Friday, December 29, 2006

Iraq, Cindy Sheehan, Arianna Huffington, escalation

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and four other protesters remained in the McLennan County Jail Friday.
McLennan County sheriff’s deputies and Department of Public Safety troopers arrested the five protesters Thursday at a barricade near Crawford as President Bush met with top advisers to discuss Iraq war strategy at his Central Texas ranch.
They were charged with obstructing a highway or other passageway, which is a Class B misdemeanor.

That's from KWTX's "Sheehan, Other Protesters Remain Jailed" and C.I. slid that over to me in an e-mail. Elaine and I are at Rebecca's and we were listening to the same song over and over during the car ride -- Melanie's "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)." I really do like that song and when it was over the first time, Elaine hit the button to make it play again and then I did it and we just ended up singing along the whole way. That's a really cool song with some really cool lyrics so check it out if you don't know it.

And we got some cool tunes going right now -- Flyboy's filled the CD player with various CDs. The one that's playing right now is Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation. I think my favorite songs on that CD are "Lather" and "Triad." Flyboy was being top secret about the music he was putting in so I can't wait to find out what else he's going to put in. I'm on Rebecca's laptop and Elaine's on her own and we're all just camped out on the floor in the living room. Ruth bought these really big pillows and gave them to Rebecca today because she knew Rebecca was getting tired of laying in bed and laying on the couch.

We've got a lot of snack foods and there are candles so Elaine's yawning but that's also because she's got a cold and Flyboy and Rebecca insisted she take some cold medicine. They were trying to figure out how much she should take because the little plastic cup wasn't with the bottle and they don't have the spoonful amount on the label. I think they overguessed.

Turning to bad music, Britney Spears! Kat sent me this for a laugh. It did make me laugh. I'll share it so others can laugh too:

The most popular Britney Spears fan Web site is closing after its owner declared the controversial pop star is "done."
Ruben Garay, who has hosted since October 2000, yesterday announced the site will no longer exist after January 31 because the singer is "losing her identity and credibility with fans and industry people."

As Bob Dylan should sing, "It's all over now, Britney Spears." :D She's just another trashy Republican the world got tired of.

Here's Arianna Huffington addressing the troop escalation with "White House Pushes for Troop Surge, Best Advice of Generals Be Damned:"

Here comes the surge. Reports this week indicate the Pentagon is preparing to send 3,500 troops to Kuwait to await deployment to Iraq, the next step down a disastrous path of escalation.
Before the escalation becomes inevitable, it must be made clear that this reckless strategy is being dictated by the White House and not by the military commanders who are being poked, prodded, pushed --
and bribed -- into backing it.
Again and again and again, President Bush has insisted that he's running the war by listening to his generals, and that he doesn't "make decisions based upon politics about how to win a war," choosing to "trust our commanders on the ground to give the best advice about how to achieve victory." As he put it in the run-up to the midterm elections: "I believe that you empower your generals to make the decisions -- the recommendations on what we do to win."
But that's clearly not what's happening.
For months, those commanders, Gen. Abizaid and Gen. Casey, have been unwavering in their opposition to sending more troops to Iraq, arguing that it would
increase Iraqi dependency on Washington, lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents, attract more foreign jihadists to Iraq, increase the impression of an American occupation, and, in the evocative words of a senior military official, "be like throwing kerosene on a fire."

I think Bully Boy's going to escalate. I think come the second week of January, or maybe the third, he'll make his announcement. I think it's a huge mistake and can't imagine most Americans seeing it any other way especially now that we're about to hit the 3,000 US troop death in Iraq.

What kind of a government do we have when the people want out of Iraq but the elected officials won't listen to the people?

How's that make you feel? Probably makes you feel as lousy as you feel about the fact that the 'cakewalk' will have cost 3,000 US troops lives, over 655,000 Iraqi lives, and much more. And for what? Bully Boy got the illegal war that shined his phoney image enough to carry him into office for 2004 and the country got screwed over.

2007 can be about reclaiming the country for the people but that won't happen by getting all moist (and soft in the head) over a bunch of cowards in Congress. Leave the fan club bulletins to The Nation and instead start demanding your elected officials represent you. We hired 'em, we can fire 'em and we should if they can't get off their butts and get troops out of Iraq quickly.

