Saturday, August 05, 2006

Law and Disorder on tasers, Iraq

Saturday, first morning of the weekend! I'm beating Elaine to posting! She's downstairs talking to Ma. (And yes, to those asking, Ma is planning on posting later today.) It was a long night. We watched a third of Sir! No! Sir! at the group last night and we plan to do that the next two Fridays. Then we discussed it and how it related to today. There was a lot to discuss about Iraq and let's go ahead and kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, August 4, 2006 and one of the locations is only a surprise to those not paying attention to yesterday's (US) Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. There was a key section that was apparently missed by several. Mosul's one of today's hot spots so let's draw back to this exchange from yesterday's hearing:
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
transcript of this (Congressional Quarterly) can be found at the Washington Post. For audio of the above (most), check out Leigh Ann Caldwell's report which aired on Thursday's The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News.
Mosul? That's where the 172nd Stryker Brigade (scheduled to be back home before their year deployment got four additional months added to is) was pulled from, Abizaid testified.
Reuters is reporting: "Heavily armed insurgents battled U.S. and Iraqi troops in the restive northern city of Mosul on Friday where at least four policemen, including a top officer and four militants were reported killed."
That is the "strategy" (being generous) and it's the very point McCain was making yesterday. (McCain generally uses that type of observation to support adding more troops to the slaughter, I believe the troops themselves add to the conflict.) The exchange was not heavily stressed in most reporting but McCain was outlining what currently passes for "strategy" in Iraq -- a "strategy" that once again (always) blew up in the military geniuses' (and the administration's) faces.
BBC notes that the US announced last week the withdrawal of 5,000 troops "to re-deploy them in the capital, Baghdad". AP places the figure at 3,500. China's Xinhua notes that "Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Reuters reports that, in Mosul, "authorities have ordered everyone off the streets until Saturday and closed the city's bridges across the Tigris river."
AFP notes that, today, "Mosul woke to a dawn blitz of six bombs and a hail of mortars which killed at least nine police officers and triggered a six-hour gunbattle in which an unknown number of insurgents were killed." One bomb, Reuters notes, resulted in the deaths of "police Colonel Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards". The Times of London estimates that, in Mosul alone, 24 people died today from car bombs of various kind.
AFP reports a man was shot dead in Amara. The Associated Press reports that two police officers were shot dead in Falluja and describes one of the incidents: "armed men attacked several government buildings and police patrols in central Fallujah at about 8:30 s.m. (0430 GMT), leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded".
AFP notes that a couple enroute to a hospital in Baquba for the impending birth of their child were killed by a roadside bomb (cab driver and mother-to-be's sister were wounded) and that, in Baghdad, a civilian was killed by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol. Reuters reports that a bombing in Hadhar, during a football game, resulted in 10 dead and 12 wounded. A police officer described the attack ("suicide car bomber") to the AFP: "He drove into the police guarding the pitch, and blew up." KUNA notes of the attack on the football game: "the football field was for the use of Hadhar policemen and police department staff only."
CBS and AP notes one corpse was discovered (in the country). AFP notes the interior ministry declared twelve corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes that six corpses were found in Kut with "four of them decapitated".
In court news,
prosecutor/Captain Joseph Mackey delivered his closing argument in the Article 32 hearing of Corey Clagett, William Hunsaker, Raymond Girouard and Juston Graber, who stand accused in the May 9th deaths of three Iraqis. Mackey argued that the three Iraqis were not killed while trying to escape but had, instead, been released by the four US troops and then killed by them, "For this they are not war heroes, they are war criminals. And justice states that they face trial." As Reuters notes, all four accused elected not to provide testimony to hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury).
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Eleanor Hall and Conor Duffy discussed the latest development's on The World Today (Australia's ABC) noting that "military standing orders" were not followed with the transportation of Jake Kovco's body (contractors with Kenyon International were used instead) and that, while the Australian government alleges this was for speed, Jake Kovco's roommates say it was due "to cost and they told the inquiry that they thought that if it had been a foreign dignitary or even a more senior officer, that military aircraft and US military morgue would have been used throughout the whole procedure."
For anyone arriving late to this story and wondering why Kovco's destination back to Australia matters, Kovco's body was somehow switched and the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic was sent to Australia while Kovco's body remained at the motuary.
AAP notes that Alastar Adams ("first secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kuwait") testified that "he had not checked the photo against the corpse of a Bosnian carpenter . . . he had taken a quick look . . . told the mortuary staff they could close the coffin and stamp it with the embassy's official seal."
AAP also notes the following which appears to back up Kovco's roommates' judgement: ". . . air force warrant officer Chris Hunter told the inquiry he believed the body mix-up could have been prevented if the civilian morgue had not been used. He said Pte Kovco's body was transferred from a professional and clean mortuary facility in Baghdad run by US troops to a rund-down morgue remsembling 'a third world country hospital'. WO Hunter stopped eight of PTE Kovco's soldier mates, who had accompanied the boday as a bearer party, from entering the morgue, fearing they might start a riot upon noticing its condition."
In court news in the United States, the
Justice Department is announcing that Faheem Mousa Salam "has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering to bribe an Iraqi police official" at the start of this year by offering "approximately $60,000 in exchange for . . . [help] facilitating the sale of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million." Though the Justice Department fails to note it, he was then employed by Titan Corporation.
In peace news, Phil Runkel is in "a federal courtroom in Alexandria" today facing "a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for his war protest last March"
reports Dennis Shook for Runkel and other peace activists (51 in total) were arrested March 20th in front of the Pentagon. Brian Huber (GM Today) notes that the activists were wanting to meet with Donald Rumsfeld and that some climbed or went "under a temporary fence that Runkel said was erected to stop them, resulting in their arrests."
Activists on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan --including Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden and Diane Wilson -- have arrived in Amman. Cindy Sheehan (Truth Out) reports: "The most horrifying testimony of the day was when we met with "Dr. Nada," an Iraqi doctor who stayed in Baghdad to help her people during the sanctions and the invasion. She didn't abandon her country, or sell it out like many privileged people who exited during the Baathist regime (like Iyad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi) or the sanctions ... which she, as a supervisory physician at a major Baghdad hospital, said killed two million children. The children died of pollution and sicknesses from depleted uranium during the first gulf mistake of George the First. The babies died because of the war, but also because there is no medicine and very limited medical facilities to treat them. Dr. Nada brought the daughter of a friend, three-year-old Farrah, who had short brown hair and big brown eyes. There were so many young children playing in Queen airport yesterday when I got here and dozens running around the hotel. My heart almost bursts with sorrow when I think of all of the children in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan who have had such horrible lives and had many of their lives cut short by the evil war machine that seems to be running our world."
Troops Home Fast continues ("We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war")
with at least
4,350 people participating from around the world on the 32nd day since the action began. Some are fasting long-term, some are grabbing a one-day, one-time fast, some are grabbing a one-day fast each week. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports that Ehren Watada will likely face an Article 32 hearing August 17th because Eric Seitz's pretrial offer of a "reprimand, fine and reduction of rank" has not yet been accepted. As noted before, this offer was twice refused. Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."

The discussion group? It was pretty incredible. We had it at Nina's parents' house. (Next Friday, it's back at our home.) Elaine and Wally were there. Wally's here through next week visiting (and a guest with us -- I'll write about the fun we're having soon but I've got a lot to cover this morning and Wally, Dad and me are going to do some fun stuff this morning which is why I rushed through breakfast and logged on to post). Elaine's coming in for this meeting and staying overnight Friday and Saturday. But, there was so much to talk about, with the Jordan meeting, the events in Mosul and all of it. Just a lot going on in Iraq -- not that most in the news and "news" media seem to be paying attention.

