Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday post

Good morning. I'd promised Nina we would have a Friday night out and Elaine had a date for last night too so after about ten minutes Friday evening of talking, we both decided we'd just blog on Saturday morning (and that gives me the chance to include Maria's highlights that I've been forgetting to lately). So let's kick things off with Friday's Democracy Now!

Hayden Defends Domestic Spy Program At Confirmation Hearing
General Michael Hayden appeared before Senate Thursday for the first day of his confirmation hearings to become the new head of the CIA. The former director of the National Security Agency repeatedly defended the legality of the NSA's secret warrant-less domestic eavesdropping program that he helped design.
General Michael Hayden: "When I had to make this personal decision in early October, 2001 -- and it was a personal decision -- the math was pretty straight forward. I could not not do this… We knew that this was a serious issue, and that the steps we were taking, although convinced of their lawfulness, we were taking them in a regime that was different from the regime that existed on 10th September."

General Hayden refused to answer questions during the public portion of the hearing on a number of issues including interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons and the true extent of the government’s surveillance program.

What is this "personal decision"? If something's legal, it's legal. In traffic court, no one's asking the cop who pulled you over about his/her "personal decision" to pull you over. They're asking if you broke the law by speeding. You obey the law or you don't. That's not a "personal decision" it's obeying the law or breaking it. If I rob you tomorrow, I'm not telling the judge, "I made a personal decision to rob them."

Judge Dismisses Case of Wrongfully-Held CIA Detainee
And a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a German citizen who says U.S. agents mistakenly kidnapped him and sent him to a secret prison in Afghanistan. The man, Khaled El-Masri, alleges he was first detained while on vacation in Macedonia. Once in CIA custody he says he was repeatedly beaten, roughly interrogated by masked men, detained in squalid conditions and denied access to an attorney or his family. He was only released after the CIA realized they had detained the wrong man, and left him alone on an abandoned road in Albania. On Thursday, the judge ruled proceeding with El-Masri's case would harm national security. Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is representing al-Masri, said he will file an appeal. Wizner said: "[The ruling] confers a blank check on the CIA to shield even the most outrageous conduct from judicial review."

I didn't know "national security" meant protecting the war crimes of Bully Boy, did you?

I read this in the paper this morning. It's a part of Derrick Z. Jackson's "Homing in on our privacy:"

President Bush reassures us that ''we are not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans." If that makes you feel better, you have not considered three things.
One: Bush lied. He said in January that his surveillance program against Al Qaeda communications ''applies only to international communications. . . . One end of the communication must be outside the United States."
Two: If it isn't a blunder, it's a blunderbuss. This White House transformed the hunt for Osama into the annihilation of Iraqi civilians. If actual lives do not matter, why should a phone call?
Three, the following compendium. It is nuts to entrust a phone call database of millions of Americans to:
A. A president who believes he can circumvent 750 new laws and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
B. A vice president who always wanted warrantless spying of domestic calls.
C. An attorney general who refuses to discuss why his Justice Department dropped an internal investigation of the legality of the NSA's surveillance activities.
D. Predatory phone companies who always seemed to have our number until we revolted with ''Do Not Call" lists.
E. An NSA that blew $1.2 billion on a Trailblazer project to refine data mining, according to the Baltimore Sun, after dumping ThinThread, a project the Pentagon's inspector general said provided ''superior processing, filtering and protection of US citizens."

Got a lot to do today so here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Let's start with tomorrow. On Saturday, as the Associated Press and CBS note, the plan is "to swear in Iraq's new prime minister and Cabinet." The AP also notes rumors that Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister to be, "might appoint himself to head the two ministries until all parties can agree." Dropping back to yesterday, Italy's new prime minister, Romano Prodi, has declared the illegal Iraq war a "grave error" notes China's People's Daily Online. Also yesterday, details of the Pentagon's plan to blind drivers at checkpoints was covered by Reuters (and others). Reuters reports that Hussain al-Shahristani will be Iraq's new oil minister -- surprising only to those who didn't follow the "work" of the Iraq Foundation going back to before the illegal invasion. (Translation, war planners are dropping the war dance long enough for a dance of joy.)UNICEF's David Singh estimates "850,000 Iraqi children aged between six and 59 months" suffer "from chronic malnutrition" while the figure for those suffering from "actue malnutrition" is estimated to be 300,000. You didn't discover that in this morning's New York Times, but viewers of Austalia's ABC could see David Singh interviewed on The World Today.
On another Iraqi story that the mainstream media in the United States hasn't shown interest in, Jake Kovco's family (Lorriane and David Small, parents of Jake's wife Shelley Kovco) and the family of Juso Sinanovic (Jasmina Sinanovic -- daughter of Juso) spoke via "community station Radio RPH" reports the AAP which also notes that Mick Martin has "established an appeal for . . . [Jake Kovco's] widow Shelley to supplement what he says is her meagre Australian Defence Force pension."
Today has been a confusing one for the family of Naji al Noaimi -- diplomat with the United Arab Emirates who was kidnapped Tuesday in Baghdad. But he has been released.
In Baghdad today, as CBS and the AP note, a gun fight between resistance and police officers led to the deaths of at least five and the wounded of at least eight. Roadside bombs continued exploding. One resulted in the wounding of three Iraqis, Reuters noted. AP reported on a roadside bomb apparently intended for a police officer who was not at his home -- but his wife and two children were and both were wounded in the explosion. Another roadside bomb resulted in at least one US soldier being wounded when it went off near a convoy.The Associated Press notes the discovery of four corpses in Baghdad ("bullet-ridden"; "kidnapped and tortured") offering a potential identification of one as the elementary school teacher who was kidnapped.
Six miles out of Kirkuk, police discovered a coprse ("gunshot wounds"; "bearing signs of torture) while in Kirkuk "Mohammed al-Iqabi, an employee of the northern state-oil company, was gunned down" Reuters reports. CNN reports that "U.S. military commanders have decided to send more U.S. troops to the Iraqi city of Ramadi" where the 'pacification' has not taken. The Associated Press notes that "more than 30 shops in a market in Diwaniyah" have been targeted and burned by arsonists.KUNA notes that Bully Boy was on US television this morning (NBC's Today) and continues to blame his low approval ratings on the Iraq war but he thinks he'll rebound noting, "I have got two and a half years left to be president of the United States and I intend to get a lot done" -- barring, of course, impeachment or prolonged vacations.
Finally, in England, Helene Mullholland reports that an investigation will start again in to the death of David Kelly. Kelly was the scientist who was at least one source for a 2003 report by the BBC that the Tony Blair government "sexed up" the intelligence to sell the case for war. Angry denials from the ruling party led to what some would call a witch hunt. During the witch hunt, Kelly was identified as a source. Shortly afterward, he died (July 18, 2003) and, though his death had been officially ruled a suicide, questions have remained.

Thursday, I got my interview with C.I. and I'll try to go in and fix my typos. You're dealing with a hunt and pecker here. :D Jim asked me to do some links today on that post so that they'd be in when it was highlighted. I told him I'd try but have a lot on my plate today so not sure how much I can get to. Now tags and then Maria's rundown (Spanish first, then English).

UNICEF: 25% de los niños iraquíes padecen desnutricion
Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" once cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Nuevo Primer Ministro italiano promete retirar a soldados de Irak
En Italia, el nuevo Primer Ministro, Romano Prodi, marcó los primeros días de su nuevo gobierno prometiendo retirar a los soldados italianos de Irak. Prodi fue abucheado por los miembros del parlamento que apoyan a su predecesor, Silvio Berlusconi.Prodi dijo: "Consideramos que la guerra en Irak y la ocupación de este país es un grave error. La guerra no ha resuelto sino que ha complicado el problema de la seguridad. El terrorismo encontró en Irak una nueva base, y nuevas excusas para llevar a cabo ataques terroristas dentro y fuera del conflicto iraquí... Este gobierno pretende proponerle al parlamento el regreso de nuestros soldados, a pesar de que estamos orgullosos de su capacidad profesional, su valentía y la humanidad que han demostrado y siguen demostrando".

