Friday, May 11, 2007

Matthew Rothschild, John V. Walsh

Friday! :D Best day of the week! So much promise, so much freedom and it all falls apart come Sunday night. :D Okay, Elaine's noting something tonight that was covered in yesterday's snapshot because she doesn't blog on Thursdays and I thought I would too. This is from today's Democracy Now!:


Iraqi Lawmakers Back Draft Bill for Withdrawal Timetable
A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have approved a draft bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a freeze on current troop levels. The measure would require Iraqi leaders to seek parliamentary approval for any extension of foreign troops when the UN mandate expires this year. At least one-hundred thirty eight of Iraq's two-hundred-seventy-five member parliament have signed on.


This is from Matthew Rothschild's "Top Teacher Shown the Door After Showing 'Baghdad ER':"

Michael Baker worked for the Lincoln, Nebraska, public schools since 1981.
But after he showed the documentary "Baghdad ER" to his geography class on April 18, his career there was over.

This, despite the fact that in 2006, Baker was one of only 47 teachers in the state to win National Board Certification, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, which broke the story.
Baker tells The Progressive that he cannot talk freely about what happened because he reached an agreement with the school district. Part of that agreement prohibits him from saying anything "disparaging" about it, he says.
But he does acknowledge this: "The morning after I showed the documentary 'Baghdad ER' was my last day in class.”
HBO, which aired 'Baghdad ER,' describes it this way: "2-time Emmy® Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army's premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war."


I'm glad Rothschild wrote about it but I'm not feeling sorry for the teacher.

He set his own end up and I would say "Good for him" except for the fact that, in setting up his end, he sold out his own right to talk about what happened. If someone won't even talk about what happened, I'm not overly concerned about their personal plight.

I actually think that's kind of cowardly because if they did it to one teacher, they'll do to it another. (And I'm sure it's going on across the country.) But the other teacher may not have accumlated enough time so that they can trade retirement. Where does that leave them? There's an Eagles' song that talks about "I got mine" and that's how I feel about the teacher. He got his. He set up his end. He sold off his free speech and the possibility that he could draw real attention to the issue or help someone else in the same situation.

By the way, I'm not writing about Law and Disorder tonight. I'm burning up and trying to type as fast as I can. The folks told Rebecca they'd turn on the a.c. but she's actually comfortable with it off now that she's given birth. So I'm doing a quick post and then hopping in the shower.

This is from John V. Walsh's "Beware the Do-Gooders in Body Armor:"

Let me explain with a riddle. There is a country that sits on top of huge oil reserves, it is run by a nasty dictator, Israel regards it as an enemy state, it is Muslim, it is said to harbor "terrorists," and President Bush expresses hostility toward it. In 2002, that country was Iraq; in 2007 that country is Sudan. And there is a move afoot to take action against Sudan ­ but this time it is being led by the Democratic wing of the War Party. Are the American people about to be suckered into another intervention?
But you may say, is there not a "genocide" going on in the Darfur region of Sudan under the auspices of Sudan's brutal dictator? Interestingly, only President Bush and the U.S. government, label the fighting in Darfur as a "genocide." The UN and Bishop Desmond Tutu have called it a civil war, which is a very different story. But is there not terrible suffering going on in Darfur? The answer is yes. Perhaps 200,000 have been killed and a million displaced. But this is not the "worst" humanitarian disaster in the world. In fact 650,000 have been killed due to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and millions displaced. It is passing strange that President Bush is so concerned about Sudan when he wants to press on in Iraq. And for his part, Congressmen Capuano and McGovern, for all their talk of opposing the war on Iraq refuse to vote to cut off funding as have eight House Democrats and two Republicans in opposition to the war. So why do Bush and Capuano and McGovern not act to curtail the suffering in Iraq by simply leaving?
But you may say, there is real and terrible suffering in Darfur and in fact throughout Sudan. That is undeniably true. And the U.S. should be sending all the humanitarian aid it can to alleviate that suffering. In fact the U.S. could do more. In 2006, there were more deaths from malaria in Sudan and Darfur than from the civil war there. And in large part that is because the only pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and the one that produced antimalarials at affordable prices was bombed "mistakenly" by the Democrat Bill Clinton in 1998. There has never been an apology by the U.S. for that act which borders on a war crime. And there has never been an offer of restitution. Perhaps Congressmen Capuano and McGovern might introduce a bill to provide funds to rebuild that factory.


I would make one big change in the article above, I would change the title to "Beware the Modern Day Carrie Nations." I'm so sick of them, the Sammy Powers, and all their b.s. There was an article in Thursday's paper about how Republicans were taking the lead on this (in Congress). They took the lead on the illegal war too. I really think you get your own house in order before you start screaming for action against another country. Oh and that stupid Nicholas Kristof wrote this week that they needed a photo of a suffering puppy from Darfur in order to make America care because Americans care about suffering puppies. Nicky K, shut the hell up. He's made this his goal -- war on the Sudan -- for how many years now? Americans don't "care" because they're smart enough to realize the last thing the United States needs is another war right now. They don't "care" because they can sense an echo chamber and that's all we've gotten. Democracy Now! has been just as bad on this. They have guests on who oppose intervention in that region but the issue never gets raised with them. When it's time to talk Darfur they bring on some lunatic like Eric what's his name.

I probably have Three Kings on my favorites of my "about me" page. I love that movie. George Clooney used to be one of the actors I would go see. I haven't seen any of his films since Solaris because he's in bed with the Carrie Nations. If you're an American and you're not working to end the illegal war but you are pushing for another war, I don't think you're on the same side as I am. I think you're either a liar or an idiot. Either way, I have no interest in ever seeing another George Clooney movie. (I'm not calling for a boycott. I'm just noting how I have soured on him due to his getting in with that crowd.)

He and Sheryl Crow can both kiss my ass. Sheryl Crow, our brave bad singer, challenged Karl Rove! On the environment. What about the illegal war, Sheryl Crow? I liked "Soak Up The Sun" but she's another one I'm done with. If you can't call out an illegal war, I have no use for you. I don't care about your pet issue that's considered more 'acceptable.' I don't care about you. All the ones who are silent are cowards in my book. I also don't buy into the myth of Saint Al Gore. I'll stop before I rip into the various dumb asses pushing that.

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

Friday, May 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Cheney lies again while the press plays silent, more US service members are announced dead in Iraq, and a campus activism takes place as the Bully Boy prepares to mumble through another canned speech.
Yesterday in Iraq, Cheney spun like crazy. As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) pointed out, Dick Cheney quoted David H. Petraeus, top US commander in Iraq, repeatedly, "General Petraeus has underscored the fact that the enemy tactics are barbaric. . . . We can expect more violence as they try to destroy the hopes of the Iraqi people." As pep talks go, not a lot of reality. Last week, Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on a military study that found only 40% of US marines would be willing to "report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and the number of those in the army was 55 pecent. As Gregg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) observered: "At the Associated Press' annual meeting in New York on Tuesday, I sat in the audience observing Gen. Petraeus on a huge screen, via satellite from Baghdad, as he answered questions from two AP journalists. Asked about a U.S. Army Surgeon General study of over 1,300 troops in Iraq, released last week, which showed increasing mental stress -- and an alarming spillover into poor treatment of noncombatants -- Petraeus replied, 'When I received that survey I was very concerned by the results. It showed a willingness of a fair number to not report the wrongdoing of their buddies.' That's true enough, but then he asserted that the survey showed that only a 'small number' admitted they may have mistreated "detainees" -- a profoundly misleading statement. Actually, the study found that at least 10% of U.S. forces reported that they had personally, and without cause, mistreated civilians (not detainees) through physical violence or damage to personal property. So much for the claims by President Bush, military leaders and conservative pundits that 99.9% of U.S. troops always behave honorably. Of course, that kind of record has never been achieved by any country in any war." Along with that reality, we have the first hand stories being told.

It was about two a.m., but I could see very well because there were streetlights on our road and because the American illumination rounds that kept the sky lit up all night.


Suddenly, I looked over to my left and saw the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis in their bloodied white robes, lying a few feet from a bullet-ridden pickup truck to the side of the road. Because I sat on top left of the vehicle, and because the bodies were on the left-hand side of the road, I had them in clear view. I assumed that someone had used a massive amount of gunfire to behead them.

"Sh*t," I said.

A few second later, our slow-moving APC came to a stop. Among the three APCs in our convoy, I was the only soldier immediately ordered down to the ground. As I slid down into the APC and then out the hatch, Sergeant Jones told me to look for brass casings, which would be signs that Iraqi fighers with AK-47s had been shooting at American soldiers in the area.

