Tuesday. If you don't know what today is, go to the increasing suck-fest that is The Nation. John Nichols tells you there's a wave of anti-war feeling sweeping the nation. But don't get excited. He's not writing about the anti-war feeling or the peace movement. Just offering hopes and dreams about the election. Air Berman has "Soldiers Get Political." Think it's about war resistance? Think again. It's about vets, some hawks, some doves, running for office. Three articles filed under "Iraq" -- one is on Saddam's trial, one speculates what the nerdy J. Baker Iraq Study Group might conclude (my Iraq Study Group started before his and is so much cooler!), and you get how Saddam's trial might effect the election.
If you're looking for Kyle Snyder or Joshua Key or Ivan Brobeck, quit looking. There's nothing. There has been nothing. The suck-fest that is The Nation these days better decide what it's going to do now -- start gas bagging about the election of 2008 for the next two years? Or is it going to get serious about Iraq?
The Progressive? Isn't the name a joke when you can't cover the peace movement? I'll get Howard Zinn and Molly Ivins online. I don't need to pay for the rest of the crap in the magazine. It's probably a great magazine if you don't give a damn about what happens in the US or the war and you're three years from retirement. If you're a college student, the magazine has nothing to offer you.
It's going to be interesting to see what happens to both after the election. I know a lot of people on campus who did read the rags. DID READ. They're tired of it. They're tired that the peace movement is ignored, the war resisters and students. Both magazines have had big increases in circulation and yet they've offered readers nothing but hospital cafeteria food -- bland writing. That doesn't reflect the world around us and certainly doesn't reflect that the US is at war. It's amazing to me that they feel people are turning against the Bully Boy (I agree with that) but they don't grasp that people are turning against them too because they've got nothing worth saying. They've failed the peace movement. They can't cover it, they can't cover Iraq.
I mean think about it. Moderates turned against Bully Boy as they realized he was full of it on Iraq and yet the mags think that informed people who follow issues won't turn against them in the same way because of their 'coverage'?
They've blown it the same way the Democratic Party has. They've failed to lead the same way the party has. Dems may win a house (or both) but where's the leadership? Absent. AWOL. Same as with the magazines.
I'm sick of independent media with very few exceptions. I did get the Goodman's book because of what C.I. said about it in "The never ending book discussion." If C.I. had done a puff piece commentary on the book (never happen with C.I.), I wouldn't have gotten the book. But C.I. and Dona did explore the negatives of the book and I was nodding along during that and then when C.I. got to why the book is recommendable, maybe because it hadn't been "AMY IS GOD!" before, that registered too. I don't know when I'll have time to read the book, but I did go out and get it. It's called Static by the way. By Amy and David Goodman.
In case anyone else is feeling like they can go several months without hearing about another candidate, I'm going to share something from Danny Schechter that C.I. mentioned to me. It's pretty important:
Not too many years ago, if you borrowed money to buy a house or a car, you visited your local bank. Assuming you were approved, the money came from your bank and the follow-up (the "servicing") was handled by that same bank. If you had a problem, you knew who you could speak with and where to find him or her. The system worked pretty well. But only greed could cause a seemingly good system to go awry. And the heart of all greediness is Wall Street, of course.
Realizing that these loans were a good investment for the banks, Wall Street decided to figure out how to take a piece of the pie. And hence the mortgage backed security was born. By buying in bulk various mortgage loans, Wall Street could take the role (and the lions share of the profits) of the bank without the inconvenience of opening branches. Banks, in turn, could keep lending endlessly, just as long as they kept refilling the pot by selling off the old loans and lending anew. And just to give you that homespun feeling (and to earn the banks a few extra dollars) your local bank would continue collecting your payments and forwarding them on each month -- essentially lending a familiar brand name and adding a warm and fuzzy feeling to this anonymous multi billion dollar Wall Street enterprise.
It all seemed well enough -- invisible, in fact -- until the horror stories that have recently begun to emerge. And more are coming. Behind the wall lurks an empire of greed mixed with incompetence and lack of concern. And why should you care? Because every loan you take out -- car loans, mortgages, personal loans -- might very soon belong to someone else, located thousand of miles away from you and sometimes with the very worst of intentions.
