Friday, July 21, 2006

It's the weekend

Saturday morning, just! I have the Friday evening thing where we all get together and talk about Iraq. My folks catch a flight tomorrow and I'm in charge! :D Seriously, they get a break without any kids and they deserve it. But some of the older sibs are bent out shape. I'm really kind of surprised. My sister and I are the youngest and we're not acting like babies. But it shows you how little my folks get to get away (never!) that it's a big trauma for some of my older brothers and sisters. They'll live. It's only one week.

Let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. Or else just think of the decision of the extended curfew in Baghdad as the capital beginning to note ozone days. The BBC reports that the Friday daytime ban "now covers most of the day" and that it ends "just two hours before the daily night-time curfew begins." 'Liberation' by unofficial house arrest.
If the 'crackdown' is to cut off all attempts at daily life in Baghdad, how's that hearts & minds strategy going?
AFP reports that in Baquba hearts and minds scatter to the wind when six people were killed and 23 wounded. Killed how? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Among the five dead were an infant and two women. The two adult males are being dubbed 'insurgents' by the US military. The women and the infant? AP trumpets one sentence into a condolence card: "The Americans expressed regret for the civilian deaths." Reuters, using sources other than the military's press release, reports that six, not five (as the AP reports -- the AFP was at the hospital and counted six corpses), were killed and that it came from an air raid bombing of three houses. (AP's iffy on what happened, AFP also calls it an air strike). Though the US dubs the two dead males 'insurgents,' reports indicate that the troops were seen as the 'insurgents.' AFP has an eye witness, Mohammed Omar, who states that the men on rooftop were guards (not an uncommon occurence in Iraq) and they fired at approaching troops believing they were 'insurgents'.
What happened? Probably no one involved, American or Iraqi, can tell you in full. For the military, that's what happens when the people you are supposedly 'liberating' are seen as the 'enemy.' The press release (which the New York Times will probably build from tomorrow -- though we can always hope that isn't the case) outlines (at length) a version of events. Those events aren't reflected in reporting by Reuters or AFP which actually spoke to people involved. And just to repeat, it's a lengthy press release. The AP treats the one 'regret' sentence as though it's prominent or lengthy. It's an afternote. The twenty-three wounded? Women and children in that number as well.
Elsewhere in Iraq today?
AFP reports that, in Baghdad, clashes led to the shooting deaths of three Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi police officers, as well as the shooting death of "a Christian government official". Reuters notes that "[t]wo Salvadoran[,] . . . four Polish soldiers and an Iraqi transloator were wounded when their convoy was attacked . . . not clear how the convoy was attacked." That was "near Numaniya." In addition, Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Mosul. And, in an update, Reuters is noting that a police officer and a civilian were shot dead "in separate attacks in Muqdadiya."
AFP notes one in Baghdad, "outside a Sunni mosque" that killed one person. Reuters notes that another person died in a roadside bomb near a Sunni mosque in Khalis (two others were wounded).
Reuters reports that three corpses were found near Falluja ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") and that they were wearing the uniforms of Iraqi soldiers while another corpse (headless) was discovered in Kirkuk. In addition to that corpse, KUNA notes that the corpse of a two-year-old child was also found in Kirkuk. AFP notes four corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("signs of torture"). And Reuters is now reporting the discovery, in Muqdadiya, of the corpses of five kidnapped victims.
US military announced that a US marine died Friday in the Anbar province. This as Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that "Col. Michael Shields, commander of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team operating primarily in the Mosul area" says that the target of the 'insurgency' is now Iraqi soldiers.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continued as attorneys for Shelley Kovco (widow of Australian soldier Jake Kovco) and Judy & Martin Kovco (parents of Jake) sought to establish that
yesterday's 'key witness' had less than impressive qualifications. Conor Duffy reported on PM (Australia's ABC) that Wayne Hoffman faced questions on the 12-point document he'd prepared with it being noted that his document went beyond his area (ballistics) into a "largely speculative" area. (The reference is into Hoffman's statement that the death was a suicide -- which led Judy Kovco to leave the courtroom yesterday.) Duffy notes a number of things the 'expert' was confronted with such as the fact that, although he'd weighed in with expertise and great authority on the matter, "he was unaware there was another pistol in the room at the time of the shooting, and . . . he hadn't read the statements from Private Kovco's room mates." Dan Box (The Australian) reports that 'expert' Wayne Hoffman testified that he hadn't been able "to find any prints on the gun" -- not Jake Kovco's, not anyone's. Box notes: "NSW detectives will now travel to Baghdad to take DNA samples from those soldiers in Kovco's unit after unidentified DNA was found on the gun, including on its trigger." However, although that's been reported previously, it appears the journey to Baghdad is on hold. Conor Duffy (Australia's ABC) reports that although the expectation was for the testimony of soldiers in Baghdad to be heard Monday (via "videolink" as noted earlier this week), that's not the case: ". . . a spokeswoman for Defence Public Affairs says this has been delayed while a request to conduct DNA on more soldiers in Iraq is considered." So to recap, not only will soldiers not testify Monday via videolink (on hold) but the trip to Baghdad to take DNA samples (which had previously been stated to be a go) is now on hold. As Dan Box notes, the original investigation in Baghdad was made "without any foresensic equipment. In fact, no forensic tests were carried out by the military police." Speaking to Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy noted that Frank Holles [attorney for Judy and Martin Kovco] raised the issue that Hoffman appeared unaware that "Private Kovco was reportedly dancing around to a Cranberries song and communicating with his wife at the time of his death. 'Have you ever seen a suicide like that before?' he asked."
Also covering the inquiry,
Belinda Tasker (Perth Now) reports that Hoffman stated that his reasons for believing that Jake Kovco pulled the trigger "was the fact that the pistol was his own." Tasker also notes that his two former roomates reported that he was joking with them and "singing along to pop songs" but they claim they did not see anything when the gun went off. Finally, Tasker reports that Shelley Kovco "excused herself from hearing much of the cross-examination today."
In news from American courts,
Kay Stewart (Courier-Journal) reports that Steven D. Green, the former Army solider charged with raping and murdering 14 year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza and then murdering three members of her family, "won't be indicted until at least mid-October, under a motion granted yesterday in U.S. District Court in Louisville' at the request of federal prosecutors who would like it rescheduled to November 8th. The other five charged in the incident, Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard -- Yribe is only charged with dereliction of duty for failure to report the incident, "are scheduled for a miliary hearing in Iraq beginning Aug. 6" and the federal prosecutors argue that "[t]he same evidence and witnesses are necesaary components in both prosecutions."
In peace news,
Hannah Charry (Hartford Advocate) reports that John Woods passed on his 60th birthday to take part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! Woods is "striking one day a week" (Fridays) for two months and states that: "His anti-war stance is in part something that he attributes to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he developed upon returning from Vietnam where he served with U.S. forces as an interrogator in 1969." Charry notes that Kat West is following Woods example and "will be fasting five days a week."
And in Canada,
Ken Eisner (Vancouver's Straight) reports: "Fact: Jane Fonda's biggest fans in her antiwar tours were American GIs. Fact: returning soldiers were the vanguard of the out-of-Vietnam movement by the end of the 1960s. Fact: far more veterans of the military now serving in Congress are Democrats than are Republicans. Fact: U.S. soldiers are deserting at a rate greater than at any time since Vietnam." Though truth is always welcome, why is Eisner reporting that? Because the documentary Sir! No! Sir! is opening at the Ridge. Eisner speaks with the film's director, David Zeiger, who says of the film: "This story has been so thoroughly buried, I knew it would take a lot of digging to get it out there. I thought it would be emotionally draining too, and that's one of the things that scared me off. But what I found as the process went along is that it became much more celebratory. This gave a lot of people a chance to tell their stories within a context that would inspire others. The conversations certainly did conjure up painful memories, but overwhelmingly it was a positive experience for everyone involved."
Sir! No! Sir! is currently playing at:




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If it plays near you, haul your ass to see Sir! No! Sir! and while you're hauling ass, go read Andrea Lewis' "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women." Need some laughter? Check out Betty's "Thomas Friedman says, 'Drop the five on the dresser before moving to the bed'" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! VOTE G.O.P. OR THE TERRORIST . . . MIGHT DO . . . SOMETHING!" and Cedric's "A Bully Boy Press and Cedric's Big Mix Exclusive! (Humor)."