Murtha: investigación de Haditha indica que infantes de marina asesinaron a iraquíes "a sangre fría"
El Pentágono concluyó su investigación del asesinato a balazos de civiles llevado a cabo por infantes de marina estadounidenses en la ciudad iraquí de Haditha. El miércoles, el congresista demócrata de Pennsylvania John Murtha afirmó que la investigación demostrará que los infantes de marina "mataron a civiles inocentes a sangre fría". Ciudadanos iraquíes dicen que quince aldeanos fueron asesinados luego que soldados estadounidenses los metieron en una habitación de una casa, ubicada cerca de la ciudad de Balad. Entre las personas que murieron se encontraban cinco niños y cuatro mujeres. Las personas que fueron asesinadas tenían entre seis meses y 75 años de edad. Inicialmente, el Pentágono afirmó que los civiles habían muerto en un atentado con bombas al costado de una carretera, pero Murtha dijo: "No fue un enfrentamiento armado. No fue ningún artefacto casero lo que mató a esas personas inocentes. Nuestros soldados reaccionaron de manera exagerada debido a la presión que hay sobre ellos. Y mataron a civiles inocentes a sangre fría. Eso es lo que dirá el informe".

UNICEF: 25% de los niños iraquíes padecen desnutrición
Mientras tanto, un estudio llevado a cabo por el gobierno iraquí y UNICEF concluyó que una cuarta parte de los niños iraquíes sufren de desnutrición.

Informe: Estados Unidos envió soldados con enfermedades mentales a Irak
En otras noticias de Irak, el periódico "Hartford Courant" informa que las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses enviaron en forma rutinaria a soldados que se sabía que padecían problemas mentales para que pelearan en Irak. El periódico dijo que 22 soldados estadounidenses, una cifra histórica, se suicidaron en Irak el año pasado. En varios casos los soldados permanecieron en servicio incluso luego de que intentaron suicidarse.

Cindy Sheehan encabeza vigilia contra la guerra en el Día de la Madre
En Washington, la activista por la paz Cindy Sheehan pasó el Día de la Madre en una vigilia contra la guerra frente a la Casa Blanca, junto con la actriz Susan Sarandon, las madres de otros soldados, y veteranos de la guerra de Irak.

Hayden defiende programa de espionaje nacional en audiencia de confirmación
El general Michael Hayden compareció el jueves ante el Senado, para asistir al primer día de audiencias de confirmación que lo convertirían en el nuevo director de la CIA. El ex director de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) defendió en reiteradas ocasiones la legalidad del programa secreto de escuchas telefónicas sin garnatías de la NSA, que él mismo ayudó a diseñar.
Hayden dijo: "A principios de octubre de 2001, cuando tuve que tomar esta decisión personal, y fue una decisión personal, las matemáticas eran bastante simples. No podía hacerlo... Sabíamos que este era un asunto serio, y que las medidas que estábamos tomando, aunque estábamos convencidos de que eran legales, las estábamos tomando en un régimen que era diferente del régimen que existió el 10 de septiembre".
El general Hayden se negó a contestar preguntas durante la parte pública de la audiencia acerca de una serie de asuntos, que incluían los métodos usados en los interrogatorios, las prisiones secretas de la CIA, y el verdadero alcance del programa de vigilancia del gobierno.

Votación del senado hace que el inglés sea el "idioma nacional" de Estados Unidos
En Capitol Hill, el Senado votó el jueves para hacer del inglés el "idioma nacional" de Estados Unidos. La medida confirma que nadie tiene derecho a realizar comunicaciones o notificaciones federales en un idioma que no sea el inglés, salvo en los casos garantizados por ley. Los activistas por los derechos de los inmigrantes dijeron que la votación era una gran derrota.

Senado vota para construir cerca fronteriza de 595 kilómetros
El Senado votó a favor de la construcción de una cerca en algunas partes de la frontera de Estados Unidos con México, para impedir que inmigrantes ilegales entren al país. En total, se agregarían 595 kilómetros de barreras triples cerca de San Diego y en el desierto de Arizona. Los senadores también aprobaron una disposición que impediría que los inmigrantes ilegales eleven una petición solicitando un permiso para trabajar legalmente sin el patrocinio de un empleador. Asimismo, el Senado aprobó unánimemente una enmienda que prohibiría otorgarle permisos laborales a inmigrantes indocumentados que hubieran sido procesados por algún delito, o al menos por tres faltas. Esta medida afectará incluso a aquellos que no respetaron una orden judicial de deportación.

Bush: seis mil soldados de la Guardia Nacional serán desplegados en la frontera
El Presidente Bush solicitó el despliegue de seis mil soldados de la Guardia Nacional en la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México. La propuesta de Bush tuvo lugar durante un inusual discurso televisivo transmitido en horario central, durante el cual también llamó al Congreso a que encontrara una forma de acordar una reforma inmigratoria. Bush dijo: "Estados Unidos debe asegurar sus fronteras. Es la responsabilidad básica de una nación soberana. También es una exigencia urgente de nuestra seguridad nacional. Nuestro objetivo es claro: se debe abrir la frontera al comercio y a la inmigración legal y cerrarla a los inmigrantes ilegales, al igual que a los delincuentes, narcotraficantes y terroristas".
La solicitud del Presidente Bush de enviar soldados de la Guardia Nacional a la frontera con México ya recibió amplias críticas. El Presidente mexicano Vicente Fox llamó a la Casa Blanca el domingo, para expresar su preocupación por lo que consideraba la "militarización de la frontera". En Washington, varios políticos dijeron que la Guardia Nacional ya sobrepasó su límite. Escuchamos al senador demócrata Richard Durbin. "¿Qué más le vamos a pedir a la Guardia Nacional? Ya demostraron que harían todo lo que se les pidiera para proteger y defender a este país. Lo demostraron en Irak, Afganistán y en la Costa del Golfo luego del Katrina, pero nuestras Guardias y reservas abarcan demasiado".
Según el "Los Angeles Times", miembros de la Guardia serán desplegados en la frontera en turnos de dos semanas, durante un período en el que normalmente estarían en entrenamiento. Al perder dos semanas de entrenamiento, el plan de Bush podría tener como consecuencia que los soldados de la Guardia estén menos preparados para desempeñar su función principal, que es la de responder a los desastres naturales o de otra índole.

Guardias estadounidenses le dispararon a conductor que se dirigía a México en cruce de San Diego
Mientras tanto, la frontera entre San Diego y Tijuana permaneció cerrada el jueves durante más de nueve horas, cuando guardias de la frontera le dispararon de muerte al conductor de un vehículo que se dirigía a México. Los guardias siguieron al vehículo luego de que agentes de la aduana vieron que levantó pasajeros cerca del lado estadounidense del cruce de la frontera. Los agentes dijeron que le dispararon al conductor cuando intentó huir.

NYPD investigado por conducta en Convención Nacional Republicana de 2004
"Democracy Now!" se enteró de que el Departamento de Justicia lanzó una investigación penal de derechos civiles hacia el Departamento de Policía de Nueva York (NYPD, por sus siglas en inglés), por la manera en que este trató a manifestantes durante la Convención Nacional Republicana. Durante la semana en que se celebró la convención de 2004, la policía arrestó a unos 1.800 manifestantes, más que en cualquier otra convención política en la historia del país.

Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are eleven news stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

New Italian PM Pledges Iraq Troop Withdrawal
In Italy, new Prime Minister Romano Prodi marked the opening days of his new government by pledging to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq. Prodi was greeted with boos by parliamentary supporters of his predecessor, Sylvio Berlusconi.Romano Prodi: "We consider the war in Iraq and the occupation of this country a grave error. The war has not resolved but complicated the problem of security. Terrorism found in Iraq a new base, and new excuses for terrorist acts inside and outside the Iraqi conflict… It is the intention of this government to propose to parliament the return of our troops even if we are proud of their professional ability, their courage and humanity that they have giving and are still giving."

Murtha: Haditha Probe Shows Marines Killed Iraqis "In Cold Blood"
The Pentagon has concluded its investigation into the shooting deaths of civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha at the hands of US Marines. On Wednesday, Democratic Congressmember John Murtha of Pennsylvania said the probe will show that Marines: "killed innocent civilians in cold blood." Iraqis say 15 villagers were killed after US troops herded them into one room of a house near the city of Balad. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon initially claimed the civilians had died in a roadside bombing. But Murtha said: "There was no firefight. There was no improvised explosive device that killed those innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."

UNICEF: 25% of Iraqi Children Suffer Malnutrition
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the Iraqi government and UNICEF has concluded a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition.

Report: U.S. Deployed Mentally Ill Soldiers to Iraq
In other news from Iraq, the Hartford Courant reports the U.S. military has routinely deployed soldiers with known mental problems to fight in Iraq. The paper said a record 22 U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. In several cases soldiers remained on active duty even after they attempted suicide.

Cindy Sheehan Leads Mother's Day Anti-War Vigil
In Washington, peace campaigner Cindy Sheehan spent Mothers Day in an anti-war vigil outside the White House along with actress Susan Sarandon, other military mothers and Iraq war veterans.

Hayden Defends Domestic Spy Program At Confirmation Hearing
General Michael Hayden appeared before Senate Thursday for the first day of his confirmation hearings to become the new head of the CIA. The former director of the National Security Agency repeatedly defended the legality of the NSA's secret warrant-less domestic eavesdropping program that he helped design.General Michael Hayden: "When I had to make this personal decision in early October, 2001 -- and it was a personal decision -- the math was pretty straight forward. I could not not do this… We knew that this was a serious issue, and that the steps we were taking, although convinced of their lawfulness, we were taking them in a regime that was different from the regime that existed on 10th September." General Hayden refused to answer questions during the public portion of the hearing on a number of issues including interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons and the true extent of the government’s surveillance program.

Senate Vote Makes English US "National Language"
On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted Thursday to make English the "national language" of the United States. The measure affirms that that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except those already guaranteed by law. Immigrant-rights activists called the vote a major defeat.

Senate Votes To Build 370-Mile Border Fence
The Senate has voted to build a fence along parts of the Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. In total, 370 miles of triple-layered barriers would be added near San Diego and in the Arizona desert. Senators also approved a provision that would prevent illegal immigrants from petitioning for a guest-worker permit without the sponsorship an employer. And in a unanimous vote, Senate accepted an amendment that would bar granting work permits to undocumented immigrants convicted of either a felony or at least three misdemeanors. The measure would effect even those who ignored a court-deportation order.

Bush: 6,000 National Guard Troops to Be Deployed to Border
President Bush has called for 6,000 National Guard troops to be deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border. Bush's proposal came during a rare prime-time address during which he also called on Congress to find a way to agree on immigration reform.President Bush: "The United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security. Our objective is straightforward: the border should be open to trade and lawful immigration and shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, drug dealers and terrorists." President Bush's call for National Guard troops on the Mexican border has already been widely criticized. Mexican President Vicente Fox called the White House on Sunday to express concern over the increased militarization of the border. In Washington numerous politicians said the National Guard is already stretched too thin.Democratic Senator Richard Durbin: "How much more are we going to ask our National Guard? They have shown they will do everything asked of them to protect and defend this nation. They have demonstrated that in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Gulf Coast after Katrina, but our Guards and reserves are stretched dangerously thin."According to the Los Angeles Times, members of the Guard will be deployed to the border for two-week shifts during a period when they would normally be in training. By losing two weeks of training, Bush's plan might result in Guard troops being less prepared for their primary roles -- responding to natural and other disasters.

Mexico-Bound Driver Shot By US Guards At San Diego Crossing
Meanwhile, the border between San Diego and Tijuana was closed for over nine hours Thursday when border guards shot and killed the driver of a car headed for Mexico. The car was followed after custom agents saw it pick up passengers near the US side of the border crossing. Agents said they shot the driver when he tried to speed off.

NYPD Investigated For Conduct At 2004 RNC
Democracy Now! has learned the Justice Department has launched a criminal civil rights investigation of the New York Police Department over the NYPD’s treatment of protesters during the Republican National Convention. During the week of the 2004 convention, police arrested some 1800 protesters -- more than at any previous political convention in the country’s history.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Surprise interview

Good evening. Almost the weekend! Got a surprise so stick around. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Senate Votes To Build 370-Mile Border Fence
The Senate has voted to build a fence along parts of the Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. In total, 370 miles of triple-layered barriers would be added near San Diego and in the Arizona desert. Senators also approved a provision that would prevent illegal immigrants from petitioning for a guest-worker permit without the sponsorship an employer. And in a unanimous vote, Senate accepted an amendment that would bar granting work permits to undocumented immigrants convicted of either a felony or at least three misdemeanors. The measure would effect even those who ignored a court-deportation order.

Bully Boy obviously believes that fences make for good neighbors which only demonstrates that he's never lived next door to anyone like himself. :D

Wally's got a hilarious thing on a story that might not get a lot of attention. Check out "THIS JUST IN! DESPERATE CONGRESS MEMBERS!" Here's the short story. The Senate Judiciary Committee met today. Arlen Specter, who is the chair, wanted to force the bill banning same-sex marriages out of committee. Specter claims he didn't support the measure but he had the hearing moved to another place where there would be less people and press with access to observe the vote. Russ Feingold basically called it bullshit (which it is).

If there's another attack on this country, remember that while there were real issues to address, Arlen Specter was worrying about gay marriage. While claiming he doesn't believe in the bill that he forced out of committee. So Russ Feingold and Arlen Specter exchanged words and
the delicate flower Specter told him, "If you want to leave, good riddance" but Russ was already leaving and ended his reply with "See ya." Add the "wouldn't want to be you!" :D

One more thing, on the fence nonsense (nonsense was the hallmark of the day), if you watched Democracy Now! today, you know that Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, is first generation to this country. So he's been asked did his parents come into the country with documentation and going through the process? He can't give an answer, says he'll have to get back with the press on this. Wonder if Bully Boy's INS agents will be as patient?

At Least 50 Killed in Afghanistan Clashes
In Afghanistan, more than fifty people were killed in fighting between Taliban members and Afghan and foreign forces in two southern provinces Wednesday. The dead included a dozen police, a Canadian soldier and more than 30 militants.

