Friday, April 20, 2007

Rush post

Friday! At last. Elaine and me are both trying to hurry because the Iraq study group is tonight and there's a ton to do for that. Jim called today and goes, "Did you hear CounterSpin?" No. Sometimes C.I. will toss a disc of it in the mail and all but I really don't have time to listen to lots of stuff. He goes, "We shouldn't have grabbed the story." There was a thing C.I. was working on Wednesday evening (Kat noted it and then ended up pulling her note on that from the post after, Rebecca did the same) and while C.I. was doing this Dona and Jess started offering some stuff. So between that and others of us getting called about it, C.I. said, "Let's just make it a thing for The Third Estate Sunday Review." It was going to be called "Stupid Media: Big and Small." Well, the topic's covered on CounterSpin today. Jim was really down. Then, Jim calls me back a few minutes ago and goes, "It's still on!" Why? CounterSpin was a little hesitant to call out. C.I. had already called out indymedia. Jim asked C.I., "Did you hear it? The piece is now a no go." Jim said, "C.I. said, 'I find it very hard to believe CounterSpin called out small media'." They didn't. So the piece is still a go. Okay, so I've got some Democracy Now! headlines to get to.

"Justice Dept Plotted to Restrict Minority Vote Turnout:"
Meanwhile the McClatchy newspapers is reporting the Justice Department might be facing another potential scandal. According to the paper, for the past six years the Bush administration has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates. Several of the ousted U.S. Attorneys were reportedly fired in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians. Civil rights advocates contend that the administration's policies were intended to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats. As part of this strategy, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights. On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans.

See, this story did matter. It always has. Rebecca's covered it in this community and you've had some people put the story down and say, "Oh, that's not a story. Oh, it's not important." Yeah, it's important. There was a plot going on about a number of things and that's what the administration's been hiding.

"Harry Reid: The Iraq War is Lost:"
In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has admitted for the first time that the war in Iraq has been lost. Reid said, "This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday." On Wednesday over 300 Iraqis died making it one of the bloodiest days on the war. The U.S. Commander in Iraq General David Petraeus admitted the events on Wednesday marked a setback for the U.S.
Gen. Petraeus: "Yesterday was a bad day There are no two ways about it. And a day like that can have a real psychological impact."

Leave it to Harry Reid to mess up the line! The line? "NYT: The war is lost but Gordie's hot for 'doggie style'." :D C.I.'s made the war is lost point for some time but we went with a later version because we like it when C.I. skewers Michael Gordon. So Reid knows the war is lost. And . . . Doesn't that mean you start pushing for action, start using your position to end the war? Don't hold your breath.

"U.S. Builds Wall in Baghdad Dividing Sunni and Shiites Neighborhoods:"
Meanwhile the U.S. military has begun building a three-mile concrete wall in Baghdad to cut off a Sunni district from the Shiite neighborhoods that surround it. This marks the first time the U.S. military has built a wall in Baghdad to separate Sunnis and Shiites. Critics say it could lead to the Balkanization of Baghdad.

Can you believe it? The US administration destroyed Iraq and now they think walls are the answer? Walls to seperate the divisions they sewed and helped create.

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

Friday, April 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the death of another service member, "development" passes for an answer in Baghdad ("Time-shares" is next), Helga Aguayo explains the status of her husband (war resister Agustin Aguayo), and Bobby Gates finally gets to act out his long held dream to be Marisa Tomei.

"The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere. However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscienious objector,"
Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today. Helga Aguayo sketched out
how her husband came to see the illegal war as immoral while serving in Iraq, how he attempted to receive CO status, the obstacles there and a great deal more including the the convictions of missing movement and desertion. On the latter, she noted that it "is unheard of for people that are gone less than thirty days -- soldiers that are gone less than thirty days." Aguayo was gone from
September 2nd through September 26th. The rule of thumb is that if you are gone less than 30 days, desertion isn't even a possible charge. Not only was Aguayo gone less than 30, he turned himself in. Helga Aguayo explained how the two felony convictions mean trigger an automatic appeal:

Helga Aguayo: And the other thing is that Agustin will not be discharged. I'm getting congratulations -- 'Oh, congratulations, he's coming home' -- we don't know when he's coming home, one. And, two, he actually will not be discharged from the military for twelve to twenty-four months from now, because he got a bad-conduct discharge and it's such a serious offense. He has two felonies. It goes onto an automatic appeal, and because of that, he will remain active-duty, which means he has to abide by the standards that is required of every soldier. He could potentially be charged with anything else during the time that he's on voluntary or involuntary leave or administrative leave. They'll give him of the three, if it's approved. And we won't know if it's approved.

Amy Goodman: Could he sent back to Iraq?

Helga Aguayo: I hope not. I don't think so. I think it would be -- I mean, Agustin's gotten a lot of support. And I, you know, would definitely just go to the press and go to the people. I don't think it would be in their best interest to do that.

Agustin Aguayo's repeated attempts to receive CO status demonstrate the need for the system to be fixed. As does the case of Robert Zabala who had to take the issue to the civilian courts to be awarded his status. The two, and many others, illustrate the problems with and arbitrary nature of the way the US military chooses to recognize (or not) CO status.
This is why the
Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Aguayo is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to news in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates landed in Baghdad Thursday to provide war weary Iraqis and US service members with a bus and truck show of My Cousin Vinnie.
David S. Cloud, Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong (New York Times) report that he visited "to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a momment when Mr. Maliki's ability to deliver appears limited, at best." This allowed Bobby Gates to attack the part of Lisa with vigor as he stomped his feet in the safety of the Green Zone.

Bobby Gates: Well I hate to bring it up because I know you've got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get an oil law passed as soon as we installed you. Meanwhile, ELEVEN MONTHS LATER, no oil law, Iran is making us nervous and our bully clock is TICKING and the way this war is going, I ain't never going to see the theft of Iraqi oil.

While Gates was telling/ordering al-Maliki to step it up,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that it really doesn't make a great deal of difference: "Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, had dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said."

As most play mum on that revelation,
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes, "Washington today said it would take political reconciliation in Iraq into account when it decides this summer whether to reduce troop numbers." Translation? There will be no real reduction unless the people insist upon it. Just more stalling tactics on the part of the US installed puppet and more bluster from the bullies of the US administration. Meanwhile, the government of Turkey has set a deadline. KUNA reports that Turkey now has: "a 'specific timetable' for trans-borders operations including intrusions into northern Iraqi, Turkish NTV news website reported Friday. . . . The plan, envising the intrusion of thousands of Turkish troops into northern Iraqi areas to hunt rebel Kurds, is about to be a reality, according to the report."

Meanwhile in "New Listings" news, need a getaway? How about some place just east of a river, a gated community with rustic charm?
CBS and AP report that gated communities are coming to Baghdad in the form of "a three mile wall": "When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community or Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said."

Gated communities? And people think the US administration has no ideas in the tank.
While the US administration continues their attempts at stand up,
Tom Clifford (CounterPunch) notes the very real increase in Iraqi deaths including that last month was the deadliest in the last 12 months and that the escalation has claimed at least 7,400 reported deaths. And in some of the reported violence today in Iraq . . .


AFP reports a Nasiriyah bombing that killed 4 "including an 11-year-old girl". Reuters reports an eastern Baghdad mortar attack the killed 1 person and left 4 injured as well as a truck bombing in Falluja that killed 2 people and left 37 wounded. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that gunfire and helicopter fire were used around a mosque as US forces attacked what they hope are 'guilty' people since they killed four -- however, they originally denied the deaths and the attack only to correct that later on..


Reuters notes two police officers shot dead in Baquba and eight wounded, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (2 more injured), and 1 person shot dead in Kufa. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Employees working for the North Oil Company were targeted in Kirkuk by gunmen yesterday evening. The gunmen attacked the employees' while they were coming to Baghdad, the incident took place on Karkuk-Baghdad motorway when the insurgents opened fire injuring 4 employees."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Friday.

In addition, the
US military announced today: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a rocket struck Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah Thursday night."