If you're trying to follow the events in the Middle East, I say go to Danny the News Dissector Schechter. He's presenting a wide range of sources and views. It's your one-stop if you use it.

And speaking of Danny Schechter, I've been meaning to note something for some time, this is his "Beyond the World Cup: 'Can You Feel What I Feel Today?':"

Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but those doing the fiddling today while the planet broils are far less visible. In fact, some of them sponsor athletic competitions. Didn't Enron have a stadium named after it?
Its time for a new World Reality Cup, and I keep thinking of the song that might be played to kick it off, very much like the national anthem that echoes daily in every baseball stadium in America.
Remember this prophetic tune by Barry McGuire from the early 60's?
The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'
But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?

We are feeling new fears today that are just as apocalyptic as the old nuclear terrors. Barry understood that:
Yeah, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin'
I'm sitting here just contemplatin’
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

"It's just too frustrating!" Yes it is. Perhaps that's why some are looking into the past or into the stars to see the future.

There are a number of reasons I wanted to note that including the World Cup. But one thing I really liked about it then and now was the song. I didn't know it. I told Dad that and he said, "Okay, to the vinyl!" :D I go, "To they vinyl, Batman!" It's a pretty cool song. But even if I hadn't like it, I would've liked that it was included. I think you get to know about people by what they talk about and mention. So one thing you know is that Danny Schechter likes that song. Another thing you know is that he's not one of those "Oh I have to be serious and put on my serious face" people. Even before Dad played the song for me, just the lyrics were interesting. But some people are too stuffy to share something they really enjoy. They'll go with something like they're doing a term paper. I enjoyed the thing for a number of reasons but I like to the thing that he always keeps it real.

A lot aren't keeping it real and probably can't even if they tried. Katrina vanden Heuvel notes some of the reality challenged in "Neonuts:"

According to Newt Gingrich, there is no need to wait at all. On Meet the Press this past Sunday he offered that the Israel-Hezbollah conflict "… is, in fact, World War III" and "the U.S. ought to be helping...."
And how might the US help fight Newt's World War? The Weekly Standard provides the answer: "It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions – and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

Now be sure to check out Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts. And have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tired (and tired of the not-so-brave)

One day until Friday. Betty had a question and called. She's subbing for Rebecca and she wanted to use Isaiah's comic but had forgotten how to post pictures in Blogger. (She said, "I always call C.I. and say, 'Talk me through.'") So I talked her through. And she asked if I was mad, "Because you sound strange." I wasn't mad, I'd fallen asleep when I got home. I thought I was just going to lay down on the bed with the fan on and enjoy the a.c. after a really hot day but I ended up falling out. My throat was so dray and that's probably why I sounded strange (that and just waking up). If she hadn't called, I'd still be asleep and probably wouldn't wake up until tomorrow morning. Ma said she tried to wake me up for dinner and so did Dad but I was out of it. Looking at my cell phone I see I slept through a call from Nina, a call from Tony and a call from "PRIVATE." I hate it when that shows up on the caller i.d. If you're calling me and making it a secret from me, I'm not picking up.

Let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
At least five bombs went off in Iraq today, according to Reuters. But don't fret for the Operation Happy Talkers, the military is pushing "Operation Baghdad is Beautiful" wherein the "trash, debris and barrier materials" are being removed. While it is true that Lady Bird Johnson had a beautification program in the United States, she didn't try to implement it in Vietnam. This as William Caldwell (US major general) announces that attacks in the "Bahgdad area" have incresed 40% this month. Is that 'beautiful' as well? Maybe they can slap some blue bonnets on it? Meanwhile the BBC notes: "But the US military admitted on Thursday the massive security clampdown that followed the killing of al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had achieved only a 'slight downtick' in violence." Or, as Adnan Dulaimi told Borzou Daragahi (LA Times), "What is happening in Iraq is a disaster and a tragedy."
The Associated Press notes that ten are dead as a result of a car bombing near a gas station in Beiji and one dead (and seven wounded) from a car bomb in Kirkuk. Reuters reports five were wounded near Karbala from a roadside bomb; a bomb that exploded near a police patrol in Baghdad killed two (wounded 11 including 5 police officers); while another bomb in Baghdad (the third for the day) killed three; ten people were wounded from a roadside bomb near Najaf; and one person was wounded from a bomb near Diwaniya.
Reuters notes the shooting death of a cab driver in Diwaniya; three oil engineers in Baiji; police officers in Tikrit and Falluja (one in each city); and one in Baghdad.
CBS and the AP report that four corpses were found in Baghdad. The AFP notes that Iraqi police are saying the number is 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours." Reuters reports that Baghdad morgues' figures for July, thus far, are "about 1,000 corpses." Reuters notes a cab driver whose corpse was found in his taxi in Numaniya; two corpses discovered near Balad; and the corpse of a translator who had been kidnapped Tuesday was discovered near Tikrit.
Centcom announced "A Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today."
Reporting on Iraq yesterday Aaron Glantz (The KPFA Evening News, Free Speech Radio News) explored the security situation speaking with a number of people including one Iraq male, Ali, in charge of investigating the Tuesday bombing in KUFA who delcared, "The police doesn't have any information about anything. They're just kids. They don't really check anything at checkpoints, they just ask people where they are from and let them go without checking anything. Until recently you didn't any kind of diploma to get into the police. Now they have changed it so that you have to have graduated from middle school to apply to be a police officer." Glantz also spoke with an Iraqi professor, Shakir Mustafa of Boston University, in the US who is attempting to get his family out of Iraq. The professor explained how neighboring countries are growing less welcoming to those who flee from Iraq with Glants noting the UN predictions of how things would grow increaingly worse for Iraqi refugees (child labor, sex traficcing, malnutrition and poverty).
Meanwhile, Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports on a refugee camp in Baghdad which Um Abdullah says was attacked with gunfire and that this and other events have caused all but five of thirty-four families to leave the camp. Reuters estimates that over 30,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and become refugess in the last three weeks.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April death of Jake Kovco continues. Australia's ABC reports that Judy Kovco walked out on the inquiry when Wayne Hoffman gave testimony that the wounds that killed her son were self-inflicted. Hoffman's testimony included a twelve-point presentation and flies in the face of the testimony given by Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes which found DNA other than Jake Kovco's on the gun believed to be the weapon. Hayes wants "up to thirty" of Kovco's fellow troops in Iraq to submit to DNA tests and homocide detectives have left for Baghdad to begin testing. Belinda Tasker (Courier-Mail) reports that attorneys for Judy and Martin Kovco, Lt Col Frank Holles, and for the solider's widow Shelley Kovco, Lt Col Tom Berkley, objected to Hoffman's arguments noting "There are a number of assertions in there ... which aren't conclusive of the findings they purport to reach," and "at the end of the day you can't say whether the firing of the firearm was intentional or unintentional, it's all predicated on the fact that it was Jake."
Yesterday in Iraq, an attack in Basra indicated the level of hostility some Iraqis feel towards the occupation. As Daveed Mandel noted on The KPFA Evening News: "Today, assailants slit the throats of a mother and her three children in southern Iraq where the family had fled to escape threats stemming from accusations that they cooperated with Americans. The mother's sister was also slain in the southern city of Basara. Five other family members were rescued but they almost bled to death."
And yesterday in the United States, the AP reports, an Article 28 hearing was held to determine whether or there is evidence to warrant a trial of Nathan B. Lynn and Milton Ortiz Jr. for alleged actions in Ramadi where they are accused of killing an Iraqi man on February 15 of this year and then planting a gun by him to make him look like an "insurgent." The AP notes: "Ortiz also faces one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said."
Finally, the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza will not be exhumed reports Reuters. The family is refusing the request and Reuters quotes Muayyad Fadhil as saying, "It is disgraceful to remove a body after burial." Abeer Qassim Hamza and three members of her family were murdered in March. Six US soldiers have been charged in the incident (one with failure to report the incident) and five with rape and murder. Of the five, four are currently serving in the military. Steven D. Green is the only one charged (with rape and with murder) who has left the military. Reuters notes: "U.S. court documents in the case of Green indicate that other defendants say he killed three family members then raped Abeer al-Janabi and killed her too. They accuse one other soldier of raping the girl and a further two of being in the house during the killings." The five others charged are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard (Yribe is the one charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident).