You know what? 370 miles may not be a big enough fence. If you think about how Bully Boy's exported violence and destruction around the world, leaving one mess here and one mess there, never doing anything to help the people needing help, 370 miles may not be a big enough fence for him.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence was the rule on Wednesday and remains so today. Wednesday, as noted by Bassam Sebti and Debbi Wilgoren, car bombs and gun shots resulted in the death of at least 16 people. As noted by Sabrina Tavernise and Qais Mizher, two corpses ("handcuffed . . . shot in the head") were discovered in Baghad and "[f]ifteen members of the Iraqi Olympic Tae Kwon Do team were kidnapped." The BBC notes that $100,000 is what kidnappers have set as the ransom for the release of the atheletes and CNN notes that the kidnapping took place on "a road between Ramadi and Falluja." The AFP reports Peter Pace (general), testifying to Congress yesterday, stating that "No, sir," there is no prospect of American troops being "withdrawn from even Iraq's most stable regions."
In Baghdad, the
BBC reports, at least three police officer are dead and at least four civilians wounded from a roadside bomb. CNN, in a later report, notes that seven have died and four are wounded. Another roadside bomb has killed at least four and CNN identifies them as "4 U.S. soldiers" in the headline but as "Four Multi-National Division" in the text. AFP identifies them as American soldiers -- an Iraqi interpreter died in the bombing as well. CNN reports the death of "six car mechanics" who were attacked by assailants while on their way to work.The AFP reports that, in Kirkuk, "local leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Nejmeddin Abdullah" is dead from a drive by shooting as he left "his Kirkuk party headquarters" while "a teacher and a student" were also dead as a result of a drive-by.
Associated Press notes the discovery of a corpse ("beheaded"; "woman labor activist affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party").A high school teacher was killed in Karbala, Reuters notes.In Baqouba, the Associated Press reports the destruction of "a small Sunni shrine" as a result of bombing.
In Basra,
the Associated Press notes that "police chief Gen. Hassan Swadi narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb hit his convoy as he was heading to work." This would be the same Basra that Des Browne, England's new defense minister, visisted yesterday to declare, "Basra is calm, and British forces are working hand in han with their Iraqi and colation partners. Suggestions that the city is, in some way, out of control are ridiculous." Browne made those comments on Wednesday, the same day, as Reuters notes, that Nazar Abdul-Zahra ("former member of Iraq's national soccer team") was killed.
Though the American press apparently doesn't give a damn about the death of troops in Iraq who aren't American, the issue of Jake Kovco's death and what followed is still a big issue in Australia. Kovco's father-in-law said, regarding the latest developments, "
Because of the way everything has been bungled, Shelley and her two kids have had to go through this death three times." So what's the latest? The investigation into the events of Jake Kovco's death and the time afterward (when another body, Juso Sinaovic's body, was shipped to Australia instead of Kovco) someow resulted in "[h]ighly sensitive information about the bungled repatriation . . . [being] left in a computer at an airport."
The report "
ended up in the hands of broadcaster Derryn Hinch" and has resulted in John Howard (Australia's prime minister) issuing yet another apology to the family (from Chicago, which is where Howard is currently). As a result of all that Shelley Kovco is being put through (not just 'has been,' is being), the Federal Opposition is saying that "extra compensation to the family of Private Jake Kovco" should be paid.
Jake Kovco's body, following the mix up, was finally
laid to rest on May 2nd. Kovco died in Iraq on April 21st. The investigation is supposed to help determine the cause of the death and to help determine how his body and Sinaovic's were mixed up.

Okay, my plan is to come back and put in links at some point in the future but Cedric suggested I do the following (and he's doing it at his site):

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally of The Daily Jot.

If you're confused, use those links for now as you read along.

And now? Surprise. C.I. agreed to this but said not to put it out because "What if I'm just too tired or you are?" So I was supposed to interview C.I. awhile back. I strong armed and charmed that interview. Then Cedric had switched to a different site for his blog and C.I. said that I should interview Cedric to steer some attention his way. There was talk about the interview being later but I really thought it was off. I'd joke and kid about it and was surprised when C.I. told me Sunday we could try to do it this week. First there was a limit of ten questions. Then it was, "How about we don't worry about the questions and just set a time limit?" Which is pretty much how it happened.

Mike: Glad we're finally doing it.

C.I.: No problem.

Mike: So you're in DC, what's that like?

C.I.: Depressing. It's easier to think that something beneficial really happens there until you're present.

Mike: And then?

C.I.: And then you grasp that it's a bunch of people scared to do anything that they think might hurt their chances of election and you also grasp how little they know. That's not to slam necessarily. They're going to briefings, they're working on legislation, it's a bubble. From the constitutents, from the real world especially outside the United States.

Mike: You don't seem very "positive"?

C.I.: I never am in DC. I'll snap out of it. As soon as I leave. Factor that into anything I say. At another time, in another place, I'd be more positive and less disenchanted.

Mike: You offered something on Hillary this week --

C.I.: Which people can look up. You have classes tomorrow and work so don't do a huge number of links. People need to be adults and do their own homework.

Mike: I'll grab that excuse and ride it through Blog City! So you offered an opinion that Hillary was like Joe Lieberman in 2002 or 2003?

C.I.: I think, I believe, I said 2002. But the point here is, there's no "lock." If there's a "lock" there's no story. Hillary's the press front runner. If Hillary stays the front runner day after day, there's nothing to report. Picture the headlines: "Hillary still in the lead!" Day after day, after day, after day. People's opinions, I'm talking about voters not reporters, influence it and other things influence it as well. But the front runner rarely remains the front runner. That's before the actual campaign starts, John Edwards had a huge write up in Vanity Fair in a similar cycle, last time and was seen as a front runner by some. He didn't get it. Lieberman was stressed, he didn't get it. Once the primaries were only months from beginning, Howard Dean was the front runner. He didn't get it. So there's no "lock" at this point, no matter what a gas bag says.

Mike: Hillary herself?

C.I.: In terms of a news cycle, she's always lacked the drama that's surrounded her husband. The "Will he implode?" drama that added interest, and allowed New Hampshire to be played as a Bill Clinton win, isn't something she's ever had. At her best, she's consistent and steady. To dub her the front runner now is to kill her campaign. There's no drama if she stayed in the lead and there needs to be the daily news cycle. Bill Clinton's press persona was "the comeback kid" -- what's her's? I could offer a negative one here about triangulation, which wouldn't sell but she may get branded with, due to her own actions, but I'm not in the mood.

Mike: Okay, I hear what you're saying but for someone like me and my friends, we keep hearing "It's Hillary!" and it's hard to believe people would say that if it weren't true.

C.I.: Well you're talking about conventional wisdom and that always flies out the window when a real race begins. There needs to be drama to hold interest. The first one with drama in the race, provided Hillary wins, will become a tidal wave that overpowers her campaign. Slow and steady may win a race, or may not, but it doesn't make for good press or good chat & chews.

Mike: Okay, I asked Elaine to give me something and she said to ask about music. Specifically, Liz Phair and Aimee Mann.

C.I.: I know why she said that. I love Aimee Mann and have the CDs but I don't listen that often because her songs tend to stay in my head, I'm always humming them or singing them to myself. Today it was "That's Just What You Are." Liz Phair is the opposite. I pushed Exile in Guyville off on a friend. One of those, "You have to listen!" And when it doesn't happen, you end up holding the phone up to the speakers. The friend and I ended up making spur of the minute plans one July 4th. By this time she loved Phair's CD. I never travel on a holiday because of the traffic jams. But it was spur of the moment and "fun," she swore. We ended up stuck on an interstate for hours and the only thing she had was Phair. Over and over. Over and over. Hour after hour. I've never wanted to hear Liz Phair's Exile again after that. It's like a brand of chips that a group of us took to a rock festival years and years ago. I burned out on those chips, they were new at the time, and as we made our way back after something like thirty-six hours of music, I never wanted to see those chips again. I still don't. That's how I feel about Exile. I think Elaine paired them up because, in one case, you're dealing with something I will not listen to (Phair) and in the other you're dealing with something I love but don't listen to because it's already playing in my head.

Mike: Cedric's writing his thoughts about the time involved in posting things and will be addressing the issue of November 2008.

C.I.: When a number of us pack up shop.

Mike: Yeah, so do you really think that will happen?

C.I.: I don't know. Some may continue.

Mike: Do you really think you'll stop?

C.I.: Yeah, I want my life back.

Mike: Cedric says it's like a thing in The Godfather movies where Al Pacino says, "Everytime I think I'm out, they pull me back in."

