Wednesday and I'm dragging so consider yourself warned. I'm sick of the cold and then it seems like things warm up and then it's cold again. This week, it's really cold and I'm sneezing and stuff and that just makes me want to get under the blankets and sheets and hole up until I feel better. But the way I feel tonight, I might go into hibernation until spring!
Seriously, I am just freezing. I've got socks, sweats and a sweater on. The heat's on in the house and Dad ended up getting a space heater and putting it in here because he goes I look like like Casper I'm so white. I've been cold all day. Inside, outside, I've been cold. I've actually felt warmer outside so that's how I knew I had a cold. And I've got this thing in my throat where it's like a scratchy thing down deep that's going to become a cold and the only thing I can think about is hopping into bed and going to sleep.
So I tell you all that right off the top so you know there's not going to be anything special here tonight.
I ended up logging on and then sitting on the bed (knew if I laid down, I'd go to sleep) trying to think of what to say tonight and figured I'd just talk about the cold to start off with which seems kind of obvious but it took me about forty minutes to realize that.
So let's talk about the crackdown that keeps going and going and going to hell. This is from
Michael Schwartz' "Baghdad Surges into Hell: First Results from the President's Offensive:"
In his Iraq policy address on January 10, President Bush promised three new initiatives: a "surge" of American troops accompanied by a new "clear, hold, and build" strategy in Sunni insurgent strongholds; an offensive against Shia militias, particularly the Sadrist Mahdi Army which "U.S. military officials now identify as the greatest security threat in Iraq"; and forceful action to prevent Iran from further increasing its influence in Iraq and the Middle East.
Events in the last few weeks make it clear that all three prongs of this strategy are being enacted, even while the Congress is engaged in a prolonged debate over its (non-binding) opposition to the "surge" part of the new regional plan. The "surge" strategy was actually initiated one day before the speech was even given -- in an offensive on Baghdad's Haifa Street that briefly dominated the headlines. The new initiative aimed at Shia militias appears to have begun with a battle outside of Najaf in which about 200 members of the Al-Hawatim and al-Khazali tribes were killed by American and Iraqi forces -- apparently because the tribal militias had been involved in a growing (if under-reported) "anti-U.S. and anti-Baghdad" guerrilla war that "has been spreading like wildfire" in the Shia south. And the new aggressiveness towards Iran is now being played out not only in Iraq, but in the increasingly credible threats of an American or Israeli, or combined American and Israeli, air assault on Iran itself.
We may have to wait weeks, or even months, to evaluate the consequences of American actions against those Shia militias and Iran. But the Haifa Street offensive, now almost a month old, already offers us a vivid portrait of the horrific consequences that are the likely result of the Sunni insurgent part of the President's "surge" strategy.
Michael Schwartz was a guest on WBAI's Law & Disorder not long ago, they had speeches by him and Anthony Arnove on January 22, 2006. And speaking of WBAI's Law and Disorder, Monday's show had a lot of topics. They talked to Michael Deutsch about the victory of Muhammad Salah who was accused of things like "racketeering conspiracy" for donations in the 90s and called terrorists. They ended up having to drop terrorism charges against him.
Then there was the issue, and this is the thing that interested me most, about the Black Panthers. A while back, they had a great speech by Michael Smith (one of the hosts) from a panel where he was talking about the destruction of civil liberties in this and on that same show, they had some Black Panthers talking about torture and imprisonment. I was confused and must have missed a program or something because I had to call C.I. and ask, "This is something recent, right?" It was. If you were confused like me, they address it again this week. (They probably covered this before but I'd missed it until the episode with the panel.) So here's the basic story. In 1971, a police officer was killed in San Francisco. They ended up trying to charge eight Black Panthers with the crime. Two of them ended up being held in a New York prison for decades (Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim) but the 'evidence' that was being used came from torture.
There's another segment but I haven't had time yet to listen to all the tape. I'll write about it tomorrow and may write some more about the above. That's going to depend on me feeling better. I saw the next thing, by one of my favorite writers, and thought, I'll put some of it up and I'll also talk some about it. Now I don't know if I'll have anything to say about it but here's some of Dave Lindorff's "The Press Bites, Again:"
A word of caution on US "evidence" that Iran is providing armor-piercing weapons to Iraqis.
If reporters could all stop the heavy breathing for a moment, they might ask the folks at the White House and in the Pentagon to explain why those bombs that they displayed as "evidence" of Iranian perfidy had English words and numbers on them, instead of Persian.
I understand that Iranian manufacturers use English to identify products produced for export, but these devices--if they are Iranian--aren't really part of their general export product list.
