Monday, February 12, 2007

John Walsh, DC protest, and more

Monday! I had a lot to talk about and thought I would talk about music.
This is from John Walsh's "A Splintered Antiwar Movement" and I'm going to talk about it after:

The roster of speakers for the UFPJ demonstration in Washington D.C. on January 27 speaks volumes. The key was not so much who was included but who was not. The list of speakers certainly had a lot of wonderful activists in the peace movement, but to a considerable degree it was a line-up of Democrats and movie stars.
Ralph Nader, who was in Washington that weekend, was pointedly not invited to speak. On Saturday night Nader was reportedly inquiring of other independents just who had been invited to speak among their growing number. Imagine that; the only antiwar candidate in the 2004 elections was not an invited speaker, even though he and Cindy Sheehan drew tremendous applause at the last mass rally in 2005 (Notice how these rallies occur now only in only non-election years, nicely tailored to get activists to work for Dems, but not to pressure the Dems to take a strong anti-war stand.) The non-invitation removed Nader from the movement every bit as effectively as the censors armed with air brushes removed dissidents in the "socialist" Czech republic chronicled by Milan Kundera. Nor was there anyone who spoke as a representative of the Green Party, even though at least one speaker was in fact a Green and even though an informal survey showed an enormous number of people in the crowd were Greens or Green sympathizers. Yes, the Greens were "permitted" a feeder march but their only organized presence on the Mall that this writer could find was a small card table with three women staffing it.

Okay, I agree with him more than I disagree but I disagree on one point. "Movie stars." I don't think there were a lot "movie stars." Sean Penn was there and spoke, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins spoke. Am I forgetting someone? Eve Ensler is a playwright, she's not a "movie star." Who does that leave? Jane Fonda.

I like Jane Fonda and she's quite a bit more than a "movie star." She was active during Vietnam, she was active in the No Nukes movement and many other areas. She's written best selling books, started the home video market, and done a lot more than I could list.

When I got back from DC, the thing everyone said they saw on TV was Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda didn't take time away from another speaker, if she hadn't been there, the rally and march wouldn't have gotten the attention it did get.

As someone who was there, I know that Jane Fonda's speech was the second most popular speech (Bob Watada's was the most popular). We wrote about this in a two-parter for the gina & krista round-robin and at The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Show Me What Democracy Looks Like (1-27-07)." From the credit line of that article:

The credit goes to: 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 (Rebecca couldn't come to DC due to her pregnancy and Betty decided to participate in a house party Rebecca threw which involved screening and discussing The Ground Truth and handing out information on HR 508), 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, Ruth of Ruth's Report and her grandchildren Tracey and Jayson, Wally of The Daily Jot, Trina of Trina's Kitchen (also Mike's mother, or Mike is the son of Trina), Gina and Krista of the gina & krista round-robin, and Francisco, Miguel and Maria of El Espiritu. And Dallas, we always forget to include Dallas! He was a sounding board and much more.]

Betty and Rebecca helped with the writing but they were not there (due to Rebecca not being able to travel because of her pregnancy). But you've got Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava, Jim, C.I., Kat, Cedric, Elaine, Ruth, Tracey, Jayson, Wally, Ma, Gina, Krista, Francisco, Miguel, Maria, Dallas and me. We were all there. We were interviewing people throughout the rally and after. Saturday evening, we were pulling our 20 quotes. That's how we've always done it in the past. You pick the 20 favorites from people you interviewed and then you fight to get as many included as you can. (That's been done with two other rally pieces at The Third Estate Sunday Review.) Wally, C.I. and Tracey were a team. They could have each picked 20 with no overlap. They were smart and went with the same 20. (Teams who didn't were arguing against everyone -- most of us were doing that -- while Wally, C.I. and Tracey were three voices saying, "This is strong. It's got to go in.") But we had so many and no way to agree to only 100 (the number used for the last one), that C.I. and Gina came up with the idea of the planned piece running as a two-parter in the roundrobin (which was doing daily editions leading up to the protest through the Monday after). That allowed us to do the feature for The Third Estate Sunday Review a little differently than normal. But we did note the most popular speakers.
Jane Fonda was second only to Bob Watada and if you spoke to a woman of any age (this is in the article), chances were she'd bring up Jane Fonda. She's quite a bit more than a "movie star."
So I just want to be clear on that. And I want to be clear that she got on the news and if she hadn't been there, the protest wouldn't have gotten the coverage it did.

Tim Robbins was also very popular and I'm sure in the top 20. Some people cited Sarandon and some people cited Sean Penn. Those three, and Fonda, gave really strong speeches. If I'm forgetting someone, I was doing interviews. But unless I've forgotten at least five other actresses or actors, I don't think there were too many of them there.

So that's where I disagree. Where I agree? With pretty much everything else he said -- including that Libertarians (whom I really don't care for) and Greens (whom I do like) should have been up there. Was Medea Benjamin there? I remember a big debate about a quote we used and some people we interviewed were saying it was from her and some were saying it was from Kim Gandy. C.I. kept saying, "It's Kim Gandy." All the rest of us (except maybe Elaine and maybe Ava) were disagreeing. We wrote it up with a note and were going to post it that way -- we think this was Medea Benjamin and so do some of the people citing the speech but C.I. swears it was Kim Gandy. About 30 minutes before it posted that morning, C.I. made a call, put it on speaker phone and we were all informed it was Kim Gandy. So we quickly changed it to make sure she got credit. But if Medea Benjamin was there speaking, she is a Green. Is she enough? Not in terms of numbers. (Maybe in terms of commitment -- I like Medea Benjamin.)
There should have been more Greens on stage than just Medea. There may have been a few more that I don't know what party they belong to but there should have been spokespeople from the Green Party.

Ralph Nader? I support him speaking. I also know, from when I defended him here last week or the week before, a lot of idiots think he 'stole' the election. (I got hate mail. I thought I'd gotten hate mail before but I didn't know from hate mail until I defended Ralph Nader.) I would hope that he would have been well received but I will allow that if people knew how strong this reaction was, they may not have invited him out of fear that he'd be booed and that would be the clip TV would run with. "Ha-ha, they boo their own speakers!" If I'd been in charge of getting people to speak, I would've been on the phone trying to get ahold of him because he not only has a right to be there, people need to hear him.

So I agree with Walsh on that too. I also agree with him about A.N.S.W.E.R. I don't know what the problem or supposed problem is anymore than Walsh. I do know from when I was out in California last year, A.N.S.W.E.R. works it's ass off. It worked on the immigration issue really hard, it works on that still, it works to end the war. If there's some 'personality conflict' that grown adults can't get passed, oh well. That doesn't mean A.N.S.W.E.R. still can't be invited to speak. They can be and they should have been.

My only real problem with Walsh was the "movie stars" remark. When Jane Fonda spoke at the media reform thing, there were some people posting things that I thought were really rude and really stupid. If you can get Jane Fonda to speak at anything, book her. She will get press because she is admired by a lot of people (she'll get press because she's hated by a small, vocal group too). She can bring attention and she can bring some people into the tent that might not be there otherwise. She's been making movies forever and has people who know her that way. She has people who know her for her feminism. She has people who know her for activism. She has people who know her as Ted's ex-wife or Tom's ex-wife. She has people who know from the Workout. She brings in a wide cross-section. As someone who's produced films and TV movies, she knows about media that way, as part of GreenStone Media, she knows about it that way, as someone who's given more interviews than most famous people ever will, she knows about what gets into print and what a writer sits on. When some people were griping online, I thought it was a case of sour grapes. I'm sorry that her name drawfs so many (I'm sorry for them) but that's the way life works out. If I was asked to speak next week and at the last minute got bumped because they could get her, I wouldn't whine or feel sorry for myself, I would ask to be front row so I could hear the speech because, and this is the really important thing, she gives great speeches. There was a stillness in DC when she started speaking. Everyone was just hanging and waiting. She gives a great speech.

I don't know that Walsh is referring to her but after the nonsense that went online after the media reform, if he is, he's wrong. I was there, I know what I saw. I was interviewing people, I know what speakers they responded to. I heard about the interviews. I helped write the two-part series in the round-robin in which we each chose 30 people to quote who had come to the rally. About a third of what's in the round-robin is people citing Jane Fonda. Sometimes just her, sometimes her and one or two other people. She was very popular. She was intensely popular with people my age, with women of any age, with African-Americans and with men over 40.

I don't think four was too many. If I missed somebody, I don't think that was too many. I do think that if you weren't there (I don't know if Walsh was or not), what you got on your TV was Fonda. If you saw Democracy Now! you still didn't get all the speakers. There were a lot of speakers, I didn't know all of them. But there were a lot.

A "lot" doesn't defend the fact that Greens (or Libertarians) weren't up there (or up there in more numbers -- I really think Medea Benjamin did speak). I wonder what the actions elsewhere were like? Cindy Sheehan spoke in Los Angeles. Carolyn Ho (she is Ehren Watada's mother, Bob Watada is his father) spoke in San Francisco. But you had a cross-section of occupation, if not parties.

John Conyers, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey were popular speakers at the rally. We actually heard several people tell us that they were bothered that no Senator was present. Where was Bernie Sanders was a popular question? The second most named was Russ Feingold. But Greens should have been there and I know of Ron Paul (who is a Republican from Texas) and he has been outspoken so he should have been there too.

I agree with Walsh very strongly on everything but the "movie stars" and that's because a) I didn't think there were that many and b) Jane Fonda was hugely popular (second most popular speaker) and I don't want to see her slammed. I actually thought the Raging Grannies demonstrated another booking issue -- where were the singers? The Raging Grannies sang (and they were in the top ten of most popular speakers) but why not have Bright Eyes or David Rovics or any number of people come up on stage to sing something. That thing lasted about two or three hours. (I think it was two but I'm trying to finish this and post tonight so I'm not going to call to check.) It wasn't dull. But if we're talking about adding more people, regardless of political parties, they need to provide some more singing. People my age loved The Raging Grannies' songs and I bet they would have loved anyone who came to share a song about the illegal war.

Now new content from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

A Note to Our Readers -- Jim's note to the readers explaining what's what. I'll add that Elaine, Wally, Cedric, Betty, Rebecca and me always get off the phone at midnight, if not sooner, and rejoin them around six our time (four their time). That's something Dona implemented a) because of Rebecca's pregnancy and b) because she didn't want people to get burnt out. While we're sleeping, they're still working. They is Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and usually Kat. But this week, they all fell asleep while Ava and C.I. were doing the TV commentary (they do that themselves) and Ava and C.I. didn't wake them, just worked on firming up the edition by doing research and other things. That's why Jim's thanking them in the note. Ava and C.I. really did not want to do an edition because they were wiped out from Tacoma, Texas the week before and DC the week before. They were also going to the Grammys (and took Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Kat with them -- lucky!) Sunday night and did not want to "look like crap." (I'm told they looked "wonderful" by Jess and I'm sure they did.) But they didn't want to do an edition, they were already exhausted. If the Ehren editorial had been written, they would have posted the TV commentary, the Fascist House thing, the roundtable and the editorial (and maybe one other thing I'm forgetting) and done a note saying, "That's the edition -- Ava & C.I. P.S. We're getting some rest."

Editorial: The court-martial is over -- I like this editorial a lot. And I love the illustration the gang did. It's charcoal. It's really cool. Check it out.

TV: All just a bit of (CBS) history repeating -- Another instant classic from Ava & C.I. My kid sister reads them all the time but she told me Sunday evening, after talking about this one, "You know what, Michael, I'm a feminist." She calls me "Michael" when she's in a serious mood. I go, "I figured you were." She goes, "No, I just figured that out today." She credits Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries with that. And I'm sure that's true. They write strong feminist critiques and, like my sister said, "They're so damn funny!" I think she had this idea before that feminsim didn't allow for funny. (Ma's a feminist. I'm a feminist! We're funny! :D)

Roundtable -- I love this roundtable. But Betty pulled a remark she had at the last minute. She said she felt she "piped in too much." So Ty pulled it for her and it ended up creating a mini-error. It's fixed now but Ty said there were 51 e-mails asking, "WTF?" :D Ty thinks it's funny and has replied to everyone to assure them that the mistake was his and no one was making fun of anyone involved in the roundtable. That's all I'll say because he thinks they might have to address that next week. But the roundtable's really cool. Nina came up to me on campus today and asked me to note this: "Elaine is a wonderful person and she and I do not have a problem. Mike and I were a fun couple but that's really all. We both thought it was more but it wasn't." She read the roundtable and she figured out why Jim asked the question and I made the joke in it. There are some who really seem to think Elaine and me means I'm going to end up hurt or something. They're really concerned and like following every word Elaine writes and every word I do looking for clues. Nina's really great but she and I broke up. Because of us. Elaine didn't have anything to do with that. I'm a grown up and I appreciate the concern but things are great. Jim and I made it into a joke to try to lighten the situation but Nina read the roundtable and felt the joke might have just made the worried worry more so she wanted me to put her thing up here so people would get that we broke up for us. It had nothing to do with Elaine.

The Nation Stats -- Last minute panic when we realized this hadn't been done. We all thought we were done but we weren't!

Women and the military -- There is a lot of info in this but there was so much more that Ava and C.I. dug up that we didn't use. We could have done a three-part series on just their research. This is a really important article, so read this.

Cracked Up Crackdown -- Love the illustration. We were tired here and Jess said, "We need music." So we worked some music into this and it helped us focus. (Ava and C.I. are the ones who stumbled across the fact that, in January, Bully Boy finally dropped his "God bless you" and/or "God bless America" in his speech. Tony asked me about that, how we'd found that. That was part of the research Ava and C.I. did.)

Update on Gallaudet University -- After the TV commentary, this was the thing I got stopped on campus the most about today. Everyone loves this and I was getting a lot of "Keep covering this, it's important." It is important.

MyTV's Fascist House -- The collage. I got to work on this some because we started in Tacoma. We were clipping and not really sure what it would end up being but we really wanted it to include Ehren. The court-martial ended in a mistrial and we were thinking, "How can we include Ehren?" Then C.I. goes, "Well say the program was delayed a week by Nouri al-Maliki, the way he delays live broadcasts of the Iraqi parliament." That worked out perfect.

Highlights -- Since everyone was behind, this was a group thing done very quickly. Next weekend, it'll probably be done by Wally, Betty, Rebecca, Elaine and me.

In honor of the Grammys last night, check out Kat's "Kat's Korner: Joan Baez Bringing It All Back Home on Bowery Songs" and Kat's "Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way."

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

Monday, February 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the US military has a show & tell; Kelly Dougherty shares what she saw during the court-martial of Ehren Watada last week; in Baghdad, nearly 100 are reported dead and nearly 200 are reported wounded in an attack utilizing multiple bombs;

Starting with
Ehren Watada. In June 2006, Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, Watada faced a court-martial that lasted from Monday through Friday. Kelly Dougherty (Iraq Veteranst Against the War) reports what she observed noting that the prosecutions witnesses' testimony backed up Watada:

What actually happened, though, was that Lt. Watada's two commanders each testified that Lt. Watada's unit was not negatively impacted by his public statements and that Lt Watada's unit was not negatively impacted by his public statements and that Lt Watada was never ordered not to go public with his opposition to the war. Furthermore, all three men testified that if an officer is given an order he believes to be illegal, in this case participating in the occupation of Iraq, he is obligated to refuse it. Even if the order is found to be legal, all men agreed that they would not expect an officer to act in a manner that violates his conscience.

On Judge Toilet (aka Lt. Col. John Head) and his "Winken, Blinken, and Nod" to the prosecution as Toilet began floating the idea of a mistrail,
Dougherty recalls:

It appeared to me, though, that Judge Head really wanted the prosecution to agree with him that the stipulation Lt. Watada signed was indeed a guilty confession and therefore he did not need to testify at all. When the prosecution agreed with the defense, the judge gave them a 15 minute recess to think things over. Afterwards, when the prosecution still agreed that Lt Watada had not made a confession and should take the stand, the judge gave them another recess. He said he'd give them 40 minutes, but if they needed more time to just let him know. Judge Head also made it clear that if the prosecution did not return with the answer he wanted, he would declare a mistrial. From a layperson's point of view, it seemed like the judge waas to prosecute the government's case himself. After the repeated recesses, the judge did declare a mistrial, Lt Watada never testified, and the case was rescheduled for March 19, or the fourth anniversary of the war. That was a surprise ending that none of us attending the court martial expected.

Ruth's Report and The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The court-martial is over" addressed the mistrial and what it means for Ehren Watada.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Currently facing a court-martial (March 6th) is
Agustin Aguayo who self-checked out of the military in September of last year and returned less than thirty days later (September 2nd through September 26th) but is being charged with desertion. Stars and Stripes reported last week that Aguayo's is prepared "to plead guilty to being absent without leave, but not to a more serious charge of desertion" and notes that "Desertion charges are typically not filed unless a servicemember has been AWOL for more than 30 days, though there are provisions for the more serious charge during times of war, officials have said." As the military moves to court-martial him (in Germany) a civilian court still hasn't weighed in. On November 21, 2006, the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC heard Aguayo's appeal and they have yet to issue a ruling on the validity of his being denied c.o. status. Aaron Glantz noted (November 20, 2006 broadcast of The KPFA Evening News) that Aguayo's case is the first of it's kind hear in "a federal court since 1971". If the prosecution sticks with the desertion charge and if Aguayo is found guilty, he could face as many as seven years behind bars.
Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, has not only spoken out for her husband but for other war resisters as well. Most recently,
Jason Farbman and Sam Bernstein (Socialist Worker) reported on Helga Aguayo addressing Watada supporters in Tacoma the day before Watada's court-martial began: "All war resisters should be supported. They will ultimately bring an end to the war." Jeff Paterson reported that she was there with their two children and her mother-in-law. Someone who knows something about marriage to a war resister was honored at the Grammys yesterday with a lifetime achievement award, Joan Baez. From 1968 to 1973, Baez was married to David Harris who was convicted of draft refusal and impisoned from 1969 to 1971. During that time, along with speaking out and activism, Baez wrote "A Song for David" (One Day at a Time):

And the stars in your sky
Are the stars in mine
And both prisoners
Of this life are we.
Through the same troubled waters
We carry our time,
You and the convicts and me.
That's a good thing to know
On the outside or in,
To answer not where
But just who I am.
Because the stars in your sky
Are the stars in mine
And both prisoners
Of this life are we.

Another woman who knows about marriage to a war resister is Brandi Key, the wife of Joshua Key. Joshua Key's book
The Deserter's Tale documents his time serving in Iraq, what he witnessed and why he decided to self-check out. Nathan Whitlock (Toronto Star) reviews the book: "In 2003, Key spent seven months in Iraq, raiding the houses of Iraqi families, driving in heavily armed motorcades through hostile neighbourhoods, fighting an enemy that could attack and disappear at will, and watching with growing despair as his fellow soldiers, his army and, by extension, his country, abandoned all moral legitimacy. At the end of that seven months, Key walked away, going AWOL and going underground with his young family before eventually crossing the border into Canada in search of a new life. . . . The turning point for Key comes when he arrives at the scene of a supposed firefight, only to discover a group of U.S. soldiers kicking around the heads of Iraqi men like soccer balls. [Joshua Key:] 'We had become a force for evil, and I could not escape the fact that I was part of the machine'."

And the machine grinds on.

