Friday! At last! :D The meetings tonight, the real Iraq Study Group! :D I'm always excited when that happens. And I'm always excited on Friday's period. Elaine found something she's going to highlight at her site (Like Maria Said Paz) and she wanted Rebecca and me to note it too because it deserves to be read for the writing and the topic. This is from John Dear's "Joan Baez, After All These Years:"
"Come back, Woodie Guthrie, Come back, Mahatma Gandhi," sang Joan Baez in her beatific soprano. "Come back to us Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. We’re marching into Selma as the bells of freedom ring."
She's been singing for peace and civil rights for forty-eight years. Originally inspired by Pete Seeger, she captured the attention of the nation in the early 1960s, her politically charged music propelling her to the cover of Time magazine long before Bob Dylan and the Beatles. To my mind, as soon as she sang "All My Trials, Lord," the 1960s were born and the culture turned a corner. Music and politics would never be the same.
Today, she's better than ever. Her voice is strong, her vision clear, and her call for peace and justice just as urgent. She continues to use her extraordinary talent for global peace and brings the power of music to the needs of the world.
Joan Baez has long been one of my heroes. She was in New Mexico last week to perform a slew of folk songs against the latest U.S. war, including Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side," "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall," and “It's All Over Now Baby Blue.” She also sang “Finlandia” and a moving rendition of "Amazing Grace." "Any Day Now/ Baez Sings Dylan" is my favorite of her CDs, but she has just released a great new CD, Bowery Songs, with these inspiring songs recorded live in New York.
Bowery Songs is a great CD and if you haven't heard it yet and need more persauding, check out "Kat's Korner: Joan Baez Bringing It All Back Home on Bowery Songs." A lot of people I know go way back with Joan Baez. You may know a lot of people like that too and maybe think, "She must not be my type." She is. Get Bowrey Songs and you'll hear it the second the CD starts playing. It's a live CD and you'll love it. "Joe Hill" is on it and that's a song probably everyone knows but you'll hear it and just think about what a great song it is right now. "Rexroth's Daughter" and "Christmas in Washington" are great too. You can just put the CD and listen all the way through, over and over. Sometimes, I'll put it on when I'm winding down for the night. There's not a track on the CD I don't love. So if you're looking for a CD that you'll enjoy and you've seen Bowery Songs around or thought about it, stop thinking and go get it. You won't be sorry.
Now here's a story about the latest on Scooter Libby and Plamegate, Washington Post's "In the Libby Case, A Grilling to Remember:"
If I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was not afraid of the special counsel before, the former Cheney aide, who will face Fitzgerald in a trial beginning Jan. 11, had ample reason to start quaking after yesterday's Ginsu-like legal performance.
Fitzgerald's target in the witness box was Elizabeth F. Loftus, a professor of criminology and psychology at the University of California at Irvine. For more than an hour of the pretrial hearing, Loftus calmly explained to Judge Reggie B. Walton her three decades of expertise in human memory and witness testimony. Loftus asserted that, after copious scientific research, she has found that many potential jurors do not understand the limits of memory and that Libby should be allowed to call an expert to make that clear to them.
But when Fitzgerald got his chance to cross-examine Loftus about her findings, he had her stuttering to explain her own writings and backpedaling from her earlier assertions. Citing several of her publications, footnotes and the work of her peers, Fitzgerald got Loftus to acknowledge that the methodology she had used at times in her long academic career was not that scientific, that her conclusions about memory were conflicting, and that she had exaggerated a figure and a statement from her survey of D.C. jurors that favored the defense.
Her defense-paid visit to the federal court was crucial because Libby is relying on the "memory defense" against Fitzgerald's charges that he obstructed justice and lied to investigators about his role in the leaking of a CIA operative's identity to the media. Libby's attorneys argue that he did not lie -- that he was just really busy with national security matters and forgot some of his conversations.
