Friday, April 25, 2008


Friday! At last. I thought I'd go through some e-mails. The policy is pretty much no e-mails to outsiders. No one's written anything embarrassing privately but people pass them around and think they have the 'goods' on us. So if we don't know you, we don't write you.

Ada Pinkston, I didn't check out the Dick Cheney thing. I did check out the Hillary smear. It was insulting to her, it was insulting to working class Americans. It wasn't funny. It was probably sexist in fact but I'd have to go back and look at it again. If this is what Current TV has to publicize, no wonder nobody watches that channel. I'd say "thanks for writing," but I don't need my inbox junked up with trash.

Kelly Hargraves, C.I. knows Molly Bingham and the documentary she co-directed is one we all love so I'll post your press release in full. I don't know if we'll review this at Third or not. I know we'd like to but there's always time issues. We don't review movies there because they are loyal to their original audience. We can and have reviewed DVDs. I know C.I. will be up for a review so that's two of us who'll vote for it and I can't imagine anyone voting against it but, again, there are time issues. Here's the press release in full but I'm not fixing the quotation marks or anything. They'll come up as squares here and that's because Blogger/Blogspot uses a different font.


Contact: Kelly Hargraves Phone: 1-323-662-1930

Toll free: 1-800-229-8575

MEETING RESISTANCE An “Astonishing” Journey into the Heart of the Iraqi Resistance
Available on DVD May 20, 2008
MEETING RESISTANCE is a daring, eye-opening film that raises the veil of anonymity surrounding the Iraqi insurgency by meeting face to face with individuals who are passionately engaged in the struggle against coalition forces. It documents for the first time the sentiments experienced and actions taken by a nation's citizens when their homeland is occupied.
With unique insight into the people involved in the resistance, this acclaimed film explodes myth after myth about the war in Iraq and the Iraqis who participate. Voices which have been previously unheard - both male and female - speak candidly about their motivations, hopes and goals, revealing a kaleidoscope of human perspectives. Through its unprecedented access to insurgents and clandestine groups, MEETING RESISTANCE is the missing puzzle piece in understanding the Iraq war - not only the toll of the occupation but the mindset behind those who resist.
MEETING RESISTANCE was directed by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham. Connors was born in Sheffield, England. He began taking photographs while serving as a British soldier in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. Connors has worked for most of the worlds’ newspapers and magazines including Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times and spent fifteen months from November 2001 on in Afghanistan. During the invasion, he went to Iraq and spent fourteen months there working on MEETING RESISTANCE. The film is Connors’ directorial debut.
Molly Bingham was born in Kentucky and graduated from Harvard College in 1990. She began working as a photojournalist in earnest in 1994, traveling to Rwanda in the wake of the genocide. She has worked as a photojournalist for many different publications and has also completed projects for Human Rights Watch. Bingham teamed up with Connors in August of 2003 to begin a film about who was behind the emerging post-war violence in Iraq.
DVD Bonus Features:Directors’ Audio Commentary • Film Notes • Biographies • Theatrical Trailer
Featured on Good Morning America, National Public Radio, ABC World News, Anderson Cooper 360, This Week with George Stephanopolous, CNN, Vanity Fair, and more!
SCREENED BY THE U.S. MILITARYShown to Iraq-based and Iraq-bound troops“I spent several years studying and fighting the insurgency at the tactical and operational levels, and I strongly recommend MEETING RESISTANCE. It provides the best view into the minds and motivations of Iraqi insurgents I have found in years of research.” - MAJOR DAN FICKEL (RES)
“The single most astonishing documentary yet on the Iraq war. A breakthrough film!”- SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL,
"Powerful and fascinating!" - SHAUNA LYON, THE NEW YORKER
"A remarkable piece of war reporting." - RICHARD LEIBY, WASHINGTON POST
“DARING...COURAGEOUS...ENLIGHTENING! Sometimes a film serves as a potent weapon of endangered truth, dispelling official lies and giving voice to those whose collective pain has been silenced. MEETING RESISTANCE is that film and more, an act of resistance in its own right to the US war on Iraq.” - PRAIRIE MILLER – WBAI RADIO
“A rare glimpse into the hearts and minds of those who have dedicated themselves to ridding Iraq of its invaders.” - RONNIE SCHEIB, VARIETY
“The documentary equivalent of a Seymour Hersh investigative story in The New Yorker. REQUIRED VIEWING!” - JOE GARFOLI, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
More information about the film can be found at

