Friday, May 05, 2006

Take a moment to note the passing of Damu Smith

It's still Friday, so no complaints. Elaine and I are blogging and I don't know who else is. We'll get to that. Right now, Democracy Now!

Damu Smith, 1952-2006
And finally, legendary peace activist Damu Smith died earlier this morning. The founder of Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network, Damu spent years fighting environmental racism, particularly in the south. He was a key leader in the anti-Apartheid movement and fought police brutality in Washington, DC and around the country. Damu was diagnosed with colon cancer last year while on a peace mission in the Occupied Territories. He then not only fought for his life, but against racial disparities in the health care system. Damu is survived by his daughter Aisha and his legacy lives on in all those who fight for justice.

There was a lot in the headlines today but Elaine made the point that this is one of the obits that Democracy Now! will cover and a lot of others will ignore. That's true. I remember seeing him on the show as a guest and he was talking about how he was sick. Then he talked like he was getting better. Elaine said he could have thought he was or he might have been putting on a brave face is he knew the end was near. (The second appearance doesn't seem like it was that long ago.) I never thought much about that, how when you're sick, you really don't want to hear about it all the time. "How are you doing?" sounds a lot different when you're sick.

So Damu Smith fought the good fight and made his life about making a difference. That deserves to be noted. In my book, he's heroic for fighting in a world where so many just lay down or roll over. The world could use more Damu Smiths and a lot less Donald Rumsfelds.

Bush Admin. Accused of Funding Somalian Warlords
In Somalia, the Bush administration is being accused of fermenting unrest through the support of warlords fighting Islamic militants in Mogadishu. A Somali government spokesperson said the US government's backing is helping fuel a civil war that has led to many civilian deaths. Some 90 people were killed during the fighting in March -- the worst violence Somalia has seen in years.

Why does Bully Boy get to hold hands with warlords? Because we let him. Bushwhacked? Bully Boy whacked.

Tony got the new Pearl Jam (they did a song called "Bush Leaguer" a few years ago) and slid it on over to me today. That's the title by the way, Pearl Jam. (Same as the group's name.) Everybody's talking about "World Wide Suicide" and I like that song too but "Life Wasted" is pretty good. Here's the first of the lyrics on that:

You're always saying that there's something wrong, . . .
I'm starting to belive it's your plan all along . . .
Death came around, forced to hear its song . . .
And know tomorrow can't be depended on.

So what's going on? We had to do a call to talk about The Third Estate Sunday Review. (Read Cedric's "Coming up at Third" for what was intended.) Jim thinks the issue of dumb ass comic needs to be addressed and was pushing for Ava and C.I. to do that. As they pointed out, that means phone calls and more. (They do research.) Jim said he didn't care what it took because he thought it would be crazy to ignore it since everyone keeps applauding dumb ass.

C.I. said, "I thought the plan was that we'd all have an easy weekend. All doesn't include Ava and I? Do you know how many calls we'll have to make on that? And at the last minute."

I can understand why the article's needed. But it's true that it was supposed to be an easy weekend. In fact, tonight's call was supposed to be us doing a little work on this edition. The didn't happen. Mainly because a radio program felt the need to broadcast the dumb ass. (Ruth's writing about that so I won't step on her territory.)

I don't think either of them was happy. (I don't blame them if they're not. They had a review sketched out and now have to scrap that at the last minute and start calling up people who were at the DC press thing Sunday. It's a lot of work to shove onto people at the last minute and you've also got the fact that C.I. bailed on the call to go give a speech. When C.I. bailed, Ava said she was going too.) I know it will turn out as a piece of strong writing but I told Jim I thought it was asking a lot. Dona said that if the issue was needed, it could be addressed in a quick roundtable and told Jim (this is put in here with everyone's permission) that this was another example of how things are sailing along smoothly and he needs a "stop the presses!" feel just to have it. I'm not trying to pick on Jim, but I did tell him that it was asking a whole lot.

I'd help out if I could but Ava and C.I. will be calling their friends and that's not really anything I can help with. Jess was upset and Kat and Ty were like, "Are we scrapping everything?" Dona said no. She said everything else we were going to try to get to. It may turn out wonderful but I know everyone's worried. (Ava and C.I. are also concerned, this was the point they made, that if they write the feature, which they apparently are going to, it will overshadow the other things in the edition.) So who knows. I asked for permission to quote people at the start of the call when Jim brought up the "new feature!"

So that's why I'm so late in getting started.

I'll close with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Yesterday, KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien's newsbreaks, covered the developing story of the US attack on Ramadi. Austalia's ABC notes that at least 13 people died in that attack.
CNN reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry has announced that "army Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latif was gunned down in the western Yarmouk neighborhood as he drove to work." (That occurred Thursday.)
On Monday, we noted: " FOCUS News Agency notes that Denmark's 539 troops may be reduced to 400 this month (May 18th)." Today, Reuters reports that Denmark has decided to make no reduction, they will switch some to "U.N. duties" ("a small net reduction in the force of 530 of 10 to 40"). Later today, AP reported that Denmark was indeed going to reduce their troops (by 80). Reuters also reports that the issue of Polish troops in Iraq is something Andrzej Lepper (deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture) intends to address: "We are still against out military presence there and if it comes to a vote in parliament, we will oppose (extending the stay)," he said. Meanwhile, Australia plans to send 460 additional troops to Iraq.
Corpses continue to surface in Iraq. China's Xinhua reports that five corpses ("riddled with bullets"; "signs of torture") were discovered in Ramadi. The Associated Press notes the discovery of five more corpses with "four in Baghdad and one on the outskirts of the city."
Explosions also continued in Iraq. The Associated Press reports the death of three American troops in Babil -- resulting from a roadside bombing. In Mosel, KUNA reports, a bomb wounded an Iraqi soldier. In Baghdad, gunfire claimed the life of Maj. Ali Hamid (Iraqi police officer).
On this issue of Iraqi soldiers, John Berman reported for ABC news on the "graduation ceremony for 978 recruits" which quickly dropped to half that figure as "[t]hey began taking off their uniforms when they learned they would not be stationed in their hometowns."
Near Kirkuk (where no one wants to report from -- see oil "blaze" last week), Reuters reports the kidnapping of "six oil engineers for Iraq's Northern Oil company."
Bad news for two blood lusters: Tony Blair's having to juggle his cabinet and Bully Boy's got another poll (AP-Ipsos) to try to spin (poll found only 33% feel he's doing a good job). (Bully Boy will have to juggle as well with Porter Goss stepping down from the CIA.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Reality? No one likes Criminal Condi, Innocencents get executed and Iraq