Poor little Scooter. Willing to take the fall for everyone provided he could get off. You know they told him that. Bully Boy can still pardon him but if people realize how bad the case against him is, Bully Boy will get a lot of flack for pardoning Scooter. So be sure and pass on to everyone that Scooter's 'expert' witness, who was supposed to make the case his whole defense rests on, imploded today.
He needs to be behind bars. They all do. They really will go down as the most crooked administration in years. Check out Jason Leopold's "Administration Officials Billed Taxpayers $1.5 Million for Private Air Travel:"
According to a 10-page letter sent to the Office of Management and Budget released late Wednesday by Congressman Henry Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House Government Affairs Committee, more than $1.5 million has been spent and billed to taxpayers so cabinet heads including Education Secretary Rodney Paige could travel on private jets to tout controversial bills like the No Child Left Behind Act. Since October 2004, much of the first-class travel by agency officials was conducted in battleground states during the height of the contentious presidential campaign. Waxman has said the administration has wasted money on luxurious travel expenses and unfairly expect taxpayers to foot the bill.
Federal regulations restrict the use of private aircraft for traveling on official business unless the trip cannot be scheduled by a commercial airliner. However, administration officials chartered private jets on 125 different occasions to travel to more than 300 different locations across the United States - most of which, Waxman says, skyrocketed during the heated election season.
For example, during the 2004 campaign, the use of private jets and helicopters "was over four times higher than in non-election years."
"In 2004, the heads of federal departments and agencies traveled on private aircraft at taxpayer expense at least 36 times to 74 locations," Waxman wrote in the letter. "Much of this travel was concentrated in electoral battleground states. In October 2004, Education Secretary Rod Paige spent $50,290 to charter a private jet to travel from Philadelphia to Kansas City. In each city, Secretary Paige hosted Town Hall events in which he called the Leave No Child Left Behind Act 'the most powerful civil rights act in the last three decades.'"
It's just one corruption scandal after another and it's the whole G.O.P. party, really. Cedric's
"The G.O.P. perp walk" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! EVERYBODY'S DOING THE G.O.P. PERP WALK!" covers only the latest court appearance of someone who left the administration to get ready for prison. It's just one thing after another with those crooks.
Beau had a question about tags. He wants to know if I'm about to drop them? I think I will next week if nothing changes. At one point, most of us were readable by technorati. Then it became less and less. Now it's just me and C.I. and this week, we both stopped being read by them. It takes awhile to do tags. So if this is how it is now and not something relating to Blogger/Blogspot's problems this week, I'll probably stop tagging. It will make posting go a lot quicker and there's no point in putting tags on if they're not going to be read. I'll probably do tags through Wendesday and then stop. There's no point in doing it if it's not going to be read.
It promotes Technorati. It's a free commercial for them. But if it's not doing anything for me, screw it. Why should I spend 10 to 16 minutes each post trying to promote something that won't even read me? I shouldn't. It's a waste of my time and it's like they're getting a free ride, so screw 'em come Wednesday.
Dad wanted me to note something. C.I.'s "And the war drags on." If you get the gina & krista round-robin, you know that Dad and me both participated in the roundtable for today's edition. That was done last night. And this morning, Dad was at the computer having his coffee when I made it downstairs and he goes, "Have you checked it out?" I hadn't. It's pretty incredible. That may not seem like a surprise but if you were participating in the roundtable, you weren't expecting it because C.I. was part of that roundtable and it was just a surprise because that was done during this and C.I. wasn't just going, "Yeah!" C.I. had a lot to say in the roundtable and, at one point, even says that no one should expect anything when "And the war drags on" went up. I really did assume that there wouldn't be much to it (that's what C.I. kept saying) so it was a real shock to read it. If you haven't, you need to. All week long, I've been dragging and when I think about what C.I.'s done this week online and offline (non-stop speaking out against the war for the last three days among other things), I really feel like I let this week kick my butt when I should have fought back. That's what next week is for. :D
Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, October 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to return to the US; a G.I. coffeehouse opens in Watertown, NY; Gerhard Schroder weighs in on the special relationship between Tony Blair and Bully Boy; and the barking puppet of the occupation gets his leash yanked.
