Friday, June 29, 2007

Patrick Cockburn

Friday at last! Just when you think the week can never end, Friday finally arrives. Leigh Ann was the first to e-mail about this (on Tuesday) but others have since. Wasn't ignoring anyone but just waiting until Friday. A number were wondering how my sister-in-law was enjoying living here. (Not "back here." This is her first time.) She said, "Ask me on Friday" so she'd have more time to think about it.

Here's what she thinks. She hates it. She hates me. She hates everyone. I'm joking! She said the pressure with the bills was huge and she didn't realize how huge until they were moved in last Saturday. She says not only has that been a huge relief but with the baby due shortly, she was going to continue working until her water broke but wasn't looking forward to it "and mainly avoided even thinking about it." Any problems? No, but she wished Ma would believe her that she's not thinking, "I wish I was in charge of the kitchen." Ma keeps saying that if she wants to cook, even for just herself, just say she needs some alone time. Maybe after the pregnancy but right now, she's really happy not to cook. (My brother cooks as well. They split that duty close to 50-50 all along and then it switched to about 70-30 with him 70 in the last few months.) Ma knows if my brother wants to cook, he'll just go in and cook. She had no comment, this was Leigh Ann, on my kid sister (her kid sister-in-law).

She also warned that I'm going to hate having her here when the baby's born and crying every night. I don't think so.

Beau e-mailed about the above and also about my kid sister. She avoids everyone. Now that she's 'working,' she brings home her own food (usually Subway) and eat in her room. That's pretty much where she is most of the time. "No one understands me" is her constant refrain. She doesn't speak to anyone so she hollers it when you walk past her open door. :D

Okay, now for Iraq. First off, one of the surprises for me in Chicago, the conference, was hearing a smart person dismiss the civil wars that are going on in Iraq. The person stated that there was not a civil war. I hope he meant, but didn't get to it, that the US created the civil wars. But they exist. And it's not just Shia and Sunni. The smaller religious minorities are even more targeted. So I saw what I'm about to highlight and wanted to go with it, one reason, because it mentions the civil war and if anyone knows about Iraq, it's Patrick Cockburn. This is from his "An Open Letter to Gordon Brown: End the Occupation" and Gordon Brown's just become the Prime Minister now that Tony Blair's stepped down:

Dear Mr Brown
Peace can only be returned to Iraq by a negotiated end to the occupation and an acceptance by Washington and London that the Shia religious parties, in alliance with the Kurds and influenced by Iran, are going to run the country.
You should take on board simple facts about Iraq that Tony Blair never seemed to grasp. The occupation is disliked by most Shia and Sunni Iraqis and is supported only by the Kurds. When the US and Britain overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated regime in 2003 they made it inevitable that the majority Shia community would rule and Iranian influence would increase. The contortions of US policy over the past four years are largely a vain attempt to avoid this outcome.
US officials and their Iraqi allies stuck in the Green Zone often take comfort in the fact that many Iraqis want a US pull-out over a period of a year or after Iraqi security forces are ready to take their place. They imagine that this means the Iraqis do not want them to go. The reality is that they do and the continuing presence of foreign forces means the government never learns to stand on its own feet and lives in a dependency culture. Sending in more troops to support a government is like giving a drunk more whisky, as one former senior US intelligence officer said.
The presence of foreign troops and a government dependent on them may delay a final explosion but it makes that final explosion all the more certain. All the talk of creating mixed Sunni-Shia government means stopping any winner emerging in the civil war that has been raging across Iraq since 2004.
The British record in Basra, for instance, has proved more dismal than the US's in Baghdad. The much-bruited British Operation Sinbad in Basra from September last year until March was talked up by British ministers at the time as an example of how to bring militias under control and strengthen local security forces. A year later it is the Shia militias who rule Basra and the battles between them are about taking over government institutions and resources - notably petrol - out of which they can make money. Racketeers rule the city. British troops are increasingly confined to their compounds and are relentlessly attacked when they leave.
Iraqi politics increasingly resembles Chicago during Prohibition in the 1920s in which criminal mafiosi and politicians are linked together and disputes are settled violently. Turf wars are endemic.