And in news of activism,
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes the national Make Hip Hop, Not War tour which attempts to welcome important segments that have otherwise been overlooked. Ford writes: "The 'Make Hip Hop, Not War' movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war 'movement,' which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people. Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founded of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, 'This is why the anti-war movement is not working. How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?'"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Law and Disorder

Thursday? Why am I always so tired on Thursday and looking at my computer screen, then at my bed, computer screen, bed . . .? :D

Okay, we're going to talk about Law and Disorder tonight. We need two thing first though before we get to it. First up, this is from C.I.'s "Agustin Aguayo to be released today" from earlier this week and after the news on Aguayo, C.I.'s addressing the nonsense of the non-stop coverage and some of the dumb ideas being put forward:

At one site, it's not enough to promote silence they put forward the lie: "We need to Step Forward as a Community of Americans, As We Did After 9/11." As we did after 9/11? Who is "we"? Muslim Americans were targeted, rounded up, jailed and many deported. Go sell you hazy, guazy, s**t somewhere else because it's not being purchased here. The limited "pull together" was b.s. and it prevented real issues from being raised, it allowed the Patriot Act to be pushed through and only a dumb ass would hail that as a time to return to. Only a dumb ass who didn't pay attention to anything but what came on their warm TV screen. We don't need more "silences."
And the feeding frenzy on this one story -- TWO FRONT PAGE STORIES ON THE NEW YORK TIMES!!!!! EXTRA!!! EXTRA!!! READ 'EM AND WEEP!!!! -- is nothing but a waste of everyone's time as America yet again plays "Get Caught Up in the Drama!" (See Kat's "Where is the Iraqi refugee crisis?" for more on that as well.) You have questions about how it happened, by all means follow up. But this nonsense of a moment of silence is, as Rebecca points out, the same nonsense that is (rightly) ridiculed in Heathers. It's a Dateline type of story, it's really not news. "Oh, look what I have of the killer's!" "I heard the killer was angry!" It's a lot of drama, it's not news. It's the OJ car chase, but it's not news.
And anyone urging people to silence their own voices (for a moment or any length of time) really doesn't grasp that there's been more than enough silence over the issues of violence in the last few years. It's a nice little self-stroking that lets the idiots who never follow anything other than E! pretend like they're following the news! The same crowd comes along for one story (OJ, Robert Blake, the Death Watch on the Pope, . . .) and then fades away.

That is a lie, that "we" all came "together" and that "we" need to get back there. It was never about "all," people were stigmatized and targeted and you have to be a real idiot and really not caring about others to claim "we" all came together. Now we were all in DC in January to cover the rally. We wrote "Show Me What Democracy Looks Like (1-27-07)" and this is a woman that C.I., Wally and, I think, Tracey spoke with (Tracey usually sticks close to C.I. whenever we're at a demonstration):

Among the students showing up was a young Muslim woman who didn't want to give her name."I was just asked for a comment," she explained, "and I just smiled and walked on. I don't trust that something I say won't end up being turned into something different and one more reason to target Muslims. I'm 16. I'm first generation American. I live an hour drive away from here. I only talked to you because of his button. [She was referring to Wally's "NO BLOOD FOR OIL button.] I don't think you'll change my words up or make me sound angry or stupid. I feel like the only time a Muslim gets on TV now is if he's shouting. And we're the bad guys on every other episode of that show that ticks down the clock. [24.] Those things hurt. And it makes me think that another roundup, like after the Twin Towers were destroyed, could happen again real easy. I'm against the war. This is my first protest. My mother asked me not to go but I told her how much I wanted to be here, and what it means to me, so she finally said yes. She even said if she was 10 years younger, she probably would be here too. I'm against the war. I'm against all this blaming of Iraqis. People say things like they're dogs, just stupid dogs who were given some wonderful gift and smashed it. Invading Iraq was not a gift. War on the country was not a gift. And Muslims are not idiots. There wasn't this hate between Shia and Sunni before George Bush's war. He created it. I think if the soldiers came home that the people of Iraq would work out their differences. I don't think that would happen in a month or even two. But I do think that within a year, there would be peace. And I may be wrong, but that is what I believe. I'm here because I want the killings to stop. When I get home, I'm going to tell my mother that people in Congress were here and Jane Fonda and Sean [Penn]. And I think, next time, when I come, she's going to come with me. But, you have to understand, it can be really hard to be a Muslim in the United States today. People look at you funny. Before the Twin Towers, I was only 11, but before that, I did not feel scared here. I felt like I was any other American kid. Now I feel like people expect me to prove that I am American, to say, 'I love America.' And what they really seem to want is for me to say, 'I hate Muslims.' It feels like they want me to denounce my faith. And like the only way I can fit in is if I change my name to Jill and become a Christian and, since that won't happen, I'm always under suspicion. One of my best friends is Christian and we were at the mall Tuesday and she said, 'I see what you are talking about.' Because at every store, the women were smiling at her and asking her if they could help her and they just kind of stared at me. I don't think I should have to prove that I am a good American. I was born here, this is my country. But since 9-11, it seems like people look at Muslims and don't really think we belong here anymore. Thank you."
Did she feel welcome at the march? "Yes, people here were very nice. They smiled, they nodded. The press, I do not know. I feel like they see me and think, 'Muslim!' That's why I did not talk to that woman who asked me for a comment. But the people who are to here to protest the war, I felt very welcomed. There are a lot of different people here and it looks more like America than what you see on TV. It gives me hope that someday things will change. Not just that the war will end, but that all the hatreds and suspicions will stop."

Why do you need to know those things? I wouldn't have thought you would have to until Lotta Links put up that nonsense about how the country came together. But if you don't know the above, you're going to be lost with Law and Disorder. So that was your intro. Some of you won't need it because you know the "all together" didn't include you -- you felt it, you sensed it and you probably saw it. Some of you won't need it because you're community members and C.I.'s done strong work on this for three years now. If you're a Law and Disorder listener, you don't need any prep. But to be honest, I didn't think anyone would. But when Lotta Links, a website of the left (or at least a Democratic website), wants to pretend like the country was "all" coming together after 9-11 and ignore the very real targeting of Muslims and Arabs, we may need a refresher.

Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner spoke with Howard Kieffer with the Federal Defense Associates about a new prison secretly created by the Justice Department. It's called "The Communications Management Unit" and is Indiana. If you're locked there, you're screwed. You may as well have fallen off the face of the earth. You really have little to no outside contact. If your family speaks Arabic, forget about calling them. You're allowed 300 minutes of phone calls that the warden can reduce to three minutes (that's for people who speak English calling people who speak English). Now when this was first announced, there was a period where people could weigh in and people did and said how this sort of secret prison, locking away people with no contact with the outside world isn't really what America is supposed to be about. So they said, "Well forget it, we won't do it." And then, this being the Bully Boy's Justice Department, they went off and did what they were planning all along. So this opened in April and you've got people just locked away there in a lock-the-door-and-throw-away-the-key. This is one of those measures for so-called terrorists.

So we've got our gulags now and they aren't overseas.

The next segment ended too quick. It was from The Left Forum 2007 and was Dalia Hashad speaking. She noted first that she wasn't going to speak long because the room was full of people who had tons of stories that applied and that way there would be more time for an exchange (by speaking shortly). Dalia noted that she'd probably been speaking on the topic she was about to several hundred times in the last five years: spying, deportations, round ups, etc. In bold print is from Dalia's speech:

So after special registration which only actually registered all the Muslims and didn't register anybody else, people were frightened, incredibly frightened in the communities saying, "You know, they are going to round us up. This is it. They're going to round us up and put us into detention. They're going to figure out a way. They're figuring out a way just to single out the Muslims." And you saw people stop, you know people Muslims stopped participating in a lot of civic activities. Even, I mean I remember after 9-11, some majority Muslim neighborhoods like in Brooklyn and Queens, some of the south Pakistani neighborhoods, you couldn't find people in the stores. People just stayed inside. They were scared. Let alone, mustering up the courage to go to a protest or to go out and join with a political group that was to counter what the administration was doing. So the fear was huge.
And one of the many rumors that came out was, "Hey, somewhere in the middle of the country, they're building a facility just for Muslims and it's just for us. Get your bags ready, either go to Canada or be prepared to let, you know, put an emergency phone call and let somebody know where you are because we're all going and we're going somewhere. It was with a little bit of panic that people greeted the news in April of this past year that the Federal Bureau of Prisons
said they were going to have a brand new prison system, a brand new unit. Let me tell you what it is first because it actually exists. It opened up, it's operational as of December 11, 2006. This is called the Communications Management Unit it's out of Federal Penitentiary and it houses almost exclusively Muslims. It's meant to house, right now, about 80 people but I think there's far less, probably a little bit under 20 at this point, it's so new, only a couple of months. Now the
Communications Management Unit as you might guess from its name is very restrictive in a way that most prisons are not. It's probably, it's not quite up to a super max facility, but it's a little below that. You have extreme restrictions on prisoners' contact with the outside world.

