Friday, December 01, 2006

Dave Zirin, Iraq

Friday, Friday, best day of the week! :D

Dad and my favorite prof both asked me to be sure to note C.I.'s "NYT: 'Having Pinned Little Hopes on Talks, Many Iraqis Appear to Be Beyond Disappointment' (Kirk Semple)." Prof said it was one of things for a classroom discussion. :D It really is something strong so be sure to check it out. Also check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

I was building up a head of steam when my kid sister came in. The folks asked her to do something all week and she put it off. She's taking music lessons and has twice lost the check. Dad wrote her another check and told her "Do not lose it." The good news is she didn't. The bad news is that's because she left it in her bedroom all week. So I stopped to run her over to her teacher's house so she could drop off the check and now I don't know where I was. She tried to get me to hand her my keys but she's not allowed to drive the folks' car right now due to 'forgetfulness' and when they say no on their car, it means she's not supposed to be driving. I told her I thought she forgot on purpose to use my car. The fact that I wouldn't run her to another place makes me think I'm right.

She'll be mad I put this in but I'm mad that she waited until the study group was about to start, while I'm trying to blog, to come in and say, "Woops, guess what I forgot to do." We'll both get over it.

Okay, here's a piece of Dave Zirin's latest, "Organizing the Jocks for Justice:"

IIt started out like your typical pro football player puff piece. But then, tucked away drowsily in the last paragraph, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Adalius Thomas, emerged with something to say. As Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote,
"[Thomas] is politically alert, and not afraid to express his views, which makes him a rarity in the NFL. 'What's the Iraq war all about?' he said, his voice rising. 'If it's about oil, just say that. Don't give us this Weapons of Mass Destruction crap when all you find is three firecrackers.'
'You get a little fired up about that,' he was told.
'We all have brains,' he said. 'We should use them.'"
The message was clear: Whether you're an offensive tackle, a trash talking quarterback, or Dick Cheney: don't mess with Big Adalius.
Thomas is only the latest in a stellar cast of pro players chafing against silence, and sounding off against the war and occupation of Iraq. Steve Nash, Etan Thomas, Josh Howard, Adam Morrison, Carlos Delgado, Martina Navratilova, Adonal Foyle, and even Ultimate Fighting Champion Jeff Monson, among others, have all raised their voice. They are also just the beginning. Stories circulate of teammates and coaches who share their views but don't want to go public. Even some referees whisper covert statements of support.
Three years ago, The Nation Magazine writers Peter Dreier & Kelly Candaele asked the question "Where are the Jocks for Justice?" My experience in the Sportsworld is that the "Jocks for Justice" are both everywhere and nowhere. Progressive athletes strain to be heard, but they act as individuals and the media responds with a smothering silence. This does not have to be.

Which, staying with sports, brings up something C.I. passed on. This is from the US military:

Joint Statement by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey on Iraq's Participation in the 15th Asian Games in Doha, QatarDecember 1, 2006. BAGHDAD -- On behalf of the United States Embassy in Iraq and Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I) we send our best wishes for success to the men and women of the Iraqi teams participating in the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. Working together, these athletes have trained amidst extreme difficulty as Iraq works to develop a country that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself. The athletes' commitment and dedication to their training shows Iraqis are proud and determined teammates who will work together regardless of sect, religion or ethnicity. Iraq will compete against 44 Asian countries during the next 15 days. Just like the brave Iraqi citizens struggle to advance freedom against the tyranny of terrorism, the weeks ahead will require commitment to excellence and selfless service in order to triumph. The athletes' dedication and willingness to represent their country is an inspiration to us all. We share the pride of the Iraqi people in the accomplishments of these athletes and look forward to celebrating their victories.

What is that? Are Zalmay and Casey trying to claim credit? Are they trying to wrap their illegal war in sports. Iraq's been in the Asian Games before. They were last in them in 1986. What's happened since is two wars and sanctions.

But there are Casey and Zalmay acting like they're the proud parents. (Who's the Mommy?) They have nothing to do with this event. And with all the kidnappings and murders of atheletes and coaches in Iraq since the illegal war started, they should both be embarrassed to try to piggyback onto this event with their self-serving announcement.