C.I.: On him or me?

Mike: You.

C.I.: I've heard that before but I really want my life back. This takes up way too much of my time and . . . I'm talking negatives. A community was created and that's amazing. I had no idea that would happen. I was surprised when anyone other than friends read.

Mike: You didn't even tell Elaine when you started.

C.I.: I didn't tell anyone. I probably wouldn't have at all if people hadn't e-mailed and posted on the second day.

Mike: First real day of posting.

C.I.: It's not what I thought it would be, but on the plus, it's become more than I could have dreamed. I'm a member of the community, the same as anyone. It's a wonderful community, I'm glad to be a part of it. I've learned from it the same way any other member does.

Mike: How did you think it would be?

C.I.: I don't think I thought daily. I don't know. I thought . . . I thought I'd write about things that concerned me --

Mike: Water rights.

C.I.: Correct, a very serious problem and one that despite the attention it has received will probably emerge with people asking themselves, "How did that happen?" It's happening. Corporations are getting water rights at the expense of people. For those in the United States, it's really easy to think, "Oh well, that's over there, not here." But I doubt they know the deals their own municipalities have made, guarantees to supply this community or that. Or the issue of the depletion or a host of other issues.

Mike: So you'd write about that.

C.I.: Right and I'd learn about blogging. And write about other issues and it would be very much a Daniel Okrent type thing, a "What I wanted to write about" as he said in one of his last columns. Okrent was the first public editor of the New York Times.

Mike: You took him to task for outing the reader.

C.I.: The reader, of the New York Times, could have sued. Anyone can sue, but it would have been interesting in the current climate, interesting considering Okrent's stated policy, interesting because the person was not a public person, had written a private e-mail to Adam Nagourney and was held up to public ridicule in one of the biggest newspapers in the country. Okrent, to Business Week, made statements that revealed malice. Malice can be hard to prove. Thanks to Okrent shooting his mouth off, that was taken care of. But the thing was, when I wrote it, I was tackling the Okrent issue due to a member, Rob or Rod, I don't remember now, I'm tired so my apologies to both of them. Whichever it was, he'd been writing repeatedly. There were two Okrent pieces on the same Sunday. One dealt with the poor job he'd done representing the readers -- and put to the rest that Okrent wrote about Iraq for any reason other than he was caught breaking his own rule and called out on it by readers -- and the other dealt with the man that he'd more or less destroyed.

Mike: Did you know the guy?

C.I.: No. But, I think this is December when they went up, and in January he found it and e-mailed. When I wrote about the topic after that, I always tried to make sure that he got a heads up. He's a private person, or was until Okrent's malice turned him into a public one, and I've never used his actual name at the site for that reason. Just because Okrent destroyed his privacy didn't mean I needed to follow suit.

Mike: Summarize NPR because that's where a lot of people got to know The Common Ills.

C.I.: The issue of their ombudsman? Okay, but just to back up, Okrent's behavior was remarked upon by journalists but they wouldn't go public. People I knew and that's why I tackled the issue of the outing of a private citizen. Jeffrey Dvorkin was the NPR ombudsman -- not "ombudsperson," you'll note. Robert Kagan, whom I know, was on NPR evaluating John Kerry's campaign as the election approached. That was a potential appearance of conflict. His wife, Kagan's, worked for Dick Cheney while Kagan was critiquing John Kerry. Listeners should have been told that by NPR. I don't believe I slammed Kagan for that and I still say it was NPR's responsibility. Listeners heard Kagan express confusion about Kerry's 'message' and listeners had a right to know that they were hearing this from someone whose wife was part of the administration, working for Dick Cheney. They weren't informed of that. My mouth dropped when I heard that critique because NPR made no effort to disclose that. Then a member wanted me to address it, The Common Ills didn't start up until after the 2004 election. So I did it when the issue was raised, after the fact. Most of the pieces that people enjoy are the result of members asking for something, suggesting something. And you have to stay on my case and keep reminding me because I've got a million things to do and it's easy to just say "Sure" and then forget.

Mike: One thing that you tackled then and now as Iraq. Talk about that.

C.I.: It's easy to forget now, when the country's turned against the war, but after the 2004 election, we were all supposed to just find other topics to discuss. I didn't agree with that, I didn't endorse it or support it.

Mike: We were supposed to worry about what you dubbed 'vangical voters.

C.I.: Right. See that's the press at their worst. Cokie Roberts tosses out conventional wisdom and others run with it. The data hadn't been crunched, scientific polling not what the Times does, and it hadn't been examined. But they wanted to act as though there was a trend, probably out of a need to fill a news cycle and offer an explanation at a time when people were rightly questioning the turnout.

Mike: You did something like three entries in one day on the report on that polling.

C.I.: Right and never again. That demonstrated all that was wrong with "reporting" on polls. Polls can demonstrate something, plural. If a finding repeats over a time, you have an actual trend in opinion or voting or belief. The junk science that made it into the paper of record makes a joke out of polls. Just briefly, they paired up some answer categories, sometimes. And if they'd paired liked findings throughout, they wouldn't have found some nonexistant trend on attitudes about gays and lesbians.

Mike: Back to Iraq. You tackled Dexter Filkins right off the bat. How come?

C.I.: His reporting was already a joke among many reporters. I avoided reading it for that reason. He had a reputation. Then the site started and he had an article about Iraq that was such rah-rah nonsense. He won an award for it, by the way. But, yes, we called Dexy out on being the ultimate embed before it was fashionable. It's only going to become more fashionable. Reporters I know think he's a joke. History will tell on his Falluja reporting. And a year or so ago, I thought history would be off in the distant future but he's very disliked and he'll see the criticism, he's already seeing, come more and more.

Mike: Felicity Barringer.

C.I.: Hmmm. We critiqued an article she wrote and she disagreed. That's her right. But what I give her credit for is she was the first and still only one with the paper who wanted to make their case publicly and not just complain, gripe or threaten in e-mails. I obviously disagreed with her but she's entitled to her opinion and she may be right and I may be wrong -- wouldn't be the first time. But I do give her credit for taking her case public. By the way, those were all of her words. She didn't decide she wanted to go public and then say "Pull this" or "Take out that." I could care less if someone disagrees in an abusive way. She didn't. But I could care less. I'll assume they're upset and that the voice they're using is an honest one. But there was a reporter who wanted his statements up and then changed his mind because he wanted this pulled and that pulled. He just ended up being ignored. And on the topic of when they're mad, there are many who've written that have written nice e-mails or angry ones that made me laugh. There's a reporter with a very good sense of humor.

Mike: You don't respond to them.

C.I.: No. With Barringer, I brought in a member to reply to her and check to see if she wanted it up. Which she did. But I have enough conflicts of interest without adding to them. I've only replied to one and that was one of the worst Saturday/Sunday of my life. I was tired, we'd had strong words at The Third Estate Sunday Review and that's when I announced that in November of 2008, The Common Ills folds up the tent and moves along. This person e-mailed and I went into the account, the public account, and read the e-mail. I replied. That's the only time. Now, if it's a reporter or someone discussed at the site, Ava and Jess usually handle the reply by e-mailing a response that went up at the site in reply to the e-mailer's e-mail.

Mike: With Barringer, the community was outraged that you didn't offer a reply and go through her statements line by line.

C.I.: Right. I'm just a member as well. But I'm not interested in a back and forth. I felt the original critique, by me, stated it's case, Barringer stated her's and people could think about both and decide what they thought.

Mike: Is it a pain when you've got e-mails griping.

C.I.: You mean from members? Well, it's a sign of how much it means to them and a reminder that I'm just a member as well. But there was a Friday where I just mentioned that a radio program would be airing. I didn't know the topics. It's one the community likes. I was irritated by the response to that, as I noted in the column at the gina & krista round-robin. But again, it's just a reminder that it's not about me or "my blog." It's a resource/review and I'm just one member.

