Friday, February 01, 2008

Glen Ford, Larry Johnson, Saleh Mamon

Friday at last! When I do stop blogging, I wonder if Friday will still be so important to me? :D Fridays are the best, no question. But Friday's are also the punch the clock and I'm done with the site until Monday! Yabba-dabba-doo! :D

Marcia and I are both writing about Democracy Now! or Sometimes tonight. I hope you're checking out her site. C.I. was working on the snapshot when I called and Kat said, "It's Mike." C.I. asked, "See if Mike's going to cover DN! and, if so, ask him to see if Marcia is?" So I called Marcia and she was all for it and I called Kat back to let her know so that it could be passed on to C.I. before the dictation of the snapshot was done.

The thing that stood out to me the most was Amy Goodman cutting off Dolores Huerta while Huerta was explaining that Barack Obama, elected out of Chicago to the state legislature and owner of a mansion in Chicago that he calls home, did nothing to help Elvira Arellano who was attempting asylum in Chicago. Amy Goodman has to pipe up, "Did Senator Clinton weigh in--Dolores Huerta, did Senator Clinton weigh in in either of those cases?" Why didn't she just ask if Ted Kennedy had? Neither of them is a senator from Illinois.

Huerta's point was that this 'community organizer' Obama was someone she'd never met and who had avoided the big issues to the Latino community. But Goodman's part of the Hookers For Bambi crusade. So she acts like something is an issue when it's not.

You might have also noted that Heurta got Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy's "Kennedys for Clinton: She stands for Democrats and for the nation, these family members say" mentioned for the first time on the program. That column ran on Tuesday. Somehow Amy Goodman ignored it all week and is probably cursing herself that Huerta got it worked in today. But Goodman was happy this week to mention Ted Kennedy and Caroline supporting Bambi. It's a one-way street for the Hookers For Bambi.

I didn't care for the first man, from Colorado, that they paired Huerta with. He came off like a whiner and smart mouth. I'm sure Goody and he had Obama hope-sex after the segment aired. :D

Okay, Iraq is a 'win'! cries the White House. Here's the 'trophy,' this is Saleh Mamon's "US airstrikes on Iraq rise 500 percent:"

Though George Bush claims the 'surge' brings peace in 2007 warplanes made 1,447 bombing runs
The US has unleashed a ferocious bombing campaign on Iraq and Afghanistan, with devastating effects on the population. This surge in the "air war" is largely hidden behind talk of "recent successes" for the occupations.
According to figures released by the US military -- known as "airpower summary of close air support missions" -- in 2006 there were 229 US bombing missions. But last year this rose to 1,447 -- more than a 500 percent increase.
The most frequently used munition in this campaign of air bombardment is the Guided Bomb Unit 12, a laser guided bomb with a 500 pound "general purpose warhead". This warhead is capable of reducing houses to rubble.
In 2006 over 111,000 pounds of bombs were dropped on targets in Iraq. Extrapolating for 2007, it can be estimated that 500,000 pounds have been dropped.
This month there were massive airstrikes in the region south of Baghdad involving 38 bombers dropping 40,000 pounds of bombs in 10 minutes. This is a portent of the kind of high-tech destruction Iraqis face. These figures do not include guided missiles, unguided rockets and cannon rounds fired by helicopter gunships and warplanes. One weapon left out is the Hydra-70 rocket which is a widely used helicopter launched weapon system.
US special forces often use aircraft which wield a Gatling gun that fires up to 1,800 rounds a minute. The damage caused by these munitions is unimaginable.
Within a matter of minutes aerial bombardment can destroy homes, infrastructure and workplaces. Historical evidence attests that the US air war during the 1960s and 1970s displaced 25 percent of the population in Laos, 33 percent of Vietnamese and almost a million people in Cambodia.
Although the number of Iraqi casualties is contested, the highly credible survey published in the Lancet medical journal estimated that from March 2003 to June 2006 over 13 percent of the "excess" 601,000 violent deaths in Iraq were caused by airstrikes.
The authors of the report have also attributed half the deaths of Iraqi children under 15 to these airstrikes. With a fivefold increase in bombings, Iraqi fatalities can be expected to increase proportionately.
The vast increase in the numbers of refugees -- two million internally displaced people and an equal number fleeing abroad -- bears witness to this devastation.
Although there are no maps to track the damage to populated urban areas and villages throughout Iraq, there have been vivid eyewitness accounts of the destruction in Fallujah and Baghdad where residential and commercial buildings have been reduced to rubble.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
15 March - next stop for the anti-war movement» Iraq occupation leads to health crisis» Pakistan spirals out of control» Division over Afghanistan exposes lies» World Against War events
Saleh Mamon is a peace campaigner and a retired teacher
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I meant to have the above up and posted before the Iraq study group started but I am really slow when it comes to typing. Those are always great but this was especially good because there was so much to cover like which GOP candidate loves war more! (That really did seem to be the point of the Republican debate this week as McCain and Romney duked it out to see who would be most faithful to the eternal war in Iraq.) C.I. and Ava just did about ten minutes (if that) and I had a feeling I was getting a sneak preview of their TV commentary because they were addressing the State of the Union address Bully Boy gave this week. I wish they'd write up what they said because it was hilarious but I have a feeling some of the points will be the same but they'll say it differently. How it worked was they trade off on explaining what Bully Boy said and what it meant, like one time would grab Bully Boy and the other would grab reality. It was very funny.