I had an e-mail about Mexico earlier this week and actually responded but ended up pulling it from my post. On Mexico. Mexico City is Obadore's town, turf. It's not a surprise that he could mount a protest there. Maybe it will spread. If so, it will be the people leading it -- not the news media trying to force it on you. I spoke to people while I was down there and I exchange e-mails with three guys I met (my age, college students) now. They don't think it's spreading yet. They think it might. They say it's the people who elected him mayor and that's the only real support right now. So if you see some gas bag (you know who I mean) telling you it is the story of our times, he's still pushing his own agenda. Nothing much has changed except the protests in Mexico City are pissing some people off. One new friend says that if that leads to press attacks (and Fox has already said the protests need to stop), they might get some sympathy and the protests could build that way. But right now, it's just Mexico City. Obabore's supporters who supported him in every election. Another new friend in Mexico wrote that it's not that different from the GOP having their people "pose as Florida voters in 2000 and storming that area where people were counting votes."

So Mexico? Still not a pressing story. But watch the gasbags come out. They were trying to make it a big story the first of July. They're probably eager to do so again especially now that they could say, "See I don't have egg on my face." Yeah, you still do. You always will. Even if Mexico erupts in protest next week, massive, in every city, you still tried to push something that wasn't happening on the ground, you played schill for your guy (a centerist or center-left), you trashed the Zapatistas and, in doing so, you trashed any notion that you were a journalist.
There's no comeback for you. Accept it. You're a hack as bad as any Fox "news" hack.

Now let me do WBAI's Law and Disorder which I've put off all week because I've been busy. Cedric's already talked about his favorite part of the show "Law and Disorder, Three Cool Old Guys, Iraq." I'm covering Dalia Hashad's interview with Paul L. Mills from LA Police Watch. He's an attorney. This is the latest and final installment in their series on Tasers. If you remember when they had the man telling people how to act with the police and saying (Michael Ratner had a big problem with it -- this Michael did too) that it was the job of attorneys and human rights activists to educate law enforcement, you'll like this interview a lot because it's sort of the other view.

On this taser installment of Law and Disorder. Mills talked about Eddie Alvarado and I didn't know anything about this. Maybe you do, but if not, here's a rough sketch. He had epilepsy, he was 33, he had just gotten his associates. He was having a seizure ,or episode, and the police were called. They chose to handcuff him. That wasn't enough, he was still some kind of threat, even handcuffed! So they tasered him.

Mills talked about how the officer had tested the battery that morning to make sure it was fresh and what happened was they ended up emptying the full battery to taser Alvarado. He died.

This is the problem that Dalia and Michael Ratner have been talking about repeatedly: police get a new toy and it's not even really tested but it's a "we'll only use it in extreme instances" and what happens is, because they have it, they use it. They didn't need to use it on a man who was handcuffed. (If you've listened to the series, you probably feel like I do that they don't need to use it at all -- ever.) So a man's handcuffed and that's not enough, got to use that toy. Got to use it because you got it. Now the man's dead.

A lot of people have died after being tasered. This is a big issue. And Dalia and Mills were talking about how it's easy to look at something like that and think it's a civil rights issue only but it's a human rights issue too since governments can (and do) use stuff like that to oppress.
It was a really strong segment to end their taser series with. And they didn't just leave it at where it was now. They talked about where it was heading.

Right now Taser is working on a wireless version. You know that it uses darts, prongs, barbs right now. They shoot out from the gun and both have wires connected to them (going back to the gun) to make the electric circuit. Now they're working on a wireless version.

Why do they need a wireless version should be your first question? Who would be forced to wear some device that would allow the police to shock them at will? They talked about how currently you have some people on house arrest who have to wear the ankle bracelets and how the wireless taser could be used on them. Or maybe it would be used in immigration as an incentive to be allowed into the country. Or maybe it would be used on protestors.

The way those mass arrests work is that they're usually arresting people from out of town. They know they have lives to get back to so they can usually screw them over and say, "Plead to this and we'll just give you probation." People who've traveled, say to DC from Oklahoma or some place far, we'll take a deal because they don't have the time to be coming back to DC for court dates and all that stuff. Well, they could use that on protestors. "Let us put this device on you or in you, put you on probation and you're free to go." You could end up with a police force hitting a button to send out a frequency and cause a mass group of people who are just demonstrating to collapse from the taser shock. This is really serious.

If you looked the other way while it was just incidents involving one person maybe how it could be used in the future will make you rethink the way it is used today?

Mills also talked about how it could be used on people deemed "troublesome" or the mentally ill and that made me think of Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary from last Sunday. They're addressing Primetime, but they've got a lot more in it. They take on a columnist who is an autism advocate but wrote a column tying in William Lash III's murder of his son William Lash IV to autism even though there's no indication that had anything to do with it. This is from their commentary, read it and think about the points Mills and Dalia were making about tasers because if they start embedding them, it could get embedded on persons with autism:

And on top of that, Susan Senator wants to rush in and grab the Lash incident to advance her own cause -- with no proof that autism had anything to do with the murder of a child. The article covering the memorials doesn't note a violent child, quite the contrary. Based on the reporting, a stronger conclusion might be that Lash and his wife's "altercation" alarmed him that he might lose contact with his son so, facing that, he decided to kill his son and himself. Parents Who Love Too Much doesn't fit in with Senator's advocacy so she ignores that.
What happened? No one knows at this point from the reporting. They know there was an altercation between Lash and his wife. They know the wife was locked out of the house and called the police for assistance. But Senator wants to tell you tales of an autistic child's violent episodes, she wants you to understand, really, really understand, how hard it is for parents.
Senator's on very dangerous ground as she uses her personal story to make a case that doesn't hold up in the press by correlating her own's son's violence with similar events that may have stressed out Lash. There's no foundation for that argument at present. So it's dangerous grounds journalistically.
Guess what? We don't give a damn about that. The dangerous grounds we worry about are the pleasing narrative. A father killed his son -- but don't be alarmed, it's stressful raising a special needs child. (It's stressful raising any child and if she disagrees with that she might want to ask the Menendez parents -- oh wait, she can't. They're dead.)
In our shock, some need a pleasing narrative to explain how such an awful crime could have taken place. The narrative, though false, then results in trend stories (that are never heavy on facts or reality) and lead to "solutions." With no evidence to back her up, Senator wants to present her own child's violent episodes as somehow the equivalent of the 'pressure' Lash must have been under (and tie in two other cases which may or may not be related to her central thesis -- we don't know those stories). She's spinning a trend in that one op-ed. In Lash's case, her "trend" is not supported. But that doesn't matter when the trend gathers traction. And if this becomes a trend story and if the solution includes we need to (in order to be sympathetic to the parents -- and, of course, 'protect' the children) lock the autistic away (it was done before), she'll be the one responsible for setting that trend off. That's the dangerous ground that has us concerned. (We're guessing Susan Senator has no interest in setting off such a trend. Her intent doesn't matter if a trend gets rolling -- just like actual reporting on the case didn't matter to her column.)