Thursday! We got to get through Friday morning and afternoon and then it's the weekend! (If you're lucky.) Before we get started Nina, the shy Nina!, wants me to put something in. Here it is: "Mike needs to clean his keyboard." :D I do. It's all gunked up. Nina keeps her keyboard spotless, she wipes it down and uses Q-Tips and all that. I've cleaned this keyboard, in the 2 years I've had it, exactly . . . zero times! And I intend to continue cleaning it just as regularly! :D Now let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

BC Professors Protest Honoring Condoleeza Rice
In Massachusetts, nearly 100 Boston College professors have added their names to a letter protesting their university's decision to award Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice an honorary degree. Rice has been announced as a commencement speaker for graduation ceremonies later this month. The letters' authors, including theology department chair Rev. Kenneth Himes, wrote: "On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice's approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College's commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university's work."

That was old news to me. That's not a slap at Democracy Now! which is carrying it in a timely manner. I just mean I knew that one was coming, a little bird told me about it. :D Things are changing for the administration more than they know. Get the word out on Democracy Now! and on any other show, magazine or website you like. It does make a difference. I'll just focus on Democracy Now! for a moment. If you're talking about it with people who watch (or listen or read the transcripts), you know that's great and you each get to share your favorite part of that day's show. Nina and Tony and a few others and me do that and that's cool. But if you're talking about it to someone who doesn't follow the show, you'll realize that even if they try to follow the news, they're missing a lot. And they'll start to realize it too. So make sure you get the word out on the stuff that matters to you. It makes a difference. Maybe a campus gives a job to Yoo and people start talking about that and wondering what a higher institution of learning is doing giving a position to a torture czar? Then they may start wondering about other jobs or honors for a corrupt administration. Bit by bit, step by step, it matters.

Investigators: Faulty Evidence Led To Wrongful Execution of Texas Man
And in Texas, private investigators have concluded faulty evidence in separate arson cases led to the wrongful death sentences of two men, one of whom was later executed. In a report prepared for the legal advocacy group the Innocence Project, the investigators said negligence and misconduct by prosecutors and fire marshals undermined not just the two cases in question but possibly several others where similar investigative methods were used. The executed man Cameron Willingham, was convicted in 1992 of a fire to his home that killed his three daughters. He was put to death in February 2004. The other man, Ernest Willis, had his sentence overturned that same year after spending nearly 18 years in prison.

I talked about executions before and how I was against the death penalty. If you hear a story like that about Cameron Willingham, I don't understand how you can think that someone should be executed. I mean, if you're okay condemning a person to death, maybe you're also okay knowing that you might have sentenced someone to death that was innocent?

I think that's important to ask and I hope if you're someone who supports the death penalty, you hear about Willingham, who is dead now, and think, "Maybe it's not so fool proof."

It's not. That's reality. And here's reality via C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence.
Yesterday, in Baghad, the number of corpses found continued to climb. Reports when
the snapshot was done yesterday had reached 36. The Associated Press reports that the final number of corpses discovered in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq on Wednesday was 43. On Thursday, corpses continued to be discovered with KUNA reporting that 18 had been found in Tikrit and Babylon.
Also noted yesterday were German press reports that the release of hostages Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke were the result of payment. Today, China's
Xinhua reports, "The German government . . . denied that it had paid a ransom to kidnappers in Iraq". Also yesterday, we noted that Jawad Kadom "the No. 3 official in Iraq's electricity ministry" was killed (gunshot). Today, KUNA reports that Iraqi police have stated Wadie' Yahya Saleh was assassinated today. Saleh was "a high ranking official from the Iraqi oil ministry."
As David Enders reported yesterday, on
Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, tensions run high as debates in Parliment address the constitution ('adopted' six months ago) and on the issue of who holds what positions.
In Baghdad, a bomb went off outside of a court house. Depending upon the organization, the bomb was a "roadside bomb" or
a vest. Depending upon the organization, the vest was worn by the person or it had been taken off and the person walked away from the explosion they set off. Depending upon the organization, the bomber was a male or a female. What is known is that at least ten people have died and at least 52 more are wounded. Australia's ABC reports that among the dead are at least two women and at least one child.
Roadside bombs did go off in Baghdad and one bombing
took the lives of two US troops.
In Ramadi, two houses have been bombed by US air forces. This despite the initial claims of US Army Sgt. Dan Schonborg that "
no coalition aircraft launched bombing runs in Ramadi on Thursday" (that's the AP summarizing Schonborg, not a direct quote). The BBC notes that the US military later confirmed the attack and, noted, refused to provide casualty figures. During news breaks in KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that doctors and neighbors say children were killed in the bombings (US denies that) and that local TV footage shows the corpse of one small child. Doctors treated a teenage female and noted that two girls and a boy (age eight-years-old) were among the dead.
Still on the topic of Iraq, but switching to another country: Juso Sinanovic. Who?
On Sunday, while we were discussing Jake Kovco, I wondered: "Has anyone attempted to identify that body? I'm sure his or her family is just as outrage as the Kovko's." Pravda identifies Juso Sinanovic as the person sent to Australia instead of Jake Kovco. Sinaovic, Pravda reports, was 47 years old, died of a stroke ("reportedly), and had worked in Iraq for three years for KBR. Survivors include his wife Refija, and children Jasmina, Jasmin and Asmir. The AP quotes Jasmina Sinanovic, commenting on the fact that Juso Sinanovic's body has still not made it to Bosnia, "The officials keep telling us our father's body will arrive on Monday, then on Wednesday, then on Friday and then on Monday again. It's been the most difficult 19-20 days of our lives."
AFP reports that Paul Pillar has denounced the lies of the administration that led us into war: "There was an organised campaign of manipulation. That would be the proper way to define it." Pillar made his remarks in an interview with El Pais (Spanish newspaper) and is "a former CIA analyst speciailizing in counter-terrorism in the Middle East and Asia." This as the Times of London notes that while 'reconstruction' in Iraq has little to no success with projects such as electricity, the mammoth US embassy (104 acres) is "on target."

