a hidden bomb claimed the lives of two civilians in Baghdad. Reuters notes a mortar attack in Muqdadiya which has wounded at least fifteen and a roadside bomb "near Yusufiya" which has wounded two civilians and killed a third. AFP reports what we'll call a 'corpse bomb' in Muqdadiya which caused damages to a police vehicle.
AFP reports that eight "young Shiite men from Najaf . . . were pulled from buses by gunmen late Monday . . . and shot dead in the street." CBS and AP note that, in Baghdad, an engineer "was shot dead while . . . in his car" while "crossfire" claimed the lives of two civilians in Amarah. Reuters notes the following: Ramadi -- a body guard of the governor of the Anbar Province was killed in a drive-by; near Kirkuk -- two civilians shot dead; Baquba -- a police major was shot dead (his driver wounded); and in Mosul -- a civilian shot dead.
Reuters notes that Dawoud Salman (Shi'ite Endowment employee) was found dead in Baghdad while another corpse was found "near Hilla."
Turning to kidnapping news, the priest kidnapped last Tuesday (
hit the wires on Friday, the Pope issued a plea for his return this weekend) in Baghdad is apparently alive. Reuters reports that a ransom note has been recived and that the Misna news agency has spoken to Father Saad Syrop Hanna.
Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer known to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Despite confusion in the e-mails, he has not been charged with anything today. (A program announced he had, they were covering Thursday's Article 32 hearing.) Lt. Col. Mark Keith is weighing the testimony and will issue a conclusion on whether or not action should be pursued. Tuesday
The KPFA Evening News had a report on Watada and they spoke to his father Bob Watada who supports his son and is currently speaking in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bob Watada stated of the illegal war, "They're killing innocent men, women and children -- that's a violation of the Geenva convention which we agreed to. We're using depleted uranium, we're using cluster bombs, we're using phosphoric, we used to call it naplam, but they're phosphoric gases to burn the people. These are all war crimes. Talk about the torture that's going on in Abu Ghraib and other places. You know the rapes of the civilians and so forth. And Ehren would be forced to participate in this illegal war and would be forced to participate in these war crimes that are going on every day."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Tu. 8/22
1-3 pm brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave.,
Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902

6-9pm Buena Vista United Methodist Church- Reception & Event 2311 Buena Vista Ave.
Alameda Contact: Rev. Michael Yoshii 510/522-2688

Wed. 8/23
10:30-noon UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026

Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711 7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933

Thu. 8/24
noon-3pm World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408

7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
"I'm trying to publicize my son's cause and publicize what's going on in Iraq,"
he tells
Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet). Scherr reports that Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, told her that, if there is a court-martial, "our intent" is to "put the Iraq War on trial". Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is preparing an editorial to run on Ehren Watada's case.
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use public@defenselink.mil to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org. will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In other resistance news,
Jeff Paterson (Indybay IMC) reports on this past weekend's rally "outside Fort Lewis, Washington" in support of Suzanne Swift which calls for "an honorable discharge for the Iraq veteran and sexual assault victim who went AWOL instead of returning to Iraq." Among those taking part were Swift's mother Sara Rich and CODEPINK's Ann Wright (US army Col. retired). [And yesterday, Jeff Paterson, of Not In Our Name, was wrongly billed by me as "Jeff Patterson." My apologies.]
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Bagdad death of Jake Kovco continues and apparently the only one not allowed to traipse through the crime scene was the officer making the assessment.
Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that, in his testimony to the inquiry, Major Mark Willetts was "refused permission to enter the room at the Australian embassy compound in Baghdad but observed it from outside and saw photos." Australia's ABC notes that Willetts testified that while he wasn't allowed to enter "the room was occupied by military people, with no investigative skills". Paul Mulvey (Perth Now) reports that Willetts encounters with Kovco's roommates (Soldiers 17 & 19) weren't productive and that Willets "believed . . . they were witholding evidence" because "I find it difficult [to believe] that two men in the room would not have had more information in regards to what happened." For those who've fogotten, both roommates have stated they saw nothing (19 has stated he was getting a drink out of the room's mini-fridge, 17 states he was looking elsewhere ). The AAP quotes Willetts stating: "It's a small room; there were three people in there; it would have been very difficult not to have known what was going on in there." Tracey Ong notes Willetts' testimony regarding Soldier 21 who has now retracted his statement that he heard "Allah Akbar" yelled "10 seconds before the shooting" -- of Soldier 21, Willetts testified: "He was quite adament, in fact he was emphatic he heard Allah Akbar."
CBS and AP report this on Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi: "An Iraqi investigative panel has launched an independent probe into the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl allegedly by American soldiers currently in U.S. custody, who will be tried in absentia if necessary, an official said Tuesday." The probe actually began Thursday and is expected to last at least a week. Abeer's 15th birthday would have been last Saturday.
Robin Morgan reported the following (Guardian of London via Common Dreams): "The victim's name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Abeer means 'fragrance of flowers'. She was 14 years old. According to a statement by one of the accused, the soldiers first noticed her at a checkpoint. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky, they changed into civvies and burst into Abeer's home. They killed her mother, father and five-year-old sister and 'took turns' raping Abeer. Finally, according to the statement, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and set them on fire. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings."