Saturday, July 29, 2006

Weekend! Don't forget Iraq

Friday!! At last!! Hope everyone read Elaine's "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" (she says it's not just by her and notes the two great people who helped her with it). Boom! Lisper thinks he can take a dump and stink up the place and nobody's going to call foul? Wrong.
It was the most popular thing on campus today. I never even brought it! :D It started the second I hit campus with people hollering to me, "Yea for Elaine!" and giving the thumbs up. I mean people from classes that I had never spoken to. Then Tony's all, "Dude, everyone's talking about it" and I'm all, "It's amazing." Cause it is amazing. The three of them (Rebecca e-mailed me and called herself, Elaine and C.I. "the Charmed ones" -- like in the TV show :D) got the power. Don't mess with them. Mess with one, mess with all.

If you missed it, go read "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" right away. Tony asked me if I could tell any parts that were more one of them and I could. I know them too well. :D When I got on the phone with Elaine today, I was like, "This is all you, this is Rebecca, this is C.I., this is all three, this is you and Rebecca, this is Rebecca and C.I., this is you and C.I." and just going through the whole thing. It's perfect. The power of three :D.

Elaine was all, "I wasn't trying to drag them in" and I know she wasn't. I was the one who called C.I. And C.I. doesn't raise a voice with me -- I'm one of the "children." :D Me and Wally can get away with anything. One time, here, I talked about the round-robin without checking with Gina, Krista or the person whose thing I was talking about and I won't say I got my ass chewed because that's really not C.I.'s style. But it was made very clear that I did a no-no. I felt bad and did apologize (and noted here that I shouldn't have talked about the round-robin's contents without permission). But when I told C.I. what was going on I got a "What?" so loud I had to shake my head and take the cell from my ear. I told C.I. about the two jerks again. C.I. wasn't surprised about the nasty e-mails due to the fact that Elaine's noting the actions of the Israeli government but that the two professional writers would engage their nonsense did piss C.I. off.
I had a feeling that C.I. was going to call Rebecca when we got off the phone.

In her e-mail, Rebecca wrote that the first words were, "Okay, I never call you during something like this unless it's important . . ." Rebecca wrote that she was glad C.I. called and that there was no reason people couldn't call. And she was real glad C.I. called her in on this because it did need to be dealt with immediately.

So they did and it is hilarious. Now let's do C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. And, as Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) observe: "Bush's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in violence-racked Baghdad has forced commanders to extend the tours of 3,500 soldiers and appears to eliminate prospects for significant withdrawals of American forces this year."
And as the US administration prepares to extend the tours of duty of 3,5000 soldiers (who were due to leave Iraq),
Hassan Abdul Zahra (AFP) reports that Abdel Azia Hakim (Shi'ite leader; head of Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) declared in a speech today that the security of Iraq should be left to Iraqis. Zahra also quotes Mahmud Mahdi al-Sumaidaie (iman and Sunni Muslim Scholars Association member) saying: "The US occupiers are responsible for what is going on with the violence and destruction -- they are the ones controlling the security file." This as John Tully (Colonel, commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade) informs reporters that in the Shi'ite section "south of Baghdad" attacks on US troops have incresed "by about 25 percent".
In another sign of how bad things are on the ground in Iraq, new "security" measures are being taken by individuals. At the start of this month,
Terry McCarthy (ABC -- America) reported on how fake identification sells for the US equivalent of ten and fifteen dollars and many Iraqis are puchasing them to reduce risk to their lives at checkpoints and noted: "Now many Iraqis carry two IDs in their pockets and will produce one or the other, depending on who is asking for it." Now Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports a swap greater than IDs: "Fearing sectarian death squads, Iraqis are trading homes with trusted friends from the other sect, surrounding themselves with those who share their faith but creating segregated neighborhoods increasingly wary of one other." Castaneda is reporting from Nasser Wa Salaam but notes the problem is not confined to that one location.
AFP reports the bombing of a Shia shrine "to Imam Askar between the towns of Balad Ruz and Mandalay". This as Reuters notes four are dead in Baghdad from a mortar attack on a Sunni mosque while a roadside bom wounded two police officers in Baquba. AP notes that the Sunni mosque bombing in Baghdad has left nine wounded.
KUNA reports: "Iraqi police source added an improvised bomb exploded in one of the patrolling police vehicles on the main street of Kirkuk, while a similar attack targeted Multi-National Force (MNF) vehicle on the way to Kirkuk."
If the police source is correct, that's a new development -- bombs planted in cars of unsuspecting drivers.
In Kirkuk,
KUNA reports the shooting death of an Iraqi soldier. In addition to that shooting, AFP also notes the Kirkuk shooting deaths ofa police officer "and a bystander"; two shot dead in Tikrit; and "a train station official" shot in Baiji.
In addition,
KUNA notes that "a security personnel from the Al-Qadisya area close to Kirkuk power statiion" was kidnapped.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues.
Australia's ABC reports that "a Lance Corporal" has informed the inquriy that Kovco was "reprimanded twice for misuing his pistol during his deployment in Iraq." Whether or not the witness can affirm to two times should be in doubt because the second incident finds the "Lance Corporal" saying he's 'aware' of it as opposed to knowing it or witnessing. At any rate, the "Lance Corporal" has offered that Jake Kovco was reprimanded for "pointing his pistol at the torso of another soldier" which would probably be pertinent if Jake Kovco were accues of killing one of his roommates. As
"Lance Corporal" (or "Soldier Four") makes the news with his statements,
Tracy Ong ( covers what everyone else seems to have missed: "But other statements tendered yesterday were at odds with Soldier 4's recollection, many saying they had never seen Kovco playing 'quick draw' -- pulling a pistol out of its holster as quickly as possible -- or mishandling his weapons. One corporal from 3RAR said he had never had to 'pull Private Kovco up on his weapon handling'."
On April 29th,
Damien Murphy, Phillip Coorey, Ed O'Loughlin, Tom Allard and Cynthia Banaham (Sydney Morning Herald) reported: "Private Jacob Kovco grew up with guns. They were part of everyday life in his small home town of Briagolong in the Victorian high country. Come April each year, the four-wheel-drive vehicles from Melbourne would roar through the hamlet late on a Friday night on their way to bush camps in the nearby foothills for the start of the deer hunting season."
In peace news,
Honolulu's KITV reports that a demonstration of support was held last night at Kalani High School for Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned military officer known to refuse deployment to Iraq. Showing their support for Watada (who faces an Article 32 hearing August 17th to determine whether or not a court martial is in order) were the Japanese American Citizen's League of Hawaii, the American Friends Service Committee "and others at the Nagasaki Peace Bell near City Hall" -- including: "Hawaii People's Fund, Code Pink Hawaii, Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, Veterans for Peace, World Can't Wait and Not in Our Name." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that "Watada has again offer to resign his commisson from the Army and is willing to accept any type of administrative punishment in place of court martial" including "a reprimand, fine and reduction in rank". Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, tells Kakesako that this is the third time the offer has been made (it was refused twice prior). Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
In "The Fifth Book of Peace", Maxine Hong Kingston writes: "During war, mothers dream this dream: she -- mother -- is winged, and flies, swooping down upon the son, the brother, soldier, criminal in danger, and picks him up by the straps of his overalls or by his belt, or catches him up in her arms, and flies him high and away. Unable to fly, she would go to the war in her son's place. She would go ahead of him, walk point herself."
With news of the September events in DC,
David Swanson (American Chronicle) reports that Camp Democracy sets up September 5th with many activities and, among many worthy goals, the intent to build "toward the International Day of Peace on September 21". Swanson notes that Cindy Sheehan "will come to Camp Democracy following Camp Casey (Aug. 16 - Sept. 2 in Crawford Texas)".
Sheehan is currently participating in
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast. It is day 25 of the Troops Home Fast action with over 4,350 people fasting to the end the war all over the world. The AP reports that Diane Wilson has thus far lost "20 pounds from her 170-pound frame" while taking part in the fast. Of fasting, Wilson states: "Ghandi always called it 'soul power' because it's got a real spiritual component to it."

The part above I tried to star Friday evening before going to the discussion group. I didn't finish. Now I'm going to talk about today (which is now yesterday because it's Saturday but I haven't been to bed yet so today/yesterday whatever -- I mean Friday until now and it's not Saturday until I get some sleep!)

I fasted today. We also went to Tony's for the Iraq discussion group. Elaine and Wally are visiting and they got to attend. They shared and had a lot of great points. This friend of Dad's goes, "Mike, I got the snapshot." :D I was happy. I'd printed up today's to share but he was already on it. We talked about Kovco and Watada and Wilson and the many other stories we're interested and would read about or watch if our papers or shows covered them. A few months back, I would've steered people somewhere but now, as most of you know, I wouldn't. (And you know why.)

But the hunger for coverage was what really hit me. Not just "Where is the Iraq coverage?" the way it has been before but people sharing specifically what they wanted covered. Suzanne Swift, Camilo Mejia (that false rumor about him being injured in accident traveled fast), Watada, the Troops Home Now fast. One woman said she knew Maxine Hong Kingston and mentioned Woman Warrior (hope I got that right) but what was this Fifth Book of Peace? Elaine took that one. (Ma could have handled it too but she and Dad don't get back from California until tomorrow.)

People weren't just saying, "More coverage!" They had concrete ideas of what needed to be covered. Of what should be covered.

We also laughed about the story Tony highlighted. Serious story about the spying on peace groups. But we laughed because we wondered if we had any spies present? If we do, they came early in the meetings. We're too big now and we've dropped the "sure, bring along anyone" policy we had the beginning. We talked about how it was supposed to be a one hour thing and is already a three hour thing each Friday night and how there are people who want to speak that may not get to because we've grown so large. (Some people are more comfortable listening because they're not big on speaking in crowds. Those people always get first dibs on talking if they have an issue they want to bring up.) So in November, we're going to break it down to smaller groups. They'll all be Friday night because that really seems to work good for most people. It's the start of the weekend (for most) and they can hang out without worrying about work or school the next day. And like Ma's best friend said tonight, "It's more entertaining than a movie and you don't feel like you've been robbed." So Fridays will be the night. But we'll go from one group to six groups.

And Tony's point about the spying was to remind people, you invite people you know. Not people you think you know. Yeah, who knows who is an informant, but you should know whether your best friend or family member is with the FBI. All we're doing is talking about the war and peaceful ways to end it, Tony said -- hold on for the kicker because I laughed -- we're not doing anything illegal and we'll be happy to share our activities with Alberto Gonzales as soon as Gonzales shares with the American people the exact scope and nature of the illegal spying on us! :D

I loved that. The government's spying on peace activist and that's okay (in their minds). But the American people don't have a right to know what the government's doing?

They wouldn't have had to be inside, spies, tonight because there were so many people that Tony's pop had to move the whole thing out to the backyard. That is so cool that so many people care. To hear the gas bags talk, America doesn't care about the war. That's not the case. When we started this (and Goldie's house party was what got me to start this so give credit to Goldie, a middle school student who inspired adults to do more), Tony and me thought, "Well maybe six people will come?" It's full of people. Because people do care. If they don't care around you then you may not be talking about the stuff that matters (or you may not be able to win out over the "junk news" everyone else keeps tossing). It is really something to see, when people start talking like that and bringing up stuff and debating and thinking and brainstorming.

Three people, counting me, were fasting today (one-day fast) so that was pretty cool too. A guy asked me about that and I turned it over to Wally because he fasted on the Fourth and is grabbing Mondays (and also I don't want people to think, "Every time that Michael talks and talks! Let other people speak!" :D). So that was pretty cool.

Wally's like Mr. Serious. I was calling him Ice Man after. When he's talking to people he is just Mr. All Business. It works and all so I'm not picking on him but I like to toss in a funny thing or two. I was joking with him after when we were helping Tony and his pop clean up and going, "Hey check out Mr. Broadcast News here!" :D

He was just real professional. Real cool. He's a cool guy anyhow but he was like cool as a cucumber while he was speaking. Tony's pop was all, "You don't really write those funny things" at The Daily Jot? And then Wally cut loose and he was like, "Okay, you are a college kid." :D
But in the meeting he was Mr. Broadcast News, back to you. :D

Now here's a thing from Free Speech Radio News:

Israeli Attacks Escalate in Palestine
Israeli troops withdrew from Northern Gaza early this morning after a bloody two-day sweep that killed over 30 Palestinians. Saed Bannoura reports from the West Bank that Israeli forces continue nightly raids there, taking 22 Palestinians prisoner last night alone:
Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians have increased this week, particularly in the Hebron area. And in Jerusalem today, Israeli police have been preventing anyone under 40 years old from praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque, firing tear gas and concussion grenades at worshipers. Meanwhile, negotiations appear to be underway for a possible release of the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza. Abu Obeidah is with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, who are holding the captured soldier: "The issue of the soldier we are holding prisoner is not just an issue of the Qassam Brigades, or Hamas, it's an issue of the Palestinian people - there are over 10,000 Palestinians inside the Occupation's prisons, behind bars. The Palestinian people are united, all factions are united. No Palestinian politician can demand that we release the captured soldier with nothing in return." Earlier this week Palestinian groups offered terms for a truce, but the Israeli side has thus far refused to negotiate. So far, the latest round of Israeli attacks has killed over 100 in Gaza.

We're going to grab a headline for awhile from that program. It's Eli's favorite and we can grab that. We thought we'd have our format figured out by now but weren't counting on a side trip to Mexico for Rebecca's wedding. What I want to point out the above is something that people might not get (hopefully everyone coming here gets it), the 10,000 Palestinians behind bars -- they're like Guantanamo prisoners. In fact, you want to look at Bully Boy's 'terror' state, take a look at Israel. And before the next ass wipe in this country starts saying, "Oh we could do like in Israel" (which a lot of them right after 9/11 -- pointing to airplane security and other stuff), take a look at Israel. Is that what we want? 40 years of continual violence?

We don't need to be looking there for examples but it seems like we have. Torturing suspects? Seems like we picked that up there. It's a police state for the occupied territories and that goes on year after year. We really shouldn't be looking to Israel for "ideas."

Wally just came in and goes, "Do you know what time it is?" I'm in my bedroom and Elaine's visiting and has her laptop plugged in so she was just writing away. We got home late from the meeting. The meeting didn't end until like midnight and all three of us were helping clean up and pick up. So it was probably two something (okay, we were shooting the shit with Tony and his folks too! Busted! :D but you got to take them to talk with the people who matter in your life). So I'm about to hit the sack. Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and Wally and Cedric did a joint entry tonight, or I guess this morning. I want to find out how Cedric's meeting went but it's too late for me to call him. If I'd known Wally was calling him (better not have used our landline you ungrateful house guest! :D -- I'm joking), I would have asked to holler while Wally had him on the phone.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Iraq and the Middle East

Thursday. Did you see much coverage of Iraq in your paper? Or are you smart enough to give up on them? I grabbed a few minutes of KPFA (a few because I only had a few) and they were pointing out the mainstream coverage of the Middle East. My opinion (and I agreed with the points being made)? It's not even worth following the coverage in the mainstream media because it's so bad. Elaine said it last night: "From the beginning, the coverage of the conflict in big media has been less reporting and more choosing sides. I'm thankful for the brave voices who speak out against the one-sided coverage and against the actions taken by the Israeli government." And by the way, if the Arab haters want to start storming me with filthy e-mails, bring it on. Elaine's gotten nothing but filty e-mails from visitors (community members have had no problem with her comments) and it just gets worse. There's one little wuss that if she read at work today. Sunny's been printing them up because she's probably gotten 200 filthy e-mails. But this one piece of filth, he's professional filth. There's actually two pieces of professional filth. One wrote once and the other's written three times now. Come on little wussie boys, you can talk real tough to a woman, bring it on over here. Or are you too scared? You just feel better using your filthy mouths to scream at women? Bring it on over here.

I have no use for those little prissy men who think they're so tough talking trash to women. There's not a word Elaine's written that doesn't go for everyone of us in the community, so bring it on you little ass monkeys. Doubt you will. You're filthy minded punk-thugs who get your kicks from talking trash to women because you always wanted to talk trash but knew you'd get your ass kicked if you tried that around men. So with the women, you try to strut around to make up for all the prancing and hiding you did past the locker room -- not in it. You've got a big chip on your shoulder because you never got to trash talk with the guys and you're still too scared to try because you know if you pulled the nonsense your pulling with Elaine, you'd get your pimply little butts kicked.

Chicken shit artists like the Lisper and the Professional Drunk. Bring it on over here you little boys. Elaine was reading some of those (and again, two are from supposed journalists -- though if you've read their writing, you know they're anything but) over the phone and I could not believe it. That pissed me off and it's pissing me off right now. So come on, put down the bottle, Drunk, stop spitting on everyone, Lisper, and bring it over here you big cowards.

Enough of the fantasy worlds of the middle-aged, pasty, cowardly, Arab-hating men. But I am pissed and I know Elaine's not going to be able to blog tonight so I wanted to put that out there. Don't you mess with my blog twin.

Let's get things started with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
And yes, it's "continue "even if
a mass kidnapping of 17 yesterday didn't make it into the New York Times this morning.
Al Jazeera notes "a car bombing and mortar attack" in Baghdad today that's left "[a]t least 101 people" wounded. That's wounded. The death toll has climbed repeatedly and the AP now reports it at least "31" and raises the wounded to "153." How many bombs? AFP notes that "some witnesses spoke of more" than one car bomb. Of the area in Baghdad where the attacks took place, the BBC notes their correspondent Jane Peel's description of the area as "well protected with a heavy presence of Iraqi troops and several checkpoints". Of course, the entire city of Baghdad is under the supposed 'security crackdown' and has been for over six weeks. The AFP describes the area as one where the "bustling shops still attract customers from both the city's rival religious groups" and they also note a witness who feels there was "more than one car bomb." Jenny Booth "and agencies" (Times of London) state the area is "religiously mixed neighborhood which is home to several leading politicians from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's biggest Shia party."
On the issue of witnesses feeling they heard more than one bomb,
Borzou Daraghi (Los Angeles Times) notes: "Police said four of the five blasts were caused by rockets or mortars. But officials have often attributed such explosions to indirect fire, hoping to stave off blame for allowing drivers to maneuver explosives-packed vehicles past checkpoints that dot the city." (The fatality toll is raised to "at least 32" beginning with Daraghi's report.)
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports one man who died, Hassan Kufi, "was hours away from getting married on Thursday. There were no festivities, just his funerals." He also notes "[a] boy of about 10 with a bloodied head" laying "on the floor." Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes hardware store owner Zuhair Ali Hussein Zaidi, "who left his shop to investigate one blast only to return and find his shop was completely destroyed" saying: "I saw children completely burnt and many injured. People were evacuating the dead and injured by carrying them out." Daragahi reports that many people are still missing ("including one 11-year-old girl on a shopping errand") and that the dead are still be found in the rubble and debris.
Might Iraq grab some serious press attention? Don't count on it.
In other bombings,
Reuters reports two police officers are dead and two more wounded "near Tikrit" from a roadside bomb while one person died and four were wounded in Ishaqee from a roadside bomb. AFP notes a bomb in Baquba which killed "at least five people." That bombing (guessing from the fatality toll) is described by Reuters as one that exploded near "an ambulance headed to Baquba hospital, killing five" and wounding four; in addition, Reuters notes a car bomb (also in Baquba) that left three wounded.
Reuters reports that in Baghdad, an armed clash led to six Georgian troops being wounded (the US military claims five but six is the figure "the office of the Georgian president" is using); in Kirkuk a police patrol and an Iraqi military patrol exchanged gun fire resulting in the death of one soldier and one police officer.
Also in Baghdad,
AFP reports that "three people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen" and Al Jazeera notes that "four security guards outside a Sunni mosque" were killed "in a drive-by shooting."
Micheal Georgy (Reuters) reports that, in Baghdad today, nineteen corpses were discovered ("bullet holes . . . signs of torture").In England, William Patey ("outgoing British ambassador in Iraq") spoke on the BBC Radio program Today and shared this impression: ""There is some evidence that some members of the police are actively engaged with death squads and with militias, and taking orders. And clearly they need to be identified, weeded out, prosecuted. Undoubtedly, the Iraqi people have lost confidence in the police." Quite a bit different than the sort of thing Michael Gordon churns out at the New York Times. Also in the reality news department, Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports: "Many of the reconstruction projects that were built in the first years of the Iraq war failed to make a difference in regular Iraqis' lives. Much of the building has focused on large waterpurification plants, sewage-treatment plants or electrical generators. But the U.S. has failed to do enough to make sure its reconstruction projects provided jobs for unskilled Iraqis, and the lack of a steady supply of electricity three years after the U.S.-led invasion rankles here." Kate Zernike should take notes.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continues.
Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that Professor Philip Mitchell has testified to the inquiry with a similar opinion as that expressed by Professor Alexander McFarlane: it is "highly unlikely Private Kovco would have deliberately shot himself while his room-mates were present, especially as he knew they were about to leave." However, Mitchell also offered the opinion that Jake Kovco might have been attempting to "re-enact" a nightmare of death he'd had a month prior. The continued assumption in the inquiry appears to be that Jake Kovco fired the gun. In April, Judy Kovco (Jake Kovco's mother) stated to Jane Holroyd (The Age): ""He didn't shoot himself. The gun went off. It was near him. It was nearby. (So) what did Jake do? Put his head down near the table so it could shoot him in the head, did he?"
Belinda Tasker (Townsville Bulletin) notes that Mitchell dubbed his theory "highly speculative."
In peace news,
Bill Metcalfe (The Tyee) reports on the recent Our Way Home Reunion in Canada which brought together war resisters from Vietnam and today and featured a showing of David Zeiger's documentary Sir, No Sir, which chronicles G.I. resistance during the Vietnam era. As noted yesterday, CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin took truth to Congress. Refusing to stay silent in the face of one lie after another as occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki talked the war talk, Benjamin protested, chanting, "Bring them home now!" On yesterday's The KPFA Evening News, Darby Hicky reported on this and more can be found at CODEPINK. Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) reported: "Veteran San Francisco activist Medea Benjamin, wearing a 'Troops Home Now' T-shirt, chimed in, standing in the House gallery to interrupt Maliki's address with repeated shouts of: 'Iraqis want the troops to leave. Bring them home now.' She was promptly removed and arrested."
It is
day 24 of the Troops Home Fast and over 4,350 people are participating around the world. Along with Medea Benjamin, Diane Wilson, Cindy Sheehan and Ann Wright, Mike De Souza (CanWest News Service) reports that: "Libby Davies, the NDP House leader and MP for Vancouver East, made the trip to Washington D.C." to show her support. De Souza quotes Medea Benjamin stating, of those participating in the fast, "We're in an emergency crisis, and they're putting their bodies on the line."
The fast is ongoing. Those wanting to participate, for one day or more than one day, can join the fast at any point. It began on July 4th and some have fasted every day. Others have fasted one day and some have chosen one day to fast each week. More information can be found at
Troops Home Fast. The fast will continue in August as Cindy Sheehan and others return to Crawford, TX -- home of last year's Camp Casey demonstrations. Though there has been concern of where the camp would be set up, Jack Douglas Jr. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports that land has been purchased by Cindy Sheehan to put an end to the issue and quotes Sheehan stating, "I can't think of a better way to use Casey's insurance money than for peace, and I am sure that Casey approves." Douglas reports the gatherings in Crawford will take place from August 16th to September 2nd.

If I didn't toss this out here already, I've decided to fast on Fridays. I don't have the kind of strength to do a fast week after week, day after day. I really think those who do are amazing.
And I know C.I.'s been fasting since July 4th -- way to go. I mean that. But I couldn't do it. (I should note that C.I. has specifically pushed the one day fast and not the long term fast. That's online here and offline too. Jess is doing one a week and I think Ava is too.) C.I.'s supposed to go off August 1st and I hope that happens. I know other people are planning on staying longer. Like Diane Wilson, she's strong, she's prepared a will and everything. She says she's fasting until the war ends.

If you're interested in more on the fast, you can go to 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! Breaking News - July 26, 2006: Medea Benjamin arrested for disrupting Iraqi Prime MinisterĂ¯¿½s Congressional address.

So look at all that happened. Is it going to be enough to get some coverage today? I noticed the New York Times didn't put their poll on the front page -- is that a first for them? C.I. noted the poll yesterday: 56% Americans want a timetable for withdrawal and 63% say it was a mistake to invade Iraq. I read that yesterday and wrote myself a reminder note to pick up the New York Times today. I was rushing from work to campus and didn't have time to check out the paper, just pay for it and the cup of coffee (I was tired, I only drink coffee when I'm tired, usually I'm a Dr. Pepper guy) and get to campus. I get there and when I have time to look at the paper, it's not on the front page. All their polls are on the front page. I think it must be coming out in Friday's paper but I'm flipping around and find it buried inside.

I guess polls only make the front page when they support the war?

You gotta pay attention to the things that matter. The snapshot is all about that. Also paying attention to things that matter (and probably not screaming filth and threats to women in e-mails) is this guy: David Corn's "Why Is the US in Iraq?" (The Nation):

Why is the United States in Iraq?
That is question that is increasingly difficult for the White House to answer coherently--and honestly. This past week, George W. Bush, appearing at a press conference with Maliki, noted that the horrific and intensifying violence in Iraq of recent weeks is "terrible" and that more US troops will be deployed to Baghdad. But who--and what--is the enemy? And what can US troops do about disorder and violence there?
Sectarian violence, according to Abizaid and Hadley, is now the main problem in Iraq (which was predicted by some experts before the invasion). Maliki, for obvious reasons, does not concede that. He wants US troops to remain in Iraq. Consequently, when he spoke to the US Congress on July 27, he depicted the fight in Iraq as a struggle pitting lovers of democracy (his government and the United States) against "terrorists" connected to those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. ("I will not allow Iraq to become a launch pad for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations," he declared, in a line rather reminiscent of the previous work of White House speechwriters.) In a fact sheet, the White House noted that when Maliki met with Bush, the Iraqi leader "made clear that he does not want American troops to leave his country until his government can protect the Iraqi people."
Mission creep is under way. The cause--despite Maliki's Bush-like rhetoric--is no longer combating jihadists (which replaced weapons of mass destruction as the reason for the war). It's making Iraq safe from Iraqi religious extremists. Maliki's government cannot protect Iraqis from their own neighbors, so he is looking to Bush to be his nation's cop-on-the-beat. But can the US military be an effective police force in a society increasingly plagued by sectarian violence that has little, if anything, to do with the fight against al Qaeda and Islamic jihadism? Maliki's own government is even part of the problem. Death squads connected to the Shiite-controlled Interior Ministry have been lead players in the current killing spree. If Maliki cannot control these elements, how can the US military? (In his speech to the US Congress, Maliki didn't address the knotty matter of the government-linked death squads. He briefly referred to "armed militias" but claimed that the rule of law and human rights are "flourishing" in Iraq.)