I've got a test tomorrow night and Nina and I need to study for it (she's in the same class) so I'm calling this a post. I'm doing my tags, but keep reading. After the tags, I've got C.I.'s commentary on the New York Times' coverage of Ireland. If you missed that Saturday, read it now. Everything after the tags is C.I.'s.

"NYT: Grey Lady, check the slip, your bias may be showing"
Accountability? Let's talk the Times for a bit.

Did Brian Lavery's doctor put his finger tips on bed rest? What other possible explanation could there be for his (and the paper's) silence on a story that others have covered this week? While Lavery's been playing "cute" with travel reporting ("Letter From Dublin: Want a Debate With That Drink," April 26, 2006; "Affordable Europe: Dublin," April 23, 2006) there has been real news out of Ireland, or, at least, other news organizations have seen it as news.

The Financial Times of London:

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, welcomed the latest assessment yesterday of IRA moves to end its terrorist campaign. He said it should provide a "helpful contribution to the rebuilding of trust and confidence in Northern Ireland which is necessary for a return to full devolution".

What's he welcoming? New York Times readers might wonder since there hasn't been an article on it. If there hasn't been an article on it, maybe it doesn't matter?

Scotland's The Herald didn't think it was unimportant:

A GLIMMER of hope appeared in the Northern Ireland peace process yesterday after the Independent Monitoring Commission declared the IRA leadership was committed to following a political and peaceful path.
If the report had found the IRA had not reduced its criminal activity and intelligence gathering, the peace process would have been dead in the water.

The peace process would have been dead in the water? If the Independent Monitoring Commission had come to different conclusions? Sounds like news. Even Tony Blair thoughts so as evidenced by what the Toronoto Sun ran:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he hoped the experts‘ conclusions would promote "sufficient confidence and trust" in Northern Ireland for the province‘s legislature to elect a new power-sharing administration involving Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most Catholics in the British territory.

The Independent of London reported the following:

In its most upbeat report ever, the Independent Monitoring Commission, which makes assessments of terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, said it was not aware of any current terrorist, paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the IRA leadership. It said: "There has now been a substantial erosion in the IRA's capacity to return to a military campaign without a significant period of build-up, which in any event we do not believe they have any intentions of doing."

Considering the Times' willingness to smear Sinn Fein and to lecture Ireland ("Bullies" was a popular term in one editorial), you might think the report would be of interest to them. Other reports from the Independent Monitoring Commission have been. (See reports that the Times ran on January 19, 2005 by Lizette Alvarez and numerous ones by Brian Lavery himself -- the most recent being February 2, 2006. The most interesting may be this one from 2005 penned by Lavery.) Of course the difference between previous IMC reports and this one is that they aren't as damning. When you've worked yourself into a righteous lather over the "Bullies of Belfast" (as opposed to the ones at West 43rd?) maybe you just choose to ignore what even the Associated Press reports? (Longer version here.) The BBC reported it but possibly Alan Cowell wasn't looking for stories that day?

Just as the paper somehow missed Bill Clinton's trip to Ireland, they somehow didn't hear this news. Readers who place their faith in the Times can be forgiven if they're caught off guard by the news, but can the paper be? The paper that sees a death and immediately knows the culprit, (Lavery's a one man Frank & Joe Hardy) is the same paper that's managed to report on parade violence. At least some parade violence. The reason that Irish and Irish-American members of this community wonder if the paper's hostile to Catholics or just Irish-Catholics has to do with which stories get reported and which ones do not. A parade where Irish Catholics are reported to be assaulted (by other outlets) doesn't make the Times. A little bit later, when anoter parade leads to reports of Protestants being assaulted does make the paper.

It's not balance. And if the "Bullies of 43rd Street" are at all interested in the peace process in Ireland (as opposed to just smearing), they have a strange way of demonstrating that. Bill Clinton's trip to Ireland was, in part, about the peace process. But, despite the fact that any trip abroad by a former president meets the Times' criteria for "news" (official + travel = "exotic"), that trip didn't. And Clinton wasn't hiding from reporters as coverage elsewhere demonstrated. The Times appeared to be hiding the news from their readers.

Why that was is anyone's guess. But in a week when their much cited IMC issues a report that's favorable to the peace process, it's very strange that the Times has no interest in reporting it.

That's sort of action is at the heart of charges of bias. I'm sure the paper would have another excuse for it. They usually do. But this was news . . . just not in the pages of the New York Times.

Now travel's all very well and good and it might even teach Lavery the name of towns he reports on (see his July 31, 2005 piece to grasp the necessity of that). But when he pops up with his latest bit of news, like it or not, the paper of record will have to know that some readers will be reading it closely. They have to, the paper's own actions make that necessary. (And did they ever run a correction of any form when they referred to Sinead O'Connor as "Mr."?)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lynne Stewart hosts a film festival May 4th 7:00PM 40 E. 35th Street, NYC

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Iraqi Ambulance Worker Killed By US Security Contractors
Meanwhile, an unidentified Iraqi ambulance worker was killed Tuesday when he was shot by a group of American security contractors. The worker's colleague, Abu Ali, described the attack: "We were driving here to deliver a case (to the hospital) when a bomb went off close to a passing convoy of Americans. They (the Americans) opened fire on him, shooting him in his heart. Their sniper shot him twice and one of them in his heart. What is his crime? We are ambulance drivers who help people during attacks. What have we done wrong?"