I saw no sign of brass casings, but I did see an American soldier shouting at the top of his lungs while two other soldiers stood quietly next to him."We f**king lost it, we just f**king lost it," the soldier was shouting. He was in a state of complete distress, but the soldiers next to him were not reacting. The distressed soldier stood about twenty yeards from me, and another forty or so yards from the four decapitated bodies.

Two other soldiers were laughing and kicking the heads of the decapitated Iraqis. It was clearly a moment of amusement for them. This was their twisted game of soccer.

I froze at the sight of it, and for a moment could not believe my eyes. But I saw what I saw, and was so revolted and horrified that I defied Sergeant Jones's orders and climbed right back into the APC.

[. . .]

I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head but she would not stop screaming.
"What are you doing this for?" she said.

Hayes told her to shut up.

"We have done nothing to you," she went on.

Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.
"You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?"

Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell facedown into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground. I pushed Hayes away."What are you doing, man?" I said to him. "You have a wife and two kids! Don't be hitting her like that."

He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying those words, but he did not touch the woman again. I found this incident with Hayes particularly disturbing because during other times I had seen him in action in Iraq, Hayes had showed himself to be one of the most levelheaded and calm soldiers in my company. I had the sense that if he could lose it and hit a woman the way he had, any of us could lose it.

The above is from US war resister Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale -- the 'little' book that some expected to get a tiny flurry of attention the week of release and then quickly fade. Instead, it continues to get attention from across the political spectrum (and around the world), is stocked in bookstores across the country. ZNet runs the most recent review of it, by Derrick O'Keefe who found, "The Deserter's Tale is told in simple, compelling prose. Joshua Key's story may just be one perspective on the Iraq war, but in many ways the young war resister is also speaking on behalf of the voiceless thousands senselessly killed in this war. Relentlessly honest, and graphic, this book stands out as unique and significant amidst the shelves of books critiquing the Bush administration’s foreign policy. It will surely stand up long after this war is over as a condemnation both of the pretensions of empire, and of the grotesque inequality that scars life in the United States itself."

Key is not the only war resister to tell his story in book form. The just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia is Camilo Mejia's account, an account he is also sharing currently on a speaking tour with other war resisters. That includes, as Courage to Resist noted yesterday, Agustin Aguayo:

Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo stepped off of a plane today at Sacramento International Airport after being imprisoned by the U.S. Army and held in Germany for nine months. Agustin was convicted of missing movement and desertion for refusing to redeploy to Iraq last year and publicly speaking out against the war.

Agustin's wife Helga and Courage to Resist supporters met him at the airport, give him a couple hours to relax from his 18-hour journey from Germany, and whisked him to his first speaking event in California’s capitol. From here, Agustin is beginning a multi-city tour covering much of Northern California. In the upcoming days, Agustin will be joined by fellow Iraq War resisters Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mej√≠a, Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, and Marine L/Cpl Robert Zabala.

The upcoming dates for the speaking out tour include:

Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.


Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447


Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311


Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837


Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197


Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.


US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Cheney made other laughable claims in Baghdad yesterday. Many in the press, including
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post), Alissa J. Rubin and basically anyone filing from Iraq, noted that Cheney declared, "We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war. . . . The United States, also, has made a decision: As the prime target of a global war against terror, we will stay on the offensive. We will not sit back and wait to be hit again." If it sounds familiar, it's part of the scare lie that the US administration used to launch an illegal war. It's been disproven and discredited. Strangely, though major outlets found time to include the lie, there wasn't room to call it out. Now in the leadup to the illegal war this lie would be repeated over and over. It was a lie then but many in the mainstream ran with it (click here for one notable exception, McClatchy Newspapers -- then Knight-Ridder). After that and other lies were exposed -- after the US was involved in an illegal war -- some in the press would express shock that the discredited lie was believed by so many in the public. Why was that? Because despite mini-culpas there was no strong calling out of the lies and, even today, the lie can be jotted down and appear in print without a reporter feeling it is their duty (and it is their duty) to note that what Cheney uttered was a lie. One example, Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev's "Senate reports say Saddam rejected cooperating with terrorists" (McClatchy Newspapers) calling out the lie in September of last year:
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein rejected pleas for assistance from Osama bin Laden and tried to capture terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was in Iraq, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Friday found, casting further doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq.


President Bush and other administration officials repeatedly cited Saddam's alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorists before the March 2003 invasion as one reason to take military action against Iraq.
Yes and Cheney continues to do so without being called out on it, so don't blame the public when the press fails at its own job.
A failure of the British press currently is the slobbering going over about Mr Tony. As
Tariq Ali noted at CounterPunch, "Tony Blair's success was limited to winning three general elections in a row. A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But though in many ways Blair's programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher's, the style of their departures is very different. Thatcher's overthrow by her fellow-Conservatives was a matter of high drama: an announcement outside the Louvre's glass pyramid during the Paris Congress brokering the end of the Cold War; tears; a crowded House of Commons. Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car-bombs and mass carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack. Thatcher's supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done. Even Blair's greatest sycophants in the British media: Martin Kettle and Michael White (The Guardian), Andrew Rawnsley (Observer), Philip Stephens (FT) confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits." Speaking with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) today, Tariq Ali noted, "We had no real accounting of why he's leaving as prime minister. And the fact is he's leaving is, because he's hated. And the reason he's hated is because he joined the neocons in Washington and went to war against Iraq, which now 78% of the population in this country [England] oppose. And when people are being asked what will Blair’s legacy be, a large majority is saying Iraq. And I think that's what he will be remembered for, as a prime minister who took a reluctant and skeptical country into a war designed by Washington and its neoconservative strategists, all of whom are in crisis. And you listen to Blair now and his successor, Brown, and they sound much worse than any Democrat in the Senate or the House, because they realize the war's unpopular. These guys carry on living in a tiny bubble, media bubble, which they construct. And I think the BBC's sycophancy, the way in which they portrayed him yesterday as if he was a sort of dead Princess Diana, doesn't do them proud. It was a low point in BBC journalism, with one of their political correspondents saying, 'Gosh, look at him. Isn't he a winner?' Well, he isn't a winner, which is why he's leaving. And a reluctant party is saying farewell to him, because they think they’ll lose the next election if he’s in charge. That's what's going on."

And what's going on Iraq today?

Bombings?

Ibon Villelabeitia and Dean Yates (Reuters) report that Baghdad has seen truck bombing attacks on bridges today that have left at least 26 dead, at least 60 wounded and damanged bridges. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra explosion that left one civilian wounded. Reuters reports a bridge outside Taiji was bombed "main highway connecting the capital [Baghdad] with cities in the north" and that four Iraqi soldiers were killed in the explosion, a Zaafaraniya bombing that left two dead and four wounded.

Shootings?
Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Samara shooting death of "brigadier Amar Kareem Khlaf". Reuters reports a Kirkuk drive-by that left one person dead and the shooting death of Falluja's deputy mayor.
Corpses?

Reuters reports one corpses was discovered in Hawija.

Earlier today
Reuters reported the Baghdad death of a US soldier (two more wounded) from a Thursday roadside bombing, the Tikrit death of a US soldier (9 wounded) from a Thursday bombing, the Thursday death of a US soldier in Diwaniya from "small-arms fire" and the Thursday death of a US soldier in Baghdad also from "small-arms fire".

This as
AP reports that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani , in a speech delivered at Cambridge, declared, "I think that in one or two years we will be able to recruit our forces, to prepare our forces and say goodbye to our friends." The total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now 3386 -- that's 3386 'goodbyes' Talabani can say. Long after the four year mark has passed on the illegal war, everyone is supposed to buy that now (now!) it will only take one or two more years. And of course in one or two more years, no doubt, the message will still be "It'll just take a year or two more." How many deaths is it going to take? The next time someone -- in the US Congress, in the Iraqi Parliament, wherever -- wants to tell the world how much more X it will take for the illegal war to be 'won,' let's all ask them to drop the months or years and tell us how many more lives. How many more lives will this illegal war take? CBS and AP report: "The U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, said he doesn't have enough troops for the mission in Diyala, a province northeast of Baghdad that has seen a rise in violence blamed largely on militants who fled the Baghdad security operation. Mixon also said Iraqi government officials are not moving fast enough to provide the 'most powerful weapon' against insurgents -- a government that works and supplies services for the people." For such a government to exist, it would have to be one put foward by the Iraqi people and not yet another puppet government installed by the US. Meanwhile, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports this on CBS: "In media news, CBS has dismissed an Iraq war veteran over his involvement in an ad campaign criticizing the war. General John Batiste appears in an ad from the group VoteVets dot org. Batiste has been working as a CBS News consultant." Amy Goodman and Greg Palast will be on Sunday's Book TV (C-Span) (7:00 pm EST).

