Thursday, April 19, 2007

Law and Disorder

Thursday? Why am I always so tired on Thursday and looking at my computer screen, then at my bed, computer screen, bed . . .? :D

Okay, we're going to talk about Law and Disorder tonight. We need two thing first though before we get to it. First up, this is from C.I.'s "Agustin Aguayo to be released today" from earlier this week and after the news on Aguayo, C.I.'s addressing the nonsense of the non-stop coverage and some of the dumb ideas being put forward:

At one site, it's not enough to promote silence they put forward the lie: "We need to Step Forward as a Community of Americans, As We Did After 9/11." As we did after 9/11? Who is "we"? Muslim Americans were targeted, rounded up, jailed and many deported. Go sell you hazy, guazy, s**t somewhere else because it's not being purchased here. The limited "pull together" was b.s. and it prevented real issues from being raised, it allowed the Patriot Act to be pushed through and only a dumb ass would hail that as a time to return to. Only a dumb ass who didn't pay attention to anything but what came on their warm TV screen. We don't need more "silences."
And the feeding frenzy on this one story -- TWO FRONT PAGE STORIES ON THE NEW YORK TIMES!!!!! EXTRA!!! EXTRA!!! READ 'EM AND WEEP!!!! -- is nothing but a waste of everyone's time as America yet again plays "Get Caught Up in the Drama!" (See Kat's "Where is the Iraqi refugee crisis?" for more on that as well.) You have questions about how it happened, by all means follow up. But this nonsense of a moment of silence is, as Rebecca points out, the same nonsense that is (rightly) ridiculed in Heathers. It's a Dateline type of story, it's really not news. "Oh, look what I have of the killer's!" "I heard the killer was angry!" It's a lot of drama, it's not news. It's the OJ car chase, but it's not news.
And anyone urging people to silence their own voices (for a moment or any length of time) really doesn't grasp that there's been more than enough silence over the issues of violence in the last few years. It's a nice little self-stroking that lets the idiots who never follow anything other than E! pretend like they're following the news! The same crowd comes along for one story (OJ, Robert Blake, the Death Watch on the Pope, . . .) and then fades away.

That is a lie, that "we" all came "together" and that "we" need to get back there. It was never about "all," people were stigmatized and targeted and you have to be a real idiot and really not caring about others to claim "we" all came together. Now we were all in DC in January to cover the rally. We wrote "Show Me What Democracy Looks Like (1-27-07)" and this is a woman that C.I., Wally and, I think, Tracey spoke with (Tracey usually sticks close to C.I. whenever we're at a demonstration):

Among the students showing up was a young Muslim woman who didn't want to give her name."I was just asked for a comment," she explained, "and I just smiled and walked on. I don't trust that something I say won't end up being turned into something different and one more reason to target Muslims. I'm 16. I'm first generation American. I live an hour drive away from here. I only talked to you because of his button. [She was referring to Wally's "NO BLOOD FOR OIL button.] I don't think you'll change my words up or make me sound angry or stupid. I feel like the only time a Muslim gets on TV now is if he's shouting. And we're the bad guys on every other episode of that show that ticks down the clock. [24.] Those things hurt. And it makes me think that another roundup, like after the Twin Towers were destroyed, could happen again real easy. I'm against the war. This is my first protest. My mother asked me not to go but I told her how much I wanted to be here, and what it means to me, so she finally said yes. She even said if she was 10 years younger, she probably would be here too. I'm against the war. I'm against all this blaming of Iraqis. People say things like they're dogs, just stupid dogs who were given some wonderful gift and smashed it. Invading Iraq was not a gift. War on the country was not a gift. And Muslims are not idiots. There wasn't this hate between Shia and Sunni before George Bush's war. He created it. I think if the soldiers came home that the people of Iraq would work out their differences. I don't think that would happen in a month or even two. But I do think that within a year, there would be peace. And I may be wrong, but that is what I believe. I'm here because I want the killings to stop. When I get home, I'm going to tell my mother that people in Congress were here and Jane Fonda and Sean [Penn]. And I think, next time, when I come, she's going to come with me. But, you have to understand, it can be really hard to be a Muslim in the United States today. People look at you funny. Before the Twin Towers, I was only 11, but before that, I did not feel scared here. I felt like I was any other American kid. Now I feel like people expect me to prove that I am American, to say, 'I love America.' And what they really seem to want is for me to say, 'I hate Muslims.' It feels like they want me to denounce my faith. And like the only way I can fit in is if I change my name to Jill and become a Christian and, since that won't happen, I'm always under suspicion. One of my best friends is Christian and we were at the mall Tuesday and she said, 'I see what you are talking about.' Because at every store, the women were smiling at her and asking her if they could help her and they just kind of stared at me. I don't think I should have to prove that I am a good American. I was born here, this is my country. But since 9-11, it seems like people look at Muslims and don't really think we belong here anymore. Thank you."
Did she feel welcome at the march? "Yes, people here were very nice. They smiled, they nodded. The press, I do not know. I feel like they see me and think, 'Muslim!' That's why I did not talk to that woman who asked me for a comment. But the people who are to here to protest the war, I felt very welcomed. There are a lot of different people here and it looks more like America than what you see on TV. It gives me hope that someday things will change. Not just that the war will end, but that all the hatreds and suspicions will stop."