Who's going to answer that question for them? Occupation a good thing? Still think so? Still think that we need to leave this up to the "leaders"? C.I. can do that and everyone knows what's being talked about but in case anyone's thinking, "Mike, I know how awful this is!" I know you do. I'm not talking to you so much as I'm talking about an idiot supposedly on "our" side who justifies the war and makes idiotic comments that the people shouldn't decide the war, the leaders should. This is the idiot, for anyone who may be lost, that either lied or didn't know that Cindy Sheehan was against the war and wanted the troops home. When this was pointed out to the idiot in a comment on the idiot's blog, the idiot suddenly had no use for Cindy Sheehan and said that it wasn't Cindy Sheehan's right to make a call for the troops to come home because our "leaders" should decide this.

The idiot claims to be on "our" side. I mention that every now and then here because I think it's appalling that someone thinks the people don't have a voice. That on an issue like war, the idiot thinks we should all just sit on our butts and accept what ever our "leaders" decide. The idiot would probably do great in an authoritarian government, but has nothing to say about a democracy.

Didn't have anything to say about Dahr Jamail's reporting either. Why? Idiot wanted to be a pundent. I always am tempted to check what the idiot's writing about now but I don't want to do anything to provide "traffic." But I do wonder if the idiot's still saying that we need to 'stay the course.' That we have to 'finish' the job. That would be the slaughter, the illegal occupation.
Don't be an idiot (there are enough in this country), read Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation."

Lt. Gen. Sanchez Told Troops To "Go To Outer Limits" With Detainees
Back in the United States, the release of thousands of de-classified military documents is raising new questions about the role of senior army commanders in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. According to the ACLU, the documents show Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top U.S. military commander in Iraq, urged his troops to "go to the outer limits" to extract information from prisoners. Previously released documents have linked Sanchez to the use of army dogs during interrogations.

Rebecca just called and asked if I could note that if you want more on this, you need to listen to Dennis Bernstein's interview with Janis Karpinski on KPFA's Flashpoints. (I'm a slow typer so if this isn't up while it's on, you can go to the archives and hear it.)

Democracy Now! noted a Boston Globe article this week and I was going to try to look it up. There's an update there, so let's start with Charlie Savage's "Hearing vowed on Bush's powers: Senator questions bypassing of laws:"

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing the White House of a ''very blatant encroachment" on congressional authority, said yesterday he will hold an oversight hearing into President Bush's assertion that he has the power to bypass more than 750 laws enacted over the past five years.
''There is some need for some oversight by Congress to assert its authority here," Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview. ''What's the point of having a statute if . . . the president can cherry-pick what he likes and what he doesn't like?"
Specter said he plans to hold the hearing in June. He said he intends to call administration officials to explain and defend the president's claims of authority, as well to invite constitutional scholars to testify on whether Bush has overstepped the boundaries of his power.
The senator emphasized that his goal is ''to bring some light on the subject." Legal scholars say that, when confronted by a president encroaching on their power, Congress's options are limited. Lawmakers can call for hearings or cut the funds of a targeted program to apply political pressure, or take the more politically charged steps of censure or impeachment.
Specter's announcement followed a report in the Sunday Globe that Bush has quietly asserted the authority to ignore provisions in 750 bills he has signed -- about 1 in 10.

The Sunday article? I didn't forget. Here it is,Charlie Savage's "Bush challenges hundreds of laws: President cites powers of his office:"

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

More reality comes in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continues.
Corpses turned up throughout the day in Baghdad. The Associated Press began the day noting the discovery of fifteen bodies. Mark Willacy, with Australia's ABC, noted 34 corpses. The number would climb further, reaching 36 corpses, as noted by AFP. Jim Muir of the BBC noted that the first 14 corpses (found "blindfolded, bound and showed signs of torture") bore the "hallmarks . . . of a sectarian attack." Al Jazeera notes the '[h]undreds of bodies . . . discovered across Iraq in recent months, apparently part of a wave of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims that has ripped through the country since the bombing of a Shia shrine in February." In Nibai, three corpses were found Tuesday ("tortured and shot"). Today, in Tikrit, "[a] roadside bomb exploded near an elementary school for girls."
Also updated since this morning is the death toll from the suicide bombing in Falluja. Reuters reports that the number killed has now reached at least 18. Reuters notes Dr. Bilal Mahmoud who says that twenty additional people were wounded and "most" remain in "critical condition." In Baquba, CNN notes, the death of one police officer and another left wounded from gunfire. Reuters notes that as well as another death of a police officer with three more officers wounded while attempting to disarm a bomb.
Australia's ABC notes the death of four college students in Baghdad. "[I]nsurgents . . . set up a checkpoint and stopped a bus full of college students . . . then dragged four students off the bus and shot them in the head by the side of the road." Also in Baghdad, college professor Riyadh Hadi was shot "oustide the University of Mustansiriya." Iraqi police reported the death (by gunshot) of Jawad Kadom -- "the No. 3 official in Iraq's electricity ministry." Finally in Baghdad, "[t]he driver and two escorrts of the deputy speaker of Parliment, Khalid al-Attiya" were shot by . . . Iraqi sodliers who maintain the vehicle refused to stop at their checkpoint.
In Najaf, families of the 15 missing police officers demonstrated demanding answers.
AFP notes that the freeing of Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke, the two German hostages freed yesterday, has led to reports in the German press "that money had been paid to secure their release." CNN notes that: "The Foreign Ministry would not disclose details of their release, citing standard policy." The men were kidnapped on January 24th.
Jake Kovco was the first Australian soldier killed in Iraq. In news from Australia, Paul Pardoel, the first Australian pilot killed in Iraq, suffered a death that could have been prevented, "British pilots say", "if the plane had been fitted with a safety device." The Sydney Morning Herald reports: In a statement, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) acknowledged that the RAF board of inquiry into the crash had found the lack of a fuel tank inerting system had been among the contributing factors.
Finally, Ewen MacAskill is reporting "US forces are switching tactics in Iraq to take a less confrontational approach to civilians in response to criticism from British military commanders that they have been too tough" (Guardian of London).

Leigh Ann wrote to say that she really enjoys the Iraq snapshot. I do too. I think it's great work pulling everything together and giving that snapshot. (I know it's hard work too.) I'll keep noting them here. I think they're important. Prof turned on another professor to The Common Ills thanks to the snapshots. Now he's reading the snapshot to his classes. "He" is the new guy.