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

Friday, December 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Decemeber is now the deadliest month this year for US troops,
Ehren Watada finally appears in print in The Nation, is Sabrina Tavernise angling to be the new joke of the New York Times, and the US military reveals how little heart and compassion they have as they move to court-martial a soldier suffering from PTSD -- one they did nothing to help.
Starting with fatality news. Today the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Watch for the New York Times to ignore that or Little Man Marcs to report "One marine died" if the pattern this month holds true. The Times can't say they weren't warned when they decided to ignore fatalities and minimize the few that they covered but readers of the paper who depend on it to provide reality (no chuckles) may end up shocked when they discover that today December became the deadliest month for US troops. The three deaths up the total for the month to 107. Prior to this announcement, October had been the deadliest month with 106.
Some outlets report 105 and that has to do with the fact that the US military tends to hold the deaths a bit, and has the since the start of the war, waiting for those first of the month look back press accounts to be published and then noting a death or two afterwards.
106 is the number ICCC uses, 106 is the one we'll go with here. 107 is now the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month. The total number of US troops who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 2996 -- four shy of the 3,000 mark.
US troops have not been the only military fatalities and England's
Ministry of Defense notes:"It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a UK serviceman was killed yesterday, Thursday 28 December 2006, in Basrah, southern Iraq. The soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was taking part in a routine patrol in Basra City when the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a roadside bomb. He was very seriously injured and airlifted to the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, but unfortunately died later as a result of his injuries." That death brought the total number of British troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 127.
Turning to the issue of war resistance and starting with The Nation magazine. On page 14 of the January 8/15 2007 issue (a double issue) Marc Cooper has an article entitled "Lt. Ehren Watada: Resister." The Nation makes the article
availble online to subscribrs only for whatever reasons but seems unaware that they've published it for all (subscribers and non-subscribers) on Yahoo -- click here. Cooper describes Ehren Watada as "the lighning rod case of resistance" (Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq); and notes the speech he gave in August at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle (click here for text at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which offers both text and video of the speech) where Watada declared, "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."; and notes that, in January, "a 'Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq,' featuring Daniel Ellsberg and Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk will be convened in Tacoma, Washinginton, in support of Watada".
January 4th is the date scheduled for the military's pre-trial hearing and Feb. 5th is when the court-martial is scheduled to begin. The US military is attempting to force journalists to testify at the pre-trial hearing (see
yesterday's snapshot).
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing (who was released from the military brig on Satuday) Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
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 -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
Resistance takes many forms in the peace movement. As noted in yesterday's snapshot,
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in Crawford, Texas outside Bully Boy's ranchette along with four other activists. Sheehan called the action a "peace surge" to combat Bully Boy's notions of escalating the number of US troops in Iraq. The AP reports that Sheehan's attorney Robert Gottlieb believes the arrest will have no impact on the conditional verdict the judge issued this month in Manhattan. The Smoking Gun reports that, were Sheehan convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in prison and the maximum fine is $2,000.
In another mother for peace news,
Theresa Hogue (Corvallis Gazette-Times) reported last week on Michelle Darr, a mother of six, who was arrested December 12th for attempting to get US Senator Gordon Smith to sign the Declaration of Peace (her third arrest this year for attempting to lobby Smith, she was arrested twice in September) and will face a tril in January. Darr told Hogue, "What they (her children) see me doing is as important as what they don't see me doing. If Im not using my voice and efforts in the cause of the common good, how can I expect them to take initiative when the need arises? I don’t want them to ever think oppression and genocide are acceptable, or that war is a way to solve problems."
Along with courageous acts of resistance like Sheehan's and Darr's, demonstrations will take part around the United States to note the 3,000 mark for US fatalities in Iraq.
United for Peace and Justice notes:
Another Grim Milestone -- 3,000 Deaths Too Many
More than 2,990 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. By the time you read this, the death toll may have reached 3,000. We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year. And when we do take action on this occasion, we must remind others that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have also died in this outrageous war and occupation. Our call to end this war and to bring all the troops home now must be heard in every corner of the country! The killing must stop. Click here for some suggested ways to bear witness.