Why do you need to know those things? I wouldn't have thought you would have to until Lotta Links put up that nonsense about how the country came together. But if you don't know the above, you're going to be lost with Law and Disorder. So that was your intro. Some of you won't need it because you know the "all together" didn't include you -- you felt it, you sensed it and you probably saw it. Some of you won't need it because you're community members and C.I.'s done strong work on this for three years now. If you're a Law and Disorder listener, you don't need any prep. But to be honest, I didn't think anyone would. But when Lotta Links, a website of the left (or at least a Democratic website), wants to pretend like the country was "all" coming together after 9-11 and ignore the very real targeting of Muslims and Arabs, we may need a refresher.

Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner spoke with Howard Kieffer with the Federal Defense Associates about a new prison secretly created by the Justice Department. It's called "The Communications Management Unit" and is Indiana. If you're locked there, you're screwed. You may as well have fallen off the face of the earth. You really have little to no outside contact. If your family speaks Arabic, forget about calling them. You're allowed 300 minutes of phone calls that the warden can reduce to three minutes (that's for people who speak English calling people who speak English). Now when this was first announced, there was a period where people could weigh in and people did and said how this sort of secret prison, locking away people with no contact with the outside world isn't really what America is supposed to be about. So they said, "Well forget it, we won't do it." And then, this being the Bully Boy's Justice Department, they went off and did what they were planning all along. So this opened in April and you've got people just locked away there in a lock-the-door-and-throw-away-the-key. This is one of those measures for so-called terrorists.

So we've got our gulags now and they aren't overseas.

The next segment ended too quick. It was from The Left Forum 2007 and was Dalia Hashad speaking. She noted first that she wasn't going to speak long because the room was full of people who had tons of stories that applied and that way there would be more time for an exchange (by speaking shortly). Dalia noted that she'd probably been speaking on the topic she was about to several hundred times in the last five years: spying, deportations, round ups, etc. In bold print is from Dalia's speech:

So after special registration which only actually registered all the Muslims and didn't register anybody else, people were frightened, incredibly frightened in the communities saying, "You know, they are going to round us up. This is it. They're going to round us up and put us into detention. They're going to figure out a way. They're figuring out a way just to single out the Muslims." And you saw people stop, you know people Muslims stopped participating in a lot of civic activities. Even, I mean I remember after 9-11, some majority Muslim neighborhoods like in Brooklyn and Queens, some of the south Pakistani neighborhoods, you couldn't find people in the stores. People just stayed inside. They were scared. Let alone, mustering up the courage to go to a protest or to go out and join with a political group that was to counter what the administration was doing. So the fear was huge.
And one of the many rumors that came out was, "Hey, somewhere in the middle of the country, they're building a facility just for Muslims and it's just for us. Get your bags ready, either go to Canada or be prepared to let, you know, put an emergency phone call and let somebody know where you are because we're all going and we're going somewhere. It was with a little bit of panic that people greeted the news in April of this past year that the Federal Bureau of Prisons
said they were going to have a brand new prison system, a brand new unit. Let me tell you what it is first because it actually exists. It opened up, it's operational as of December 11, 2006. This is called the Communications Management Unit it's out of Federal Penitentiary and it houses almost exclusively Muslims. It's meant to house, right now, about 80 people but I think there's far less, probably a little bit under 20 at this point, it's so new, only a couple of months. Now the
Communications Management Unit as you might guess from its name is very restrictive in a way that most prisons are not. It's probably, it's not quite up to a super max facility, but it's a little below that. You have extreme restrictions on prisoners' contact with the outside world.