Prof stopped me to tell me that and to tell me to tell C.I. that C.I.'s causing problems. How? Strong entries this week! Prof thought he would go with either "NYT: Grey Lady, check the slip, your bias may be showing" or "NARAL advocates the rest cure" but now there's so much more. :D On those two, C.I. did them one after another early, early Saturday morning despite being exhausted. (The rest of us were trying to toss something up there just to get a post. And I fell asleep before C.I. finished the second one.) I didn't get to really enjoy them until Sunday. When I did, I asked Wally (who did work on his, sorry, forgot that), "How did C.I. do those?" Because we were all wiped out.

I'm going to highlight the bias thing here, by the way, because it's on the New York Times' coverage of Ireland. But I had a lot to do tonight.

Anyway, Prof goes that C.I.'s done an incredible job with the immigration commentaries this week (I agree!) and each day, he's thought, "This is the one" but then something else goes up.
"NYT: Stolberg's turn to slime immigrants" is the one that went up this morning and Prof's current favorite.

Did you hear about Condi's new beau? They deserve each other. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DOES CONDI HEAR BELLS?" and also don't miss Rebecca's "goldie's (and marlene's) house party last weekend to end the war."

On WBAI's Wakeup Call this morning, Deepa Fernandes interviewed Lynne Stewart. She's the attorney that the government railroaded. They couldn't get her on a crime so they get her on a "guideline." She's over sixty, a woman who's represented anyone who needed representation, not just the "good" people but whoever needed her. Now the government wants to put her behind bars. She's a grandmother and she's got breast cancer.

Can anyone explain what's going on there? Where's the outrage over what the government's doing? We're talking about a grandmother with cancer who's only "crime" is representing her clients. Doesn't the government have anything better to do?

No, because they want to scare lawyers and try to whip them into line the way they have the corporate press. Listen to the interview if her name's new to you. And if you're in NYC tomorrow, from Lynne Stewart's website:

May 4
At 7 p.m. the LSDC is holding a movie night at the Community Church of New York (40 East 35th Street, NYC) followed by a wine and light food reception. We will be showing:
Point of Attack: A film by Kathleen Foster released shortly after 9/11 -- it includes Lynne Stewart in the film.
Point of Attack is a critically acclaimed, timely documentary that chronicles the post-9/11 racial profiling, large scale round-ups, detentions and mass deportations of Arab, Muslim and South Asian men as part of the government's "War on Terrorism."
Point of Attack highlights the collective efforts of immigration lawyers, students and community activists to provide legal and financial help to the imprisoned men and their families while mobilizing resistance to the growing attack on civil liberties.
Also showing:
The Struggle Continues A short 18 minutes produced by Emily and Sarah Kunstler -- interviews with Lynne Stewart, her family, attorneys and former clients. Used as an organizing DVD at speaking engagements talking about Lynne's case.
Poetics Meets Politics A short 17.30 minute, untitled video on Lynne Stewart and her Conviction, the Law and Poetry.

C.I. has seen the first two and says everyone should. Also told me to put in that Emily and Sarah Kunstler are the daughters of William Kunstler (Deepa and Lynne Stewart did mention that) and the nieces of Michael Ratner of WBAI's Law and Disorder which might make some people pay a little more attention. Last thing, C.I. said Michael Ratner is a guest on KPFA's The Morning Show tomorrow. That's on at like ten a.m. here but I'm on the east coast. The Pacific time is seven a.m. and every other time zone will have to do some math. Deepa interviews Lynne Stewart every Tuesday, by the way, she's a regular guest.

Go check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts (and I'm excited about Sunday too!).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Law and Disorder and lots of other stuff

Good evening. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Sami Al-Arian Sentenced to 18 More Months in Jail
In Florida, a federal judge has sentenced the Palestinian professor and activist Sami Al Arian to another 18 months in prison. Al-Arian has been at the center of one of the most closely watched -- and controversial -- post 9/11 prosecutions. He was arrested over three years ago and accused of being a leader of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. In December a jury acquitted him of eight of the 17 federal charges against him and the jury deadlocked on the rest. The verdict was a major defeat for Bush administration prosecutors. Last month Al-Arian signed a plea agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser version of one of the charges and be deported.

Elaine's got a really interesting take on this. I think she's got some good points so I'll just toss to her on it. Check out Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts. By the way, if you noticed this went up late, it did. That's because we really wanted to note Betty's "Thomas Friedman's Trash Dump Psuedo Politics." That's her latest chapter so be sure and read it! :D

The other reason I'm late is because Cedric and me are talking about WBAI's Law and Disorder and wanted to go over it together. Also Ava put up a heads up to The Charlie Rose Show (PBS) tonight because one of the guests is Katrina vanden Heuvel. Ava noted that Tracey and some woman named Trina were among the KvH fans. Who's this Trina?

(I'm joking. That's my ma. Who took Saturday off, by the way. C.I. really asked everyone to take time for themselves because we were already doing the protest and march and we'd packed in fun Friday night.)

Bush: Iraq At A Turning Point (Again)
Meanwhile President Bush announced on Monday that the formation of a new Iraqi government marks a turning point in the war. His comments came three years to the day after he proclaimed that major combat operations were over while standing under a banner that read Mission Accomplished. On Monday he spoke briefly on the White Hose lawn while standing next to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom had just returned from Iraq. "We believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens and it's a new chapter in our partnership," Bush said. "The secretaries began building this new partnership during their trip. In other words, the Iraqi leaders saw that we are committed to helping them succeed." This doesn't mark the first time the president has declared Iraq has reached a turning point. He did so back in June 2004 when the occupying U.S. forces announced they would transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. Bush also said the 2005 election in Iraq would mark a turning point.

Bully Boy loves his non-existant turning points. I think he still believes the country has trust in him. He's lost too many people for his silly spin to work. At least I hope that's the case.