That's a lot of news. And if you're lucky, your paper will turn it into one small story. If you're not that lucky, you won't even see it in your paper. There's hardly any interest in covering Iraq, that's what it feels like when I pick up the paper each morning. Every day Iraq is off the front page probably adds ten days to the illegal war -- at least ten.

I'm glad Judy Kovco walked out on that hearing, she should have. I used the links and the guy's basically saying, "Jake Kovco shot himself. Maybe he didn't mean to." I don't see how he can testify to that when even Jake's roommates stories don't pan out. She also called them "Keystone cops." Good for her.

Here's some Iraq news from the AP that happened after the snapshot:

The Army, bearing most of the cost for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Thursday its money crunch has gotten so bad it is clamping down on spending for travel, civilian hiring and other expenses not essential to the war mission.
A statement outlining the cutbacks did not say how much money the Army expects to save, but senior officials have said the cost of replacing worn equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan is rising at a quickening pace.

And I'll toss in another thing from AP because, let's be honest, the majority of the media doesn't give a damn about Iraq or covering it right now:

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said there had been an average of 34 attacks a day involving U.S. and Iraqi forces in and around the capital since Friday -- up sharply from the daily average of 24 registered between June 14 and July 13.

If you read that, you get that things are increasingly violent in Iraq so where is the increased coverage? It's not there. Tony forwarded me the "daily digest" from the program, you know the one. They may have had other headlines, but of the 11 in their "daily digest" e-mail, only one has to do with Iraq. And it's about Gail Collins (it just says NYT editor, but that's how it is, C.I. covered this on Sunday in "And the war drags on . . ."). So that's the reality of the so-called war and peace report. As Iraqi refugess increase by over a 30,000 in three weeks, as attacks increase in Baghdad by 40%, as bombs go off and corpses are discovered, while the Kovco family attempts to find out the truth about their son's death, while an Article 28 hearing takes place and it's announced that the family won't let the body of the 14-year-old girl who was murdered and probably raped be dug up, "the war and peace report" is more interested in their grudge fucks with the New York Times than in covering in reality. Why do I say that? What's being noted in the "timely" headlines was, again, covered by C.I. on Sunday in "And the war drags on . . ." -- SUNDAY! Count the days to Thursday which is what today is. That's really sad. That's our leading independent media. We should all be embarrassed.

Since I wrote last night, the guest blogging I hinted about has happened: "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" was Wednesday night and "The Mamas and the Papas (C.I. guesting for Kat)" was this morning. Along with Cedric and me, C.I.'s filling in for Kat. I'll blog there tomorrow or Saturday but you've already had four posts this week there and I'm sure people miss Kat (I do!!!!) but her site's not dark so check it out. You never know what you'll find there. What is it with all these vacations!!!! :D

My folks are going out to C.I.'s next week. They have time and we were all going to go out but my sister and I were talking and we told them they should go out by themselves. They haven't had their own break in forever. We can hold down the fort here and they can get some time where they're not 'parents' and just a couple. I'll be going out there too but I'll go out next month, probably at the start of it.

I really am wiped out. It probably wasn't that hot today but there was a lot to do at work and I had some stuff to do around here too. So I'm wiped.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY DISCOVERS RACISM! NEXT UP: GRAVITY!" -- my bood buddy called me while I was writing this and was trying to wake me up by joking but even that didn't take and he just said, "Mike, man, really crawl into bed." I think I'll do that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Iraq and other stuff

Hump day. Get to humping! :D Elaine said Cedric had a wonderful idea about us using the snapshot as our headline and going through and noting but she said, "It's so much!" :D It is. It was a great idea. How we're doing it right now is we're noting it and then we're going to write on one thing in it. Whatever stands out to us. So let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Iraq today? Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) sums it up as follows: "A civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims is spreading rapidly through central Iraq, with each community seeking revenge for the latest massacre." That pretty much describes life on the ground. There's also more news in the inquiry to the death of Jake Kovco as well as news on Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan.
Outside Baghdad's Technology Institute, three bombs went off.
AFP notes that a "police patrol" had just passed by and that the interior ministry of Iraq is saying that police were the targets of the bombings. Reuters reports five dead and 22 wounded in the three bombs -- first came the car bomb, then two others went off "apparently targeting a crowd that gathered at the scene."
The other single event getting the most press attention at this time is the kidnapping of at least 19 people.
Al Jazeera explains that fourteen were kidnapped on Tuesday "by gunmen in civilian clothes" and that an additional five were traveling in a vehicle, forced off the road, and then kidnapped. The Associated Press reports that the twenty (they go with the figure of 20) were all employees of the Sunni Endowment and that the agency's response has been to announce they "would stop working effective immediately and that its chairman, Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie, would give more details later." (Reuters also goes with the figure of 19 kidnapped and it taking place yesterday and today.)
Reuters reports that mortar rounds have claimed the life of a two-month-old child and left another child and one adult wounded and that a bombing in Kirkuk has left at least four dead and at least 16 wounded. CBS and the AP note a roadside bombing in Kirkuk that took the lives of two.
AFP reports that Major General Fakhr Abdel Hussein was killed in Baghdad ("in front of his home"). AFP notes that he was "[t]he head of the interior ministry's justice office". In Najaf, Reuters covers the death of the owner of "a women's hair salon" and notes that 3 are dead and 11 wounded after a market was stormed by assailants. AFP also notes: "Gunmen in the eastern suburb of Baghdad Jadida opened fir on a store selling vegetables, killing four people inside. They then planted explosives inside the store and blew it to pieces." Also in Balad, AFP reports, a home invasion has left a child dead and a woman wounded.
Reuters notes a corpse ("gunshot wounds") discovered in Mosul as well as 18 corpses discovered in Mahmudiya ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture"). Meanwhile the AFP reports that six corpses were discovered in Baghdad and one in Karbala.
the UN report that found almost 6,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the months of May and June on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Max Pringle noted that: "In the first six months of the year it said 14,338 people had been killed. The UN report also details the rise in kidnappings particularly of large groups of people. In addition women report that their rights have been rolled back by religious muslim groups both Shi and Sunni. They say that their social freedoms have decreased since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and they are now barred from going to the market alone, wearing pants and driving cars."
Brian Edwards-Tiekert also addressed the report today on
KPFA's The Morning Show , noting that it indicates that "violence is claiming more lives in Iraq now than at any time since the US invasion of that country. The UN estimates 100 Iraqis are dying a day"
Speaking of the report yesterday, UN Secretary-General spokesperson
Farhan Haq noted that "the report raises alarm at the growing number of casualities among the civilian population killed or wounded" and that's a thought echoing in today's press with some noting occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki's statement from last week that Iraq was getting it's "last chance" or Hoshiyar Zebari's assertion that "months" remain before "all-out civil war" breaks out.
Turning to Australia and the case of Jake Kovco who died in Iraq on April 21st, the inquiry into the events of his final moments continue.
Dan Box (The Australian) reports that: "HOMICIDE detectives will trave to Baghdad to take DNA samples from soldiers who served with Private Jake Kovco after tests revealed unidentified DNA samples on the trigger of the gun that killed him." Speaking on The World Today (Australia's ABC) with host Eleanor Hall, Conor Duffy reported that Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes found "what . . . [he] called a gross amount of someone else's DNA, and that DNA was on the trigger of the gun, the slide and on the grip." Australia's ABC reports that: "As many as 30 Australian soldiers in Baghdad could be DNA tested." Dan Box also reports that the two roommates of Jake Kovco will testify to the board next week "by videolink" from Baghdad. Judy and Martin Kovco, Jake's parents, have been fighting to have soldiers serving with their late son called to testify before the inquiry -- though the testimony will be by "videolink," the 'win' on this is due to their persistence.
And in peace news,
Matthew Cardinale (Atlanta Progressive News) reports on Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin's visit to Atlanta to show their support for Cynthia McKinney in her primary bid (McKinney won the most vote but now faces Hank Johnson in a primary runoff). Medea Benjamin states: "The peace movement is aat a very critical juncture because on one hand, we have managed to capture public opinion. Most people think the Invasion of Iraq was a mistake and want the troops home at the end of the year. 72% of troops themselves say this. You can't continue to have politicians voting for the war. What's new on this is the Iraqi said, not just Iraqi people, but the [Iraqi] President, Vice President, and National Security Advisor".
Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan continue their fast as part of the
Troops Home Fast protest. From CODEPINK:
TROOPS HOME FAST! On July 4, we launched an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans expressed their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we're fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. Please sign here to to support us and encourage your friends to do the same. Click here to view photos, and read our blogs!
The fast is ongoing, anyone can join at any time, for a single day or more.
Finally, the
BBC reports that four more people kidnapped from the "meeting of the Iraqi Olympic Committee last week" have been released and that the number of those released is now nine.