There's more on the show but I am slow at typing and that took forever. If C.I. and I hadn't talked about it (we're thinking of using it at The Third Estate Sunday Review), I would have typed a lot less even though it's a great speech. But think about what Dalia was talking about and really appreciate what a big thing it was for the Muslim-American to attend the DC rally in January.

After that Dalia and Michael Ratner spoke with Ed Barocas with the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU about a Newark school that decided to hold their high school graduation in a Baptist church. I think it was Dalia but it may have been Michael who pointed out that this wasn't in a church gymnaisum but in the actual place of worship. One student, who is Muslim, objected and could not attend his own graduation.

In addition, Ed talked about how students could get extra tickets for their graduation by attending an event before graduation at a Catholic Church. I want to put something in here because Michael asked if it wasn't common for schools to do this across the country (New Jersey has strong laws so this case is on stronger ground than it might be in some states). That reminded me of something my grandfather was asking when I graduated. Apparently, back in the day, you graduated high school and you could bring as many people as you wanted. That's how it was in my grandfather's day but the way it is now, or was for me, was you get a very limited number of tickets. (I know one female at college who only got two tickets -- her parents had divorced and they wouldn't come together, so she had to use which parent and step-parent to invite). So this, attend this Catholic thing and get extra tickets was really a huge bribe. Anyone who graduated any time in the last few years would probably recognize that.

They also spoke about the issue of the separation wall between church and state with Rob Boston who is with Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State. Rob, Dalia and Michael talked about how some people are trying to sneak church into school with classes. Rob talked about how it was one thing to offer a course in how the various religions of the world had impacted art but that was different between teaching dogma.

I actually disagree with Rob. I think the wall needs to be much stronger. I don't know if people get what really goes on in schools. I think a lot of time they think of their own school days and just tack it on. I had a teacher who was a math teacher but broke away from math to teach the Bible. Every day, he'd assign a verse for people to memorize. And on Friday's he do 15 minutes on the Bible. I remember this was during football season and I had enough trouble keeping up with what we were supposed to be assigned without extras that had nothing to do with school. Because of that "math" work, my grade started to tank and Ma went up to school (I didn't know) to talk to the teacher. He goes that I do math fine but I won't memorize the scripture. Ma tells this story really funny. :D She says something like, "I said, "I must have been dozing, what did you just say?" So he repeats it. Ma advises him that he can't do that, assing Bible scripture in a math class at a public school. He takes an attitude with Ma and she marches right down to the principal's office and right in there, opening the door herself, and puts an end to that right then and there. So I hear about that at dinner that night (and many times since) and she asks why I didn't tell her? I just shrug and my brother who is just older than me (I have three older brothers, three older sisters and one younger sister) goes, "Oh yeah, he did that with us too." Ma was like, "What?" But the thing is, you don't think, when you're in those classes, "The teacher can't do that." Or I didn't. I was just trying to keep my grade up so I didn't get suspended from the team. When we were in Texas, I'd hear stories like that and the person would usually go, "You're going to think this is crazy" before they even started. And I'd share my story so they knew I didn't think they were crazy. There was this one woman where she had a class (I forget what in -- science, english or math) and the teacher gave out t-shirts with scripture on it and if everyone wore them, you had like the first part of the Adam and Eve story from Genesis. And they'd read it in class because they were reading "t-shirts" and not the Bible.
That's just one story. So I really think it would be good if Americans United for Seperation of Church and State polled high school students today to find out what was actually going on in their classes because I don't think most people have any idea.

