Friday, June 30, 2006

Hard Promises (that's a Tom Petty CD)

Sorry. Elaine and I are both starting late. On the plus side, that's due to the fact that we really need a roundtable in the coming edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. We were discussing a number of reasons why and outlining some features (we is everyone, I'll copy and paste from The Third Estate Sunday Review: "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; and Wally of The Daily Jot."]. Second, I need to plug Polly's Brew. I always mention Gina & Krista and their round-robin because I know them pretty well. But I had an e-mail from Eddie this week and ended up doing as he was doing. I got the results today and I e-mailed Polly, outlining her what was going on, saying I was writing a column about it, and asking her if she wanted it for her newsletter. She wrote back the sweetest e-mail. So Sunday, when you read Polly's Brew, look for my column too.

What's it on? C.I. covered Nancy Youssef's article that broke the news that the US government was keeping body counts on Iraqis. That should have been big news. Eddie made a point to get the word out on Youssef's article with no success. Thursday, I got an e-mail from him where he talked about the lack of response (some didn't just not cover it, they didn't even respond to his e-mails -- which he forwarded to me and they were nice e-mails). So I wanted to try a few places and did.

Mainly I wanted to try the site that always wants links from The Common Ills. Jess and Ava hate going through the public account because that site always want links. E-mail, e-mail, e-mail. They did a thing not long ago on how Republicans hated the troops because they wouldn't support a proposal condemning amnesty for Iraqis. Actually, to end the war, there will have to be some sort of amnesty. But it was more important to trash Republicans than to get it right.
I have no problem trashing Republicans. But if Dems propose something stupid, I'm not going to trash some Republicans who know it is stupid. But that's how that site works and why I don't link to it. It's a big site. It used to link to The Common Ills. (Last time was in July of 2005.) Though it doesn't link anymore (ask them why) it can't stop plugging anything they do, over and over (ask Jess and Ava). C.I. used to plug it frequently but people got sick of it and kept complaining (in e-mails and in the round-robins). Mainly they were sick of the fact that the site was averaging two or three plugs a week when it hadn't linked to The Common Ills in forever. (They also know that when C.I. stood up for not-yet-a-member-then West, the site went cowardly and wouldn't touch The Common Ills for that reason. Members tried to get things linked repeatedly and would get no response. These are members who used to buy stuff from that site. If that site has problems paying its bills now, if, it might want to think about why a number of people who bought from it stopped buying.) So I was most interested in that site.

I wrote a brief e-mail. Just asking why the body count story by Youssef hadn't been noted. I got a reply this morning saying to write it as a letter. I didn't. I don't like the site, I think it's chicken shit. I always have. I made a point not to link to it when I started the site. (And C.I. was helping me do my links over the phone and even mentioned it to me and I said, "Nope. Don't like that site.") So I didn't write a letter. I just sent links to the story via C.I.'s summary on Monday about it.

And? It's now Friday night. They replied at Friday before noon EST with "Thanks." And? They don't have a word about it. I just checked the site (first time I've gone there in over a year and last time). So you can read about that and the responses from others in my column in Sunday's Polly's Brew. You'll have the usual wonderful stuff in it (and Goldie's got a column too). So make sure to read it and let me say Polly's really nice. (Gina and Krista told me she was and have twice suggested that I should pass something to Polly before. They are very supportive of Polly and Polly's Brew. I am now too.)

The point of my column is that we all assumed (Eddie, Nora, Joan, Carl and others trying to get traction for Nancy Youssef's story) that people didn't know about it, that they somehow missed it. Truth is, they knew. They just didn't cover it. I'm listing every site they tried in the column so you can get how many people could have covered it but didn't. Some of it may make you sad (one in particular made me very sad). But it's not that they don't know, it's that they don't care.

The US government has lied repeatedly and stated they are not keeping figures on Iraqi civilian deaths. Monday, Nancy Youssef found out from a general that this was not true. (She probably found out before Monday, the story ran Monday.) And no one gives a damn apparently. We give a damn in this community. And I think it's only right that we know who will and who will not acknowledge. Outside of this community, it's apparently not news. Well it hasn't been much of a "news week" has it? From Democracy Now!:

Supreme Court Rebukes White House Over Guantanamo Tribunals
In a landmark decision the Supreme Court has rebuked the Bush administration for forming military tribunals to try prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. In a five to three ruling, the court said the military tribunals violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention.

They put it off and they put it off. Finally they rule. And the administration doesn't appear to give a damn.

Justices Say U.S. Must Follow Geneva Conventions
The impact of the case is expected to go well beyond Guantanamo as the justices ruled that the so-called war on terror must be fought under international rules. Legal experts say the ruling challenges the Bush administration's legal defense of harsh interrogation methods, the CIA's secret prisons and the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. The court ruled that the Geneva Convention must apply to detainees captured in the war on terror. [The Los Angeles Times reported "The real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court's holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda -- a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act."] In Thursday's ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote “the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction."

Again, this is the whole point that I think Sandra O'Connor was talking about when she rejected the notion of a "blank check" for the administration. So what changed? Stories about Guantanamo. Continued horrors coming from the prison and the fact that the administration is clearly out of bounds (NSA warrantless spying, financial spying, Pentagon spying on Quakers, peace activists, gays and lesbians, etc.). I think all that combined plus one more element resulted in the Court finally making the decision they indicated they could a while back.

Elaine asked me to put a link in, "Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror:"

DR. STEVEN MILES: Yeah, one of my favorites was, Schlesinger was assigned by the Defense Department -- he was a former Secretary of Defense -- to go investigate human rights abuse there. And he said, ‘Well, of course, America only tortures in the ticking time bomb scenario.’ And so, he said, ‘Here is a great case.’ And he talks about this lieutenant colonel who, after a prisoner was beaten in order to get information about an attack on his unit, stuffed his head in a barrel and then discharged his gun next to the guy's head. Well, this guy was actually working with us and was betrayed, as many of the prisoners were, on a tip by jealous other players. In fact --
AMY GOODMAN: The prisoner was working with the U.S. forces?
DR. STEVEN MILES: Yeah, he was not a prisoner. He was actually a U.S. employee, and somebody else said that he was getting ready to attack our unit. And, in fact, around 85% of the prisoners in Iraq and 60% in Guantanamo are innocent of any insurgency or al-Qaeda activity by the Military Intelligence's own estimate. In this case, we picked up one of our own employees. So Schlesinger said -- well, the guy blurted out a bunch of names after they fired a gun next to his head, and Schlesinger said, “This is a great example of a ticking time bomb case.” But the problem was --
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the ticking time bomb case is what?
DR. STEVEN MILES: Well, you torture a person, and then you get immediate information to protect your unit, okay?
AMY GOODMAN: Because there might be a ticking time bomb.
DR. STEVEN MILES: Right, and in this case they said that this guy knew about an impending attack on this unit. Okay, but the guy gave out names of people who were innocent, just because he was scared. We alienated him as an informant, and none of these names panned out. But here's the follow-up to the story: what they did then was they let this lieutenant colonel off very lightly and they allowed him discharge with a pension, okay? And about a hundred congressmen gave him dinners across the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: This is the man who put this prisoner's head in a barrel, put a gun next to his head in the barrel and shot it off, the prisoner thinking his head was going to be blown off?
DR. STEVEN MILES: Exactly. After torturing him for about an hour. And then what happened was, when they let him off, they had these other soldiers who were beating up prisoners on the mistaken belief that these prisoners were involved in the rape of Jessica Lynch. Jessica Lynch, I don't believe, was raped. But these guys had nothing to do with it, even if she was. They were miles away from this. And what happened was they tied these guys down on the ground or held them down on the ground, while the soldiers kicked them between their legs. Well, since they had just let this current lieutenant colonel off for shooting a gun next to this other guy’s head, they decided to let these soldiers off with very minor sanctions, despite the recommendations of the commanders in the field.
And then what happened was that this same unit was the unit that was sent over to Abu Ghraib and essentially had been given a green light for abuse of prisoners, so that instead of a ticking time bomb being prevented by torture in the case of Schlesinger’s anecdote, what really happened was a green light was given for abuses of prisoners.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Steven Miles, Professor of Medicine at University of Minnesota, a faculty member of its Center for Bioethics, and a practicing physician. His book is called Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror. Can you talk about another horrifying, but famous image of an Iraqi prisoner, and that was the dead prisoner on ice?

