Friday, August 18, 2006

My week out west winds down

I can't believe it's Friday! Usually, on Friday, I'm so excited the week is over but I got to be honest, I'm not so thrilled. It's been a great week out here in "the West." :D

It's all been fun, activism, speaking, listening, strategizing, amusement park, a comedy club, a concert, two movies, you name it. Great week. I could really go for another one but I couldn't live here. Nothing bad about the place, just I got family and friends back home. And home's home, you know?

But it's been so great. There wasn't a moment when I was bored. How many weeks can you say that about? Saw a lot of stuff. I go back Sunday and I think that's when most people are leaving. (The ones who are leaving. I'm still expecting an announcement of, "We're switching colleges and going out here." Wouldn't blame 'em. C.I.'s got the room and it is fun out here.)

And let me be honest, if I were home today I'd be screaming my head off. Why? Well did you hear about Ehren Watada? Did you?

I did. Not from the supposed brave independent media, but from people who really cared. In fact, there is major dogging on going on right now of the lack of coverage. They didn't cover the lead up, why would they cover the hearing?

They might not be able to play self-important gas bag if they covered something that really mattered, right?

Stupid dumb asses. I'll never donate to independent media again. Not after seeing how that went. Take "Lotta Links" -- of their 100-plus links today, how many do you think they gave to Ehren Watada's story? Did you guess five? You're too generous. ZERO. ZILCH. They didn't do a damn thing. And they want to beg for money. Why don't they just trying getting a job?
If you're trying to find out what happened to Watada, read C.I.'s "Walking Through Watada (Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing)."

I also really got to see days in the life of C.I. and I get why Dona says, "We've got to get a handle on these all night editions." We really do. If C.I. gets three hours a night, I'm surprised. I would go to sleep, C.I. would still be up, I'd wake up and C.I. would have beat me up by hours. Working the room in a party is working the Iraq issue. I thought I gave a lot of time to it but C.I. really does. A journalist calls for a favor and C.I. helps but says, "You know I'll be calling in this marker." At one point today, C.I. passed out. I didn't even realize it. It was hot and C.I.'d been going for hours. There was something about water and then nothing. C.I. was probably out for five to ten minutes. It was a "woah," shake the head, and "I've got some great ideas for Sunday." (They were great ideas. C.I. wrote them down on the back of a deposit receit from the bank.) I asked Jim about it and Jim goes C.I. runs ragged focusing all this time on Iraq. So I see Dona's point. It's not fair to go on and on. It's tiring for all of us but Sunday is tough online for C.I. and there's always something C.I.'s agreed to do on Sunday. Usually several things.

It's really cool to see how much everyone has upped their committment to stopping the war. Everyone was against it and doing their part already but, like Ty said, you hang around C.I. long enough and you realize there are like 100 things each day that you could do and don't do. Elaine and me were talking about it and she said this issue won't go away. She said it's like college days (they all went to college together, Elaine, Rebecca and C.I.) and her only concern is that C.I.'s not 18 anymore and is going full out like back then.

But I was telling Rebecca how glad C.I. was that she was back from her honeymoon and Rebecca had no idea about that. I was really bummed both because I started seeing day after day just how much Democracy Now could and did suck. And everyone had basically come out here and Rebecca was on vacation and then her honeymoon. So we were talking about that today and I go about how glad C.I. is that Rebecca's back and Rebecca goes, "Oh please."

She goes that everyone else told her on the phone or in an e-mail (when she was vacationing), "I wish you were back already." When I was at my worst ("Mopey"), C.I. called and stayed on the phone with me for two hours. I was talking to Rebecca about that and she kept going, "That didn't get said." It did too.

The more I told her, the more she started to believe. She finally went to C.I. and asked, "Why didn't you tell me that?" C.I. goes that it was her vacation (and then honeymoon) and everyone could survive while she took time she needed. But Rebecca was so happy (she'll probably mention it tonight). But Rebecca has her own unique spot in this community. She's loved because you know she's just going to say it and if you don't like it, too bad. And with her gone, the burden of that really did fall on C.I. Rebecca had noticed that and all but thought C.I. was just pissed off. She didn't realize that when she left we all had to do some heavy lifting. (That's not saying Betty didn't do a great job substituting for Rebecca. She did do a great job and she ended up bringing in some new readers too. But Rebecca is warrior woman and when she's gone, we all miss her.) But hearing about that phone conversation and then talking to C.I. really made Rebecca's day. I don't think she got how much she gives to the community and how much we all appreciate it.

Just like you count on Wally or Betty to make you laugh, you count on Rebecca to get you angry about the things that matter.

And to wrap this into Iraq, that's what's needed. Lots and lots of voices speaking out and speaking in their own voice cause that's what's going to reach people. Not all of us memorizing a talking point but speaking in our voices.

Like John Edwards. I didn't care too much for him. Didn't dislike him in 2004 (I voted for John Kerry, so I voted for him). But now he's speaking in his own voice and saying things like (just now on KPFA's news), that Iraqis need to know that the US is going to leave Iraq and "the best way to make that clear is to actually leave Iraq."

I would have said it different, but I heard him and understood him. I bet a lot of other people will too. And since he came out strong against the war, I've been willing to consider him a serious choice for president in 2008.

He's said stuff like he made a mistake voting for the resolution (for war) and not a lot of people will admit they made a mistake. Bully Boy has a hard time with that -- did you notice! :D

That's one of the reasons troops are still in Iraq -- because some people are too proud to own their mistakes so I've been interested in what John Edwards has had to say lately.

Now here's news of Iraq from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, August 18, 2006, the so-called 'crackdown' continues (and early childhood experts may note the engaged-in-a-power-struggle nature of it all as well as the increasing futility), Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing started and concluded Thursday, Ricky Clousing returned to North Carolina and DNA on Jake Kovco's pistol is thought to have been indentified.
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy in Bully Boy's illegal war. Yesterday, the military held an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there was reason/cause to take the matter to a court martial. Ehren Watada's attorneys were Eric Seitz and Cap. Mark Kim (of the US Army). While the prosecution called only one witness (to confirm that, as Watada had stated would be the case, Watada did not deploy) and spent the rest of its time showing excerpts o a speech Watada gave this weekend at the Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech).
Watada's side called three witnesses Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and retired Amry Colonel Ann Wight. Boyle testified as the nature of the war noting that the lie that Bully Boy pressed (for Congressional and public approval) of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11 "
constitutes . . . a conspiracy to defraud the United States government." Ann Wright testified: "I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council . . . falls into the category of a war of agrression, which is by international law a war crime. So by a persaon saying 'Yes, I'm gong to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime.'"
As Eric Seitz had expected/predicted, the hearing lasted one day. Watada could find that the hearing determined there were no grounds for proceeding to a court-martial or a court-martial could be the next step. That call will be made by
Lt. Colonel Mark Keith who presided over the hearing. A court-martial could mean as many as seven years imprisonment.
Ehren's father Bob Watada will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on a speaking tour that starts tomorrow and ends August 27th. A full list of scheduled appearances can be
found here. A sample of upcoming events includes:

Saturday 8/19
Vigil for Abeer Hamza (14-year old girl who was raped & killed with her family by 5 US troops) Willard Park (Telegraph & Derby), Berkeley Contact: Not in Our Name 510-601-8000