What stand out to me? The continued violence and how little coverage it's getting. Iraq as an after thought again. I can't believe how little the press cares about Iraq. They sold the war and now they disown it. Not by calling it out and demanding the troops come home, but by ignoring it. We've gone from bemoaning "strategy" to just ignoring reality. "Strategy" isn't the issue unless it's examing the "strategy" of lying a nation into war. But you hear all these guys in the press talking about how if we could have done this or done that, it would be different now. But the reality is that it would still be an illegal war.

I can't believe what's going on in the Jake Kovco case. I was sympathetic to the parents (and to his wife Shelley) but I never would have guessed that details like the stuff above would emerge. If you use the links, the investigation did a recreation of when Kovco died and where he was when he died doesn't match where his rommates say that he was. So what did happen? They're even saying, the roommates, that they don't remember seeing him with a gun. His family has never believed it was suicide and I don't think you kill yourself in front of two people without saying something like, "Goodbye, guys." If you're going to do it in front of people, seems like you would want them to see it. (But I don't think most people would do it in front of people.) So I don't think it was suicide. I figured he was just cleaning his gun but now I'm wondering about that to. Too many details aren't matching up. I hope his family gets the answers, they need them and they deserve them.

Okay, to answer a question Trisha had: Why is KPFA the only thing noted these days in the "snapshot." If Ruth calls (or Rachel or Micah e-mail) C.I. with something from WBAI, it would probably be included. But C.I.'s attitude is basically: "I'm only noting what I listen to. If someone has a problem with it, they can have a problem with me." Unlike the rest of us, C.I. really did (and probably does) think "the war and peace report" program should still be noted. We missed Laura Flanders Saturday when we were discussing the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review because four hours was spent arguing about that program and whether the issue of why it's not be noted anymore should be addressed. C.I. was against discussing it. Finally, after Ava and C.I. disappeared to write their TV review and came back about thirty minutes later, it was decided by Jim that the feature would be written but only by the six people who are part of that site (Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and C.I.). If you read that "The long and winding edition," I think you can tell C.I. is ticked off about it even being done. Jim didn't get that. We were on the phone Monday night and I mention that and he goes, "C.I. wasn't mad." I go, "Uh, yeah." Jim called today and goes I was right. So the point is, for Trisha's question, C.I. listens to KPFA and stands by KPFA so C.I. will note stuff from it. But the hassle from the other program has pretty much meant that if it's not a program produced by KPFA, C.I. probably won't note it because it's not worth the hassle.

Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava are all out there staying with C.I. and Jim said he couldn't believe that if it made C.I. angry, C.I. wouldn't have brought it up. I go, "But C.I. didn't want to write about it to begin with, why did you think it would be a topic for conversation after?" Jim laughed and said Dona had told him the same thing.

A guy wrote and said to call LW. He wanted to explain that WBAI's Evening News can't cover some stuff. He said that if they covered Israel's aggression right now (in Gaza, in Lebanon) because it would "upset" a lot of listeners? I don't know what he's talking about because Deepa and Mitch have been covering this on Wakeup Call (Deepa also played some parts of a really good documentary on Haiti this morning). LW said there were two stories on Congress, the New Orleans story, and local news. Yeah, there was that. Where was their coverage of Gaza? Of Lebanon? But I didn't even mention that yesterday, I asked where was their coverage of Iraq? If LW's right and covering wars would "upset" listeners of the Evening News, well maybe they need to be upset? Maybe they need to know what's going on.

But Mitch and Deepa aren't being silent so don't pin it on what WBAI listeners can handle. Maybe LW is right that the evening news crowd couldn't handle it? But too f-ing bad. The silence on what Israel's doing in Gaza is a war crime. Shoving your fingers in your ears and acting like it's not happening isn't reality.

It's cowardly, if LW is right, it's cowardly. But it's not reality. One of the Congress stories they covered was Alberto Gonzales' testimony and their expert (who seemed quite smart) said that we'd hear in a bit that Gonzales "mispoke." So why turn that into a main story? But whatever you make your main story, if you're not making room for the tragedies of Iraq, Israel and Gaza, you aren't doing a news report.

I was glad LW wrote and he seems to know a lot about WBAI so I bet he listens a lot. He may be calling it right on the evening news. I hope he's not. That's worse than anything I said or suggested yesterday. He asked me to listen to it "as a report about what's going on in NYC and DC" and that might be good advice but there's a whole world besides those two places and my time is pretty tight so thanks for the suggestion. If I ever do listen again, I'll take it under advisement.

Get your butts over to Truth Dig and read Tom Hayden's "Things Come Round." That's like brutally honest and real. It's worth reading and then some. If you don't read it, you're cheating yourself out of something really important.