You'll see that in "And the war drags on" tonight because I called C.I. with that as my highlight. I don't usually do that because, yeah, I'm a community member. But I do have my own site. But to me, that article's pretty important and I think it needs to get out to a lot of people.

Here's a look at what everyone's covering but it doesn't take the mainstream attitude, Richard Harth's "Squeezing the Last Drops from Palestine"

The suffering in Israel's Occupied Territories, however, is not the result of mismanagement or indifference. Instead, it is the consequence of premeditated, often cruelly ingenious strategies to strip an oppressed population of cropland, housing, security, education, basic services, medical care, freedom of movement, functioning government, olive groves, citrus trees, nightly sleepand water.
As with so much else in the Palestinian tragedy, the already lopsided balance of power regarding water resources tipped decidedly against the Palestinians following Israel's lightning victory of June,1967. The region's three primary water sources consist of the Jordan River, and two large aquifers, the Mountain Aquifer of the West Bank and the Coastal Aquifer, extending northward from the Gaza Strip.
Prior to the Six Day War, Israeli land encompassed only three percent of the Jordan River Basin, though in 1964, the enterprising state had already constructed an elaborate conveyance network of canals, pumping stations, reservoirs and pipelines, integrating them into a national water system which diverted 75 percent of the Jordan's flow for Israel's use. After the 1967 War, Israel claimed full control of the Jordan's headwaters. While Israel shares some of the flow with Jordan and Syria, the Palestinians are forbidden any water from the river, forcing them to rely on groundwater pumped from aquifers and springs or delivered, often sporadically, by truck.
Unfortunately, while 83 percent of Palestine's groundwater sources are recharged by rainwater within the borders of the West Bank, only 19 percent of this water is available to the Palestinians, due to transparently inequitable arrangements symptomatic of Israel's racist occupation.
After 1967, Israel also exerted dominion over new groundwater resources, diverting these for Israel's exclusive use, either within the Jewish state or to serve illegal settlements (including the Eastern Aquifer, whose boundaries are entirely within Palestinian Occupied Territory).

I almost forgot! Me and Wally did a joint post last night, check it out: ""Justy, we'll be your man!"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm bringing laughter back . . . with Justy's help

It's hump day and I'm kind of tired because I've spent all day bringing funny back. Yeah, I'm bringing laughter back. All I really have to do is play the stupid song "Sexy Back" and everyone rolls with laughter. I heard that crap and thought, "Grace Jones has lost her voice." It's not Grace Jones. It's the moronic Justin TimberFake. He's bringing sexy back? Was it gone? If so did little wussies like him kill it? He sings of being whipped if he's bad and all I could think was, "Does he think he's Madonna?" A buddy e-mailed it to me and I really did think it was a joke and not for real. When I found out it was real, I played it for my kid sister. She said, "That really sucks." It does too. Tossing the f-word around and playing love slave don't make him Madonna. How bad is it? Too bad for words. Kat's already got her lead sentence for the CD review. She had a dream back in April about the suckfest album and she told C.I. who said, "You have to write that down!" She forgot to and then couldn't remember it. So we had to consult the memory banks of C.I. LOL. We all do that, expect C.I. to remember everything we forgot. But C.I. did remember the lead sentence Kat had and this time Kat wrote it down. It is perfect and perfect for this song alone. So I'll shut up before I give away her review. But if you want to bring laughter back, just play a friend TimberFake's latest.

Now let's turn the real world and note C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue and the Puppet finds how hard the strings can be yanked.Reuters reports that Hoshiyar Zebari (Iraq's foreign minister) stated that Iraq will condemn Hizbollah just in time to allow Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki to address the US Congress. Reuters also provides the Puppet's Lament -- noteworthy only due to the laugh factor: "Let us not allow what happened in 1991 to repeat itself, because if it does history will not be merciful to any of us."
"Us"? Pretty strong words for someone who bailed on his own country and wasn't, in fact, in Iraq in 1991. If a struggle wasn't finished in Iraq in 1991 (George H. W. Bush did not march to Baghdad, etc.) maybe the last person to be criticizing should be an Iraqi who was hiding outside of the country? Maybe if it meant so much to him, he should have gone to his country and not expected another country to do the work he was too scared/chicken to do?
If that seems especially harsh, it needs to be noted these thoughts aren't uncommon in Iraq. As the illegal occupation picks one exile after another to be puppet, Iraqis are offended (rightly). If al-Maliki thinks things were left unfinished in 1991, why's he blaming George H. W. Bush -- where was al-Maliki in 1991? Not in Iraq -- he only returned after the US invaded in 2003. He's a funny kind of 'brave,' a funny kind of 'leader,' shouting: "Stand with me! After others clear the way for me!"
There's a reason that various people have loyal followings in Iraq -- they were there before the invasion. They are a part of the country's history. These exiles returning and being appointed to positions of authority do not represent the average Iraqi and that's yet another factor in the hostility towards the puppet government.
al-Maliki was missing his cod-piece but, in front of the US Congress, he demonstrated he could strut and bluster as well as the Bully Boy. How bad was it? So bad Tony Snow has had to declare that "
the president is not a puppeteer in this case." Only in this case?
While that nonsense went on, in the real world, the chaos and the violence continued.
Associated Press notes the death of police officers (also brothers) in Baghdad from a roadside bomb. The AFP identifies one as "Lieutenant Colonerl Khadum Bressam" and notes the death of "one civilian" from a roadside bomb in Baghdad as well as a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left four wounded.
Reuters reports that three police officers were killed in Nahrwan and four others wounded; a wedding was the location for an attack where "Gunmen on a motorcycle sprayed three men with bullets"; and, in Baquba, an attack on a police patrol left with civilian dead, one police officer dead and one police officer wounded. AFP covers the patrol attack in Baquba and also notes that a family that had "gathered their possisions and prepared to flee" were attacked by "gunmen" leaving one family member dead and two others wounded.
AFP reports five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("tortured and shot").
Also in Baghdad,
Reuters is reporting that seventeen people were kidnapped from an apartment complex in Baghdad ("10 men, five women and two children from different families"). The mass kidnapping comes on a day when "police brigadier Abdulla Hmood, the director of the residency office in Baghdad" was also kidnapped.
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) continues to speak with actual Iraqis. Is it a civil war? The conclusion of the people Cockburn speaks with is that it a civil war with one telling him, "When our so-called leaders go to Washington they always produce a rosy picture of what is happening in Iraq for the Americans, though they know it is a lie."
In England, the
BBC reports that the families of four soldiers who died in Iraq have won their right to a judicial review. The AFP reports that Britain's Court of Appeal means the defendants "have won a key legal battle in their bid to force a full public inquiry into the legality of Britain's decision to go to war." The BBC notes the families' attorney, Phil Shiner, explaining: "The government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal. That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade [Iraq] was lawful." 114 UK troops have died in Iraq. Also today in England, the AFP reports, Tony Blair was delivering a health care speech when he was interupted by a war protestor who wrote across his chest and back: "Impeach Tony Blair."
In the United States,
a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll reports that, among Democrats, 31 percent i.d. the war "as the top problem for the country while 14 percent listed the economy". For all respondents, regardless of party i.d., the AP reports: "The problem mentioned most often by all adults polled was the war -- in Iraq and conflicts in general -- 22 percent." (500 participants, plus/minus 4.5 error of margin.) Breakdown of the data here.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues.
Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Professor Alexander McFarlane, head of psychiatry at Adelaide University" that "[t]he probability that Private Kovco intentionally committed suicide is very low." Speaking with Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy reported: "Eleanor, this psychiatrist, his name is Professor Sandy McFarlane, and he specialises in trauma and the state of mind of troops in war zones. One of the first things he said was to rule out suicide as a possibility. He said that Private Kovco was actively planning for the future in his diary, and there were also two occasions in his diary when he'd mused about suicide. The first one was about a month before his death, when he had a dream where he'd shot himself, and he said he ruled out suicide after that and he didn't like the idea of suicide at all. The other time was after a suicide bomber had attacked some building in the green zone, and he was trying to empathise with the suicide bomber and trying to imagine how he could have done this, and he said that he couldn't at all. And I quote directly from what he said, from what Private Kovco wrote, he said: 'They have a f .. ked up state of mind, the sooner they are exterminated the better'. And he couldn't understand those suicidal actions at all."
Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that McFarlane stated: "In his diary his sense of vigilance had changed when he returned to picket duties at the Australian embassy. He perceived that this was an environment with a significantly lower level of threat. Private Kovco was in a somewhat playful state of mind."
Doherty reports that Jake Kovco's former roommates ("Soldiers 17 and 19") are returning to Australia "to give evidence in the inquiry next week" and that "another of Private Kovco's comrades, known as Soldier 14, who was on duty with Private Kovco on the day he died" to testify to the inquiry in person in Australia. On that development, Conor Duffy reports that the former roomates "will arrive in Sydney on Friday . . . [where] [t]hey're expected to undergo tests to determine if they are the source of the mystery DNA on Private Kovco's pistol."
In peace news,
Cynthia Oi (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) addresses the topic of war resister Ehren Watada, noting: "Lt. Watada became the object of our discontent, the body mass on which to dump the toxic products of unease generated by the relentlessly horrible war." Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
It is
day 23 of the Troops Home Fast with at least 4,350 people taking part from around the world. The strike is ongoing and people can grab a one-day fast or grab a multiple-day fast while. More information can be found at CODEPINK.