There's more on the show but I am slow at typing and that took forever. If C.I. and I hadn't talked about it (we're thinking of using it at The Third Estate Sunday Review), I would have typed a lot less even though it's a great speech. But think about what Dalia was talking about and really appreciate what a big thing it was for the Muslim-American to attend the DC rally in January.

After that Dalia and Michael Ratner spoke with Ed Barocas with the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU about a Newark school that decided to hold their high school graduation in a Baptist church. I think it was Dalia but it may have been Michael who pointed out that this wasn't in a church gymnaisum but in the actual place of worship. One student, who is Muslim, objected and could not attend his own graduation.

In addition, Ed talked about how students could get extra tickets for their graduation by attending an event before graduation at a Catholic Church. I want to put something in here because Michael asked if it wasn't common for schools to do this across the country (New Jersey has strong laws so this case is on stronger ground than it might be in some states). That reminded me of something my grandfather was asking when I graduated. Apparently, back in the day, you graduated high school and you could bring as many people as you wanted. That's how it was in my grandfather's day but the way it is now, or was for me, was you get a very limited number of tickets. (I know one female at college who only got two tickets -- her parents had divorced and they wouldn't come together, so she had to use which parent and step-parent to invite). So this, attend this Catholic thing and get extra tickets was really a huge bribe. Anyone who graduated any time in the last few years would probably recognize that.

They also spoke about the issue of the separation wall between church and state with Rob Boston who is with Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State. Rob, Dalia and Michael talked about how some people are trying to sneak church into school with classes. Rob talked about how it was one thing to offer a course in how the various religions of the world had impacted art but that was different between teaching dogma.

I actually disagree with Rob. I think the wall needs to be much stronger. I don't know if people get what really goes on in schools. I think a lot of time they think of their own school days and just tack it on. I had a teacher who was a math teacher but broke away from math to teach the Bible. Every day, he'd assign a verse for people to memorize. And on Friday's he do 15 minutes on the Bible. I remember this was during football season and I had enough trouble keeping up with what we were supposed to be assigned without extras that had nothing to do with school. Because of that "math" work, my grade started to tank and Ma went up to school (I didn't know) to talk to the teacher. He goes that I do math fine but I won't memorize the scripture. Ma tells this story really funny. :D She says something like, "I said, "I must have been dozing, what did you just say?" So he repeats it. Ma advises him that he can't do that, assing Bible scripture in a math class at a public school. He takes an attitude with Ma and she marches right down to the principal's office and right in there, opening the door herself, and puts an end to that right then and there. So I hear about that at dinner that night (and many times since) and she asks why I didn't tell her? I just shrug and my brother who is just older than me (I have three older brothers, three older sisters and one younger sister) goes, "Oh yeah, he did that with us too." Ma was like, "What?" But the thing is, you don't think, when you're in those classes, "The teacher can't do that." Or I didn't. I was just trying to keep my grade up so I didn't get suspended from the team. When we were in Texas, I'd hear stories like that and the person would usually go, "You're going to think this is crazy" before they even started. And I'd share my story so they knew I didn't think they were crazy. There was this one woman where she had a class (I forget what in -- science, english or math) and the teacher gave out t-shirts with scripture on it and if everyone wore them, you had like the first part of the Adam and Eve story from Genesis. And they'd read it in class because they were reading "t-shirts" and not the Bible.
That's just one story. So I really think it would be good if Americans United for Seperation of Church and State polled high school students today to find out what was actually going on in their classes because I don't think most people have any idea.

I believe Heidi Boghosian introduced all the segments but that was the only time she was on. Michael Smith speech at the Left Forum 2007 was the last segment and he was talking about the new technology and how it was being used for spying and to destroy our civil rights and our rights to move freely and participate. He said, "You know there's never been a technology that's been invented that hasn't been used." Gun powder, nuclear bombs, invented and then used. He talked about how there were radio chips in passports and soon to be in your drivers' licence "who you are" your whole personal and commercial history. "This technology is being used globally . . . this is going to be an international system that's in place," he said noting, "You're supposed to have government from the bottom up." How the way the democracy is supposed to be constructed is that citizens can participate with one another, you have anonymity, then you have a representative government, if it's not representative, you can get rid of it with a revolution. ("It's in the constition.") That's no longer the situation, he said, "and since 9-11 has been acclerated. . . . The war in Iraq was a pre-emptive war, remember? . . . They have the same theory applied to us, to terrorism, to risk. . . . They have zero tolerance for risk. . . . They proceed from . . . the rights of the government, for its security and anything that threatens its security . . . is considered a risk and they have a right to pre-empt it."

And that's where I say, "I'm going to sleep." I don't know why I'm always so tired on Thursdays? Today's worse because I had something in my left and it started running and hurting about three hours ago. It's stopped running but still hurts and I'm afraid I've got pink eye. I get pink eye a lot, been a few years though. C.I. told me a trick awhile back. You bite into a vitamin E capsule, squeeze into the corner of the eye you are getting pink eye in (have to do it when you're getting it) and then go to sleep. When you wake up, it's usually gone. Ma passed that on to one of her friend's who has a young kid (8 years old) who always gets it and it's worked. So let me try it out.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq may have even more oil than originally thought, just in time more pressure to privatize Iraq's oil, Ricky Clousing reflects on war resistance, Ms. magazine addresses the realities for Iraqi women, Norman Solomon calls out media coverage, and the war resistance movement adds another name.

Yesterday in Iraq,
AP notes, "233 people killed or found dead across Iraq. At least 183 of those are killed when four large bombs explode in mainly Shiite locations of Baghdad." Kirk Semple (New York Times) bills it as "the deadliest day in the capital since the American-led security plan for the city took effect two months ago." It is also the deadliest day in the capital or Iraq this year. AFP observes that the violence "raised questions about the US-backed security plan for the capital." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) opens with, "Yesterday will go down as a day of infamy for Iraqis who are repeatedly told by the US that their security is improving." CNN reports: "It was the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital since the 4-year-old war began, topping the February toll of 130 dead in a bombing in the same marketplace."

Salam Faraj (AFP) reports that today: "Devastated Iraqis hunted for dead relatives in the city mortuaries on Thursday" and quotes one man sobbing, "Oh God, why all that!" as he stared at "frozen corpses stacked up in the giant morgue at the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City after a night-time curfew was lifted and daybreak made it safe enough to leave home." Kirk Semple notes Salar Karmal Zari who had been visiting the capital, declaring, "The blast threw me to the ground and shattered a window over my body. . . . I saw a human head in front of the store and many cars burning and smoke everywhere. . . . I will never stay in Baghdad anymore."

Roger Hardy (BBC News) notes of yesterday, "This was supposed to be a day when the Iraqi government could show it was making tangible progress towards the eventual withdrawal of foreign forces." Hardy's referring to the handoff of the Maysan province to Iraqi control. As noted yesterday, the transfer was supposed to be a brilliant photo-op, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki had a speech all prepared but ended up being a no-show when the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk splashed and crashed against reality. Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's National Security Adviser, ended up reading al-Maliki's speech. The empty words are all the more empty because, quoting Patrick Cockburn, "the transfer of political or security control by the US and Britain to Iraqi authorities has always been deceptive. Iraqis believe, with some reason, that real control remains in the hands of the occuyping forces. Earlier in the year, British forces blew up a police headquarters in Basra and US helicopter-borne troops tried to kidnap two senior Iranian officials visiting Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president."