That's not to say that Iran is not involved in any of the fighting in Iraq. It would be astounding if they were not, being as they are right next door and have an intense interest in the future of Iraq, a country that fought an eight-year US-supported war against them not long ago. But I think it raises questions about the quality of the US evidence purporting to prove that Iran is providing bombs that can pierce American armored vehicles.
Of course there are other reasons to doubt the administration too, besides the simple fact that it has shown itself to be seriously truth-challenged. A major problem is that most of the Americans who have died in Iraq, and who are continuing to die in Iraq, are being killed by Sunni fighters, and Iran has been backing the Shia side there, not the Sunnis.
At least until Bush came up with his bright idea of escalating the Iraq War by attacking Moktada al Sadr's forces in Baghdad last month, the Shia forces were leaving American troops alone, and were focused on killing Sunnis and the occasional Brit.
I like Dave Lindorff's writing because he's always got something to say and he just says it. He's not trying to hide what he thinks or play it off. That's true of the book he and Barbara Olshansky wrote together too and if I had the energy to get out of this chair, I'd tell you the title. I think I have the energy to get out but I think if I did, I would get up and go plop down on the bed. I don't even have any music playing. For most of the time I've been trying to write tonight, I've been telling myself if I put on David Rovics or White Stripes, that would give me energy to write but it really hasn't.
It's Valentine's Day and I did wish Elaine a happy V-Day and send her some flowers. (She got me CDs and that's how sick I am, I haven't even opened 'em. I'm sure they're great but I just don't have the energy.)
I'll tell you the big news on campus in my crowd. There's this guy who's kind of, I guess, weird. Like he voted for Bully Boy in 2004 and that probably tells you everything, right? He's also a bit older than most of us on campus and always hitting on every female. In the fall semester he was getting some dates and stuff but then word got out that he was married and had three kids. He's just this weird guy. He's probably close to 30 if he's not 30 and he tries to act like he's the King of Hip-Hop or something. (He's White.) While I was in Tacoma last week, he was no where to be found. He wasn't in Tacoma! He's a Republican. But he was in jail. He told some people it was because he was a witness the police needed. But it turns out he was probably involved in a drive-by.
Now that's pretty bad, drive-bys. But it's worse when you start thinking, this guy is like around 30. What's he doing trying to act like he's a gangsta? You hear about teenagers making mistakes and stuff but here's this guy who's oldest kid is 8 years old and and he's got three kids and he's going to college and he's around 30 and he's riding around with high school kids doing drive-bys. If it's true, he's a real loser as well as a criminal.
Back in January, someone busted in Tony's car and stole his stereo and people were telling Tony, "Dude it's got to be" this guy. And at the time, Tony thought, "No way." But now with the drive-by and other stuff I haven't written about, Tony's thinking maybe it was that guy. He was going around and around the parking lot, according to some people, that day and he doesn't have a car.
So that was the big news on campus today. Everybody was talking about because his "I'm was a witness" excuse ended up not being true and he told one guy and one guy told another. I should put in here that none of it may be true. Not just because the way campus gossip works but also because the guy is a real liar. Yeah, he lied about not being married and all of that but he also gets caught in all these other lies all the time. We know he's married and has three kids only because when he was seeing this one female, his wife showed up on campus, went to one of his classes, with their three kids, and confronted him because he hadn't been coming home that whole time.
You know I'm tired (and sick) if I'm boring you with campus gossip. Okay, C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" which makes more sense than anything I've written tonight:
Wednesday, February 14, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Baghad's under more 'extreme' crackdown and nothing's changed; Bully Boy says "Who needs proofs?"; the US military announces more deaths; and who is getting into the US military?
Starting with news of war resistance and staring with Ehren Watada. Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June. Last week, he became the first officer to be court-martialed for refusing to deploy in the illegal war. The court-martial ended in a mistrial. Many rush to weigh in and while we disagree with the right, we can respect their passion. It's the useless we have no respect for. Meet Kati Irons.
Apparently upset that she can't bore everyone with her thoughts on Battlestar Galatica one more time, Irons hems and haws and throws some stones. For instance, she doesn't care for Sean Penn's speech in Tacoma. Now in a very small setting, she's quite happy to stay silent even while she is disturbed by a conversation - dumb ass and a coward. Congratulations, Kati! And congratulations on being offensive to everyone: "Under present circumstances, to have one child in the military may be considered a source of pride, but four seems like carelessness," Irons offers. Insulting everyone doesn't mean you're "telling it like it is" -- it just means you're an idiot. (Irons scractched down a few thoughts for Blogcritics -- we don't link to trash.)
Fortunately, not all are useless idiots. As Paul Guggenheimer (Sioux City Journal) notes,
"If there is one story that strikes at the heart of the immorality and unethical nature of the war in Iraq, it is the story of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada'." As Mike Davis (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reminds: "He has refused to serve on the ground that the war is 'immoral and unlawful . . . and would compel complicity in war crimes'." Jason Farbman and Sam Bernstein (Socialist Worker) report on the double jeopardy issue that Judge Toilet's (aka Lt. Col. John Head) decision to call a mistrial (over the objection of the defense) is only one issue that may prevent a retrial: "If the court-martial does resume March 19, Watada's lawyers will object and appeal, possibly pushing the trial back to May. But in the meantime, Watada will have served out his remaining time in the Army. His lawyers are now saying they think he could walk away a free man."
Dan Carptener (The Indianapolis Star) reports on Carolyn Ho ( Ehren Watada''s mother) whose "voice was cracking from overuse and a lingering cold as the soldier's mother recounted the story, having spent the past six months traveling the country on his behalf" who spoke of the change she'd seen since her son went public in June: "In the early days one individual wrote me that I was a terrible mother and he was going to send me a one-way ticket to France. Since that time we've had an overwhelmingly positive response. It's a telling commentary on how people feel about this war."
Talking about the war and the mistrial, David Mitchell spoke yesterday at the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Upper Nyack. Akiko Matsuda's (The Journal News) reports: "Mitchell gave his own analysis, saying the judge manipulated the trial because as it proceeded, Watada's good standing as a soldier became apparent. Mitchell also thought the judge was afraid of the impact on the other soldiers should Watada be acquitted. Mitchell said that at one point in the trial, a female officer told the judge she was impressed by Watada's action because he stood by what he believed in."
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, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, 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, Jimmy Massey 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.
Patrick Hart, noted above, is a war resister who went to Canadal. The Buffalo News reports that "Hart was a dealt a setback when the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board denied his claim of refugee status" and that his next step is to "appeal the decision to the Canadian Federal Court." In July, Patrick, Jill and Rian Hart appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board to make their appeal. Peter Koch (Art Voice) noted in July that "everyonw who has received a decision has been denied." The denial was a denial to Patrick Hart and it was also a denial to Jill Hart and to their son Rian. These are people who are attempting to start a life in a Canada. The Harts, like Joshua and Brandi Key, have uprooted their families and moved to Canada not as a stop-over, but as a final destination. During Vietnam, Canada was welcoming of war resisters. Today, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada makes laughable their claim to be the "largest independent administrative tribunal" as they show no independence and make the same 'finding' repeatedly, over and over with no indication of indepence, no indication of thought, but strong indications that they are afraid to take a stand. Since none of the war resisters can be called a "security risk" or seen as having violated human or internatioinal rights, committed a serious crime or been involved in organized crime, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has made a loud, repeated joke of itself and done so while the world was watching.
Meanwhile, England is in violation of UN protocol, Robert Stansfield and Maggie Barry (The Daily Mirror) report, since they've been sending service members under the age of 18 to fight in Iraq and, while Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram can claim that was a mistake, it was also illegal. Stansfield and Barry speak with one who was under 18, "Chris," and he explained why he decided to self-check out and joined over 1,000 British soldiers who have done just that since the start of the illegal war as well as sharing his opinions of the illegal war: "I think they should just take everyone out of Iraq. If the Americans want to stay then just let them but they should take our troops out. It's not worth being in there. It's not worth getting killed for."
From Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics by Howard Zinn and David Barsamian, pp. 118-119:
David Barsamian: You're 1967 book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was reissued by South End Press. I was reading some of the exchanges in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that you reproduce there. And although there are no such hearings going on now, it almost replicates a lot of the media commentary about how we cannot just quit and run from Iraq, that our prestige would suffer, we would lose credibility. What do these things mean? What is prestige? What is credibility?
Howard Zinn: That's an interesting point because those statements are made again and again, from war to war to war, that we must continue doing this because if we don't continue doing this, we will lose standing, lose prestige, that other countries in this, we will lose standing, lose prestige, that other countries in the world will lose respect for us. I think what they really mean is that other countries will stop fearing us. The truth is that the United States in general does not get the respect of other countries in the world, but it instills fear in other countries, fear that they will lose economic benefits given to them by the United States. As a result, some of them go along. But, of course, those words prestige and fear need to be examined to see what they mean because if you looked at them in moral terms, you would ask, What presitge adheres to a government that conducts an immoral war? What respect does the United States get from the rest of the world when it engages in such a war? What's interesting in this case, and I think this is really unprecedented in the case of Iraq, is that on the eve of the war the world as a whole rose up everywhere and protested agains the U.S. entrance into the war, making it claer that by going into the war the United States was losing the respect, losing whatever prestige it had in the world.