To read Susan Senator's a ridiculous op-ed, use the link. I'm now rushing. Dad's ready to go. So here are two headlines from Free Speech Radio News:

Iraqis March for Hezbollah
Tens of thousands of Iraqis marched through the streets of Baghdad today to show their support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The march took place in the Shiite dominated Sadr city in the Iraqi Capitol. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, has also criticized Israel over its assault on Lebanon and Gaza. We'll have more on Lebanon later in the newscast.

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
In Palestine, Israel carried out air and ground strikes in the Rafah area, and troops have been carrying out house-to-house searches. The operations are causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the UN reports that Israel fires more than 150 shells a day into the region. Saed Bannoura has more.

Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts later this morning.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday finally

Thursday! Yea! One more day!

Okay, if you're here to night for Law and Disorder, bad news. Pushed back to tomorrow. How come? Cedric's busy and not sure he can write anything tonight. So he asked if we could do it tomorrow? I was like, "YES!" I am Law and Disordered out. It's a great show but I listened to five hours today. How come? At The Third Estate Sunday Review, we're doing an editorial on Lynn Stewart and Law and Disorder has discussed that a lot. So to try to pull at least one quote or point from that, C.I. and me have been sort of designated as the ones to go through the episodes. C.I. has a friend who loves the show and gets the podcast so there's easy access that way and I've got the shows on cassette tape so I've got access too.

We really want to mention Law and Disorder in the editorial because they cover the Stewart case all the time. I was on the phone with C.I., Jess, Ava, Ty, Dona and Jim last night and one of them suggested that we just go to the website and C.I. and me both groaned. How come? It's probably not indexed or categorized like that. It's not like they do a Lynn Stewart segment. They just work it in. We're looking specifically for a quote by Michael Ratner and one by Dalia Hashad. We're sure they've all talked about it (that includes the other two hosts Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith) but we both remember a thing by Ratner and Hashad. We're hoping we can find them. C.I.'s pretty sure the comments generally come in the first interview/discussion each time but only pretty sure so we're both listening to the whole hour of each broadcast. We hope we can find it, but if we can find anything from the four, we'll grab it.

See, the reason for that is because this hasn't been a one time thing on Law and Disorder -- they tie that issue into stuff all the time. So we really want to include the show in at least one quote. We'd love it if we could find the two C.I. and I remember but we're starting late and we both have a lot of stuff today. (Friday's are when my Iraq discussion group meets.)

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

Chaos and violence continue on the ground in Iraq today, Thursday, August 3rd, Donald Rumsfeld speaks like an excited child, Bully Boy plots a getaway from a vacation getaway, and peace activists and members of Iraq's parliament prepare for their face to face meeting to address reality.
the peace activists that will be taking part in the Friday and Saturday meetings in Jordan are Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and Diane Wilson. Katy Hillenmeyer (Santa Rosa Press Democrat) takes a look at another activist making the journey, 72-year-old, retired nurse Barbara Briggs-Leston. Barbara Briggs-Leston explains the peace summit: "We're trying to call attention to the Iraqi's own plan, as opposed to the United States' plan. Let's let the Iraqis decide what happens to them. We've been deciding, and we've done an appalling job."
CODEPINK and Global Exchange are co-sponsoring the trip which stems from the attention the Troops Home Fast actions garnered "after 28 days of fasting." The fast is continuing: "We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war" and today at least 4,350 people are fasting around the world.
As some advocate for peace, others say more of the same. Such as
Donald Rumsfeld's latest remarks (reported by Kristin Roberts and Vicki Allen, Reuters): "If we left Iraq prematurely as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave Afghanistan. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us and all those who don't share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines. And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do." And . . . and . . . and . . . What might be cute in a five-year-old child just makes Rumsfeld appear he needs to call time for a pee break.
He certainly needs to learn how to make a non-circular argument but, at this late date, even the War Hawks find it difficult to call their weak excuses for US troops remaining in Iraq "logic."
His circular statements, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, come a day after he struggled to define what the meaning of "is" is in a Defense Department press conference. After noting that "Sunnis are killing Shia; Shia are killing Sunnis,"
Rumsfeld went on to muse, "Does that constitute a civil war? I guess you can decide for your yourself. And we can all go to the dictionary and decide what you want to call something. But it seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage.
It certainly isn't like our Civil War. It isn't like the civil war in a number of other countries. Is it a high level of sectarian violence? Yes, it is. And are people being killed? Yes."
It was all so far from reality, he came off like
Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president) claiming yesterday that by the end of this year (that would be four months from now), Iraq security forces will be in control of all 18 provinces. Rumsfeld's performance yesterday was refuted by the BBC report of William Patey (England's "outgoing ambassador in Baghdad) warning Tony Blair (poodle and prime minister) that civil war, not democracy, awaits Iraq. The BBC's Paul Wood characterized the document as "a devastating official assessment of the prospect for a peaceful Iraq, and stands in stark contrast to public rhetoric."
In the United States, John Abizaid (head of Centcom) testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee. Abizaid offered that "
the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it. And that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war" (CNN). Reuters notes that Abizaid stated that a year ago this time, he never would have predicted the possibility of a civil war.
Looking at the Patey memo,
Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of London) concludes "whatever happens, the vision set out for Iraq by George Bush before the invasion in 2003 of a beacon of democracy for the Middle East is not going to happen."
And in Iraq? The
BBC's Paul Wood probably best sums up life in Iraq post-invasion:
"An Iraqi man, Ahmed Muktar, told me a typical story of these times. His family fled sectarian violence in the suburb of Dora. But his brother-in-law returned to check on his house. He was kidnapped. The police, the hospitals, the morgues - none had any official record of the missing man. So his family went to the dumping ground for bodies on the edge of Dora. There they found him, amid a pile of 50 corpses, hands tied behind his back, shot in the head. They had to recover him while under constant automatic fire, the police and troops nearby too scared to help."
Reuters reports that a new US target is apparently the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr:"U.S. troops opened fir on a convoy carrying supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr . . . wounding at least 16 people." CNN notes a Wednesday home invasion that led to four dead in Wajihiya. Reuters notes that it was the home of a police officer (apparently not home) and the dead were three women and one man (not the police officer).
The worst known took place in Baghad.
AP reports that "at least 12 people" are dead and 29 wounded from a bomb "hidden in a parked motorcycle." The BBC notes that the explosion "set ablaze" surrounding shops.
Reuters reports two police officers wounded from a roadside bomb in Latifiya; three Iraqi soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb in Balad;
Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Samarra, one in Kut, one in Numaniya, and three in Dujail.

In Latifiya, two passengers of a car were injured and the car and driver "snatched" by assailants in an attack, Reuters reports, while, in Isahqi, a "food contractor for the Iraqi army" was kidnapped.
In legal news,
AFP reports that the "[f]our US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners refused to give evidence as a military hearing heard that one of the captives' brains were blown out as he lay injured." This is the May 9th incident in which US soldiers allegedly killed three Iraqis who had been detained and handcuffed. The AFP observes: "The troops followed the lead of several of their superior officers Thursday, invoking their right not to incriminate themselves before a legal panel set up at their unit's base camp in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit." The four accused who are refusing to testify are: William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber.
In Australia, the
most recent news from the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco is that Alastar Adams will give testimony from Kuwait, "via a video link," as to how the coffin shipped back to Australia supposedly containing the body of Jake Kovco instead contained the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic.
Some would argue Bully Boy ran from the National Guard -- some might agree he's running from Cindy Sheehan. The
AP reports that Bully Boy, the vacationing leader, will have far less than his usual weeks and weeks of summer vacation, and has instead reduced it to "nine days" based at his ranchette in Crawford. Bully Boy plans to return to DC August 13th. Camp Casey, on land Sheehan now owns in Crawford, will open on August 6th this month. Camp Casey will be open from August 6th through Septemeber 2nd. On the importance of Camp Casey, Sheehan writes: "Camp Casey in Crawford is more important than ever, now. Not only has this administration, with the eager approval of Congress, committed genocide on a massive scale, they are taking away our civil rights and our right to be heard and counted. We cannot allow these same leaders who accuse the peace movement of a political agenda to use our soldiers and the babies of Iraq as political game pieces in the folly of elections when there is so much overwhelming evidence that our elections have been compromised, and while election after election is stolen, no one does anything about it. It is up to us all, nobody else."