Also read "Online, latter day Dylan hits another sour note and the Evan Blah lovers" because that's got stuff in there that needs to be said too. I'm sick of the website that said "You can't blame Israel this time!" on Sunday. How stupid are they? Then, Tuesday, they start applauding Evan Blah's b.s. -- what happened to "framing"? They pushed that crap and didn't even look at the speech in terms of what is being "framed" (Dems have sold out the middle class). It's all b.s. from a b.s. DLC-er. That website should be ashamed. I didn't get, until I read C.I.'s thing, that Evan Blah was also attacking John Edwards. That's exactly what Blah's doing when he's saying we don't need to focus on poverty. That's John Edwards' big issue. But I especially enjoyed C.I. taking on "the online, latter day Dylan." I love it when C.I. does that. C.I. knows that jerk's writing and can always point out where the guy's accusing others of doing what he did himself. Cedric's probably going to write about the jerk too because there was a thing he wrote that ticked off Cedric, where he was defending Obama and tsk-tsking over the Obama critics. The jerk's just an old puke who thinks he knows everything and when he was in a class room with a bunch of kids, they may have smooched his butt but there's no reason the rest of us have to.

Wally and me were on the phone going, "Yes!" C.I. gave us both shout outs today. :D I go, "Did you check your e-mails?" He did and his were up too. That always happens when C.I. gives us a shout out. But today, we got mega-shouts. :D

Now Beau's got a problem and it's natural, it's that time of year when it's too hot everywhere. So let me do my PSA here and say, "If you get crotch rot, it is treatable. Take a shower, soap up seriously, dry in that area seriously, then apply deodorant to your crotch once it's dry -- ONCE IT'S DRY. I use Old Spice High Endurance." Beau wrote he read about that last year and laughed. Then it happened to him this week (he's doing landscaping this summer) and he couldn't remember what to do if you get it. (Crotch rot is my name for when your groin gets an odor that won't go away after excessive sweat.) I also told him in the e-mail that you need to do this more than once. Do it at least two days in a row and then, based on whether the smell's gone, continue or cease until needed again. And you're working on the nicks and crannies here, guys. You're not brushing your pubes with the deodorant. (You can do that.) If the smell is coming from your pubes, trim 'em.

I'm laughing as I type this, but it happened to me a few summer's back and I know it's not funny. What's really awful is the time before you realize that smell is you and you're thinking, "What is that smell?" And maybe you're even saying that to your buds. When you realize it's you, that's pretty embarrassing. You won't laugh about it until after the smell's gone, but once it is, you will. So if it happens, just deal with it and don't worry too much about it. It happens. If you don't deal with it, you're going to have that smell forever. So be glad you realized it was you.

This has been Mike McKinnon speaking for the American Society Against Crotch Rot. :D

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Iraq coverage and where's the coverage?

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts, "Song of the Bully Boy." That was a big song, the one Isaiah's basing Bully Boy's on. It was a commercial jingle, Dad said for Coke. It went: "I'd like to teach the world to sing/ In perfect harmony/ I'd like to buy the world a Coke/ And keep it company . . ." What the comic reminds me of is System of the Down's "Hypnotize."

Let's kick things off. C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

More deaths in Iraq today, the UN issues a body count for Iraqi civilians, questions emerge in the inquiry into the death of Australian soldier Jake Kovco, and news on war resisters and peace demonstrators.
Reuters reports that 59 people died after a bomber drove "his minivan into a busy market on Tuesday, lured labourers onboard with the promise of jobs and then blew himself" and those gathered up. The attack took place in Kufa and police "were pelted with rocks by angry crowds, many of whom demanded that militias loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take over security". The Associated Press skips that but does note that the explosion took place "across the street from Kufa's gold-dome mosque". Reuters reports that some chants at the police included: "You are traitors!", "Your are not doing your job!" and "American agents!"
When even violence as the sort that took place in Kufa this morning can't get attention, one wonders how many are registering Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Don't Forget the Bloodletting in Iraq" (Editor's Cut, The Nation)? Will we grow used to that violence? Will only larger numbers register in the future? As Howard Zinn wrote (in Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal) "The only way we can stop the mass killing of civilians -- of women and children -- is to stop the war itself."

Good news, the war doesn't register in NYC. WBAI gave you "some of the news" in their thirty minutes newscast and never once mentioned Iraq. How do you do that? How do you have a half hour of commercial free broadcast time and just ignore Iraq?

I have listened to KPFA's Evening News before and they always manage to mention the war. They may cover it in terms of the events that day in Iraq or they may cover protests or something else but usually it's more than one thing.

I guess Iraq doesn't really matter to New Yorkers?

Don't forget the bloodbath? I don't think WBAI even knows there's a war on in their news department. You got New Orleans, so don't think it's because they're so busy covering New Jersey and the EPA. I thought Pacifica was the peace network?

I made a point to listen tonight to see how they'd handle it when I saw C.I.'s point (and Katrina vanden Heuvel's) because I know KPFA covers the war, C.I.'s always mentioning it. But does WBAI? Did I just catch them on a bad evening?

Can you have that as an excuse? I don't know. I listened once. I have no desire to listen again. Deepa's show (Wakeup Call) does a better job with their ten minutes at the top of the hour then WBAI did with a half hour.

If that seems "mean," too bad. The US invaded Iraq. It's been over three years. It's past time for people to get damn serious about this. Stop your clowning, stop your fooling or just admit: "I don't give a damn how long we're in Iraq."

I once asked Ruth, who listens to WBAI and KPFA, if I listened to an evening newscast, which should I listen to? I understand now why she said KPFA. Tonight was so bad, I expected to get a 'crime' report where they tell you, "X number of people were shot today, X number were stabbed and now we go to . . ."

That was honestly embarrassing. This is a half-hour news show coming out of NYC, the media city of the country. And that's what they churn out? Their big story, about three people in New Orleans being arrested for allegedly killing patients, they never even gave you the three names or told you "The names haven't been released." (Which is hard to believe because an arrest is public record unless the person arrested is a minor -- since doctors and nurses have to have degrees, I guess the three must be Doogy Howsers?) Hold on now, I just went to NPR and here are the names of the three: "Dr. Anna Pou (left) and nurses Cheri Landry (center) and Lori Budo." When NPR can do a better job on one of their news magazines (All Things Considered) than you can on your commercial free newscast, that's really sad. Rebecca's talked to me about the crap Robert Knight (contributor to KPFA's Flashpoints) has to put up with at WBAI -- people going through his desk, people going through his notes, just all this kiddie bullshit -- well bullshit seems to be the key word for their 'news' if the evening news was any indication. They did everything but give the traffic report.

WBAI has some good programs. I like Law and Disorder and Wakeup Call, but the news programming really needs some work. I listened and ended up feeling like they'd robbed me of a half hour. I get local news programs on commercial TV that are more on the ball.

Well that's their business because that was my first time listening and it was so bad I'll never listen again. Makes me grasp how others (you know who I mean) can't figure out what is news either. Got a lot of e-mails saying, "Yeah, where was that interview with Suzanne Swift's grandfather?" There's one person who reads this that's still trying to follow that show and she wrote that Iraq was two itty, bitty headlines and that she got more from C.I. on Iraq in one entry than she got in those two "headlines."

She wanted to put something out here: "If you're not going to cover Iraq on your own show first and foremost, stop using it everytime you give a speech." I agree with that 110%. I'm sick of our 'brave' journalists who want to do nothing on their own but will turn around and whine about the mainstream coverage of Iraq.

Along with news of Kufa, other news took place as well. The BBC notes that "at least four members of a Shia militia" were killed by British troops. CBS and the AP note that, "near Hawija," a bombing took the lives of seven Iraqi police officers and left two wounded. The AFP reports "a gruesome incident, one sheep seller was killed in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, when a bomb hidden under a girl's severed head exploded as he lifted it". Reuters notes the following: in Baghdad, Abu Ali al-Garawi ("head of Badr in Diwaniya) was shot to death; in Mosul four people died and two were wounded in a bombing; in Habaniya an Iraqi soldier was killed by mortar rounds; in Falluja a "police major" was shot to death; and, in Haditha, three translators working for the US military were shot to death.