Tomorrow Kyle Snyder will return to the United States, Mike Howell reports for the Toronto Star noting that Snyder notes war resister Darrell Anderson's decision to return to the US (Anderson returned September 30th). Like Anderson, Snyder elected to self-check out of the military. For Snyder, that happened in April 2005. As Snyder explains in Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks, military recruiters were circling throughout high school: "I had just received my high school diploma. I get off of the stage and here's another recruiter right outside the door -- waiting for me. I look back at i now and everything that I'm going through, everything that I've worked through I can retrace down to that moment that I signed the f**king contract." Snyder has addressed how the military broke its contract with him -- such as by refusing to investigate incidents of violence targeting Iraqis.
In August, Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."
Kyle Snyder intends to return to the US Saturday and turn himself in. Michelle Mason's documentary Breaking Ranks takes a look at US war resisters who have gone to Canada seeking asylum. In addition to Mason's film, more information on war resisters hoping to be granted refugee status (which the Canadian government has thus far refused to do, unlike during the Vietnam era) can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Carl Webb, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Joshua Key, Katherine Jashinski, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Kevin Benderman and Clifford Cornell are among those war resisters who have gone public. And that's only the names of those who have gone public. The war resistance within the military is a movement.
Earlier this week, US service members created a website, Appeal for Redress, and are attempting to collect 2000 signatures for their petition to Congress to end the illegal war. From Appeal for Redress:
An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq
Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
If you agree with this message, click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.
Meanwhile, Citizen Soldier announces the opening, today, of "the first soldiers' coffeehouse of the current Iraq war in Watertown, NY." More information can be found at Citizen Soldier and at Different Drummer, the name of the coffeehouse. It is a movement and for those wanting more information on the importance of the GI coffeehouse to a peace movement should view David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! documentary.
As resistance and opposition to the illegal war spreads throughout the world spreads, Bully Boy & Friends attempts to remarket/re-brand all week. At the start, the US State Department's Alberto Fernandez was having to eat his own words ("arrogance" and "stupidity" used to describe the war) after the White House first attempted to claim that Fernandez had suffered from mistranslation. We also heard the announcement by Tony Snow, White House flack, that the phrase "stay the course" was being stricken from the official White House language. Wednesday, the Bully Boy attempted to show how involved and concerned he was with the war Wednesday by noting the "93" US troops who had died in Iraq this month when, in fact, the US military's official count before the speech, during the speech and until Thursday morning was "91." While the White House removed one phrase from the official lexicon, Donald Rumsfeld added a new one on Thursday, "Just back off."
While the US administration played word games and offered faulty numbers, chaos and violence continued in Iraq. Despite this, Zalmay Khalilzad (US ambassador to Iraq) and George Casey ("top US general" in Iraq) held a joint press conference where they declared that success was yet again just around that ever elusive corner and it will only take a year to a year-and-a-half for it to show up. (For those who've forgotten, the illegal war began in March 2003.)
Meanwhile a US & Iraqi raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, led to a barking puppet of the occupation. Nouri al-Maliki rejected the raid, rejected the notion that he (who holds the position of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi military) had been involved in the planning of the raid, and rejected the "timelines" and "timetable" speak that Khalilzad and Casey had told reporters of the day before.
In his laughable Wednesday press conference, Bully Boy was asked why al-Maliki hadn't been included in the Tuesday press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey?
His response? "I have no idea why he wasn't there," said Bully Boy the 'decider' but not the planner. He added, "I have no idea. I'm not -- I'm not the scheduler of news conferences." Once again, out of the loop.
In Iraq today, Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that Nouri al-Maliki issued "a joint statement with the U.S. ambassador [that] his government had 'timelines' for the resolution of the country's problems". The strings get pulled, the puppet plays along.
Macdonald notes: "The statement appeared aimed at dispelling the impression of mounting friction between Washington and its Iraqi allies". If the 'friction' is gone, does that leave only fiction? Bronwen Maddox (Times of London) labels the whole thing "Operation Cross Fingers" -- surely a 'strategy.'