The US House of Representatives passed a measure today. It funds the Iraq war but by piecemeal. The Senate now takes up the vote. It's called going through the motions. Instead, we'll turn to campus activism where Bully Boy's speech today at St. Vincent college (in Penn.) has led to a huge outcry.
James Gerstenzang (LA Times) reports that "Students vigorously debated the invitation at a town-hall meeting last month. A former St. Vincent College president wrote a scathing newspaper essay saying Bush had no place on the campus. About a quarter of the tenure-rank faculty wrote an open letter to Bush challenging the Iraq war as contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine. Several dozen people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night protesting the visit. And for several Sundays, nuns protested on the edge of the campus. The discord, polite and reasoned as it may be, is emblematic of passions across the country as the war moves further into its fifth year, with increasing military deployments and mounting death tolls among Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops." Jennifer Loven (AP) reports a crowd of at least 150 protesting and quotes philosophy major Ronny Menzie "I didn't finish my thesis because I didn't want my graduation with him. I think it's a blight, an embarrassment on a Catholic college." and Iraq war vet Jonas Merrill who made a 90 minute drive to protest the Bully Boy's appearance, "We're fighting for the guys still over there." This campus response isn't a brand new development for the administration. David Nitkin (Baltimore Sun) observes, "Graduation visits by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials are galvanizing opponents at campuses across the country, sparking intense debates and frustrating White House hopes. A similar outcry greeted Bush last month at a South Florida community college. Protesters flocked to the campus even though it was considered to be an accommodating environment, with a large Cuban-American population." And Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds, "Other even more conservative campuses also have been touched by unrest over the war. Last month, a small group of students and faculty at Brigham Young University, the nation's premier Mormon school, objected to a commencement address by Vice President Dick Cheney."







iraq tariq ali agustin aguayo democracy now amy goodman the new york times alissa j. rubin the washington post joshua partlow

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Robert Knight, Iraq, 'apathethy'

Thursday at last! :D Okay, Ava's never asked me for anything. She could. I've asked her for favors and help before. But she doesn't. Elaine says that's a similarity Ava shares with C.I. So imagine my shock when Ava calls with a request? You know I'm going to do it whatever it is. And be glad to do it. Luckily, it's also something great.

It's yesterday's "The Knight Report" which airs at the start of KPFA's Flashpoints Radio each Monday through Thursday evening (8 p.m. if you're in EST like me). Robert Knight does the "The Knight Report" and he grabs from everything to offer you a portrait of the day. He's really painting a picture of the day. When C.I. was here time before last (not last time), I got left the laptop. I knew it wasn't a case of C.I. wanting me to try it out and just not wanting to carry it on the plane. I knew it was mine now and, sure enough, when C.I. was here last time, I brought it up and C.I. pointed out "Oh, I already got another one. You keep it." :D So, the point is, I can now listen online. So I can catch KPFA's Flashpoints Radio. I heard it when we were all out at C.I.'s last summer and "The Knight Report" being featured in some snapshots (and every Tuesday morning in Hilda's Mix -- Monday's report goes in that). But now I can listen online and usually will grab a show to listen to while I'm blogging Monday through Thursday. So I do get to hear KPFA's Flashpoints Radio (though I usually follow Rebecca's suggestion and catch it on the mono stream or KFCF Fresno -- I have less streaming problems with those two). So my point is that if you've never heard "The Knight Report" and you can listen online (or you're in the Bay Area and can catch it over the airwaves), you're really cheating yourself.

"Big words, Mike!" Well judge for yourself. From Wednesday's KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, here's "The Knight Report:"

In today's "Knight Report" --
VP Cheney gets another thunderous respomse to his secret visit to Iraq; and
Democrats decide to continue the War in Iraq by giving President Bush a bimonthly "allowance," rather than an annual "trust fund."
I'm Robert Knight in New York.
The man who mapped Iraq's oilfields as the payoff for the Bush administration's 2003 invasion today visited his prize territory under cover of darkness, where security required Halliburton alumnus and VP Richard Cheney to wear a massive flack-jacket under his blue blazer during yet another secret visit to Baghdad. Nevertheless, Cheney was serenaded with the percussive sound of nearby explosions, just as he was duriung his secret visit to Bagram airnbase in Afghanistan several weeks ago.
Today, mortars fired by the Iraqi patriotic resistance struck near the heavily guarded home of the Iraqi puppet parliament and prime minister inside Baghdad's US controlled Green Zone, with such force and proximity that Cheney's traveling team of reporters and mainstream media stenographers were quickly hustled from the rattling windows that framed a scheduled press conference, to the basement bunker of the US embassy compound, for their own safety.
Following the upstaging of his meeting with US "proconsul" Ryan Crocker and Iraq's de facto military governor, General David Petraeus, the surly VP terminated reporters' questions by growling that "This is just a photo spray." and grumbling that "There still are some security problems, security threats, no question about it." Later, as reporters filed into an embassy conference room for another photo-op of Cheney they overheard him tell his staff "...then we kick the press out."
Cheney's primary purpose was to pump the unratified Iraqi oil law, which was actually written by an American consultancy based near Langley, Virginia -- and which would abolish Iraqi national sovereignty over national petroleum reserves, in favor of lucrative extraction agreements with multinational oil conglomerates, whose proceeds the Bush administration had fondly hoped would help fund the 2-trillion-dollar cost of the ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The legislation would also lead to a defacto partition of Iraq by disempowering the central Baghdad government, as well as Iraq's 18 provinces, in favor of so^called "regional governments" -- of which there is currently only one: namely, the Kurdistan regional regime in northern Iraq, which has long enjoyed the favors and clandestine presence of the CIA and Mossad.
But the legitimacy of the Kurdish construct was also challenged during Cheney's visit by the Iraqi resistance, which launched a suicide truck attack in the fortified Kurdish capitol of Irbil, killing nearly 2 dozen and wounding more than 100, in the most significant attack in three years. The "Islamic State of Iraq" claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the Kurdish government's dispatch of Peshmerga troops and militias to Baghdad for the American security surge.
Cheney's secondary purpose in Iraq was to demand speedy compliance from Iraq's "plantation parliament," which has yet to rubber-stamp the Bush administration's desperate desire for the oil law giveaway. The absentee assembly seldom reaches quorum because nearly half of its members now reside in London and in neighboring countries for their own safety. Cheney (along with most of the American mainstream media) feels competent to judge the parliament's plans for a 2-month recess during the 100-degree summer days of Iraq -- just like the US Congress enjoys during its annual recesses, as do most of America's schoolteachers and students.
More than 4 years into the disastrous occupation that Cheney and the the White House said would be "welcomed with open arms," Cheney today blamed the US-constructed occupation regime for the lack of post-invasion progress, saying of the scheduled Iraqi recess that "Any undue delay would be difficult to explain," and adding that "I do believe that there is a greater sense of urgency now than I'd seen previously."
But, unfortunately for Cheney, much of that urgency is in direct opposition to his presence in Iraq.
The Mahdi Army movement led by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today announced large demonstrations in the three holy cities of Kufa, Karbala and Kadhemiyah to protest Cheney's visit. al-Sadr has also withdrawn a half-dozen Sadrist party members from the occupation cabinet of puppet PM Nouri al Maliki, over his refusal to demansd a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Yesterday the Sunni VP of the occupation, Tarek Al Hashimi, gave Maliki a one-week deadline for accomodatoing Sunni interests and ending the occupation -- or face the withdrarwal of Sunni contingents from Maliki's shaky coalition government.
There was also some back-tracking in Washington, where Democrats in Congress are adopting a new strategy to maintain the war in Iraq, while appearing to oppose it.
The latest Democratic party gambit in prolonging the bipartisan war is to not end funding for the war, but to transfer President Bush from an annual war-making "triust fund," to a bi-monthly "allowance."
The Democrats' proposal would pay for the war through July, then give Congress the option of renewing more money if conditions meet up with arbitrarily-defined "benchmarks" -- not the least of them being... passage of the oil law. The Democrats would also agree to eliminate withdrawal requirements and give Bush a blank check for a potential invasion of neighboring Iran. The bill would fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for three months, but "sequester" $48 billion until Bush made an automatic and unchallenged claim of "progress" in Iraq.
Even so, the White House said today it would still veto the new conditional House legislation -- which Democrats consider a "win-win" tactic, because it would give the impression (with renewals every few weeks) that they are "opposed" to the war and occupation that more than 2/3 of the American public wish to come to a rapid comnclusion.
Nevertheless, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq, revealed today there are NO plans to end the US escalation in Iraq anytime soon. Odierno said "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," .
And that's some of the news of this Wednesday, May 9, 2007.
From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoints.