85 minutes, color, 2007, Arabic w/English subtitles UPC: 7-20229-91324-9 Catalog #: FRF 913249D

Retail Price: $24.95 Canadian Retail Price: $29.95 Pre-book: April 15 Street Date: May 20

Meeting Resistance is an amazing movie. C.I. put the link to the website up at Third at the start of the writer's strike and I know C.I.'s written at length about this movie because I knew ALL about it before I saw it. And when I saw it? I was still blown away. This is one to check out on May 20th.

Barbara G. Ellis, good luck to you on April 29th. That's all I can offer you. The time for impeachment was a sliver of a window. I don't believe it's happening. (And my mother outlined repeatedly why she didn't believe it was possible barring Bully Boy bombing Iran.) The time's passed, my opinion, it's not happening. Good luck to you but I think it's a waste of time. Pelosi won't let it happen. The Congress is focused on veterans, the econmy and the Petraeus nomination. The country's focused on those things and the elections. (Congress is focused on the elections as well.) I don't promote things I don't believe in. So good luck to you.

The others aren't worth mentioning. If you automatically went into the junk folder, I didn't check that and don't plan to. Consider it a sign that I wasn't supposed to read your e-mail.

Here's today's "HUBdate: Fair is Fair:"

Fair is Fair: In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Clinton campaign strategist Geoff Garin writes: "The bottom line is that one campaign really has engaged in a mean-spirited, unfair character attack on the other candidate -- but it has been Obama’s campaign, not ours. You would be hard-pressed to find significant analogues from our candidate, our senior campaign officials or our advertising to the direct personal statements that the Obama campaign has made about Clinton." Read More.
$$$: "Hillary Clinton raised $10 million in the 24 hours after winning the Pennsylvania primary, aided by contributions from 80,000 new donors."
Read more and keep it going at
An Open Letter From Dr. Maya Angelou: Poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou wrote an open letter about her commitment to Hillary’s candidacy. "Hillary does not waver in standing up for those who need a champion.... I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know that she will make the most positive difference in people's lives and she will help our country become what it can be."
Read More.
In Case You Missed It: Paul Krugman writes in today's NYT: "From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that 'we are the ones we've been waiting for' (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not."
Read more.
Bringing Troops Home with Honor: Yesterday, Hillary highlighted policies for veterans at "Solutions for America” events in Fayetteville and Asheville, NC. It’s rare for a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to endorse a candidate but General Hugh Shelton is backing HRC. In NC yesterday, he said: "Unlike any other candidate, [Hillary] understands that maintaining a well-prepared armed forces goes beyond providing dollars....She is the only candidate who has offered a responsible plan for bringing our troops home with honor."
Read more.
Electable…Without FL or OH? The Obama campaign released a memo yesterday on electability, but as Chris Cilizza highlights, "two states that are not mentioned in the Obama memo are Florida, the key battleground in the 2000 presidential race, and Ohio, the Florida of the 2004 contest."
Read more.
Debate Watch: Hillary is willing to debate Sen. Obama in North Carolina, Oregon, and Indiana while Sen. Obama continues to resist. His excuse today: "It's not clear that another debate is going to be the best use of our time." Meanwhile Sen. Evan Bayh said this yesterday: "We have thousands of people in Indiana who...deserve an opportunity to see both candidates stand side by side...We in Indiana don’t want to be treated as second-class citizens."
Read more and more.
Today on the Trail: In North Carolina, Hillary hosts a "Solutions for America" event in Jacksonville, NC. In Indiana, she hosts "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Bloomington, East Chicago, and Fort Wayne. She also meets with steelworkers to discuss creating and protecting jobs in Gary.