And that violence won't get noted either. Even though it's a direct cause of the illegal occupation.
It's a damn shame when our mainstream media provides more coverage than our supposed independent media -- especially when the independent media is attempting to raise funds. I hear Mitch on Deepa's show and my attitude is put Mitch in charge of the evening news. He knows what news is. (Deepa does too but Wakeup Call is a three hour program and she does it 4 times a week so I'm betting she's got more than enough on her plate. But if she wanted to do it and they turned it over to her, I would listen again -- and probably every evening.

In addition to the severed head noted above, Reuters reports that 14 corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya ("blindfolded . . . shot at close range").
AFP reports that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq places the Iraqi civilian death toll at 5,818 for May and June alone (with most of the victims losing their lives in Baghdad).

That's almost six thousands civilians killed in two months. You think people might care, that they might start covering Iraq like it matters. But they've always got something to jerk off too.
Maybe it's a some standup clip they want to play and treat like it's news, maybe it's some "name guest" that they'll let trash everything the left stands for, maybe it's an election that they don't want to report on -- they want to advocate on ("You be angry! You do something! We're angry! We're doing something! Look at us, chatting! Listen to us as the Zapatista's get slammed!"), maybe it's just not knowing what to do and trying to do every damn thing so that nothing has any meaning, any weight, but they can go to bed at night saying, "I worked my checklist!"

Speaking today with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, Ruth Rosen discussed her recent article, "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq." Rosen explained what led her to focus on the violence targeting Iraqi women and, in one example, explained: "And I also wanted to find out the story behind Abu Ghraib. We never heard. We heard many men sexually humilitaed but if they were humilitated it stood to reason that women would have been at least as humilitated if not more". Rosen and Lewis discussed many topics including women who were held in Abu Ghraib and tortured. Rosen explained, "It does appear that women have been on other bases held as prisoners."
(More on this topic can be found in CODEPINK's "Iraqi Women Under Siege" -- pdf. format.)

I read that and had to call Betty. Kat tapes The Morning Show for Betty and sends it to her every Friday, a week's worth of cassettes. Betty pops them in her boom box on Saturday morning and carries it around with her as she dusts and scrubs and cleans her house. Does she listen to ten hours? No, she usually goes by Kat's list saying, "This is one you'll love." If she was able, she'd listen to all ten hours but she usually grabs about six of the ten. By then, she's finished ironing and hanging the laundry and all of that. So I asked her on the phone tonight, "Are you going to miss the show?" She said C.I. was taping it for her while Kat was gone.

The war drags on. Some, wisely, leave the so-called coaliton. Others get called back in. While Japan has withdrawn troops, the BBC reports that Scotland's The Black Watch will be deploying for Iraq for the third time since the start of the illegal war.
Turning to Australia, there are more developments in the case of Jake Kovco who died on April 21st while serving in Iraq. Conor Duffy discussed with Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC) the fact that "the military officer is Sergeant Stephen Hession. . . . And he's told the board of inquiry that the pistol that show Private Kovco was in a different postion to what it was just before the room was sealed." Dan Box (The Australian) notes the testimony of two military police officers which revealed: "The room where Jake Kovco died was cleaned, stripped of equipment and repeatedly traisped through by fellow soldiers before inverstigators could gather evidence that might have proved crucial in determing the cause of his death." Belindea Tasker (The Courier-Mail) notes that, in addition to the above, "his clothes [were] destroyed before forensic experts could carry out any tests". Reporting on the program PM (Australia's ABC) Conor Duffy reported more events from the inquiry including the fact that including the fact that a letter from Jake Kovco's wife Shelley and two short stories by Jake Kovco were read to the board for "a glimpse into Private Kovco's state of mind". As noted yesterday, Judy and Martin Kovco, Jake's parents, want soldiers serving with their late son to be called to testify before the inquiry.

Do you know that I don't think "the war and peace report" has ever even mentioned Jake Kovco? C.I. told me CNN has covered it some. But I guess my question is why hasn't "the war and peace report"? They've got time to run after elections but no time to note this story? This hasn't been a one day story. He died in April and it's been an ongoing story. I know community members in Australia take it very seriously. Olive had a thing in Polly's Brew Sunday asking if America media would have covered it (she meant one program, we all know which one) if it had happened to an American soldier. With her permission and Polly's, I'll note two sentences: "They can cover contrators for hire who die but they can't cover the only Australian to die on the ground in Iraq despite the fact that the official story from the government has changed from one day to the next. This has been a huge story in my country and I can't believe how little the world outside seems to care."

I think he's a face to the community, where ever you live, because C.I.'s done a wonderful job covering this. The death, the family's statements, then the lost body, the government's always changing story, the funeral and now the inquiry into his death. Coverage matters.

On Monday's The KPFA Evening News, Wendell Harper reported on the peace movement. Demonstrators, CODEPINK activists, Daneil Ellsberg, labor activists and others came together in Oakland to make their voices heard, many taking part in the Troops Home Fast. What follows are some of the voices (selected by Zach, Marisa and myself) featured in Harper's report:
Protestor 1: "Ehren Watada needs support finacially, because of legal fees, and, of course, the rallies like we're having today."
Protestor 2: "If you're familiar with Suzanne Swift, she's the 21-year-old who just turned 22 on Saturday who was abused by her commanding officer in Iraq, came over here and then refused to go back when she found out she would have to go back to her old unit. She was arrested, put in the brig and is currently in the brig, and her mother is started a campaign to get an honorable discharge for her."
Labor activist: "Two-thirds of the American people say get the troops out now. 80% of the Iraqi people say get the troops out now. 72% of our troops in Iraq say they want to be home by the end of the year and 29% of those say: 'Out now.' What part of 'out now' doesn't this Congress understand."
"I'm Sara and I'm participating in a fast because I'm hoping that it will speak loud enough to people that it will stop this war and stop violence."
"I'm Jane Jackson and I'm hungry for peace."
"I'm Sam Joi and I'm with CODEPINK Women for Peace and we have to be determined that this war is going to end by the end of 2006 no matter what anybody says."
Kurdish-Iraqi woman: "I've been fasting in San Francisco actually for our homeless. These wars are causing refugess around the world. I personally know what it is to stay in refugee camp and not have a meal, to be infected with a meal, they give it to you. I have had that experience, my friends dying, because they gave them wrong food to eat."
Those were some of the voices featured in Wendell Harper's report. (Brian Edwards-Tiekert highlighted some of the voices on KPFA's The Morning Show second hour news break this morning.)

This was really a great report. As soon as I bumped into Tony on campus, I said as soon as I got home, I was listening. Tony's got an iPod and he goes, "You can listen now." He'd downloaded it. That's because we're thirsty for this kind of coverage. I don't know how it played out with Brian Edwards-Tiekert because we were listening to Wendell Harper's report but I will say, "Mr. Harper, you did an incredible job and a needed one." We need more reports like this and it was a pleasure to listen to so if you missed it and can listen online, check it out.

Troops Home Fast reports that "4,117 people are engaging in solidarity fasts around the nation and in 22 other countries" today.