I believe Heidi Boghosian introduced all the segments but that was the only time she was on. Michael Smith speech at the Left Forum 2007 was the last segment and he was talking about the new technology and how it was being used for spying and to destroy our civil rights and our rights to move freely and participate. He said, "You know there's never been a technology that's been invented that hasn't been used." Gun powder, nuclear bombs, invented and then used. He talked about how there were radio chips in passports and soon to be in your drivers' licence "who you are" your whole personal and commercial history. "This technology is being used globally . . . this is going to be an international system that's in place," he said noting, "You're supposed to have government from the bottom up." How the way the democracy is supposed to be constructed is that citizens can participate with one another, you have anonymity, then you have a representative government, if it's not representative, you can get rid of it with a revolution. ("It's in the constition.") That's no longer the situation, he said, "and since 9-11 has been acclerated. . . . The war in Iraq was a pre-emptive war, remember? . . . They have the same theory applied to us, to terrorism, to risk. . . . They have zero tolerance for risk. . . . They proceed from . . . the rights of the government, for its security and anything that threatens its security . . . is considered a risk and they have a right to pre-empt it."

And that's where I say, "I'm going to sleep." I don't know why I'm always so tired on Thursdays? Today's worse because I had something in my left and it started running and hurting about three hours ago. It's stopped running but still hurts and I'm afraid I've got pink eye. I get pink eye a lot, been a few years though. C.I. told me a trick awhile back. You bite into a vitamin E capsule, squeeze into the corner of the eye you are getting pink eye in (have to do it when you're getting it) and then go to sleep. When you wake up, it's usually gone. Ma passed that on to one of her friend's who has a young kid (8 years old) who always gets it and it's worked. So let me try it out.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq may have even more oil than originally thought, just in time more pressure to privatize Iraq's oil, Ricky Clousing reflects on war resistance, Ms. magazine addresses the realities for Iraqi women, Norman Solomon calls out media coverage, and the war resistance movement adds another name.

Yesterday in Iraq,
AP notes, "233 people killed or found dead across Iraq. At least 183 of those are killed when four large bombs explode in mainly Shiite locations of Baghdad." Kirk Semple (New York Times) bills it as "the deadliest day in the capital since the American-led security plan for the city took effect two months ago." It is also the deadliest day in the capital or Iraq this year. AFP observes that the violence "raised questions about the US-backed security plan for the capital." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) opens with, "Yesterday will go down as a day of infamy for Iraqis who are repeatedly told by the US that their security is improving." CNN reports: "It was the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital since the 4-year-old war began, topping the February toll of 130 dead in a bombing in the same marketplace."

Salam Faraj (AFP) reports that today: "Devastated Iraqis hunted for dead relatives in the city mortuaries on Thursday" and quotes one man sobbing, "Oh God, why all that!" as he stared at "frozen corpses stacked up in the giant morgue at the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City after a night-time curfew was lifted and daybreak made it safe enough to leave home." Kirk Semple notes Salar Karmal Zari who had been visiting the capital, declaring, "The blast threw me to the ground and shattered a window over my body. . . . I saw a human head in front of the store and many cars burning and smoke everywhere. . . . I will never stay in Baghdad anymore."

Roger Hardy (BBC News) notes of yesterday, "This was supposed to be a day when the Iraqi government could show it was making tangible progress towards the eventual withdrawal of foreign forces." Hardy's referring to the handoff of the Maysan province to Iraqi control. As noted yesterday, the transfer was supposed to be a brilliant photo-op, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki had a speech all prepared but ended up being a no-show when the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk splashed and crashed against reality. Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's National Security Adviser, ended up reading al-Maliki's speech. The empty words are all the more empty because, quoting Patrick Cockburn, "the transfer of political or security control by the US and Britain to Iraqi authorities has always been deceptive. Iraqis believe, with some reason, that real control remains in the hands of the occuyping forces. Earlier in the year, British forces blew up a police headquarters in Basra and US helicopter-borne troops tried to kidnap two senior Iranian officials visiting Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president."