Funniest thing I saw online today pissed me off at first. It was nothing but a Hillary slam. I mentioned it to C.I. who said, "Oh, please, he has no ethics. He did favors for his mistress and that's why he lost his job as an editor and why he has to be a blog columnist now." When I heard that, I laughed so hard. I guess it really does all even out at some point. :D

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

Friday, April 25, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, an oversight exploration announces Iraqi Forces figures are wrong, the VA scandals continue and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Claudia Feldman (Houston Chronicle) reported a week ago on consientious objector Hart Vines and his participation at Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier (IVAW's Ronn Cantu who started the first IVAW chapter in Texas, at Fort Hood, is also covered in the article). Feldman reports:

One of his jobs in Iraq was to stand guard with a .50-caliber machine gun while his buddies searched houses supposedly inhabited by insurgents and enemy combatants. At the conference, searches of that kind were described vividly. Sometimes soldiers kicked in the front doors. Sometimes they upended refrigerators and ripped stoves out of walls. Sometimes they turned drawers upside down and broke furniture.
One day Viges was instructed to search a suspicious house, a hut, really, but he couldn't find pictures of Saddam Hussein, piles of money, AK-47s or roadside bombs.
"The only thing I found was a little .22 pistol," Viges said, " ... but we ended up taking the two young men, regardless."
An older woman, probably the mother of the young men, watched and wailed nearby.
"She was crying in my face, trying to kiss my feet," Viges said. "And, you know, I can't speak Arabic, but I can speak human. She was saying, 'Please, why are you taking my sons? They have done nothing wrong.' "

dropping back to a September 2005 speech he gave, here's what happened once he returned to the US:

And after I came home I've come to realise that we've got to make better choices, I applied for Conscientious Objector [status]. I was able to remember the Sermon on the Mount. I'm a Christian, what was I doing holding a gun to another human being? Love thy neighbour. Do good for him. Pray for those who persecute you, don't shoot them. I get my Conscientious Objector packet approved. I'm alone. I'm free, I'm done. It's all gone now, right? No! I still swerve at trash bagsfireworks. I'm looking at everyone's hands and faces [tonight] to see who's going to want to shoot me. I can't express anything, I can't express love. All my relationships are falling apart because they can't f**king understand me. How do they know the pain that I've gone through or the sights that I've seen, the dead bodies? The innocence gone, stripped, dead? I couldn't do it myself. I couldn't stand the pain. People were leaving me. I was alone. I couldn't cut my wrists. So I called the police. They come stomping through my door. I have my knife in my hand. "Shoot me. Shoot me". All of a sudden I was the man with the RPG, with all the guns pointed at him. Misled, miseducated, thinking that "Yes, we can solve all the world's problems by killing each other". How insane is that? Lucky enough I lived through that episode as well. See, you can't wash your hands when they're covered in blood with more blood. It's impossible; the wounds carry on. Families are destroyed.

Meanwhile, in Canada, many US war resisters are currently hoping to be granted safe harbor status and the Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. 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 Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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).

Turning to the Dept of Veteran Affairs.
Pia Malbran (CBS News) reports that, "While on the stand in California federal court" yesterday, "where the VA is facing a lawsuit filed by veteran advocates who are demanding better health care, Dr. Michael Kussman, the VA's Under Secretary for Health, said, 'I Disagree with the premise that there was some effort to cover up something.' On March 10 of this year, Everett Chasen, the chief communications officer for the VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) sent an e-mail message to several top agency officials including Kussman. At the time, CBS News was preparing a report about attempted suicides among VA patients. Chasen wrote, 'I don't want to give CBS any more numbers on veteran suicides or attempts than they already have -- it will only lead to more questions'." CBS News has been covering this story for some time. Today Peter Hart (FAIR's CounterSpin) explained:

Sadly, there's no end of examples of US journalists accepting and parroting official government statistics without challenge so when we find a case of an outlet actually questioning an official source and bringing that challenge to the public it seems worth taking note of. Last year
CBS Evening News reported what they and others have called an "epidemic of suicides" among those who have served in the US military. The network noted that there were more than 6,200 such suicides in the year 2005. Those numbers were challenged however by the Department of Veterans Affairs head of mental health Dr. Ira Katz who insisted that CBS had it wrong, the suicide rate for vets was actually no higher than normal. In a distrubing April 21st follow-up, however, CBS provided evidence that those numbers were not wrong and evidently that's why the VA didn't want the public to know them. CBS reporter Armen Keteyian noted that the VA recently provided date indicating just 790 attempted suicides by vets in all of 2007; however, Keteyian had access to an e-mail Katz sent to his top media advisor in which the VA official said something dramatically different acknowledging that "our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities." That's pretty far removed from the 790 a year the VA had reported to CBS and consequently to the public. Even more disturbing is the evidence that Katz knows he's actively misinforming the public on this critical issue. His e-mail was titled "Not for the CBS News interview request" and the opening line was "Sh!" The note closed with Katz' concern: "Is this something we should carefully address before someone stumbles on it?" Clearly this is a story that will require further follow-up to find out what else the VA would like to hide from the public about yet another of the devastating impacts of the war on Iraq. We certainly hope CBS will continue in the way they've started out and that they won't be alone.

Note on the above, all links in Peter Hart's commentary go to CBS News which has text and video for each link and the e-mail itself, PDF format warning, is
here. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that Kussman stated on the stand yesterday, "The number of patients who have adjustment reactions to the experience that they have in Afghanistan or Iraq is very important, but we don't believe that's mental illness. It would be unfair and inappropriate to stigmatize people with a mental health diagnosis when they are having what most people believe are normal reactions to abnormal situations." There is no care or concern, just a desire to cut down on expenses. Diagnosis the mental health disorder requires that it be treated. Dropping back to IVAW's Winter Soldier Investigation last month:

Adrienne Kinne: And then they went to go to the next step, to actually make this happen. And I was actually on a conference call when someone said, "Wait a second. We can't start this screening process. Do you know that if we start screening for TBI there will be tens of thousands of soldiers who will screen positive and we do not have the resources available that would allow us to take care of these people so we cannot do the screening." And their rationale was that medically, medical ethics say if you know someone has a problem, you have to treat them. So since they didn't have the resources to treat them, they didn't want to know about the problem.
That's the reality for refusing to diagnose, Kinne's point that the VA would then be ethically bound to treat. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at
Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage. Kinne testified Friday afternoon. Wednesday saw the VA's deputy chief Gordon Mansfield facing questions from the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee. Armen Keteyian and Pia Malbran (CBS News, link has text and video) reported that Senator Patty Murray questioned him about how anyone could have faith in statements from the VA since "every time we trun around we find out that what you're saying publicly is different from what you're saying privately?" Les Blumenthal (Seattle Times) quotes Murray stating, "I used to teach preschool, and when you bring up a 3-year-old and tell them they have to stop lying, they understand the consequences. The VA doesn't. They needed to stop hiding the fact this war is costing us in so many ways." Murray also noted, "I am very angry upset that we find out this week that several inernal VA e-mails that were made public -- not becuase you wanted them to, but because of a lawsuit that ws ongoing -- showed that the VA downplayed significantly the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Just a few months ago in November the VA was confronted with an analysis that said there were 6,250 veterans who had committed suicide in 2005 an average of 17 a day. VA officials said that number was inaccurate, it was much lower. These e-mails that were uncovered this week show that Dr. Katz, who is the VA's top mental health official, not only backed up those alleged numbers but he acknowledged that the numbers were much higher than that. So what they were telling us in November and December was that the number was lower but inside the VA everyone knew it was higher. And there are e-mails saying that and showing that". Thursday on the Senate floor, during a vote on the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act, Murray stated the following:

And just this week, we got more evidence that the Administration has been covering up the extent of the toll this war has taken on our troops. Internal e-mails that became public in a court hearing show that the VA has vastly downplayed the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Last November, an analysis by CBS News found that over 6,200 veterans had committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 17 a day.
When confronted, VA officials said the numbers were much lower. But according to the internal e-mails from the VA's head of Mental Health -- Dr. Ira Katz -- 6,570 veterans committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 18 a day. The e-mails also revealed that VA officials know that another 1,000 veterans -- who are receiving care at VA medical facilities -- attempt suicide each month.
Mr. President, these numbers offer tragic evidence that our nation is failing thousands of veterans a year. And they reflect an Administration that has failed to own up to its responsibilities, and failed even to own up to the true impact of the war on its veterans.
What is most appalling to me is that this is not the first time the VA has covered up the problems facing veterans who sacrificed for our country. Time and again, the VA has told us one thing in public -- while saying something completely different in private. It is outrageous to me that VA officials would put public appearance ahead of people's lives. Yet, Mr. President, it appears that is what has happened again.
When we -- as members of Congress -- sit down to determine the resources to give the VA, we must have a true picture of the needs. And if there's a problem, we have to act. It's our duty -- and the duty of the Administration -- to care for veterans. By covering up the true extent of that problem, the VA has hindered our ability to get those resources to the veterans who need them. That is irresponsible, and it's wrong.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka has joined Murray in calling for Ira Katz' resignation. Meanwhile C.W. Nevius (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the attorney handling the lawsuit against the VA, Gordon Erspamer: "He's a rainmaker attorney for a major firm in the city who has set aside time to take legal action that doesn't earn a penny. And besides that, he's got a compelling and personal back story and a chip on his shoulder to prove it. Erspamer's cause since the late '70s has been the rights of armed forces veterans, and this week's trial has the VA squirming over a shocking rate of suicides among vets and has captured the national spotlight." Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz hosted a live report on KPFA about the trial Tuesday and Gordon Erspamer was interviewed in the first hour.

Yesterday, the Office of the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction released a report entitled [PDF format warning] "
Intermim Analysis of Iraqi Security Force Information Provided By The Department Of Defense Report, Measuring Stability And Security In Iraq." Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The U.S. military does not have an accurate tally of the number of Iraqi security forces who have been trained or who are present for duty . . . The study says some Iraqi soldiers and police who were killed or wounded in action remain on the payroll so their families can receive financial compensation, skewing the statistics. . . . Reinforcing earlier findings, Special Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and other officials said the data being provided to the U.S. military were inaccurate." William H. McMichael (Army Times) adds that "thousands of others counted as present for duty are not showing up for work because they're injured, on leave or absent without leave . . ." The 21-page report (13 of text and then additional notes) also states, "Evolving changes in reporting methodology make it difficult to compare information from one report to earlier reports." Page five notes of the Defense Dept's most recent report, "Although the March 2008 Section 9010 report, as well as earlier ones, presents an array of numbers, other information in the 9010 reports and elsewhere indicates (1) uncertainty about the number of Iraqi personnel who are present for duty at any one time; and (2) uncertainty about the capabilities of the police force because the police have greater capacity to recruit that to train -- this limits the number of police on the rolls who have been trained. In addition, shortages of officers and/or non-commissioned officers in both the police and defense forces remain a significant long-term challenge that could take a decade to address."