C.I.'s still on the fast. C.I. says at this point, might as well finish the month. You can eat avocado or banana slices every few hours and other than that, C.I.'s been on it since the clock struck midnight and July 3rd turned into July 4th. I had trouble just handling the Fourth. I was proud of myself for making it through that. But I'm really impressed with anyone who did it even one day and if they did it more than one day, I salute you. I told C.I., "You need to sign up!" And C.I. said, "Mike, who has the time?" I should have signed up so I could be recorded for fasting on the Fourth. I think like three members in the community who fasted actually went to the site and signed up. But that's cool. I know I was doing it to show my support and also to send a message to those around me. And people were talking about at the b-b-q. "Mike's not eating? Why isn't Mike eating? Mike, come eat. " At first, people thought they could tempt me and at the end of the b-b-q, people were really talking about the war. And that was the point of the fast. It's ongoing and you can do a day whenever. You should probably sign up if you remember to and have the time so that they can get an accurate count but if you're short on time and it's, "Okay do you want me to fast or do you want me to sign up because it make only take 2 minutes but I don't have time for everything" (C.I. quote) then go ahead and do the fast and explain to people about it, talk about it.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii, KHNL reports a protest in support of Ehren Watada which drew "[a]bout two dozen people rallied in Honolulu" yesterday for 90 minutes on behalf of "a half dozen organizations and churches that believe the war in Iraq is illegal." Watada has refused to deploy to Iraq and engage in the illegal war. Watada has stated: "I felt that going into a war waged out of decption, the administration had lied by manipulating intelligence and deceiving the people, I thought there could be no greater crime."
Another Hawaiian, Maui's Chris Magaoay, is interviewed by Ana Radelat (Gannett News Service) who takes a look at war resistors who leave the armed service. Magaoay enlisted in 2004 and "[l]ess than two years later, Magaoay became on of thousands of military deserters who have chosen a lifetime of exile or possible court-martial rather than fight in Iraq or Afghanistan." Magaoay, who went to Candad this year, tells Radelat, "It wasn't something I did on the spur of the moment. It took me a long time to realize what was going on. The war is illegal."
Turning to Canada, we noted war reister Patrick Hart for the first time on March 9th when Lewis steered us to Peter Koch's "Brave Hart." Koch has provided an update noting that, the first week of this month, Patrick & Jill Hart (along with their son Rian) appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. There has been no verdict yet but, as Koch notes, "everyone who has received a decision has been denied."

I didn't even know about Chris Magaoay. There are a lot of people we don't know about. Some of that's because not everyone's being open about resisting. And some of that's because media's not interested. Like Patrick Hart. I didn't know he had his hearing. I remember him and his wife Jill from when Lewis noted that first article. When people fall off the map or are buried, their actions have less impact. We need to raise awareness on the protestors and resisters.

That's it for me tonight. Be sure to check out Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts and we tried Cedric's idea of using the snapshot for our commentary. I don't know if we'll do that every night. I'll have to check with Elaine on how it went on her end. But it was a great idea and thanks to Cedric for thinking of it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Iraq, Israel and more

It's a Monday and doesn't that say it all? We got wars all over the place and a Bully Boy who does nothing. (Oh wait, he did say "shit" today.) We have no leadership and it's depressing to realize how awful it is and how much worse it can get. But let's get things kicked off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

The US tries to firm up a commerce deal in Iraq, Jake Kovco's family learns more details and despite all the happy talk, chaos and violence continue with one single event that is being called the "bloodiest" by many.
A US soldier was "fatally wounded" in Baghdad today, the
AP notes pointing out that since Saturday four US soldiers have died "in the Baghdad area." Baghdad, location of the month-plus security 'crackdown.' Sunday, in Basra, a British soldier died and the BBC reports that he was John Johnston Cosby. Also on Sunday, Reuters reports that Laith al-Rawi ("local leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party") was killed in Haditha.
Today, the
AFP notes that six died in Baquba. The biggest attack (AFP calls it the "deadliest since the July 9 bloodbath") took place in southern Iraq. Reuters notes that, in Mahmudiya, "[g]unmen stormed a crowded market" and at least 56 are dead with at least 67 wounded according to "a local hospital" (Ministry of Defence says 42 dead). James Hider (Times of London) reports that along with attempting to downgrade the number of those killed "a Defence Ministry spokesman tried to convince reporters that the deaths had been the result of two car bombs, insisting that no gunmen had been involved. That statement was flatly contradicted by the testimony of survivors."
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) explores the events and notes Muayyad Fadhil, mayor of Mahmudiya, stating: "There was a mortar attack. Then gunmen came from . . . the eastern side of town. They came into the market and opened fire at raondom on the people shopping." The AFP notes the attack was "a coordinated assualt of car bombs, mortar attacks and rampaging masked gunmen". One victim, Muzzaffar Jassem, tells AFP: "About six cars with at least 20 masked gunmen blocked the market road from two sides, got out of the car and opened fire randomly on women, children and elderly people in the market".
As the violence heats up, the so-called coalition gets smaller.
Reuters reports that Japan has pulled "[t]he last contingent" of their troops out of Iraq today.
In Australia, some feel answers are arriving as to the death of Jake Kovco; however, his family wants more answers. As
Bruce Scates (Sydney Morning Herald) notes: "It has been almost three months since Private Jake Kovco's body was finally returned to Australia." Australia's ABC reports that Dr. Johan Duflou, who performed the autoposy on Kovco, told an inquiry board that "his opinion was the death was the result of an accidental discharge of a weapon." Kovco's parents are requesting that "several soldiers" in Iraq give testimony to the board about the events of April 21st when Kovco became "the first Australian soldier" to die in the current Iraq war. Members will remember the Judy and Martin Kovco as well as the parents of Jake Kovco's widow Shelley (David and Lorraine Small) were bothered, not only by the fact that Kovco's body was lost when it should have been returning to Australia, but also angered by what they saw as an attempt to smear Kovco with baseless rumors.
Kovco died on April 21st but, due to mix ups on the part of the military, wasn't buried until May 2nd.)
Yesterday on
KPFA's Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky, Bensky and Aaron Glantz discussed Iraq and Glantz noted, "The Iraqi paliament is on the verge of putting together a referendum demanding a timetable for the US withdrawal from Iraq and when they put forward that proposal, I think it will become a little bit more difficult for the Bush adminstration to say that we are there to help the Iraqi people when the Iraqi people say very clearly that they want the US military out within a specific amount of time."
Despite Dexy Filkins' 'reporting' for the New York Times, the issue Glantz outlined was one of "the Bush administration [. . .] rounding up these supporters of this idea including some people who are very high ranking in many of the political parties and this is the latest thing that we've been covering, the political crackdown by the US military of the people who want a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "
Saturday, we linked to a recent Glantz article on this topic.]
In other parliament news, as noted by Brian Edwards-Tiekert on
KPFA's The Morning Show today, Shi'ites stormed out today in protest over the Mahmudiya killings.
In commerce news, Australia and Iraq have reached an agreement over the June 21st death of Abdul Falah al-Sudany's bodyguard by Australian soldiers.
Reuters reports that compensation will be paid to al-Sudany (trade minister) and that al-Sudany has stated: "We don't have any vetoes on importing Australian wheat and we hope to go back to a normal relationship with Australia."
Also in commerce news from Iraq,
CBS and AP report that: "U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Guiterrez arrived in the Iraqi capital for meetings aimed at jump-starting the economy." Though the US press is seeing this as some sort of 'big win,' the AFP reports Abdel Falah-al Sudany (the same trade minister noted in the pervious item) is much more cautious and declared that privatization would not happen "for at least five to 10 years."
Possibly the excitement stems not from a lack of caution but a desire to turn the topic away from
William Lash III -- the topic Gutierrez was addressing this weekend: "Bill was a passionate, committed and hard working individual . . ." following the news that former assistant commerce secretary Lash had apparently killed himself after killing his 12-year-old autistic son.
In peace news,
Eric Seitz, attorney for Ehren Watada, states that there is a date scheduled "tentatively" for "Watada's Article 32 hearing . . . Aug. 17 or 18." Seits tells Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that this hearing would "determine whether sufficient grounds exist to warrant a court-martial" and that the maximum punishment for Watada's refusal to serve in the illegal war could be 7 and one-half years in prison.
Tommy Witherspoon (Waco Tribune-Herald) reports that the county of McLennan (where Bully Boy's ranch-ette is) is attempting to move Cindy Sheehan's lawsuit against the county into the federal court. The issue is whether or not Camp Casey can return to the activities and protests that first took place last summer or whether the county can now "ban parking and camping along roads leading to" Bully Boy's ranch-ette.
The Legal Defense Network reports that Rhonda Davis participation in a June 3rd rally in support of sam-sex marriage has resulted in the US Navy bringing "discharge proceedings against a 10-year veteran." Davis states: "I am a proud, patriotic American who happens to be gay. My sexual orientation has never stood in the way of getting my job done, and I was looking forward to continuing my Navy career. Unfortunately, federal law places discrimination ahead of national security and gay service members are caught in the crossfire. It is past time for our leaders in Washington to repeal this senseless law and allow gay Americans who want to serve, like me, the opportunity to do just that."