Sunday 8/20
American Muslim Voice Foundation Convention
12:45-1 pm Bob Watada speaks 5748 Mowry School Rd., Newark Contact: Samina F. Sundas 650-387-1994
Monday 8/21
Press Conference SF Japantown (Peace Plaza or NJAHS Gallery) Contact: Grace Morizawa
gmorizawa [at] 510-289-1285
Monday 8/21
Reception & Event in SF Japantown Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC (JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007
Tuesday 8/22
1-3 pm

brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902
Wednesday 8/23
UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026 noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711
Thursday 8/24
World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
Friday 8/25
7-10pm "
Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Again, a full list can be found by clicking
here (Indybay IMC).
Once again,
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In addition
Howie Hawkins (Green Party candidate for US Senate from NY) is urging "the peace movement to provide financial support to soldiers who are punished for refusing to participate in the war." And, as many community members have noted, while there's been a "How Can They!" attitude regarding Hillary Clinton's Democratic opponent not being invited to a TV debate, the Green Party candidate is shut out as well -- despite the lack of op-eds, news segments, et al. (The Green Party candidate would be Howie Hawkins.)
Another war resister, Ricky Clousing, is back at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The
AP reports that he arrived back this morning. Clousing self-checked out of the army in June of last year. Last week, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) had the scoop that the 24-year-old Clousing would be holding a news conference to announce he was turning himself in. Estes Thompson reports that after turning himself in at Fort Lewis in Washington, he was ordered "to report to a unit at Fort Bragg that handles absent soldiers."
Turning to diplomacy issues, as trade talks went on in Jordan this week, talks
which Petra noted were "co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the [Jordan] Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Masshadani," Jordan's Ahmed al-Lozi became "the first fully accredited Arab ambassador in Iraq."
Meanwhile in the United States,
Free Speech Radio News reported Thursday that "twenty-one former generals and high ranking national security officials called on President Bush to reverse course . . . and embrace a new area of negotiation with Iraqn, Iraq and North Korea." Speaking with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Medea Benjamin noted that while the US administration makes no efforts to reach out to the Iraqi parliament, "we at the grass roots [level] have." Benjamin was referring to the CODEPINK & Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan where she and others met with Iraqis including the "members of the largest Shia coalition, the largest Sunni block in their parliament, the largest secular coalition, torture victims from Abu Ghraib."
Benjamin observed, "It was quite an amazing coming together of people who, from all different perspectives, wanted to see an end to the US occupation, an end to the violence in Iraq, the reconstruction of their country and we came awy from there, Andrea, with a lot of ideas about how to get the voices of the Iraqi people out in the US so that when we hear that same old excuse here 'We can't leave the Iraqi people now!' we can hear the voice of Iraqis telling us precisely how they want to see an end to the occupation and a broader reconciliation plan."
This comes as
Robert Reid (AP) reports that: "Key U.S. senators complain it's time to tell Iraqis that American troops won't stay indefinitely and to make political compromises to avoid all-out civil war." This as a Dick Cheney stump speech/plea for cash turned into an event. Jesse Harlan Alderman (AP) reports that a Boise, Idaho fund raiser included protestors in "orange [hunting] vests handing out leaflets on hunter safety"; "[p]eace activists silently lining a major downtown arterial with tombstones to mark the mounting death toll in Iraq"; and a "Dick Cheney look-alike contest" with an award of "$22 in free gas and a box of shotgun shells" (and hopefully a list of qualified plastic surgeons).
In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue. Despite 'crackdown' 6.0 which now means that all vehicles are banned for two-days in the capital.
Reuters reports that this ban has been imposed due to the one-year anniversary of the stampeded that killed almost "1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims . . . in a stampede . . . when a crowd . . . was panicked by rumours of a suicide bomber." Al Jazeera notes that the ban is in place until Monday morning. The BBC reports that, in addition to the vehicle ban, there are "[c]heckpoints, [and] body searches". Exactly how vehicle bans, checkpoints or body searches will stop rumors (the stated cause of last year's stampeded) remains unclear.
CBS and the Associated Press report that in Balad Ruz, a roadside bomb claimed killed at least one person. KUNA reports that today it was announced that a "multi-national force (MNF) soldier" died in southern Baghdad on Thursday from a roadside bomb. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the "British military base near Amarah" was under mortar attack "Friday morning." [In the United States, Amy Bartner (Indianapolis Star) reports on a "new 11-bed unit . . . at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center where the most seriously wounded soldiers in the Iraq war will be able to recover" and notes that while body armor is credited with saving the lives of American troops, "that protection can't prevent potentially debilitating injuries to arms and legs".] Australia's notes that a mortar attack on a city council member in Baquba wounded "[f]our bodyguards."
Shootings?In Taji, a convoy ("civilian trucks") was attacked leaving one person wounded and a 'guard' dead
the AP reports. Australia's reports that the truck went up in flames and had been carrying "kerosene" while also noting that a grocer was shot dead in Yarmuk. (Other press outlets do not identify what the truck was carrying.) Australia's The Advertiser reports that seven Shi'ite pilgrmins were shot dead by "gunmen" in Baghdad. KUNA reports that "two civilians" were shot dead in Mosul.
AP reports five were discovered in Mahmoudiya ("gunshot wounds"). The Canadian Press notes the five and adds that six more were discovered "in the Tigris River" ("bullet-riddled and tortured").
CBS and AP report that journalist Saif Abdul-Jabbar al-Tamimi was kidnapped Wednesday and that "[t]here has been no claim of responibility". Reporters Without Borders notes that he was kidnapped in Baghdad as were journalists Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal who "have been hostages for more than six months" now while journalist Salah Jali al-Gharrawi has not been seen since his April 4th kidnapping. Reporters Without Borders notes: "A total of 49 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Instead of being afforded a degree of security by the fact that they work for the media, journalists have been singled out as targets."
AFP reports that Father Saad Syrop was kidnapped, also from Baghdad, Tuesday evening after he had finished Mass (at St. James Church) and was heading home.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco resumed. Following Wednesday's hypnosis shocker, an unscheduled day-off was taken due to reported delays with DNA test that might reveal the 'owner' of the DNA found on Kovco's gun. As
Michael Edwards reports on PM (Australia's ABC) Michelle Franco ("DNA expert") testified that the DNA belongs to Soldier 14. Reporting on The World Today (ABC), Edwards noted that "Soldier's 14's DNA was found on the gun's slide, trigger, base plate, and magazine."
Soldier 14 previously testified to the hearing
on August 9th and dropped a bombshell when he testified that the (written) statements provided to the military investigation were not reflective of his (verbal) statements -- specifically, as Peter Charlton (Courier-Mail) noted this included the claim that there was a standard procedure (the so-called 'buddy system') in operation "where a pair of soldiers check each other's weapons to ensure they were unloaded."
Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches.") Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 14 testified, after the DNA results, that he had no memory of handling Jake Kovco's gun and that his attorney ("Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Green") cross-examined Franco who noted that skin celles "could be transferred through a handshake or carried in sweat."
AAP calls the DNA "[s]ensational new evidence," notes that "Soldier 14 has refused to be interviewed by police about the tests" and reports that "Monday . . . Soldier 14 will be cross-examined by lawyers representing Private Kovco's widow, Shelley, and his parents" Judy and Martin Kovco.
Daily Telegraph notes that Soldier 14 believes "that both he and Pte Kovco had probably used the same megaphone at the embassy on the day of the shooting" and that's where any DNA swap would have most likely taken place.
Finally, in peace news,
Camp Casey III is ongoing in Crawford, Texas until September 2nd -- on September 5th it switches locations and becomes Camp DC. AFP reports that it "will be located near the National Mall, the blocks-long expanse of lawn between the US Congress building and the White House". While it's still located in Crawford, upcoming events include the following: August 18th forum on peaceful solutions moderated by Carroll Boone and an August 21st War Crimes Tribunal. Actress and activist Mimi Kennedy, of Progressive Democrats of America, will be there on August 20th along with Carolyn Wonderland who will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who stepped up to the plate for Ehren Watada and who took a dive?