Which fits in with
Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) observation that Nouri al "Maliki's campaign" assault on Basra "has resulted in US troops deploying to Basra and left the UK with no choice but to provide additional support to the operation. One person familiar with US military planning in Iraq said the 'fiasco' started by Mr Maliki had 'forced the hand of the British' to support the Iraqi government, in addition to the current core mission of training Iraqi forces." And the strain comes as Daniel Bentley (The Scotsman) reports, "British troop numbers in Iraq will only be futher reducded 'if conditions allow', Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said yesterday." The numbers also matter in terms of The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour earlier this month. Repeatedly the numbers now known to be non-reliable were cited as 'proof' of 'advances'. Gen David Petraeus' seven-page prepared remarks always cited the numbers of Iraqi Forces:

A number of factors have contributed to the progress that has been made. First, of course, has been the impact of increased numbers of Coalition and Iraqi Forces. You are well aware of the U.S. surge. Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.[. . .] A second factor has been the employment of Coalition and Iraqi Forces have grown significantly since September, and over 540,000 individuals now servein the Iraqi Security Forces. The number of combat battalions capable of taking the lead in operations, albeit with some Coalition support, has grown to well over 100 [Slide 10]. These units are bearing an increasing share of the burden, as evidenced by the fact that Iraqi Security Force losses have recently been three times our own. We will, of course, conduct careful after action reviews with our Iraqi partners in the wake of recent operations, as there were units andleaders found wanting in some cases, and some of our assessments may be downgraded as a result. Nonetheless, the performance of many units was solid, especially once they got their footing and gained a degree of confidence, and certain Iraqi elements proved quite capable.Underpinning the advances of the past year have been improvements in Iraq's security institutions. An increasingly robust Iraqi-run training base enabled the Iraqi Security Forces to grow by over 133,000 soldiers and police over the past 16 months. And the still-expanding training base is expected to generate an additional 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and 16 Army and Special Operations battalions throughout the rest of 2008, along with over 23,000 police and 8 National Police battalions.

AFP reports, "Iraq's hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called upon his followers and security forces to stop the bloodshed a week after he warned of 'open war' against the government." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) quotes him stating, "I call upon my brothers in the army, police and al-Mahdi Army to stop the bloodshed. When we threatend an open war, it was meant against the occupation and not against our people. There will be no war between Sadrists and Iraqi brothers from any groups." And the UN human rights envoy, Radhika Coomaraswamy declared today of Iraqi children, "Many of them are no longer go to school, many are recruited for violent activitis or detained in custody, they lack access to the most basic services and manifest a wide range of psychological symptoms from the violence in their everyday lives."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit car bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Falluja mosque bombing that claimed 1 life and left four people wounded and notes two US air bombings of Baghdad after night fall yesterday that claimed the lives of 13 people and wounded forty (those numbers are US military numbers).


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Baghdad with three Iraqi soldiers wounded and 5 "gunmen" killed. CBS and AP report: "Assailants on Friday gunned down an Iraqi journalist who had been working for a local radio station run by a Shiite political party that is the chief rival of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the station and police said. Jassim al-Batat was killed by gunmen in a speeding car as he left his house in the town of Qurna in his own car, said Adnan al-Asadi, the head of the local al-Nakhil radio station based in the southern city of Basra. Qurna is 55 miles north of Basra." Reuters quotes al-Asadi explaining, "His only concerns were his work and his family. He was liked by all his colleagues, and we don't know any reason why he should be killed." Reuters also notes 1 adult male shot dead outside his Iskandariya home, 1 fisherman shot dead in Mosul (another injured), 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul and 2 people shot dead in Iskandariya.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad, April 24." The announcement brings to 4052 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Turning to US politics. First up, Wednesday's snapshot referenced Big Tent Democrat's post (TalkLeft) on the nonsense of Tom Hayden -- the latest nonsense from a lifetime of nonsense but the link was wrong. My apologies.
The correct link is here. Wednesday night, Elaine provided the letter Hayden needs to write -- the public letter -- and why no woman need listen to him until he does. (Not that they need to listen to him after, for that matter.) Wednesday night, Taylor Marsh also weighed in on Tom's nonsense and, let me repeat something here, Tom invents things. He invents conversations that allegedly happened years ago when he needs them for modern times. We've avoided commenting on his current wife here because who knows what the woman did or didn't know. Tom loves to embellish a tale. But the point is that he's a longterm sexist and no women needs him speaking for her. On the topic of sexists, Keith Olberman of MSNBC, as Jeralyn (TalkLeft) points out, made a comment on air that has some wondering if he was calling for Hillary Clinton to be assaulted or murdered: "Hyperbole? A figure of speech? Sexist? Or a call to snuff her out?" Joan Walsh (Salon) explains Olberman has 'apologized' -- he still doesn't get how offensive his statement was and how his add-on only more so. He gets that it sounded to some like murder but he still doesn't get (and Walsh doesn't appear to either) that the "apology" is still stating a woman needs to be taken into a room and forced "politically" out of the race. It's undemocratic and, with his pattern, it's sexist. Susan UnPC (No Quarter), writing before the 'apology,' gets it very clearly, "Take notice of his use of the pronoun 'he'." Meanwhile Paul Krugman (New York Times) examines the working class support for Hillary Clinton and how Obama still -- all these months later -- can't connect with those voters? Jonathan Mann (CNN) explains, "Hillary is back. Until now, Hillary Clinton's campaign hd one consistent quality -- it kept coming up short. . . . The biggest question about her campaign was when it would finally succumb to being so second-place. This week that changed. She won the Pennsylvania primary by 10 percentage points, a margin that convinced contributors to flood her Internet site with $10 million."