I always love the snapshot but I liked how today opened with the peace trip to Jordan and ended with Cindy Sheehan speaking truth. It really "is up to us all, nobody else." You can use your power or just veg out in front of the TV, you can use your power or jerk off on stories that really don't matter. Maybe you're a dumb ass big-time reporter covering a human "wolf" man?
Or maybe you're a dumb ass reporter jerking off on some non-life and death matter that really doesn't have anything to do with your or your audience while the Middle East is in flames?

A lot of people treat Iraq as an after thought. And it's not because they're focusing on something really important.

The Iraq war is not ending until we quit playing and stop believing all the Happy Talk. Some dumb ass official says, "Oh well I think things are going better" and watch the cry go up from all the dumb asses of, "Thank God!" If you're not taking the war seriously, you're giving everyone else an excuse and cover not to.

I try to take it seriously but I don't think I do it enough. Ma and Dad took their vacation out in the land of sunshine (or is that Wally's state?) and the thing they were interested in the most besides the usual sight seeing was watching the Iraq snapshot get put together. They only got to see it put together twice because the other days, C.I. was on the move. But it goes basically like this, C.I. is on two phones asking "What am I missing?" or asking "Talk me through this" and during that, going from website to website, watching the clock, trying to get it completed by the same time each day (it's e-mailed and it doesn't always hit the site right away), once it drops down to 15 minutes before the deadline C.I. sets for it, the music that's playing in the background is "deafening" (Ma said that). What's the dealine? No more than ninety minutes.

And at ninety minutes, seriously, the buzzer goes off. C.I. uses a timer.

Dad goes ask about anything in it after you read it and C.I. can give you an entire background thing on it. Dad got to see it done on the fly one time when he tagged along to a speaking thing C.I. had and another thing on the same day and he said that's really on fly. Before the laptop is booted up, C.I.'s already on the phone. And that brings up a question Leigh Ann had which is, "Why is it done via e-mail?" We've all had too many problems with Blogger losing posts while we were working on them. There's no time to redo it if Blogger screws up. So it's done by e-mail because that doesn't get screwed up.

Sometimes it doesn't hit the site. If it doesn't hit by two hours, the e-mail is copied and then pasted into a Blogger post. So that's how it works and I hope to see it when I go out there. I know that when we're talking, there's all this stuff that I don't know and I read the snapshots and most of the time have time to go to the links.

Now this is from Free Speech Radio News:

Heat Wave Misery
The heatwave that killed over 150 people in California last week is now rolling through the Midwest and the East Coast, where another dozen people have died due to the heat and where electrical grids are struggling to remain on. Rebecca Myles has more from New York.

That may seem like a "weather" story but there's a reason it's so hot and that has to do with the way we've trashed the environment for so long. This is just one way we're seeing it and if you've already had a problem with the heat this summer (like me!) you need to remember we're still not done with summer yet.

Check out Cedric's site tonight because he's going to talk a lot more about that. And Dad says, "No son of mine would forget to note the Floyd!" :D So be sure and check out Elaine's "Goodbye Blue Skies" from yesterday.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"All the words are going to bleed from me"

Hump day! At last! Half way to the weekend! To get you into the spirit for it, read Betty's "Thomas Friedman focuses on foundation" which is her latest chapter. Not even up as I type this. I'll add the link before I post but C.I. called with the title. (C.I. and Kat are listening to Betty's 'final draft.' There's never a final draft with Betty. If she could, she'd rewrite everything's that up at her site. But she's got to get herself and the kids to church tonight so she's on a deadline and it will be up before I post.)