So that's pretty interesting, right? Who gets rewarded and who doesn't. What makes a "noble" person to the administration. Have you checked out Tom Hayden's "Shifting Winds on Iraq"? You should. He's covering what's going on with Iraq in terms of this country and the Democratic Party. It's a pretty amazing piece and one of the few things I feel like praising tonight.

I'm pretty tired. Bet everyone else is exhausted. (Elaine's posting and Rebecca's planning on posting too.)

C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. So much so that Jeffrey Snow (US "Army Col.") tells Reuters the obvious, "I think since we have started Operation Together Forward, you'll find that the number of attacks are going up." He's referring to the "crackdown" in Baghdad. As other news emerged, the latest allegations of crimes committed by US forces, Snow began making noise that "bad" media coverage could "lose" the war. Considering bad media sold the war it would be poetic if "bad" media could end it -- poetic but not likely.
Also continuing is the confusion regarding Romania.
AP leads with the withdrawal is now a dead issue which isn't correct. The Supreme Defence Council said no to "withdrawal." Kind of, sort of. What they're doing (today, at this moment) is dropping the number of troops from 890 to 628. That's today's comprise with an emphasis on "today." Why? The council's decision is meaningless if parliament doesn't back it up. (A point Edward Wong failed to grasp in the Times this morning.) For that reason as well as the fact that it will be parliament who will make the decision whether or not the Romanian troops mission is extended at the end of the year (six months away), Calin Popescu Tariceanu (Romania's prime minister) stated: "The decision was only delayed today."
AFP reports: "In a new blow to the coalition, Poland said it will pull its troops out of Iraq by the middle of next year."
Noting the indifference to Iraq (which I would place with the media),
Danny Schechter wonders if we need a "War Clock" to bring the economic costs home since "[t]he drama of human beings dying and a country like Iraq being devastated doesn't seem to register"?
We need something. Iraq's not registering. We'll probably hear some of it even though it's the 4th Weekend so everyone's rushing off to their vacations. What will we hear?
Ryan Lenz (Associated Press) reports: "Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq" in Mahmoudiyah. The alleged crimes are said to have taken place in March and the five are alleged to have burned the body of the rape victim.
CNN is reporting that it was a "deadly" day for children, noting that a clash "between gunmen and Iraqi soldiers left a teenage girl dead" in Latifiya and that one of six corpses discovered in Baghdad was "a boy believed to be between 4 and 6. . . . shot . . . signs of torture." Corpses? AFP reports that four corpses were discovered in Al-Rashaad, near Kirkuk ("bullet-riddled"). That's ten corpses total reported thus far.
CBS and AP report that, in Abu Saida, Sunni Sheik Hatam Mitaab al-Khazraji was gunned down. RTE News notes that three are dead and at least seven wounded from a roadside bomb that went off Kirkuk.
AFP is currently estimating that "at least 14 people" died in violent attacks today (Iraiqi civilians) and the AP notes that Kyle Miller, member of 682nd Engineer Battalion, has been identified by Dean Johnson ("Guard Brig. Gen.") as the National Guardsman who died today in Iraq (a bomb "detonated near his convoy").

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Where's the Iraq coverage?

Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

10 Members of Granny Peace Brigade Released in Philly
In Philadelphia, 10 members of the Granny Peace Brigade were arrested Wednesday after refusing to leave a military recruiting center.

This is important and Cedric and I are making it our lead item. The Granny Peace Brigade is older women speaking up and saying no to war. They go into recruiting centers and say, "Sign me up." Then they sit outside them. They aren't waiting for some political party to figure out if the war is right or wrong, they're excersizing their free speech rights and bringing the war home.

I had an e-mail about Rebecca's post yesterday ("pissed"), by the way. Wasn't I ashamed of her? No. No one is. If you missed it, yesterday Amy Goodman interviewed three people. One of whom was the foreign minister of something from Israel. He got all bent out of shape about questions he was asked. (Like C.I. always says, "You can ask me any question, that doesn't mean I have to answer.") So he has his little tantrum on air about how dare anyone bring him on the show and he was misled and Amy Goodman said, "I'm sorry." I don't think she should have told him she was sorry. I don't know why she did. When other guests are upset, they have to deal with it or not. When Bill Clinton was griping, she didn't say, "I'm sorry." He was president at the time. If some little former government flack gets his nose bent out of shape, as Cedric always says, "Oh well." Rebecca will be writing about today's show later on (or may be writing it right now but I checked before I started blogging and it wasn't up).

I'm sorry, if you're going to cover Gaza, get it right or don't do it. I'm wondering where the Iraq coverage is. I've had Afghanistan, I've had Gaza over and over. Where's Iraq?

Where is the war coverage? And WHERE IS THE COVERAGE OF THE FACT THAT THE US GOVERNMENT LIED -- THEY ARE KEEPING BODY COUNTS OF IRAQIS. That was published on Monday. C.I. noted it. I ran the Iraq snapshot here, so it was noted here. Where the FUCK is that coverage?

Bully Boy does want a pleasant 4th of July. He wants you to go into that vacation, where families gather, thinking, "Oh the resistance is ready to give up." There's an item in the headlines that Rebecca's addressing tonight. It's on Gaza.

It's an occupation, I'm against occupations. If you're going to cover it, cover it in full. Otherwise, I want to hear about Iraq. I agree with Rebecca that the coverage has been poor on Democracy Now! about Gaza. It was poor again today. If you can't cover it, don't cover it. I'm perfectly fine with hearing about Iraq. If someone's uncomfortable talking realities, then don't talk about it at all. It does less damage then getting it wrong.

Kat heard something on The Morning Show this week where the guest corrected something in an introduction, noting that the attacks had been ongoing or something like that. She said the host thanked the guest for making that point. Nobody's correcting anything on Democracy Now! I love the show but if you're not getting it right, don't cover Gaza. It does too much damage. I understand that some people don't want to address it. I understand that people who do try to address it get demonized. So if that's your fear, don't talk about it. Cover something else.

I'd rather hear about Iraq anyway because we do have a WAR -- we being the United States. We're aiding and abetting and covering for the oppression and death going on in Gaza. No question. But we're directly responsible for Iraq. I love Amy Goodman, I love Democracy Now! but the coverage on Gaza has been BAD. Rebecca loves the program too, loves Goodman too. If she's going to say, "This is wrong" when it's wrong, I'm not going to be upset with her.

This coverage has been BAD and this nonsense of "balance" isn't cutting it for me either. Two days in a row and it's been as bad as the New York Times.

Judge Sentences Katrina Looters to 15 Years in Jail
In other news from New Orleans, a judge has sentenced three people to fifteen years in prisons for looting in the days after Hurricane Katrina. The three were convicted of taking liquor, wine and beer from a grocery store.

This is so stupid. First of all, if you're facing flooding and death, maybe you need a DAMN drink. Did anyone ever think of that? But fifteen years? Will everyone who "looted" get 15 years? (Cedric knows about some stuff here and is writing about it. I'm not because it's Cedric's knowledge and I'm not stealing it. Read Cedric tonight and you'll find out about it.)

I want to note C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" in full like I always do but, first, I want to note the need for it. It's the only alternative to the mainstream coverage.