I know C.I.'s tired (we all are, busy week -- check Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude tonight because I believe Betty's writing about it) but I'm sorry, I think that was funny as hell about al-Maliki. "Only this time?" :D Wally thought so too and he always runs his stuff by C.I. and C.I. told him what he had was funny and Wally said what he really wanted to write about was al-Maliki but that was already covered. C.I. said, "Go for it, it will be funny, I know it." So Wally ended up doing his post over and you can read "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY'S PUPPET TAKES A LEAK!" to appreciate what happened in Congress as the Puppet al-Maliki gave a speech to our Congress basically trashing the US for their actions in 1991's Gulf War. Like C.I. and Wally both point out, where the hell was al-Maliki? In "exile." Out of Iraq. What a brave puppet he is. Hey, he's out of Iraq now too! As it falls apart. What a leader.

Pretty cool about Tony Blair being heckled! :D And it's great that the war's going on trial in England. Finally.

Tony had a problem with my post yesterday. His problem was I was linking to Arianna Huffington and ignoring a "hometown girl." I wasn't attempting to do that. I read the Boston Globe (some days I just skim it) but what he was talking about wasn't in the paper. He didn't believe me and showed me it online and I pointed out where it said "Web exclusive." But I didn't know Joan Vennochi wrote for the web (once a week) as well as her twice a week column.
I wasn't trying to ignore a "hometown girl." So here's a portion of Joan Vennochi's "Hillary Can't Hide:"

Bill Clinton's motives are forever subject to analysis by political consultants and amateur shrinks: He wants to befriend rivals, from former President George H.W. Bush to Lieberman, who denounced Clinton's behavior with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He is making up for past infidelities by helping Hillary wage her own campaign to be president. For that reason, he wants Lieberman to win the primary -- because the voters' rejection of Lieberman over the Iraq war is not good news for his wife's political quest.
All that may be true; but none of it has anything to do with Hillary Clinton's pursuit of the presidency. Put me in the category of political observer who does not believe Bill Clinton's popularity translates into votes for his wife. Every time he surfaces, the differences in their political style become clearer. He triangulated with a wink and a smile.
She does it without finesse or subtlety.
Take that speech in Denver to the DLC.
Hillary Clinton and other centrist Democrats desperately want to talk about the middle class, not the Middle East. They prefer to talk about tax credits and government savings bonds, as if the American dream exists in isolation from the rest of the world and a region at war.
To play on that overused campaign theme once again: Bush made it about the war, stupid.
Democrats who support the Bush policy have to stand up and answer for it, just like Joe Lieberman is doing in Connecticut.
Hillary can run -- but she can't hide behind Bill.

Get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. Which are always worth reading. Or get your sexy backs over there! :D Justin is such a moron. I thought he was bad before when he was trying to be Michael Jackson and just sounded like his voice was cracking but he's even worse now. Everytime I think of "Sexy Back," I start laughing. He's such a little twerp and he's older than me! That makes it even worse.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lot of things

Tuesday, Tuesday. Don't know what's going on with Blogger/Blogspot, they appear to have made some changes. If things look different online, that's why. Let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continues but the media's more interested in seeing if al-Maliki will give Bully Boy class and if Bully Boy will give al-Maliki . . .
Reuters reports a bomb ("car driven") in Mosul left eleven wounded, "rocket-propelled grenades" fired "on the main road between Kirkuk and Baghdad" at "two fuel trucks" killed two drivers -- a third was kidnapped; a roadside bomb in Mosul wounded three Iraqi soldiers; and, in Baghdad, a road side bomb took the life of one police officer and left three wounded. AFP reports three bombs going off in Baghdad "killing two civilians and a policeman wnd wounding many bystanders." Allowing for the police officer in Baghdad noted by AFP and Reuters to be the same person, that leaves five dead.
Reuters reports a shooting death in Ishaqi which took the life of a police officer, a drive-by that killed a police officer in Baghdad, four wounded in Daquq ("working for a private Iraqi company which deals with the U.S. military") and two dead ("gunned down inside their car") in Baghdad. The "inside their car" noted by Reuters appears to be "a family of Shiite civilians" who had been threatened and were attempting to flee but were killed with another family members wounded (AFP).
Reuters reports six corpses were discovered in Baghdad, seven in Suwayra ("shot dead . . . blindfolded), and two near Falluja ("gunshot wounds").
That's all the media has to spare for events in Iraq as the rush is to DC to note the new romantic comedy When Bully Met Puppet . . .
Here's the set up. An obnoxious, paunchy post-middle-age male decides to invade Iraq. He and his flunkies make a lot of false claims and assertions that are generally known to be false in real time. For example,
Michael Ratner, Jennie Green and Barbara Olshanksy will write in 2002: "Despite the pervasive use of the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction' in many of the Bush Administration's speeches discussing Saddam Hussein throughout 2002, there is no evidence of a developed nuclear weapon program in Iraq. Indeed, all reliable, detailed evidence from independent experts reveals that the current weapons capacity in Iraq is small -- smaller and far less advanced than that of other counries around the world that are actively threatening peace in their respective regions" (Against War With Iraq). But out of some desire to let the lifelong loser make yet another stab at 'success' in some form, in any forum, the mainstream media largely either stays silent or cheerleads.
The spoiled playboy gets his hobby (and many die). He toys with and discards Ibrahim al-Jaafari (the cad!) and along comes Nouri al-Maliki. Cue love theme on the soundtrack. Puppet is Bully Boy's favorite kind of Iraqi -- one that's spent over two decades out of the country.
Now after long distance exchanges and one brief (shining) moment, they're face to face and the question for the audience is: "Are their sparks?"
Don't expect sparks to fly but expect the Puppet to get a lesson in who pulls the strings.
The BBC offers this recap: "When the two leaders met in Baghdad last month . . . The mood then was unusually positive, reports the BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington -- but this latest meeting comes on the back of a failed security operation in Baghdad." The AFP reminds: "Baghdad's descent into chaos has claimed more victims as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Washington under pressure to restore order and pave the way for the departure of US forces. As gunshots and bomb blasts echoed around the capital, the Iraqi leader went into talks with US President George W. Bush knowing that both the Americans and his own supporters are disappointed with his handling of the situation."
A meeting of two leaders? Sounds more like a performance review.
Getting far less attention is
the reconciliation meetings going on Cairo with (AP): "Some 30 delegates representing Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller minorities are participating in the discussions sponsored by the Cario-based Arab League."
In peace news,
the Latin American News Agency reported Friday: "Costa Rican filmmaker Daniel Ross . . . won the prize of the screenplay contest called by the Program for the Promotion of Production and TV Coverage of the Ibero American Documentary (DOCTV-IB)." Ross will now have $100,000 for the budget of his film, Dear Camilo, which "will portray the story of [Camilo] Mejias, from the perspective of two Costa Rican friends, former classmates he meets after 10 years." On the subject of activist and war resister Camilo Mejia, he is not 24 years-old. Those who've noted coverage of an accident in Florida involving a 24 year-old Camilo Mejia and wondered, it's not the same Camilo Mejia (the activist Mejia was born in 1976).
After serving in Iraq, Mejia returned to the US and went AWOL, surfacing in March of 2004 at a news conference held at the Sherborn Peace Abbey
Alison O'Leary Murray (Boston Globe) reports that Sherborn Peace Abbey, "founded in 1988," is in need of funding. Along with being the setting for Meija's news conference, the abbey also "was involved in a protest by a group calling itself the Peace Chain 18, who chained themselves togeter at Natick's Army Labs to protest military intervention in Iraq."
Writing for The Huffington Post,
Michael Brune notes that he and others with the Rainforest Action Network "are joining Code Pink and thousands of others around the world who are fasting to end the war in Iraq and to bring our troops home now." Brune writes: "Each day we wake up, rush to work, get together with friends, get caught in traffic, get caught in office politics, get caught in emails . . . and each day so many time zones away, another family is terrorized at gunpoint, another young soldier is killed, a home is destroyed, a child is killed while her sister is raped. And if you live in America, it's being done in your name."
YubaNet notes: "hunger strikers who started fasting against the war on July 4 will set up 'Camp Al-Maliki' across from the Iraqi Embassy to await response to a letter sent by the group to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki." Today is DAY 22 of the Troops Home Fast action -- at least 4,350 people from around the world are participating. The fast is ongoing and people wishing to grab a one-day fast to show their support can do so at any point. If you missed the July 4th start, you haven't missed out on the protest. Information can be found online at CODEPINK. Finally, in Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues with "Soldier Two" (Kovco's platoon sergeant by most accounts) testifying. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that Soldier Two testified that he "had heard the commotion in Private Kovco's room on the night of April 21 and found the private's room-mates, Soldiers 17 and 19, kneeling beside the body. He saw the nine-millimetre pistol on the floor and shifted it aside with his hands in case someone accidentally discharged it." Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Kovco's platoon sergeant did not want to look again" at Kovco's body. This is presented as the reason why the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic ended up arriving in Melbourne and not the body of Jake Kovco. Soldier Two is quoted saying: "I was devastated and am still upset by the mix-up." Australia's ABC notes that Soldier Two was flown in from Baghdad to testify and that he "said he was not given detailed instructions of his role as escort, and was not told that he had sole responsibility for identifying the body during the repatriation process." Doherty notes that Soldier Two's DNA was tested and "neither Soldier 2 nor three military police officers involved in the initial investigation" match the DNA found on the gun ("its slide, handgrip and trigger"). Doherty concludes with: "The two soldiers who were in barracks room eight with Private Kovco when he died will be DNA-tested when they arrive back in Australia later this week."
Note that this is the inquiry's stated goal/action today and that another turnaround wouldn't be surprising at this point considering its past history.