The other reason I wanted to note it was to say, "Thank you!" to all the UK community members e-mailing me. I knew some from roundtables and some from newsletters but I didn't realize there were so many. C.I. noting me in "And the war drags on" last night, really seemed to have steered most of you to the post (so thanks to C.I. too) and most of the e-mails were saying thank you because they do feel (and they're right) that there's a tendency in the US to just look at US fatalities. Unlike Iraqis, an official figure exists for British troops that have died. And Thursday's announcement that three British soldiers died should have been covered and covered seriously by the US media -- big and small. I saw that the BBC did a story on the 5 US soldiers announced dead today. Not included a paragraph or two on it, did an actual story on it. I'm sorry that the illegal war the UK got drug into when Tony Blair decided he loved Bully Boy more than England has claimed 156 deaths of citizens of the UK and that's not your loss, it's all of our loss.

If you're thanking, you need to thank Kat because she's the one who noticed how hard C.I. was hitting on the British deaths Thursday. She's the one who called me and asked me to call Wally. (Wally was speaking with C.I., Ava and Jess this week.) So thank Kat for pointing it out (and C.I. for making an issue out of it to begin with). Those losses are real and it shouldn't be the attitude of US media (big and small), "Oh, well, we're busy and that's not even Americans." And thank your own Polly too because when I called her she was really up front about how disgusted she was with the US media's non-coverage of the 3 deaths.

I really loved the e-mails and check your inboxes because I asked all of you if I could quote something. Everyone had great e-mails and I'd like to include a line or two of each in the column I'm doing for Polly's Brew. I'll be working on that at 5:00 pm EST tomorrow. I'll be done with it in about an hour (less if I can sweet talk Elaine into typing it up for me! :D). So if I have your permission by then, I'll be including you in the column.

A lot of e-mails also mentioned "Editorial: Iraq silences" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). That credit goes to C.I. We were working on it and C.I. said, "There's an issue that might work well here." Then we all learned about James in Brighton's complaint about the Moonbat. We were all on board with writing about that. (And it's the focus for Polly's roundtable in Polly's Brew this weekend, by the way.) We, in the US, pretty much go with Pru. She's done a great job explaining what's what in London in her columns for the gina & krista round-robin and Polly's Brew. So we know not to expect much from the New Labour publication called The Guardian which exists solely to prop up New Labour. So we miss Moonbat's stuff on purpose and really only look at something that gets highlighted. But what Patrick Cockburn's writing about above is the sort of thing New Labour can't get behind. They're too busy applauding Brown to demand anything.

I thought C.I. did a really great job in "And the war drags on." I didn't even think about the photos being public domain since they were property of the Ministry of Defence (with a "c," thanks to Gareth for pointing that out). I thought that really did put a face out there and make it more than numbers. Jenny e-mailed me wondering if I was going to highlight The Nation's fundraising appeal? Nope. I'm one of the members nodding my head with the "Reasons not to list" C.I. did. I know some members have donated already and some more probably will and that's fine. I'm not ragging on any members if that's their choice. (And I think C.I. laid it out in such a way that the point about it being your choice is clear.)

5 US soldiers were announced dead today. C.I. covers that in the snapshot but time was limited (they were on a crazy speaking schedule today -- adding a lot of high school groups at the last minute and since they aren't in school, the start times were odd and they were rushing like crazy from here to there). C.I. told me I could note this AP article if I was looking for something and explained why it couldn't go into the snapshot: "The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. That surpasses the 316 soldiers killed during November 2004 to January 2005." That's right and it's wrong. It is the deadliest quarter. But it's 330 because they're missing one death in the AP count thus far. So that's what the Bully Boy's given us with his escalation -- an escalation Americans opposed and expected Congress to stand up against but Congress only passed a 'symbolic' measure. 330 dead thus far in the worst quarter since the illegal war began and I guess Dems in Congress should see those deaths, like their crappy measure, as 'symbolic'?

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

Friday, June 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden. Madden and two other members of IVAW, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them. They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more. Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines. Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches). Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War"). Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something. Of what? Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US. He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory. The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".

Madden and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel. Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war. He is also a supporter of
2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel. He has my vote. The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army. I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others. I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking." Those were both noted in May. In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish. I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter." In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience". Courage to Resist has more information here.

Eli Israel is part of a movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th). Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens." AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."

When not begging al-Sadr,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law". However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket. Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers." That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan). Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament. In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad. CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours". Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded. CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.

US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year. BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."

Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .

As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's)
ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stirbecause it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."

Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created. Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad.
Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts. The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues." And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks." Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying. Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped. In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."

And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.
Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown. Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq." Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead. Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be. He didn't want to be there. He was more scared than anything else. He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."