In Iraq? Well just Sunday the US military flacks and leadership were yet again bragging -- they'd begun their sweep, this version of the crackdown was going to do the trick. They spun and they spun and
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Damien Cave (New York Times) showed up in print with talk of "large-scale sweeps expected in eastern Baghdad". Someone forgot to tell central Baghdad. Devika Bhat (Times of London) reports that "two busy market areas in central Baghdad" wre the target of a bombing attack today. Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports mulitple explosions. Al Jazeera notes: "A column of smoke hundreds of feet wide billowed into the air above the market near the east bank of the Tigris river and near the central bank building." AFP reports: "The blasts were timed to mark the end of a national 15-minute silence called by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on the first anniversary of the demolition of a Shiite shrine by Sunni bombers that unleased a wave of sectarian attacks."
CNN says it was "[f]ive explosions". Bushra Juih (AP) notes three car bombs and a bombing detonaed by a man wearing it ("explosives-filled vest) which, combined, resulted in massive destruction, "[s]hops and stalls were obliterated," "debris and clothing mannequins were scattered in pools of blood on the floor of the warehouse-type building while men piled up plastic chairs". CBS and AP note Lara Logan, CBS News, "reports the parking structure was still ablaze nearly three hours after the initial explosion, and she says the death toll is likely to continue rising." CBS and AP also note "conflicting accounts about whether one or two car bombs were involved" and "a bomb hidden in a bag". BBC puts the number at three (two car bombs and a parcel bomb). Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) quotes eye witness Wathiq Ibrahim: "I saw three bodies shredded apart. Paramedics were picking up body pieces and human flesh from the pools of blood on the ground and placing them in small plastic bags. The smoke turned the place dark." CNN puts the toll thus far at 90 dead and 190 wounded.

Other bombings?

Reuters notes a bombing in nothern Baghdad that left two dead and five wounded. CNN notes four dead as a result of a car bomb in Mandali.


Reuters reports that the body guard of "an Interior Ministry employee" was shot dead in Baghdad and another was wounded and that "a primary school guard in Central Kut" was shot dead. CNN notes a person shot dead and two more wounded when their car was attacked in Muqdadiya.


Reuters reports 32 discovered in "scattered" in Baghdad, the corpse of a police officer ("bearing signs of torture") discovered in Falahiya, three corpses discovered in Mosul.

The above comes as the
Red Cross Federation has issued an appeal: "In order to bring emergency relief goods to 50,00 socially vunlerable families (some 300,000 people), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an appeal for 10.3 million Swiss francs (USD 8.3 million/6.4 million pounds). These funds are also meant to cover the health needs of 150,000 people for 12 months. 'This appeal is also meant to help the Iraqi Red Crescent continue to provide vital assistance in emergency relief and health care to the most vulnerable groups of the population throughout the country,' underlines Ahmed Gizo, Head of the Middle East/ North African Department at the Federation Secretariat in Genevea. 'They are the only ones who can still do this and it is essential they pursue this mission.' Electricity shortages, insufficient clean water, a deteriorating health service and soaring inflation (more than 76% in August 2006) have worsened already difficult living conditions. According to the UN, more than 630,000 people have been displaced since February 2006. In this context of violence and insecurity, the need for non-food items has become almost as important as food. This appeal will finance the delivery of items including clothing and cloth, blankets, kitchen utensils, stoves, jerricans, mattresses and tends to families considered socially vulnerable, because they do not have an income provider, or shelter or have very little income. Appeal funds will also be used to train more than 2,000 IRCS staff and volunteers as well as 46,000 school children in first aid, and will support four rounds of national polio immunization campaigns for 100,00 children under five years old."

Anthony Arnove (author of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) noted to Kevin Zeese (CounterPunch), "Iraqis are far more likely to die violently in Iraq today than they were under the dictatorship" and, keep in the mind the appeal of the Red Cross Federation and what that money would be going for (money the US government should be providing), "In terms of how things will be once the U.S. withdraws, each day longer the United States stays, the possibilities of a livable outcome diminish. Which is why, in addition to pushing for immediate withdrawal, we also need to call on the United States and its allies to pay reparations to the Iraqi people (not just for the destruction caused by the most recent illegal invasion and occupation but before that the devastating sanctions, the toxic legacy and destruction of the 1991 Gulf War, and all the years that the U.S. armed and supported Saddam Huessein as he carried out his worst crimes). They can do a far better job rebuilding their country than the corporate looters and thugs of Halliburton, Bechtel, and Blackwater can." The Red Cross and Red Crescent are attempting to provide aid, the question is why the United States isn't?

noted Antonia Juhasz's work on the economic war on Iraq and Arnove replied: "The economic take-over of Iraq absolutely should be reversed. Antonia Juhasz is right, as Naomi Klein, who has also written very powerfully on this topic. Klein writes: 'The United States, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry' of economic strangulation. We need to call for an end to military and ecnomic occupation, as well as the removal of U.S. military bases."