Over 1.5 Million March in MayDay Immigration Protests
Over 1.5 million people took part in May Day demonstrations to support immigrant rights in one of the largest days of protest in the country’s history. Across the nation immigrants refused to go to work or school in what was dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants." Major demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country. In Chicago organizers said up to 700,000 people took to the streets. Over a half million marched in Los Angeles. In Denver, at least 75,000 people -- about one-sixth of the city’s population -- participated in a march on the state capitol. 50,000 people gathered in a series of protests in Florida. In New York City, over 100,000 marched from Union Square down Broadway. Thousands of businesses closed for at least part of the day in solidarity. Students walked out of classes across the country. In Los Angeles about one in every four students was absent. In Chicago as many as one-third of students didn't go to school. The Associated Press reported at least 1.1 million people took part in the protests but that estimate was based solely on police accounts. Organizers in several cities said the turnout would have been even larger but many undocumented immigrants were afraid to come out following recent immigration raids.

Now I put that item last. I talked it about yesterday but it's still newsworthy. Reason it's last is I want to use it to segue into MayDay talk. WBAI's Law and Disorder Monday did a really interesting discussion on MayDay. One guest was 96 y.o. and Cedric really enjoyed her. She was a great guest and he's going to write about her (Annette Rubenstein) so head over to Cedric's Big Mix to hear about that. In fact, he's already probably got his post up or is about to.

So what was MayDay? It was a worker's holiday. A real holiday. Like Thanksgiving because you celebrate Thanksgiving the way you want. Think about it because Fourth of July, you're supposed to do this or that, go see fireworks, set some off. Memorial Day, you're supposed to think about those who lost their lives. Easter and Christmas (if you celeberate) are about Jesus.
Thanksgiving? It's you doing what you want. You get together with your family if that's your thing (and that can be friends -- friends can make up your family) or you say, "I'm sleeping in and just going to sit in front of the TV, eat a TV dinner" or whatever your thing is. Even people who complain about their families and about visiting them, they don't have to visit. They can think of a good lie to get out of it. I have a brother who always gets out of it. And no one ever believes the lie. He'll come over around five and spend the evening hanging out and all. But we all know he's just doing his own thing and making excuses. It's cool.

"Wait, we got Labor Day!"

Labor Day was created to steal attention from MayDay. MayDay was the workers' holiday where they talked about what they wanted, celeberated the way they wanted. MayDay still is a holiday, all over the world, just not here. (But we could change that.) Instead of MayDay, the government tried to invent Law Day. Then they came up with Labor Day. Like it was a gift.

Populists and progressives and communists andd socialists and other workers could just come together for this day. It was too much of a threat so they tried to distract everybody with Law Day and tried to smear everyone for being a communist or a socialist (whether they were or not, but I don't think there was any law against being a communist).

There was a guest who came on after the discussion and wrote his name down, Stanley Aronowitz. He was really interesting. He and the Michaels (Ratner and Smith) talked about how different politicians co-opted movements into the Democratic Party. I remember JFK and that may be just because he's probably the only name I knew. :D But JFK, the only one I remember, actually didn't appear to co-opt so much as people wanted a change from what they said. But like others did co-opt. And Aronowitz made the point that people go along with the compromise but end up getting burned. There was a quote about how the Democratic Party was the second party of big business. (And I screwed that up. Want to know how bad? Go listen to Law and Disorder.) But I mean, that thing we highlighted at The Third Estate Sunday Review with Naomi Klein on Democracy Now! is something to really think about. Klein was saying that we need to push and press on and we didn't. We let John Kerry play safe and where did it get us? I'm with C.I., no one has a lock on vote. You want my vote, you better show me something. And it's an election year and I'm not seeing zilch.

I agree with Michael Ratner about the Democratic Party. They've really done nothing. He's talked about that before, how they were no help on the torture issue. They're so busy playing it safe and passing bankruptcy bills that hurt the average person that they're not serving anyone.
Hairs on the back of my neck will always go up when someone downs Ted Kennedy because he's one of my senators and he's stood up some over the years. I could have a lot worse. But even Ted Kennedy's been disappointing. But with him, probably cause I grew up knowing of him, he's a legend in my family (we're Irish-Catholics), I do cut him slack. Like he did speak out against the war and everyone in the Senate acted like he burped or farted or something and rushed to look the other way.

So listen to the show and see what it makes you think. They covered a lot of ground. (And you got the environment too.)

Need to think some more? Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

First, and important, 70 American troops did not die in the month of April. As Elaine (rightly) noted yesterday, the government sits on its figures (which are questioned by many as is). So the reports were that 70 died in the month of April. The reality, that the administration attempts to sneak out, is that 76 died for the month of April.
Today, starting in Australia, Jake Kovco was laid to rest. Australia's ABC notes that "mourners gathered at the Mechanic's Institute hall in his home town of Briagalong." Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald notes that 25 year-old Jake Kovco was the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq and that over 500 people attended the funeral.
Among the family attending were his son Tyrie (age four) and his daughter Alana (11 months old). Among the music played, Murphy reports, were Nirvana's "Come As You Are" and James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover." AFP notes that, in Baghdad, Australian troops held a pre-dawn service this morning. AFP also points out that the initial details emerging from the autopsy indicate that Kovco's death was not a suicide. Most reports are noting Shelley Kovco's statement, "He's just going to be in our hearts, but the SAS missed out on a bloody good soldier." Along with his wife (Shelley Kovco) an children, his parents (Martin and Judy), the funeral was also attended by Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Defense Minister Brendan Nelson. From Murphy's report: "Former classmates and teachers were at the funeral, standing alongside townsfolk, Vietnam veterans, WWII veterans and fellow 3RAR soldiers, many of whom cried openly as Blunt's song echoed down the main street."
In Iraq, the Hindustan Times reports that Sibi Kora had died from a landmine. Kora, from India, had been "working in Kuwait for the last eight months" as a truck driver. Reuters reports that three corpses have been found in Yusufiya ("tortured and shot"). Corpses were also found in Baghdad including four ("bullet holes in their heads") found by police and 65 that are at the Yarmouk hospital ("mostly died from gunshot wounds . . . others were beheaded. . . . [among the dead] three schoolteachers who were gunned down." AFP notes that two more corpses were found (in Tikrit and Kirkuk). The Associated Press notes that an additional four corpses were found in Suwayrah.
As the violence and chaos continues, in Buhriz, two civilians were kidnapped. In Ramadi, Maamoun Sami Rasheed's mortocade was attacked by a bomber leading to the death of at least three (with no word on Rasheed who is the "Anbar province governor"). In Baquba, an Iraq was "shot dead." This was a security guard and appears to be the same incident the AP reports "north of Baqouba," where a guard is killed and "the quarry owner's son" is kidnapped.
In Baghdad, drive by shootings have claimed the lives of at least two. The BBC notes that "a bomb planted inside a minibus" went of in a market and claimed the lives of at least two and wounded at least five. "South of Baghdad" was where a roadside bomb claimed the life of the first US solider to die in the month of May (Monday, 9:50 pm)..
At least three other roadside bombs have gone off in Baghdad today, claiming the lives of at least two and wounding at least four.Reuters reports that, in Baghdad, "U.S. private security contractors shot dead an Iraqi ambulance crewman." Though the Bremmer laws have led many to think there are no laws in Baghdad, Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" explains just what international laws, conventions and treaties do apply (regardless of the Bremmer laws). CNN reports that Reuters reports that another ambulance crew member said: "They opened fire and shot him in the heart. We are an ambulance crew, who help people when there are bombings. What did we do wrong?"
Yesterday, Barbara Starr reported for CNN on a military investigation into whether Iraqi civilians ("including women and children") were deliberatley murdered "by U.S. Marines in Haditha last November." And Ryan Lenz reports for the Associated Press on the increase in the need for donated blood on the battlefield in Iraq (which is, presumably, everywhere as defined by the US administration) -- demand "has grown 400 percent since the war in Iraq began."