On the State of the Union speech this is the opening of Glen Ford's "Bush Bullies the Cringing Democrats, As Usual" and it is text or audio:

George Bush is very lucky to have the Democrats as the "opposition party." In both content and delivery, his final State of the Union Address showed Bush to be a spent force, the dirty fighterwhose entire career was built on amorality, sheer meanness and bribed referees. No blow was ever too low for Bush, but at this late stage of the seven-year-long bout even razor-lined gloves can't help him. All that now props Bush up are the nervous weaklings at the other corner of the ring: theDemocrats.
Although Barack Obama seems to think the Republicans once had interesting "ideas," they really have only three simple solutions for all situations: bigger and more aggressive militaries, low taxes and huge subsidies for the rich, and relentless privatization of the people's property and social space. Just add a little more coercive muscle to the National Security State and you have all the ingredients for a true American fascism. But Bush and his corporate masters are having a difficult time, because the world is not cooperating.
Bush dedicated only a few minutes to the crisis in domestic and international financial structures, lamely describing the unfolding economic disaster as "a period of uncertainty." What an understatement! American predatory, super-speculative lending practices have not only guaranteed the dispossession of millions of families and deepening chaos throughout the U.S. economy, the domestic collapse has also revealed that, at the heart of the global financial edifice lies an unimaginably huge "balloon" of derivatives and other varieties of possibly worthless paper.

Bully Boy went on and on about nothing. Which is really all he has to offer: nothing. Plus is that January is over and next January we'll have someone new in the White House.

Another thing everyone talked about was John Edwards dropping out. Those who were supporting him have switched over to Hillary. I don't know if that's true everywhere but that's how it was here. People just don't trust Bambi.

Some guy I've never heard from before e-mailed to say that he sent something to the public account for The Common Ills three times today and it didn't make the snapshot. I'll go ahead and highlight it but let me explain some basics first.

