Friday, April 13, 2007

What to write . . .

Friday when I pasted the snapshot (which will be at the end) but Saturday now. Elaine's already crawled into bed. Me? I'm staring at a blank screen and wondering what to write?

I could write about the "last show" and how great I'm sure that was . . . hearing it end. :D C.I. told me last month the show was officially toast and being taken off the week day schedule. I have no idea who "Lionel" is but he can't be any worse than the whiney ass Sam Seder.

I could talk about "The Look Of Love." And maybe I will. If I'd heard the song before, I don't remember. But after the group (Iraq study group) ended tonight, Rebecca had a musical craving (she had other cravings too) and was talking about needing to hear Dusty Springfield's "The Look Of Love." Dad had that on vinyl. That's a really incredible record. I don't know if the song's all that incredible, the lyrics seem kind of run of the mill. But there's the vocal and it's just really amazing and a horn comes in 2/3s in and I was like, "What?" The arrangement is really cool.

I'll talk about Rebecca's cravings. That's the only thing I accomplished after cutting and pasting the snapshot. She came to the door and asked if I thought the folks would mind if she "ate everything in the fridge." No, they wouldn't. She didn't eat everything. But she was craving bad. She said it was the most intense it has been the entire pregnancy. She ate pickles, which didn't surprise me, but I fixed some mashed potatoes (instant) because she wanted those too and she was popping some stuff in the microwave and about to scream at how long that was taking. :D It's probably a superstition, but I always heard if you crave pickles, you're having a boy. Pickles and lemons and it's a boy. She and Flyboy find out if it's a boy or girl at the doctor's Tuesday.

I could talk about how I'm yawning and thinking if I keep typing, something useful will pop into my mind. I could talk about how that's still not happened! :D

I can note something Tony's dad wanted me to highlight. This is from C.I.'s "NYT: Attempting to popularize 'International Zone'" Friday morning:

The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "8 Iraqis Killed in Bomb Attack at Legislature" in this morning's New York Times. Micah wondered why the "International Zone" when everyone calls it the "Green Zone"? For starters, the Timid's never been able to think for itself when there's offical-ese to be pushed ("International Zone" certainly advances the lie that it wasn't and isn't a US dominated war and occupation).

And this appears in the snapshot:

Though Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) prefers to call it the "International Zone," as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) notes of the Green Zone, "The Zone is officially known as the international zone, a less inflammatory label that suggests non-U.S. control, but everyone knows the truth."

Tony's dad goes, "I know C.I. has an aversion to 'I was right,' but how about 'As I was saying . . .'?" That made me laugh. I noted a highlight this week about Congress and wanted to say, "Didn't C.I. point out exactly this and make the same comments a week ago?" But I didn't. Leigh Ann and Beau both noted in their e-mails that it happened. Yeah, it did quote the same source, the same things from it, and make the same exact points. It's like when we did "Roundtable" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and a reader was asking about someone making the same points six days after and C.I. says something like, "I don't want to comment on that." You better believe I would.

We will probably have a small book discussion Sunday. It'll be Laura Flanders new book (and only that). That's not a "small" book. But the discussion will be brief. We all read the book quickly so we could get something together quickly. It's a good book, called Blue Grit. Pick it up if you haven't already.

Other than that, I'm not sure what's on the agenda. I know Ava and C.I. still aren't sure what show they're going to be tackling. There's a sitcom they need to review and they want to do another review of Medium. Ty had an e-mail a few weeks back asking, "Did Ava and C.I. write the review themselves?" They reviewed Medium early on and Jim says it reads like they wrote the bulk of it and maybe all of it. But he thinks it was a group piece because there are too many things in it. (When they did it as a group, there would be multiple points.) He also says that may have been the first one they did themselves and they were just carrying over the same style.

They have to do 52 commentaries a week and that's not easy when you only cover broadcast TV (that's what the bulk of the long term readers have access to at Third). 30 Rock they waited on (I think they were asked) and then support for it high up at NBC was so strong, they could keep waiting for it. Then they found out there would be an "intense" fight to have it renewed so they knew they could save that for the summer. 2005 wasn't so bad because they were just starting out and had all these shows they could review. But 2006 has come along and now 2007. So long running stuff has been reviewed. And their plan this fall through now has been to grab the thing that might be cancelled. Either because it was bad or because it was good and they wanted people to check it out. In addition to Third, they're doing two reviews a week of Spanish language programs for Francisco, Maria and Miguel's Sunday newsletter. So they are really at their breaking points with time and TV.

They really don't think most reality shows can be reviewed (because they're so similar). So that doesn't leave a lot. There's one Law and Order that they've refused to review (or watch) because they know somone in the cast and don't want to trash the show. There's the Sunday soap on ABC, Cold Case, one show on Monday (I forget which one, Ava was telling me about it this week), a new show on Wednesday nights (that they'll grab week after next) and not a whole lot more. See, the networks gave up on Saturday nights if you didn't notice. You get repeats on Saturdays. They'll probably be a few summer TV shows that come on this summer but no more than five or six. So it's hard to get enough material to do a weekly thing.

"TV: The not-so-universal White Boy blues" was the one they did Sunday and I love, love that one. But don't say that to them. Start telling them they did something great and they'll freak out about the fact that they have to write another one in a few hours and how will they do that if you've "showered" them with praise. In the roundtable, Dona said she'd save all the editorials and all the TV commentaries if she was saving something to remember this time. I was talking about how I'd be pissed if, after I stopped blogging, Google went and deleted my site. (I don't know that they would but we were talking about when we plan to all stop posting.)

I would too because I really like my site. I don't think it's "the best." But I do think it's a nice record of where I was at and where I grew.

It's funny because I spent an hour and a half just staring at the screen thinking I had nothing to write and now I want to keep writing and writing. :D I don't know if I'll be able to "go dark" in November of 2008. Maybe I'm like an addict now or something?

I do enjoy blogging but most of the time, I don't have time. Between work, class, relationship, friends and other stuff, who has the time?

And I'll miss the e-mails too. Leigh Ann and Beau e-mail more than any other people and I think I'd be lost if I didn't have one of them saying, "Good point" or "You really lost me." :D
Sometimes I lose myself too.

I'm yawning too much, better go to bed. Wouldn't you know it would happen when I finally have a topic I want to write about. But, thinking about staring at the screen and feeling like I had nothing to say, I do get how Ava and C.I. really don't like the praise. They know that every Sunday, the bulk of the readers are coming by for their review. They know that it is the calling card for Third. And that's a lot of pressure. When you start telling them, "That was your best!" I bet it does get tough to try to write something because it is added pressure. So I get it now.

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

Friday, April 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war will reach 3300 shortly (3299 currently), tensions flare between northern Iraq and Turkey and the refugee crisis continues so the US Senate offers help to "up to 500" of the estimated 3 million Iraqis internally and externally displaced.