For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."
CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."

Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with
Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

3 British soldiers dead in Iraq

Thursday and almost the weekend. Thanks to Kat for her kind words (too kind!) yesterday and also for calling me today. She caught something I didn't and asked me to call Wally and check. C.I. was hitting hard today (not just in the snapshot) on the issue of the British soldiers. I read Gareth's remarks in one entry and thought, "Yeah, Gareth!" I was reading all the stuff and glad to but I didn't get it. Kat figured there was huge outrage of the US media coverage of the 3 deaths (3 British soldiers died). Now when the US troop deaths have a milestone, you can usually count on foreign media doing a better job than domestic media here.

So I guess I wasn't getting it because I don't expect a great deal from the US mainstream media. But I checked with Wally and, yeah, British members were outraged that the deaths were either a minor thing or ignored all together. (And one sentence alone counts as ignoring.) Their attitude is basically that England has been Bully Boy's partner-in-crime (more than anyone) in this illegal war so when the deaths of the most loyal country (and the country with the most troops in Iraq after the US) aren't even news, it really offended.

I called Polly and talked to her and she asked if I'd write about that for my column Sunday (in her newsletter Polly's Brew). I'll just note a thing or two I shared with her on the phone. The Washington Post had no coverage on Iraq in print today. The John Ward Anderson and other guy story C.I. was linking to wasn't in the paper (it was breaking -- it'll be in tomorrow's paper) and the New York Times only did one article (the piece by Alissa J. Rubin). I explained that was pretty much how the US 'covered' Iraq. She said, "That sounds like the Guardian" and we laughed. TV websites do one Iraq article a day if you're lucky and for some, it's just repost an AP article. (ABC is really bad about that. CBS will, if nothing else, take an AP and add to it so that it's CBS and AP.) She told me that independent media, including The Nation, tries to get traction in England and "they never will" because here was a story they couldn't write about or talk about. She said she felt for Olive and Skp (and other Australian members) when the US did the total shut out on Jake Kovco's inquest and all. But today, she really grasped what it felt like and how little the US media ("Big and small, as C.I. says") care about anything that's not happening in the US. C.I. does a great job of putting the three deaths in context in the snapshot (and did so in the other entries today too) so let me just note the announcement from their Ministry of Defense in full:

It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and one soldier from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) in Basra, southern Iraq this morning, Thursday 28 June 2007.
The three soldiers were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device attack. The device detonated at approximately 0100 hrs local time against the soldiers, who were dismounted from a Warrior patrol in the Al Amtahiya district in the south east of Basra City.The soldiers were serving as part of the British contingent of Multinational Forces in south east Iraq. A further British soldier was very seriously injured and is currently receiving treatment at the military field hospital in Basra.
Next of kin have been informed and they have requested a 24 hour period of grace before any further details are released. Our thoughts are with the families at this most difficult time.

So there were three deaths and a fourth is badly wounded. The snapshot hadn't gone up when we spoke but she'd seen the Los Angeles Times article on the three dead and was really ticked off that the article couldn't even get the number of dead British soldiers correct. Here's the section on the 3 dead in full:

Early today, three British soldiers were killed and one injured when a roadside bomb exploded as they were walking near their vehicle southeast of the southern city of Basra, according to British military spokesman Maj. Matthew Bird.
At least 154 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003.

Yep, that's both paragraphs. And, most offensive to Polly, was that the writer (Molly Hennessy-Fiske) couldn't even get the count right. It's 156 and hours before that figure was noted by C.I., by British media, etc. In the second entry this morning, C.I. noted this BBC story and here's the count in that story:

The deaths take to the total number of UK troops killed in Iraq since hostilities began in 2003 to 156.

From that second entry of C.I.'s, this is C.I. writing:

Brown's not any different than Blair on Iraq (or much else). Still wet from his coronation, 3 British soldiers are announced dead which brings the total killed in Iraq to 7 for the month of June. The UK provides less troops than the US and that's one of the reasons their fatalities have been lower. The worst month in terms of British soldiers killed was when the illegal war began (March 2003) when the total number killed was 27. After that, the second highest as April 2007 when 12 died.

And about an hour and a half before that, in C.I.'s first entry of the morning,

In other news, the UK Ministry of Defence has announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and one soldier from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) in Basra, southern Iraq this morning, Thursday 28 June 2007." The deaths bring to 156 the number of British soldiers killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003.