Click on KPFA or Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky and go listen to that program's second hour.
You really need to because Aaron Glantz and two other guests have a lot of strong points to make about Iraq. So does Larry Bensky, by the way. He's the host. The first hour's probably good too but I went to KPFA and just went to the second hour by moving my mouse on the play bar because I didn't have a lot of time today. Iraq is important and it doesn't get coverage right now. Not even on the supposed war and peace report. Tony passed the "dopey digest" over to me via e-mail and it's still link whoring (no surprise) and it's still jerking off (a surprise only if you've missed the last few weeks). Dorky Now still hasn't aired the promised interview with Suzanne Swift's grandfather. She's a war resistor. There were protests on Saturday. So since the interview was promised on air early last week, you might think they'd find time on Friday for it. You're wrong. And they didn't cover the protests today, if they do, they don't mention in the "dopey digest." I really hadn't planned to mention Dorky Now again but Larry Bensky was talking about how he was reading the wires Sunday morning and seeing all of this violence and death in Iraq and realizing that it wasn't being covered in the mainstream media. He has a two-hour show and the second hour Sunday was all about Iraq. I didn't know ahead of time or I would've listened Sunday but when I saw it in the snapshot, I did go listen.

Guess when you're trying to send everyone to the bathroom graffiti about yourself with the hopes that the 'left' site will cover you and increase your audience, you don't have much time to address reality. I don't know anyone who's watching it or listening to it now. I got 50 e-mails saying my line about the journey from East Timor to link whore was funny and right. :D

While Elaine and I are figuring out what we're going to be doing and talking about, Eli asked if we could note a headline from Free Speech Radio News? Eli asks and we do:

To the south, Israeli forces continue their offensive in the Gaza Strip. 92 Palestinians have been killed and 326 injured, in the last ten days of Israeli attacks on Gaza. Saed Bannoura reports.Early this morning, a missile dropped on the home of the Abu Salem family hit just a few feet from a three-day-old baby and his 23-year old mother. The missile did not detonate immediately and the family was able to escape from their home, in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, before the missile exploded. The town of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, has been under continuous attack by Israeli forces all weekend. Air strikes and artillery fire from tanks killed 1 person early this morning and 5 yesterday. Yesterday, the Israeli air force dropped missiles onto the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building for the second time in a week, leveling what remained of the building and injuring several neighborhood residents. Palestinian legislator, Mustapha Barghouthi: [Barghouthi]. The Palestinian fighters holding the Israeli soldier had conditioned his release on the release of 1,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, a demand which was rejected by Israel. For Free Speech Radio News from, this is Saed Bannoura in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

Betty's doing a great job filling in for Rebecca while Rebecca's on vacation but you know that Rebecca would be hitting this hard if she wasn't on vacation. (By the way Kat left Sunday for Ireland and Cedric and I will be filling in for her while she's gone.) At least 42 people, at least nine children in the 42, are dead in Lebanon. Did you think you'd see this? A country attacking like Israel's been doing?

C.I. talked about this last night and how all rules are gone thanks to the Bully Boy. He did whatever he wanted and now we're living in that world where everyone else wants to do the same. Israel's warfare has buried Iraq coverage for the most part but what it's also done is buried coverage of Gaza. But I get the sense that they don't matter much to the media anyway.
I think it's past time that serious action was taken with Israel. Economic sanctions for one. Another is that we stop selling our military hardware to the country. Throw in our tractors since it was a tractor that killed Rachel Corrie.

I'm guessing everyone knows about Rachel Corrie but I hope we all get that she wasn't just laying around getting a sun tan when she was murdered. Israel was bulldozing houses that people lived in. Rachel Corrie put her life on the line to try to save people and she was murdered. The Israeli government said that the tractor operator didn't see her. The New York Times ran a photo on the front page. That was the first time it really registered with me how brutal Israel was. I'm sorry that it took an American getting killed because Palestinians have been being killed for years. But when you look at that photo, it's obvious that there's no way the tractor operator didn't see Rachel Corrie. He just didn't give a damn. Why was that? Because there's a culture that says only some lives matter. And we've spent so long looking away and acting like it hasn't happened that now you've got the Israeli military on a warpath/bloodbath and people are still trying to act like it's not happening.

There was even a left site online that Sunday was running a "You can't blame Israel for this!" type headline. We wrote about that in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "The rush to grab that linked article!" -- by the way, read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: 4 Days in 7th Hell" -- it's one of their funniest and that's saying a lot, a whole lot. I always laugh at their TV reviews but this one was even funnier. My sister used to watch that show until fall of 2006 and I know that show because she'd talk about it and say things like, "Simon has an STD!" Then he doesn't. It's just the biggest nonsense in the world. Just a preacy little show that never has any reality to it and wants points for 'tackling' racism (when a White kid gets attacked for being friends with an African-American, that sort of thing, that's all they can handle). So that commentary is hilarious and nails that show with their commercials worked into the storylines perfectly.

For more on what's going on in the Middle East, read Marwan Bishara's "Israel on the Offensive:"

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has exploited the capture of Army Corporal Gilad Shalit to restore the country's diminished deterrence against militant Palestinian factions, to break the elected Hamas government and to impose its unilateral territorial solution on the West Bank. But when the dust finally settles, Israel's offensive against the besieged territories--and now Lebanon--will have left the region with more destruction and death and the Israeli government with the same strategic deadlock. That's why instead of lashing out against their neighbors, Israelis must end the vicious cycle of provocations and retaliations, and pursue meaningful negotiations to end the occupation.
The Olmert government bases its campaign against Palestinian civilian infrastructure on three fallacies: that Israel does not initiate violence but retaliates to protect its citizens--in this case a captured soldier; that its response is measured and not meant to harm the broader population; and that it does not negotiate with those it deems terrorists.
But Israel's offensive did not start last week. The three-month-old Israeli government is responsible for the killing eighty or more Palestinians, some of whom were children, in attacks aimed at carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations and other punishments. Hamas has maintained a one-sided cease-fire for the past sixteen months, but continued Israeli attacks made Palestinian retaliation only a question of time. (Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period--almost always with little or no damage or casualties--but these factions maintained that the attacks were in response to Israeli provocations.)

Check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. And Wally's "THIS JUST IN! EVAN BLAH ATTACKS HIS OWN! TRIES TO EAT 'EM!" is hilarous.