Mike: What would you do different now? If you were starting the site up now, what would you do different?

C.I.: Nothing. It grew the way it did because of what it was. Mistakes, strong points, it's all a part of it. I could start a site now and know what gets attention from outside the community. I could do that but I don't see the point.

Mike: Why?

C.I.: There are too many bright spots. The things that Jim used to get on my case for, he's seen that those are the things that draw in the people who become members. I could do entries in the inverted pyramid form, for instance, I know the form. But I'm not interested in that and the result is that we have members who were more interested in someone talking with them as opposed to talking to them. It's very interactive. By the way, I'm not slamming Jim. Jim's been very upfront about wishing that this entry was done differently, journalistically. If I'd wanted to do that, I would have pursued a career in journalism. I'm not interested in that.

Mike: You grew up around it.

C.I.: Yeah and here's my only comment on that. When reporters are upset, that was the level I was used to. They may think that a slam from me is the worst thing anyone's ever said. They should be a fly on the wall when people higher than them discuss their work. I don't just slam, Yazz complains about my "in fairness." I have no problem noting something worthy and I'm sure I've noted things that were just adequate.

Mike: Let's talk about the reviews.

C.I.: Ava and I do the TV reviews over at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Mike: That's it?

C.I.: What else do you want?

Mike: Well, how about not reading the e-mails?

C.I.: I'm not big on fan mail. I read members e-mails at The Common Ills. I was just someone helping out at their website. There was no need for me to read the e-mails. When we did a piece on the e-mails in 2005, we did read those.

Mike: Some were really threatening.

C.I.: Nick Lachey and other boys trying to be men have a very dedicated fan base. Ava was reading the e-mails and there were threatening ones. Including one where the guy had either followed her or guessed lucky. It was a violent e-mail detailing how he would dismember and kill her with a knife, a butcher knife, I think. That bothered her because, among other things, he referred specifically to a sweater she wore. It freaked her out and that's when the decision was made that Ava didn't need to read the e-mails on the TV reviews.

Mike: Most people, if you or Ava or both know them, aren't bothered by them.

C.I.: I think the worst crime would be to be boring. If you can make the people we know laugh, they can usually take it with a grain of salt or even say it was funny. That wasn't the case with "The Loop."

Mike: Did you apologize?

C.I.: No. Ava didn't either. They wanted a good review and apparently thought that resulted from knowing us. That's never been the case. Some people we know and like have seen their shows crucified. A review isn't just a review of the show. It matters what's going on in the world around it at that time. It matters whethere you're in a good mood or not when you write it. If you disagree, that's your right and you can certainly share, but it's not my job to read it. I don't read any of it, the positive or the negative. I don't have the time.

Mike: Rebecca said to ask you about the first time you heard Ani DiFranco.

C.I.: Okay. I come in late on Ani. The CD is Living in Clip. Several friends had insisted that I listen to her but I hadn't up to that point. People can ruin someone for you by hyping them constantly. Dave Matthews Band is an enjoyable band and there's art there but that band was so hyped that I avoided it and couldn't get into it forever. Overhyped by friends. With Ani, a wave was coming through friends, not overhyping, just "You have to check her out!" I did the day that came out. And, here's why Rebecca wanted you to ask it, that was the last day of me-time I've had. It's been a roller coaster ever since. But on that day, I got the CD and went out to eat and read, Chinese, while I listened. It's an amazing CD and she's an amazing artist. That was a really great day. And, to give an example of reviews being effected by outside things, we, a group of friends and I, saw a film and I was so-so on it. That evening, we saw it. When it came out later, I loved it. But on that day, Ani had set the mark too high for anything else to register.

Mike: I was told it was the last free day. What's that like?

C.I.: Maddening. At times. But I don't have to feel, "If only I'd . . ." I've tried everything I could think of. In 2004, people kept saying "blog" so, after the election, knowing nothing -- and still knowing nothing about it -- I started The Common Ills. The difference between it and speaking is that I'm not playing catchup for a few months. We all know the things, the community, that are going on as they happen.

Mike: You were speaking out before the site, since February 2003, and you're speaking out now. Do you think the war's ending November 2008?

C.I.: No. I don't think so. I don't think we've had enough happen yet to galvanize the cry "Troops home now!" The support is there. The mood of the country has turned against the war. That's not going to change. But it requires more than a lot of people saying, "The war is wrong. Hey want to go to a movie?" Iraq has to be more on the front burner than it is in most people's lives. Now another Cindy Sheehan type moment and that could speed things up but, as it stands now, we've passed the 2500 mark on American troop fatalities by the way, it's more of an "I'm against the war" period. That's what people are comfortable with, as a whole. I'm not trashing that or minimizing that. It's a huge accomplishment and it wouldn't ahve seemed likely right after the 2004 election. But it's not enough.

Mike: Do you think the rallies and marches are pointless?

C.I.: No. Anytime people come together for a common purpose, it's not a waste. The marches and rallies continue to grow. United for Peace and Justice, ANSWER, CODEPINK, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families and others have done a wonderful job and continue to do so. It raises awareness. If you go to a march, you know this, when you meet up with friends later in the week or the next week, they want to know about it. Even if it's downplayed by the media, it does get enough attention that peple do know things are going on. It serves a purpose that shouldn't be underestimated. There's a frustration with where we are currently -- you've got the country against the war and yet the war ---

Mike: Drags on!

C.I.: Right. So there's a second-guess factor that's going on. And a need for blame. The blame isn't the people who've been standing up. The blame is, my opinion, partly the fault of the liars who said we had to stay. The liars on the left and play like they're on the left.

Mike: I may tick you off here. Elaine outed you on something, something I hadn't even known about. You send stuff to soldiers in Iraq.

C.I.: As do many people. It's no great thing, I'm not a better person because of it, I'm not suddenly noble. I have some friends serving over there, stuff was needed. End of story. I wasn't mad at Elaine for writing about that. But the point is "SUPPORT THE TROOPS" -- the banner -- is a dead end and was designed to be a dead end. I don't use the phrase in my own life. But that nonsense, slogans designed to silence dissent, is the sort of thing that the peace movement had to go up against, part of the climate. Still part of the climate. So it's not surprising that there have been so many obstacles to the peace movement. The surprise is that through the hard work of so many, the slogans have been sidestepped. I don't think "overcome" because you still hear people try to respond to the slogan. If it had been overcome, if we all realized it wasn't about the troops, the slogan, but about silencing people, I don't think we'd still be using it ourselves. That's my opinion, others are free to disagree.

Mike: Why don't you write about that?

C.I.: I'm sure we've taken on the nonsense of the slogan at least once.

Mike: About the . . . care packages.

C.I.: I'm not Baby Cries a Lot. I don't need to hide behind others to prove my worth. Baby Cries a Lot may, in fact, have greater personal worth than I do. But we've never decorated the site with flags or hidden behind religion or any of the other things that make you "safe." We've questioned the war without hiding or trying to market. It comes down to that.

Mike: Talk about that in terms of Jane Fonda.

C.I.: This is the conversation that your father, Jim's father, Jess' mother and I had in DC at the big rally, right?

Mike: Right.