Thursday, a busy week but a fun one that's passed much too quickly. I think C.I. has something in the snapshot that needs to be pulled to note upfront:

What did Watada actually say as opposed to what did the military argue? If your indymedia choices have been following this, you know this already. If they've not made time or space for Watada this week, that may say something about the quality of your go-to indynews outlet.

In fact, I already told Jim and Dona that it's my pick for truest statement of the week for Sunday's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. For instance, "Lotta Links." Just looked through it's 100 plus links and guess what? If you went there for news, you wouldn't even know that Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing was today. There's not a damn thing. Now they don't do much writing, just links. And they can't spare one of their hundred-plus links to note Ehren Watada. They are a failure. As they beg for more money. They are a failure.

I think everyone should remember who did what and when people ask for money (this community doesn't ask for money), you should remember that when it was time to step up for Ehren Watada they had other things to do. So when they ask for money, you should find other things to do. Even if means you treat yourself to something. Maybe you've already given to things that spoke to you and you have a little extra -- don't give it to them. They didn't support Watada, they don't support you. The message was sent, you shouldn't ignore it.

I know Rebecca will have quite a bit more to say so check her out. (You know she'll have a lot to say too! :D) In fact, it's hard for me to write tonight because I know what she's planning to say and it's right on the money. I don't want to step on her points. But I will say that independent media has made a joke of itself in the last few weeks with very few exceptions.

Wally and Cedric cover the fact that the NSA, illegal, warrantless spying by the Bully Boy was overruled by a federal judge today so check that out. It's also a good time to re-read C.I.'s
"On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy."

It's amazing when you think about what all has happened since the Bully Boy grabbed the oval office and what's more amazing is to get out from your usual place and talk to other people and realize how much outrage there is in the country. Rebecca had a good thing on the desk jockeys who keep telling you what the 'mood' of the country is. They don't know shit. They don't get out there and talk to people. They don't know shit. They watch TV and read some things and then start getting all pompous about what's going on but they don't know what's going on because they're locked away from reality. People are outraged and if they'd leave the safety of their desks, they'd know that. Instead they're stupid and useless.

Take the group Tony and me started back home. We didn't think we'd have more than a few people showing up to discuss Iraq. That group is huge and became huge quickly. Because people do care about the war. Not the idiots who go on a radio show (like the idiot who went on Kris Welch's show) and say stuff about how most people aren't thinking about the war. Now the same idiot wants to tell you about Ned Lamont and how that means a shift and if you're smart you're thinking, "Wait, she said, about two months ago, that the war wasn't an issue." She's an idiot. She doesn't talk to people, she doesn't know what matters to them. She couldn't last ten minutes in one of the Friday meetings of my group because people would tear her apart for being so stupid and such a suck up to the Dems in the Senate.

She's useless. You need to start your own group and you can see how stupid people like that are. Or get on the road and do some traveling and you'll see how stupid she is.

They're all useless and disconnected from reality. Only question is are they disconnected by choice?

Last summer, around this time, C.I. talked about it and talked about what was happening. And even among those of us who do sites in the community, we thought, "Well is that really what's going on?" (I didn't. I'd seen it in my high school and then in college.) C.I. knew what was going on because of traveling all over the country and talking to this group and that group. C.I.'s still doing that all the time and you have to wonder why stupid desk jockeys and Soccer Mommas (to use a friend of C.I.'s nickname for one idiot) can't do that? They're too busy leafing through their New York Times and thinking that's reality. Sucking up to the Times because they want so desparately to fit in that they're willing to be wrong about what is happening around the country.

Last summer really did start the change and it goes on even without the support of our supposedly brave indymedia that can't even cover Iraq anymore. They're useless and they're lost. Don't let them lead because you'll end up lost too.

It's amazing to see who stepped up and who didn't. But you know what, a lot of them were the same ones who ignored Nancy A. Youssef's "U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" which revealed that the US did keep a body count on Iraqi civilians. They were useless then as they tried real hard to ignore that story (even when people brought it to their attention) and they're just as useless now. Know them and know they failed you. They'll never cop to that because they're too busy bragging on themselves.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today and it tells you what others can't or won't:

Thursday, August 17, 2006 -- the first day of Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing which will determine whether or not to start a court martial inquiry over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and fight in an illegal war, chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the seat of the 'crackdown' being rocked with bombs, in Australia, the Jake Kovco inquiry follows up yesterday's hypnosis shocker by grabbing an unscheduled day off, a new studay finds that Iraqis opinions of Americans have dropped further as the war has dragged on, and the political 'death' of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani still seems premature.
Today, the Article 32 hearing began and
Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that the military is showing video from last weekend's Veterans for Peace conference as part of their 'evidence.' AP also reports that "The prosecution played a total of three video clips with comments Watada made over the weekend as well as on June 7, when he publicly announced his decision to refuse deployment." The speech Watada gave is here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which also includes the video option (QuickTime and Windows Media). In addition KPFA's Flashpoints played one part of the speech yesterday night and, presumably, will air the second part today or later this week (Flashpoints airs at 5:00 pm PST, 7:00 pm Central and 8:00 pm EST -- can be heard archived at the show's website, archived at KPFA or live while the show broadcasts).
What did Watada actually say as opposed to what did the military argue? If your indymedia choices have been following this, you know this already. If they've not made time or space for Watada this week, that may say something about the quality of your go-to indynews outlet.
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." You can also check Courage to Resist and for the latest developments.
On his decision to say "no" to the illegal war,
Watada told Melanthia Mitchell (AP): "You don't join the military just to blindly follow whatever orders you're given. An order to go to an unlawful and immoral war based on false pretenses is no different than to kill innocent civilians." Writing at The Huffington Post, Peter Laufer notes the stands of Watada, Ricky Clousing and others. Peter Laufer observers: "With polls showing an increasing majority of Americans now opposed to the war, the question hangs in the air: When will our society honor and appreciate those soldiers who refuse to follow orders to fight in Iraq?"
Moving to an item a friend's wanted noted for the last two days: Where is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani? On Tuesday, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was
'the' news in many Iraq reports. Was he on his way out? One report noted that al-Mashhadani didn't return a phone call -- why was that? Marie Cocco (Truthdig) offers today that he's "openly toying with relinquishing his post". From where? From where is he openly toying with the idea? Juan Cole (Salon) offers that "when the Iraqi parliament reconvenes next month, the first item on the agenda will be firing Mashhadani." Cole feels that al-Mashhadani "has put his foot in his mouth too many times." al-Masshadani may very well be on the way out next month but right now he is in Jordan working on a trade agreement. It's an interesting part of the story left out of the mainstream media's he's-so-out-of-here narrative. Whether or not he remains speaker after the parliament reconvenes may be influenced by what's going on in Jordan.
While that may (or may not) influence how he is seen upon return, other observations were noted today.
The World Values Surveys ("collaborative project between the Univeristy of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Eastern Michigan University) has relased their survey results which found (a) from 2004 to 2006, the percentage of Iraqis (surveyed) stating they did not want Americans as neighbors went from 87% to 90%; (b) 76% surveyed feel the US invaded "to control Iraqi oil"; (c) while 27% of respondents in 2004 felt that religion and politics should be separate, that figure is up to 41% for 2006; and (d) in 2004, 46% of Iraqis surveyed agreed that "In Iraq these days life is unpredictable and dangerous" -- the 2006 figures finds the percentage in agreement has climbed to 59%.
And on the ground in Iraq today? The usual drill.
Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported that 1,666 bombs exploded in Iraq during the month of July (presumably this only covers bombings not called in by US forces). Bombings have continued in August. The BBC reports that a car bomb in Baghdad ("Sadr City district") took the lives of at least seven people and wounded an additional 25. The two month old 'crackdown' has not had any noticeable impact on safety in the region. AFP reports on two car bombs ("went off in rapid succession"), also in Baghdad, that left at least 65 wounded and at least 14 dead. Alister Bull (Scotsman) observes that the violence in the capital underscores "the precarious security situation as US and Iraqi forces try to stem sectarian violence." Reuters notes that a car bomb wounded three police officers in "west-central Baghdad". AFP characterizes it as "a sucide bomber" and notes that two civilians were also injured.
Outside of Baghdad,
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Daquq leaving two dead and a third wounded; mortar rounds wounded 21 in Muqdadiya in Sinjar, nine were wounded by "a suicide car bomber". Al Jazeera notes that the mortar attack in Muqdadiya took place in a market and that three police officers were among the wounded.
Reuters notes that a police officer (Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-llah Abdul-Kareem) was shot dead in Mosul while an unidentified police officer was shot in Falluja. AFP reports that "[a]nother six people were killed in a string of shootings in and around Baquba" and notes three brothers who owned a store together, "a salesman," a man whose car was stolen by assailants who then killed him, and a "civilian . . . shot dead in a coffee shop."
BBC reports that five corpses were discovered "near . . . Suwayra". Al Jazeera reports it was six and notes they were "mutilated." Reuters goes with six and notes that
the corpses were discovered "blindfolded . . . hands bound . . . multiple gunshot wounds" while the
AFP notes five being discovered and adds that two more corpses were discovered "near Muqdadiyah". Reuters also notes that an Iraqi soldier was discovered shot to death (thirteen shots to the head) in Balad "a day after he was kidnapped."
In peace news,
Matthew D. LaPlante and Rebecca Walsh (Salt Lake Tribune) report that Cindy Sheehan will visit Salt Lake City to protest Bully Boy who will be speaking to the American Legion August 31st. Kelly Patterson of Brigham Young University states that the protest may be larger than when Bully Boy spoke in Salt Lake City the year prior: "What's changed over the last year is public opinion about the war itself. Those kinds of shifts provide energy to people who feel very strongly about the war and its conduct. That makes this a more divisive environment -- even in Utah." KSL radio reports that "Sheehan indicated that Mayor [Rocky] Anderson had extended an invitation for her [to] come to Salt Lake and participate in the planned protest. Sheehan will give a speech during the protest at the city-county building downtown".
Camp Casey III continues through September 2nd and Camp DC opens September 5th and runs through the 21st to coincide with a week's worth of events lasting from September 21st to September 28th.
Writing on Sheehan's hospitalization last week,
Missy Comley Beattie (CounterPunch) notes that a transfusion of five-pints of blood were required and compares that need to needs within this country. Comley Beattie concludes: "We are bleeding as a result of the president's insatiable lust for power." Noting Sheehan's return to Camp Casey III this summer, Cynthia Hall Clements ( observers: "The question should not be why Sheehan is the lone voice in the wilderness protesting for peace. The question should be why more of us aren't doing the same."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of soldier Jake Kovco in Baghdad took an unscheduled day off.
AAP reports that DNA tests were to be covered and whether or not "they had identified the source of DNA on the gun that killed Pte Kovco in his Iraq barracks." The inquiry is expected to resume on Friday.

Now get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Are you getting the word out on Ehren Watada?

Wednesday. Tomorrow, Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing beings. I hope you're doing something. I hope you're doing a lot. But if you need some ideas, read Rebecca's "get the word out on ehren watada - don't count on the desk jockeys." It becomes obvious each day that there's not a lot of people who are going to get the word out. Take "Lotta Links" which did do a link this morning (I checked) but right now, Oh, they've moved on. Currently, they have three, THREE, links to Jon Stewart. You can tell what they're interested in and what they're not. If you read the snapshot, you'll see there was coverage of Watada today but there's no time for links to any of that when you've got to roll up your sleeves and cover the very important issue of Jon Stewart. It's fan club versus movement. Who's serious about ending the war and who just needs a chuckle?

Here's David Bauder's "Media pushes aside Iraq war for Lebanon:"

Remember Iraq? Not much has changed with the war there, but it has largely been pushed off front pages and squeezed from television news shows by the conflict in Lebanon and, last week, by the terror arrests in London.
Experts are wondering whether Iraq will regain its prominence in the news if the truce between Israel and Hezbollah remains intact.
"It is one of the many dangers of covering Iraq and the one that we don't really talk about ... that Americans will lose interest," said Jane Arraf, a former CNN Baghdad bureau chief working as a press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations this year.
Barring major changes, Arraf suspects that the story won't have the prominence that it once had. Americans are becoming numb to the series of depressing images from Iraq, she said. The danger for journalists and the difficulty moving around in Iraq also makes it extremely difficult to tell stories about how people are coping.
But Iraq won't recede as a story the way the war against terrorism in Afghanistan did, said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

What was news today? There were the events in Iraq. There was the case of Ehren Watada. The 'peace' may or may not 'hold' but the reality is that Iraq doesn't get the coverage it should from big media or indy media.

Iraq's pushed off the cameras and off the pages day after day. People need to get serious. The War Hawks are. They're cheerleading this war still (and trying to enlarge it). Those opposed to it? They're like a group of fire fighters having to cover every city in America. "Oh, fire breaking out! Gotta go!" and they rush to one fire, almost put it out but WAIT! there's another fire over there! They rush to that one, abandoning the one that should have put out, and they do a tiny bit there before the next four-alarm sounds.

Before you know it, everything's burning and nothing's getting covered.

The US went to war. That needs to be covered. That needs to be covered every day. Want to stop a war on Iran? End the war on Iraq. Want to stop Bully Boy's next move? End the war on Iraq. Instead, we start something, drop it, and then move on to something else. Bully Boy must love how defocused we are.