C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq but after the 'jokes' of "at least 44" made it into print today, other 'cut-ups' apparently want to have their fun too.
First up, Iraq's president who will surely be the lead in all the stories today though, come December 31st and January 1st, don't look for news outlets to lead with his happy talk not panning out.
CNN reports that Jala Talabani has predicted Iraqi forces will control all eighteen provinces by the end of 2006. For those with any short-term memory left in them, it wouldn't be surprising if this thought was the focus: "The U.S. military is moving at least 3,700 soldiers from Mosul to Baghdad and is gearing up for a new security operation to wrest control of the capital from Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, kidnap gangs, rogue police and freelance gunmen" (Robert H. Reid, AP). Those with short-term and long-term memory may flash back on other things, such as Jun 8, 1969 when a beaming Tricky Dicky Nixon and South Vietnam puppet Nguyen Van Thieu boasted and . . . the war didn't end. (For more on that sort of deception, see Ruth's "Ruth's Report" from Sunday.) Fall elections are coming up and, just as surely as the leaves will brown and fall, false promises will bloom at heightened levels. The BBC quotes Talabani self-describing "We are highly optimistic." And apparently just high, period.
Good drugs, apparently are back in vogue and not confined to the Green Zone (well they went in and out of Vietnam back then as well). Which might explain
AFP's DC based report on the supposed degradation of the US military. Whenever they scream "More money!" they offer up this same scenario. While that's what the War Mongers & War Hawks do, there's no reason AFP needs to josh readers: "Members of the group comprise a Who's Who of moderate-to-liberal political thought in the United States, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Samuel "Sandy" Berger, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman John Shalikashvili, and retired four-star general and fomer presidential contender Wesley Clark."
"Moderate-to-liberal political thought"? Howl with laughter.
Then return to reality.
If you're thinking things can't any worse (you're wrong) read
Omar alIbadi and Michael Georgy's (Reuters) report on the Shi'ite non-pilgrimage describing events that sound like scare tactis hollered by some from the halls of the US Congress in the fifites ("Red" hunt). Thing is, the US administration is supporting these type of "demonstrations" that are taking place. al-Ibadi and Georgy report: "Young men in civilian uniforms and headbands, all members of what is known as the popular committees, chanted as a speaker called on them to crush "terrorists" and loyalists of ousted President Saddam Hussein leading a Sunni Arab insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government."
This as
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Shi'ite Muslim leaders are speaking of the country falling "into full revolt." Youssef quotes Sheik Bashir al Najafi stating: "The government formed after the fall of the regime hasn't been able to do anything, just make many promises. And people are fed up with promises. One day we will not be able to stop a popular revolution."
In court news,
Robert F. Burns (AP) reports that the inquiry into the November 19, 2005 deaths of 24 Iraqis "suppots accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday." This as Frank Wuterich ("staff sgt.") files a libel suit against US Representative John Murtha for libel claiming that his reputation has suffered from "false and malicious lies" about those involved in the 24 killings.
In other courtroom news,
Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Bradley Mason testified in court today that he was threatened by four fellow soldiers (William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber) if he spoke of the May 9th events around the shooting deaths of three Iraqi civilians. Mason also testified that "Col. Michael Steele" (of Black Hawk Down 'fame') instructed them to: "Kill all of them." Finally, Mason testified that when the news of shooting the detained and bound three Iraqis was learned that the others "just smiled" but he informed Girouard that he wasn't "down with it. It's murder." The AFP reports that the notorius Steele "has signed a document declaring his intention to refuse to testify in the case to avoid incriminating himself".
In Baghdad, on a soccer field,
AP reports nine "young people" (ages 15-25) died from "hidden bombs" and three ("younger than 15") died from a mortar shell that landed on the soccer field. Reuters reports that an Iraqi soldier died near Diwaniya and three were wounded from a roadside bomb; two and a civilian died from a roadside bomb in Hawija (four civilians left wounded); a police officer died from a roadside bomb in Mosul; and three roadside bombs claimed three lives and left nine wounded in Baghad. On the soccer bombing, the BBC reports that "the bombs had been buried in the middle of the football pitch" and notes that it "came hours after Iraq's president said Iraqi forces would take over the security of the entire country from US-led forces by the end of 2006."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, "gunmen in a car opened fire on a checkpoint outside the Ministry of Oil building . . . injuring three guards". Reuters notes these shooting deaths: in Baquba, the chief of traffic police (Ahmed Adbel Hussein) and his bodyguard; and in Diwaniya "an employee of a human rights group outside his home".
CNN notes that "two traffic police were killed and two other officers wounded in Khalis".
Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Qamishli ("blindfolded . . . hands bound"); eleven corpses were fished out of the Tigris ("Near Suwayra . . . . shot . . . signs of torture"); and, in Kirkuk, a handcuffed corpse was discovered ("signs of torture . . . gunshot wounds in the head").
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad goes on and it's like no inquiry most would be familiar with. The press runs with a tale of Kovco as someone who played with his gun based on . . . Eye witness testimony?
No. There's been none. Soldier 17 stated he'd heard of it Kovco playing with his weapon. The entire inquiry is based, not on facts, but on second-hand testimony.
Dan Box was among the first to tie in today's hearsay with the earlier hearsay writing: "The inquiry had previously heard that Kovco was reprimanded twice by senior officres in the month before his death for mishandling his pistol." They heard that but the witness could only affirm one incident -- the second one was hearsay.
Now with Soldier 17's hearsay testimony today, it needs to be noted that Soldier 17
made comments on May 10th about this and on that day and while testifying in the inquiry, Soldier 17 refuses to provide names of the "others" who saw what he did not but is claiming happened: that Kovco played like a "cowboy" with guns. Frank Holles (Judy & Martin Kovco's attorney) stated: "I put it to you when it suits you, you will not provide invormation." Which pretty much sums up the testimony being trumpeted as "Cowboy Kovco" in the news.
Conor Duffy reporting on The World Today (Australia's ABC) and I'm adding bold print: CONOR DUFFY: That's right, Eleanor [Halll]. We've just seen a statement that he gave to NSW Police just after the shooting, and in it he said that other members of his unit in Baghdad had detailed instances of Private Kovco messing around with weapons. He said he never saw this, but he was told that other people had seen Private Jake Kovco imitating old school weapons. He said, 'Like quick draw and you spin it around and all that sort of s[**t].' And he mentioned specific instances of him spinning the pistol around on his finger. He said that he didn't see that, but he said he'd seen other soldiers in the unit in Baghdad messing around with pistols, and on one occasion he said he was upset when another soldier had pointed a pistol at him and he wasn't sure if it was loaded."
Now let's note Soldier 17's "defense" as to not providing names of these alleged witnesses or fellow gun players: "
They said if I didn't wish to give I didn't have to." Well, as long as "they said" it, then no problem, I guess. But when you think about the description he's giving (of "Australian soldiers in Baghdad" playing "games with their pistols, including 'quick draw' and twirling them like gun-slinging cowboys" as Peter Charlton sums it up), the fact that both he and the other roommate claim not to have seen Kovco holding a gun though they were in the room with him, you're left with questions and hearsay 'testimony' doesn't answer any.
In peace news,
Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Gael Murphy, Diane Wilson, Tom Hayden and Geoffrey Millard will soon be en route to Amman, Jordan today where they will meet with memebers of the Iraqi parliament. In NYC tonight at 9:00 pm (JFK Airport), Cindy Sheehan and Tom Hayden will hold a press conference. KWTX carries a report that states the meeting will take place "Friday and Saturday" and that those fasters on that trip will then end their fast.
The Troops Home Fast action continues. Today
at least 4,350 people are participating. The fast is to be ongoing until September 21st.
In other peace news,
Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace will hold a press conference Thursday (Aug. 3rd) across from the Russell Senate Office Building in DC at 11:00 a.m. to note the end of the first phase Operation House Call and begin phase two. Those scheduled to speak incldue Jennifer Davis (whose husband is with the 172nd Stryker Bridgade that was due to come home this month but have now had their stay in Iraq extended by at least four months), Gilda Carbonaro (mother of Alessandro Carbonaro who died May 10, 2006 from wounds received in Iraq, and Larry Syverson (who has three sons in the military including one treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which didn't prevent the military from sending him to his current post on the Kuwait/Iraq border).

Mad Maddy's a liberal? Wesley Clark is? (You should hear Jeremy Scahill speak on Clark, it's blistering.) Sandy Berger? Isn't he an admitted crook? Didn't he plead guilty to leaving with documents while preparing his testimony for the 9-11 Commission? What's he doing with access to anything after that? Well pigs wallow in mud together and there are a lot of oinkers on that list.

Jake Kovoc? My opinion. There will be no answers. The inquiry appears to operate under no rules and is focused on making sure that an easy answer can be found. It's too bad the international press isn't following this. If it were, maybe there could be some answers. Tony and me were talking about this and we figure ten or twenty years from now, we'll be in line for a movie about this because the truth will be out then.

I have no idea what happened but I don't think the inquiry cares too much about finding out.

So how's the soccer/football thing going to play out? I think it's shocking news but the press seems eager to downplay events from Iraq. (Read C.I.'s "NYT & others: Our drag queens of the press show up dressed as Hazel.") When you can't even go out and play, what kind of a world are you living in? It just gets worse and worse each day. I don't remember which day it was but C.I. noted that a police car had been packed with a bomb but the police officers didn't know it and they died in an explosion. So you've got what? It's not suicide car bombers if the people don't know their cars have been rigged? So you've got that, you've attacks on soccer fields, you've got one thing after another. And people keep going, "We have to stay." Guess we'll leave after everyone's dead?

I'm really getting tired of a press that runs with PRESS RELEASES. C.I.'s right, tomorrow's papers will be full of "Troops To Leave By Year's End" all because the Iraqi president said that Iraqis would take control of all the provinces. They'll ignore the realities in front of them, the fact that you've got the 172nd Stryker Brigade extended through November or Decemeber. We're not going to see an end until the politicians grasp that we are not going to support this war -- this illegal war.

"Israeli Prime Minister Says 'Attacks will Continue':"
As the Israeli military offensive against Lebanon has entered its third week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said today that Israel will not stop its military campaign until an international force is deployed along the southern Lebanese border. Jackson Allers has more from Beirut.

We got illegal wars all around us. When will they end? When people have had enough and say "Solve your problems without making people die for your illegal wars."