So there you go. Do you see what I'm talking about when I say a "portrait"? That just pulls it all together. It's not tossing it out there. That's true if it's all Iraq or if it's other things (Somolia has been a big topic in recent weeks, for instance). The "Iraq snapshot" is a regular feature now at The Common Ills because members wanted it. "More Iraq coverage!" C.I. was doing something like a snapshot already and members wanted more of it. C.I. has said at The Common Ills and at The Third Estate Sunday Review that "The Knight Report" is clearly an influence. Hopefully, "The Knight Report" above shows you how. I can tell you the gang is like ga-ga for KPFA. Before they moved out to C.I.'s, Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava had WBAI New York which has some good stuff like Law and Disorder (which I'll write about tomorrow -- I didn't know it aired this week, C.I.'s friend sent me the disc and it arrived yesterday but I didn't even check my mail because Eddie had already e-mailed that it didn't air on WBAI due to fund raising -- Dad told me at dinner tonight that I had another package from C.I.'s friend) and I really like Deepa Fernandez and Elaine loves Cat Radio Cafe. But, outside of the special programming, I'm not usually listening to it at night. It needs a show to really pull me in for the evening and I don't really find one. I'm sure they are great programs but they don't really speak to me. (There are supposed to be some strong late night programs according to Tracey, but I haven't heard those.) So I'll usually go to KPFA. If something from Flashpoints has been mentioned at The Common Ills or over the phone by Jim or one of the gang (or Kat who lives out there too and listens to KPFA about as much as C.I. -- and the gang now), I'll grab that or go check out the Sunday magazine program on the Houston Pacifica radio station. Ruth will also call and tell me stuff from time to time to check out. Her "Ruth's Report" really has shown a lot of strong programming. I don't mean to diss WBAI. It may be me. Maybe it's just too cut and dry for me? In her latest "Ruth's Report" she was talking about the difference in the evening news and I'd rather hear KPFA's too. I don't know if it's the East v. West thing (I'm East Coast and, until I traveled to California last year, had never been to the West Coast). I do know that KPFA has a news team and WBAI has one guy. I also really don't care for (DUH!) the "BRING THE TROOPS HOME AND SEND THEM TO DARFUR!" movement. I'm sick of our modern day Carrie Nations and am sick of the fact that people like Keith Harmon Snow are not being invited on or given a chance to speak. WBAI, in the evening, is too much like the New York Times for me. Official says this, official says that. It's just not my thing. What's the name of the woman Elaine likes. She does Cat Radio Cafe in the afternoons (I will catch that from time to time). She also did the Christmas Coup Players and if WBAI offered that at night, I'd be listening. That was a funny show. Janet Coleman! That's her name. And I like her voice, it sounds nice on the radio. Maybe the problem's me? Maybe I'm just not smart enough for the evening/night programs? That could be. I won't pretend like I know everything (or even half of everything or even a quarter or . . . :D). But Deepa's not cut and dry. She can be covering something I've never heard of and I may be lost but I know she's got to bring me into it. When I listen to Cat Radio Cafe, I don't know half the guests on, never heard of them, might miss most of the references, but Janet Coleman can keep me interested. So it may just be I'm not smart enough for the evening/night shows. It could also be that the shows aren't over my head, that they're tired. Robert Knight's in NYC. I don't know why they don't give him a nightime show. He's already up because his "Knight Report" is live and that's 8:00 pm out here. But the evening/nightime gets a little too cut and dry for me and, in terms of music, if I want to hear music, I want to hear my tunes. I'm at work first thing in the morning, then on campus in the afternoons. If I'm listening to music in the evening, I want to hear White Stripes, Tori Amos, Holly Near and a lot more. (One more time for my kid sister, read "Kat's Korner: Patti from the Mount.") Or if I'm really in a music mood, I'll just tell Dad. That makes his day. He loves his vinyl collection and loves any chance to share it.

I should probably also point out, that I only listen online when I'm posting. (I listen to Law and Disorder on CD each week.) So that might be another reason, I'm not rushing to listen to the evening/nighttime programs on WBAI. But they really don't grab me. A show like Flashpoints Radio would.

Betty asked me to mention something to. She even called C.I. to get this mentioned but was told no. It's "So-called apathy (C.I. guest posting)" Betty's the primary substitute at Rebecca's site but had something come up last night and called C.I. who said "No problem" and filled in.
I agree with Betty that it's a strong post but we both know (Betty and me) that C.I.'s not going to plug it. (Because C.I. wrote it.) I also heard about it in e-mails. If you're a student, you'll love it. C.I. stuck up for the students which isn't a surprise because while everyone and their dog has called students "apathetic" for years, C.I.'s been there to say "Not true!" and back it up. I know Texas community members really appreciate how C.I. stuck up for them during the myth of "red" states and "blue" states but looking at my e-mails tonight, I can tell you that us students appreciate the sticking up that's gone on too. I get a lot of credit for starting up my Friday Iraq study group with Nina and Tony (so big it is now multiple groups at multiple houses) but remember where I got the idea: Goldie. A middle schooler inspired me. Not The Nation magazine which couldn't do anything but piss on students. Goldie and her mother's house parties that Rebecca wrote about inspired me. I didn't even know about the thing until Betty called me today. Then I got home, ate dinner and started reading the e-mails. A lot of people love that. I think what we respond to is that it's reality and we don't get to hear that. We get to hear that we're lazy. I'm talking about Iraq all the time here. How often does Katrina vanden Heuvel write about Iraq? Once a month? How much has she written about war resisters? (Not one DAMN word.) I've marched and rallied. And I'm not any more special than any other college student. I liked Fred's e-mail best this evening because he made the point that we have given up on leaders. We kept thinking we'd get them. We'd get a call to action from The Nation, for instance. We never did. We've become our own leaders and we're active and going to get more active.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2007. Chaos and violence, Mr Tony gets ready for life off stage, Iraqi oil workers postpone their planned strike to Monday, war resistance continues to grow, and more.

Starting with news of war resistance.
Colleen Henry (WISN, Milwaukee) speaks with two war resisters who have gone to Canada -- Corey Glass and Dean Walcott. Walcott self-checked out and went to Canada at the end of last year. He served two tours in Iraq and was stationed in Germany at a hospital in between where he saw the wounded with missin glimbs, skin melted off, and more. Corey Glass joined the National Guard expecting to help out in the United States during national disasters. Instead he was shipped off to Iraq. Glass self-checked out, went underground and then went to Canada. As October started last year, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved. However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed. Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start of November, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back." In September of last year, Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it. If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would." Though Dean Walcott has not yet appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee "Board," Corey Glass appeared before it March 30th of this year.

Dean Walcott tells Colleen Henry that Germany was the turning point for him: "Basically our job there was to make sure the injured and dying Marines were made as comfortable as possible. . . . People were coming in missing legs, missing arms. They had to be put on feeding tubes, they weren't able to breathe without help of a machine. At this time, I was dealing with a lot of emotional problems. I was pretty messed up from dealing with work at the hospital. It was a rewarding job, but it was very, very difficult. So I'd asked to be put somewhere that was non-deployable, so I could get mental help, which the command graciously decided not to let me do. There was a lot of times that families would come to visit them in the hospital and see their dead or dying son or daughter, and (they) would yell at us and would hit us. It was misdirected anger, but to my way of thinking, it was understandable."

Jeffry House, their attorney and also Joshua Key's attorney, among others, observes, "
Obviously there's a kind of courage in going to Iraq, even when you think it's wrong, and killing people, even when you think it's wrong. I think there's also courage in standing up and saying, 'No, I can't do that, and I'm willing to make some serious decisions." And Corey Glass tells Henry, "Staying there is, you're fleeing what you believe in, right? You're fleeing your belief in murder and all these other things, you're just doing it because you're scared of what they're going to do to you. But coming here, you're losing everything. You're fighting them because you're losing your family. You're losing it all."