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

Chaos and violence continue.
Stooges, fools and cheerleaders allow it to continue. Meanwhile the so-called coalition continues to shrink.Romania becomes the next to tell the Bully Boy, "Catch you on the flip-side." Retuers reports Calin Tariceanu (prime minister of Romania) announced today that Romania would pull all troops by the end of the year -- before Romania's 890 troops can be pulled the Supreme Defence Council has to give its approval. Romania's president has slammed the proposal as had American ambassador to Romania and Advance Auto Parts merchant Nicholas F. Taubman. Bully Boy pioneer Taubman expressed his "impression that not all of the relevant parties, whether within Romania or beyond, were consulted before this proposal was announced." "Within Romania or beyond"? Spoken like a big donor, not like an ambassador, but Advance Auto Parts isn't known for turning out diplomats.
This as Rocky Mountain News reports that the Colorado Army National Guard's 169th unit will ship 100 soldiers to Iraq in July (with 300 of the "2/135th Aviation Company" currently training in Texas with orders to deploy in Septemeber).
Despite yesterday's 'coverage' of the "insurgent-poll" nothing really changed. It was another day of violence and chaos in Iraq.Australia's ABC reports that Australian troops were "under attack" in southern Iraq. The Associated Press reports that "Iraqi and U.S. troops battled Shi'ite militiamen in a village northeast of Baghdad" -- still ongoing when the AP filed their report. Reuters notes, on this incident, that a police commander was shot dead by a sniper and two others were wounded.
Those were among many of the deaths in Iraq. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, there were multiple victims of violence today: trash collector, head of security for Baghdad University (Kadhim Challoub), merchants, baker, electrical worker and a woman who'd been waiting in her car with her two children (the children were wounded, not killed) among them. Reuters notes, in Kerbala, the death (by gunshot) of "a criminal intelligence policeman" as well as the death of two Iraqi soldiers (as well as one civilian, with one soldier and two other civilians wounded) in Faulluja, and one Iraqi soldier dead with seven more wounded from a roadside bomb in Riyadh. In Kirkuk, a car bomb exploded at a Shi'ite soldier's funeral initially claiming the lives of at least four. Reuters would later put the number of those dead at seven.As Mark Mericle noted on yesterday's KPFA The KPFA Evening News, "People gathered in 34 cities around the country yesterday to show their support for Lt. Ehren Watada" introducing a news report by Julie Sabatier from Portland.
Two other items noted on yesterday's KPFA Evening News, the 'apologetic' Joshua Belile, who once apologized (or 'apologized') for his song while advising others to "let it go," has now announced that he will be releasing "a professionally recorded version of the song in a few weeks" and in Berkeley, the city council has put a "symbolic" referendum on the ballot calling on Congress to impeach the Bully Boy due to his lies that led us into an illegal war. (June 27th was also declared Cindy Sheehan day.)
Reuters notes that seven corpses were found (male) in the Tigris River ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture"), while two more corpses (male) were discovered in the Euphrates River ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture"). Reuters notes that: "Morgue officials say 30-50 bodies are found in Baghdad alone every day." In Kirkuk, the AP reports the corpse of a fifteen-year-old female was discovered -- "kidnapped five days ago." The AFP puts the count of corpses discovered throughout Iraq today at 18.
File it under "No one could have guessed," Condi No-One-Could-Have-Guessed Rice had a "testy exchange" with Russia's Sergei Lavrov (Russia's Foreign Minister) in a "closed-door meeting" from which the audio feed was accidentally left on. "What does that mean?" Rice asks at one point, to which Lavrov responds, "I think you understand." In what might have been her most honest reply, she declared, "No, I don't." On that, we believe you, Condi, we believe you. The issue was how to word a statement on the security situation in Iraq and the anger spilled over publicly after the meeting, in front of reporters when Rice responded to Lavrov's comments about changes in America that he'd seen since he first visited in 1979, "So when did you go and where did you go in the United States in 1979 that you saw so much change? I am really interested." Though Rice may have forgotten, her current title is Secretary of State.
What gets play and what doesn't? One might think that Nancy A. Youssef breaking the news Monday that the US government, despite claims otherwise, was indeed keeping body counts of Iraqis. You might think that would be news . . . but you'd be wrong. What gets runs with?
Not truth. July 4th's a-coming, can't have families getting together in the United States without some false hope or Bully Boy might get a trashing that wouldn't bode well for the November elections. So nonsense gets tossed out by the puppet government and the media amplifies it.
Yes, we're speaking of the nonsense that "insurgents" are on the two-year-withdrawal bus. Since the domestic, US media has never explored the terms "insurgent" or "resistance," who knows what they mean? The AFP notes: "At the same time, a foreign diplomat raised questions about the identity of armed groups reportedly in contact with the government and whether they carry any real weight in the nationwide insurgency." Al Jazeera notes that eleven groups have met with occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki and that eight of them are the ones being referred to. Do they carry any weight? A good question to ask. (Instead, it's easier to report/"report": "Insurgents meeting with Maliki!") Al Jazeera, which may be the only news organization that's going by more than government sources (it's spoken to representatives for the groups) reports that "the 11 groups operate north and north-east of Baghdad in increasingly violent Salahuddin and Diyala provinces.
"Increasingly violent. This isn't Anbar, this isn't even Baghdad. These, if Al Jazeera's reporting is correct, are groups from, for Iraq, relatively restful provinces that are growing "increasingly violent." It's a nice bit of happy talk to send us all into the holiday weekend. It's not, however, reality. Having never explored the issue (other than to guess fighting is fueled by Iran -- wait, no! it's Egypt), they now want to get behind eight groups or eleven groups and the news consumer is left uninformed. (Possibly that's the point of it all.)
Reality was Nancy A. Youssef's report. Have we seen that covered in the New York Times? Have we seen it covered elsewhere? Maybe the silence is due to the fact that the administration being caught in yet another lie seems more "redundant" than "newsworthy"?

This was at Danny Schechter's News Dissector, you can see him and Amy Goodman in one place. I'm noting it because I think both are worth seeing. I still love Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! but I'm not going to pretend the Gaza coverage was anything but bad. That doesn't mean Amy Goodman's bad. She's not. But the coverage indicates to me the show needs to focus on something else because it is too weak. Not everyone can cover everything. That's just reality. If you've got a spot that you're weak in, go to what you're strong in. If you can do fast balls, you pitch them until your arm goes out because that's your strength. Here's the thing about where you can see Amy Goodman and Danny Schechter:

REMINDER: EVENTS THIS WEEKEND --NY STATEPanel on Threats to the press and democracy; Friday night, June 30th, 7:30 PM, SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge, from Congressperson Maurice Hinchey, Amy Goodman, Danny Schechter and Jeff Cohen, Alan Chartock, emcee, Sunday, July 2nd, 5:00 PM, Rosendale (NY) Theatre -- sneak preview of my new film In Debt We Trust. (For more on film, See
Hope to see those of you who can make it. Everyone welcome to read, join, and support Mediachannel. Check out our new home page with articles about the World Cup, The Bush strategy, and why citizens have to join the media as well as a new Mediachannel Europe page. Just click on the EU Flag.