C.I. is not the only reading the e-mails at The Common Ills. Martha, Shirley, Eli, Dona, Jess and Ava also read the e-mails. Because there are SO MANY. Martha and Shirley give C.I. a summary of what they read. Eli condenses all the e-mails he reads down to a 10 point report (single space, one sentence per point). There are e-mails asking for highlights constantly each day. The snapshot is mainly C.I. calling (and returning calls from) friends in MSM. They sometimes pass on something in Little Media that people are talking about (good or bad talk). Jess generally phones C.I. a few hours before the snapshot and leaves a voice mail with one or two things from little media. The snapshot is called the "Iraq snapshot." The guy's thing is on Kenya. It's not the "Kenya snapshot." The Kenya aspect relates to Obama. C.I.'s really not doing the presidential candidates. Ava and C.I. know Dolores Huerta and so that's the "politics" that makes it in today. ("Politics" is not an insult to Huerta. But if it had been anyone else, it probably wouldn't have gotten noted. We're all sick of DN! and, if you paid attention, you'll grasp that this was the only time DN! made the snapshot with a link all week. That was because it was Huerta. If she hadn't been on DN! today, no campaign politics would have been offered.) C.I., Ava and Kat are here overnight before heading back to Cali and I made a point to ask C.I. about this story tonight/this morning. C.I. knew nothing about it. So don't assume that because you e-mailed something C.I. saw it. I told C.I. that the guy e-mailed it three times. C.I. said, "It most likely got deleted as spam by someone. When we see the same name and heading in the inbox more than once, we assume it's spam and delete. Nobody has time to read all the e-mails so if anything's suspicious before it would even be opened, it gets deleted. It also may have gone into the bulk folder and we no longer check that, we just delete it. It's not like there aren't already enough visitors wanting stuff noted." C.I. was in the e-mails Friday morning before posting the morning entries at The Common Ills and just reading the top fifty e-mails in the three accounts (public account, two private accounts for members -- top fifty are the fifty most recently sent). I gave a brief sketch and C.I. said, "It wouldn't have gone into the snapshot. I haven't been following Kenya closely and using it would have been unfair because I don't care for Bambi and would have used it just because it was negative to him, not because I knew what was being talked about. But the reality is that there were twin bombings in Baghdad and that was a bit more important, to say the least, than campaign politics." Again, if Dolores Huerta hadn't been on DN!, there wouldn't have been any campaign politics in the snapshot at all.

So there's X's answer why his highlight didn't get noted at The Common Ills. I'll note it here because I'm not concerned where I'm fair to Bambi. If it's bad about Bambi, I'm all for it. I don't know anything about Kenya. If the topic interests you, go to the link and also research it on your own. This is from Larry Johnson's "Obama's African Hubris:"

I suppose it is too much to ask of Obama supporters to read the following material and appreciate the arrogance and ignorance displayed by Senator Barack Obama, but folks, it appears he is going to do for Africa what George Bush has done for Iraq. Only worse. He is taking sides in a tribal war in Kenya that is on the verge of becoming a Rwanda-like genocide.
Really? Let's start with this uncomfortable fact. The leader of the Kenyan Orange Democratic Movement opposition leader, Raila Odinga, is Barack Obama's cousin. Barack may not put much stock in the relationship, but tribal allegiances are still strong in Kenya and Barack is clearly viewed as a Luo by his fellow tribesmen. Robert Ethan reported recently that:
Barack Obama has had a major impact on the recent disputed Kenyan election. He spoke in support of Orange Democratic Movement opposition leader Raila Odinga when in Kenya in 2006. The two men met last fall when Odinga visited America as each was preparing an "insurgency" campaign in their respective countries. In a recent BBC interview, Raila Odinga, averred that he and Obama were "old friends who spoke often on the telephone". Odinga also said that he and Obama were cousins, a claim that the Obama campaign was unwilling to acknowledge, (given Odinga's current difficulties) but did not deny.
Great. Obama's cousin wants to be president. Is there a familial gene? If you are like most Americans you are blissfully unaware that two of Kenya's tribes–the Luo and Kikuyu–are killing each other over a disputed election that Odinga, Obama's cousin, claims was stolen from him.

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

Friday, February 1, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a lesson should be used about tossing around the term "suicide bombers," the administration attempts to push back on two topics getting coverage and more.