Ehren Watada probably didn't get anywhere near the coverage he needed or anywhere near the support he needed. That's go to change. And this nonsense of silence followed (for a moment) with "And now on a story we've been covering . . ." No, you haven't been covering it. You haven't done a damn thing. Shut up already about how brave you are and all the other crap because you've not done a damn thing. The war didn't end in May. The fact that your coverage did shows no bravery.

There's got to be a way to cover more than one issue. Until the media does a better job, I'll just focus on Iraq. There isn't enough focus on Iraq. There are other important issues but with Iraq falling apart and the coverage all being pulled, I'll just focus on Iraq.

I was talking to a reporter last night. He was talking about the difference people could make and using the snapshot as an example. I know the community appreciates it (and you know I love it) but it has ripples beyond us. It does make a difference and I heard examples of that. (I'm writing about it, with his permission, for Polly's Brew, so check that out Sunday.) The snapshot has a reach wider than I knew and when community members wanted it posted at all the sites, I didn't have to be asked twice. It is important. It focuses on Iraq in a way that we're not getting.
Whether it's the Kovco coverage or whatever else, it shines a light on Iraq.

Today, I saw what a pain it could be. We were all over the place today. There was a legislative thing going on and there were some groups to meet with and there were other things. The snapshot? C.I. was writing that thing on the fly. Ma and Dad got to see it written on a slow day and were blown away. I saw it written on a busy day and was blown away.

"I've got exactly two minutes, what do you have?" was how C.I. usually opened conversations on the cell phone or, "I've got exactly two minutes, can you walk me through this?"

I'm a slow typer. And to be honest, even leaving out that, I don't think I could be typing and talking to someone on the phone and making any sense at all. When I read over today's snapshot, I was just shocked because I didn't expect much at all. I was basing that on the start-stop nature and how little time was there at any point. Then I read the thing and was like, "Oh my God."

I'll put it in a second but Cheryl e-mailed asking how I knew Ma was made when she wrote "Squash Soup in the Kitchen"? If you read it, you should be able to tell that she's ticked off.
"Whether" is in there how many times? It's short and Ma's not really talking much about details. It was obvious to me she was upset when she wrote it.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Today, Wednesday, August 16, 2006, it's one day before Ehren Watada's Article 32 begins, a military inquiry learns that hypnosis was weighed as an option, chaos and violence continue in Iraq and curfews became the measure to address everything as the whack-a-mole 'strategy' grows more ludicrous. If news of Karbala, Mosul and Basra don't drive that point home, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on the violence spreading outward from Baghdad should.
the Bully Boy reportedly frets about who's got his back and allegedly peruses Camus and attempts to market "Adapt & Win" (on the grave yard markers of "Adapt or Die"). And the war drags on.
Today is the day that the New York Times editorial board offered "
Meanwhile, in Baghdad . . ." which includes the following: "As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test." It's a day where the American military fatality count since the illegal invastion stands at 2604, a day where the wounded count since the beginning of Bully Boy's war of choice now numbers 19323. A day when Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) report that the July death toll for Iraqis at 3,438.
Tomorrow? Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and his attorney, Eric Seitz, "
expects the hearing to be over in one day." Which is why it's important to get the word out. Speaking to Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) in June, Watada spoke of how speaking out publicly could result in retaliation: "I think they will do their best to make an example of me." And, as Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported last week, the Army has now three times rejected Watada's offer of resignation leading attorney Seitz to offer that the military appears "To want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."
Cedric Moon (KGMB9) notes the hearing is to determine whether "Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq". Robert Shikina (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that the hearing is expected to include only four witness: one called by the Army, three called by Seitz. Nina Shaprio (Seattle Weekly) has reported the three witnesses for Watada: "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Seitz told Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that Army's witness will affirm that Watada did not board the buses with others in his regiment on June 22nd and that "the Army also plans to use news clippings and video news reports".
Why would the military have a need to make an example of Ehren Watada? As
Susan Van Haitsma (Austin-American Statesman) points out: "Watada joins a growing number of soldiers whose moral convictions are leading to punitive convictions in military courts. Many soldiers who have sought conscientious objector status have been denied it. Thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of the formidable legal blcks to establishing moral objections to the Iraq war. Many have sought refuge in Canada, though political asylum for U.S. military war resisters is not official there."
More information can be found at
Courage to Resist and
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."
Some rallies going on today:

Seattle, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Intersate 5, at the entrance to Fort Lewis
Portland holds the second of its rush hour bannerings today at 4:30 pm on I5's pedistrian overpass
Kahului. Two events. Sign-holding at 4 pm on Kaahumanu Avenue. Teach-in at 6:00 pm, Maui Community College's Ka Lama Building Room 104A and Bob Watada, Ehren's father, will be at that event.

"On the one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, goving over to Iraq and fight. On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenouse insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many lives were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, os many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
Ehren Watada to Courtney Scott via Rougue Valley IMC
And today in Iraq?
BBC reports that eight died and 28 were wounded when a bomb went off in Baghdad. The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb in Hillah that killed three Iraqi soldiers (and wounded four more) and states that "[b]ombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi captial Wednesday". CBS and AP report that in addition to the bomb that killed eight in Baghdad, eleven more died (for the 19 total) via "[t]wo other bombs . . . in central Baghdad". [Reuters has just upped the total to 21 killed in Baghdad from bombings today.] Reuters notes that, in Basra, Yusif al-Mousawi ("general secretary of Tharalla Islamic Party") was targeted with two roadside bombs (he survived); in Kut, a roadside bomb wounded two police officers; in Jbala, a roadside bomb left three Iraqi soldiers dead while four were wounded; and, in Baquba, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb that wounded three others. In addition, Damien Cave (New York Times) reports on the bombing of a memorial dedicated to children killed last summer by a car bomber (and, I believe one American soldier was killed in the bombing as well). Cave speaks with Muhammad Khaitan, whose his 14-year-old son Saif Muhammad died in last year's bombing, who declares, "All they left was the foundation. They don't want the next generation to remember how we suffered."
Meanwhile, as Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show noted, Basra is under curfew after the storming of a governor's office. Reuters reports that during the attacks on the city council and governor's office, one police officer was killed and five were wounded. The hour long fighting ending, AP notes, when British troops arrived. Reuters is a little more specific: "up to 180 British soldiers and 16 Warrior armored personnel carriers". By the way, in Basra fighting, rockets were used, the AFP reports. (We'll get back to rockets shortly.) And the answer to the violence? Curfew! curfew! curfew! as CNN reports. As the AFP notes, curfew's the sure cure for Karbala today as well -- in fact, forget 'crackdown' -- it's under "lockdown" -- consider it a lid tossed on a pot of boiling water. In Mosul, the armed fighting continued. AP places the death toll from the fighting at five. Reuters notes that these two cities follow the violence in Kerbala yesterday which Iraq's Defense Ministry says claimed the lives of 12 people yesterday. Finally, CBS and AP report that a "Danish soldier was shot in the back . . . in southern Iraq."
AP reports that three corpses were discovered in Kut ("bound, blindfolded . . . signs of torture").
Rockets? Poor William Caldwell IV, he was probably almost over Tuesday's sour stomach following his assurances that Sunday's most violent act in Baghdad was the result of a gas explosion. Well, someone pass him the Mylanta,
CBS and the AP are reporting that the group claiming responsibility for the attack has now released a video of "showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone." Because it was four Australian troops and not four American troops wounded in the Green Zone Sunday from a rocket attack, it appears that a number of people are unaware of the incident. That's allowed Caldwell to deny rockets and bombs on the Baghdad neighborhood and, then Tuesday, allowed the military to play the split-the-difference wherein they allowed that okay-bombs-were-used-but-that's-it! Eye witness testimony cites rockets. Caldwell better chug that Mylanta and hope those using rockets on residential buildings Sunday didn't tape their attack as well.
Of the four Australian soldiers wounded in Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone, three were released and able to return to duty, the fourth remains in a hospital in Baghdad.
Her name is Sarah Webster and Ian McPhedran (Australia's Advertiser) reports the injuries are minor but include "bruising and lacerations."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues and . . . Well, what do you say after the Major Michael Pemberton ("
head of the military police's special investigations branch") testifies to discussions of hypnotizing one of Jake Kovco's roommates? It's the headline, it's the lede where ever you look -- not surprising. But if we can move on that attempt (not implemented) to jog memory,
here's how Pemberton characterized his relationship with the army chiefs while conducting his investigation: "
I would use the term interference" (AAP). Australia's ABC reports: "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday, Major Pemberton said senior military officials in Baghdad ignored his instructions that the body was not to be moved, potentially destroying vital forensic evidence before his investigators arrived." "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday"? That was addressed in yesterday's snapshot when Soldier 46's testimony directly contradicted the claims of others that they hadn't been instructed to secure the death/crime scene.