I haven't checked out Mediachannel lately. (I'm busy with school.) I'll check it out later and if there's something on the World Cup, I'll include it either tomorrow or Saturday (whenever I post next). In the meantime, check out Cedric's "Holla' Back Girl Uses Nah-Nah Diplomacy" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CONDI TRIES OUT THE NAH-NAH DIPLOMACY" (joint post! joint post!). And check out C.I.'s "NYT: Dexy wants to process, everyone in a group circle!" and "NYT: Covering the spin and not much more" which will keep you informed and, with the first one, laughing. Rebecca said C.I. had a headache and a half this morning (actually sick to the stomach) over the "covering the spin" entry. Rebecca said, "You are making yourself sick, note the Washington Post article and why it matters." (I agree.) Then they went and worked out and, when that was over, C.I. posted the Dexy entry. C.I. wanted to talk about it before posting. Rebecca pointed out that most everyone would give Dexy feather kisses for it and that's when C.I. said, "Well if everyone's doing it, you know I'm not." (And they both laughed.)
Everybody's having so much fun out west. :( Wish I was there. (I've got classes and no way to get away. I know C.I. would take care of the travel for me, it's not that. It's that I have classes.)
(And I'm not trying to embarrass C.I. on that but, as Ma has pointed out, C.I. deserved a public thank you for that and a whole lot more. Betty said if I brought that up again here to mention that she too says "Thank you. Big time." C.I. doesn't think it's anything and gets mad if you say thank you, but it is something and those of us who get treated have a right to say "thank you." We're looking at a weekend trip sometime soon, by the way.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Specter thinks he might be angry, Dave Zirin and more

"Did I get done studying quick?" Leigh Ann wondered. No. I was up until midnight. So here's a post and maybe it will be worth reading and maybe it won't. Before I go any further, I need to say, check out Cedric's "Michael Smith's speech from Law and Disorder." He did a great job capturing the speech and I also agree with 101% about that DC station. I was so bummed when I heard that and thought, "That's some kind of free speech radio?" So now let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Sen. Specter Considers Suing Bush Over Signing Statements
In other news from Washington, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he is seriously considering suing the White House over President Bush's use of signing statements. Bush has maintained that he has the right to revise, interpret or disregard hundreds of laws on national security and constitutional grounds. Since his election, Bush has issued more than 750 signing statements -- more than all previous presidents combined. Senator Specter raised the possibility of suing the White House during a hearing on the legality of presidential signing statements. At the meeting Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy called the president's use of signing statements a grave threat to the nation's constitutional system of checks and balances.

He is "seriously considering"? He let the White House walk all over him, they tugged his leash and he said, "No under oath for Alberto Gonzales when he testifies." Now he's thinking it might be time to get serious? It is a big threat and Michael Ratner talked about that on Law and Disorder Monday.

Had to stop. I know my folks. My kid sister's still learning. Dad's got Joni Mitchell's CD on the stereo (the one with "Michael From Mountains" which I always thought was a cool song when I was a kid and would go, "Play my song! Play my song!" :D). If I'm not asking for it, then one of them put it on because they wanted to hear it and that means one or both is feeling romantic. So I had to run in to my sister's room and warn her, "Stay out of the living room!" :D

When I was a little kid, I used to say, when a grown up would ask my name, "My name is Michael From Mountains." :D I was a dumb ass even then. :D

U.S. Military Admits Security Not Improving Much In Baghdad
Meanwhile the U.S. military has acknowledged that the security situation has barely improved in Baghdad despite a two-week-old security clampdown involving 75,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops. On Tuesday at least 18 people died in Iraq including a U.S. Marine and three U.S. soldiers.

File it under the "no shit" report. :D Where is that corner, Bully Boy, the one you thought we were turning? That was before a state of emergency was declared in Baghdad. There is no turned corner. There is quick sand and the military's up to its neck. It's time to bring the troops home.

Cindy Sheehan and Others to Launch White House Hunger Strike
Code Pink, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace have announced they will launch a hunger strike on July 4th outside the White House to protest the war in Iraq. Dozens of military family members, veterans, activists and celebrities have vowed to take part in the hunger strike. The list includes Cindy Sheehan, Dolores Huerta, Willie Nelson, Danny Glover, Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. Cindy Sheehan said in a statement: "We've marched, held vigils, lobbied Congress, camped out at Bush's ranch. We've even gone to jail. Now it's time to do more."

This is just a bonus item that we're both putting up to get the word out. Am I going to fast? I don't know. I love the 4th bbq. I know why they're doing it on the 4th and all and I could maybe go a whole day without food but when there's stuff on the grill and all? I don't know. I'm thinking about it. Elaine's coming over (with her boyfriend) and she says she's fasting. Nina says she's fasting too. When ever one of them says that, there's this long pause where I guess I'm supposed to leap in and go, "Me too!" But hamburgers. Ribs. Cole slaw. BBQ. Potato salad. Corn on the cob. Why couldn't they have fasted on Easter? :D Michael From Mountains needs his beef! :D I don't know. I'm thinking about it. Be sure to check out Elaine's thoughts at Like Maria Said Paz.

This is from Monday's Democracy Now! -- "The World Cup: War, Peace and Racism in the Biggest Sporting Event on the Planet:"

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Zirin, talk about Iran.
DAVID ZIRIN: Absolutely. Well, Iran was part of the World Cup. They were the Middle Eastern champions this year. And there was a push to keep them from playing in the World Cup, because of the nuclear controversy that’s been going on there, because of the desire for a nuclear enrichment program led by President Ahmadinejad. And the European Union, they passed a resolution to try to keep Iran out of the World Cup. One of the leaders of the E.U. suggested that they get Bahrain, who came in second, to play in the World Cup, because they said if we get Bahrain here, then people won't think it's an attack against the Muslim world. It will show how generous we are that we actually want Bahrain to play, which is just an idiotic, head-scratching concept.
In the United States, this happened, as well, when Senator John McCain, the maverick of Bob Jones University, attempted to get a bill passed through the Senate that would call for FIFA -- that’s the governing soccer body -- from keeping Iran from playing in the World Cup. I mean, it was a transparent effort to try to use the current geopolitical situation as a club to keep Iran out of the World Cup, and it's something that failed, which is a very good thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Racism at the games?
DAVID ZIRIN: Oh, my goodness. Well, in the lead-up to the Cup, there was a continent-wide controversy throughout Europe about racism at the top levels of soccer. And this is accompanied in Europe, issues around immigration, asylum, anti-Muslim sentiment. And with that, you see a resurgence of just some absolutely awful spectacles, like star African players who play in the European leagues, every time their foot would touch the ball, fans would make ape noises or monkey noises. Fans would be throwing -- I actually don't even like calling them "fans" -- but people in the stands would be throwing banana peels at them, peanuts at them. And it got so bad that a star player named Samuel Eto'o, who's from Cameroon and plays for Barcelona, he literally started to walk off the field and said, "I'm not going play anymore." And it took players from both teams to get together to quiet the fans down, to eject fans.
Another player named Marc Zoro, who plays for a top Italian club, who's from Africa, he picked up the ball and started to just walk off the field holding the ball. Not allowed to touch the ball with your hands. He was pretty mad. He was ready to walk away. I mean, it's an absolutely horrible thing. One of the African players was quoted anonymously, saying that "in Europe, we're treated as worse than dogs." And it got some play here in the U.S. when a U.S. player of African descent named DaMarcus Beasley, he described the situation. He said, "Every time my foot touches the ball, I fell like I'm in just some horrible racist, anachronistic film, you know, of some kind." And this is the sort of thing that soccer is facing right now.
AMY GOODMAN: But it hasn't happened as much at the World Cup.
DAVID ZIRIN: No, and it hasn't happened -- we should be very clear about this, that the reason why it's happened less at the World Cup, despite some little outbursts by little Neo-Nazi fringe groups trying to organize rallies or what not, is because of the organization of players and fans themselves. There's a group called FARE -- that's Footballers Against Racism -- that have been organizing to keep the racists out.

So there were actually three letters about Dave Zirin's column on Barry Bonds. One may be agreeing with the column (or else is saying it's not important enough to even write about), one I don't know what he's saying (I think they edit these letters in The Nation) and the third one is all upset that someone didn't think Babe Ruth was better than Barry Bonds.

I think it matters. I think it's worth writing about. Zirin's not just writing, "And then Barry rounded the base . . ." There are some heavy issues here: scapegoating, race, class and a lot more. If Nation readers can't see that then maybe they're not that smart, maybe they're just trained to see "important issue" when they get their cues. I'll take Dave Zirin any day over the lip-smacking, centrist nonsense of Eric Alterman. Nina said put in the "Effete Eric Alterman." :D

Dave Zirin is a lot more on the ball than a lot of people who just blow smoke out their ass. He could be like Alterman writing about the cable news (mainly Fox). I mean what are there, eighty-two million by now? Who needs it? He's such a "tough boy" going after Fox. What a brave "boy" Eric Alterman must be. He's probably strutting around in his pull ups going, "Look at me, I'm a big boy." He's the biggest waste of space in the magazine. I like the people with real opinions (Dave Zirin, Katha Pollitt, Patricia Williams and Alexander Cockburn), not the ones trying to be 'tasteful' so they can get on TV.