Go read C.I.'s "NYT: Millions protest so the Times highlights Small Business and the Minutemen"; Rebecca's "stephen colbert spits on women (past and present) and the web and e&p don't see the problem" and "peace, participation & immigration rally"; and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY LAGGING!" (you will laugh! :D).

Monday, May 01, 2006

Still wiped out but glad I took part!

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Three Years Ago: Bush Declared Missions Accomplished in Iraq
In news on Iraq, it was three years ago today that President Bush declared mission accomplished and major combat operations over. Meanwhile the U.S. death toll in Iraq has topped 2,400. 70 soldiers died in April making it the deadliest month for U.S. troops so far this year.

2400. Some "cake walk," huh? Do people who support the illegal war ignore that figure? Or do they go "Woo! Hoo! 2400 dead!" Do they realize that if they support this war, the blood of those 2400 is on their hands? The blood of the Iraqis? The blood of the troops from other countries?

It is. But maybe it's worth it to them? Maybe they think we're doing something great in Iraq?
They may think that. They live in a different universe, but at least they believe in something.

The ones that really disgust me are the ones who are too scared to speak out. They waste everyone's time and their own voices with "water cooler" topics. Readers know the ones I mean.
When someone asks them what they did twenty years from now, they'll say, "Oh I gave shout outs to Prison Break and Veronica Mars! Those were amazing shows! I never critiqued them because I'm not smart enough for that. I just did shout outs! I was the eternal pre-teen."

Readers know exactly who that is aimed at.

If there's anything worse than ___ it's The New Republican crew. They cheerleaded the war and now they want to act like they didn't. They should be exposed as the fools they are. I really wonder if that will happen? I've read a lot of Robert Parry's books (he's Rebecca's favorite) and you read those and you see how the "left" New Republican repeatedly sold out the "left" and it's not anything new. They've gotten away with it before and it makes you wonder if they'll continue to again?

Report: Bush Claims Authority To Disobey Over 750 Laws
A major investigation by the Boston Globe has revealed President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office. In each case the president has issued a so-called "signing statement" that asserts that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. According to the Globe, Bush has issued a signing statement to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed. Bush has said he can ignore Congress' ban on torture as well as Congressional oversight of the Patriot Act. Bush has also said he can ignore laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia and any attempt by Congress to oversee what happens in military prisons such as Abu Ghraib. NYU law professor David Golove has warned that Bush's actions threaten to overturn the existing structures of constitutional law. Golove said that having a president who ignores the court, backed by a Congress that is unwilling to challenge him can make the Constitution simply ''disappear."

I missed that story. We got back on Sunday and no one wanted to open the papers. I'll try to find that article and read it. Bully Boy is out of control and we just get how out of control a little each day. It's like this thing someone said to me at the march, and I think Gore Vidal has used this example, we're frogs in boiling water and we don't notice that it's coming to a boil. We're like, "Hey, water's warm. That's nice." And then we're like, "That's a little hot." But we get adjusted to it. Pretty soon, the water's boiling and we're cooked.

I'm really glad that I went to NYC. When I wrote early Saturday morning, I was so worried. I was afraid that people wouldn't be turning out. They did. And it was really great to be there and see so many people who did give a damn. (I know some people would have been there but couldn't get time off or didn't have the money or the permission from their parents. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about the people who had no obstacles of any kind but felt it was better to just sit on their butts.)

So we took some of my family who hadn't been along before and that was cool because they got to see how much power was in the movement. I was really afraid of a low turnout because:

a) the media would say "the peace movement is dead."
b) my sisters would say, "Well that wasn't anything. What have you been going on and on about."

There's a lot of work we all have to do. Sitting on your butt doesn't cut it.

That's true of the immigration issue too. We rallied. Nina, Tony and me cut class and skipped work to take part. We didn't buy anything. We did our part. That's not to send anyone on a guilt trip. I think everybody could have avoided purchasing -- unless like you have a baby and ran out of Pampers or something. But I know some people couldn't take the day off. I also know that some who did had to stay home because they were calling in sick. That's great if you called in sick even if you couldn't show up at the rally because you were afraid your boss would see it and you'd get in trouble. It was something just to call off.

I know some people couldn't call off. Elaine couldn't. She schedules her sessions in advance and she really won't cancel them without this huge lead time. So if you're a doctor or a journalist or something like that, you did have to work today. But you could stop buying today. (Elaine did.)