Starting with war resistance. Bethany Skyler James self-checked out of the US military and went to Canada.
Julia Johnson (The Charlatan) reports on James decision to go to Canada and writes, "James says she has official refugee status but because of the Nov. 15 Supreme Court decision not to hear an appeal from resisters Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman, currently no other resisters are allowed to gain refugee status." The difference between Skyler and Hinzman and/or Hughey is that she is gay and was targeted with bullying and threats while serving and that may have factored into her case when she applied for refugee status. She tells Johnson, "I was being treated inhumanely for being a lesbian. [It was] the worst of the worst of the worst of gay bashing. I have been sent hate letters. People threatened to kill me." When she and a friend made it to Canada, she contacted the War Resisters Support Campaign and she nows lives in Ottawa.

You can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.

"Baghdad's fragile peace was shattered today when two women loaded with explosives blew up in crowded pet markets, killing at least 60 people and wounding scores more,"
reports Martin Fletcher (Times of London). Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Both markets are surrounded by concrete barriers to bar cars from entering, but with no one to search women at the entrance and exit checkpoints, the female bombers were able to slip in with explosive vests hidden under flowing coats, police said. By Friday afternoon, U.S. and Iraqi military had surrounded the markets and were questioning witnesses, as people cleaned pools of blood from the pavement and swept up dead birds and destroyed pet carriers." CNN maintains the female bombers were "mentally disabled" and "they were blown up by remote control" according to Iraqi Gen. Qasim Atta and places the death toll thus far at 98 with over two-hundred injured. AFP observes, "The apparently coordinated attacks 20 minutes apart ended a relative lull in violence in the Iraqi capital and were the most lethal since August 1, when three car bombs killed more than 80 people." Paul Tait and Aws Qusay (Reuters) quote eye witness to the Ghazil pet market bombing, Abu Haider, explaining, "I was right there at the scene when the blast happened. It knocked me over. When I managed to get up, I saw dozens had been killed and wounded." On that second bombing, Stephen Farrell and Graham Bowley (New York Times) report that "army units sealed off the area and set up checkpoints following the exposion. Bloodstained feathers mixed with melting sleet." AFP describes scene of the pet market: "Some bodies were packed into bags and put in the back of police pick-up trucks. Emergency workers sifted through the bomb-blackened garbage-strewn site in search of a wallet, a watch, a piece of paper -- anything that could help identify the unrecognisable corpses. Bloodied identity cards, watches and sets of prayer beads were placed one after the other into a plastic box. A mobile phone lay amid the wreckage, ringing incessantly; perhaps a relative trying desperately to reach a loved one caught up in the explosion."

Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) offers this background, "It was the fifth attack since June 2006 on the Ghazel pet market, and the second since November. Both it and the bird bazaar are popular places for Iraqis to visit on Fridays, the Muslim day off." Camilla Hall (Bloomberg) provides this, "Baghdad's Al-Ghazal market was targeted previously on Nov. 23, when 13 people were killed and more than 22 wounded in an attack that also took place at the weekend. On Aug. 1, three car bombings in Baghdad killed more than 80 people." Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) offers concrete details about the pet market bomber "a woman wearing an explosive belt under an all covering, floor length coat". AP reports US Secretary of State Condi Rice is calling the above "brutal" yet notice what she's not saying in any of her remarks including this: "It certainly underscores and affirms the decision of the Iraqi people that there is no political program here that is acceptable to a civilized society and that this is the most brutal and the most bankrupt of movements that would do this kind of thing."

What do the bombings "certainly underscore"? That people need to stop using "suicide bombers" repeatedly. In some cases, cars have been rigged but despite the fact that the press picked up upon that sometime ago, the term "suicide bomber" continues to be applied without any indication that any thought went into the 'reporting.' We have said, and will continue to say, "a bomber" unless we're quoting. Condi's trying to sell the illegal war, the press should take away a real lesson from the above: Everyone who explodes because of a bombing on their person, in their vehicle, etc. is not a "sucide bomber." Despite the reality that the women were mentally challenged some reports are including Rice's remarks while still referring to the two women as "sucide bombers." You can't have it both ways. If they are mentally challenged -- and they appear to have been (one was known as the "crazy lady" in her area) -- then they were not "sucide bombers."