Leigh Ann wondered where my thing was that I was going to write about Wally? I was going to be silly. (Wally's staying with us this week.) I haven't been in a silly mood. She also wondered about Law and Disorder? I e-mailed her that Cedric and I are both planning to write on it tomorrow. I'm grabbing the taser segment.

Yesterday, Kat, Elaine, Cedric and Betty (filling in for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) all included a song that they'd been thinking about that day. They had some good ones (Maria McKee's "Nobody's Child," Joni Mitchell's "Night Ride Home," Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" and Diana Ross' "Young Mothers." I had just posted when I got asked to participate so, a day late, here's what I've been thinking of today. I just love the beat and the bass line. It's White Stripes and it's kind of a I'm-fed-up song which may be the way I'm feeling these days. But I really love the drums and bass and I had to look up the lyrics because I really just "sing" the bass and not the words. It's off Elephant and it's called "Seven Nation Army:"

i'm going to wichita
far from this opera forever more
i'm gonna work the straw
make the sweat drip out of every pore
and i'm bleedin'
and i'm bleedin'
and i'm bleedin'
right before the lord
all the words are gonna bleed from me
and i will sing no more
and the stains coming from my blood tell me go back home

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lebanon and Iraq

Wednesday? No, not yet! Almost. Almost half way through the week. Let's kick it off with this from Free Speech Radio:

A 48-hour cessation of Israeli air attacks in Lebanon has been replaced by heavy bombardment of civilian areas along the southern Lebanese border. The Israeli military is preparing for what appears will be a massive ground invasion to extend as far as 18 miles into Lebanon. 3 Israeli soldiers and 6 Hezbollah guerrillas were reportedly killed today in fighting along the common border. Jackson Allers has more from Beirut.
The brief cessation of violence allowed rescue workers an opportunity to get to villages in southern Lebanon to retrieve the bodies of at least 90 people killed in Israeli air strikes and artillery barrages over the last 21 days. It also allowed thousands of refugees trapped by the Israeli military offensive to stream north to relative safety - humanitarian sources say that more than 25% of the Lebanese population has been displaced - or about 800 thousand people. Images from BBC and Al-Jazeera television showed hundreds of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers amassed along the northern Israeli border - a precursor to what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said would be a 10-day to 2-week ground offensive to push Hezbollah back to the Litani River - a symbolic dividing line between north and south Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Lebanese government says that over 750 civilians have been killed since Israel launched its military offensive against Lebanon to retrieve two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a military raid on July 12. At least 52 Israeli's have been killed by Hezbollah rocket fire. Reporting from Beirut, this is Jackson Allers for Free Speech Radio News.

Did you know that? Did you care? Are you a Krugman? Seriously, are you going to claim "self-defense"? If the US occupies Iraq for 40 years are you going to call their attacks on Iraqis "self-defense"? I guess some wars are cheerleaded even by people who should know better.

It's amazing how different the coverage is in England than here. Pru e-mailed me with a ton of links and I was reading them and thinking, "We are so stupid in this country to tolerate this kind of one-sided reporting that says 'Israel's acting in self-defense.'" So stupid, so immature.

Now let's go to C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continues today, Tuesday, August 1, 2006. The bombings continue, the shootings continue, the death continues with the estimated number of the dead jumping in the last hour and half from at least 39 to at least 63. (Possibly Damien Cave will write in tomorrow's New York Times "at least 12"?) Reuters notes that among the dead are "at least 26 soldiers" (Iraqis as well as one British soldier stationed in Basra).
A series of bombings throughout Iraq account for the largest reported fatalities.
CNN places the first as a roadside bomb that targeted "a bust carrying members of the Iraqi military". AFP notes this as "the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul". Al Jazeera places the death toll at 24 minimum. Reuters notes "[t]he charred remains" that "were scattered across the bus" and "[t]wo skulls . . . in the vehicle along an empty highway." AFP reports that in addition to those killed (they say "at least 23"), 20 more were wounded. Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note an Interior Ministry source who placed the number wounded at 40 (killed at 23).
BBC notes "at least 14 people died" in Baghdad when a car bomb ("suicide") went off "outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay." [Use the link "BBC notes" for Jane Peel's report if you can't get to it with the upcoming link.] Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show noted the timing and planning involved in that attack. Jane Peel (BBC) noted the "black fumes" wafting from the bombing to the sky and that, "The security forces seem unable to stop the attacks." Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) report: "The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were withdrawing their monthly salaries." Reuters notes a child of 12-years-old "sobbing and tearing his shirt after seeing his dead mother" and kisosk owner Abu Fadhil saying: "We should carry guns to protect ourselves. If we expect Iraqi security forces to protect us we will burn, just like those innocenct people."
Reuters notes that at least seven died and fifteen were left wounded from a car bombing in Muqdadiya. Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) note that the car in question was "a Kia sedan" and that the bombing took place outside a hospital.
David Fickling, Ben Hammersley "and agencies" (Guardian of London) report the death of a British soldier today in Basra forma "mortar attack". CBS and AP note: "The infantry soldier died after being airlifted from a base in Basra to a field hospital outside the city, said the spokeswoman on customary condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy."
In addition to the above,
Reuters also notes a "roadside bomb . . . in northeastern Baghdad" that killed one civilian and left one wounded; a car bomb aimed at "an Iraqi army patrol" that left "two civilians" wounded; and that the US military announced today that a "U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Monday".
RTE News reports the an attack on a minibus carrying electricity board employees which left four dead and four wounded "when their minibus was sprayed with gunfire in central Baghdad." AP raises the numbers to "five killed and injured the other six". Reuters notes two separate shooting deaths in Mosul; in Kirkuk, "A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly . . gunned down"; and, "outskirts of Baghdad," an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint left four Iraqi soldiers wounded as well as one civilian. AFP gives Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi as the name of the ACA member gunned down and notes that he "was shot dead outside his home."
CBS and AP note that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. Reuters also notes that "[t]he body of Adel al-Mansouri, a correspondent for al-Alam television station, was found dumped with bullet holes on a street". By Reuters count, al-Mansouri is the eleventh journalist reported killed in Iraq this year. On April 14th of this year, Dahr Jamail's web site featured the Mosaic Video Stream featuring a report al-Mansouri had done for Abu Dhabi TV. Adel al-Mansouri opened with this statement: "Iraqis hope that their political leaders will be able to overcome their differences and quickly form the new government in order to deal with the problems that plague the country." Not only did that not happen quickly the rumors now float about a shake up in Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet (with the Interior Minister being mentioned most often as at least one person who will be replaced). Since that report, Baghdad has been under the so-called "crackdown" for over six weeks and now an estimated 4,000 US troops are being repositioned in the capitol.
Associated Press is reporting that Asaad Abu Kilal (governor of Najaf) has announced that six buses were "waylaid" and that "45 people from Najaf" have been kidnapped. The AP quotes an Interior Ministry flack who says the number is correct but the kidnappings have taken place "over the last two weeks" and it's "[l]ike two or three people snatched a day." Apparently that's when you panic if you serve in the Interior Ministry -- not when 45 people are kidnapped over a two week period, when they are kidnapped all at once. It doesn't change the number but apparently spreading it out over several days lessens the impact. Vijay Joshi (AP) notes: "U.S. officials estimate an average of 30-40 people are kidnapped each day in Iraq, although the real figure may be higher because few families contact the police."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
AAP reports that Kovco's former roommates (billes as "Soldier 17" and "Soldier 19") provided DNA on Saturday. The gun believed to have been utilized had Jake Kovco's DNA on it as well as unidentified DNA. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the DNA has been tested and the roommates' DNA doesn't match what is on the gun so Wayne Hayes ("Detective Inspector) is heading Iraq "to ask other soldiers in hi platoon to give DNA samples." The current developments were best summed in this exchange on Australia's The World Today -- Eleanor Hall (host) asked, "So Conor, the source of the DNA remains a mystery then?" to which Conor Duffy (reporters) responded, "That's right Eleanor, like so much of what happened in room 8 at the Australian embassy where Jake Kovco died, the source of the DNA on the gun that took his life remains a mystery."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports: "Evidence presented to a military board of inquiry into Kovco's death and failed repatriation now suggests the soldier killed himself in a tragic accident, probably without realising his pistol was loaded. But the army's decision to clean his room and wash his roommates' clothes after he died has destroyed almost all the forensic evidence and may now mean the exact cause of death will never be known." Brown notes that Soldier 19 testified "no way, sir" that Kovco would have committed suicide and AAP notes that 19 states he didn't see the shooting because "he was bending down at a bar fridge in the room". Conor Duffy noted that this would put 19 "probably about one to two meters away from Private Kovco at the time" and that both 19 and 17 are "expected to remain in Sydney for at least this week before they return to Baghdad."
In peace news,
Carol A. Clark (Los Alamos Monitor) reports that Cindy Sheehan will speak at Ashley Pond on August 6th ("this year's Hiroshima Day") for an event that will include others and last from two to nine p.m. and will include "free buttons and balloons, live music, face painting and activities for the kids" as well as "the lighting of 3,000 floating candles on Ashley Pond at dusk."
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on Day 29 with over 4,350 people participating from all over the world. David Howard ( writes about the reasons for participating in the fast including "to end the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don't end up dead, like Tony Butterfield." Tony Butterfield was Anthony E. Butterfield ("Lance Cpl.") who died on July 29th in the Anbar Province at the age of 19. In addition, as Howard notes, Butterfield was "a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High school in Clovis, California." The fast is ongoing (until September 21st) and people can pick a one-day, one-day a week, or more at any point between now and September 21st. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.