In war resister news, we'll focus on
KPFA and Brian Edwards-Tiekert. Responding to a commentary by Marc Sapir in The Berkeley Daily Planet last week, Edwards-Tiekert wanted to address the issue of war resisters. Edwards-Tiekert is an important part of KPFA's news staff and does strong work, but appears to think much more is being covered than actually is. Sapir, sharing his feelings and fears regarding KPFA, wrote (this was not the thrust of his commentary), "How could KPFA be a useful tool for the GI resisters' movement, the immigrants' rights and sanctuary movements, the prison reform and opposition movements, the new sds [SDS] (already at 160 chapters), . . . if such an edict is upheld?" Sapir is referring to the fact that KPFA can promote events; however, they can not say "Be there" (as Sasha Lilley explained on the Listeners' Report earlier this month). Edwards-Tiekert grabs the subsection of that sentence and responds (this was not the thrust of his response), "Clearly, he [Marc Sapir] wasn't listening the week Aaron Glantz traveled to Fort Lewis, Washington, to produce up-to-the minute rports on the failed court martial of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada." Was Edwards-Tiekert? Aaron Glantz' reports were largely filed for Free Speech Radio News and re-aired duing the KPFA Evening News and during Aileen Alfandary's newsbreaks during The Morning Show. Sandra Lupien and Alfandary each spoke with Glantz once during the court-martial on programs other than the Free Speech Radio News. But, as Edwards-Tiekert well knows, Free Speech Radio News is an independent program, it is not a KPFA program.

Aaron Glantz did a wonderful job reporting on the court-martial for
Free Speech Radio News, for IPS, for His voice gave out and, possibly, had that not happened he would have done more reporting on it for KPFA. But in terms of reporting (not interviews days after the mistrial was called), Edwards-Tiekert appears to believe that Glantz was reporting on KPFA programs more than he was. This could result from the fact that it was usually announced (by the news staff) that he would be reporting but, in the morning or evening, what instead aired was a rebroadcast (sometimes edited down) of a report Glantz had done for Free Speech Radio News.

Ehren Watada's court-martial is important. His upcoming court-martial () will also be important and, hopefully, KPFA will do a better job covering it than they did with the February one. For that coverage, Aaron Glantz deserves praise. KPFA? Not so much. That was February. Since Watada's court-martial,
Agustin Aguayo and Mark Wilkerson have been court-martialed. Aguayo was court-martialed in Germany, possibly that's why it wasn't covered (reading wires doesn't really replace first person reporting)? Wilkerson was in Texas. Texas is much closer to California than DC (Edwards-Tiekert notes KPFA's DC coverage in his response) but it might as well be across the Atlantic. What of Robert Zabala's historic court case? Where was KPFA? Again, reading wire reports (or local press) on air doesn't really replace on the spot reporting.

Edwards-Tiekert muses, "Perhaps Sapir doesn't listen much to the radio station he maligns." As
Ruth pointed out regarded Sasha Lilley's declarations in the Listeners' Report, Lilley doesn't seem to listen a great deal. In the listners' report she maintained that KPFA news staff promoted, on air, the KPFA webpage of local events when, in fact, that wasn't the case. KPFA is an important radio station and a historic one. Edwards-Tiekert is a strong member of the news staff. His commentary (and recent call in on air to Larry Bensky) only fans simmering flames for many. I'm not interested in that. (Ruth may be. She can write whatever she wants in her space.) I am interested in war resisters.

Edwards-Tiekert may feel Watada was covered by the KPFA news. He really wasn't. (Off topic, but needs noting again, Philip Maldari, not part of the news staff, did a wonderful job last summer interviewing Bob Watada.) That false impression may come from on air announcements such as, "Tomorrow morning in the first half-hour of The Morning Show, Aileen Alfandary will speak with Aaron Glantz . . ." -- announcements that were made of coverage that never took place. (That's not a slam at Alfandary. Glantz' voice was giving out early on.) But announcements of intended coverage are not actual coverage. And re-airing reports done for a non-KPFA produced program (Free Speech Radio News) on KPFA news and news breaks does not indicate that KPFA itself provided coverage.

In February,
Kyle Snyder was hauled away in handcuffs (and in his boxers) by Canadian police. Joci Perri (Citizenship and Immigration) stated the arrest was requested by the US military and that deportation was supposed to follow. Did KPFA listeners hear about that on the news? Joshua Key is being 'shadowed.' Winnie Ng reported the incident that happened at her home. She was visited by three men, she was told they were Canadian police. They were looking for Key (Joshua, Brandi and their children stayed with Ng early on after moving to Canada). Ng's character was called into question (including by some 'friends' in Canada) and the police said it never happened. Turns out, it did happen. The Canadian police, WOOPS, did send out one officer . . . with two members of the US military. Has the KPFA news informed listeners about those developments? Dean Walcott self-checked out of the US military and went to Canada in December of 2006. How often has his name came up during news breaks or newscasts?

Here's where the real fault is, the real problem. Four years into the illegal war and
KPFA still has not created a program to focus on Iraq. Flashpoints started to cover the first Gulf War. KPFA can't spare one half-hour or hour a week for a program that focuses on Iraq? Of course they can. The fact that they haven't is more embarrassing than any of the back and forths or the old history (covered in both Edwards-Tiekert and Sapir's commentaries). Is KPFA frozen or paralyzed when it comes to new programming? No. In fact it did an election series for the 2006 elections. One would think that an illegal war was at least as important as a mid-term election.

Dean Walcott, the latest to go public, part of the growing movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, 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.

Yesterday in Iraq, the Green Zone was the target of an attack.
AFP notes today that the US military is now saying that the bombing in the parliament's cafeteria killed only one person (but "an Iraqi security officer" maintains "three people died"). Though Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) prefers to call it the "International Zone," as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) notes of the Green Zone, "The Zone is officially known as the international zone, a less inflammatory label that suggests non-U.S. control, but everyone knows the truth." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for the bombing and that it was a suicide bombing and that the Iraqi parliament met today ("about 90 minutes") but turnout was low due to the traffic ban and to the fact that many were visiting the wounded from yesterday's bombing. While AP repeats that the culprit is thought to be a bodyguard to a Sunni lawmaker, The Australian reports that three cafeteria workers are being questioned as well as "some parliamentary guards". CNN notes that this is due to the suspicion that the bombing was an 'inside job'. Robert Burns (AP) reveals: "The U.S. military will not take over security of the Iraqi parliament building in the wake of the deadly suicide bombing in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, a top commander said Friday. Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said "it is clear we still have a long way to go to provide stability and security to Iraq." Michael Howard (The Guardian of London) informs, "US officials admitted last night that the bombing of the Iraqi parliament shows that not even the heavily fortified Green Zone is safe any more, despite the security crackdown launched earlier this year in the Iraqi capital." Despite that reality, Robin Wright and Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) report that John McCain, "who this week spoke of 'the first glimmers' of progress in the new U.S. effort, said the attack on the parliament building does not change the 'larger picture'."