And still they stand up. And still their numbers grow (sh, not too loudly, you might wake The Nation which has largely slept through the illegal war).
Kimberly Rivera arrived in Canada in February with her two children and husband Mario after self-checking out and becoming the first female US war resister to apply for refugee status. Arriving in the United States today is US war resister Agustin Aguayo. Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports that Aguayo would be returning to Los Angeles today following his April 18th discharge from military prison but not release from the military. He may not be at the Sacremento event tonight (though he and Helga Aguayo, his wife, may surprise) at 7:00pm, Newman Center, 5900 Newman Court, Sacramento. But he will now be able to take part in the speaking out tour with Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Robert Zabala and others.


Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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,
Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reports that US and Iraqi troops (under US command) have cut off basics to the citizens of Samarra and notes "residents . . . complain that basic necessities such as drinking water have not reached the city for seven days." Therolf seems either unaware or unable to call out this for what it is, a violation of Geneva.
(Therolf also pushes the propaganda that "Ambulances have become favorite vehicles for car bombs and insurgents in the country" and seems to think offering a 2003 and 2007 example proves a pattern. The shooting of ambulances in Falluja probably provide a clearer pattern but they were shot up by US forces. Therolf also seems unable to speak with enlisted. If he had, he might be writing that the enthusiastic cheers that greeted Cheney's speech were ordered and that the more muted response to Cheney's talk of extending deployments resulted in several divisions being chewed out after the speech.) Meanwhile,
as Danny Schechter (News Dissector) notes, Iraq's oil workers' trade union were set to strike today over the Iraqi oil law that will strip the country of profits but line the pockets of Big Oil. The strike has been moved to Monday, Steve Kretzmann (Oil Change) observes. UPI quotes US Labor Against the War's Michael Eisenscher explaining the postponement was "because they had a conversation with somebody at the Oil Ministry who said they wanted to respond to workers demands and needed time to prepare a response." US Labor Against the War, American Friends Service Committee and United for Peace & Justice are sponsoring a Voices of Iraqi Workers Solidarity Tour from June 4th to 29th that will include stops in Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Washington DC. More details available at US Labor Against the War.

CBS and AP report: "A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have endorsed a bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and demanding a freeze on the number of foreign troops already in the country, lawmakers said Thursday. The Iraqi bill, drafted by a parliament bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was signed by 144 members of the 275 member house, according to Nassar al-Rubaie, the leader of the Sadrist bloc." This as Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that: "House Republican moderates, in a remarkably blunt White House meeting, warned President Bush this week that his pursuit of the war in Iraq is risking the future of the Republican Party and that he cannot count on GOP support for many more months." At last, a casualty of war he may care about.


Bombings?
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghad mortar attacks that claimed one life and left wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded three people, and "Around 3 am, American planes had raided Sadr City, killing 3 civilians and injuring 12 with huge damage to three houses and three cars."
Shootings?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "gunmen exploded Al-Falahi Building in Abu Ghraib," and a Basra gun battle between British forces and unidentified others that resulted in one bystander being killed and two more wounded.

Corpses?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses discovered in Baghdad and a decapitated head found in Hawija. Reuters notes five corpses discovered in Mosul and two in Mahaweel.

In addition, the
US military announced today: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed May 9, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."


In legal news, much to note. Starting in the United States where, earlier this week, the
Manitowaoc Herald Times Reporter noted the sentencing of Donny Rage to one year in jail and three years probation. Rage was a US military recruiter and, by agreeing to a plea bargain, four of the second-degree sexual assault counts were dropped allowing him not to face the threat of six years in prison for using his official position to attempt to rape two women ("attempted to have sex with . . . carried into his bedroom and assualted" -- that's attempted rape). You can pair that up with Cheryl Seelhoff (Off Our Backs, vol 35, no 2, p. 22) report on the conviction of Michael Syndey (July 2006) for "pandering, mistreating, subordinates, and obstruction of justice, among other things, for what amounts to his having pimped women under his command. Syndey threatened to extend the tour of duty of female reservists called to active duty if they did not have sex with his superior officers."

Also in the United States, an Article 32 hearing is ongoing at Camp Pendleton into the killing of Iraqis in Haditha. Sanick Dela Cruz has testified in exchange for immunity. Our modern day Betty Grable, Paul von Zielbauer, is (mis)covering the hearing for the New York Times (
dropping a charge here, leaving something out there, scrub, scrub, scrub). Dela Cruz testified yesterday that "he was asked four times to lie about what happened in Haditha" (Marty Graham, Sydney Morning Herald). Thomas Watkins (AP) notes Dela Cruz testified to seeing Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich fire "six to eight rounds at" five Iraqis "with their hands interlocked behind their heads." At the heart of the Article 32 hearing is Randy Stone's actions. Stone "is charged with violating an order and two counts of dereliction of duty in connection with the killings." Was Stone covering up for the massacre in which US troops killed civilians? The prosecution, Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, cross-examined a witness on Monday asking, "Did he tell you that he had left two wounded children in that house? Did he tell you that he had killed a child? Did he tell you that there was a woman at the bottom of the stairs that they had killed? . . . Did he say anything about the five children in the back bedroom being killed on the bed?" CNN offers a photo of one of the 24 Iraqis killed, Rasheed Abudl Hamid Hassan Ali at his wedding.

In Iraq,
Arwa Damon (CNN) reports on 25-year-old Samar Saed Abdullah who awaits execution for the killing of three relatives but maintains that her husband did the killings and that she only confessed "after being tortued in polic custody." She states: "I am innocent. The judge did not hear me out. He refused to hear anything I have to say. He just sentenced me." Hana'a Abdul Hakim, her mother, says, "She didn't confess. It was from the beating they gave her. She was bleeding. She finally said write what you want, just stop."

Turning to England,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that "two men have been found guilty for leaking a memo detailing a conversation in which President Bush reportedly tells British Prime Minister Tony Blair he wants to bomb the Doha headquarters of the Arabic television network Al Jazeera. David Keogh, a former civil servant, and Leo O'Connor, a former parliamentary researcher, were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. Most of the trial was held in secret with reporters banned from the proceedings. Bush and Blair's meeting was recorded by Blair's adviser on foreign affairs. The memo came with a note reading 'This must not be copied further and must only be seen by those with real need to know'." Robert Verkaik (Belfast Telegraph) reports, "Tony Blair's ill-fated war with Iraq claimed two more victims yesterday when a civil servant and an MP's researcher were convicted of disclosing details of a secret conversation between the Prime Minister and President George Bush. Last night, MPs, lawyers and civil rights groups described the prosecution as a 'farce' and accused the Government of misusing the Official Secrets Act to cover up political embarrassment over the war." ITV notes that Keogh felt the memo -- with Bully Boy's talking of bombing Al Jazeera -- would reveal Bully Boy to the world as the "madman" he is and that Keogh had originally hoped to pass the memo to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry. Most avoid noting what was going on in April 2004 when the Bully Boy and Tony Blair spoke, when Bully Boy talked of bombing Al Jazeera. James Sturcke (Guardian of London) manages to avoid most realities but does use the word: Falluja. As Jeremy Scahill has noted before (see Tuesday's KPFA's Flashpoints Radio for those late to the party) the city of 350,000 was attacked because of the murders of four US mercanaries from Blackwater, the US military bombed the power plant (a civilian target, a violation of Geneva), the US maintained civilians weren't being targeted and they weren't air bombing but they were -- 37,000 air strikes -- and Al Jazeera was there broadcasting the reality which is why the US offered a cease fire only if Al Jazeera left. That is the backdrop that's not being addressed. Bully Boy wanted to bomb Al Jazeera. Why in April? Falluja.