Your local banker will now make his decision not based upon his or her own criteria but based upon his ability to sell your loan to someone else. And if those anonymous loan-buying monoliths decide that they are no longer enamored with, for example, your type of small business loans, or mortgages in certain neighborhoods......well you might be out of luck no matter how stellar your payment history or credible your need.
But it gets worse. For those lucky enough to be granted the loan for which they have applied, the selling off of that loan means that other people are now in control of their financial destiny. And these loan purchasers have a profit motive that has little to do with winning your repeat business. They don't even want to know you. These loan buyers are divided up into two parts, known as the the "A" and the "B" piece buyers. The "A" buyers are generally anonymous investors with little interest in the day to day affairs of lending money. They get a lower return in exchange for their "safe" senior position. The "B" piece buyers (also known as the "Special Servicers") are the high rollers, the high-yield profiteers. They are predators. And they are a very big part of what is terribly wrong with this equation. Loan documents are slowly being tailored to their needs, to include new fees and charges and rights in the so-called fine print. The more onerous the terms, the greater the opportunity to profit from the unsuspecting borrower.
"Lending by local banks is nearly a thing of the past" says Michael Tuck, a New Jersey mortgage industry expert. "Conduit loans have substantially taken the place of the local bank mortgage."
Residents of New Orleans after Katrina learned the hard way. Many who had their mortgages sold off by their local bank found themselves quickly in foreclosure -- a decision made by the anonymous "Special Servicer" whose job it was to make decisions on behalf of the billions in loans purchased. But the real goal of the Special Servicer is to maximize fees and profits often at the expense of the borrower. Starting a foreclosure affords the lender higher interest rates, steep fees and penalties that add nicely to the bottom line. It gets worse still.....for those lucky enough to have insurance but unlucky enough to be saddled with this third party "owner" of their mortgage, they have discovered that it is also the Special Servicer's job to process the insurance claim. There are no laws in many states as to how fast that process must happen....but sitting with big piles of insurance cash generating interest and being re-lent at huge returns is secretly part of the profit picture of the Special Servicer. Some borrowers report waits of several months to get released the insurance checks so necessary to rebuild their homes. And in some cases, the monies have never been released at all (thank the fine print for that as well).
Danny Schechter also has a new movie that I need to watch. It's called In Debt We Trust and I'm not sure how much it costs because I've got C.I.'s copy. Dad's watched it and he says you can follow it and it's important. But, let me say it one more time, I am having the toughest semester I've ever had. My grades aren't dipping but it's been hell to keep them up. I've never had to study like this before and I've had a lot of help. C.I.'s been a big help with the poli sci and the sociology class. Elaine's helping me with A&P which I've given up understanding and am just memorizing. Wally's been quizzing me on history because he took a class covering the same thing last spring. I really feel bad about it because I know everyone's busy. With Elaine, at least I can say, "Well she's my girlfriend." Like that means she has to help. :D But I know Wally's been so busy on getting the vote out. If he forgets or doesn't have time, I leave it alone. I can't with C.I. though because if I haven't called, C.I. does. I don't care if C.I.'s at home or on the road, if I haven't called, my cell rings at eleven p.m. my time regardless of where C.I. is.
Some of the difficulty is my own fault, probably all of it, because I loaded up with the 'tough' classes this semester trying to knock them out. Be sure to check out Elaine's site, Like Maria Said Paz, for her thoughts tonight. She was pretty angry when we talked on the phone. (Not at me! :D) Now, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, November 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another US war resister returns to the US from Canada, Halliburton puts on Cher's Living Proof CD and plays dumb, and prison abuse back in the headlines.
"In Iraq, I found myself being the problem instead of the solution" -- Ivan Brobeck quoted by Alison Bodine (Fire This Time). Today, he became the latest US war resister to return from Canada to the United States. Quantico Marine Base in Quantico, VA is where he expects to be processed. Brobeck enlisted in the Marines and, as Jim Fennerty explained to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) last Friday, there are different processes for different branches and Fennerty believes that Brobeck will "be placed in the brig" and very likely face a court-martial -- which wasn't the case for Darrell Anderson whom Fennerty also represented. Courage to Resist has posted the twenty-year-old war resister's open letter to the Bully Boy. Speaking with Nora Barrows Friedman on yesterday's Flashpoints Brobeck shared: "I'm sort of trying to teach them to open their eyes. It's easy to forget basic stuff in Iraq."