Or, as
William M. Arkin (Washington Post) observes, "For the past few weeks, we have been told by the administration and the military that the Baghdad Security Plan and the surge are working. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had his Snoopy in the tank moment walking through a marketplace in a well-oiled photo op, accompanied of course by American Humvees and soldiers and roof-top snipers. The Senator and his delegation then repaired to the 'relative safety' of the Green Zone, speaking of their safe drive to and from the airport to downtown, a trip by dignitaries that is usually made by helicopter. The boast itself spoke volumes about the truth of the Green Zone, and of Baghdad."

Security and refugess was a topic today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, where Andrea Lewis and Aaron Glantz spoke with guests including Dahr Jamail and Sarah Holewinski (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict). (20 minutes in, Dahr speaks for the first time other than the normal greetings.)

Dahr: Well without a doubt, I think offering someone $2,500 when they've had a loved one killed by occupation forces is - is quite an insult especially now with the rate of inflation and the conditions in Iraq. I think the primary thing that I'd absolutely agree with her with is that the Iraqi people who are sufffering right now as we speak and all those who have lost loved ones certainly deserve and justifiably have earned compensation levels that are very, very fair and, in my opinion, I think that they should be compensation levels like we see in the United States when someone dies in a plane crash and there's a lawsuit or when someone dies in a car crash, typically millions of dollars are awarded to someone. How would people in the United States react if they lost a loved one and the government offered them $2,500?
[. . .]
I would start by amending the numbers that Nabil just said. I have updated numbers from meeting with Sybella Wilkes yesterday who is the UNHCR regional public information officer. And according to UNHCR, there are, there's 1.2 million is the minimum estimate they have in Syria alone. The governement of Syria, who UNHCR admitted probably has more accurate figures than they do, estimates there's between 1.4 and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here [Syria], hundreds of thousands of those are Shia as well. I think people in the US are led to believe that it's only the Sunni population that's leaving and, while they are the majority, it's important to note that there's a giant number and growing number of Shia up here in Syria as well. But really the situation is really -- even just those numbers, as if they're not staggering enough by themselves -- the situation here is UNHCR has only actually registered approximately 70,000 of these people. So that means these are only the 70,000 that literally have so little of anything that they have to literally go there for food and in some way to find some housing. So the crisis is certainly going to grow exponentially as these other Iraqis here, and I have met with many of them, are living on their savings right now. What are they going to do when their savings run out? Syria right now has approximately a 20 to 25% unemployment rate. Add in another between 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqis, so already that figure is too low. And as time persists, of course, the situation will worsen. And we have between 30 and 50,000 more Iraqis coming into Syria alone every single month.

Andrea Lewis: And Dahr what are some of the refugees telling you, other than concerns about their finances which obviously are important, what other things are you hearing from the people you're talking to?

Dahr: Well I'm actually sitting here right now with two friends who just came out yesterday from Baquba and they're telling me things like the US military has absolutely zero control of that city. There's only one street where one kilometer of that street is controlled by the US military and that's because that's primarily where their base is. The banks in Baquba have zero money whatsoever. It's a ghost town in the middle of the day. There's no marekts open. Of course, no one is working. And, as they described it, al Qaeda is in total control of that entire city and they state that the US military there is doing little to nothing to stop them.

Aaron Glantz: Well that's where Zarchawy was killed and we all remember Abu Musab al-Zarchawy. He was a big enemy and now he's dead and he was killed in Baquba.

Dahr: Right and clearly the situation has done nothing but degrade. As they said, it's like something out of a scene of a movie where literally it's a ghost town, nobody leaves their homes, nobody goes out. Even traveling from there to Baghdad, which is just barely 20 miles away, people just don't even make that trip. For them to even come up to Syria, they had to go, completely bypass Baghdad, and go to the north in order to come up here. Of course it was very far out of their way. But that just gives you an idea of how horrible the security situation is. There's literally no security and no regular life there to be found.

Turning to news from the US Senate,
Reuters reports that legislation passed allowing for the admission of a whopping (yes, that is sarcasm) "500 Iraqi and Afghan translators into the United States a year because their lives are in danger for helping U.S. forces during the wars."

Last month,
Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) noted that it was past time for US citizens to ask exactly who their tax dollars supported in Iraq. This month (at The Huffington Post), Hayden notes: "The time has come to understand the new de facto US policy in Iraq: to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs." Hayden argues that the training of police fails to acknowledge who is being trained and for what -- as with El Salvador the 'blind eye' is a pretense upon the part of the US government. Tom Hayden proposes a series of recommendations including "peace advocates and critics must focus on the new reality that American blood and taxes are being spent on propping up a sectarian government that wants to carry out an ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population."

Keeping the above in mind and turning to the northern section of Iraq, yesterday
Umit Enginsoy (Turkish Daily News) reported on the conference in DC regarding the the upcoming, proposed referendum that would etermine the fate of Kirkuk (an Iraqi citiy that "sits on nearly 40 percent of Iraq's oil") which Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is pushing (Talabani fell ill as the latest wave of the crackdown began earlier this year, he was represented at the conference by his son Qubad Talabani who is also "the representative for the Kurdistan regional government"). The issues revolve around the oil, obviously, and also around the demographic makeup of Kirkuk and who gets a vote with Turcomen and Arabs concerned over what "hundreds of thousands of Kurds [who] have flocked into Kirkuk in recent years while the number of Kurds expelled under Saddam's regime could be measured by tens of thousands."

Laith al-Saud (CounterPunch) explores the issue of the resettling, "Since the 2003 invasion of the country myth has taken precedence over history and Kurdish politicians have adopted the methods of that other myth-based nation-state in the region-Israel, to establish claims . . . During the invasion, Kurdish peshmerga (militias) entered Kirkuk and established de facto control of the city. Since then, as has been reported by the Center for Research on Globalization, Kurdish militias have forcibly evicted people from their homes, engaged in Murder, assassination and a slow ethcnice cleansing. The first victims in this regard have been the Arabs. Since the Arabs there are largely associated with Baa'th policy they have seen little support from the regime in Baghdad. Less publicized has been the targeting of Assyrians and other smaller minorities in the region. But the largest group in the city -- and the one that promises to be the most resistant to Kurdish aggression -- is the Turcomen. Ethnically Turks, the Turcomen have lived in the area for over eight-hundred years and have strong ties to Turkey."

Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) notes of the referendum: "The Kurds expect that large areas of eastern, northern and western Ninevah province will join theKRG, not not Mosul city itself because it has an Arab majority. The Kurds are absolutely determined to get what they consider their rights after years or persecution, expulsion and genocide. They rightly think that they now have an historic opportuniy to create a powerful near independent state within Iraq: They are America's only effective allies in Iraq; they are powerful in Baghdad; The non-Kurdish parts of the Iraqi government are weak."