Polly did not understand why an article that went online six hours after C.I.'s first entry couldn't get the total right when the British press did and when ICCC did? She noted that the Los Angeles Times uses ICCC for their figures. And she explained how insulting that was, that the total mattered so little to the paper, it really wasn't important that it be correct. "There's no big delay with our ministry," she told me. "The US has a tendency to sit on announcements but, for all its other faults, our ministry usually announces the deaths in a timely fashion."

She's not kidding about that. The UK's Ministry of Defense has already announced the names of the dead:

Corporal Paul Joszko and Privates Scott Kennedy and James Kerr killed in Basra roadside bomb attack on 28 June 2007
28 Jun 07
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of three soldiers in Basra, southern Iraq this morning, Thursday 28 June 2007.

Corporal Paul Joszko, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales), aged 28 from Mountain Ash, Wales, together with Privates Scott Kennedy, aged 20 from Oakley, Dunfermline and James (Jamie) Kerr, aged 20 from Cowdenbeath of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device attack. The device detonated at approximately 0100 hrs local time against the soldiers, who were dismounted from a Warrior patrol in the Al Amtahiya district in the south east of Basra City.
The soldiers were serving as part of the British contingent of Multi-National Forces in south east Iraq. A further British soldier was very seriously injured and is currently receiving treatment at the military field hospital in Basra.
Our thoughts are with the families at this most difficult time.

Paul, Scott and Jamie are dead. They were people, the oldest was 28 years old. They may have been for the war or they may have been against it, but they didn't start it. That was our leaders. And it must be really depressing for people in England, who already saw Blair cough when Bully Boy scratched his own groin repeatedly, see how little the US media gives a damn.
Like I told Polly, that's really how they are with US troops as well.

That's not to say "So it's okay." I've griped and griped about the lousy coverage we get. It's wrong. But some media is trying to appeal to Europe and for them not to even cover the three dead British soldiers means they probably shouldn't expect any donations or subscriptions flooding in.

In a way, Polly said, she wasn't surprised because C.I. has covered this so much (the failure of All Things Media Big and Small to cover the illegal war) and Pru had pointed out what she saw when she'd visit our media online or buy it in London. But it really was a shock and she said she really felt for Skip, Olive "and everyone else" before when there was this disinterest on Jake Kovco but that it really came home today. She also wanted me to stress that's why The Common Ills gets posted all over the place in England (even at their DVD sales, in the review sections, sometimes) and why it is has been received so well there, because C.I.'s not "off on some 'We must win this election' and ignoring the suffering that the illegal war has given everyone across the globe."

Another thing C.I.'s been doing is refusing to take part in the coronation of Gordon Brown. I knew already that British members of the community were on to that phoney and not to make a big deal out his departure or Brown's elevation. But I'll also post one more thing as part of my own reach out to British members. "We are all in this together," like the song says. And also get in good with my grandfather who is a socialist because it's from Great Britain's Socialist Worker. This is Esme Choonara and Matthew Cookson's "Manchester anti-war demo: 'The war should end with Blair':"