You get all that? You absorb it? I went to Lotta Links (you know the site I mean) and they've got ONE, one link to Iraq! Now Stephen Colbert, they got him up there. So Iraq is AS important as Stephen Colbert. It's not MORE important. It's just AS important as a TV comic.
They got priorities -- not got ones, but they got priorities at Lotta Links. I counted over 190 links. And of that 190, they got one to conditions in Iraq for Iraqis. Don't say they don't have priorities. Refuting Bill Clinton being called gay must be one of them because they gotta link to that.

What that reminds me of is that guy in Iraq's Interior Ministry who says, "Yes, 45 have been kidnapped. But not today, over two weeks!" Oh, okay, big difference. 45 kidnapped doesn't matter if it happened over two weeks. That's over six a day. But if the 45 doesn't come in one day, it must not matter.

If I were an Iraqi fighting in the resistance, you know what message that would send to me? "Bigger numbers! We need bigger numbers!" Because the press is blase about the numbers now. Last week, a mass kidnapping of 17 didn't even rate it's own story. That's how blase everyone is to the continued violence and chaos. As Iraq falls apart before the world's eyes, it's okay as long as it does it day by day (like the 45 kidnapped). I wasn't able to catch KPFA's The Morning Show today (I was working) but Tony did. He said one of the guests talked about how the press picks up and moves from one "big story" to the next, no connections, no follow ups.

The best birthday gift Bully Boy got this year was from the Israeli government which decided to act like a bigger mad man than Bully Boy. Now Iraq's off the map. Off the chart. It will sink day by day and, in a few months, we may notice.

What I find most laughable about so many is the idea that Bully Boy wants to fix things. That if they just nudge him, he will. He won't. Why would he care? He doesn't give a damn about dying. All he cares about is getting ready for that summer vacation. That and getting back his girlish figure.

I'm tired so that's it for me tonight. Check out "Ruth's Report" if you haven't already. Get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel acting in self-defense? (I didn't say that, Krugman did)

The above is Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts and it's Condi grabbing a gig when she should have been doing her job. I don't think you go to 'functions' and entertain when your job requires your attention -- more attention than you've given it and I'm not the only one who feels that way. Tony just e-mailed me this:

How would you rate Rice's handling of the Middle East crisis?
Total Votes: 46,737

How would you rate her overall job performance?
Total Votes: 46,888

That's from an online AOL poll going on now. If she were doing her job, I bet most people wouldn't care one way or another that she's fiddling around at functions. But she's not doing her job. Check out "Editorial: Does Condi Rice understand her job duties?" (Third Estate Sunday Review). This is from today's Free Speech Radio News:

Although a 48-hour halt on airstrikes against Lebanon is in effect, the Israeli army continues its attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Air strikes and shelling have killed at least seven residents of the Gaza Strip over the last three days and many others have sustained injuries. Manar Jibrin reports.
An Israeli Apache helicopter today fired two missiles into a governmental ministries compound in Sheikh Radwan in the central Gaza Strip, causing structural damage. Two people were injured in a separate missile attack on the two-storey home in Al Sheikh Radwan area today Three Palestinians died today of wounds they sustained a week earlier during the Israeli invasion of areas in the Gaza Strip. A sixteen year old boy was killed after sustaining shrapnel today by the Israeli artillery fired at homes of Biet Hanoun east of the Gaza Strip. Over one hundred Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks in the past four weeks. Saturday, in the West Bank city of Nablus an Israeli undercover unit backed by armored vehicles invaded the city and killed two resistance fighters of Al Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who started a regional tour met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarek on Friday during which they discussed the situation in both Palestine and Lebanon.

Well that's what happens when Israel's just trying to protect herself right? If you're thinking, "Mike, you're crazy!" well I would be if I believed that. I don't. Paul Krugman does:

Yes, I know that there are differences in the origins of the two wars. There's no question of this war having been sold on false pretenses, unlike America in Iraq, Israel is clearly acting in self-defense.

Clearly? From FAIR's "Down the Memory Hole: Israeli contribution to conflict is forgotten by leading papers:"

WASHINGTON - July 28 - In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading US papers--the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times--have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation.
Beginning with the Israeli attack on Gaza, a New York Times editorial (6/29/06) headlined "Hamas Provokes a Fight" declared that "the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas," and that "an Israeli military response was inevitable." The paper (7/15/06) was similarly sure in its assignment of blame after the fighting spread to Lebanon: "It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah."
The Washington Post (7/14/06) agreed, writing that "Hezbollah and its backers have instigated the current fighting and should be held responsible for the consequences." The L.A. Times (7/14/06) likewise wrote that "in both cases Israel was provoked." Three days and scores of civilian deaths later, the Times (7/17/06) was even more direct: "Make no mistake about it: Responsibility for the escalating carnage in Lebanon and northern Israel lies with one side...and that is Hezbollah."
As FAIR noted in a recent
Action Alert (7/19/06), the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.
In a
July 21 CounterPunch column, Alexander Cockburn highlighted some of the violent incidents that have dropped out of the media’s collective memory:
Let's go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.
Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extrajudicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.
Now we're really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing eight civilians and injuring 32.
That's just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of twenty dead and forty-seven wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.
On July 24, the day before Hamas' cross-border raid, Israel made an incursion of its own, capturing two Palestinians that it said were members of Hamas (something Hamas denied--L.A. Times, 7/25/06). This incident received far less coverage in US media than the subsequent seizure of the Israeli soldier; the few papers that covered it mostly dismissed it in a one-paragraph brief (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 7/25/06), while the Israeli-taken prisoner got front-page headlines all over the world. It's likely that most Gazans don’t share US news outlets' apparent sense that captured Israelis are far more interesting or important than captured Palestinians.