If you use the links or read any of the coverage, you may note something missing -- what tends to always go missing: Iraqi women's voices. Though many reports mention that women (and children) were among the victims, Iraqi women's voices are abesent from the reporting. Did you know that on one day in November, a Baghdad morgue housed 150 female corpses? (They had gathered over a ten day period with no one claiming them.) Ms. readers will know that. In
the spring 2007 issue of Ms. (in stores on April 24th), Bay Fang contributes "The Talibanization of Iraq" (pages 46 through 51) which takes a look at women's lives in Iraq since the start of the illegal war, noting the destruction of basic rights and much more. Yanar Mohammed (Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq) tells Fang of being able to "meet with groups of 200 or 300 women at factories or the railway station" in the early years of the illegal war; "But this year is completely different. A woman can't even walk two to three blocks safely, much less [come to] a meeting." Bay Fang addresses the MADRE report (which may make Ms. one of the first national periodicals to do so -- on MADRE's report click here to read in full in PDF format or in HTML), addresses the issue of "OH THERE ARE WOMEN IN THE PARLIAMENT!" by noting "During the January 2005 elections for the National Assembly, political parties were required to field electoral slates on which every third candidate was a woman, and as a result women captured 31 percent of the seats. But nearly half of the elected women parliamentarians ran on the list of the Shiite alliance, and they have had to toe the conservative line of their party. Some of the women parliamentarians could be forces for moderation and progress -- such as Mayson al-Damluji, a former undersecretary of culture who has urged the prime minister to honor his pledge to improve women's rights -- but the dangerous political environment of targeted assassinations has prevented them from being very outspoken." Again, the latest issue of Ms. magazine (Spring 2007) goes on sale April 24th. And though Fang's article isn't available currently online, Martha Mendoza's "Between a Woman and her Doctor" went up yesterday.

Now if the news above is news to you, that's because the media (big and small) have been in a feeding frenzy over twin (dueling?) soap operas and reality has fallen even more out of favor. Addressing this with a hard hitting column,
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes: "Several days after the mass killings at Virginia Tech, grisly stories about the tragedy still dominate front pages and cable television. News of carnage on a vastly larger scale -- the war in Iraq -- ebbs and flows. The overall coverage of lethal violence, at home and far away, reflects the chronic evasions of the American media establishments." Solomon goes on to explore the reasons for the different approaches in coverage.

Turning to the issue of war resisters, yesterday in Germany Agustin Aguayo was released.from the military prison he was sent to after his March court-martial.
David Rising (AP) notes that Aguayo, credited for the time he was held following his turning himself in September, served "less than six weeks behind bars" on an eight month sentence. Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports that Aguayo received "a bad conduct discharge, which he has since appealed" and that the appeal means, according to Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner, that he is "on active-duty status, with the same standards as all the other soldiers in the unit." Aguayo attempted (repeatedly) to receive CO status and the Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports on Marc Train who self-checked out the US Army last month, following the March 16th DC demonstration. Olson reports that Train signed up "under the delayed-entry program". That's a nice little trick that the US military likes to play whereby someone under the age of consent when it comes to signing a legal contract is allowed to do so. (Note: If you sign up under the delayed-entry program, you can say "NO." You do not have to go in. There are a number of legal reasons for that including contract law. But anyone who has signed up to enter after high school graduation or after they turn 18 is not required to follow through. Don't go to a base, don't go down to speak to anyone. You can send a letter saying that you have changed your mind.) Garrett Reppenhagen (Iraq Veterans Against the War) tells Olson, "Everyone's situation is different, and you have to weigh your obligations to your country and your oath against your moral compass and your higher conscience. There is never a right or wrong answer when matching such powerful forces."

Yesterday on
Flashpoints, Olson interviewed US war resister Ricky Clousing who spoke of how learning of Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman "and others" were examples. Clousing self-checked out and, after turning himself in, was court-martialed October 12th and served three months.

Ricky Clousing: I definitely don't regret my decision, I really feel like I responded the way that I needed to. You know, there's this quote that says, you know, if you bow to the universe the universe bows back.

Sarah Olson: So today, though, war is increasingly unpopular, more American soldiers are denouncing it, the Iraqi resistance is growing, people on both sides continue to die. Where do you, from your pespective as someone who's served in Iraq, where do you believe we need to be headed?

Ricky Clousing: A lot of people want to ask me, a lot of people want to know, 'Well who should we vote for,' you know, or 'What do you think's going to happen in the next election' and this, and this, and this. And I think people are, they're living in a fantasy land if they think that by electing a Democrat in 2008 is going to fix all our problems, you know. And like, "Oh there's this amazing spokesperson, they're speaking out against the war." Sure, it's great that it's becoming more popular and more mainstream that people are questioning stuff but this is a radical movement. It doesn't stop with the Iraq war, at that, you know. It's much larger and demanding that our government not only be accountable but provide the type of government that we're supposed to be living in which isn't happening, you know? I mean, we're not, we're not a people, the government is not by the people and for the people cause the people have a completely different priority list and a completely different agenda than the people that are in power and are benefitting you know from corporate America that's tied into war and conflict and so many other aspects of society that are getting neglected because of it. I mean the war machine in general is not just just about Iraq, it's not just about Afghanistan, you know, all the weapons that are being made and sent across the world and the role that we play economically across the world. There are so many huge issues, you know. So I think that it's so big and I don't mean to sound like a downer about stuff, I'm just saying I think that . . . I don't know the answer to like where things should be I just know that change doesn't happen without awareness, you know. To start there, all of us need to be becoming more self informed and also spreading that awareness in whatever avenue we have.

Train, Clousing and Aguayo are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Information on oil?
Ed Crooks (Financial Times of London) reported yesterday that a new "comprehensive independent study" of Iraq's oil resrouces has determined that "Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought" which "would raise Iraqi from the world's third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran." How lucky (for corporations) that the steal-Iraqi-bill continues to be pressed. CBS and AP report that the law, approved by al-Maliki's cabinet, is headed "to parliament next week" and note: "Passage of the law, thought to have been written with heavy U.S. involvement, is one of four benchmarks the Bush administration has set for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's struggling government."

Since Iraq has so much oil, possibly US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates can pump some, refine it and then use that to save the US tax payers the expense of his little stop in Baghdad today?
CBS and AP report that he arrived there today "to tell Iraqi leaders that the U.S. commitment for a military buildup in the country is not open-ended." Believe that message (laughable though it is) has been made repeatedly already.

Government? Remember Clousing's remarks to Olson? In the US, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other members of Congress went to the White House yesterday to meet with the Bully Boy.
Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) reports that the result was no "progress toward ending an impasse over an emergency spending bill." Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that "Congressional Democratic leaders are moving to make their proposed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq 'advisory' as they seek to reconcile two versions of war spending legislation into a single bill that they plan to pass next week, according to several House members." So the toothless, non-binding measures that would have never brought all the troops home (despite the hype) are now targeted for removal? As Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) points out: "The supplemental passed by both Houses had been opposed by the vast majority of peace groups, now it looks like the supplemental developed by the conference committee will become even weaker. Whether this weakening will be enough to avoid a veto remains to be seen. But it sounds like the Democrats are making the already unacceptable more unacceptable to Americans who believe it is time to end the war. And this rapid compromise before a veto is not a good sign for how much the Democrats will bend to the president if he follows through on his threat to veto the bill."


AFP reports: "A suicide car bomber killed 12 people in Baghdad on Thursday . . . in the central Jadriyah district -- a majority Shiite inhabited area . . . wounding 28 and also setting ablaze a nearby truck loaded with gas cylinders, a security official said." Reuters reports a Diwaniya mortar attack that left three people wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 and left three wounded,


CBS and AP report a woman and a police officer were gunned down in Baquba (five additional police officers were injured) while seven people were injured in a Kirkuk drive-by. Reuters reports a woman was shot by a sniper in Baghdad.


Reuters reports 4 burned corpses discovered in Shirqat.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries." And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device north of Baghdad April 18. The unit was returning from a combat patrol in the area when the attack occurred."
they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a combat security patrol was attacked with small armss fire in southwestern section of Baghdad April 18."

Meanwhile, the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers in south-east Iraq at approximately 1120 hours local time on Thursday 19 April 2007. Both were killed by an improvised explosive device in Maysaan Province." That, for those dozing, would be the Maysan Province -- yesterday's photo-op turn over because things were so much calmer there.

Reuters reports 144 is the total number of British soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and 144 is also ICCC's count. 3315 US service members have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war by ICCC's count and 3315 by Reuters.