Eric Alterman's the nerd raving over his Star Wars action figures. I don't see many letters complaining about him. Maybe no one reads him?

I've linked to it before and I'll link to it again. Here's Dave Zirin and John Cox's "Hey Guys, It's Just a Game:"

More than half a century ago, Dwight Eisenhower famously said, "The true mission of American sports is to prepare young men for war." This is the undeniable downside of sports: the way teamwork, camaraderie and competition can be used to desensitize a population to the horrors of war. And it is particularly part of the sporting DNA of what Americans call football, where games are routinely referred to as "battles" or "wars," and NFL quarterbacks are "field generals" who throw bullet passes and bombs for the purpose of advancing on enemy territory.
Consider the bellicose posturing of American striker Eddie Johnson at the World Cup, a few days before his team managed to tie the favored Italians in an
ugly match featuring three ejections.
"We're here for a war," Johnson
said a few days before the game, after visiting US troops at Ramstein Air Base. "Whenever you put your jersey on and you look at your crest and the national anthem's going on, and you're playing against a different country, it's like you do or die, it's survival of the (fittest) over ninety minutes-plus. We're going to go out there and do whatever we've got to do, make tackles, do the things when the referee's not get three points." Johnson concluded by saying, "It's do or die.... I don't want to go home early." Ironically, most of the American troops Johnson thinks he's supporting would like nothing better than to "go home early" from combat duty in Iraq.

Do you get that this is more than you're getting on ESPN? Do you get that there's some actual thought going on and someone trying to say something that you're not already hearing from Eric, Jimmy, Paul, et al?

Oh, I got a laughable e-mail from James Carville and Paul Begla. They want you to fight the Republican spin machine . . . by giving money. Am I wrong on this or isn't Mary Matalin part of the Republican spin machine and isn't Carville married to her? If he's got problems at home, he doesn't need to drag me into them.

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

Chaos and violence continue.
Five corpses were
found in Baghdad on Tuesday. Other incidents included, in Mahaweel, a roadside bomb took the life of a police officer and three were wounded amd, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took the lives of three and wounded 17. In all, the New York Times estimates that 21 Iraqis died Tuesday and forty-one were wounded.
Today bombs continued.
CNN notes a carbomb in Baquba "near a coffee shop" that took at least one life and wounded at least fourteen more. Reuters notes that bombing as well as nother in Baquba which "seriously wounded two" police officers. Reuters also notes a bomb that went off in a Baghdad market and resulted in one death and eight wounded. CNN notes "a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military convoy detonated" taking the lives of "one civilian and wounding two." The Associated Press notes that Riyad Abdul-Majid Zuaini ("customs director for Central Baghdad") was shot dead by assailants (as was his driver) and that, in Mosul, a clash "between gunmen and police . . . broke out" with one police officer left wounded.
Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, Russia's lower house of parliament has "criticized the occupying countries in Iraq for losing control in the country." Xinhua reports Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister of Germany, noted, on behalf of the ministery, that they were "outraged and shocked over the terrible fater of our Russian colleagues." KUNA notes that Kuwait has "condmended . . . the killing of Russian diplomats by a terrorist group in Iraq."There were four diplomats kidnapped on June 3rd in Baghdad after their car was attacked by unknown assailants. During the attack a fifth diplomat,Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov , was killed. On Sunday, a videotape was released which showed what appear to be three of the four being killed. The Mujahedeen Shur Council have proclaimed that they are responsible for the murders.
Reuters reports that Russia experienced "a roadblock" today when it the United States and England "objected to parts of a draft Russian statement on the killings, arguing the text amounted to a slap at the U.S.-led multinational force, which includes 127,000 U.S. troops and 7,000 British soliders".
This as another official 'response' is reported: Russian president Vladimir Putin,
according to the Associated Press, has sent "special services to hunt down and 'destroy' the killers." Possibly this is what Bully Boy saw when he looked Putin in the eye? Pavel Felgenhauer dismisses the news as "a public relations excercise" to AFP and dubs it "an obvious imititation of those of Bush after September 11."
Meanwhile, Japanese government feels they met their "
objectives" in Iraq. Japan's chief of defense, Fukushiro Nukaga, termed the venture "a success" while speaking to the Associated Press and noted that, "The Iraqis are ready to resume control."But are the bits and pieces of the so-called coalition willing to leave? Reuters reports that Austraila's Brendan Nelson (defense minister) is making noises about not being held 'hostage' by a deadline and comparing his government's position to that of the United States' government.
In other news, apparently there was a poll of so-called insurgents. The
Associated Press is all over the so-called news (anonymice, of course) that "insurgents" are pushing for a withdrawal of US forces within two years. Does anyone believe that? Nouri al-Maliki may be meeting with representatives for resistance groups but, despite what an unnamed "senior Iraqi government" official says, it doesn't seem logical that the resistance would propose a two-year timetable. It will be all over the news but to buy into it, you have to suspend all disbelief and then some. (For any who are confused, people -- from various groups -- are willing to risk their lives, give their lives, resort to various acts of violence and they're going to send envoys to tell occupation puppet al-Maliki, "Hey, we're good. Two more years? Sure." Call it the resistance or call it the "insurgency," it's not about a two-year time-line. This very obvious propanganda is American made, my opinion.)
On the issue of "a media feeding frenzy,"
Dahr Jamail takes a look at the so-called "plan" offered by al-Maliki and notes that resistance groups have "rejected the 'plan' because they do not recognize the Iraqi 'government' as a legitmate entity. These same resistance groups understand that under international law, the current Iraqi 'government' controls nothing outside of the 'green zone,' and its existence violates the Geneva Conventions."
Iraqi forces have Yousri Fakher Moahmmed Ali in custody and allege that he is the one who blew up the Shi'ite shrine in February. As Amy Goodman noted, the Samarra bombing was followed by "increased fighting" which has resulted in the displacement of at least 150,000 Iraqis. Yusri Fakhir Muhammad Ali is also known as Abu Qudama and Al Jazeera quotes Iraq's national security adviser (Mouwafak al-Rubaie) reports that he "is also wanted for the murder of Atwar Bajhat, a television correspondent for Al-Arabiya news channel who was shot dead along with two of her colleagues hours after the shrine bombing". China's People's Daily notes: "The shrine of Ali al-Hadi, or the al-Hadhrah al-Askariyah, contains two tombs of Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D. The two were the 10th and 11th of Shiite's twelve most revered Imams. Shiite pilgrims visit the shrine from all over the world."
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq
estimates a total of 1.3 million are displaced. One of the refugee camps is Baladiyat Refugee Camp set up for the Palestinian refugees. This camp was attacked Sunday June 25th and Omar interviews residents of the camp at Alive in Baghdad.And finally, the ICRC is noting that "public services have almost ground to a halt" in Ramadi which "has been without power since 22 May." That's when US forces began the seige of Ramadi and power, water and phone services were cut.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Not much tonight

I could have killed Tony today. We were hanging out before class and I was about to fall over (tired). He starts talking about how this is the roughest Friday (he had a test this morning in a class) and I'm nodding and not thinking. Nina comes up about ten minutes later and I go on about how glad I am it's Friday. Nina goes, "What are you talking about? It's Tuesday." It is Tuesday. Tony goes, "It feels like a Friday." I'd been half-awake/half-asleep just thinking about how it was Friday and thinking, "I may not blog tonight. I may go home and take a nap. Then go do something fun. I'll blog on Saturday when I wake up." I was picturing it and then I get told it's Tuesday. :( I was going, "Tony! You said it was Friday!" :D

So when I got home, I took an hour nap after dinner. It's been real busy school wise. After I finished blogging last night, I stayed up until two finishing a paper. So let's kick things off with Democracy Now! and before we do, I'm not writing about Dave Zirin's appearance tonight. I was reading through The Nation and saw a letter that pissed me off. If I write tonight, it will be about that stupid letter (which was "Oh, that's not important" about a column Dave Zirin wrote). So I'll save that for tomorrow.