C.I.: I love Joan Baez and I'm not taking anything from her or trying. She spoke out against the war then and now. But when she did it, for some, her message was easier to swallow because she was "the madonna" and she was, later on, a mother. Jane Fonda stood up as an independent adult and that was threatening. It's still threatening to many. She didn't have a role that a lot of people could cast her in. It made the right uncomfortable, it still does. She as an independent woman and there was the shock factor because people knew her in two roles. Not just as Barbarella or the other films made with Vadim, they also knew her from the comedies that were hits here. It was a bit of shock to some to see Cory Bratter, Barefoot in the Park, speaking out against the war. Actively working to end the war. What we were speaking of was the fact that she could have won some over or lessened the criticism that followed her then and now by playing a role. She didn't do that. It was a brave thing and it helped. Tremendously. The dikes were being bombed, she brought awareness to that. She did a wonderful, amazing job. That the right's bothered by that isn't surprising, that some on the left and some who play at left want to prove how "reasonable" they are by trashing her is sad and a reflection on them -- either their own shallowness or their own ignorance -- not on her. They need to know the times, what was going on, what was being reported, what wasn't. Give this war ten years and see what some Americans will be doing. She was trying to stop the war and her actions did help end the war.

Mike: How do you think she's used?

C.I.: To score points by the wishy-washy crowd. In an "I'll conceed Fonda" kind of way. Those who lived through it were not screaming for her head on a stick. The right was. Or some of the right. But they kept using her as a target and the usual cowards thought, "Oh, it's eaiser to conceed than to fight." So instead of saying "Excuse me, Jane Fonda didn't send anyone to war"
you get the wishy-washy crowd saying, "Well I would never . . ." whatever. No, you wouldn't. And you didn't. You sat on your fat ass while people were dying. How proud that must make you feel. She's a lightening rod. Unlike her, I don't believe that comes from the right. I believe it comes from cowards who can't say, loudly and clearly, "Jane Fonda didn't start the war, didn't plan it." You're upset that people died? Take it up with the presidents who started and continued it. We conceed far too much. And then we wonder, "How did the right get this far?" Whether it's the lie that Vietnam was "winnable" or the war on evolution or what have you, it started because of the "I will conceed" types. The people who couldn't take a stand even at gun point. They are to blame adn they are to blame for the current illegal war because they wanted to conceed. Because they didn't want to talk about the realities of Vietnam. The realities are the realities. Pretending Rambo could have altered the course of the war isn't reality. Allowing people to wallow in "feel good" because you don't want to rock the boat isn't reality. But they get away with that and they come back with something else. Then three, four, five years on down the line, you're suddenly shocked that things have changed.

Mike: You've made it clear that you don't care for the "Iraq will do this and will do that" proposals.

C.I.: If it ends the illegal war and occupation and brings the troops home, great. But I'm bothered, only more so this week, by the idea that Iraqis, living under an occupation, are the ones who "need" to do. Where's the responsibility for the occupying power? Where's the outrage over the malnutrition of Iraqi children? We went over there, lied into war, with our own demands and we've continued to make demands. I think it's past time for people to be asking, "What should the occupying power be held accountable for?"

Mike: Talk about Democracy Now! and or Pacifica Radio.

C.I.: Well, this is a common feeling in the community, the same sources that lied us into war get attention from the left, not in terms of criticial attention -- just "go here!" -- and you have to wonder at what point people realize that we're falling into the same trap? Amy Goodman didn't cheerlead the war. She didn't stay silent either. So this nonsense of linking to every Ray McGovern interview but the one she and Juan Gonzales did is nonsense. Whining about the state of the mainstream media is pointless if you're not utilizing the media that's out there. If everyone that watched ABC's World News Tonight or CNN during the leadup to the war had been following Democracy Now!, instead or in addition to, we wouldn't have been so quick, as a people, to accept the lies that were shoved off on us. "We were all wrong!" cries the mainstream media. As though everyone was, everyone wasn't wrong. As though the truth wasn't being told in real time. Pacifica Radio was out there trying to get the word out. NPR wasn't. Unless something's changed since last summer, they've done one program, only one, on war resistors. That doesn't cut it. When people are being sentenced to jail terms or leaving the country, this one program doesn't cut it. Public radio is supposed to exist, their mandate, to offer an alternative, to offer things you can't find in commercial radio due to the dictates on their content. It is supposed to give airing to views that might not be popular. NPR doesn't do that.
Spetember 2005, the big rally in DC. They did story on it ahead of time. Where they interviewed Cindy Sheehan and a guy who's be protesting against her. They gave the guy, who had, at most a few hundred people with him, more tiem than they gave to Cindy Sheehan. That's not cutting it. NPR isn't cutting it. So it irritates members when they read something from the left that is always "Great story on NPR! Great article in the New York Times!" Where's the support for independent media? Why isn't that being utilized. By the way, that's a point Janeane Garofalo has long made. She seems to be vanishing from some minds, in terms of the credit she deserves, so let's take a moment to note that she stood up and she spoke out when it wasn't easy. She has continued to speak out. A list of voices who warned before the war isn't complete without her on it -- though sexists insistent upon noting every male who did have been happy to make lists without noting her or any other woman.

Mike: I know you have to do the entry still so I'll wind down. You're saying that you don't think the war will be over in 2008? But that could change?

C.I.: Right. We need more Cindy Sheehan type moments. We need more non-Cindy Sheehan type moments. We need a wide range of voices, speaking in their own voice, being active. We also need to not buy into the lie that "We were all wrong" or play strategy games. Want to debate something? Debate the legality of the war. Quit accepting it by going into military jerk offs and war pornography -- let the ex-generals play that game, it's theirs. But don't pretend like "More troops" then or now is a criticism of the war. It's accepting the war and dickering over the particulars of it.

Mike: Since I'm tossing out half my questions due to the late hour, can I have a follow up?

C.I.: It may take a year, but sure. And let me add Dahr Jamail, Brian Conley, David Enders, every one at Pacifica, everyone trying to get the truth out, should come to mind when it's time to toss out links. Christian Parenti, Naomi Kleine, Arundhati Roy, Laura Flanders, The Black Commentator, of course, Danny Schechter, it's a long list. It doesn't include this CNN anchor or that one. At some point, let's do a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review where we note those people because it seems a number of people are caught in the haze of occupation and seem to be forgetting those who took stands and spoke out. Final thought, it's very rare that the nation has a moment like it currently has. We can make some changes right now. We have power that will only increase. We can change our concept of the media, we can make a difference in terms of the next illegal war someone wants to start, go down the list. But that's not going to come by appeasing or selling out. Or being wishy-washy. It can come from being aware of what is going on and working to change it. Not just sitting around and waiting or, when the war does end, returning to a land of fluff and apathy.

Mike: Okay. I'm posting this as soon as I get it typed and I'll go back over time and do links. Including links to my interviews with other community members.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

KPFA broadcasts the Michael Hayden hearing Thursday morning LIVE

Good evening. Starting late because of Elaine. She wanted to read me one thing. It was a TV review of Ava and C.I.'s. Then I searched around for my favorite. Then she had to note another and I had to note another. They really have written a lot of amazing reviews. Everyone with The Third Estate Sunday Review or who works on an edition (like Elaine and me) know that those reviews are the "calling card." Week in and week out, you've got all these people coming to the site just to read their reviews. After I got off the phone, I called Jim and asked him if he had a comment he wanted included? He said that what's so funny is that C.I. didn't want TV in the first edition. C.I.'s worked on every edition even though they only made C.I. a member (with permission) a little while back. On the first edition, C.I. was present (not on the phone). Jim said that they'd all talked about doing a site and then Jim heard C.I. speak (most people know this story) and guessed correctly that it was C.I. All of them -- Jim, Dona, Ava, Ty and Jess -- were already Common Ills community members. So Jim was like, "We always talk about doing a site, if you helped, we'd do one." So C.I. ended up meeting the others and that was the first edition.

But C.I. didn't see the point in TV being included. Jim says C.I. hadn't even seen the show they reviewed (Joey) but after a bit started tossing out jokes. Ava had a really good one that no one noticed and C.I. got that in the piece and that's how the Ava and C.I. team was born. Jim thinks it was by the fourth review that the rest of them started realizing the reviews were all Ava and C.I. for the most part. And Jim says he was the one who didn't catch on that Ava and C.I. were doing a feminist critique. But readers loved it and it became something they had to have every edition. It's very popular in the online version but it's often even longer in the print version because Ava and C.I. will usually toss out a few more paragraphs in that at the end (that aren't on the show they're reviewing).