Finally, in news of activism,
Erica Pelzek (The Daily Cardinal) reports on a student protest: "Afer walking out of their classes at 1 p.m. Wendesday in protest of the war in iraq and rallying students down State Street, more than 40 members of US-Madisons's Campus Anti-War Network staged an all-night sit-in at U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's, D-Wis., Madison office. The protesters insisted the senator return to Wisconsin to meet with the group and hear its demands regarding the war in Iraq." Offering support to the students via phone were Howard Zinn and Dave Zirin.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Betryals all around

Wednesday. Hump day and those can be hard so we've got a joke to start with.

The Bush administration's ongoing evasions, stonewalling of Congress and shifting rationales for the firing of eight U.S. attorneys are part of a campaign that began when the president took office: to increase the power of the executive at the expense of the other branches of government.
Having served as President Clinton's chief of staff and as a senior congressional aide for many years, I have a healthy appreciation for the responsibility of each branch to defend its constitutional prerogatives.
Our system of checks and balances requires that Congress be able to obtain the information it needs to make laws and to oversee the executive branch. It also requires that the president have the ability to resist demands for disclosures of information that could threaten national interests.

If you're asking where the joke is -- it's from Common Dreams which choose to put this shit up on their website. Nobody needs a lecture from a dumb ass who stopped impeachment in 2002 before the illegal war began. That's what DUMB ASS John Podesta did. Ramsey Clark and Francis Boyle were asked to come to DC and talk to Congressional Dems about impeachment. They did. They argued how it would work and why. And they made headway and then CANDY ASS John Podesta shows up screaming and flouncing, saying there can be NO impeachment because it would hurt Dems' election chances. So shove that "I have a healthy appreciation for the responsibility of each branch" back up the asshole you call a mouth John DICKWAD Podesta. Really, he needs to crawl back under his rock which shouldn't be too hard because when you don't have a spine, you should be able to slither real easy.

Now here are two things from Democracy Now!:

Group: 230 University Professors Killed So Far In Iraq
Two professors from Mosul University were murdered on Monday - the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting. The school's dean of political science was shot as he walked through the university gate. A second professor was killed in front of his home. The International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors estimates that over 230 university professors have been killed since the Iraq war started. 56 are reported missing and more than 3,000 others have fled the country. Schools in Iraq have also been targets of frequent attacks. In January at least 70 people died in a double suicide bombing at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University. Another suicide bomber struck the school in February killing 40 more students, faculty and staff.

CAMPUS KILLING! OMG! Can it get even a fraction of the attention, of that non-stop attention, that Virginia gets? NO! Because in America, we only care about Americans! And we don't even like all Americans! It's pretty sick how we don't have any time to spare on a death unless it's an American and usually a White American.

UN Holds Conference on Iraqi Refugees
The United Nations is urging the international community to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Iraq. The UN is holding a two-day conference to discuss how to help the four million Iraqis who have fled their homes. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, addressed the conference.
* Antonio Guterres: "The dramatic needs of the Iraqis and the challenges faced by host countries need an urgent and meaningful expression of solidarity by the international community, so well represented here today, as well as an effective action to share the humanitarian burden. That should include financial, economic and technical support, but also expanded resettlement opportunities for the most vulnerable."
Angelo Gnaedinger, the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also spoke.
* Angelo Gnaedinger: "Bombings, suicide attacks, shootings, abductions, murders, the destruction of civilian property and forced displacements are a daily reality for millions of Iraqis. In this dreadful situation and after years of violence, one wonders if a single Iraqi family has been spared human and material loss and their accompanying physical and psychological scars."
Meanwhile Iraqi officials are now estimating the war has produced 900,000 orphans.

There's more on the conference in the snapshot but check out the 900,000 orphans. Where's the breast beating over that? It's a real shame they didn't have scholarships to Virginia Tech -- they might get a little sympathy then.

I highlighted that at C.I.'s request. But if you want to check out Democracy Now! don't go to the website. Go to KPFA and listen there. How come? You'll get Noam Chomsky for the hour. If you go to the website you'll be stuck with OH MY GOD GUN VIOLENCE ON AMERICANS! WHITE AMERICANS! I think we've all had enough of that bullshit.

If you heard about the Supreme Court, the right-wing Supreme Court, taking the first big step to destroying reproductive rights, you know it wasn't a good day. A lot of b.s. on the so-called news, a lot of b.s. from DC. C.I.'s working on a post right now that should go up in a few minutes. There have to be three posts on Iraq each day. Since that's the focus, Monday through Friday has to contain three posts (C.I.'s belief). Anything after that is "bonus." So check out The Common Ills tonight.

So the media betrayed America today, Common Dreams betrayed us by printing John Podesta and the Supreme Court betrayed us. Get angry.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a war resister is due to be released, former US president Bill Clinton talks Iraq, The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild and Andrea Lewis discuss Iraq, the two day United Nations conference on Iraq draws to a close and the US military announces another death.

Starting with what CNN Headlines News brushed off, in all their "newsie-ness," as the "goings on" in Iraq (30 seconds sandwiched between Monday's shootings and the soap opera of a murder trial), bombs have rocked Baghdad (and possibly if they had an 'expert' to talk to Headline News might give a damn?). Today, caught off guard, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone had already tossed off the daily soundbyte before realizing what was happening in the capital.
Al Jazeera quotes Willie Caldwell stating: "We've seen both inspiring progress and too much evidence that we still face many grave challenges." Little Willie wasn't the only one caught with his pants down today, Der Spiegel notes that, earlier in the day, puppet of the illegal occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, had been bragging things were just swell and that the security of Iraq would be turned over to Iraq "by the end of the year" due to these highly effective (non)strategies. And Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reports on the master of double-speak (with a minor in understatement), US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who, in Cairo: "A political solution could come quickly, Gates said, pointing out that there are not 'thousands in the street' in Iraq trying to kill each other. The violence is mostly confined to death squads, al-Qaeda terrorists and former members of Iraq's ruling class, the Baath party."

AFP reports: "A fire incinerated human flesh, cars and vehicles after a deafening blast that sent a dense cloud of putrid black smoke spewing in the afternoon sky as rescue workers screeched through the streets to scenes of horror. Fire engines doused nearby cars and buses as dozens of ambulances and pick-up trucks ferried the wounded to hospital and civilian volunteers wrapped charred bodies in carpets for transport to the city's overflowing morgues." Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) quote eye witness Ahmed Hameed who declares, "The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood." So bad were the bombings that, AP notes, Secertary of Defense Gates called them "horrifying" (before quickly trying to make political hay by screaming, "It's al Qaeda! It's al Qaeda! I just know it is!"). Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that of the various bombs that had gone off today in Baghdad, it was the "car bomb at a market in the mainly Shiite Muslim deistrict of al-Sadriyah killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 100 others".

On February 3, 2007, a truck bombing in a market in central Baghdad market resulted in mass fatalities. In that bombing, BBC reported the fatalities at 130 ("At least 130 people"). That bombing took place in the same district (Sadriya) as today's worst bombing. Before that, in September of 2005, a bombing in Baghdad killed 114 on a day when the total fatalities from violence in Baghdad was 152. Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) list the fatalities for today at 170 people, note that 122 is the number of fatalities from the Sadriya district bombing and put the total number of bombings in Baghdad today at four. The death toll may climb (as it has done all the morning) as some wounded do not make it and some corpses are discovered. Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times) reports that there were five bombs and writes: "Victims of today's late afternoon attack included construction workers repairing damage from last month's bombing, and rush-hour commuters at a bus depot, waiting for rides home." The Australian reports that it was six bombs and notes: "The market is situated on a side-street lined with shops and vendors selling produce, meat and other staples. It is about 500m from a Sunni shrine, while the area also has a large number of Kurdish resisdents."

Yates and Tait (Reuters) note that people in Baghdad are blaming the puppet for the latest violence, that children were victims of the market attack and note one man in the street yelling, "Where's Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here." It was supposed to an easy day for the puppet who had, early in the day, declared that Iraqis would be in control of all their country by years end as part of his part in a photo op later in the day. The US military had issued their statement (credited to General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and Ambassador Asquith) early in the morning, self-stroking over the fact that the Maysan Province was being turned over to Iraqi control. As the Associated Press notes, the puppet was a no show at the photo op ceremony despite having been an announced guest. As US Senator Crazy, John McCain, could have told the puppet, "Watch out for When Photo-Ops Go Bad!" Still, as Yates and Tait report, al-Maliki's prepared speech was read, even though he himself was unable to travel the 200 miltes from Baghdad to Maysan.