If you remember the Olympics, you probably remember the Iraqi Soccer team's response when Bully Boy tried to piggyback on them. If you don't, this is from Dave Zirin's "Iraq Soccer Team Give Bush the Boot:"

Sometimes we are reminded that the Olympics can serve as an international platform not only for nationalism and truck commercials, but also resistance.
In an incredible piece by Grant Wahl on Sports, the Iraqi Olympic Soccer team has issued a stinging rebuke to George W. Bush's attempt to use them as election year symbols.
Iraq's soccer squad is perhaps the surprise of the entire Olympics, advancing to this weekend's quarterfinals despite the war and occupation that has gripped their country for the last 17 months. Yet amidst cheers and triumph, they were infuriated to learn that Bush's brain, Karl Rove, had launched campaign ads featuring their Olympic glory as a brilliant by-product of the war on terror.
The commercial, subtle as a blowtorch, begins with an image of the Afghani and Iraqi flags with a voice over saying, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."
Bush has also been exploiting their exploits in stump speeches. Much more comfortable talking sports than foreign policy or stem-cell research, Bush brayed with bravado in Oregon, "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it? It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."
This has compelled the Iraqi soccer team, at great personal risk, to respond. Mid-fielder and team leader Salih Sadir told Sports Illustrated, "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself."
Sadir has reason to be upset. He was the star player for the professional soccer team in Najaf. Najaf has in recent weeks been swamped by US troops and the new Iraqi army in an attempt to uproot rebel cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr. Thousands have died, each death close to Sadir's heart.
"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," said Sadir, "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."
Sadir's teammates were less diplomatic.

And now Casey and Zalmay try to piggyback. Sorry this isn't longer but I'm late and the meeting's already started. Blame my sister! :D

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

December 1, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, early numbers for November indicate a dramatic rise (another dramatic rise) in the number of civilian deaths, does the puppet of the occupation feel the EARTH . . . MOVE . .. under his feet (nod to Carole King "I Feel The Earth Move"), and the James Baker Circle Jerk continues to raise eyebrows.

Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that the Iraq Interior Ministry has released their statistics for November's death toll in Iraq, 1,850 -- and increase of 44% from their count of 1,289 for October. Macdonald reminds, "Although it does not appear to encompass all violent deaths in Iraq, the Interior Ministry's statistical series has reflected trends".

And for the living? Not much better as
Dahr Jamail discussed with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday. Dahr explained how the violence was so common, the attacks so rampant, that for fear of their safety, many Iraqis no longer sent their children off to school (approximately 30% was the number given). On the topic of the daily violence and the people effected, Isam Rasheed (Alive in Baghdad) provides a video report from a clinic in Adhamiya where Ahmed Hameed (cigarette vendor) explains how a car bombing resulted in his hand and leg being lost, "I was working and someone left a car bomb. It blew up shortly after they had left. I woke up and found myself thrown against a wall beside my friend Shukri."; Shukri Abdul (owner of the Al-Areesh restaurant) then explains being outside his restaurant speking with an ice vendor when the car bomb went off "And I can remember landing on the ground. I was blown into the air, and when I landed, everything piled on top of me, the pots & corrugated metals." Shurki Abdul also lost his arm and foot and experienced severe damage to his back. This is the daily reality and, as Dahr pointed out, the only area under US control was the Green Zone section of Baghdad but now even the Bremer walls that wall off the section do not translate as 'safe.' Dahr spoke of speaking with a US marine stationed in Ramadi where he was part of 200 US forces expected to provide order to a city of 400,000.

Dahr noted that move to pull forces out of Ramadi and the rest of the Al-Anbar Province in order to send them to Baghdad to secure the capital. Earlier this week,
Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on a Marine Corps intelligence report entitled "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar" which tagged the area "a failed province," one that was beyond US control. Also earlier this week, Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reported that, in an effort to 'secure' the capital -- 'crackdown' in any version didn't, the Pentagon is weighing pulling the 30,000 US troops out of the province and redeploying them to Baghdad.