If you use the links or read any of the coverage, you may note something missing -- what tends to always go missing: Iraqi women's voices. Though many reports mention that women (and children) were among the victims, Iraqi women's voices are abesent from the reporting. Did you know that on one day in November, a Baghdad morgue housed 150 female corpses? (They had gathered over a ten day period with no one claiming them.) Ms. readers will know that. In
the spring 2007 issue of Ms. (in stores on April 24th), Bay Fang contributes "The Talibanization of Iraq" (pages 46 through 51) which takes a look at women's lives in Iraq since the start of the illegal war, noting the destruction of basic rights and much more. Yanar Mohammed (Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq) tells Fang of being able to "meet with groups of 200 or 300 women at factories or the railway station" in the early years of the illegal war; "But this year is completely different. A woman can't even walk two to three blocks safely, much less [come to] a meeting." Bay Fang addresses the MADRE report (which may make Ms. one of the first national periodicals to do so -- on MADRE's report click here to read in full in PDF format or in HTML), addresses the issue of "OH THERE ARE WOMEN IN THE PARLIAMENT!" by noting "During the January 2005 elections for the National Assembly, political parties were required to field electoral slates on which every third candidate was a woman, and as a result women captured 31 percent of the seats. But nearly half of the elected women parliamentarians ran on the list of the Shiite alliance, and they have had to toe the conservative line of their party. Some of the women parliamentarians could be forces for moderation and progress -- such as Mayson al-Damluji, a former undersecretary of culture who has urged the prime minister to honor his pledge to improve women's rights -- but the dangerous political environment of targeted assassinations has prevented them from being very outspoken." Again, the latest issue of Ms. magazine (Spring 2007) goes on sale April 24th. And though Fang's article isn't available currently online, Martha Mendoza's "Between a Woman and her Doctor" went up yesterday.

Now if the news above is news to you, that's because the media (big and small) have been in a feeding frenzy over twin (dueling?) soap operas and reality has fallen even more out of favor. Addressing this with a hard hitting column,
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes: "Several days after the mass killings at Virginia Tech, grisly stories about the tragedy still dominate front pages and cable television. News of carnage on a vastly larger scale -- the war in Iraq -- ebbs and flows. The overall coverage of lethal violence, at home and far away, reflects the chronic evasions of the American media establishments." Solomon goes on to explore the reasons for the different approaches in coverage.

Turning to the issue of war resisters, yesterday in Germany Agustin Aguayo was released.from the military prison he was sent to after his March court-martial.
David Rising (AP) notes that Aguayo, credited for the time he was held following his turning himself in September, served "less than six weeks behind bars" on an eight month sentence. Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports that Aguayo received "a bad conduct discharge, which he has since appealed" and that the appeal means, according to Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner, that he is "on active-duty status, with the same standards as all the other soldiers in the unit." Aguayo attempted (repeatedly) to receive CO status and the Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports on Marc Train who self-checked out the US Army last month, following the March 16th DC demonstration. Olson reports that Train signed up "under the delayed-entry program". That's a nice little trick that the US military likes to play whereby someone under the age of consent when it comes to signing a legal contract is allowed to do so. (Note: If you sign up under the delayed-entry program, you can say "NO." You do not have to go in. There are a number of legal reasons for that including contract law. But anyone who has signed up to enter after high school graduation or after they turn 18 is not required to follow through. Don't go to a base, don't go down to speak to anyone. You can send a letter saying that you have changed your mind.) Garrett Reppenhagen (Iraq Veterans Against the War) tells Olson, "Everyone's situation is different, and you have to weigh your obligations to your country and your oath against your moral compass and your higher conscience. There is never a right or wrong answer when matching such powerful forces."

Yesterday on
Flashpoints, Olson interviewed US war resister Ricky Clousing who spoke of how learning of Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman "and others" were examples. Clousing self-checked out and, after turning himself in, was court-martialed October 12th and served three months.

Ricky Clousing: I definitely don't regret my decision, I really feel like I responded the way that I needed to. You know, there's this quote that says, you know, if you bow to the universe the universe bows back.

Sarah Olson: So today, though, war is increasingly unpopular, more American soldiers are denouncing it, the Iraqi resistance is growing, people on both sides continue to die. Where do you, from your pespective as someone who's served in Iraq, where do you believe we need to be headed?