Tony Blair, the empty suit triangulator who never met a promise he couldn't break, has announced he'll be stepping down as Britain's prime minister --
presumably to open a beauty shop francise entitled Mr. Tony. Mark Rice-Oxley (Christian Science Monitor) takes an (overly) balanced look at Mr Tony's legacy with regards to Iraq but does offer: "The problem with generalizing about the Blair era is that it invites immediate contradiction. He banned fox hunting -- but it still goes on. He introduced a Human Rights Act -- but made life harder for asylum seekers. He increased police numbers -- and tied them down with bureaucratic form-filling. He initiated reform of the House of Lords -- but became embroiled in a scandal amid allegations that people who had loaned money to the party had been promised seats. He presided over low inflation and unemployment and strong frowth -- but passed on only a modest slice of that increased prosperity to the bottom third of society. After 10 years of 'Blairism,' surveys show that child deprivation is as bad in Britain as anywhere in Europe."
Like the triangulator in the US, Bill Clinton, Blair destroyed his party. The New York Times' repeated confusion over why Rupert Murdoch endorsed Blair was laughable but the only thing funnier may be the continued efforts of the Guardian of London to carry water for Blair and his new Labour -- most recently AEB
Martin Kettle's love note. Great Britain's Socialist Worker leaves the hand jobs to others and calls it straight out: "We are in the final days of Tony Blair. And good riddance to bad rubbish." In a lengthier article, they note that Mr Tony "was swept into office by the tidal wave that destroyed the Tory government of John Major. Now he is slinking out of Donwing Street amid the electoral setback that New Labour suffered last week. He is even more unpopular than Margaret Thatcher when she left office." Quite an accomplishment for Mr Tony and, for those who've forgotten, Mr Tony was the p.r. created name that was going to sweep him through one soft publicity shot after another as he intended to use his final months to shore up his shakey image. Didn't turn out that way. Lindsey German (Socialist Worker) notes that "69 precent thought that Tony Blair would be remembered for the war in Iraq. . . Why has Iraq remained the defining issue in British politics? Partly there is the unfinished business about how we were taken to war. None of the whitewash inquiries into the war have been able to achieve closure. It is commonly accepted that Blair lied over the threat of weapons of mass destruction and how much a danger Saddam Hussein was. He continues to lie about Iraq today, claiming recently against all evidence that the main people responsible for violence there were Al Qaida. . . . However, none of this would probably have been decisive without the disastrous consequences of the war itself. The death toll of Iraqis almost certainly stands between half a million and one million." Jon Smith (Independent of London) reports June 27 is the day Mr Tony plans to step down. The Independent of London's cartoonist Dave Brown explains: "I won't be sad to see the back of Blair. I detest the man and what he's done."; while author John Morrison (Anthony Blair: Captain of School) declares, "I think the war in Iraq can be his only legacy. This man has thousands of deaths on his conscience, in my view, and he can't get round that."; photographer and filmmaker Alison Jackson shares, "He has directed and destroyed politics. We've always wondered if politicians were telling the truth and now there's no doubt that often they aren't. There is no glory in Tony Blair's decade. There he is trying to go down in the history books and hoping people will forget how disappointing he was. But even in leaving he's managed to make a mess. He was always there for famous moments: Diana moments, Queen Mother moments, war. But there's this trail of horror behind him. The film I'm making, Tony Blair, Rock Star, was based on research we did into his gap year. When he did play his first rock concert, the drums fell apart and everything went wrong and everyone booed and walked out. Then when he managed a band he hired the Albert Hall but no one had ever heard of them so nobody came. He had all these fabulous ideas that came to nothing."

With fabulous ideas that came to something,
Ron Jacobs (Z-Net) speaks with Josh Brielmaier, Todd Dennis, Zach Heise, Bernadette Watts and Chris Dols (students who took part in last month's occupation of US Senator Herbert Kohl's office in Madison), students . . . who aren't apathetic. Zach Heise and Josh Brielmaier were noted on Tuesday and Bernadette Wattas and Chris Dols on Monday. That leaves Todd Dennis and we'll note the following from him, "I have a couple reasons why I participated. One, as a veteran who was on active duty in the US Navy when the disinformation war to start the occupation of Iraq began, I have been opposed to the occupation from the start. While in the military, partly out of fear of retributions and partly because I was unaware of my GI rights to protest off-base and out of uniform, I didn't participate in the anti-war rallies and demonstrations prior to the start of the occupation. I did however contact all of my representatives stating my displeasure with the proposed Iraq war vote. Kohl like normal didn't respond to my emails. This was very disrespectful to me and my brothers and sisters whose lives he is personally responsible [for]. Since I have become a peace and justice advocate with first, Veterans for Peace and now along with Iraq Veterans Against the War, I have been disappointed in the representatives of this country's response to the war and public sentiment to it. While I can do nothing about my earlier inaction, I can when any opportunity arises, take action showing my displeasure with the continued occupation of Iraq where our military has virtually no mission but to stay alive. Some in our group until we did this action felt that Kohl was an honest and sincere politician. I had lost faith in the Democrats long ago and felt that Kohl who claims to be against the war and yet keeps funding it was a good target to show everyone how he really doesn't stand with us in our demand that Iraqis get self-determination. To show them and the rest of the country how our purported representatives respond to our simple requests I participated in the occupation of Herb Kohl's office." All the students taking part in the roundtable participated in the occupation of Kohl's office (the snapshot on Monday has "two" -- it was all) and they aren't apathetic. They deserve praise as does Ron Jacobs for taking the trouble to actually speak to students.

And finally,
Jim Lobe (IPS) delves into yet another use of the media in the illegal war:

In the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon planned to create a 'Rapid Reaction Media Team' (RRMT) designed to ensure control over major Iraqi media while providing an Iraqi 'face' for its efforts, according to a 'White Paper' obtained by the independent National Security Archive (NSA) which released it Tuesday.The partially redacted, three-page document was accompanied by a longer power point presentation that included a proposed six-month, 51 million-dollar budget for the RRMT operation, apparently the first phase in a one-to-two-year ''strategic information campaign''.Among other items, the budget called for the hiring of two U.S. ''media consultants'' who were to be paid 140,000 dollars each for six months' work. A further 800,000 dollars were to be paid for six Iraqi ''media consultants over the same period.













Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ron Jacobs, Dave Lindorff

Hump day, hump day. The longest day in the week but, when it's over, the weekend's almost here. C.I.'s been noting a thing by Ron Jacobs and didn't have time to include it in the snapshot today. Elaine told me about that and we both agreed that we should highlight it as well (and not just in the "We copied and pasted the snapshot!" way). If you don't know the big lie they tell about people my age, it's that we're apathetic. The Nation magazine helped push that lie and it bit them in the butt, caused students to turn on them and now they try desperately to lure students to their crappy site by featuring centrist writing about topics other than the illegal war.
The Nation wasn't the only one to push the lie. StudentNation is a joke and would be an insulting joke if it weren't for the fact that everybody knows The Nation is 100% crap. StudentNation is the most incestuous site online. For starters, someone with major Daddy issues, has to plug the think tank her father sits on. I laugh at that woman. So it's no surprise that the rag sucks now and it's no surprise that they trash students. If you're spending your college career being involved with your professor, you probably look around at the students not getting good grades from a professor they sleep with and thinking, "They are so apathetic!" But students aren't apathetic. Maybe they're not all getting ahead by sleeping with professors or planning to marry them, but they aren't apathetic. And that's what's great about
Ron Jacobs' "Sitting In On Senator Kohl and the War-A Conversation With Antiwar Students," he's talking to students who actually do something:

Ron: What do you think would make it more effective? More direct action? A different focus? Personally, I get very frustrated with the idea put forth by some national elements that we must focus on Congress--you know, pressuring them and lobbying them only to see them come up with bills that talk against the war but do nothing to end it. However, I'm not sure how to buck this trend. Any thoughts from you all?
Zach: In my opinion, the more organized we are, the more credible we'll appear the masses, and then the more likely we are to be noticed and paid attention. A rabble has power, but people only move out of its way when it sweeps through; they don't stop and listen. I hope that as the CAN contingent here in Madison ages over the months (and we'll be active in the summer; you'd better believe it!) We'll learn new ways to better control and focus large groups. As for our focus, I hope that we continue to try to influence powerful people in the government. We have to show them (as our numbers increase) that a large movement support removal of the troops from the Middle East NOW, not later. We also hope to educate people about war resisters and how to support them in any way possible.
Chris: The main idea that stands in between the domestic antiwar movement today and the successful movement that will end this war is that "protest doesn't matter." Or some variant of that argument. As I'm fond of saying here in North America's only city built on an Isthmus, had you made this argument in 1965, you would have been laughed into one of the lakes. The Civil Rights Movement had just crushed Jim Crow and the movements were growing, commanding more and more attention with each passing year. That's not to say that it was "up--up-and-away" but rather that victory inspires. Since the 1970s few inspirational victories weigh heavily on the memory. That's why we look to other movements - such as the Immigrant Rights movement which successfully defeated the Sensenbrenner bill last year. Further, we look to the other movements against this war. Specifically, the soldier's movement to end the occupation and the Iraqis' movement to boot the occupiers.
Todd: Yes, more direct action is needed. The representatives of this country including the now majority Democrats have shown a blatant disregard when it comes to ending the occupation. Having large groups come in to their offices and make simple requests like ours are crucial in getting them to see that the people are against the occupation. While I don't like lobbying Congress they have to be reminded who they represent.
I think that our protests while they are very good for the movement are often not as effective as possible. One there are too many issues being addressed to clearly get our message across to the public who doesn't come. We need more actions which are coordinated across the country and need to better utilize the media to get our message effectively across to the general public.
One thing we have done in IVAW is Operation First Casualty. (Guerrilla theatre that is attempting to bring the reality of the war home. -Ron) The first one of these occurred right after the March 17th demonstrations. Through working with the media to get our message out there, our story was featured in the Washington Post. We have help who have worked with us to get in contact with the proper media contacts to get the story properly represented in the media.
Chris: The movement is growing, but unless it is unlike every movement in the history of movements, it will suffer setbacks ahead. I don't know what the impacts of the 2008 elections will be, but things like presidential campaigns can tend to have a dampening effect on movements. That said, disappointed expectations may prove to be explosive. I have at times felt that what we were doing was "going nowhere" as you put it. But a good boxer learns more from losses than from victories. A growing number of us are in the ring to stay.
Ron: Speaking of frustration, do you sometimes feel like your work on campus is going nowhere? Or do you feel like the movement in Madison (especially among folks around your age) is growing?
Bernadette: I am frustrated with our government’s policies, and with the willfully ignorant, not with the production of the campus anti war network. Like I said, I am new to CAN, and so far I haven’t been disappointed, I’ve been impressed and encouraged, by a lot of brilliant students. Also, since I’ve been involved, the past couple months or so, I’ve seen an increase of interests and numbers at our meetings. It’s rather exciting.
Zach: (We are) Most definitely growing! I believe my other statements answer this question quite nicely. I'm very pleased with CAN in this respect, and we're certainly not done yet!
Todd: No! I don't feel frustrated. I believe the movement is growing.
Josh: I guess I haven't been a part of the movement for long enough to start becoming cynical. Pretty much everyone I talk to seems receptive to our message and I've been impressed and surprised by the the enthusiasm for our cause expressed by many people.