Something to remember as the US House of Represenatives debates the nonbinding resolution. The vote is expected Friday, it is expected to pass in the House, it is nonbinding. KPFA has posted online various statements during the House Debate for those who can listen online. AFP notes: "Democrats won control of Congress in November elections marked by voter anger at the war." Now Vermont's legislature passed a symoblic measure calling for withdrawal, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, but that's what is within their power. The US Congress has the power to do more (as Bully Boy knows, read on). As Vermont state rep Michael Fisher explained to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) the resolution passed both state houses (House and Senate) -- Michael Fisher: "Sometimes states have to step up and lead, when Congress is not doing enough and this was a time when Vermonters were able to speak up and say clearly that it was time to take some real leadership and to end this war. . . . The resolution . . . calls for the immediate and orderly . . . withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq."
In the capital of Iraq, the never ending crackdown goes on and the latest additions include, the BBC reports, the suspension of permitted weapons "to all but Iraqi and US forces and registered security firms" (registered security firms would be mercenaries), the ongoing curfew was "extended by an hour," and "[i]ncreased stop and search powers in the capital." Reuters notes that Samawa is also under curfew (9:00 pm to 6:00 pm).
Reuters reports a car bombing in Baghdad ('near a hospital") which killed four and left ten more wounded, a roadside Baghdad bomb that killed one person and left three more wounded, another car bombing in Baghdad ("in a market in the southern Bayaa district") claimed two lives and left seven wounded, a mortar attack in Baghdad killed one and wounded at least 16 more, another roadside bombing in Baghdad ("in the western Yarmouk district") killed one person, and a Mosul car bombing killed three and left 20 wounded. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports* an IED explosion in Baghdad that wounded two civilians and a mortar attack on a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Baghdad that wounded two people.
Reuters reports a man ("former police captain") was shot dead in front of his home in Diwaniya and three Iraqi soldiers were shot (wounded not dead) in Baghdad. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports* "three passengers in" a vehicle in west Baghdad were injured when their car was attacked with gunfire and: "Around 10:00 a.m. an Iraqi university student was killed said Haider Hamid, a student of a technical college in Basra, today. A British military convoy randomly opened fire after an IED exploded targeting the convoy near the college (10 miles west of Basra) on the road leading to Zubair town. The random shooting killed the student Ahmed Fahmi, a second year student of the electricity department, Hamid said."
Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("bullet riddeled").
[*Note Mohammed al Dulaimy's report is of today's violence -- the date in the headline is incorrect -- check the posted date and you can click here for the actual roundup of February 6, 2007 to see that the date in the headline is incorrect. Ali Faddam covered the roundup on February 6th.]
Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Tuesday in a non-combated related incident which is currently under investigation." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a combat patrol north of the Iraqi capital Feb. 13."
Question of the day, per CBS News: "Where Is Muqtada Al-Sadr?" Answer -- no one knows despite US officials claiming otherwise.
Claims were all Bully Boy had to offer when he held yet another dog & pony show (if dogs and ponies are this ugly). CBS and AP report that he's okay with the US Congress wasting time on non-binding resolutions but it's another story if they use their Congressional power to cut the funds for the illegal war. Bully Boy also continued to insist that Iran is supplying Iraq (sometimes it's Sunnis, sometimes it's Shias, it always changes -- that's what happens with lies) with weapons but he had nothing to offer but his word. His word is worth even less than Michael R. Gordon's -- if that's possible. As Lebanon's Daily Star reports, Bully Boy "does not know whethere the weapons were 'ordered from the top echelons of government'" which did not stop him from adding, "But my point is what's worse? Them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?"
Finally, who is the US military signing up these days? Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that waivers for recruits with criminal records were up 65%." Lizette Alvarez (New York Times) reports this increase has come in the last three years, that "[t]he number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent," and that "[t]he Defense Department has also expanded its applicant pool by accepting soldiers with criminal backgrounds and medical problems like asthma, high blood pressure and attention deficit disorder". These facts, by the way, were the ones John Kerry could have made on October 31, 2006. Instead, he backed down, buckled and took himself out of the presidential race on November 1, 2006.
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