At the conference, the US appeared to waffle (we'll get back to the point).
Michael Kuser and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) note that Turkey's concern is that "an independent Kurdish state" will be created. This stems from Turkey's own issues in the southern part of its country where a historical and ongoing battle by Kurdish inhabitants of the area to gain self-autonamy has been rejected.If Iraq is partitioned off into regions and/or Kirkuk and other northern areas become their own independent body, Turkey's concerns include how such a breaking up could effect their own country. Chris Toensing (Foreign Policy In Focus) summed up the recent conflict within Turkey: "Since the invasion [of Iraq], the Turkish military and security services -- known to Turks as the 'deep state' -- have reasserted themselves, to the detriment of Turkish democracy. They are resisting even the Justice and Development Party's modest efforts to reach out to the country's Kurdish population, and inveighing against any ceasfire with the renewed Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. Far-right social elements associated with the 'deep state' are rallying in favor of chauvinistic versions of Turkish nationalism; in January, one such militan murdered an Armenian-Turkish journalist who sought to reconcile Turks' and Armenians' understanding of the 1915 Aremian genocide."

Another concern on the part of Turkey
pointed out by Kuser and Dinmore is that their border is not respected by "combat rebels from the Kurdish Wokers party (PKK)". Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit has "asked the government" of Turkey "for approval to launch a cross-border incursion into northern Iraq, signaling growing frustration over a lack of action by Iraqi and US forces against Kurdish guerrillas. This follows, as Umit Enginsoy notes, that the head of Iraq's Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, stated last week if Turkey did not stop interfering in Iraq's northern region, Iraq would "retaliate by intervening in Turkey's Kurdish-related matters. The rising tensions come as Turkey's president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, prepares to step down (the parliament electes a new president in May). The Turkish Daily News presents a sample of Buyukanit's press conference where he touched on a number of issues, including political ones.

As the tensions rise and some commentators wonder what the US is doing -- signaling both ways is the answer. Fortunately, the issue is in questionable hands: Hoover Institute's Barbara Stephenson is now a 'diplomat' ("
deputy senior advisor and coordinator to the secretary of state"). In 1998, she was a "homemaker" and apparently $519,200 in donations is all it takes to buy a job at the State Department under US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice. (It's also a good little circle jerk since, Rice was "the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute"). Stephenson's main claim to fame/infamy may be her declaration of Iraqis, "They need to want this more than we do." Spoken by the person who some would argue bought her way into an administration.

From the north to the south,
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the protests that took place Monday calling for foreign troops (all non-Iraqi troops) to leave the country. Historian Mahmood al-Lamy tells al-Fadhily, "Basra is the biggest southern city and the only Iraqi city that has a port near the Gulf. It is now controlled by various militias who fight each other from time to time over an oil smuggling business that is flourishing under the occupation."
Simon Assaf (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reminds that the protest on Monday (in Najaf) "was the biggest in Iraq since the massive unity demonstrations in the early days of the occupation" and that uniformed Iraqi soldiers joined in the protest.


Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one civilian dead from a roadside bombing in Baghdad, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed one person and left 15 wounded,
"a primary school was exploded in Instar village of Bani Saad," "a public clinic at (Tibtib) village" was bombed, and "LC Falih Hassan of the Iraqi national police was killed today after a road side bomb targeted his vehicle today after noon. Three of his body guards were killed."
CBS and AP note a Baghdad roadside bomb claimed the life of a police officer and left four other officers injured as well as one citizen injured. Reuters reports a second Baghdad mortar attack killed two people and left 8 more wounded, a Hilla bombing killed a police officer and left three others wounded, and a mortar attack in Iskandariya wounded 10 people.


Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman wounded during an attack on a police patrol. Reuters reports that Mohammed Abd al-Hameed ("Mosque imam in the northern city of Mosul . . . well known figure in the Sunni Muslim Scholars' Association") was shot dead in Mosul, three guards of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party offices were wounded in an attack in Hilla, and an attack on a barber shop left two people "seriously wounded."


Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five corpses discovered in Baghdad,
Reporters Without Borders notes that two corpses were discovered in Mosul yesterday: Iman Yussef Abdallah ("journalist for a radio station operated by a group of Mosul trade unions") and her husband. She "was the second journalist to be murdered in Mosul this year and the 13th in Iraq."

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died April 12 due to a non-battle related cause." And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire north of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting a security patrol when the attack occurred." [Both were noted last night. They were announced Friday Iraq time.] And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad April 12. The unit was conducting a security patrol in the area when the attack occurred." And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded when their patrol base came under attack by anti-Iraqi forces south of Baghdad April 12. Two Iraqi interpreters were also killed in the attack." ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 3299 and 52 is the total for the month thus far.

Finally, the
Austin American-Stateman weighs in with an editorial commenting on the decision by the White House to extend tours of duty to 15 months while, at the same time, searching for someone ( a war 'czar' -- "The first and most obvious is that a war szar already exists: the president of the United States is the commander in chief. The novelty of the idea doesn't make it viable.") to run the illegal war in Iraq and concludes, "It is especially troubling when you consider that the Bush administration is asking more and more from military personnel who can't appoint someone else to do their jobs for them."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Law and Disorder, Marjorie Cohn

Thursday, one day to the weekend and I just want to crawl in bed. When it's cold, I think that's my thing to do and I've been cold all day. Even when everyone else wasn't!

But it's time to talk about WBAI's Law and Disorder (on WBAI Monday, it also airs on other stations as well). Remember that they are moving the website and if you go WBAI archives looking for the program it's under "OUT FM" on Mondays.

Michael Ratner and Michael Smith discussed the Supreme Court's decision to refuse to hear the case regarding the Guantanamo prisoners. Instead we have "an alternative system of justice" that "tomorrow it could be for any of us." They talked about enemy combatants and how Bully Boy can designate anyone that (even US citizens) and could torture you, "use hearsay evidence against you," and basically anything at all. "You don't have a lawyer, you don't have a right to go to court" you just get a military committee.

This episode wasn't the Michaels only. Their first guest was Howard Bass who is an ACLU member and attorney and he was one of the ones handling the Minnesota "photo cop ordinance." These are the cameras that photograph people going through a red light. The registered owner is the one who gets the ticket sent to them. It is then the responsibility of the owner to pay or provide the name of the driver of the car. This raised the issue that our court systems are built on: innocent until proven guilty. The red light photo system presumes guilt and the burden of proof is on the guilty. Heidi Boghosian was on this segment and she had several strong questions and points, including who was targeted and how this impacts insurance.

The next segment's guest was NYU law professor Paul Chevigny to discuss the Handschu Consent Decree "the police couldn't surveil" pure political activity. If they suspected criminal activity they needed two civilians and a police's approval per the Handschu Consent Decree. The case was on police abuses and spying. Barbara Handschu, of the National Lawyers Guild, was one of the lead attorneys and Chevigny was also an attorney on this case. In the mid-80s, the decision was reached. In 2002, NYC police claimed Handschu was too restrictive and harming their investigations. So now they only need approval from the NYC Director of Intelligence. That's how they get to film and photograph protests. Heidi pointed out that they are keeping the film and not destroying it. It was supposed to be heard, the case, yesterday but
I'm not finding any news article on it.