Ivan Brobeck in is own words via Pacific News Service:
I was in the Marines. I joined in June 2003, and after boot camp in March of 2004 I was sent directly to Iraq. This wasn't at all unsettling to me. You see, I went into the Army because I wanted to fight the bad guys. In school during history classes I learned that the Army and Marines had done all these wonderful things, and it all sounded so patriotic and I wanted to do the same. I wanted to fight for freedom.
I didn't care, and I still don't care, if I died fighting for a good and noble cause which is what I wanted to do.
In Iraq, I found myself being the problem instead of the solution. A problem in a normal town, in the life of normal people, like the people here in Toronto, trying to go about their life and risking getting shot at by me. Innocent people getting killed for misunderstandings, and for even more trivial things. I found myself in situations with my partners where we had to shoot at speeding cars, at people that probably were just trying to get out of our way.
All these insurgents, as they call them, they're not. They're people who have nothing left. There was this guy who was mad at us because we had killed his family. Wife, children, everybody but him had been killed. He was seeking some kind of retribution. That is not an insurgent, that's a desperate man.
My ethnic background is Salvadoran; my mom is from El Salvador. So the fight against tyranny is something that is dear to me, considering the history of El Salvador. I believed that the war in Iraq was a just war, and it was not. Now, before I get involved again, I really have to see somebody overcoming my country with weapons in hand.
Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Ehren Watada Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Joshua Key, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman are among those who have been part of a movement of war resistance within the military.
Focusing on one US war resister mentioned above (also a Fennerty client), Kyle Snyder returned from Canada last week only to discover that the same military that lied to sign up, was still lying. Noting the ABC News investigation that found the lies of recruiters continue, Elaine commented: "Will anyone get in trouble for the above? No. But kids will be lied to. Young adults and peole who aren't even 18 yet will be lied to over and over. They'll believe the lies. They'll assume no one in uniform would say something if it wasn't true. My friend, who's back from Iraq and speaking to students so that they don't end up over there, has so many stories like this. He's speaking about twice a week now and there is never just a handful of students who are able to share the kind of lies they've been told, it's always a large number."
Why do recruiters lie? Because they can get away with it. Because they won't be punished. They can sign up someone, someone who is not even able to legally purchase a beer, to a 'contract' that could result in the loss of life and they can do so with any lie that can tumble out of their mouths because there is no accountability.
Information on recruiters and protecting schools can be found at Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools, Counter-Recruitment and Alternatives to the Military Program and Campus Anti-War Network. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home.
"When the money's gone/ Will you be my friend?" asks Cher in "When The Money's Gone" (Living Proof) and it's a question Halliburton may be wondering about the White House. James Glanz (New York Times) reports that a new scandal has emerged over their 2003 no-bid contract "to deliver gasoline to Iraq" which might seem simple easy enough but KRB [Kellogg Brown & Root] were charging "as much as $25,000 per month for each of as many as 1,8000 fuel trucks". Al Jazeera reports: "The audit of 15 noncompetitive contracts paid for by US government agencies with Iraqi oil money was unable to account for $22.4 million in funds, a UN-led watchdog said on Monday."
The report for the IAMB [International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq] is available online, PDF format, and the auditing was done by KPMG.
Within Iraq, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports on the charges, brought by the Interior Ministry, "of 57 employees, including high-ranking officers, with human rights crime for their role in the torture of hundreds of detainees once jailed in a notorius eastern Baghdad prison known as Site 4". Kirk Semple (New York Times) notes that Site 4 is not the only Interior Ministry run prison that's been found to be a source of abuse. As they day has progressed the number charged has increased. Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports that those now charged include "[a] general and nearly 100 other members of Iraq's police force". The BBC reminds that Site Four was a "secret prison" until May when "Iraqi and US officials found the jail at a building in east Baghdad belonging to the Shia-Muslim dominated ministry." Discovered in May and dealt with in . . . November. On top of that, CBS and AP note:
"CBS News correspondent Cami McCormick reports that the Iraqis plan eventually to retrain all of their police batallions." Retrain all.