Pentagon Admits To New Spying of Student Groups
The list of activist groups monitored under a secret Pentagon program is growing. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network says the Defense Department has admitted to spying on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and anti-war protests at several universities: the State University of New York at Albany, William Paterson University in New Jersey, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California at Berkeley. De-classified documents show the government intercepted the students' e-mails and planted undercover agents at at least one protest. The government also refused to confirm or deny whether it had spied on activists in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. The disclosure marks the latest case of known government spying under a secret domestic intelligence program, which has also targeted the Quaker movement and other anti-war groups.

The list is growing and this is the biggest bunch of b.s. I guess we'll be the crazy chapter in the history book, where we're the idiots who just went along with whatever the administration wanted to do. They'll have some term for us then and it will provide chuckles for readers who laugh at us dopes in the 'old days' who just sat on their asses and said, "No, I'm cool" while we just saw the Bully Boy break one law after another.

Report: Military Equipment Costs To Triple
Meanwhile the Associated Press is reporting the annual cost of maintaining military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to triple next year to more than seventeen billion dollars. Some estimates now put war costs over the last five years at almost half a trillion dollars.

Does that make you feel good? Lockheed Martin probably feels good. (Read The Bush Plan. That's a great book and my kid sister's reading it right now so that will be my excuse for not noting the author -- I think I'd mispell her name. I'll note her tomorrow.) What do you do with all the money you rake in from profiting from the war? You must not have any guilt if you can spend it. "Let's go to Europe! Four weeks, we deserve it! We didn't provide all the weapons that killed all those people for nothing!"

Read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY CAUGHT SMELLING THE JONESES!" and I'm going to go study for a test and, fingers crossed, get into bed within an hour. Sorry to Elaine who ended up waiting for me to call. I thought I was closing my eyes for five minutes top. Be sure to check her site Like Maria Said Paz. She's going to talk about C.I.'s "NYT: Does that red light ever burn out, Dexy?" (read that, it's great).

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

Chaos and violence continue.
Happy talk continues.
In the land of reality, Medea Benjamin and Raed Jarrar examine the neutered "peace plan" put foward by occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the United States. Benjamin and Jarrar remind that a World Public Opinion poll this year "showed 87% of the general population [of Iraq] favoring a set timeline for U.S. withdrawal." This as USA Today reports on the USA Today/Gallup Poll which found that "[a] majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq" and that "[h]alf of those surveyed would like all U.S. forces out withing 12 months."
In other reality news, Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, over 5% of Iraq's population is displaced with over 150,000 having fled their home (a figure that does not include those who have been taken in by extended family members). In addition, Reuters notes that the figures for children only: 40,000 displaced children since February 22nd of this year. UNICEF, in its 1996 study (the most recent) looking at the effects of war on children found, for the 1980s: "2 million killed; 4-5 million disabled; 12 million left homeless; more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents; [and] some 10 million psychologically traumatized." Using figures up through the 80s, UNICEF found that civilian victims of war "has been rising steadily".
Reuters notes that in Baghdad, one car bomb took the lives of three peopl at a market and wounded at least ten while a second bomb took the lives of three police officers with another three wounded.
Al Jazeera notes that a car bomb in Kirkuk which took the lives of three and wounded at least seventeen. The Irish Examiner notes that the car bomb attack "came three days after a roadside bomb killed the chief of intelligence in Kirkuk" (Associated Press). Also in Kirkuk, Reuters notes "an off duty soldier" was killed by assailants "while driving his car."
Updates on two items. First, we noted yesterday the 10 kidnapped males. Steven Hurst and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (Canadian Press) report that the ten were all Sunni and students who were kidnapped "from their dormitory rooms" at Iraqi Technology University. The AFP reports that the kidnappings took place in "broad daylight" and that the kidnappers used "five sports utility vehicles with tinted windows".
Emma Griffiths (Australia's ABC) reports that the four Russian diplomats -- Fyodor Zaytsev, Rinat Aglyulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedosseyev -- have been confirmed dead by the Foreign Ministry of Russia. The four were kidnapped on June 3rd in Baghdad when their car was attacked by unknown assailants. During the attack a fifth diplomat,Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov , was killed. On Sunday, a videotape was released which showed what appear to be some of the four being killed. While the press reports were circulating, the Russian government noted repeatedly that the murders had not been confirmed. The Mujahedeen Shura Council has asserted since last weekend that they had killed the four diplomats.
Meanwhile, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now! today, "former CIA officer Tyler Drumheller said he repeatedly warned administration over the discredited Iraqi source known as 'Curveball'." Ignoring the warnings and advise, Colin Powell used the information for his now infamous UN speech that Powell has described as a "blot" on his career/record. Yesterday in Washington, DC, Democrats in the Senate held a hearing on the intelligence issue where, among others, Larry Wilkerson and Paul Pillar testified. Speaking of the administration and the intelligence community, Pillar stated, "I would describe the relationship as broken."
Joshua Belile will not be punished for "an obscenity-laced song" performed "to a laughing and cheering crowd." The US military has found no reason to charge him and one unnamed Marine Corps. official tells Reuters that "poor taste, poor judgment and poor timing, not to mention offensive lyrics, do not necessarily amount to criminal conduct." Margaret Neighbor (Scotsman) described the song thusly: "In a four-minute video called Hadji Girl, a singer who appears to be a marine tells a cheering audience about gunning down members of an Iarqi woman's family after they confront him with authomatic weapons." As Sandra Lupien reported June 14th on KPFA's The Morning Show, the song included lyrics such as: "the blood sprayed from between her eyes." As Lupien noted June 15th on KPFA's The Morning Show, the apologetic Belile stated that "People need to laugh at it and let it go." Reuters notes that he has said it was "supposed to be funny" and that he based it on Team America: World Police. (The film that underwhelmed at the box office in 2004 and was put out by the South Park twins.)
Finally, in peace news. NPR actually covered the case of Suzanne Swift. The audio clips can be heard online and lasts 3:58 minutes. The reporting? The segment's over (except for some really bad bumper music) at 3:26 minutes in a report filed by Martin Kaste. The report starts at 0:16 and Swift's case is over by 1:30 minutes. A minute and fourteen seconds may not seem like much but it's more than they've given Ehren Watada.
Today is a day of action for those wanting to stand with war resister Ehren Watada. To sign a petition in support of Watada by clicking here. More information on today's national day of action can be found at and Courage to Resist.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Law and Disorder interviewed Suzanne Vega and Collective Soul

"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Bully Boy Finds New Ways to Invade Our Privacy'" is at the top and I'm including it not because he credited "Mike's Friday post and Trina's Saturday post" but because it's damn funny and probably more true than we know. We all need a joke today. Monday, Monday . . . I think the Mamas and the Papas should have sang "Moan-day, Moan-day." I hate Mondays. Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!:

Critics: Financial Spying Echoes NSA Wiretapping
Critics meanwhile say the financial spying echoes the Bush administration’s wiretapping of Americans without court warrants.
Democratic Congressmember Edward Markey of Massachusetts: "Like the domestic surveillance program exposed last December, the Bush government's efforts to tap into the financial records of thousands of Americans appears to rely on justifications concocted without regard to current law or constitutional protection."

Whatta' I got to say about that? See below.

Rep. King: Prosecute NYT Under Espionage Act
Meanwhile, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for the prosecution of all New York Times staff members who were involved in exposing the financial spying. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, New York Republican Congressmember Peter King said the New York Times should be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act.