The count as this completed is 170 dead in Baghdad from car bombs (Reuters) with "more than 200 wounded".

CBS and AP note another of the Baghdad bombings, where a car containing a bomb was "crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslime neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtade al-Sadr. The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 45". CNN notes two other Baghdad bombings -- in the Karrada district where 11 died from a car bombing and a roadside bombing that killed 2 people. BBC updates the attack on the checkpoint to 35 dead and notes the observation of their correspondent Jim Muir: "The bombers are proving that they can slip through thte tightened security net and defy the clapdown".

Other bombings?

Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that killed two people. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "2 farmers from Al Bo Asi Al Abagiyah village died today after [being] injured in American strike [a] few days ago."


Al Jazeera reports "two brothers were killed and a policeman was hurt in a gun battle in Baquba. The dead were believed to be civilians caught in the crossfire". AP reports four police officers were shot dead in a Baghdad attack that also left six civilians dead. Reuters reports that a police officer and Iraqi soldier were wounded in Tal Afar, a father, mother and child were wounded in Kirkuk (father is an unidentified judge) and three people ("son of Iraq's deputy interior minister and his two bodyguards") were killed in Baiji.


Reuters reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Ramadi (and that 17 were found in Ramadi yesterday) and 8 in Mosul. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."

Along with the photo op of the turnover, other plans also went up in flames as chaos and violence reigned in the capitol. Lebananon's
The Daily Star reports that the puppet had talks with "some insurgent groups," that al-Maliki confirmed that on Tuesday, and stated, "We are having meetings with groups that are not part of the political process . . . They asked us not to reveal their name. The talks are still going and they are part of the national reconciliations."

In news of another talk,
Daphne Barak (Asharq Alawsat) interviewed former president Bill Clinton and, in the discussion on Iraq, Clinton responded, "I don't have an answer for it . . . . There will always be consequences to whatever decision we take. There is no guarantee. . . . I don't know any paniless altermatives. . . If we stay in Iraq - there are bad consequences, if we leave in a hurry there are consequences too! Really there are no good alternatives. . . . I think Hillary has it right that we have to make " Barak later asks, "Back to Iraq, are there any other dangers which we are not aware of?" Clinton responds, "We have to reposition some troops in Kurdistan or outside nearby. We have to protect the Kurds, and prevent Turkey to go into Kurdistan. That's the biggest danger in the area right now. We have to watch out if Sunni Iraqis will become a beachhead. Although Turkey is our long time ally -- and Turkey and Israel have a good relationship -- we can't allow Turkey to enter Iraq! What Hillary is fighting for is, that no one should go into a preemptive war again."

Also noting Iraq is US House Representative and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich who writes, "Remember four years ago, the Administration told the American people, 'We have no choice but to attack Iraq, because they had weapons of mass destruction.' Well, they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. But what they did have is $6 trillion worth of oil. And so now we're being told that we absolutely have to get ready to go to war against Iran; and, in fact, the Administration is preparing for such a war. We're being told they have the capacity to strike at American or other nations with nuclear weapons some day. Uh . . . well, not really. But they do have have $6 trillion worth of oil. It's really time that we ended this corrupt politics that we have in this country, where all these politicians are saying, 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran,' meaning even a nuclear attack. And yet, apparently, diplomacy is not one of those options that's on the table. Why is it that Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator Edwards would all mimic the same speech that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have given: 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran'."?

Addressing Iraq and Congress today was
Matthew Rothschild who spoke with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today.

Andrea Lewis: Certainly the Democrats have made a lot of gestures and talk about getting the troops out sooner and cutting off the funding. It seems to me to be kind of stalled -- the whole plan. What do you think about what's going on on that front?

Matthew Rothschild: Well, first of all, news today in Iraq, terrible day, in Baghdad, 127 people killed in a series of blasts in Baghdad so this idea that Baghdad is becoming a nice, safe, quiet place to visit according to John McCain, clearly not the case. I do think that the Democrats are not doing enough to demand withdrawal within 6 months or, max, a year and not having loopholes where even if that thing passed and even if Bush were to sign it, Bush would still be able to stay in Iraq for years and years because even the Democrats' legislation allows the president to keep training Iraqi security, keep going after al Qaeda and, you know, helping out patrolling Iraq in defense of US personnel which could be Haliburton. It could be US contractors over there. So with those loopholes even in the best of bills this war could go on under Bush -- or under Bush's sucessor if it be Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama. None of the Democrats are demanding withdrawal without conditions and that's what's going to have to happen at some point because otherwise, you know Bush is going to keep this going and I think the Democrats are going to capitulate. I think Harry Reid, not only has he capitulated on gun control, but he's going to capitulate on this, he's going to take even the kind of fake deadline the Democrats have in that legislation and he's going to take those away. And so Bush will get his funding and this war will go on and it's going to go on until the 11th hour on January 20, 2009 when Bush leaves office and then the Democratic president, if it be a Democratic president, or the Republican successor is going to continue to wage that war unless we really raise the stakes that people of this county, not just Democrats, but the people across party lines are way ahead of the politicians on this. They want the troops to come out within a year. And, at some point, we've got to raise our voices a little bit louder.

[Note -- I've smoothed over Rothschild's response by removing "uh" and "you know"s. I have no problem with them and think it's better to include to reflect speaking styles; however, I was in the middle of something else and had to lose the flavor to keep the context.]

In war resistance news,
Agustín Aguayo was to be released today from the brig in Germany he had been sentenced to since his March 6th court-martial for refusing to deploy to an illegal war. AP reports that he was released: "With credit for time already served, he spent less than six weeks behind bars before being released, said US European Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner." Aguayo was repeatedly denied Conscientious Objector status. First by the military and then by the civilian court system (he will be appealing). The Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress for COs: "Our voices together are magnified when we gather and organize to lobby congress for the sake of rights for the conscientious objector. It is important to support servicements who become conscientious objectors, to lobby for a place for conscience in an inherently violent organization suffering from a dire lack of it. A law to protect the rights of conscientious objectors (CO) in the military is needed. With no end in sight to the brutal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the globe, the number of COs in the military is increasing. The GI Rights Hotline has experienced a sharp increase in the number of calls from those seeking a CO discharge. The current military policy for COs is not working: they face harassment, they are forced to violate their beliefs and they are denied CO status for arbitrary reasons. A law passed by Congress is needed to fix the broken system and to put specific procedures in place for the CO discharge process. May 16th will be a day for voters to make their voices heard for the proposed bill, the Military CO Act." Links:

Come and lobby in Washington, DC or lobby your member of Congress at their local office near your home.
Click here to sign up for lobby day.
Click here for information on the Military CO Act
Information on subway access, directions and parking.
Map of the Area Driving Directions Metro Access Parking -->

On May 15th, International CO Day, CCW is participating in 2 events:
Congressional Briefing: 9:00 am - 12:00 pmAn Aspect of Religious Freedom: Conscience in the Military,sponsored by FCNL, Peace Tax Fund, and John Lewis
Advisory Council, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm @ Church of the Brethren (tentatively)
Church of the Brethren337 North Carolina Ave. SE Washington, DC 20003

Today, in Geneva, the two day, United Nations organized, "International Conference on Addressing the Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq and in Neighbouring Countries" concluded. The
UN notes that 60 nations participated in the conference on "the nearly 4 million Iraqis who have fled their homes" and that UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, hopes that Iraqis will return to Iraq and that he "voiced hope that international gratitude for the burden assumed by receiving countries -- with Syria hosting 1.2 million Iraqis and Jordan another 750,000 -- would soon translate into financial support. He also sought an increased amount of resettlement to third countries, considered necessary for the most vulnerable refugees." BBC reports that the puppet government of Iraq is willing to give $25 million to Syria and Jordan for housing some of the displaced. By contrast, the US offered $18 million. If you don't grasp the difference, Iraq is a client state of the US at present, a client state that still guarantee basic services (let alone security) to Iraqis. But it has promised $25 million while no-big-spender Bully Boy has okayed $18 million -- to pay for the crisis he created. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has declared that:

1) The Iraqi Government, in [consultation] with the countries hosting large numbers of displaced Iraqis, will establish offices to address the issue. These offices will work closely with the host countries, the UNHCR and non-governmental organisations.