Krugman appears to miss a great deal. It reminded me of his "Yes, Immigrants Are Taking Our Jobs!" column (that wasn't the title, that's how it read to me). If he's not uninformed, he's an apologist for a war mongering government. There's no excuse for his claim that Israel's clearly acting in self-defense. With his column on immigrants, he got a lot of fallout and changed the topic quickly. I doubt he'll do that this time. But I wonder what the Krugman worshippers thought of it? I remember Rebecca noting him on an important anniversary:

paul krugman isn't a career pundit. but his column pissed me off. today, he's waxing on about the 50s. oh yeah, he tells you, it wasn't great for every 1 and not every 1 got to be middle class, but we were closer together then and there wasn't bipartisanship (he credits that to wwii).
does he not get how offensive that is?
on today of all days?
if you're blanking, while he's praising the 50s and noting how the policitians could work together in the column that ran today, today is also the day on which, in 1953, ethel and julius rosenberg were executed. that's the 50s he's waxing on about and about the story in time magazine that he read blah-blah-blah.
yeah, there was a bond between a lot of dems and a lot of repubes - it was the desire to launch a witch hunt. ethel and julius were only 2 of the casualities.
krugman should be embarrassed that his paen to the 50s ran today, on the 53rd anniversary of their executions.

So he's hit some foul balls and then some. Today was another. Join me in booing him and let's fill the stadium with boos.

There's really not an excuse for him being informed. More likely, it's a case of him emphasizing what he wants. Today's column read like Al Franken could have written it and we all know to avoid Al Franken.

Treat Krugman like a buffet.

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

Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glatz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (, by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitors) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."

Can you believe the kindappings? I used the links and "brazen" is a popular word in the reports on it. It really was. By the way, you've got to read C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." -- always but especially that one. Who's today's Walter Cronkite? I agree with C.I. I was talking to Jess on the phone and he said when the edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review was finally complete it was about ten a.m. They were all in C.I.'s room, pretty much collapsed on the bed. C.I. had agreed to go talk to some high school students so it was get the last thing posted and hit the door. Everyone else was going to watch Tootsie. I don't remember why. But C.I. got back three hours later and they were all there still. Hadn't watched Tootsie. Everyone was too tired to get up and grab the movie. So C.I. grabs it, puts it in, says "Make room for me" and gets on the bed. They fell asleep watching it. Around six o'clock (p.m.), Jim goes, "It's six" and everyone groans and goes back to sleep. That happened an hour later. Jess said they slept through until this morning, waking up every now and then but that C.I. got up just to write "And the war drags on . . ." (and post something else, I'll get to that in a second). They herded the rest of us off at three in the morning saying, "Get some sleep." They thought they'd be done shortly. (Three my time so midnight, their time.) They ended up doing all nighter and then some. Jess offered to get up and help and C.I. said for everyone to keep sleeping. Reading it, I can't believe C.I. provided so much commentary (good commentary too). Jess said that three hours later (about 3:30 there time), C.I. was up for the day and so Jess has been feeling lazy all day. I told him he (and everyone else) needed some sleep. Last week was a long one. They must have been wiped out to all be in the same bed just staring at the ceiling waiting for someone to grab Tootsie and start the movie. :D But it's a great edition:

Truest Statement of the Week
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Does Condi Rice understand her job duties?
Sense of Purpose
TV: What Could Be Lower Than A Cesspool?
McKinney v. Lieberman -- who you gonna root for?
Slam poetry
Non-Think Progress Plays Bash the Bitch
Recommended: Danny Schechter News Dissector

Check it out. And if you need some reality that Krugman won't offer, check out Dahr Jamail's "'Supporters of Hezbollah':"

I met some of these "supporters of Hezbollah" yesterday in the hospitals of Sidon.
I met five-year-old Hussein Jawad as his stiff little body lay prone on a hospital bed, one of his tiny legs in a cast. His eight-year-old sister Zayneb, also a "supporter of Hezbollah,"
lay next to him in the same bed. See, there were so many Hezbollah supporters in the southern hospitals that the small ones had to share beds.
They, along with their mother Yusah in a nearby bed, covered in the kind of shrapnel wounds received from cluster bombs, had stayed in their tiny village near the border during the first three days of the bombing because they were too scared to leave. The bombing got so close; they took their chances and managed to move to another village, where they stayed for another eight days.
They ran out of food, so Yusah and the two little "supporters of Hezbollah," compelled by fear and hunger, along with another car containing Yusah's two sisters, followed an ambulance to Kafra village. When they arrived there, the car carrying the two sisters was bombed by an American-made F-16.
Then there was Khuder Gazali, an ambulance driver, whose
left arm was blown off by a rocket fired by an American-made Apache war helicopter while he was rescuing civilians whose home had been bombed. The ambulance then sent to rescue the rescuer was bombed, everyone in it killed. Miraculously, the third ambulance was able to retrieve him, only because the Apache had left.
16-year-old Ibrahim Al-Hama was surely supporting Hezbollah as he played in a river with a dozen of his friends before they were bombed by a warplane. He lay in the hospital bed, his lacerated chest oozing blood, his left ankle shattered and held together by gauze and medical tape. Two of his friends are dead, along with a woman who was near the bomb's impact zone. Perhaps she too was plotting a rocket attack against Israel?
It's wonderful to see the thoroughness of the Israeli military, their effectiveness at eradicating "supporters of Hezbollah." Like 51-year-old
Sumi Marden Ruwiri. On July 14th his home in Bint Jbail was bombed while most of his family members were inside, killing his mother and sister while they surely were strategizing the next rocket launches for Hezbollah. When he and several others began to sift through the rubble for their loved ones, the warplanes returned to bomb the rescuers. He lay in bed, his back shredded by shrapnel, countless patches of gauze stuck to his wounds. His sheets were stained red by blood and yellow by pus that oozed from the wounds.
Alia Abbas, a 52-year-old, fled her village with five other family members after Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets instructing them to leave their village. She lay in bed shredded by shrapnel wounds, one of her eyes missing. 10 days ago when they tried to flee, hanging white flags out the windows of their car, they were bombed by warplanes. She's the only survivor. "Why did they bomb as after we did what they told us to do," she asked me. All I could do was clench my jaw to stave off the tears.
Apparently Alia didn't know she was a "supporter of Hezbollah," since her family was wiped out after Haim Ramon's preposterous remarks about half a million inhabitants of southern Lebanon.
I met dozens of other Hezbollah supporters, most of them women, children and elderly - the kind most ill-equipped to flee their homes on a moment's notice. They lay in their beds, many of them moaning, some crying, and others comatose and
kept alive only by machines. The man comatose in this picture was fleeing his village on a motorcycle after receiving the leaflets of instruction to do so, according to his mother - the only one left alive from their family of 10.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! ROVE DISHES, PRESS TAKES IT!" (I plan to write about him and Law & Disorder tomorrow). And get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.