Seth Bringman ( explains "
Hillary Clinton's Plan to Address the Student Loan Crisis:"

Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton called on the Bush Administration to address the growing problems in the subprime mortgage market. Instead of listening, President Bush stood by as the subprime crisis spiraled into a larger housing and credit crisis that is driving our economy downward. This economic crisis now threatens to claim another victim: student loans. As the result of the credit crunch, more than 50 student lenders, accounting for almost 14% of private student-loan volume, have already withdrawn from the guaranteed student loan program [Wall Street Journal, A3, 4/24/08]. Hundreds of thousands of students who are actively considering how to finance their college educations could be left in the lurch, without the ability to pay for college. And when those students are not able to college, that is not only tragic for them but a loss for our economy as a college graduate earns $1 million more over the course of their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma.
Now is the time to act to prevent a student lending crisis. In Indiana, where six of every ten students graduate with debt, and that debt averages $21,000, it is vital that we ensure that every Hoosier student can count on the loans they need to attend school in the fall [Project on Student Debt]. Today, Hillary laid out her plan for addressing the student loan crisis. She urged the Bush Administration to support her plan, and act swiftly to head-off this growing crisis.

That's the opening use the link for the itemized list.
Marlon Marshall offers a photo essay of Hillary at the "Solutions for the American Economy" in Indianapolis. And we'll go out with this from Geoff Garin's "Fair Is Fair" (Washington Post):

What's wrong with this picture? Our campaign runs a TV ad Monday saying that the presidency is the toughest job in the world and giving examples of challenges presidents have faced and challenges the next president will face -- including terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting economic dislocation, and soaring gas prices. The ad makes no reference -- verbal, visual or otherwise -- to our opponent; it simply asks voters to think about who they believe is best able to stand the heat. And we are accused, by some in the media, of running a fear-mongering, negative ad.The day before this ad went on the air,
David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief strategist, appeared with me on "Meet the Press." He was asked whether Hillary Clinton would bring "the changes necessary" to Washington, and his answer was "no." This was in keeping with the direct, personal character attacks that the Obama campaign has leveled against Clinton from the beginning of this race -- including mailings in Pennsylvania that describe her as "the master of a broken system."So let me get this straight.On the one hand, it's perfectly decent for Obama to argue that only he has the virtue to bring change to Washington and that Clinton lacks the character and the commitment to do so. On the other hand, we are somehow hitting below the belt when we say that Clinton is the candidate best able to withstand the pressures of the presidency and do what's right for the American people, while leaving the decisions about Obama's preparedness to the voters.Who made up those rules? And who would ever think they are fair?

aaron glantz