See students do care. And that's true across the country even though you can't find it in the pages of The Nation. It's equally true that people are for impeachment (another issue The Nation's not too sure about -- might hurt someone's party circuit invites). And this is from Dave Lindorff's "Pelosi's Toothless Threat to Sue Bush:"

The bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leadership's position in Congress on impeachment was revealed in stark terms yesterday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would sue the president in court if he resorted to a signing statement to kill the next version of Congress's Iraq funding bill.
Suing Bush over a signing statement, given the number of Federalist judges that this administration has named to the federal district and appellate courts, and to the US Supreme Court, is not just an exercise in futility; it is a dangerous tactic which could backfire disastrously by leading to a ruling that it's perfectly constitutional for a president to ignore laws passed by the Congress. Does Pelosi really want to risk such a catastrophe?
The only solution is to impeach the president over his signing statements, and there is no need to wait for the next one to take action. Bush has invalidated more than 1200 laws or parts of laws passed by Congress since 2001 using what are called "signing statements."
Republican apologists for the president have noted that other presidents, including Clinton, also issued signing statements, which is true. But they fail to mention that other presidents did not use those signing statements to then ignore or invalidate laws passed by Congress. They merely used them to register their view that a law, or a part of a law, was unconstitutional.
Bush has made a wholly different argument. For the past six years, he has been claiming that because he is commander in chief in a time of war, by which he means the so-called "war" on terror, he has had what he calls "unitary executive" authority. By this he means that legislative and judicial power, as well as executive power, are all in his hands for as long as the threat of terrorism is with us. Since this "war" on terror never really ends, what he is claiming is that separation of powers no longer exists in America. Indeed, the Constitution itself is set aside. The president is a dictator during his term of office, and Congress is just a debating club.
At this point, it should be clear to anyone, including Speaker Pelosi, that the only remedy for this gross abuse of power by the president is impeachment.


If he exceeds the law's reach, you must impeach. I can't believe what a do-nothing Congress we have that. They think they're just going to sweep the 2008 elections with a lot of trickery. They better start worrying that people are getting damn sick of them. They refuse to end the war, they refuse to pursue impeachment. People are starting to wonder what was accomplished by putting Democrats in charge of both houses if they're not going to do a damn thing?

My sister just ran in to remind to note Kat's "Kat's Korner: Patti from the Mount." That was a great review and I thought I had noted it (it went up Saturday) but she says I didn't. (I wasn't aware my kid sister was reading my blog! :D) So make a point to check that out. Here's C.I.'s
"Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Cheney visits the Green Zone and receives his usual welcome, Democratic leadership caves again, and cries go out for people to get active.

Starting with war resistance. Last week Camilo Meija's
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, tonight, he begins a speaking tour with Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala. Announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, 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 politics, US and Iraq. Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, Robert Knight's "The Knight Report" summed up developments as follows:

The US backed Shia led puppet regime in Baghdad faced further setbacks today after the absentee parliament's biggest Sunni block threatened to collapse Nouri al-Maliki's Shia supremacist leadership by removing 44 Sunni legislatures from the current governing coalition. Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, of the fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, has given Maliki a one week deadline until May 15th to amend Iraq's US designed Constitution of Military Occupation to restore authentic national sovereignty and territorial integrity otherwise Hashimi threatened quoted "I will tell my constituency frankly that I made the mistake of my life when I put my endorsement to that National Accord." Hashimi added that he was frustrated by Sunni exclusion from government under the de-Baathification commission headed by CIA and Pentagon asset Ahmed Chalabi. Hashimi concluded his demands with the hope that "I would like to see the identity of my country, in fact, restored back." He also refused an invitation to meet in Washington with President George W. Bush until those issues were addressed.
A collapse of the Maliki regime would scuttle bi-partisan hopes in Washington that Iraq's puppet parliament would ratify the US written petroleum law that would eradicate national sovereignty over oil resources and clear the way for lucrative extraction contracts for American and other multi-national oil conglomerates. A fig leaf ratification of the oil law is a mutual goal of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress who call the potential give away and segmentation of Iraq into secular regions to be an essential so-called benchmark for further military funding for the US occupation.
And on that front there are alarming revelations from Ohio Representative
Dennis Kucinich who reveled over the weekend that Congressional Democrats have sold out any hopes for reform in Iraq with a secret agreement with the White House over the so-called funding bill for the Iraq war. In a remarkably revelatory speech to the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, Kucinich said that the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have made the following secret concessions. One, that House debate would not challenge the multi-national friendly Iraqi oil law that President Bush and vice president Cheney and the Democrats are desperate to have enacted so that Iraqi resources would be privatized. Number two, that bush could invade Iran without the approval of Congress because the Democrats have removed a clause that would require him to get approval from Congress. And of course that any and all timetables would be removed from subsequent enactments of the bill.

[. . .]

Dennis Bernstein: Robert Knight, stay with us. Thank you for the excellent report. And obviously we have been watching closely in particular the willingness of the Democrats to play ball so that the war and the significant aspects, the real reasons, the oil war can go forward. Would you just in a nutshell again recap the Kucinich highlights of the revelations of the sell out?

Robert Knight: Well this oil law is something that was a promise made by Cheney and Bush at the beginning of the war -- saying that the invasion would be funded by resources, the increased oil extraction and of course the profits to be made by the American companies. They have changed the language of the so-called PSA -- Production Sharing Agreements -- so that now the Iraqi national oil council would no longer have sovereignty over its own resources. There is a division in the bill that the Democrats are propagandistically propping up that is to say that this would share revenues among the different provinces.
But what it does it sets it up not to the province per se but to the regional coalition which is part of the United States and Israeli backed plan to divide Iraq into competing sectarian fragments -- the Kurds, the Shias in the south and of course the Sunnis in the more impoverished oil regions, the western part of Iraq. So the oil law would not only be something for profit but also something for segregation in Iraq.

Oil and Congress. Starting with oil. Dickey Cheney ("President of Vice" as
Wally and Cedric have dubbed him) high tailed it to the Green Zone and you know it wasn't to rally the troops. BBC reports that Nouri al-Maliki was gushing and that "US officials said Mr Cheney wanted faster progress on the fair division of oil revenues" -- well of course he does, look at his portfolio. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reports Vice was greeted with the usual warm response he's learned to expect the world over: over a thousand protesters holding sings such as the one that read: "Kick out the leaders of evil." Cheney must be so proud.