Someone sent that article on a Camilo Mejia being hit by a car to Wally and he asked me about it? I didn't know. So I'm glad C.I. covered that. I can't believe the continued mess that is the inquiry into Jake Kovco's death. I don't think I could sit through that the way Shelley Kovco (his wife) and Judy and Martin Kovco (his parents do). That takes a lot of guts and determination. I hope they get the answers.

I told C.I. I was looking for highlights and got passed a pretty good list I could pull from. I don't usually have to ask for help with highlights but I had a lot to do today and after class, I called C.I. and said, "All I want is to blog and get to bed so if you see anything that you think I might want to talk about, please pass it on." I was going to talk about Bill Clinton so C.I. noted Arianna and I'm using it below but first up, Marjorie Cohn's "Willful Blindness:"

On Friday morning, as I traveled north on Interstate 5, I passed two tractor-trailers heading south toward the 32nd Street Naval Station in downtown San Diego. Each vehicle carried about 10 unmarked bombs; each bomb was approximately 15 feet long. Two military helicopters hovered low above each tractor-trailer, providing overhead escort.
I wondered where these bombs were headed. They must have been in a big hurry because they usually ship their bombs more covertly.
Israel had just put out an S.O.S. to the United States government to rush over several more bombs. "The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration," according to the New York Times. Although always well-equipped with sophisticated US-made weapons, Israel was evidently running out of munitions to drop on the Lebanese people.
Washington loses no opportunity to scold Iran and Syria for providing weapons to Hezbollah.
Yet during the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing - the Pentagon's biggest military aid program - and $6.3 billion in US arms deliveries. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign military assistance.
It is a violation of the US Arms Export Control Act to provide weapons to foreign countries that are not used for defensive purposes or to maintain internal security. During the last major Israeli incursion into Lebanon, in 1981, the Reagan administration cut off US military aid and arms deliveries for 10 weeks while it investigated whether Israel was using weapons for "defensive purposes."
Last week, both houses of Congress, mindful of the importance of retaining Jewish votes and campaign contributions, passed resolutions stating that Israel is acting in self-defense. The vote in the Senate was unanimous; the House vote was 410 to 8.
Walking in lockstep with Bush, neither resolution calls for a ceasefire. The Senate resolution praises Israel for its "restraint" and the House resolution "welcomes Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties."
US-provided Israeli bombs have killed nearly 400 Lebanese, the overwhelming majority innocent civilians. The bombing has displaced half a million people and caused an estimated $1 billion in damage.
After Israeli orders that people in southern Lebanon evacuate their homes, several vehicles filled with evacuating Lebanese civilians were bombed by the Israeli military.

Marjorie Cohn is with the National Lawyers Guild (she's actually the president-elect) and that's a really important organization so when I saw her on the list, I was going to grab it no matter what she was writing about. But she's writing about something really important (I lucked out) and I hope you're paying attention to this. It's hard to. We were talking about that in class today, how soldiers were "kidnapped" in the press. Soldiers aren't kidnapped. They're captured. Israel didn't "enter" Lebanon, it invaded. The point was that if you're following the mainstream coverage, you should do yourself a favor and stop. Immediately.

The coverage is tilted and this was a long (and loud) discussion in class today. If you're only outlet were the mainstream (which shouldn't be the case if you're reading this), you'd be better off not following it.

Moving on to a story in the Washington Post about Bill Clinton rushing to prop up Joe Lieberman, I say, "Go away, Bill Clinton." Really, just go away. Take your War Hawk wife, and go away. David Broder doesn't tell him that. So I will. Bully Boy's where he is because Bill Clinton gave him cover re: Iraq. That scheme was built over time and Clinton was in office. So he's never going to speak out against the war he helped start. So Hillary's never going to either. So both of them, leave the national stage. Really. Pretending to be the happy couple? I mean, get real. You cheated on her. If she's smart, she cheated on you. But America doesn't need any more of your psychodrama. Move it along. You're not president. You weren't a great president to begin with. Leave the stage. It's not like you've done anything since leaving. You've pal'd around with George Bush the first. You've done a tiny little bit re: prices for AIDS drugs. You did go to Ireland, I'll give you credit for that. But really, just leave the stage. Everytime you flap your gums, you give as much, if not more, cover for the Republicans than Lieberman. And when you told David Letterman that you didn't know about the Downing Street Memos, if that was true (yeah, sure) then it yet again proves you've got nothing to offer.

Jimmy Carter went with Habitat. That was his issue. You need to find an issue and work on it. Quit butting into politics to give cover for your fellow War Hawks. It's one thing to say you didn't deserve impeachment, it's another for you to walk around like you're a hero. You led a smutty life and hurt your party because you couldn't keep it in your pants. You and your wife both need to seriously consider leaving the public life. Every time you start trying to triangulate today, it just reminds everyone of how irritating you can be.

Now for the thing by Arianna Huffington, "Bill Clinton Endorses Joe Lieberman -- a HuffPost Preview! (Updated):"

So Bill Clinton made it to the big Lieberman rally in Waterbury today (albeit two hours late) and offered his endorsement. Among his observations was the rather baffling assertion that the war in Iraq is the "pink elephant in the living room." This expression traditionally refers to "a question or problem that very obviously stands but which is ignored for the convenience of one or other party." But just who exactly is ignoring the war?

I'm glad Arianna doesn't pull punches. I know she was anti-Clinton but I really don't think this is some grudge thing (the way the online, latter day Dylan appears to think). The truth is, he embarrassed the nation with his actions. It wasn't impeachable. It didn't destroy the country. But that nonsense was smutty and, my opinion, what saved him was Ken Starr was more smutty and overplayed his hand. But Bill Clinton needs to grasp that we're not all fans of his. Everytime he does or says something, I like him less and less.

Be sure to get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. I'm going to bed. (It's 9:25 pm right now, before any jokers look at the time on this post -- when I started it -- and think I'm going to bed at six o'clock. Would have been nice too, though.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

E-mails and Iraq

Mondays. Ugh. So first off, "Where's Wally?" I had three e-mails asking. I went to Wally's site because he texted messaged me to say he thought today's was funny or sucked. There's nothing up from today! Wally blogs by e-mail. It's just easier for him to do that and put the links in there then fool with Blogger (which was acting up). So he blogged before noon his time today because he had cousins in town and they had plans to do stuff. But it never hit the site. So I called him and it's up right now, "THIS JUST IN! SCOTTY MCLELLAN HOWLING WITH GLEE!" (And it's funny, to reply to his text message today. So read it.)