Ricky Clousing: A lot of people want to ask me, a lot of people want to know, 'Well who should we vote for,' you know, or 'What do you think's going to happen in the next election' and this, and this, and this. And I think people are, they're living in a fantasy land if they think that by electing a Democrat in 2008 is going to fix all our problems, you know. And like, "Oh there's this amazing spokesperson, they're speaking out against the war." Sure, it's great that it's becoming more popular and more mainstream that people are questioning stuff but this is a radical movement. It doesn't stop with the Iraq war, at that, you know. It's much larger and demanding that our government not only be accountable but provide the type of government that we're supposed to be living in which isn't happening, you know? I mean, we're not, we're not a people, the government is not by the people and for the people cause the people have a completely different priority list and a completely different agenda than the people that are in power and are benefitting you know from corporate America that's tied into war and conflict and so many other aspects of society that are getting neglected because of it. I mean the war machine in general is not just just about Iraq, it's not just about Afghanistan, you know, all the weapons that are being made and sent across the world and the role that we play economically across the world. There are so many huge issues, you know. So I think that it's so big and I don't mean to sound like a downer about stuff, I'm just saying I think that . . . I don't know the answer to like where things should be I just know that change doesn't happen without awareness, you know. To start there, all of us need to be becoming more self informed and also spreading that awareness in whatever avenue we have.

Train, Clousing and Aguayo are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

Information on oil?
Ed Crooks (Financial Times of London) reported yesterday that a new "comprehensive independent study" of Iraq's oil resrouces has determined that "Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought" which "would raise Iraqi from the world's third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran." How lucky (for corporations) that the steal-Iraqi-bill continues to be pressed. CBS and AP report that the law, approved by al-Maliki's cabinet, is headed "to parliament next week" and note: "Passage of the law, thought to have been written with heavy U.S. involvement, is one of four benchmarks the Bush administration has set for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's struggling government."

Since Iraq has so much oil, possibly US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates can pump some, refine it and then use that to save the US tax payers the expense of his little stop in Baghdad today?
CBS and AP report that he arrived there today "to tell Iraqi leaders that the U.S. commitment for a military buildup in the country is not open-ended." Believe that message (laughable though it is) has been made repeatedly already.

Government? Remember Clousing's remarks to Olson? In the US, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other members of Congress went to the White House yesterday to meet with the Bully Boy.
Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) reports that the result was no "progress toward ending an impasse over an emergency spending bill." Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that "Congressional Democratic leaders are moving to make their proposed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq 'advisory' as they seek to reconcile two versions of war spending legislation into a single bill that they plan to pass next week, according to several House members." So the toothless, non-binding measures that would have never brought all the troops home (despite the hype) are now targeted for removal? As Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) points out: "The supplemental passed by both Houses had been opposed by the vast majority of peace groups, now it looks like the supplemental developed by the conference committee will become even weaker. Whether this weakening will be enough to avoid a veto remains to be seen. But it sounds like the Democrats are making the already unacceptable more unacceptable to Americans who believe it is time to end the war. And this rapid compromise before a veto is not a good sign for how much the Democrats will bend to the president if he follows through on his threat to veto the bill."


AFP reports: "A suicide car bomber killed 12 people in Baghdad on Thursday . . . in the central Jadriyah district -- a majority Shiite inhabited area . . . wounding 28 and also setting ablaze a nearby truck loaded with gas cylinders, a security official said." Reuters reports a Diwaniya mortar attack that left three people wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 and left three wounded,


CBS and AP report a woman and a police officer were gunned down in Baquba (five additional police officers were injured) while seven people were injured in a Kirkuk drive-by. Reuters reports a woman was shot by a sniper in Baghdad.


Reuters reports 4 burned corpses discovered in Shirqat.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries." And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device north of Baghdad April 18. The unit was returning from a combat patrol in the area when the attack occurred."
they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a combat security patrol was attacked with small armss fire in southwestern section of Baghdad April 18."

Meanwhile, the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers in south-east Iraq at approximately 1120 hours local time on Thursday 19 April 2007. Both were killed by an improvised explosive device in Maysaan Province." That, for those dozing, would be the Maysan Province -- yesterday's photo-op turn over because things were so much calmer there.

Reuters reports 144 is the total number of British soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and 144 is also ICCC's count. 3315 US service members have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war by ICCC's count and 3315 by Reuters.

Finally, in news of activism,
Erica Pelzek (The Daily Cardinal) reports on a student protest: "Afer walking out of their classes at 1 p.m. Wendesday in protest of the war in iraq and rallying students down State Street, more than 40 members of US-Madisons's Campus Anti-War Network staged an all-night sit-in at U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's, D-Wis., Madison office. The protesters insisted the senator return to Wisconsin to meet with the group and hear its demands regarding the war in Iraq." Offering support to the students via phone were Howard Zinn and Dave Zirin.