In other State Department news, they've announced a press briefing on the topic of Iraqi refugees for Monday featuring James Folely, Stewart Baker and Tony Edson. Presumably to explain why the United States has still done so damn little (or maybe to explain why the few let over are being told "Get a job in six months or get lost") and since Baker is with the Homeland Security Dept, no doubt we'll have a 'security risk' assessment.

It's the first day of the month and a few will do their monthly reports even though the US military often waits a bit before nothing all the military fatalities.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The U.S. death toll in Iraq increased in January, ending a four-month drop in casualties, and most of the deaths occurred outside Baghdad or the once-restive Anbar province, according to military statistics. In all, 38 American service members had been reported killed in January by Thursday evening, compared with 23 in December. Of those, 33 died from hostile action, but only nine of them in Baghdad or Anbar.A total of 3,942 American service members have been killed in Iraq as of Thursday, according to, an independent Web site that tracks the statistics." After Youssef filed, the number would be 39. At the Pentagon today "chief of staff or Multinational Corps-Iraq" Brig Gen Joseph Anderson spun wildly to the press, via videolink from Baghdad, in an attempt to stamp a happy face on the illegal war. He wrongly claimed that there were only 170 "civilian casualities" in Baghdad for the month. They like to define "civilian casualities" by not defining the term. It is what they say it is. He also 'bragged', "The
security situation today is about the same as we experienced statistically in early 2005."
That's 'success' in their book -- cooking the numbers and then claiming that the levels are now what they were in 2005 -- as if 2005 was a year of peace or anything to pat one's own back over.