Another question in an e-mail was, "What's happened to The Third Estate Sunday Review." Joel goes he knows he can count on Ava and C.I.'s TV review each week and the editorial and usually there's one other thing he likes "but the last three issues" they call them 'editions' "it's all been grabbing me?" I don't know because I always like the editions. But one change that's been happening, and this was Dona's thing and she pushed for it so give her credit, is more shorter pieces. Speaking just for me, I know when I would work on stuff with them, I'd think, "This has got to be longer" and be trying to figure out stuff to add. But Dona's been pushing that so that there are short pieces and long pieces for a few months now and I think, my opinion, everyone's finally get a handle on that.

With Ava and C.I., there's never "too long." Readers love their reviews (I do too) and would read like a 20 page review if Ava and C.I. had time to write something like that. But that's because of their writing and the fact that they've built up that relationship with the readers by being there week after week. They've never not written a commentary -- one week they covered the coverage of a film -- but week after after week, even when they were saying up until it was written, "We don't have anything!", they've done it. I don't know when they started doing the commentaries themselves (I wasn't helping out then and Jim says they didn't get credit for doing it by themselves until several weeks after they'd started -- he estimates it was around the third or fourth review). But in the first ones, they were working with everybody so that's January 16, 2005. By Jim's estimate, it's all them (just them) on January 30, 2005. That's really something if you think about it.

Especially if you think about how they hate their reviews/commentary and always say, when they come back from writing them Saturday night or Sunday morning, "It sucks. It's awful. This is our worst one yet." Then, as soon as we can, we're all reading it (usually aloud) and we're like, "No, this is hilarious."

And that's where I fall in with readers. I'm one of the ones who reads and laughs. Then later, their points will hit me. Wally's the same way. Jim's on the points being made. He'll be saying, "That was a great way to illustrate . . ." and I'll be like, "Huh?" and then I'll get it later. And I think that's why it works and has such a huge following (that's the most popular feature every week and they've got readers e-mailing week after week and it just keeps growning). You can be someone like me who just reads it and gets the jokes at first or you can be someone like Jim reading it on a whole other level. Ma likes Dostoyevsky (hope I spelled that right) so one week, back in April, as a gift to Ma (we were all in NYC and Ma had been talking about what she likes to read) they included Mr. D in their review, a quote from one of his novel's. People loved that. Ty says people loved that they included the Stephen Sondheim song this time. Then there are people who love it because they mention some show that most have never seen or else forgotten. There's all sorts of levels and ways you can enjoy their stuff.

Tony's still laughing over one thing in their Supernatural review: " it's like really bad gay porn where the leads forget to take their clothes off." And he had an idea where, like some movie review collections, you just do a clip job. You pull from like Roger Ebert's reviews and do this book of like one paragraphs reviews. I told Tony that Jim and Jess had already thought that and if Ava and C.I. ever do come up dry, Jim and Jess are planning to do that.

So there's all sorts of way their stuff can be enjoyed. And they bring in the readers, Dona said to stress that, because Ava and C.I.'s commentaries have been "the calling card" (Dona) for the site. Dona says, "It's the must read at our site. Everyone comes for that. That's a lot of pressure on them. But that's the truth. If we didn't have a piece by them each week, there are readers who wouldn't come by. Most people now wander around and find other stuff but there's not a reader who doesn't come knowing the TV commentary will be there. It really is our calling card, it's the thing that's allowed us to build an audience, and it's the thing that's allowed us to stand out."

She, Jess, Ty and Jim said that the other difference is that they've really tried to stretch some weeks with group pieces and that even if it fails, you learn from trying. I told them that Joel thinks it's because they've all been together for the last few weeks. They agree that probably helps some because, even though they're not going through the week saying "We will do this," they do find a lot of ideas from things they've shared that week.

This time, everything was done but the editorial by six o'clock my time and I bailed to take a nap. It was eight o'clock when I woke up and I got back in on the session only to find that, once again, there were problems posting. That really is the biggest problem these days. They're all ready to put stuff up and they can't get it to post for this reason or that. That's a pain in the ass. And like it happened with The Common Ills too where C.I. ended up spending over an hour just trying to get Isaiah's latest to post. They had hoped to change the summary that appears below their site's title but there were too many problems for that.

So it's always something and I'm always surprised that they get an edition up. There are times when everything goes wrong but they stick it out and they get stuff up (and sometimes rewritten). I really love that site and I think working on it has been tons of fun for me and also helped me do better here.

But if you missed the latest edition, here's a list of the new stuff:

A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Bully Boy's Wars
TV: 24 -- like 60 Minutes with less action
What's on Your Mind? Do the Pollsters really want to know?
What's being read?
Flanders was in the house at the National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Chicago
Protest in Mexico over the election! Over the 2004 election.
NYT triest to catch up with Third Estate Sunday Review?
Insantiy: How Little Centrists Get Ahead and Destroy America

The "What's on Your Mind" feature is one that usually just runs in their print edition and Joel wanted to know how much he's missing. Probably three to four pieces a week minimum. There was a remark in last week's editorial that left some people puzzled -- about minimum wage. We wrote this really strong piece on the Dem's minimum wage proposal and it didn't go online. It was really strong. But C.I. and Jim both pointed out we'd probably given two ways for the Repubes to play down the proposal. Did we want it online? No. Not if it was going to help the Repubes in 2006 and, more importantly, help keep minimum wage from being raised. But we weren't impressed with the proposal for a number of reasons. I really can't say anything more here without getting into the things that we worried about after we wrote the feature and it was decided it would just go into print. Ty's 'special one' is responsible for distributing the print edition when they're all out of town so they try to get the print version do extra quick right now.
That means the editorial online is usually "better" (Jim) because they will polish the online version while they're posting the other stuff. Sometimes Ava and C.I. will do something just for the print edition. So there are differences.