Meanwhile, today, the
US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Corps-Iraq, died February 11, 2007 in a non-combat related incident" and they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgentstargeted a security patrol in a western segment of the Iraqi capital Feb. 11. While conducting a cordon and search operation, the patrol came under enemysmall arms fire. One Soldier was killed and another was wounded in the attack."

The question of the day: Have you enlisted in the whisper campaign? Serial war whisperer and pathetic war pornographer Michael Gordon is back -- and apparently he's stolen his former co-writer Judith Miller's wardrobe.
As noted Saturday: "Looking at today's New York Times, Michael R. Gordon shows up in drag. It's a wig with pixie bangs and you keep waiting for him to (falsely) snarl, 'I was proved f**king right.' The propaganda is entitled "Deadliest Bomb In Iraq Is Made By Iran, U.S. Says." He's jetted over to DC, the byline tells you. And he barely stumbled across the runway in high heels before anonymice descended upon him with breathy whispers. They offer him "details" and we're all supposed to buy in.That requires forgetting previous 'scoops' like September 8, 2002's 'U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts.' He co-wrote that planted story with the help of Judith Miller. How freeing it must be (like ditching a girdle?) to get the byline all to himself. The war pornography of Michael Gordon tells us one thing today -- the blood letting in Iraq is no longer enough to get his war-on up (what ever is?) and now he's signed on to sell the American people a war with Iran."

Where stenography and pornography mix, there is Michael Gordon -- and where there is Michael Gordon there is a (false) story the administration wants told. Saturday, on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders jokingly wondered if Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller could be the same person?

As the disbelief and ridicule piled on and realizing that Gordo's leaky war-on might not be the best way to frighten the public (can you be frightened while laughing?), the US military held a super-secret, fudge brownie meeting with reporters on Sunday. The reporters were not allowed to identify anyone -- though all the unnamed are on the government payroll and supposedly working for the US tax payer. They skipped the coldcuts and instead made the spread all about E.F.P.s (explosively formed penetrators") and insisted that the devices were from Iran.

Tina Susman and Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) note there were "two tables laden with what they said were uniquely Iranian military hardware and weapons fragments." James Glanz (New York Times) reports: "The officials were repeatedly pressed on why they insisted on anonymity in such an important matter affecting the security of American and Iraqi troops." Best non-answer? One of those participating couldn't have if it was required that reporters identify government employees making claims that could lead to a war. Glanz noted the "evidence" was known of "as early as 2004" Susman and Daragahi report: "The officials said each piece of the displayed hardware could be traced to Iran, though to the untrained eye, there were no obvious Iranian markings other than that on dynamite. Some of the munitions bore Western lettering." Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes the response from the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad: "We deny such charges. We ask those who are claiming such evidence: Show the documents in public. We cannot compensate for the American failure and fiasco in Iraq. It is not our policy to be involved in any hostile operations against coalition forces here" and that Labeed M. Abbawi (deputy foreign minister in Iraq) echoed that: "If they have anything really conclusive, then they should come out and say it openly, then we will pick it up from there and use diplomatic channels".

In the US Congress, the House of Representatives have begun a non-binding resolution. The first half is the generic statement. The gums (no teeth) is in the second part: "Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007 to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq." Of the resolution,
Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reports that "the House is expected to vote on [it] Friday".

Finally, at yesterday's Grammys, the Dixie Chicks received five awards. Next month would be the four year anniversary of the attack on the Chicks that began when Natalie Maines spoke a little truth Bully Boy and his bully posse couldn't handle. Radio programmers pulled the group's songs, hate mail and death threats in, the right-wing phone banked to create an impression that the Dixie Chicks stood alone. As
Geoff Boucher (Los Angeles Times) notes, their performance of "Not Ready To Make Nice" was introduced by Joan Baez who hailed them as "three brave women." They won for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Album, Album of the Year and Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire were supposed to be "dead" career wise after the bullies came running. Just one more plan the right-wing couldn't pull off.