Elaine's grabbing these two items. There were 4 items we saw that we really wanted to note. She agreed but said she couldn't write about four items. So I'm grabbing two of the four and she's grabbing two of the four. Her two are the items above. They're important and you know you're dying to read what she's got to say about them so check out her site Like Maria Said Paz.

350 Iraqi Civilians Killed at US Checkpoints in '05
Meanwhile, the US military has announced 350 innocent Iraqis were killed at US checkpoints last year -- an average of at least six killings per week. A senior intelligence official told Reuters that out of a total 4,000 incidents in which US troops responded to a perceived threat -- less than two percent were later found to have posed an actual threat.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interviewed Giuliana Sgrena ("Kidnapped in Iraq, Shot by U.S. Forces: Italian Journalist Giuliana Sgrena Says U.S. Army Destroyed Shooting Logs; Wants to Meet Soldier that Killed the Man that Saved Her, Italy's No. 2 in Military Intel") and the US says that was a checkpoint. It wasn't. So is it just with her vehicle that they call anything a checkpoint? I don't know. I know that they've used hand signals in the past that, to Iraqis, mean "Go!" There was no effort to introduce the military to the culture of Iraq. Add in the anger and hostility (and you'd be angry and hostile is some foreign troops were walking your streets with guns) and the anger and hostility on the side of Americans -- you got a deadly mix.
I'm sure people working the checkpoints panic. Take the bombs that went off today across Iraq. You hear about that -- and you probably do hear something about it in a, "Man, did you hear about Hilla?" -- you're twice as nervous and jumpy. I'm not saying that abuse doesn't happen. It does and I'm sure there are some who enjoy abusing Iraqis. Iraqis have been abused. (Even the illegal occupation is abuse by itself.) And I'm not making excuses for anyone. But I'm saying, things aren't going to get better. If the military got their act 'fine tuned,' it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. Their reputation is established. It's time to bring the troops home.

Two National Guard Charged In Killing of Unarmed Iraqi
In other Iraq news, two National Guard members have been charged in connection with the February shooting of an unarmed Iraqi near the town of Ramadi. The guard members are currently being held in Baghdad where they will face pre-trial hearings.

And this item backs it up. Abuses are happening. All the time. Crimes. Our government allows them to happen by continuing the illegal war. The two who are charged should face harsh prison sentences if they're found guilty. I don't believe that we say "Fog of War" and act like that means no one is responsible. At My Lai, everyone could have gone along. Hugh Thompson didn't. People are responsible for their actions. If you committ war crimes, you're responsible. And it doesn't stop with you, it goes on up the chain of command if someone covers it up or tries to or if someone gave the orders for a war crime to be committed.

If you don't know who Hugh Thompsons is, you can check out "Hugh Thompson's Gunner Describes Pointing His Weapon at Fellow U.S. Soldiers to Stop My Lai Massacre" from Democracy Now! back in January. And when you start tracing the chain up you gotta include Rumsfeld. Tony asked me to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Rumsfeld Must Go" cause on top of everything else, he's not even watching the money:

William D. Hartung, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, has a decidedly different take: "Under Donald Rumsfeld's tenure, weapons costs have skyrocketed, and one Pentagon official has been convicted for favoring Boeing in a major weapons deal. Rumsfeld claims he can't recall if he approved the actions that have led to this state of affairs. For his failure to hold weapons contractors accountable as military spending tops $500 billion per year, Rumsfeld should resign."
And so, five years into the Bush Administration, with the Pentagon's own inspector general and the Government Accountability Office characterizing the Defense Department's procurement system as "broken and dysfunctional," we have arrived at yet another reason Rumsfeld Must Go.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! A SMELL WAFTS IN AND BULLY BOY POINTS TO OTHERS!" and Ma's ""Burritos in the Kitchen."

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

Chaos and violence continue. Bombings continue, kidnappings continue and a corpse was discovered.
In what might get the most attention today, reporting from Baghdad, Nancy A. Youssef (Knight Ritter) breaks the news that the United States now admits to keeping some figures on Iraqis who have died during the illegal war. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli tells Youssef that "the number of civilian dead and wounded" via US troops "is an important measurement." Chiarelli reveals that "he reviews the figures daily." The US government has denied that any figures were being kept.
In Baghdad, Reuters reports that a roadside bomb killed one and wounded at least five and that another bomb resulted in two police officers dead and at least four wounded.Also in Baghdad, the Associated Press reports that the convoy of Adnan al-Dulaimi ("Iraq's most senior Sunni Arab politician") was attacked and at least one of his bodyguards was killed.Elsewhere, KUNA reports that two "civilians" were killed in Baquba. Reuters notes that, in Mosul, a police officer was killed Monday with six wounded in an attack while another died was wounded, along with a civilian, as a result of a roadside bomb. And in Hilla, Reuters reports that a bomb has taken the lives of at least 30.
The Associated Press estimates today that "nearly 40 people have been killed in the last 24 hours" in Iraq. This as Hiba Moussa and Michael Georgy (Reuters) report that an estimated that at least 130,000 Iraqis have been displaced due to violence across the country.
Ibon Villelabeitia and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) report "10 young men, all students from Sunni towns near Baghdad, from a building in the capital" were kidnapped by unidentified "gunmen." In other kidnapping news, CBS and the AP report that "Russian news agency Interfax" is reporting "that the Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of the Russian hostages in Iraq." In a separate report, the AP notes that "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed doubt Monday over the authenticity of the video" allegedly showing three of the four Russian diplomats (kidnapped June 3rd in Baghdad) being killed. The four are: Fyodor Zaytsev, Rinat Aglyulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedosseyev.
Reuters reports that the corpse of a police officer ("bullet wounds . . . head and chest") was found near Falluja.
Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted that Sunni leaders are stating that the resistance in Iraq will continue until foreign troops are withdrawn. Edwards-Tiekert also noted that Tariq al-Hashimi has noted Nouri al-Maliki's proposed plan (or "plan") falls for short of the needed goals. Ibon Villelabeitia and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) explore some of the Shi'ite criticism and some of the Sunnie criticism of the plan/"plan".
Tomorrow is Tuesday, June 27th and that means? Alex Fryer (Seattle Times) reports: "Atlanta peace activists plan a vigil for him at the Georgia state Capitol. In Charlotte, N.C., an anti-war group will show a film and hold a lecture at the public library. In Cleveland, Ohio, there will be a rally at the federal building. And in New York, protesters will converge at an Army recruiting station, an event billed to 'support Lt. Ehren Watada and other resisters of the war in Iraq.'" This as the Seattle Times editorializes that Watada shouldn't serve time but the military should instead "consider a dishonorable discharge." To sign a petition in support of Watada by clicking here.
More information on tomorrow's national day of action can be found at and Courage to Resist.
And finally, next week, July 4th (Tuesday) CODEPINK will be demonstrating against the war in the form or a hunger strike:
On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.

Now today's WBAI's Law and Disorder. Today's episode was really strong so listen online (at either link) or if you hear it somewhere else listen there. (Cedric's cousin can be driving through a spot in their city and pick it up for about three miles -- it's a pirate station -- but it's also played on other radio stations so if you've got a favorite station you listen to it on, listen there -- also Heidi Boghosian pointed out that if you'd like to get it in your town, visit the show's website Law and Disorder and if you're a college radio station, and maybe any radio station -- I'm not sure on that, but if you're a college radio station and would like to broadcast this once a week, hourly show, contact them because they'll make a great arrangement with you -- how great? Incredible, visit the website and find out.) I checked with Ruth and Cedric to make sure they were cool with what I'm grabbing. (Both said I could write on the same thing they wanted and that was cool. But the segment I grabbed is one they're not writing on.)