Hope that answers Joel's questions. I've got another e-mail to answer but let's get to the news via C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
But will you hear about it? (How bad is the coverage -- in terms of quanity? So bad that Mark Silva's Chicago Tribune article is titled "
Remember Iraq?") And, if you do, will you hear of the 'relative calm' or any other dubious phrase?
Following Sunday's bombings that
claimed the lives of at least 66 and left over 200 wounded, today's events may not 'impress' enough to get the coverage they deserve.
It's after 10:00 pm in Baghdad, here are some of the events reported from Iraq.
Reuters reports two roadside bombs in Baghdad (one killing an Iraqi solider and wounding three more ; the other killing a civilian and wounding three police officers); a car bomb in Mosul killed five Iraqi soliders and wounded four; a roadside bomb killed one person in Mosul; and mortar bombs in Baghdad wounded at least eight people. CBS and the AP report a car bomb in Samarra that killed two Iraqi police officers and wounded 17. That would be six bombings with ten killed (plus the driver of the car bomb in Mosul for eleven -- Evening Echo News notes that the "car driver accelarted toward the house before detonating the explosives" -- the police were using the house as a command station). Of the car bomb in Mosul that killed the Iraqi soldiers (not the police officers), RTE News notes: "The Iraqi vehicle was driving behind a US patrol at the time of the explosion, although no US personnel were reported injured in the blast."
Reuters reports "an agricultural engineer" was shot dead near Kerbala; gunfire near Hilla left two dead and 17 wounded; and four died from shootings in Mosul. AFP reports the shooting death of "a bodyguard of a Sunni politician" in Baghdad. That would be eight dead.
FP reports 23 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi prime minister (in name if not deed) Nouri al-Maliki splits from Iraq and goes to London.
James Hider and Jenny Percival (Times of London) note the departure this way: "As he flew out of his embattled capital yesterday at least 63 people were killed in bomb attacks and a dozen were shot dead in relentless drive-by shootings or kidnapped and murdered." Or, as Paul Schemm (AFP) worded it: "Nevertheless, while Maliki began a trip to Britain and the United States, the violence raged on at home."
BBC reports that on their radio program Today, Nouri al-Maliki has declared that Iraq "his country would not slide into a civil war." Reuters quotes him saying, "Civil war will not happen." CBS and the AP report him declaring, "There is a sectarian issue, but the political leaders have succeeded and they are working on putting an end to the sectarian issue. There is continuing efforts in that direction, the civil war will not happen to Iraq." The Puppet meets the Bully Boy in DC on Tuesday while he preps new 'believeable' lines -- possibly that no one takes a cut off the house's take in Vegas?
This as
Patrick Cockburn (London's Independent via Belfast Telegram) reports on a conversation with Hoshyar Zebari (Iraqi Foreign Minister) who spoke of how "in theory the government should be able to solve the crisis because Shia, Kurd and Sunni were elected members of it. But he painted a picture of a deeply divided administration in which senior Sunni members praised anti-government insurgents as 'the heroic resistance'."
Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) quotes an unidentified White House flack saying: "In terms of the civil war question, I would simply say there has been a rise in sectarian violence.. . That in itself does not constitute a civil war,’’ the official said." In terms of the news value of that quote, I would simply say there is none. That in itself, a flack lips flapping, does not constitute news.
AP reports that Muqtada al-Sadr's followers have released a statement on the impending meet up between Bully and Puppet: "We want him to cut his visit and not to sign any paper leading to occupation forces remaining in Iraq." And Robert H. Reid (AP) quotes one al-Sadr 'follower,' Jalil al-Nouri, stating: "We are the only group that rejects the occupation because we are nationalists. We are the only political group that rejects their presence in the country and we demand that they leave. We are to the point, and we are clear."
But with al-Maliki due in DC tomorrow, don't be surprised to see the days events described as 'calm' or 'relative calm' (on a day with at least 19 reported dead and 23 corpses discovered) and the rah-rah-'liberation' noises to start up all over again. Don't expect to read many pieces like Michael Gregory's "
None left untouched by daily violence in Baghdad" (Reuters) which notes: "President George W. Bush will hear the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in Washington on Tuesday tell him of plans for stemming bloodshed in Baghdad and repeat assurances he gave on Monday that Iraq is not at war with itself. But talk to people at random in the capital and a picture quickly emerges of a city where virtually everyone has a friend, relative or neighbour who has fallen victim to the sectarian shootings and death threats that Washington accepts are now an even bigger threat than the 3-year-old Sunni insurgency."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Iraq continues. Last week, it was decided (or "decided" since the board of inquiry appears to change its mind regularly -- Olive writes that Judy Kovco should call it the "Keystone Court" as she called the police the "Keystone cops" last week) that the former roommates of Kovco, in the room when he died, would testify from Iraq via videolink.
James Madden (Daily Telegraph) reports that has changed and now the board has decided to summon the two roommates to testify in person. Madden also notes that Dectective Sergeant Phillip Elliott testified to the inquiry that "Pte Kovco's body was washed and his two roommates were allowed to shower after the shooting. The bed linen and the soldiers' clothes were washed, and blood spatter was thought to have been removed from the ceiling and furniture." Australia's ABC notes that Kovco's "clothes were destroyed" prior to Elliott's arrival for the investigation. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports: "In answer to Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Holles, for Private Kovco's parents, Sergeant Elliott said Private Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, differed as to where Soldier 17 was sitting at the time of the shot. Soldier 17 had said he was sitting at the foot of the bed and Soldier 19 said Soldier 17 was sitting at the middle. [. . . .] Sergeant Elliott agreed the two also differed in their accounts of where Private Kovco lay after he fell. Bloodstains on the floor were consistent with him having been turned over after he fell." Austraila's ABC notes, of the decision to have the former roommates testify, "The inquiry has agreed to the application, but it is not yet known when the soldiers will return to Australia."
Meanwhile, the
Herald Sun reports that a witness known only as "Soldier Two" will testify with regards to how Bosnian Juso Sinanovic's body ended up being shipped to Australia instead of the body of Jake Kovoco.
In peace news,
it's day 21 of The Troops Home Fast (21 days since it started, 21 days for those who have been fasting since the Fourth of July -- but you can join the fast at any time). Robert C. Koehler (Tribune Media Services) writes of his decision to fast for one day and join the efforts organized by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace: "We have a war machine that's fed by hate and fear - indeed, by the need for enemies without the least humanity, because that absolves us of the need to have any ourselves. It's the age-old formula for war, but we have entered a time when it is globally life-threatening. When the world's only superpower swaggers through the Middle East with that kind of delusional anger and a military budget of half a trillion dollars that requires annual justification, watch out. It is time for new priorities."
Christopher J. Stephens writes, in The National Ledger, of the cases of Ehren Watada and Suzanne Swift noting: "Veterans for Common Sense [VFC] wrote an open letter to President Bush in March 2005 that noted some ominous possible results of the war in Iraq: 1.26 million Iraqi children under the age of five will die, 500,000 will need immediate medical attention, and 2 million will become homeless. Signatories to this letter included two Navy Vice Admirals, a Brigadier General, 14 Colonels, and 4 Captains."

That's a lot going on and I think the thing that stand out so much to me is how little coverage Iraq is getting in most of the media. I've got two more e-mails to answer so let me grab the one dealing with Iraq. C.I. wrote "NYT: Gordo swears he'll talk dirty one day (we believe him), von Zielbauer . . ." on Saturday and included some strong stuff (great stuff) on the paper's continued refusal to cover Ehren Watada because a friend at the paper called (while the thing was written) and asked that C.I. hit on that one more time. I know that because one of the ideas when we were brainstorming was Ehren Watada and C.I. told us the paper should finally cover it Sunday. So Toni wrote wondering about that. I know "some" -- I don't know all. (I don't know the name of the friend but I think I can narrow it down to three people.) I think (THINK) it was either the friend wanting C.I. to note it one last time because there would be another chance after Sunday or the friend was afraid that the paper needed a nudge to run the piece. Whatever reason, John Kifner and Timothy Egan's "Officer Faces Court-Martial for Refusing to Deply to Iraq" was in Sunday's New York Times and I'll give not just the writers credit for writing the article but the paper credit for running it and finally covering the story. Other papers picked up on it and carried that story. (Some just today.) C.I. noted the story Sunday in
"NYT: Finally reports on Ehren Watada" and Toni wondered if I agreed with C.I.'s assessment? I think it's a great article. I think it should have run at least forty days ago (I think C.I. does as well). It made it into the Sunday paper which has a huge circulation (and it has gotten picked up by other papers) so I'm taking the "better late than never" attitude and just being glad they covered it. I went out and bought the Sunday Times for that article. We get The Boston Globe. I paid five bucks for the Sunday Times. For that article alone, I think it was worth five bucks. Besides being a strong article, I think it shows how far the peace movement has come. The Watada story got a serious write up in the paper of record. The paper obviously didn't want to cover it or they would have done it weeks ago. But obviously some at the paper realized it was news and that they couldn't avoid covering it. So that's a big thing. For the peace movement and hopefully for the paper. I'm not a fan of the New York Times (read my "about me") but I will give them credit for that. If I'd read the paper today and they'd distorted everything in the world, if they'd have attacked Catholics in Ireland (again), I would have let a lot of us just roll off my back for that one article.

To me, it's a lot like when Bright Eyes performed "When A President Talks To God" on The Tonight Show. That is still a really strong moment that I remember. I remember the excitement I had watching it, I remember how excited my friends were the next day, I remember watching it online. That was a big shift. (Even if some old fogies couldn't get the point, you know the ones, the ones who, as was noted in a Third Estate Sunday Review, are
"At the intersection of politics and pop culture, you'll find us lost and asking for directions.")
This story was like that. In a class today, a teacher who doesn't talk much about Iraq (compared to others doing politics and history classes that I've had), talked about that article and passed it around. So yeah, I think it was a big deal and I'll give the writers of it, the people who decided to run it and the paper all credit for that. I won't praise them for much, but I will give them praise for that. This is an was a big thing.

It may be an older thing and people our age may not get it so much, but it was a big thing. So I'll say they did a brave thing, they did a strong thing, wish they'd do it more often, but praise them for doing it once. I'll probably give the story another link tomorrow just to note it one more time. For people my generation, a lot of us grab stuff online and that's where we get our information. But like our parents, they've really grown or been conditioned to think 'real news' comes in a paper. I think that's what happened with my professor. It appearing in the Times was a big deal. If I'm remembering (from what C.I. has said), the Sunday paper has the largest circulation of any day for the Times. A lot of people buy it, hopefully a lot of people read the news section and, if they did, they saw that story. For people my age, it's easy to go, "We know about it!" But it does and did reach people odler than us.

Now the third e-mail was about vacations. Connie says "Everybody's on vacation! I'm tired of it!" I'm not on vacation. Elaine's back from vacation. Rebecca's still on vacation and Kat's in Ireland (she gets back this week). Ma's on vacation. If Connie's griping about Ma, my mother works really hard and this is the first vacation she and my father have ever had without any of us kids along for the ride (there are eight of us kids) so cut Ma some slack. She'll post this Saturday. As for Kat, a number of us are filling in for her and Betty's filling in for Rebecca so I really don't think anyone's gone "dark" or that "the number of posts have dropped severely." When I head out to California for a week shortly, I'll still be posting. When Elaine has to take time off in a bit, Sunny will again fill in for her. I miss Rebecca and Kat and I understand wanting them online NOW! Believe me, I understand. I was so depressed (about the people who wouldn't cover Nancy Youssef's story breaking the news that the US military was keeping a body count of Iraqis, about a program I had loved being one of the people refusing to cover it, about the crap coverage that the program was doing instead) that when Rebecca and Elaine both left on vacation, I was pretty sad. Not because of online (though probably that too) but me and Elaine talk once a day on the phone minimum. And Rebecca probably calls me three times a day when she's not on vacation. But people need time for themselves.

I'm wrapping up on that note. Go check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.