I told Jim I was going to tell him Elaine's picks and my picks and he said not to. He said he'd end up reading over them. He said one day, he got online at two to read some e-mails to their site and there was one raving over a TV review, so he went back to read it and then read another and then another and pretty soon, Dona told him it was eight o'clock and all he'd done all afternoon and evening was sit at the computer! :D

So now that I've shared that, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

UNICEF: 25% of Iraqi Children Suffer Malnutrition
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the Iraqi government and UNICEF has concluded a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition.

This is a big thing because this is happening while the occupation is supposed to be "liberating" them. It's really time for everyone to stop pretending that Iraqis have been helped in three years of this illegal occupation. Three years past and in the fourth currently and we can't even do anything about malnutrition? If nothing else demonstrates to you that we're not there to help and that the occupation needs to end, that should.

Elaine is really bummed that this issue isn't being picked up more in the mainstream/corporate media. We talked about how it really isn't a big deal when it should be front page news.

NYPD Investigated For Conduct At 2004 RNC
Democracy Now! has learned the Justice Department has launched a criminal civil rights investigation of the New York Police Department over the NYPD's treatment of protesters during the Republican National Convention. During the week of the 2004 convention, police arrested some 1800 protesters -- more than at any previous political convention in the country’s history.

They got away with it. Will they continue to get away with it? I don't have a lot of faith in the Alberto Gonzales Justice Department.

Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. And make sure you listen to
KPFA tomorrow for the live coverage of Michael Hayden's confirmation or not hearings for CIA director anchored by Larry Bensky of Sunday Salon and Mitch Jesserich who used to be with Free Speech Radio and is now part of the Wakeup Call team. The coverage starts at nine a.m. in the morning if you live on the east coast like me. If you're on the west coast, it's six a.m. and I'm not sure on in between. But you can listen online. For FREE! So make a point to listen.

Cedric's "Immigration" is something really important so make sure you read it. Here's another,
Michael George Smith's "Bush, Immigration and the Democrats:"

In his speech, Bush outlined an immigration reform plan that, in his own words, walks a "middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation."
It is indeed a middle ground. On one side is the ultra-xenophobic right wing of his own party, exemplified by the Minutemen and such visionary statesmen as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, who responded to worries that deporting 12 million undocumented workers would have a devastating impact on the economy with this gem: "I say let the prisoners pick the fruits." On the other is big business and their lackeys in Congress, desperate for a bill that ensures an influx of vulnerable labor and codifies their ability to super-exploit them at will.
It is also a middle ground that the Democratic Party seems happy to occupy; they have sided with Bush on nearly every issue of importance in the immigration debate. The fact that they opposed back the uber-draconian Sensenbrenner bill (HR 4437) is of little solace to the millions of immigrants they seek to relegate to second-class citizenship and the millions more they simply wish to deport.
The Democratic response, both in the form of the immediate rebuttal given by Sen. Dick Durbin, the assistant minority leader, and the legislation they have supported in the Senate, does not even rise to the level of pathetic. It is a non-response, essentially a total agreement. The six main features of Bush's plan and the Democrats' reaction to them:
Guest worker program

This legalized form of indentured servitude is the centerpiece of the Democrats' reform agenda. It was a major part of the McCain-Kennedy bill and the Senate Judiciary Committee bill that was passed with the support of every Democrat on the committee.
A 'path to citizenship' as opposed to amnesty

Bush: "I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law. What I have just described is not amnesty. It is a way for those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society."
Durbin: "People who have broken our laws should not and will not be rewarded with amnesty. But people who work hard and play by the rules should have a chance to earn their way to legal status if they pay a fine, learn English, pay back taxes and go to the back of the line."
No comment necessary.

It's as though Congress saw all the protests in the last two months and just shrugged. It's disgusting.

What else is disgusting? That Congress, Democrats and Republicans refuse to address Iraq.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Yesterday, as reported by Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Omar al Neami, nine corpses were found in Iraq, there were drive bys, bombs -- chaos and violence. The hallmark of the illegal occupation.
BBC notes the kidnapping, in Baghdad Tuesday, of an unnamded diplomat with the United Arab Emirates. CNN notes that this "attack was the second in two weeks involving employees of the UAE embassy in Iraq. On May 3, two Iraqis working for the embassy were killed during an attack on their car, according to the Emirates News Agency." The AFP identifies him as: Naji al-Nuami "Abu Rashid" (parenthesis are the AFP's). While one person with al-Noaimi was reported as wounded, Reuters reports that the man has now died from the gun shot wounds (he's identified only as a "Sudanese driver.")
CNN, the Associated Press and BBC note that Iraqi prime minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki will, apparently, announce his cabinet nominations this Saturday. As the rah-rah-rah-put-on-Etta-James'-"At Last!"-mood builds, it's left to AFP to note the obvious: the parliment meets Saturday because the constitutional deadline is Monday, the 22nd. al-Maliki has already missed his own imposed deadline. The Monday deadline is not optional. Hassan al-Sunaid informed the AFP that professional liar (my term) Ahmed Chalabi is in the running for head of the interior ministry (competing with Qassem Daoud).
While that goes on under the watchful eye of the United States administration,
Des Browne, England's defense secretary, again put forth the line that England might be withdrawing from Iraq. "The line"? British members have grown tired of what they see as empty talk. If that seems harsh or negative to any Pollyanish on Iraq visitors, Browne also maintains that things are hunky dory in Basra. (They're not and we'll get to that in a moment.)
Reuters notes that four police officers have been wounded from two roadside bombs in Baghdad (one near the hospital al-Kindi, the other at a check point). The Associated Press notes that two corpses ("handcuffed and shot in the head") have been discovered in Baghdad.
And while Baghdad gets a great deal of press attention (due to the Green Zone being located there), it shouldn't be the only focus.
Patrick Cockburn notes that "One person is being assassinated in Basra every hour, as order in Iraq's second city disintegrates, according to an Iraqi Defence Ministry." Along with details on Basra, Cockburn covers the malnutrition going on Iraq. (From Monday: "Meanwhile Australia's ABC notes the "UN-backed government survey" on malnutrition in Iraq which has found that "almost one child in every 10 aged between six months and five years, suffered acute malnourishment." This is a story that should be receiving more attention than it's getting.)
In addition to Cockburn's report (and the
Democracy Now! item above), for more on the widespread malnutrition plaguing Iraq, you can read this UNICEF report. You should especially read it if you're one of the ones (I'm not talking about members here) who've kidded yourself and wasted everyone's time with "A school room was painted!" That ___ has been meaningless and was always meaningless. "A rapid post-war nutritional assessment carried out by UNICEF in Baghdad found that acute malnutrition or wasting, measured by a child's weight for height, has nearly doubled from four per cent a year ago, to almost eight per cent." But all the US administration has been concerned with has been cutting (and ending) the subsidies program in place before the occupation. We're in year four of the illegal occupation. Read the report and then keep kidding yourself that a paint job or ceiling fan anywhere was anything other than window dressing.
Violence has continued in other areas of Iraq as well. Here are two reported events outside Baghdad. In Diyali,
KUNA notes that "an Iraqi officer was killed and two others were injured" in an explosion. In Bauba, Reuters notes that four people are dead and 11 wounded following an explosion and gunfire
For Knight Ridder,
Edward Colimore takes a look at American women serving in Iraq and notes that "nearly 400 female service members" have been wounded, "11 have had amputation," over "50 others have been killed."

richard a. oppel jr.