Also addressed by Dahr was the issue of the realignmment on the ground in Iraq's parliament where new alliances are being formed with Muqtada al-Sadr's group and Dahr wondered exactly how much longer the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, would be in place?
CBS and AP report that Tariq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, has stated "he wanted to see al-Maliki's government gone and another 'understanding' for a new coalition put in place with guarantees that ensure collective decision making" while Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie (handmaiden to the puppet) has said the fault lies with the presidency (a ceremonial position) and not with the prime minister he (al-Zuabaie) serves under. If the memo Stephen Hadley penned November 8th is taken at all seriously don't be surprised to discover US monies are being tossed around right now in an attempt to ensure that new coalitions will be to the US administration's liking. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) examines the events and notes "the sudden move by al-Sadr's Shiite bloc, which pulled out of the Baghdad government over al-Maliki's meeting with Bush, provides the anti-occupation coalition with significant, perhaps decisive, power, if they choose to bring down al-Maliki's shaky coalition." [Hayden's earlier reports on the al-Maliki upset are: "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance."]

Did someone say shaky?

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report a double car bombing claimed one life and left six family members wounded in the Sadiyah section of Baghdad; while mortar rounds "near Muqdadiya" killed three and left 14 wounded; and, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took two lives and left three wounded. CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad ("near a fruit and vegetable market") that killed two and left 16 more wounded. AFP notes, "A bomb exploded in the centre of Baghdad on the east side of the Tigris river, killing three people and wouding 16, while another car bomb killed three people on the outskirts of the capital."


Alastair Macdonald and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) report: "Machinegun fire rained from U.S. helicopters in central Baghdad . . . the Interior Ministry said one soldier had been killed and nine people wounded, including five soldiers." Reuters reports three people were killed by gunfire (two police officers, one civilian) in Samawa.


Reuters reports that 20 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and fourteen in Mosul while noting the fourteen had been kidnapped on Thursday.

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that, Thursday, "Hadib Majhoul, chairman of the popular Talaba soccer club" was kidnapped.

In addition, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations here Nov. 30." The death brings to 2,888 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war according to ICCC's count and CNN's as well. Twelve away from the 2900 mark.

This as
Antonella Cinelli (Reuters) reports that "Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Friday, lowering the tricolour flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003."

Meanwhile, although the
Iraq Study Group has released its findings, people continue to ponder the James Baker Circle Jerk. As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today, the James Baker Circle Jerk is rumored to call for a 2008 'withdrawal' that is not, in fact, a withdrawal. It's a continuation of the air war that Norman Solomon has been describing for months now. It's also the James Baker Circle Jerk stroking themselves on the public dollar. The onanistic nonsense not only revolves around the air war, it also pushes embedding US forces with Iraqi police squads and forces.

For those who've forgotten how Patrick McCaffrey died and the battle his mother Nadia McCaffrey has had to fight to force the US government to get honest could see the 'suggestion' as worthy of suggesting. (Patrick McCaffrey and Andre Tyson, with the US National Guard, were killed in Iraq. The US government told the families that the two men were killed by 'insurgents.' In reality, they were killed, June 22, 2004, by Iraqi security forces they were training.)

Addressing the James Baker Circle Jerk on this week's CounterSpin,
Gary Younge (Guardian of London; The Nation) observed to Steve Rendall,, "The fact that this study group was necessary itself highlights a flaw in American politics. Democracy should have been able to deal with this, not an appointed study group." As Younge explained the responsibility the group was tasked with was Congress' own responsibility . . . until they outsourced it.

In peace news,
Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports that the revelations of the US government spying on peace activists is not slowly plans for the march in Washington, DC January 27th. Among the groups spied on were CODEPINK, United For Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, the War Resisters League and the American Friends Service Committee.

War Resisters League will be presenting Sir! No Sir! tomorrow (Saturday, December 2nd) at both seven pm and nine-thirty pm. This kicks off the War Resisters League and the Brecht Forum's Screenpeace: An Antiwar Film Festival that will hold screenings of other films on Fridays during January.

In other activism news,
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are asking for a National "Mandate for Peace" Call-in Day, Monday, December 4th. To sign the petition click here. To phone your rep and senators, you can dial 202-224-3121. PDA notes: "On Election Day, voters said enough is enough -- we want a new direction. Let's make sure Congress hears it again by jamming the switchboards on Dec. 4 with our pleas to bring our troops home immediately."

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