Thousands of anti-war protesters gathered outside the Labour Party special conference last Sunday as Gordon Brown was anointed the new leader of the party without a contest.
More than 5,000 people braved the Manchester rain to join the Stop the War demonstration. They demanded a change of policy, not just a change of leader, and calling on Gordon Brown to get the troops out of Iraq and oppose any attack on Iran.
Many bystanders and shoppers turned to wave and clap as the lively demo wove through the streets.
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, spoke at the rally at the end of the march. She said, "We will march in any weather until the troops are home.
"Tony Blair is going this week. But he shouldn't be sitting in luxury houses and going on the lecture circuit in the US.
"He should be facing a war crimes tribunal. Gordon Brown should stop these policies, withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and not attack Iran.
"This is an impressive demonstration. We are saying to Gordon Brown that if you don't change policies, your legacy will be the same as Tony Blair's."
Activists came from across Britain, determined that Brown should not be allowed to ignore the issue of Iraq.
Nikki and Ruby came with a group of school students from Edinburgh. Nikki told Socialist Worker, "Groups of school students have come to the demo from Edinburgh, Canterbury, Liverpool, Manchester and London.
"Since the school walkouts in 2003 a new generation of school students has got involved.
"We know Gordon Brown is here today. We won’t let the issue of Iraq disappear with Tony Blair. We want troops out of Iraq and troops out of our schools -- an end to military recruitment in schools.
"School students may not be able to vote, but we can still have a say in what happens in the world."
Ruby added, "People think that young people are not interested in politics. But you can see from this demo that lots of us are very active and very angry."
Some on the protest felt that Gordon Brown would be more likely to listen to the anti-war movement than Blair was.
Students Sophie, Daniel and Chloe came to the protest from Macclesfield. Daniel told Socialist Worker, "I felt I had to be part of this protest. Most people want the troops out."
Sophie said that she hopes that Brown will be better than Blair and that he will listen to the Stop the War movement.
Chloe agreed. "I think Brown will do something about Iraq," she said. "After all, surely there are votes in it."
Others disagreed. Marcus Barnett, a shop worker from Chorley, Lancashire, told Socialist Worker, "I don't think that Brown will be any different to Blair. Brown is the shameless face of war and privatisation.
"I heard that Brown is going to allow us to demonstrate in Parliament Square again -- it's as if he is granting us 'democracy' as a privilege.
"We will have to keep up our struggle."
Farhan Ali, a former Respect council candidate in Bradford, came to the demo with Bradford Stop the War. "People will quickly see that a change of leader is not the same as a change in policy," he told Socialist Worker. "On this occasion we need to throw out the baby and the bath water."
Farhan said that the war was a big issue in his recent election campaign. "The war has had a big impact on working class people," he said.
"People can see that the money should be spent on local amenities and public services. We need to build Respect as an alternative to New Labour -- one that can work on the basis of hope, not despair."
There were many trade union banners on the demonstration, alongside banners from Stop the War groups, peace groups and other campaigns.
Rachel Ingleby, who came with a delegation from Kirklees Unison, told Socialist Worker that she had completed a 10 kilometre run for cancer research in Leeds before coming to the demo.
"There were a lot of health workers on the run talking about how underfunded the NHS is," she said. "I work in the public sector too. We want money put into public services, the NHS, cancer care -- not spent on war.
"Gordon Brown is just Blair in different clothes. The unions have to be realistic. We can't rely on our so-called 'friends' in the Labour Party. There is a lot of support in the public sector for industrial action over pay -- we need united action across the unions."
A large delegation of workers from Remploy joined the demonstration. They were protesting against the planned closures of 43 factories.
Billy, a member of the new Unite union from the Remploy disabled workers' factory in Aintree, told Socialist Worker, "Skilled people should not be put on the dole. The board should be sacked, not us.
"Gordon Brown needs to listen to the people, just like he said he would. If he doesn't we will keep protesting and there will be a strike ballot."
Several members of Military Families Against the War spoke at the rally about their anger over the war in Iraq.
Rose Gentle, whose son was killed in Iraq, said, "When Brown takes office this Wednesday, Military Families Against the War will be outside Downing Street to say bye-bye to Blair and to let Brown know we are not going away. We will not stop until we get a public inquiry into why we went to war.
"It is three years this week since my son Gordon Gentle was killed in Iraq. We want to know whether Gordon Brown will come and meet military families after Blair has been a coward and refused to meet us for the last three years."
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Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, June 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, AP runs a he-said-and-then-he-said article on self-checkouts, the British and US military announce more deaths, 20 headless corpses either were or were not discovered today, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Estes Thompson (AP) gets tasked with filing the featue based on AP's 'study.' AP's studying data on self-check outs from the US military -- data compiled by the branches and "each branch of the military keeps statistics in different ways". Of course, as NPR demonstrated last month, that 'tracking' of figures is often fudged. But working from the data, Thompson wants to tell you that "the US military does almost nothing to find those who flee" and buying that really requires ignoring the realities of Kyle Snyder's story. Snyder self-checked out after serving in Iraq (something the military tells Thompson really doesn't happen -- these self-checkouts, according to the military are people who haven't served anywhere yet) and went to Canada only to return to the US in October of 2006 after his attorney and the military had reached an agreement. Upon turning himself in, Snyder found out that the military which lied to him repeatedly was still lying. He was not being discharged. Snyder self-checked out again and began a speaking tour across the country (also worked on reconstruction in New Orleans) and what happened then?