I need to correct two things. Margaret Ratner Kunstler was a guest last year and I said she was Michael Ratner's sister. C.I. thought that was funny in real time and corrected me that she wasn't Michael's sister, she was Michael's ex-wife. C.I. said not to worry about it and it was an innocent mistake. But I said the next time I had something, I'd note it. I quoted C.I. a few weeks back on Stanley Abramowitz and pulled something out of the quote. C.I. was here last Friday and Rebecca was joking about that. I had pulled out a thing about Stanley Abramowitz's wife. I didn't realize it was known that C.I. knew her. Rebecca was laughing about that and I was going, "Who was his wife?" It was Ellen Willis and C.I. did write an obit on her so I could have used C.I.'s full quote if I'd known that at the time.

Oh, Heidi also got the ending commentary about how the Justice Department is using 'agreements' and not 'decrees' because they're less binding and they're participating with the local police in the breakdown of our rights to privacy. So that was this week's episode.

Now I mentioned the National Lawyers Guild above (Heidi, the Michaels and Dalia Hashad are all members) and I'll offer a bit of this from an article by the National Lawyers Guild's president, Marjorie Cohn. This is called "U.S. Attorneys and Voting Rights:"

The Bush administration is shocked, shocked, that the firing of a few U.S. attorneys has caused such a stir in Washington. After all, the Oval Office says, the President can choose whomever he wants to prosecute federal cases. But the Supreme Court declared in Berger v. United States that a prosecutor's job is to see that justice is done, not to politicize justice. The mass ouster of the top prosecutors had more to do with keeping a grip on power - by manipulating voting rights - than with doing justice. And like the Watergate scandal, the evidence points to a cover-up.
This cover-up revolves around efforts by the Bush administration to disenfranchise African-American voters in communities where the vote would likely be close. George W. Bush came to power in 2000 by a razor-thin margin awarded him by the Supreme Court. During the 2004 election, there were allegations of attempts to disenfranchise African-American voters, especially in Ohio. Yet no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African-American or Native American voters from 2001 to 2006.
Instead, the administration instigated efforts that would further disenfranchise these voters. U.S. attorneys were instructed to prosecute "voter fraud" cases. "Voter fraud" has "become almost synonymous with 'voting while black,'" the New York Times' Paul Krugman observed. Also, Republican lawmakers enacted voter ID laws which established new hurdles for voters to jump.
Former staffers in the Justice Department's civil rights division said they were "repeatedly overruled when they objected to Republican actions, ranging from Georgia's voter ID law to Tom DeLay's Texas redistricting, that they believed would effectively disenfranchise African-American voters," Krugman added.
The administration's effort to prosecute voter fraud is a sham. The New York Times reports that voter experts have found "widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud." However, the Election Assistance Commission, a federal panel charged with election research, skewed the findings of the voter experts.

Now I'm not adding anything to that. How come? If you don't know, Rebecca's been covering this for weeks now. When we all went to Texas, she rode (in Treva's RV) and didn't take a plane because she's still nervous about the pregnancy (or was up to that point) and so she ended up diving into this and pretty much covers it every night. She's going to highlight this tonight and discuss it and other Gonzales stuff so check out Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, war resisters continue standing even when little jerks attack, the puppet pushes the privatization of Iraq's oil, and Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

Starting with war resisters, it must have been a full moon. You had the overgrown "girl" going after war resisters and then you got Little Priss (at the most laughable student newspaper of any college in the US) doing the same. It takes a special kind of voice to 'sing' so passionately about the tough life when Daddy's a big league coach but we're not supposed to talk about that, I'm guessing. Just like we're all supposed to pretend Junior's slug line is in anyway authentic (Little Boys from Suburbia have nasty cases of Big City Envy that force them to lie -- something that was frowned upon in the private, religious school they attended to avoid mixing with other races). Maybe Little Priss can join the overgrown "girl" and assist her in basket-weaving her home-made maxi-pads. What has them up in arms? A nasty case of toxic shock syndrome?

No, a hatred of war resisters such as Camilo Mejia whose new book,
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, will be published by The New Press next month (May 1st). Kirkus Reviews found it, "Timely, courageous and cautionary." Mejia, as noted in Amy Goodman and David Goodman's Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back, served six months in Iraq and, after returning to the US, applied for c.o. status and self-checked out of the military. Mejia was convicted of desertion and sentenced to a year at Fort Still. Upon release, Mejia declared, "Peace does not come easily, so I tell all members of the military that whenever faced with an order, and everything in their mind and soul, and each and every cell in their bodies scream at them to refuse and resist, then by God do so. Jail will mean nothing when brekaing the law became their duty to humanity." Another quote Camilo Mejia is known for, noted by Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker), is "Behind these bars, I sit a free man because I listened to a higher power, the voice of my conscience."

Mejia's book follows Joshua Key's successful
The Deserter's Tale and joins other books exploring the resistance in the military today including Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq. Mejia is also featured in the documentary To Disobey.
As Monica Benderman, wife of Iraq war resister
Kevin Benderman, has noted, there has been little on resistance in many bookstores. Monica and Kevin Benderman intend to do their part to change that by writing their own book.

Mejia and Benderman are a part of a movement resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, 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.

In Iraq today the violence continued. So badly that US Secretary of State Condi Rice felt the need to issue a laughable statement: "
We know that there is a security problem in Baghdad." "We know"? Speaking for the rest of the world, "we hope so." We hope you know there is a problem in Baghdad. Still, it is an improvement over her usual "no one could have guessed" statements.

The most shocking incident of violence today for the US administration may have been the bombing inside the Green Zone.
NPR's Tom Bullock notes that the explosion took place "inside the Iraqi parliament building" in the heavily fortified section of Baghdad known as the Green Zone and that it was "a major security breach." BBC offers that the cafeteria where the bombing took place "is for MPs and their staff, some of whom were having lunch there."
AFP, noting that the Green Zone is "the country's most heavily guarded site," observes that the bombing took place "despite a massive US-Iraqi security crackdown". Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes that the bombing was caputed by "news video camera" revealing "the blast: a flash and an orange ball of fire causing a startled parliament member who was being interviewed to duck, and then the smoky, dust-filled aftermath of confusion and shouting." The news team was from Al-Hurrah, the US based and US tax funded propoganda outlet. Abdul-Zahra also notes that two legs, apparently belonging to the person who detonated the bomb, can be seen on the videotape. There is dispute as to whether a person carried the bomb in and it exploded on his/her person or whether the bomb was planted somewhere in the cafeteria. Dean Yates and Ross Colvin (Reuters) sketch out the basic procedures of entry: "the confrence centre is restricted to accredited parliamentary staff, deputies, security guards and journalists. Only MPs, police and kitchen staff can access the cafeteria. Two Shi'ite lawmakers said the metal detector used at the VIP entrance was working, but a Sunni legislator said when he arrived there was a power cut and bags were being manually searched. A Reuters cameraman said the scanner at a second entrance used by staff and journalists was operating." Those steps are to access the cafeteria. AFP notes gaining entry to the Green Zone "is restricted to visitors carrying picture identity cards and required to pass through multiple checkpoints and metal detectors."