2) The Iraqi Government has allocated 25 million US dollars to fund the work of these offices.

3) The large numbers of displaced Iraqi people are straining the infrastructures of hosting countries. The Iraqi Government will extend financial assistance to host governments, and its relevant ministries, to support their infrastructure.

Dahr Jamail (IPS) reports that Baquba's displaced who have sought refuge in Damascus refer to Baquba with the term "dead city" and notes that "armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns" and quotes Aziz Abudlla (who was a professor in Baquba) stating, "I think well over half of our city has left, and those who remain never leave their homes. Those who are left sit in their homes and wait for their death. They may take their fate from a terrorist entering their house, or a car bomb, or a shooting."

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) interviews Caitlin Esworthy (Port Militarization Resistance of Olympia) about actions to end the illegal war and the attacks peaceful activists suffered from the Tacoma police. Zeese asks about the "police reaction" and Esworthy responds: "In sum: force, intimidation and erasure of numerous constitutionally protected rights. Over the course of the two weeks (from March 2nd to the 17th) the police chose to daily escalate their tactics in response to the large groups of people voicing their opposition to the occupation of Iraq and in favor of keeping the 4th Brigade home. There were pedestrians and drivers that resulted in disorientation and intimidation, use of "less-than-lethal" (read: sometimes lethal) weapons on non-violent protestors, RAMPANT violation of citizens' right to not be videotaped by public officials without probable cause, officers refusing to identify themselves, restriction of the right to wear backpacks on a public street and the repeated restriction of citizens' rights to assemble within reasonable proximity to that which they are protesting so that the nature of their protest is not fundamentally altered (both of which are supported by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions), vehicles being searched without cause or warrant, the list goes on." A video clips are provided.

iraqagustin aguayo

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No moment of silence here

Tuesday and I'm pissed off. I got an e-mail asking if I was going to participate in a "moment of silence" on Friday? No. And I'll get to why in a bit. First, C.I. forwarded me a Washington Post article. I don't care for the article, but I will put in here the letter they obtained:

April 17, 2007
Dear Colleague:
This week I intend to introduce Articles of Impeachment with respect to the conduct of Vice President Cheney. Please have your staff contact my office . . . if you would like to receive a confidential copy of the document prior to its introduction in the House.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress

This has been delayed by the shooting. So 32 people died at Virginia Tech and it's not good, it's really sad. But I guess my question is, "Are we not aware that people die every day in the United States?" I'm not taking part in the "moment of silence" on Friday. I think it's a bunch of shit. The United States has enough silence, thank you. We need more action and more conversation. I hear that and think, "What a load of crap?"

"Let's all mourn together?" Let's start mourning some Iraqi lives, how the hell about that? Let's start giving a damn about the Iraqis who are dying. Or do you have to go to college to go in the US for your death to be considered a tragedy?

Moment of silence? Forget it. This country has been silent since 9-11 and only recently found its voice and some of its spine. I am sorry for everyone who lost someone in the shootings. I'm evern sorrier for the ones who lived through it because I bet that's going to be really hard and a lot of "Why them and not me?" searching. If you pray, by all means include the ones who died and the ones who survived in your prayers. But the posturing started on this before the facts were even known. Some facts still aren't known. But let's all beat our breasts over what happened and play stupid. What I do know is that people are dying all over the world and the way this picked up steam, it's less about the ones who died.

Along with various groups, you've got posturing from the Bully Boy. I loved his line, hold on, let me find it. "Schools should be places of safety, sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom in every American community." Oh really? That sanctuary is violated every damn day a military recruiter is allowed on a college or high school campus or are we all supposed to be to damn dumb to grasp that? And having paraded corpses (Hussein's sons) and presided over massive bombings of Iraq, maybe Bully Boy should grab a little of the credit for the violence at Virginia Tech? When the occupying the White House has no value for the living, don't pretend that message doesn't get telegraphed everywhere.

It's such a load of crap. We're a violent country led by a man addicted to violence and instead of discussing that, let's all have our moment of silence and act like we accomplished one damn thing. Let's pretend like, during our hypocritical moment of silence, that US corporations didn't make X number of boms, nerve gas and assorted other weapons that will be used all around the world. But let's grab that moment of silence and puff out our chests with pride because we DID something: We stayed silent for a moment! What a dumb ass thing to do.

I saw Katrina vanden Heuvel cast herself again as society's healer at her dumb ass blog. Common Dreams picked it up. Don't expect links to it here. What a dumb ass KvH is. She's done nothing to decry violence in Iraq but now, because it involves college kids in the US, suddenly she's concerned, suddenly she's alarmed. My attitude is they can all go shine it on somewhere else.

The hypocrisy and insanity of it all just makes me sick. "How could this happen!" How could violence happen? What country do you live in? Of course it happened. Did you miss this from Democracy Now! today:

U.S. Army Ships 1.8 Million Gallons off VX Wastewater
1.8 million gallons of wastewater used to neutralize the deadly nerve gas VX is being transported by the U.S. Army on a one thousand mile trip from Indiana to Texas. The tanker trucks are scheduled to drive through eight states: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The watchdog group Chemical Weapons Working Group attempted to block the shipment because of health and environmental concerns, The Army initially tried to send the chemical waste to be treated in Ohio and New Jersey but community opposition blocked the shipment. Activists in Port Arthur Texas are now trying to stop the Army from incinerating the waste in their town.

If we really gave a damn about safety and security would that be traveling across the country to be burned off (producing who knows what into the environment)? How about the realities of how the wasterwater came into existance?

Screw the "moment of silence." If people really care about ending violence, they should all be calling attention to violence and weaponary the US government sanctions and allows.

That's all from me. I'm listening to Flashpoints right now where Nora Barrows-Friedman is reporting from the occupied territories and we've learned that two young Palestinian boys were used as human shields by Israeli soldiers on a tank. Forget silence, how about some LOUD OUTRAGE over that. Who keeps funding Israel's military budget? How about we talk about that? I'm not for silence, there's enough silence. People have had to fight to be heard. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi refugee crisis receives some attention in Geneva, claims are bandied all around regarding events of violence in Iraq, Robert Gates got a goody bag and wants to share and Americans not only think the illegal war was not worth it, the also think it is "lost."

Starting with war resister news,
Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, shared Saturday of how his son's struggle has inspired him. Ehren Watada, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February 2006, his court-martial ended a mistrial and his next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th. Brian Charlton (AP) reports that Bob Watada spoke Saturday at a Honolulu meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists where he explained, "It was because of him that I've gone out and educated myself." Charlton notes the stroke Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) suffered. That was in January at the rally in DC, shortly after Bob Watada spoke. Ann Wright managed to catch Sakanishi as she was falling.There are many lessons to be learned from Watada and other war resisters. Ehren Watada is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Al Jazeera reports on Abu Fares who left Iraq with his family but returned after the start of the illegal war in 2003 which he felt was cause for hope and return (the disposing of Saddam Hussein) only to discover that "Everything was chaos. We spent days with no water or electricity. I had to write my will every time I wanted to leave the house." The family has now returned to Iran with no plans to return to Iraq. The issue of refugees is one that Dahr Jamail and Ali al Fadhilly have reported on at length for IPS and Dahr has also reported on it frequently for Flashpoints. Last Tuesday, on Flashpoints, Dahr spoke with Emily Howard about the refugee problem and the refusal to address it by it the US. He noted that those fortunate enough to afford to leave (buying their way out of arrests frequently) become internal refugees (wandering or living in refugee tents) or else the become external refugees who leave the country. Friday on KPFA's The Morning Show, Dahr spoke with Andrea Lewis and Aaron Glantz about the Iraqi refugees who had gone to Syria and noted, "I have updated numbers from meeting with Sybella Wilkes yesterday who is the UNHCR regional public information officer. And according to UNHCR, there are, there's 1.2 million is the minimum estimate they have in Syria alone. The governement of Syria, who UNHCR admitted probably has more accurate figures than they do, estimates there's between 1.4 and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here, hundreds of thousands of those are Shia as well. I think people in the US are led to believe that it's only the Sunni population that's leaving and, while they are the majority, it's important to note that there's a giant number and growing number of Shia up here in Syria as well. But really the situation is really -- even just those numbers, as if they're not staggering enough by themselves -- the situation here is UNHCR has only actually registered approximately 70,000 of these people. So that means these are only the 70,000 that literally have so little of anything that they have to literally go there for food and in some way to find some housing. So the crisis is certainly going to grow exponentially as these other Iraqis here, and I have met with many of them, are living on their savings right now. What are they going to do when their savings run out? Syria right now has approximately a 20 to 25% unemployment rate. Add in another between 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqis, so already that figure is too low. And as time persists, of course, the situation will worsen. And we have between 30 and 50,000 more Iraqis coming into Syria alone every single month." [Those unable to listen to the broadcast can click here for that and other remarks by Dahr.]