Crackdown, shake-up, country break up . . . But outside the press eye. The show trial still provides gas bags to pretend they're reporting. The US election allows people to shout out "IRAQ!" and act like they've offered coverage on it. Once again, it's time to treat the Iraq war as an after thought apparently.
A few of the events that actually got some coverage.
Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that mortar attacks left 22 wounded in Baghdad. Reuters notes a bombing in Basra took one life and left seven wounded while three were killed and eight wonded from a roadside bomb in Falluja.
Reuters reports that a police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk. AP notes that "sniper attacks and a roadside bombing in Karmah" claimed the lives of six Iraqi soldiers.
Sky News reports that 15 corpses were discovered in Suwayrah. AP reports that they were all found "blindfolded and bound at the wrists and ankles, before being shot in the head and chest." Reuters notes that two corpses "and a decapitated head" were discovered in Falluja.
And the Whack-a-mole goes on. Having attempted to seize the city of Falluja in April of 2004 and the slaughter that followed in November 2004, the checkpoints requiring bio-metric i.d.s to enter, et al., it may come as a surprise to learn, via Jay Price and Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers), that there is 'concern' over resistance in Falluja yet again.
While the US military and White House attempt to ignore the fact that it's the same fight over and over (and that the war is lost), the deaths continue to pile up on all sides. Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 10:40 p.m. Monday from wounds he received after the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northwest Baghdad." The announcement brought to 19 the number of US troops killed in Iraq this month. Meanwhile, in England, Lee Glendinning (Times of London) reports on the British military announcing a Monday death: "The soldier, from the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, died after the army base came under small arms fire, the Ministry of Defence said." The death brought to 121 the number of British soldiers who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and comes a day after mothers of two soldiers who died in Iraq took their case to the Court of Appeal.
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports that Beverley Clarke and Rose Gentle pressed their case yesterday as to the legality of the illegal war. Both women lost their songs (Trooper David Clarke and Fusilier Gordon Gentle) in Iraq. The BBC reports that outside the court, Rose Gentle stated: "Why can't Tony Blair be man enough to stand up and say he will give an inquiry and stop a lot of court cases going ahead? Ehat has he got to hide? Our boys are being killed day-by-bya. It we dod succeed in this case it will be a bonus. If we don't, we can say we tried and we fought for the boys and have got more backbone than the MPS who didn't stand up for them in last week's vote."
Another mother for peace, Cindy Sheehan is taking part in the Gold Star Families for Peace sit-in at the White House in DC. Today's actions including organizing exit poll teams (for the day's election) and the plan to hold an event this evening in Lafayette Square Park while tomorrow will include the delivery of a petition opposing an attack on Iraq. Other DC actions this week include Military Families Speak Out's plan to deliver a petition to Congress and Rummy demanding troops home now and an end to the backdoor draft.
Finally, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Upcoming dates include:
Nov 7, 4:30PM Portland, ME Location: Meditation Center Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 1 Contact: Doug Rawlings, 207-293-2580, email@example.com,
Nov. 7, 6-9PM Brunswick, ME Location: Morrill Room, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street Pot luck supper and speaking engagement Time: 6 - 7:30pm
Nov 8, 7PM Albany, NY Sponsor: VFP National Location: TBAContact: Elliot Adams, 518-441-2697, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 9, TBA Philadelphia, PA. Location: Annenberg School of Communication, Penn University, Room 109 Sponsors: Iraq Veterans Against the War, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star MothersContact: Bill Perry, 215-945-3350, BpVetforPeace@aol.com
Nov 10, 7:30PM New York City, NY Location: St. Paul/St. Andrews Methodist Church West End Avenue and West 86th Streets, Sponsor: NYC Area Chapters of VFP & IVAW Contact: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203, email@example.comGeorge McAnanama, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 11, 11AM-5PM New York City, NY Veterans Day Parade Sponsor: NYC Area Chapters of VFP & IVAW Contact: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203, email@example.com
Nov 12, TBA Long Island, NY TBA
Nov 13, 7PM Ann Arbor, MI "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada Location: TBA Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works http://michiganpeaceworks.org,Contact: Phillis Engelbert, 734-761-5922, firstname.lastname@example.org
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