On the issue of the US Congressional measure,
Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that the 'plan' would fund illegal operations only through September 30th, that the toothless, non-binding withdrawal talk has been dropped and that "Democratic leaders expect to debate the plan for troop withdrawals again as part of bills now moving through committees that would authorize and spend the money for 2008 Pentagon operations, including the war." Last week, the Bully Boy vetoed the Congressional bill that did not enforce withdrawal. That measure was non-binding and full of loopholes that would allow Bully Boy to keep every US service member in Iraq there through the end of his term. One example, classify them all "military police" and say it was now a police operation would mean he wouldn't have to follow any of the Congressional suggestions -- suggestions because they were non-binding. The Democratic leadership refused to stand up then and now they just roll around on their backs. Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Democratic leaders, who are still finishing the plan, will no longer tie war funding to a pullout of almost all U.S. combat forces, which the president has said he will never accept." Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) observed that the talk of Congress funding the illegal war in scheduled stages was being attacked by the White House (via Tony Snow) and some Republican members of Congress such as Adam H. Putman. In a sure sign of how weak Democratic leadership is, not only have they sold out the mandate handed to them by the the American people in November 2006, they can't even fight for the nonsense they're trying to push forward. Every time Tony Snow shoots off his mouth, a Congressional Democrat should hold a press conference to ask, "Is the White House attempting to micro-manage the people's Congress?" Another sign? Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno announced yesterday that the escalation that members of Congress are saying they must wait until September to evaluate (when Petraeus gives his report) will also be evaluated "at the beginning of next year for sure." The failure that is the escalation will be evaluated at various intervals by the US military. If the military can do that, Democrats should be able to make the case for their own right to base their power of the purse on regular evaluations.

But when you don't have the guts to call for the withdrawal the people support, when you don't have the strength to excercise your Constitutionally mandate power of the purse, when you spend the bulk of your time trying to fool the public with non-binding, symbolic measures, maybe you don't have the time or the guts to offer anything else?

United for Peace & Justice issues a call:

Veto the War! Take Action Today!
President Bush vetoed the $124 billion Iraq war funding bill, because it included a timid troop withdrawal plan.
Unfortunately, the Democrats in Congress now seem to think that they must compromise with the arrogant, incompetent administration that led us into war, rather than stand up for us, our troops and the Iraqis.
If we do not create a national outcry right now, Congress will capitulate and simply give Bush the money he wants to continue the war.
Let's make some noise!
Organize an emergency veto action!
Click here for ideas.
Write letters to the editors of your local news outlets.
Call into local radio talk shows.
(Click here for talking points.)
Call the offices of your members of Congress.
Show Congress what kind of funding bill YOU want them to pass! Download and deliver
"The People's Emergency Funding Bill," by fax or in person, to your representative's and senators' local and Washington DC offices. (Click here to find their office addresses and fax numbers.)
Meanwhile,
the Green Party of the US has also "criticized the retreat of Democratic Congress members and party leaders after President Bush last week vetoed legislation that included a timetable for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq" with statements from various party members including the co-chair of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX), Aimee Smith: "Democratic front groups like MoveOn.org have abandoned the antiwar movement. We don't need an 'Americans Against Escalation in Iraq' coalition, we need an independent political movement demanding removal of US troops as quickly as possible and reunciation of aggressive military power. Democratic leaders, including presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are rejecting these demands and are willing to see US forces remain in Iraq until late 2008, and even longer to serve US financial interest there and the strategic demands of Israel and its supporters in the US. The goal of Democrats isn't to end the war, it's to seek party unity in order to win the White House. There's little doubt that most antiwar Democratic groups wil line up behind their party's prowar nominee in 2008."

Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) observes the "bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leaderhip's position on impeachment was revealed in stark terms yesterday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would sue the president in court if he resorted to a signing statement to kill the next version of Congress's Iraq funding bill" and concludes: "As long as she continues to refuse to allow impeachment of President Bush, she cannot hope to stop the war, restore habeas corpus, undo the Military Commissions Act, stop illegal spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, or win passage of any significant legislation to deal with global warming. She cannot really do anything, because Bush will simply issue signing statements and use his claim of 'unitary executive authority' to invalidate any legislation passed by Congress."

In Iraq (puppet) governmental news,
War Pornographer Michael Gordon (New York Times) attempts to get a money shot out of the Iraqi Exile Visits DC. Like a large number of exiles, Mowafak al-Rubaie serves in the puppet government. In 2003, after the illegal war began, al-Rubaie returned to Iraq (after two decades in exile) in just enough time for the US government to appoint him to the Iraqi Governing Council then, in 2004, they appointed him to the Coalition Provisional Authority and today's he's Nouri al-Maliki's national security adviser. A government of exiles ruling over an Iraqi people that wonders just where the hell these exiles get off dashing back into the country post-invasion and attempting to rule? al-Rubaie danced through the halls of Congress in the metaphorical equivalent of a g-string, attempting to get Congress to shove dollar bills down his crotch. Though he shook his money maker, not all rushed to request a lap dance. US Senator Carl Levin didn't take to al-Rubaie's notion that democracy for Iraq was a 'generational' thing. Levin: "I told him that is too long." The exiles, so very popular with the White House, share the same paternalistic, patronizing attitude of the White House: Iraqis are just too stupid for self-rule. One might ask why those who feel that way would want to rule in the first place but al-Rubaie's lined his pockets quite well since the start of the illegal war.

All that pocket lining has to be paid by someone.
Dexter J. Kamilewicz (Military Families Speak Out) notes the human costs, the economic costs, the civil rights costs and the "costs of deliberate neglect" concluding: "The enormous costs of the lack of leadership in dealing with the war in Iraq are measurable, and those costs hit home in ways we cannot ignore no matter how depressing the subject. The longer we wait to confront those who let these costs mount [Congress], the more responsible we are for those costs. It is up to us, you and me, to demand an end to it." One way to demand an end to it is to take action. Cindy Sheehan (Camp Casey Peace Institute) is calling for mothers "to stand up and put our bodies on the line for peace and humanity. . . . I am calling on Mothers of the world to join us in Washington DC for a '10,000 Mother of a March' on the day after Mother's Day, Monday, May 14, 2007. Marches on weekends are not effective, we need to shut the city of DC down! We will surround Congress and demand an end to this evil occupation and refuse to leave until the Congressiona leadership agrees with us, or throws us in jail! Meet at Lafayette Park at noon. We will rally then march to Congress." More information can be found here and via CODEPINK:


Mother's Day: Women Say NO to War!Join us in DC to walk the halls of Congress with some of the most influential moms of our day! Plan your own local Mother's Day peace picnic, post your event here, or host a peace movie night. More...NEW! View the Mothers Day for Peace Video

That's next Monday.
Gordon (Iraq Veterans Against the War) notes the March of the People which will begin June 21st with a "gathering at Millennium Park, Chicago to begin an 800-mile march to Washington, DC. They will demand an immediate peace in Iraq and the impeachment of those leaders who oppose it".

Those are only some of the activites that will be taking place. Want to prolong the illegal war? Be a Dolittle Dem like the leadership in Congress. Want to end it? Get active.
Rebecca S. Bender (The Eureka Reporter) reports on a speech Ann Wright gave Monday where she declared, "It is important that we hit the streets. There are a lot of reasons why we have to keep working to end the war in Iraq. . . . We're not putting up with endless war. We elected you to end this war now."

Still the war drags on . . .

Bombings?

Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bomb "near the students dormiotry of Mustansiriya university" that wounded three police officers. Reuters reports an Arbil bombing that killed 14 and wounded 87 and a Shirqat bombing that left two people dead. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) notes that the Arbil (also spelled Irbil) bombing's death toll rose to 19 and notes a Musayyib mortar attack that left two dead as well as a Haswa mortar attack that killed two people. AFP reports, "In Baghdad, a rocket exploded near the US embassy in the fortified Green Zone during Cheney's visit, an Iraqi defence official said. Smoke could be seen rising near the US compound shortly after the blast". CBS and AP note Cheney flack Anne McBride's statement, "His meeting was not disturbed and he was not moved." AFP has Cheney's full quote: "I spent today here basically in our embassy and military headquarters."

Shootings?


Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad shooting attack on workers of the "Adhamiya concrete wall" which left one dead and two more wounded and a Baghdad shooting where "a directoarte manager at the housing and reconstruction ministry" was shot dead. Reuters notes the shooting deaths of "two men from the ancient Yazidi faith" in Mosul. CBS and AP note that a Kirkuk drive-by resulted in the deaths of four Iraqi journalists who "worked for the independent Raad media comapny, which publishes several weekly newspapers and monthly magazines that are generally pro-government and deal with politics, education and arts."

Corpses?

Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in the Diyala province. Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Falluja.