James Hider (Times of London) explains the bombing, in "practical terms," means "the incident also whosed that the bombers can get straight into the heart of what was meant to be the most protected place in Baghdad. Therefore, in effect, it serves to send out the message that nobody is safe and that the insurgents can get suicide bombers in anywhere. The reality is that, despite its reputation as a heavily fortified and protected area, the Green Zone isn't actually that impenetrable. Within the zone itself live 15,000 Iraqis who go in and out every day." CNN states that 14 MPs were wounded (reported number is currently as high as 20). AP notes three members of parliament dead -- Taha al-Liheibi (Sunni), Mohammed Awad (Sunni) and Niamah al-Mayahi (Shi'ite) -- and that they are part of the total eight reported dead. Martin Seemungal (CBS News) spoke with a parlimentarian in the cafeteria who stated that 6 MPs may have been killed in the bombing.

The Green Zone is where Iraq's puppet government offices are, where the stadium-size US embassy is, where many journalists are. As a result, that bombing has cast a lengthy shadow over an earlier one today.
BBC reports that a truck bomb took out the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad during rush hour traffic and that it "sent several cars toppling into the River Tigris below." CBS and AP report: "Cement pilings that support the bridge's stell structure were left crumbling. At the base of one laid a charred vehicle enigne, believed to be that of the truck bomb." CNN notes 10 dead, 26 wounded and that "two large sections in the middle of al-Sarafiya bridge collapsed into the river." AFP reports that "River police raced to the scene on patrol boats and divers donned oxygen cylinders to search the murky waters for survivors after officials said four cars tumbled off the bridge." Reuters reminds that, "The Tigris River cuts Baghdad in half and the Sarafiya bridge is a key artery in the northern part of the city."

James Hider (Times of London) offers his opinion of the message sent with the bridge bombing, "the attack on the al-Sarafiya bridge is also believed to be extremely symoblic. The east of Baghdad is mainly Shia while the west is mainly Sunni, and the Parliamentary speaker today said that the insurgents are conspiring to divide Baghdad in two. The particular bombing -- destorying one of the main access points uniting the city -- illustrates this well. . . . There are, of course, other ways to get across the city apart from this particular bridge. But the fewer there are, the greater the chance of those who use them getting caught up in the bombing." BBC News' Jim Muir observes that both "attacks are major blows to the much-trumpeted security surge now in its third month".

The puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is in Seol and, from miles away, issued a statement on the bombings. It was apparently more important that he be present in South Korea for the big push that Iraq will raise producting of oil to 3 million barrels per day. In doing so, he was also selling the privatization of Iraq's oil (something the US Congress is on board with). Reuters notes: "The world's top oil comapnies have been maneuvering for years to win a stake in Iraq's prized oilfields such as Bin Umar, Majnoon, Nassiriyah, West Qurna and Ratawi, all located in the south of the country." In Baghdad, however, it was all smilles as Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs) met with Hassan Kazimi Qumi (Iran's ambassador to Iraq) where they discussed the upcoming meeting in Egypt and Iraq's help in obtaining the release of one Iranian diplomat. Strangely, considering Little Willie's big press conference yesterday, bombings and weapons weren't a topic of the meeting.

Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes, the US government has their eyes on Iran and US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are 100% all options for war (all repeating the "no option" off the table mantra). Despite this, Solomon notes, is pushing the myth that "Hillary Clinton has provided some much needed leadership on" the issue of war with Iran -- apparently Hillary cried, "To the barricades!" Solomon concludes: "To praise Hillary Clinton for providing 'much needed leadership' on Iran -- and to mislead millions of e-mail recipients counted as MoveOn members in the process -- is a notable choice to make. It speaks volumes. It winks at Clinton's stance that 'no option can be taken off the table.' It serves an enabling function. It is very dangerous. The stakes are much too high to make excuses or look the other way."

Meanwhile, in the ruins of Iraq, another anniversary passed yesterday but it wasn't as crowd pleasing as the staged take-down of a Saddam statue.
Haydar Baderqghan (Azzaman) reminds that it is four years of "the looting of Iraq Museum," that the Ministry of Archaeology and Terrorism issued a statement condeming "the barbarism of wars and their destructive outcome," and that only 4,000 of the 15,000 stolen artifacts have been recovered (four years later).

In other violence today . . .


Reuters reports 2 roadside bombing in Kirkuk killed 6 and injured 21, a Baghdad mortar attack that left one person dead and one wounded.

Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) notes a Baquba bombing that killed 4 police officers and injured two more and another Baquba bombing that wounded two people;


Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one person shot dead in south Baghdad and another shot and injured and one person shot dead in east Baghdad. Reuters reports a police officer "guarding civil servants on a bush" in Mosul was shot dead.


Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) offers a breakdown of the areas of Baghdad that 12 corpses were discovered in today.

Finally, in the United States, a passing deserves noting,
from Democracy Now!:

And finally, the author Kurt Vonnegut has died. He was eighty-four years old. Vonnegut authored at least nineteen novels including "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle." In recent years, Vonnegut was a fierce critic of the Bush administration and a columnist for the magazine In These Times.

Transcript, audio and video of Vonnegut can be found
here at Democracy Now!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dave Zirin, Matthew Rothschild

Hump day. Brody e-mailed to say that the Law and Disorder website is up. Kinda. There's a message that they're moving their site to another webhost and you can't listen. If you try to access a show, Brody says that you get an error message. So we know now that the website is moving thanks to Brody. I also got my CD in the mail today so I'll be noting this week's episode tomorrow. Also, Rachel e-mailed that Monday's episode is under "OUT FM" in the WBAI archives.

Okay, now Dave Zirin has a new book on Muhammad Ali that we've noted here before and he was on Democracy Now! Monday and this is from "Sports Columnist Dave Zirin on Muhammad Ali's Career and His Groundbreaking Political Involvement:"

AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about Muhammad Ali and what he would say out loud. DAVID ZIRIN: What Ali would say out loud would be -- well, he certainly would say, I think, "I have a quarrel with Don Imus." I mean, and he would say -- you know, even say, "I ain't got no quarrel with the sisters at Rutgers University." I mean, that's the thing about Muhammad Ali in the 1960s that's so incredible. I mean, he finished in the bottom 1% of his high school class. He barely graduated from high school. Yet, on all the important social issues of the day, on the edge of the black freedom struggle, on the Vietnam War, while all the best and the brightest were talking about "all deliberate speed" for integration and talking about war in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali knew what side he was on, time and again. He knew there was right, and he knew there was wrong. And because he had that direct connection both to a black political tradition that was antiwar, through people like Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Marcus Garvey, and also because his own family came from the black working class in the South, he knew which side he was on, on a series of these questions, when the leading edge of politics, of the so-called "experts," were so patently wrong.