I'm tired. I was wiped out from the weekend. It was fun. But I fell asleep while I was doing my post Saturday morning. (Thanks to C.I. for tagging it and publishing it. And for not waking me up. I wasn't done with it but if I'd been woken up, I would have been too out of it to add anything much to it.) I was nervous and tired as we were getting ready for the rally. Then when we were going and all and I started seeing all the people and knew it was going to be a large number, I was just high on the people power. :D

We had a lot of fun at the rally and during the march. We also had fun all eating together. It was a huge group of people in the community. And that was fun. Then we went back and started working on the edition for The Third Estate Sunday Review and everyone wanted to see how that went. So Dona and Jim said, "Let's do the roundtable." That would be easy to follow and give them an idea. It was weird doing it with an "audience." :D Ty wasn't that talkative and I hope he wasn't shy (Ty had someone in the audience -- love, love, love :D). After that, most people went on to bed and it was good they did cause it was an all nighter. Man, I was dragging.
I was still dragging when I woke up but I got high off people power again. :D

It really is a high when a group of people come together to speak out for what they believe in.

But I'm tired and probably need to wind down.

C.I. e-mailed me yesterday about a column Dave Zirin had and told me to check Common Dreams because if they had it people could read it without registering and also it will be up for more than 2 weeks. So they do have it at Common Dreams and here is the link & title, "A Day Without All-Stars?":

May day 2006 is being called the "Great American Boycott" or "A Day Without Latinos."
Across the country, Latinos and their allies say they will neither work nor shop Monday to protest what they consider anti-immigrant legislation before Congress. Although many industries and work sites may be affected, one multibillion-dollar enterprise would be crippled by such a boycott: Major League Baseball.
Of the top 10 hitters in the National League, six are from Latin America, including Albert Pujols, last year's most valuable player. In the American League, five of the top 10 are Latinos, including batting leader and 2003 MVP Miguel Tejada.
Latinos dominate the pantheon of the game's superstars like never before. Seven of the last 10 MVPs in the American League are Latinos.
The new reality was laid bare at this spring's World Baseball Classic: The U.S. team couldn't compete with its Latin American rivals, failing to even make it out of pool play.
The demographic shift in baseball players has helped save the sport by raising the level of playon the field. Currently, 36% of major league players were born in Latin America. According to ESPN Deportes, this number will reach 50% within the next 20 years. Almost one-third of all minor leaguers are from the Dominican Republic alone.
The growing Latino presence in Major League Baseball is a story of exploitation and opportunity. Club owners set up baseball academies in countries where future prospects can be signed in their early teens for pennies, then fired with little cost if they aren't good enough to play in the big leagues. As one player said to me, "The options in the Dominican Republic are jail, the army, the factory or baseball."

That was what he was talking about last Thursday on WBAI's Wakeup Call. So check that out. And check out these from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Yesterday's protest and the future protests
TV Review: Without a Point
Music Roundtable
Musings on KPFA's Living Room
Sunday Times at a glance
Warm welcomes for Bully Boy and Condi
Iraq: Five snapshots show a deadly week
10 most played CDs this week
Pacifica programming today

Remember to check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz.

C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

As May Day is celebrated even in Iraq (national holiday) but not, apparently, today, the Associated Press reports that at least 200 Shi'ites demonstrated on the edges of the heavily Green Zone area of Baghdad "to demand that U.S. and Iraqi forces do more to stop insurgents attacks." This as China's People's Daily Online notes the United Kingdom's stated intent to draw down their troops in Iraq "to 800 next month" (from 8,000 currently). Meanwhile, FOCUS News Agency notes that Denmark's 539 troops may be reduced to 400 this month (May 18th). AFP reminds that it was three years today that Bully Boy stood in front of the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln to state: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
Far from Bully Boy's dress up and pretend, chaos and violence continues. In Baghdad,
Reuters reports that "[t]he wife and daughter of a former construction and houseing minister Omar al-Damluji were kidnapped" Sunday. Today, in Hawija, at least four were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near "an art college." The Associated Press notes that, in Haqlaniyah, a US military base was fired on ("two mortar shells"). Reuters reports that at least "[e]ight members of the Interior Ministry commandos" were wounded from a roadside bomb that went off in Samarra. Tikrit was also an area where roadside bombs exploded (no wounded or dead reported). In Iskandariya, at least one civilian was killed and two injured in a car bombing that also took the life of the person in the car.
In Baghdad today, the
Associated Press reports three corpses were discovered, "handcuffed and blindfolded" and that a Shi'ite store owner has died as a result of a drive-by shooting. At least two have been wounded in the three roadside bombs that have gone off today in Baghdad.
In the latest news on Australian solider Jake Kovco,
who died in Baghdad on April 21st, despite Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson's assertion (which is a bit of a twist on his past claims last week) that Kovco died from an "accidental firing of the weapon he was handling," reports on the autopsy do not, thus far, support that assertion. Reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald, Les Kennedy, Tom Allard and Cynthia Banham note: "THE forensic examination of Jacob Kovco's body revealed no evidence of burn marks near the wound, indicating the weapon that killed him was not fired close to his head. The finding appears to make it less likely that the young sniper -- Australia's first military fatality in Iraq -- committed suicide." Kennedy, Allard and Banham note that the bullet is missing and that, as the outrage over the death of Kovco, Australian's Prime Minister John Howard has announced that he will be attending the funeral. Jake Kovco is the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq.
Back in Iraq, the
Chicago Sun-Times reports that the US army is concerned with "Chicago gang graffiti" popping up throughout Iraq. And in the United States, as Bully Boy, who, again, exactly three years go declared "major combat operations," used the anniversary of that shameful moment to delcare his "confidence" in Iraqi leadership (or "leadership"). His new faith-based remarks come as CNN reports on their latest poll which found that 44% of Americans surveyed (4.5% +/- margin of error) "said the United States would never accomplish its goals in Iraq" and 40% of optimistic souls selected the "someday" option (someday goals will be accomplished). Bully Boy's at 32% approval rating in the poll and 55% of Americans chose the option of "the United States made a mistake by invading Iraq."