Today the United Nations held a conference in Geneva on the subject of the refugee crisis.
BBC reports that Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, "urged Iraq's neighbours not to close their borders to refugees, and states further afield to do more to help tackle the humanitarian crisis." Sephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports that the appeal includes a request "for international aid for nearly 4 million Iraqis". The United Nations states: "Hundres of concerned participants from governments, aid organization and United Nations bodies gathered in Geneva today" and quotes UNHCR head Antonio Guterres citing a "moral imperative" which requires the actions of "[a]ll of us -- representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society". Meanwhile Nicholas Keung (Toronto Star) reports: "The UN has raised only half of its $60 million goal for 2007, a figure that includes $2.5 million pledged by Canada." Deutsche Welle notes, "Germany's Department of Foreign Affairs had announced on Monday that it would make 2.2 million euros in aid available to Iraqi refugees and displaced persons." IRIN notes that the conference continues tomorrow

From refugees to the puppet government that created (or assisted the US government in creating) the problem. On the heels of Moqtada al-Sadr's block exiting their six minister position in the coalition Nouri al-Maliki cobbled together and filled well after the Consitutionally mandated deadline, the US government launches a global push to shore up support for their puppet.
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be "using potential U.S. arms sales and other military assistance" to shore up support in the Middle East for al-Maliki. David S. Cloud (New York Times) notes that Gates' trip will include encouraging "leaders to back Iraq's government and to put aside their doubts about Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's ability to curtail sectarian violence". Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) informs that "Defense Department officials acknowledge that the support for Maliki in Sunni-dominated nations is not as firm as they would like." Or at all. Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman via WatchingAmerica) predicts that, when the US does withdraw from Iraq, "the current government -- if it still exists at the time, God forbid -- it would certain encounter its political death, both nationally and internationally, especially if it's notion of using extreme repression to further the national reconciliation process remains unchanged. The problem is not in any of these options, but al-Maliki himself and his delusional promises of building a military force capable of action as an alternative to the Americans, without purging the existing force of sectarian elements."

The attempts to shore up support for the puppet government outside the US comes as
Gary Langer (ABC News) reports on the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll which finds: "A bare majority of the Americans for the first time believe the United States will lose the war in Iraq, and a new high -- two-thirds -- say the war was not worth fighting." Possibly Robert Gates will next take his goody bag house to house throughout the US?

Turning to US Congressional news . . . Cloy Richards served in Iraq and suffers from PTSD. His mother is Tina Richards.
Eric Leaver (Foreign Policy in Focus) sums up the event that introduced many people to Tina Richards: "Instead, the biggest brawl the public saw was between House Appropriations committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and the mother of a Marine and an anti-war activist, Tina Richards. Responding from Richard's plea to stop the war Obey screamed, "We don't have the votes." But it was never clear that Obey and others were in fact seeking the votes to end the war. Instead they were seeking the votes for what ended up being in a weak compromise." As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), "Tina Richards was arrested on Monday outside the office of Nancy Pelosi while calling on the House Speaker to stop funding the war." After the press attention following Obey's public meltdown, Nancy Pelosi stated she wanted to meet with Tina Richards but has yet to make time for such a meeting. Stacy Bannerman (Military Families Speak Out) notes that Congress owns the war having gone with "stay the course" and notes what it look liked up close to see even those Congress members opposed to the war cave: "When members were 'released' to vote for the supplemental funding bill, the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus became the 'Stay in Iraq' caucus. New branding materials are in the works. When the people that got elected on a strong anti-war platform voted to continue the war, they broke a sacred trust with their constituents. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Jim McGovern (D-MA) et. al, clean out your desks and return the keys to your office. Immediately. When Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), a long-time, outspoken opponent of the war, cannot look me in the face as he passes by on his way to vote, I know that he knows that what he's doing is wrong. The rationalizations for continuing to fund the war under the patently false guise of 'supporting the troops' are just a different page from the same book that was used to build the case for war."

In claims news today, a Sunday raid in Baghdad's al-Amil neighborhood conducted by US forces is straying from the approved US military narrative.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports today that eye witnesses say that the US military randomly opened fire, killining indiscriminately and quoted one Iraqi stating: "People were sleeping when the U.S. forces raided the area. Shooting started and people came out to see what happened. Two were killed in the shooting. A mother and her son came out to see what happened and they were also killed during the shooting. So we have four killed and two others wounded." At some point the US military may launch an investigation into the event. Like the investigations into the helicopter crashes, they will, no doubt, drag on and on. However, remember this is the claims department section, the US military has completed an investigation in less than 24 hours and, they announce, they have cleared themselves as they maintain that those killed in Ramadi yesterday "were not Iraqi policemen as originally reported." In other claims, CNN reports a group has posted online the assertion that they killed 20 Iraqi security forces they kidnapped on Saturday in Baghdad. And, finally, AP reports that a group thought to be (or claimed to be) linked to al Qaeda has "claimed in audiotape posted on the Internet Tuesday that the group had begun manufacturing its own rockets."

Turning to actual reported events in Iraq today . . .


Reuters reports a car bombing in Hawija that left 3 dead and 4 wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded 3, and a truck bombing -- near Mosul -- which killed 1 person and left 4 Iraqi soldiers wounded.


CNN reports a professor, on his way to work at Baghdad University, was shot dead.


Reuters reports 9 corpses discovered in Mosul, 11 in Baghdad, and 4 in Diwaniya.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died April 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." Sunday, the total number of US service members killed in Iraq during the illegal war which began March 2003 passed the 3,300 mark. Noting that maker being passed today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed: "The conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. troops. More soldiers have died since October than in any other six-month period of the war."

In Italy, a murder trial began today and . . . kind of ended. While escorting the just released journalist Giulian Sgrena to Baghdad International (March 4, 2005) the car carrying Sgrena and Italian intelligence came under fire from US troops. As
Tracy Wilkinson (Los Angeles Times) notes that US service member Mario Lonzano was being tried in absentia in Rome today. Germany's Der Spiegel sums it up this way: "While everyone agrees that Mario Lozano, an American soldier, fired the fatal shots that killed Italian agent Nicola Calipari in Iraq to years ago, that is where the agreement ends. For the United States government, the case is closed but Rome sees things somewhat differently. Italy is putting Lozano on trial for murder even though he is refusing to attend." BBC reports this statement by the attorney, Fraco Coppi, for Caliparia's widow, on Lonzano not being present, "His absence is his own choice. It does not represent an obstacle to ascertaining the truth. We are absolutely serene. The evidence gathered is indisputable." Democracy Now! quotes Giuliana Sgrena on the trial itself: "It is a mixture of anguish and of hope. Of course, as I wanted this trial, I am very happy that now it will start. But of course, for me it means to go back to two years ago and what happened two years ago. And so it is very painful for me to think of these things and the details, because at the trial we need to go into details, so it is very painful for me. But we have to face the trial because it is a very important step." A step taken but not completed. CBS News' Sabina Castelfranco reports that the trial "has been postponed until May 14th". Alessandra Rizzo (AP) notes an immediate adjournment by the judge "for technical reasons."

In other legal news,
Marty Graham (Reuters) reports that US service member Sanick Dela Cruz is no longer charged in the November 19, 2005 massacre/slaughter in Iraq and quotes the statement issued by the US Marine Corps: "Charges agains him were dismissed on April 2 after the government balanced his low level of culpability in the alleged crime against the potential value of his testimony."