Wasn't it funny how professional athletes stayed out of this? If you're a big b-ball star, would it kill you to say something in favor of the Rutgers' team? This goes back to a point Dave has made before (and he makes the point in the interview too) which is that you've got a whole generation of sports stars who don't think they have to contribute anything. They think they just have to play and do commercials. That's not everyone. Like Steve Nash spoke out against the illegal war. But you've got a lot of people who won't say a damn word.

They just aren't interested in anything that's going to hurt their chances to make money or that might lead to them being made fun on sport's radio. I really think "sports hero" is a term that should be retired, like Jackie Robinson's number (42) because there really aren't enough to use the term.

Maybe I'm just feeling negative but that's how I feel. Lot of people playing ching-ching, not a lot of people standing up. And that's not just sports, you can see that in music and other stuff too.
And there is a small group in any field you can count on but it's a small group.

Dave Zirin's written before about how a basketball wonder was endorsing homophobia. I think you're looking at a kid who doesn't know a thing about the world (Zirin made a similar comment). But he points out, in the interview, that Ali came up knowing what was going on and not afraid to speak out.

Me, I think it's the difference between being real and fake. Look at the Dixie Chicks. They won all those Grammys and a lot of us were real happy because they had spoken out. They didn't just make some music and check out of the real world. And it made their music better.

I was asked what I'm listening to besides Bright Eyes and that would be a CD Kat just reviewed in "Kat's Korner: Holly Near Shows Up" -- Holly Near's new CD Show Up. That really is an amazing CD. I can listen to it over and over. I especially like putting it on at night right before I crawl into bed. I should say it's not a 'light' CD, it's not this soothing, put you to sleep music. It really kicks ass. If you haven't checked it out already, you should.

Now this is from Matthew Rothschild's "Feingold Leads the Way on Iraq Again, But Does Not Go Far Enough:"

This morning, April 10, Senator Russ Feingold introduced an important piece of legislation on the Iraq War. But unfortunately it does not go far enough.
According to a press release from his office, the bill would "effectively end U.S. military involvement in Iraq."
But that's not exactly what the bill says, and it’s not, in fact, what the bill would accomplish.
Instead, the bill provides enough loopholes for Bush, and his successor, to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
"The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d)," the bill says, and it would cut off all funds for the continued deployment of U.S. forces to Iraq after March 31, 2008, except as stipulated in subsection (d).
So let's look at subsection (d).
It reads: "Exception for Limited Purposes--The prohibition . . . shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:
"(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of Al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.
"(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.
"(3) To train and equip Iraqi security services."
But Bush today could say, with only his average amount of distortion, that this is what U.S. troops are doing now in Iraq.

Yeah, they do nothing and then they want us to fight for them. Want us to send e-mails to the networks and cable channels screaming how unfair they were, want us to give over our money for their elections, want us to vote for them. My attitude right now is that if you're not trying to end the war don't count on me for any support, you're on your own.

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Crazy John McCain intends to continue running for the GOP presidential nomination until the men in white coats cart him away, The Savannah Morning News merges with the US military, the International Red Cross issues a report that doesn't contain the preferred amount of happy talk, and the refugee crisis grows.

Today the
US military announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial April 11." And they announced: "One MDN-B Soldier died and another was wounded after their unit came under attack in the southern portion of the Iraqi capital April 10." This brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3294 with 47 for the month of April alone, reports ICCC.

We're starting with the above for a reason,
Crazy John McCain. Last week, Crazy John McCain took The John McCain Showboat Express to Baghdad and became a topic of ridicule for his boldface lies that things were getting better in Iraq and that he could walk freely through a Baghdad street. Robert Knigh ( Flashpoints, Monday, April 2nd) described the 'free walk' this way: "McCain, in defiance of various independent reports that Iraq's daily death toll actually increased last month, nevertheless declared that the so-called 'surge' was 'making progress' and that Americans were 'not getting the full picture of what is happening in Iraq'; however a zoom out from McCain's photo op shows that he was actually surounded by orbiting F16 fighter planes, three Black Hawk attack helicopters, 2 Apache gun ships, more than 100 US troops, snipers and armed vehicles, a flak jacket and personal body armour. The presidential contender and Congressional comedian concluded his celebration of April Fool's Day by declaring with a straight face that 'There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today. These and other indicators and reasons for cautious optimism about the effects of the new strategy'."

Crazy John McCain lost some of his luster over that and went on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday where Scott Pelly asked him about the claims he'd made re: Iraq and Senator Crazy responded, "Of course I'm going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do in the future. I regret that when I divert attention to something that I've said from my message but you know that's just life, and I'm happy frankly with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun." Never deny a crazy their fun. Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, Crazy John McCain was at it again, kissing ass and telling lies and he asserted that he was speaking "to an audience that can discern truth from falsehood in a politician's appraisal of the war," then went on to dub the illegal war as "necessary and winnable" and attempted to drum up sympathy by stating his Crazy Walk through Baghdad left him at the mercy of "a hostile press corps". Crazy spoke of "memorable progress and measurable progress" and some probably fell for the crap. Those who did probably have forgotten the outline General John P. Abizaid presented on March 14, 2006 (link goes to Centcom, click here). He's also bragging about Baghdad where, as AFP notes, "the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a new report that the operation had not yet stabilised Baghdad." His bragging comes as Bruce Rolfsen (Air Force Times) notes "more than 850 wounded and injured service men" and service women "out of war zones during March, according to the Air Force. In February, the Air Force flew out 767 patients.

Senator Crazy went on to declare that the armed battle included a "struggle for the soul of Islam" sounding as insane as the Bully Boy when he originally used the term "crusade." Senator Crazy was, no doubt, amusing himself again with thoughts of bombs being dropped, rockets launched, bullets shot all for a "struggle for the soul of Islam." Senator Crazy remains the undeclared GOP candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination and with all the crazy remarks he makes, it's easy for the electorate to miss some of them. When
Scott Pelly (60 Minutes) pointed out that the majority of US citizens want and wondered to Crazy when Crazy would "start doing what the majority of the American people want?"

Well again, I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.

A memorable, if not winning, campaign slogan if ever there was one.
Crazy John McCain is running for president on the premise that, his words, "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want." Vote Insane! Vote McCain!

Staying with the crazies, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, little Willie Caldwell, grabbed his feather boa and marched before reporters to declare, "They're arming the insurgents, dahling." With the five Iranian diplomats still not released (and US military command announcing today that they weren't going to be), Little Willie strutted and made broad statements. Or, as
the BBC put it, "accused." AFP also uses the (accurate) terminology, noting that Little Willie "accused the Iranians of training Iraqi groups on how to assemble explosively-formed projecticles -- a type of armour-piercing roadside bomb that has caused many coalition casualties." Lauren Frayer, AP's frequent embed, paid to write for a living, somehow fails to utilize "accused" once; however, she did take down good stenography for Little Willie and deploy the term "said" eight times in a 300 plus word 'report' (324 -- check my math).