Monday night in Baghdad, a US soldier went missing and is believed to have been kidnapped. AFP reports that the US military continues searching Baghdad "with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopter gunships" but the soldier has still not been located. AP reports that the soldier has been identified as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei.
The US press had trouble locating the 2800 mark for US troops who have died in Iraq -- a milestone passed this week. (In October 2005, passing the 2000 mark was news. Possibly the press is saving their energies for the 3,000 mark?) 2809 is the current toll since the start of the illegal war with 96 for the month. Or was until the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Thursday as a result of enemy action in Diyala province. The Soldier was transported to a coalition forces medical treatment facility and later died of wounds." That brought the monthly toll to 97 and the number who have died since the start of the illegal war to 2810. October has been the deadliest month for US troops serving in Iraq this year.
Meanwhile a British soldier died today near Basra due to "road traffic" according to the British Ministry of Defense. This brings the total British soldiers who've died this month in Iraq to two and the total since the start of the illegal war to 120.
Among the violence reported so far today in Iraq, is the death toll in Baquba where fighting broke out Thursday. CBS and AP report that 43 people died ("including 24 officers" -- police officers).
CBS and AP report that, in the Diyala province, a group of nine mourners returning from a funeral in Najaf were attacked with four being shot to death and the other five being injured.
The BBC notes five corpses were discovered in Mosul Thursday and that the city is now under a curfew and vehicle ban. Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Mosul rose to 12. AFP notes that, "Thursday and overnight," eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters reports the death of one woman "when two rounds slammed into the house of a Sunni Arab member of parliament, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, in the town of Mussayab".
The woman's death comes at a time when, as Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports, the UN's executive director of the Development Fund for Women speaks out. Noeleen Heyzer states: "What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare dfend women's right in public decision-making."
Meanwhile a new book, Decisions: My Life in Politics, takes a look at the special relationship between Bully Boy of the US and Tony Blair of England. The book's author? Gerhard Schroder, the previous chancellor of Germany. Jess Smee (Guardian of London) writes that the book takes a look at Blair's rush to please Bully Boy, that Blair now pays for the price for his role in the illegal war, and notes that Blair had no interest in Europe -- Gerhard writes: "Quite the opposite, the country will continue to protect its role as a translantic mediator, even if that is to the cost of the European decision-making process."
In abuse news, Anne Plummer Flaherty (AP) reports: "The Halliburton susidary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday."
In England, Michael Evans (Times of London) reports the latest on the seven British soldiers accused of abused prisoners in a Basra prison -- RAF soldier Scott Hughes has testified that he saw eye gouging of a prisoner and the prisoner being kicked "in the lower back". Donald Payne, one of the seven accused soldiers, has already pleaded guilty to war-crimes. In the United States, as Linda Deutsch (AP) reports, US marine John Jodka "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of" Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52-years-old, in Al-Hamdaniyah.
In music news, Lydia Howell (Pulse of the Twin Cities) interviews singer, musician, songwriter and activist Michael Franti who says of his trip to Iraq, "I got tired of watching the news every night with generals and politicians talking about the economic costs of war WITHOUT mentioning the human crisis there. Rather than sit around frustrated, I picked up a guitar and a camera, flew to Baghdad and played music on the street." Michael Franti & Spearhead's latest CD is Yell Fire!
Finally, Bob Watada began his latest speaking tour yesterday. He is the father of Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Below are dates through Monday:
Oct 27, 7PM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice202 Harvard Dr SE
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014, email@example.com
Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th StreetEntertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "Sir, No Sir"
Oct 28, 6:15PM
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"
Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover, firstname.lastname@example.org,
(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132
-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics
Oct 29, 1PM
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572, email@example.com
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242, firstname.lastname@example.org
Oct 29, 5:30PM
Café Caffeine -- 206 West Mary
Sponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary, email@example.com, (C) 512-791-9824
Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, , email@example.com
Austin High Schools
Oct 31, 7-9PM
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. Robinson
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598, firstname.lastname@example.org
A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
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