Get the word out on Watada. That's the only way you can help, make sure everyone knows what he is facing. And don't forget to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and Betty's latest chapter is up "A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ehren Watada, Iraq, Ma

Tuesday! Chaz wondered in an e-mail why I wasn't ticking the days off like I usually do? Because I don't want this week to end. I'm having a blast. It really is exciting and fun out here. It could be that way every where. Like the Friday group we started at home to discuss Iraq? That's really something. But it fun out here. People drop by all the time and everyone's always working on something. There's just a lot of activity. (Elaine says it can be crazy at Christmas because "no one's working" so the number of people dropping by "like triples.") Tracey's going crazy with her camera and some of the photos will run in Friday's gina & krista round-robin. Also Friday, Ava and C.I. said I'd better put this in, their review of Twins will run in the round-robin. When I mentioned the show they'd reviewed, all these e-mails came in to The Third Estate Sunday Review and The Common Ills about, "It's not fair, print edition of Third ran it. Why can't we read it?" You can. Friday, in the round-robin.

What's coming up Thursday, August 17th? Everyone of you better have yelled, "Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing!" There may be many reasons for mainstream news consumers or people who get their news from Democracy Now! not knowing that but if you're a member of this community and you don't know it, you must be a vegetable. In case any carrots or artichokes are reading, Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. How come? Because he started studying the rationale for the war, he started studying the claims made by Bully Boy & Friends and looking at the reality. It became obvious that the war was illegal and immoral so he said "no." He's offered to resign his rank and other stuff, but the military wants this Article 32 hearing. So Thursday, he stands up and the question is, "Will he stand alone?"

Are you going to stand with him?

This is from Susan Van Haitsma's "Lt. Ehren Watada: Protecting First Amendment Freedoms by Opposing Illegal War:"

Freedom. It's the word used over and over by George W. Bush to defend military offensives initiated by his administration. Freedom, he says, is being protected and expanded through the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers ordered into Iraq and Afghanistan.
First Amendment rights to speak, assemble, publish, practice religion and petition the government are essential freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution that soldiers swear to defend. But are soldiers accorded the rights they are ordered to protect? Is it possible for First Amendment freedoms to be advanced by an institution that suppresses those freedoms?
On June 7, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a 3-year Army officer stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., spoke publicly in opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and declared his intent to refuse orders to deploy. After careful study of the events leading to the invasion and reports of the ways the occupation has been conducted in light of the constitutional and international law, Watada reached a conclusion shared by many, perhaps most of his fellow Americans.
"The war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances," he said. "It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes. My oath of office is to protect and defend America's laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today."
On June 22, Watada refused orders to deploy with his unit to Iraq. On July 5, he was formally charged with three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including charges of missing movement and of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman" and using "contemptuous words" toward officials, specifically President Bush. The words used by Watada, "our government led us into war based on misrepresentations and lies," echo the sentiments of millions of Americans.

Does freedom matter to you? How about the right to speak out? How about saying no to an illegal war? Well you better be planning to stand with Ehren Watada.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and I've got some more stuff after:

Today Tuesday, August 15, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq, two days remain before Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins, William Caldwell IV's "gas" explanation yesterday leaves him red faced today (try Tums -- though Bully Boy Pioneers tend to prefer Rolaids), and in the inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco in Australia, Soldier 46 seems to rebut the earlier testimony of Soldier 30.
Well start with US military spinmeister William Caldwell IV. As some will remember, he asserted yesterday that the Baghdad violence on Sunday was the result of "a major gas explosion" and cited "specialists" and "experts." (Apparently similar to the "grass experts" of the Michael Bloomberg administration that Mara Verheyden-Hilliard noted on yesterday's WBAI's Law & Disorder when explaining the systematic attempts/plot to prevent the 2004 anti-war demonstrations in NYC to coincide with the GOP convention.)
As though Neil Young had hollered "Don't need no more lies! Don't need no more lies!" ("The Restless Consumer" from Young's Living With War), the US military corrected their version of events today.
Damien Cave (New York Times) notes Lt. Col. Barry Johnson explaining that Caldwell IV "was speaking in good faith, but had incomplete information" which may be the understatement of the week. Cave reports that the US military now says that in addition to Caldwell's 'gas explosion' there were four car bombs. Though Cave doesn't currently note it, Vijay Joshi (AP) does: Iraqi's maintain that rockets and mortars were used. AFP notes that the death toll for Sunday's attacks has now reached 73 and that US military is now "back-pedalling from a previous statement that the deaths were the result of an accidental gas explosion" while "Iraqi officials have insisted from the outset that car bombs and rockets caused the blasts."
In reality news (as opposed to reality-based news) from Iraq . . .
Bloomerg News reports nine dead and 36 injured from "a bomb attack on the Mosul headquarters of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan". The count is up from China's Xinhua's earlier report which identified the source of the bomb as a "suicided bomber [who] detonated his explosive-laden truck near the office". CNN (going with the figure of nine dead, 36 wounded) notes it was a truck bomb. Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baquba that killed a police officer and left four wounded; a roadside bomb in Huwayder that left three police officers wounded; and three police officers wounded from two roadside bombs in Samarra. Not noted in the above is an Australian contractor who died today in Germany, Australia's ABC reports, "from injuries sustained" in a Baghdad bombing "about two weeks ago."
Associated Press reports: "Fierce gunbattles broke out Tuesday between armed supporters of an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric and Iraqi security forces after a raid on his office" in Karbala. Reuters identifies the cleric as Mahmoud al-Hasani and notes that a vehicle curfew has been imposed upon the city. Australia's Herald Sun identifies the dead as: "[t]wo Iraqi army officers, a soldier and three civilians". CBS and AP place the count of dead from the gunbattles in Karbala at "at least seven".
In Baquba, Reuters notes that "police lieutenant Fadhil Uthman" was shot dead. Australia's Herald Sun notes the shooting deaths of "two civilian contractors supplying food to the Iraqi army . . . in Muqdadiya" as well as a civilian shot dead "in a Baquba market," a civilian shot dead in Amara, and another civilian shot dead in Khalis. Reuters ups the Muqdadiya toll to three (from "two civilian contractors supplying food . . .") and identifies them the three as "bakers" and also notes five people "wounded when gunmen in a car shot at shoppers in a market in central Samarra."
Corpses? Australia's Herald Sun reports two corpses were discovered in Kerbala and three in Suweira.
In peace news, Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins in two days. Jeff Paterson (Indybay Media) writes about the warm reception Watada got as "a keynote speaker" last weekend with those gathered chanting "thank you LT!" As the August 17th hearing approaches, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that Watada's attorney Eric Seitz will call "[t]wo experts on international law" Francis Boyle and Denis Halliday as well as "retired Army Col. Ann Wright". Nina Shapiro (Seattle Weekly) reports that "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, . . . will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, [will be] presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, . . . will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Shapiro notes that althought the hearing is scheduled for two days, Seitz "expects the hearing to be over in one day."
The hearing will begin Thursday, August 17th and remember that Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th (that's tomorrow). Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go."
Last weekend's event that Watada got a warm reception at was the Veterans for Peace conference. Sunday's The KPFA Evening News had a lengthy report on the conference and quoted Gerry Condon explaining how the cases of Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart and others are hampered by the fact that they have to make their arguments on a "case by case [basis]. And it doesn't really resolve the problem for the increasing numbers of war resisters that are coming to Canada. That's why we're calling on the [Canadian] government to create a policy of sanctuary, to make an easy way for war resisters to immigrate to Canada rathter than be deported back to the United States to go to prison for refusing to participate in the illegal war."
During the Vietnam era, war resisters could apply for asylum but today that's not the case. And, as noted in the report, arguments about the legality of the Iraq war have not been allowed in court. Mike's "KPFA reported on the war resisters in Canada" offers more on Sunday's report. Jeff Paterson (Indybay Media) reports on Sunday's action where "150 U.S. military veterans boarded buses for Peace Arch Park on the US/Canadian border to celebrate resistance to unjust war with U.S. troops currently taking refuge in Canada" and quotes Ann Wright stating, "It is part of military tradition that you can refuse illegal orders. They have the courage to stand up and say . . . 'I'm not going to have this war on my conscience'."
The Veterans for Peace conference was where Ricky Clousing announced his decision to turn himself into the US military after being AWOL for a year. Jane Cutter (Party for Socialism and Liberation) quotes Clousing saying: "I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability" and notes that also at Clousing's news conference were Camilo Mejia, Sharon Pankalla (Ricky Clousing's mother) and "Vietnam war resister Michael Wong".
In other new Richard Benedetto (Baxter Bulletin) reports on the bust that was Bully Boy's vacation, noting the lack of attention Bully Boy & Condi Rice got for a press conference, the lack of attention the media gave to Cindy Sheehan (who filled out a voter registration Card at the Crawford Post Office Tuesday) and concludes that, for Bully Boy, "it was not a vacation." As the emotion (giggles) subsides, Emily Ingram (Waco Tribune-Herald) reports that Bully Boy's "shortest summer vacation yet" hasn't deterred Camp Casey III supporters who, in the words of Dave Jensen of Tyler, TX, maintain: "Regardless if Bush is here or not, we'll be here. I think all of us feel like he's cut and run." Ingram notes that since being released from the Providence Health Center in Waco, Sheehan's divided her time between the camp, a hotel (for the "wireless internet") and Willie Nelson's home.
Sheehan was reportedly hospitalized for exhuastion, dehydration and some medical issues (she was hospitalized Thursday, in Seattle where she was taking part in the Veterans for Peace conference, and in Texas on Friday, Saturday and some of Sunday). Per doctors orders, she had to begin eating but the Troops Home Fast continues (through September 21st) and currently 4,549 people around the world are participating in this CODEPINK action.
More information can be found at Troops Home Fast. Those taking part in the action so far have included Laura Flanders, Howard Zinn, Kim Gandy (president of NOW), Will Durst, Jonathon Tasini, Kevin Zeese, Jim Hightower, Greg Palast, Al Sharpton, Marianne Williamson, Julia Butterfly Hills, Pratap Chatterjee, Fernando Suarez del Solar, Ray McGovern, Bonnie Raitt, Alice Walker, Dolores Huerta, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Michael Franti, Eve Ensler, Ed Asner, Graham Nash. Dick Gregory and Willie Nelson. (That's not a full list.) Those interested can grab a one-day fast, a one-day-a-week fast, or they can try for something longer. Before beginning any multi-day fast, please consult your medical go-to. Brenda Payton (Oakland Tribune) reports that Jane Jackson (70-years-old) "was taken to Highland Hospital's emergency room Sunday after fasting for 41 days as part of the national Troops Home Fast action." (Jane Jackson is reported to be doing okay.)
In other peace news, nycnion (NYC Indymedia) reports that August 19th will be a non-silent vigil for Abeer Qassim Hamza who would have turned 15-years-old Saturday had she not been murdered (along with three family members) and allegedly raped (alleged by US troops).. Actions will take placefrom 7:30 pm to 9:30 p.m. at the following locations: in NYC at Washington Square Park -- W. 4th STreet & MacDougal; in Los Angeles at MacArthur Park -- 6th and Alvarado St.; and in Berkeley at Willard Park -- Telegraph & Derby St.
Sandy LeonVest (Toward Freedom) notes a number of issues (Steven D. Green -- one of those accused of murdering and raping Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi; Ricky Clousing, etc.) observes: "There was a moment in time, before the media simply turned its back on Iraq -- and before reporters became frustrated and bored by their inability to get out of the 'green zone' and cover the story -- that Pentagon officials allowed them to talk relatively freely with (pre-selected) recruits."
One of the things LeonVest notes is the 300 members of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team who made it home to Alaska only to learn they were going straight back to Iraq for at least four more months (after having already served a year in Iraq).
Russ Bynum (Associated Press) reports that the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment will be returning to Iraq "as early as the end of November" and that the 1st Brigade Combat Team "is preparing for a possible third combat tour in Iraq." And the war drags on.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continues. Today's big talking point: He was a cowboy. Report after report emphasizes that. On ABC's PM, Mark Douglass told Mark Colvin that a Soldier 3 had reprimanded Kovco for the use of his weapon: "You know you shouldn't be doing that. It's a dangerous weapon and accidents can happen and peopl do get hurt when you play with weapons." A variety of this tale is repeated throughout the reports. Though the Kovco Cowboy has been a popular talking point for the month, Soldier 3 is only the second witness to testify that he observed such behavior. (Go back to August 2nd's snapshot for more on this.) Let's say it's true (it may be), where is the documentation? This is the second to claim he reprimanded Kovco for playing with a gun. Even were this an oral reprimand, this should have been documented. If it's not, that's an issue the hearing needs to look into.
Kovco grew up with guns, was a marksman before he joined the military. Could he have played with his gun? Aboslutely. He could have been so used to it that he took it (and safety) for granted. If that's the case, there should be something more than two people saying they reprimanded him and a host of others saying "I didn't see it myself but I heard even though I can't say from whom." So let's see some documentation for this behavior. That's two supposed reprimands from superiors. If it didn't make his personnel file than they've got some serious tracking problems (and can add that to the mythical 'buddy system' for unloading a weapon as something the Australian military needs to address).
As they all rush to do the Cowboy Kovco talking point a few miss Soldier 46's damning testimony. AAP reports that Soldier 46 (a military police captain -- all witness are identified with "Soldier" and a number in the inquiry) "told the inquiry that within hours of the shooting he passed on requests from his bosses to army chiefs in Baghdad about how the investigation should be handled" including securing Jake Kovco's room, preventing the departure of soldiers whose testimony would be needed, etc. Now note: "WITHIN HOURS."
For those who've fogotten, we've heard that the room/crime scene was stipped clean (before investigators arrived four days after Kovco's death) because it was basically bringing everybody down. We've heard that preserving the crime scene never occurred to anyone. Soldier 46 testified that not only did it occur to him but he said the room needed to be secure within hours of Kovco's death. Is he telling the truth? If so, why didn't this advice get noted by previous witnesses?
The Courier-Mail reports that Soldier 46 was at the room/crime scene "about one hour after the shooting" and passing on the instructions (from his own superiors) about securing the room. So why is the hearing only now hearing of this and how does one resolve that testimony from the man who earlier stated the room was cleaned because it was bringing the others down and he hadn't thought it was important to preserve the scene?
For any who've forgotten, August 10th's snapshot covers the testimony of Jake Kovco's "commanding officer." Soldier 30: "The room is right in the middle of where all the other soldiers are accommodated. It was becoming a morale issue." Is Soldier 30 going to testify again (via video-link) as to whether he ignored Soldier 46 or just didn't hear that the room needed to be secure? (If Soldiers 46 and 30 are both telling the truth, then the hearing needs to examine issues of communication.)
Finally, in the United States, David Ammons (AP) reports that War Hawk Maria Cantwell is having to reposition on Iraq, declaring "that she's anxious to see a transition plan for shifting responsibilities to the Iraqis" (sounds like Rumsfeld, Bully Boy, et al) and quoting her saying: "I certainly want to change the course and get our troops home. The United States has done its duty in helping a new government get formed, and now it is time for that new government to take over." Senator Cantwell is facing re-election and is seen as "one of the Democrats' more vulnerable incumbents".