In other Press Shames,
Joe Strupp (Editor & Publisher) reports what's what at The Savannah Morning News these days. On their front page, they are now running a column by Major General Rick Lynch -- at least it may be by him. The paper's editor, Susan Catron, asked of the names at the end of Lynch's opinion column offers happily, "I can't tell if they wrote it or not." Catron also reveals that the paper is not paying the general for his column. Hmmm.

The editor can't state for the record whether or not the column was written by the general and this weekly column (carried on the front page) requires no payment to the writer? For many, that would be enough to raise red flags but Catron's still recovering from the mighty Sunday comics war that so drained the paper's resources

Strupp reveals that the newspaper staff believes (and they are right) that if the column belongs anywhere, it is "on the opinion page . . . Is this appropriate for a 50,000-reader newspaper that purports to be free from government influence? Staff members feel it has undermined the newspaper's credibility and independence."

Turning to news of attempts to increase leisure time,
AP reports that the US "White House is considering naming a high-powered official to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and report directly to President Bush".

There seems to be some confusion here so let's turn to the US Constitution, Article II, section 2 which reads:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

If anyone's confused (and apparently the White House is) the role being discussed is a Constitutionally mandated role for the occupant of the Oval Office. It's really not something that can be "delegated." Possibly Bully Boy's all tuckered out from his vacation in Crawford?
Mimi Kennedy (writing at Truthout) notes that Camp Casey was in full swing in Crawford last weekend with the Bully Boy in town. Kennedy reports that Friday was spent at the checkpoint singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting "We are here with Cindy/We're here to ask/What noble Cause/We are here with Cindy now" dying Easter eggs and singing; with Saturday revolving around Pink Police actions. On the topic of CODEPINK, they have redesigned their website adding many new features and one of the new campaigns revolves around the video "Toy Soldiers" -- watching it and passing it on.

Cindy Sheehan will be speaking in Indiana Thursday. The South Bend Tribune reports she will deliver "Speaking Peace to Power" at 10:30 Thursday morning on the campus of Saint Mary's College (auditorium in Madeleva Hall). The event is free and open to the public. On last weekend, Cindy (writing at BuzzFlash) notes, "At our five acres of Camp Casey, we also announced phase two of our development from a protest camp to a peace facility. The Camp Casey Peace Institute is partnering with Farm Hands to create a therapeutic farm for Vets and their families and active duty soldiers. We are having our first build on Memorial Day Weekend to put up our lodge building."

Staying with peace news, we'll turn to US war resisters.
Meghan Eves (Canada's Eye Weekly) takes a close look at three war resisters who are among the 300 attempting to find refuge in Canada. Eves notes that Jeremy Hinzman was the first to apply for refugee status and that Hinzman's currently appealing the rejection by the Immigration and Refugee Board "to the Federal Court of Appeals but no date has been set"; that Joshua Key, his wife Brandi and their four children await the response of the Federal Court of Canada on his appeal (all war resisters have been refused refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board) and notes his book The Deserter's Tale, and Dean Walcott who self-checked out and went to Canada at the end of last year (December 2006) -- someone could pass it on to Paul von Zielbauer that Walcott and Key both suffer from PTSD.

Key, Hinzman and Walcott are part of a movment of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, 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.

Turning to Iraq, yesterday on
Flashpoints, Emily Howard spoke with Darh Jamail about the Doha conference and Iraq. On Iraq, Jamail noted the growing Iraqi refugee problem and how nothing was being done about it. They discussed his recent article at IPS on the topic of refugees and Jamail spoke of how when attacks were on going, the lucky ones were able to buy themselves or a relative out but, having exhausted their money with that, they were left to wander around or live in refugee tents. Those who could afford to get out, such as doctors, have already left. Dahr spoke of how the problem now was that a country was now in a situation where the people trained and needed for basic needs (electricity, water, etc.) are now leaving. Writing today at IPS, Jamail interviews Iraqi refugees now in Damascus including 68-year-old Abdul Abdulla who recalls of his family's time in Baghdad prior to leaving, "We stay in our homes, but even then some people have been pulled out of their own houses. These death squads arrived after (former U.S. ambassador John) Negorponte arrived. And the Iraqi Government is definitely involved because they depend on them (militias)."

Reuters reports that the International Red Cross has declared that "The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable" (ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl). BBC reports, "Four years after the US-led invasion, the ICRC says the conflict is inflicting immense suffering, and calls for greater protection of civilians." The ICRC issued their report in Geneva today.

The (PDF format) report is entitled "
Civilians Without Protection: The ever-worsening humanitarina crisis in Iraq" and notes:

Civilians bear the brunt of the relentless violence and the extremely poor security conditions that are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions. Every day, dozens of people are killed and many more wounded. The plight of Iraqi civilians is a daily reminder of the fact that there has long been a failure to respect their lives and dignity. Shottings, bombings, abudctions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere in Iraq or in neighboring countries. The hundreds of thousands of displaced people scattered across Iraq find it particularly difficult to cope with the ongoing crisis, as do the families who generously agree to host them.

The report addresses a number of issues including the medical care situation with the 'brain drain' and the violence causing many medical professionals to leave the country at a time when Iraqi hospitals are overcrowed. The report also notes this with regards to the water situation in Iraq:

Both the quantity and quality of drinking water in Iraq remain insufficient despite limited improvements in some areas, mainly in the south. Water is often contaminated owing to the poor repair of sewage and water-supply networks and the discharge of untreated sewage into rivers, which are the main source of drinking waters. Electricity and fuel shortages and the poor maintenance of infrastructure mean that there is no regular and reliable supply of clean water and that sewage is often not properly demanded.

On the subject of prisoners, "Tens of thousands of people are currently being detained by the Iraq authorities and the multinational forces in Iraq" -- often without any news of the prisoners being passed on to their families.

In addition to the above,
Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on the latest efforts to turn Baghdad into a series of "gated communities" -- part of the 220 page plan FM 3024 -- which is based on the fact that the easy areas can be 'secured' and then the 'security' can be spread out wider. More logically, as Fisk notes, is the greater of spreading out and depending on Iraqi soldiers, the less loyalty to the US forces and the greater the ties to Iraqis. (Meaning the Shi'ite or Sunni trained officers is more apt to blow off US orders than turn against an Iraqi who may be a threat to the US but is not seen as an Iraqi threat.)


CBS and AP report a Hilla bombing that killed a police officer and left three more wounded, a Mosul bombing that killed a police officers, wounded two more police officers and left six other people injured. Reuters notes mortar attacks in Baghdad that killed one and left 4 others wounded.


Reuters reports two police officers shot dead outside their homes in Kut, Abdul Abbas Hashim ("general director in the Electricity Ministry" shot dead in Baghdad.


Reuters reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 9 in Mosul.

cindy sheehan