In other news for the month,
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports an update on the thugs of the Iraqi government who decided that female police officers shouldn't be allowed to carry guns (the next step would be: no female police officers), "Iraqi police officials have dropped plans to disarm policewomen and give their guns to male officers after an outcry from critics, who said the move was a sign of religious zealots' rising influence in Iraq." However, despite that claim some are less than convinced and Susman quotes US General David Phillips declaring, "Even with the revocation order, we will have to watch very closely the actions taken in regards to the remaining female Iraqi police" which is backed up by a Najaf female police officer Hanan Jaafer who says "none of the roughly two dozen female officers posted at the shrine had guns or uniforms, even though they searched women and children entering the complex and faced threats from the increased use of female suicide bombers." Increased use of female suicide bombers? Today demonstrates more than ever the need for trained female police officers with as much authority as their male counterparts.
While the US installed thugs of al-Maliki's government (especially the Interior Ministry) do their damage,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports the Kurds aren't feeling the US love they used to and that their "leverage appears to be declining". Rubin offers a number of reasons including forcing a vote on Kirkuk (she misses her own paper's earlier report about how the Kurds are forcing Kurds into Kirkuck), the arming of Sunnis for hire (which also threatens the US installed Shi'ite thugs) but the clear irritant is buried in paragraph 19: Turkey. The US has long declared the PKK a terrorist group and the fact that they haven't changed that designation and that Turkey has made incursions into the Kurdish region of Iraq (by land and air) has not played well with the Kurdish provisional government in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile the US is in damage control mode on the heals of two stories. First up, Bully Boy and the end of the illegal war.
Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) reports that Bully Boy bragged yesterday that "he would not be pressured into making further troop cuts in Iraq beyond the five combat brigades already scheduled to come home by the middle of the summer" which, Abramowitz notes are the latest in a round of remarks where the Whie House has signaled "that it may keep the number of troops in Iraq at roughly the same level they were before last year's buildup of U.S. forces, possibly through the end of Bush's presidency. Under existing plans, the levels are gradually falling about 5,000 troops a month, from roughly 160,000 to 130,000 by July -- or approximately where they stood before Bush sent reinforcements to Iraq seeking to curtail spiraling sectarian violence." James Gerstenzang (Los Angeles Times) reports that Bully Boy gave the speech to a right-wing non-think tank on Thursday in Nevada and declared he wasn't worried about the "political right thing" to do -- or about international law. Now comes the spin. Andrew Gray (Reuters) notes that the chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff made a big show of pointing today to an interview General Davey Petraues gave to CNN Sunday and stating that neither Davey or US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker "have made any specific recommendations about future force levels in Iraq" and that Davey's "given no indication to anybody in the chain of command that" he's wanting to pause the drawdown of troops to nearly the level they were at before the escalation. The second news was about Moqtada al-Sadr. Michael Howard (Guardian of London) offers that al-Sadr is saying the cease-fire is over unless puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki prevents attacks on his followers, that the freeze was only for six months and that Jalal Talbani, Iraq's President, has expressed concerns, to General Davey, "asking him to recognise Sadr's initiative and urging American troops to halt their attacks on Sadr's supporters. In reply, Petraeus praised the anti-US Shia cleric, but said the troops would continue to target those who were apparently not obeying the cleric's orders." So at the Pentagon today, via video link, Brig Gen Joseph Anderson was questioned about al-Sadr by NPR's Guy Ruz who asked about whether "the continued reduction in violence over the coming months depend on Sadr's movement recommitting to its cease-fire pledge?" [On NPR's Morning Edition today, before the press conference, Guy Ruz reported on the topic of drawdown and escalation noting that General Davey intends to speak in April -- possibly April Fool's Day and possibly dependent upon whether or not he doesn't earlier see his own shadow.] Anderson judged the freeze "clearly a help" and that the US military was in talks with al-Sadr regarding the continuing the freeze. Pinned down about the lack of legislative advances (the whole point of the escalation was to create a 'zone' for the Iraqi government to act in), Anderson praised the 2007 provincial budgets -- because he can't praise the central government in Baghdad which still hasn't passed the 2008 budget -- and the de-de-Baathifcation bill which is not a "law" though he called it that. In reality, the bill isn't moving and, as noted yesterday, Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni Vice President (they also have a Shi'ite Vice President) declared it "unlikely" that the bill would become a law -- despite the fact that it is a White House designated "benchmark" and despite the fact that Anderson referenced it today and wrongly called it a "law."

Turning to some of the violence besides today's twin bombings . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer wounded by gunfire in Samarra. Reuters notes two police officers shot dead and four other people wounded by unknown assailants storming a bus in Kut and an Iraqi soldier shot dead in Samarra.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered today in Baghdad.

Closing with US politics,
Dolores Huerta -- longtime and pioneering activist for justice -- appeared on Democracy Now! today:

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, I believe that she's a person who has the experience that we need. I believe she has the courage, because she has, you know, taken risks like coming out for national healthcare when nobody else was doing that. She was also--just the fact that shes running for the presidency of the United States. So you've got the combination that we need for a president that can take, you know, as she has said often, to lead on the first day she gets inaugurated, because she's got the intelligence and the experience and the courage and the capability of running the country.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Dolores, as I'm sure you're aware, Ted Kennedy, I guess the icon of the Democratic Party in the Senate, this week came out in support of Barack Obama, and he immediately went to try to campaign among Latinos in California, I guess evoking especially the memory of Bobby Kennedy, who marched with Cesar and you and many of the farm workers in the 1960s. Your response to this effort by Ted Kennedy to convince Latinos to back Obama?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, on the other hand, we have the endorsement of Bobby Kennedy, actually, Robert Kennedy's son. Bobby Kennedy, as you know, has been very active on the environment, and he had a beautiful piece at the--he, Kerry Kennedy, the head of the Robert Kennedy Foundation, Kathleen Kennedy, former lieutenant governor of Maryland--all of these are Robert's children. And I want to refer you to
an LA Times editorial that they wrote of why they were supporting Hillary. And in that article, Bobby says he has worked with Hillary on the environment for fifteen years, and Kathleen has worked with Hillary for twenty-five years. One of the things that, you know, they keep talking about, the progressive candidates, you know, Hillary Clinton voted against the nuclear waste dumping in Yucca Mountain in Nevada, while on the other hand Barack Obama actually took money from the company that was creating the nuclear waste and wanted to dump it in Nevada. So, you know, I think that that pretty much offsets Ted Kennedy's endorsement, because you've got Robert Kennedy's children--of course, the farm workers' union, we were much more closer to Robert, and these are the activists. These are the ones that are out there doing community work, and that they know what Hillary has done in terms of her long history in civil rights, in working for children, working for education. You know, so they know that she's the one that they feel is the best person to run for president.

[. . .]

DOLORES HUERTA: Yeah. There was a big issue, if you will recall, where we had a woman who--in Chicago, Elvira Arellano, who refused to be deported, and she was undocumented. She was in sanctuary for twelve months, for an entire year, right there in Chicago, where Obama lives. The people who did that campaign, these were the same ones that organized the big marches in Chicago, went to see Obama to get some support for Elvira Arellano. He not only refused to help them, but he didn't even bother to go see Elvira. I went from California four times to be there with her. We had a large delegation from Mexico from all the political parties that went to see Elvira. Five ambassadors, they all flew to Washington, D.C. to plead on her behalf. Obama never, never lifted a finger to help her, as he never did when we had two Latinos that had been unjustly incarcerated for a murder that they did not commit. Again, a big campaign to free these two young men from prison. They were ultimately freed. But when they went to see Senator Obama, he refused to help them. I have been a civil rights activist like this all of my life, and I have been to Chicago many times for many different campaigns that the community there--the Latino community was there. I have, to this day, to meet Mr. Obama. I have never encountered him in any of these big campaigns that we have done in Chicago on different issues. And, as I say, I have never yet to meet the man. And so, I don't know about his--

AMY GOODMAN: Did Senator Clinton weigh in--Dolores Huerta, did Senator Clinton weigh in in either of those cases?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, let me--yeah, let me just say this, that this is a--we're talking about Chicago. We're talking about the third largest Latino area outside of Mexico City, right?


DOLORES HUERTA: But Hillary doesn't live in Chicago. These people here actually went to see Obama, Senator Obama. So I don't believe that he has that kind of courage and that kind of judgment. Or let's say, is it judgment or is it wisdom or whatever? But he chose not to be associated with one of the biggest causes that we have in our community, the cause of Elvira Arellano, the cause of these two young men, where he could have stepped in. They were ultimately freed, by the way, but not with his help. So, I mean, I don't know--

While it was wonderful to see Huerta on the show, with Edwards out of the race, it was a given that Democracy Now! would have to start inviting on Clinton supporters. See Ava and my "
TV: Democracy Sometimes?" and Mike and Marcia will be blogging about this topic tonight at their sites.

In other programming news tonight (Friday) on PBS,
Bill Moyers Journal will interview US House Rep Henry Waxman who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as part of an investigation by the program into government waste and abuse. There is a promotional video for it posted at YouTube. And that's Friday nights in most PBS markets but some may air it (or reair it) over the weekend at different times. Online, Bill Moyers Journal streams video and audio and provides text -- accessible for all. Also, NOW on PBS (which airs on Friday in most markets) has created "Adventures in Democracy Online" which is intended to be "a counter to traditional, ubiquitous election-themed programming centered around candidates, debates, polls, and punditry." It will focus on "Burning Questions," "Democracy Tookit" and "Election 2008 'Toon In."