Okay, a War Hawk tries to change her feathers and Caldwell gets caught in a lie. (No George Washington's serving high up apparently.)

I want to talk about Ma's "Squash Soup in the Kitchen" before I forget. I was mad when I read it because I know my mother and I could tell she was upset about something. I called Dad on Sunday and he didn't know much about it because he'd been helping Tony and Tony's Pop get their yard in order all Saturday. So I called Ma and she doesn't want to talk about it and is just wondering if I'm having fun and Mom stuff. So I called my kid sister (she and me both still live at home, our six older siblings don't). I can't believe Ma posted and that she wasn't screaming. You have to know Ma to know when she's kind of put up this shield because she's mad and I could see it when I read her "Squash Soup in the Kitchen." Others might not have noticed but she's my mother.

So here's what happened -- according to my kid sister. One of our older siblings has a new date and he's a jerk. (Okay, I'm talking about one of my sisters.) So kid sis is doing dishes because she's trying to cut down on power and waste (she's gotten very environmental this summer) which means she's doing them in the sink and not using the dish washer. The new jerk-boyfriend finishes his drink and tosses it. He doesn't place it in the sink or hand it to her. She's holding a plate and the glass lands on the plate. Ma was pissed right then.

The plate broke in half and that's not such a big deal. Ma's used to plates breaking. What pissed her off was why it broke and the fact that the jerk didn't apologize to my kid sister. The plate broke cleanly but it could have been different and my sister could have gotten hurt. And what kind of jerk tosses a glass anyway? It was a glass glass, not plastic. So Ma thought he was a jerk and worse for not apologizing.

When my kid sis left (she was doing stuff with her friends that night), Ma was being forced into making pizza. Our older sister had bragged on Ma's pizzas. Ma does make great pizzas. But maybe if you want Ma to cook for you and your boyfriend and you want something specific, you call first and ask?

Ma wrote her post after she'd mixed the crust. My kid sister said when she got home, she heard all about, "When Mike is here . . ." What was the big problem? Ma makes crust from scratch. She let is rise (in the oven) and then she has to roll it out and do this stuff with her hands on the dough (I'm not a cook, don't know what that's called). To do that part, she needs flour. Otherwise, it's not going to work. I'm not a cook and I know that. When Ma gets stuck fixing something at the last minute because one of my brothers or sisters shows up and just has to have something (I've never once told my mother to forget what she had planned and make something else, I just don't do that), me or Dad (or both) will go out and get what she needs for the last minute meal.

She told jerk and my sister, "Fine, but I need more flour." No problem she was told. She let the dough rise for over an hour. They never ran to the store. I'm not perfect, I'm messy and probably a lot worse but when Ma needs something (or Dad), they don't have to ask, they just say, "Oh I need . . ." and I'm out the door and on it. Finally, Ma had to go to the store herself. She'd already been grocery shopping Saturday morning and she goes early to avoid the crowds. She doesn't like being stuck in a lane forever and ever. But she ended up having to run to the store at the last minute for this meal she didn't intend to make. So she made it and then he says he can't eat bell peppers (the jerk says that). After she's cooked two pizzas.

At this point, I'm going by Dad now because he was home for dinner, Ma was furious. Now she doesn't hold a grudge but when the sister who brought him by reads this: a) you need to tell him to call Ma and apologize right away -- for the pizza for tossing the glass at my sister and b) you and he both need to apologize for being lazy dumb asses who promise to run to the store (after showing up unannounced and placing orders like it's some sort of diner) but never did. And you'd be smart to do it right away because I do hold a grudge and I'll be home soon.

And since the sister I'm talking to is going to go, "How dare he write this!" and call all our brothers and sisters, let me add one more thing: the house isn't your diner. If you're coming over, unless you're providing the meal, you need to get used to eating whatever Ma's already planning on fixing. There are three of you that are real bad about that and you need to get over it real damn quick.

If you think you're just on my shit list, you better check with Dad. The last year, you three have gotten really bad about just showing up and thinking you can alter Ma's plans (dinner and everything else). You need to get your act together, all three of you. (And before you scream, "I'm going to talk to Dad about what you wrote!" you might want to know that I checked with him and he told me to put it in here.)

This better be fixed before I get back. It's pretty sad that the baby of the family (my kid sister) is more responsible than three of her older siblings but that's how it's been going all year.

Now, for my readers, go check out Cedric's "BULLY BOY CONFESSES HE'S A THREAT TO SAFETY! (HUMOR) " and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY CONFESSES HE'S A THREAT TO SAFETY!" (joint entry.) And get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.