Military Families Speak Out notes:
MILITARY FAMILIES MOURN 3,000TH TROOP DEATH, PARTICIPATE IN NATIONWIDE VIGILS AND CALL ON CONGRESS TO END THE IRAQ WAR Family Members of Fallen Soldiers and Families of Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq Available for Interview Dec 29, 06 On the eve of the 3,000th troop death, the next horrific milestone in the Iraq war, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,100 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, calls on the 110th Congress to honor the fallen and prevent further deaths by taking action to end the Iraq war. read more »
3000 Deaths Too Many As Bush considers sending thousands of additional troops to Iraq to control the violence, our troop death toll nears the 3,000 mark. It is crucial that we commemorate this grim milestone in Bush's disastrous war by pressuring Congress to bring the troops home NOW, and to stop this insanity NOW! Click here for CODEPINK suggested actions you can take.
Also refer to
World Can't Wait's Protests & Vigils Planned the Day After the Number of US Troops Killed in Iraq Reaches 3,000
As the press continues to note that Bully Boy is seriously considering escalating the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq, Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) note: "Two attempts last summer to stabilize Baghdad by sending in more troops failed. The increased U.S. presence led to a brief drop in violence, but as soon as the troops left the neighborhoods where they'd deployed, the violence skyrocketed." That was the crackdown that cracked up and accomplished nothing. It began in June and by August, the US military was noting that, in July, attacks on US forces were up (double the January amount) and bombing attacks on civilians were up 10%. And last week Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the US Pentagon's findings "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and this during the continued increase of US troops in Iraq. But like a greedy tele-evangilist, Bully Boy can just cry out, "Send more! Send more!"
CNN reports a bomber "waited near the house of Sheik Kadhim Hameed Qassim" in northern Bagdad and then detonated the bomb "when the clearic, his security and family members arrived after Friday prayers" leaving the Shi'ite cleric dead and also killing "his brother and severn others" and leaving 15 wounded.
Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar and seven more wounded.AFP reports a police officer and "a bystander" were shot dead in Hindiya while, in Mussayib, a police officer was shot dead and five more wounded. KUNA reports four Iraqi soldiers were shot dead "southwest of Kirkuk" and a fifth Iraqi soldier was injured while, in nothern Iraq, "two employees who . . . worked for the Petroleum State Company" were shot dead.
KUNA reports that the corpse of a kidnapped police officer was discovered in Kirkuk.
AFP reports on the increasing demise of communal baths in Baghdad from violence and financial costs: "In its glory days when Iraq was one of the most developed Arab countries in the Middle East, the hammam used to employ 16 people. Today only four permanent staff remains on the payroll as massive inflation takes hold." and quotes the owner of the bathhouse explaining, "The electricity is often down. Gas for heating has become too expensive. We pay 20,000 dinars ($14) for a bottle compared to 1,000 just two or three years ago. How do you expect me to carry on? There are days when it costs me more to open than doing nothing. I love my profession but it's disappearing."
In I-Schilled-for-the-U.S.-military-and-all-I-got-was-a-red-face news,
Sabrina Tavernise's 'scoop' in the New York Times had holes blown through it earlier this week and has now fallen apart completely. The US military announced (to her and James Glanz of the New York Times) that they had been holding Iranian 'terrorists' and 'insurgents' since the 12th of December. In the latest development to rip the story of Iranian 'terrorists' to shreds, the BBC reports that the two diplomats who were held by US forces but in the country of Iraq at the invitation of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, were released. On the detention of the two diplomats, AFP quotes the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, stating: "Fortunately with the effort exerted by the Iraqi officials, the US forces who firstly denied their arrest were obliged to admit it and under pressure from the Iraqi government to release them. The arrest of these diplomats was carried out contrary to international laws and the Geneva convention."
In the US, the
AP reports: "Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 24, of Mont Alto, died Wednesday afternoon at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas" after being injured in November 13th bombing in Ramadi and quotes his grandfather, Edward Shaffer, stating that "All they could do was try to keep him comfortable. They couldn't do any more for him." 24 year-old Shaffer is among many troops who die from physical injuries recieved in Iraq but, due to dying after they are shipped out of Iraq, do not get included in the official body count.
Another war related death not included in the count is
covered by Megan Greenwell (Washington Post), 29-year-old James E. Dean, who had served in Afghanistan and recently recieved orders to deploy to Iraq, barricaded himself in his father's house on Christmas day, and was killed in an exchange with police officers.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reported that the US army's crappy record on addressing PTSD within the ranks just got worse: the army is moving to court-martial Tyler Jennings who suffers from PTSD and was diagnosed with "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness" five months ago and received no assistance.

ehren watada