I'm going with Dalia Hashad again and that's funny because a guy in one of my classes goes, "Do you have a crush on her?" Tony goes, "Dude, no. She sounds just like his sister. You're sick." (By the way, Dad thought it was her last week. When I was listening to last week's show, he was in the hall and comes to my door, which was open and looks around. He goes, "I thought I heard your sister." Nina and I both laughed so hard because he was really confused. He knew he'd heard my sister. Then the woman finished talking on tasers and Dalia Hashad starts speaking again and Dad's staring at the tape recorder and going, "That's not your sister, is it? She sounds too smart." :D That sister will kill me for putting that in but everyone in my family will laugh when they read it. Dad didn't mean it mean and it just popped out. But it's true which is why Nina and I laughed even more.)

Why am I going with Daliah Hashad's segment? I like all four. I grabbed tasers because I liked the topic but it does seem like I grab whatever segment she has the biggest part in. This week she interviewed Collective Soul and Suzanne Vega at the Amnesty International meeting in Oregon. I don't really know Collective Soul. She spoke with two guys and they seemed cool. Ed Ryan and Nina's looking up Joel's last name (she likes Collective Soul and brought over one of their CDs so we could listen to it after I post this) Joel Kosche. They sounded cool and they talked about their interest and work on human rights because they felt it was party of humanity and not about politics. That's not how I feel about it but good for them for giving a concert and all.

Suzanne Vega I do know because they played her song "Luka" in a class I had in sixth grade. The teacher goes this is a song about what can happen to some children and we need to listen close. (This was way after the song was a hit. Like years and years.) So the song comes on and it's "My name is Luka, I live on the second floor . . . " and Luka's getting the crap beat out of him. It's this guitar song that you're just bopping your head along with and all and then you find out the kid's being beaten. The whole point of the teacher playing it was we were going to talk about child abuse and she had this look on her face like, "Dear God, don't let anyone raise their hand and say, 'That happens to me.'" I'm serious on that. This was her first time teaching and probably February or March. Our regular teacher had just gotten fired and she had just graduated and stuff and we were her first class ever.

Dalia Hashad talked about "Luka" and Suzanne Vega said she wrote it probably because no one was talking about the issue. She talked about why she support Amenesty and the importance of it. And Dalia goes that when she first heard the song she liked it and it was probably awhile before she realized what it was about.

That's probably why I go with her segments because she always says the thing you wouldn't expect her to but you might be thinking. I knew what "Luka" was about when I first heard it because the teacher had made a big point of it before she played it, going "This is about what happens to some children" so we were all listening intent and stuff (and probably hoping Luka was going to get a girlfriend and make out). But like, she's got another song I like called "99.9" and I listened to that thing forever before I got what the song was about. So I got what Dalia Hashad was talking about.

Jess got me to listen to that song. It was on a mix CD he made for me. And I really liked that song. I ended up getting the Best of CD and there was "Luka." (Jess knows lots of cool music and he'll probably rag on me when he reads this going, "You don't know Collective Soul?") Suzanne Vega said that a Foo Fighter CD that had come out last was one of her favorites. I don't have anything from them since before 2004 and she was talking about how it had an acoustic "side" and a non-acoustic. I don't know if it's a double disc or she meant like half and half. (Dad's a big vinyl freak and even when it's something on CD, he'll talk about it like it's vinyl.)
But she said that they'd done some work on the 2004 Kerry campaign and you could hear what they'd seen and experienced there. She made it sound worth listening to so I'll put out a call and see if any of my friends have it.

I called Kat and she told me that Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman both hit around the same period. I've got Tracy Chapman's first thing on cassette. It was one of the many cassettes that C.I. told Wally and we could grab all we wanted of. Kat said Vega and Chapman were exceptions and that people were doing songs like "Kiss me once, kiss me twice, kiss me DEAD-LEEEEE!" and stuff like that. And then there was Vega singing about child abuse and Tracy Chapman singing "Fast Car" and it was weird in a good way because it was real music with them. I called my oldest brother and he remembered that. He goes he was in college and working at a pizza place (I remember that and we disagree where he was working, I was a kid and I used to get to go there on Saturdays for his last hour and I'd sit in a booth, I checked with Dad and he says I'm right and my brother's got it wrong but I'll not name it since my brother's so sure he is right). So anyway, during the week he had to work the last shift. They'd close up and as soon as they did, this young woman named Geena would get money from her boyfriend Rob, they both worked there, and she'd pump the jukebox with the money and blast it. He'd be stuck sweeping and stuff like the Beach Boys' song about "I want to take you down to" (I don't know how to spell that word) and the "Kiss Me Deadly" song (he told me to put in, "I went to a party on a Saturday night/ Something something something/ And I got in a fight/ It ain't no big thing" because that's what most people knew from the song) or Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You" or some other songs would be blasting. But sometimes someone else would put money in and Tracy Chapman's song was popular with a lot of people. Geena would have a fit and start screaming, "Who played that woman!" Sometimes it was Suzanne Vega and she'd scream, "Who played that woman!" She would get so mad and say, "I don't want to hear that!"

She didn't think they were 'fun' songs and she didn't like them. Didn't want to hear them and she'd scream and holler the whole time. She never worked, she'd just sit there counting her tips while everyone else cleaned and mopped and whatever. So one night, she's just furious that someone's played it again and screaming and yelling about how people need fun stuff to hear and that stuff (Vega and Chapman) is depressing.

She and Rob broke up when he caught her sleeping with the assistant maner or the shift manager (my brother can't remember) named Grant. I go, "She sounds like a Republican." And my bro goes, "That was the point I was leading up to! She was in College Republicans! The only thing that she'd talk about that made her sad was that Reagan couldn't run again but at least we were 'lucky' to have George Bush." She was for the Bully Boy's brother.

To finish that story, Rob found out that Geena was cheating because she bailed on him when he got tickets for her some of their friends to go to a concert (Aerosmith, my brother says). Everyone was taking off and my brother was pissed because there were like two people working that night plus him. Then Geena walks in all done up and pulls Grant aside. They go into the office and Rob started feeling bad or something because Geena had said she was sick. So he left the concert while it was still going on and he goes to her house and she's not there and not sick so he starts going looking for her. And he walks in finally to the pizza place and goes, "Has anyone seen Geena?" And my bro just shrugs but Javier goes, "Yeah, she's in the office with Grant."
So he goes over there and catches them doing it on the desk in there and there's all this yelling and shouting and Geena's crying and everyone eating there is looking over like, "What is going on?"

Javier told my brother that he wasn't going to cover for the ___ because she called him a "Dirty ___" (racist word for Hispanic). He goes he and Javier started laughing. And that they could hear all the yelling and then Rob storms out carrying something and a second later Geena runs out in her skirt and bra screaming for him to give her back her shirt. He didn't. That Grant guy ended up letting her have his coat but maybe she got caught when she went home, I thought.

My bro goes, "Oh she got caught. Rob dropped the blouse off with her mother and goes, 'Geena was so busy screwing Grant at work that she left without her blouse so I'm just dropping this off.'"

I love stories with happy endings. :D

(It's happy because she was a racist, snotty, Republican who couldn't take a song dealing with reality.)

So at the end of the interview (Dalia Hashad and Suzanne Vega's not me and my brother :D), Dalia asked her what song she'd like them to play of her's and she said they might as well play "Tom's Diner" because that song's always being mixed and remixed and she'd gotten a request again to remix it just two weeks ago. That's a cool song too. I did not know, the first time I heard it and I heard it before I got the Best of, it's one of those songs everyone knows, I did not know that she sang it without music when she recorded it. On that CD, Solitude Standing, she had it with just her voice and she had with just the music and no voice. Somebody came along and gave it a dance beat and all the way we know it now.

So it was two cool interviews. If you're a Collective Soul fan or a Suzanne Vega fan or just a music fan or a human rights fan, you should check it out.

"Ruth's Public Radio Report" went up Saturday and she covers two segments (from two different episodes) of Law and Disorder and lots of other cool stuff too so check it out. Dave Zirin was on Democracy Now! today and I'll talk about that tomorrow.