What happened then was that Snyder, who truly did not believe the US military was interested in what he was doing and was quite public about where he would be speaking, suddenly found the police showing up at every scheduled stop. And the instructions to the police were reportedly coming from Fort Knox in Kentucky. That's before Snyder returned to Canada. Once he returned to Canada, as he was about to get married, Canadian police show up at his door to arrest him, carrying him out in his boxers, and doing so on orders from the US military. We could also go into the two US military officers that accompanied a Canadian police officer to Winnie Ng's home, her Canadian home, in search of was resister Joshua Key and the fact that the two US military officers posed as Canadian police -- an offense several times over in both countries. It's an article meant to lull everyone to sleep and, for peace resisters, that will probably be the case. For those who've paid any attention at all, prepare to laugh repeatedly. In fact,
let's note this: "In recent years, the military has lowered its standards to fill its ranks, letting in more recruits with criminal records or low aptitude scores. But officials said that does not appear to be a factor in the rising desertion rate either. In fact, Edgecombe said, recruits who got into trouble before they enlisted tend to shape up under the influence of the military's code of honor and discispline."

Peace resisters will probably nod along. Those who have given a damn about the illegal war will immediately think of three words: Steven Dale Green. Steven D. Green belonged to which branch? The Army. And Green made his decision to sign up when? After he got busted (again -- this time for possession of alcohol). Moral character waiver took care of that, just wiped it away. Soon enough, Green was in Iraq.

And what happened then? Small media ran from it in the summer of 2006. So let's go to CNN for the words of Captain Alex Pickands, summarizing as military prosecutor, exactly what Green and others did: "
They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

Abeer, the story small media ran from as if their life depended upon it. (Exceptions have been noted before.) Green, who will be tried in a civilian court and maintains his innocence, and others watched Abeer, leered at her. Green ran his finger down the 14 year-old's face. He freaked her out. Abeer told her parents who made plans for her to stay elsewhere. The day before that could happen, the plan Pickands noted would be implemented. March 12, 2006, Paul Cortez, James P. Baker, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and Steven D. Green began the criminal actions. (Howard was reportedly the lookout. Barker and Cortez have confessed in court to their actions and those of the others involved.) Green, Barker and Cortez entered the home of 14 year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. While Cortez and Barker began gang raping the 14 year-old girl, Green took Abeer's parents and her five-year-old sister into a bedroom and shot them dead. While she was being gang-raped, Abeer could hear the gunshots. Barker and Cortez made room for Green who then joined the gang-rape. After the gang-rape, Green shot Abeer. They then attempted to set her corpse on fire.

Now that doesn't fit with the sunny annecdotal 'evidence' that gets quoted by the AP; however, that is reality. Green, the high school drop out, let into the Army on a moral waiver shortly after being busted by the cops (again), has been described as the "ring leader" from the start. (Again, Green maintains he is innocent.)

Edgecombe is Major Anne Edgecombe, a military flack whose job it is to spin. She does that repeatedly with sunny anecdotes -- as opposed to facts and figures -- and the AP runs with them -- as opposed to reality. 11,020 is the US Army's official count on check outs since the start of the illegal war. Thompson's article is a test book case of weakening journalistic standard. The article takes official data and official statements. This isn't even the he-said-she-said (the 12 lines about Ricky Clousing -- the closest to an independent source in the entire article -- is not 'balance' in a 114 line article).
On March 19, 2007, Nancy Mullane broke the story of the US Army's undercounting on NPR. The AP article gives no indication that Thompson is familiar with it. In that report, Mullane explained how the 2006 figures for the Army were said to have dropped. That was wrong. The number given before NPR caught them was 2334. Mullane reported: "Instead of 3100 deserters [for 2006], the real number may be closer to 5,000. That's according to analysts within the Army's personnel division at the Pentagon and at the Fort Knox desertion information center.
Both reached that 5,000 figure by adding on soldiers who deserted and then were discharged from the Army throughout the year." Search Thompson's article in vain for any mention of that. There is none. Thompson merely repeats the figure 3,301 for 2006, never notes the military's 'problem' with numbers and uses a military flack to offer anecdotal evidence and 'conclusions' throughout the article.

Despite that nonsense, the movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In other resistance news,
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden "may not have to get ANY discharge" from the IRR, the AP (Heather Hollingsworth) reports citing Col. Pat McCarthy as the source of that quote. He shouldn't need one. He's already been discharged from active duty and the IRR doesn't usually do discharges. The AP notes that Madden wants, in writing, the US military to admit "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate." Along with Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, Madden has been targeted by the US military brass for speaking out against the war and sharing what they observed first hand in Iraq. Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them to Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina tonight at 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm. Madden, writing at Iraq Veterans Against the War, notes of the kick off Saturday (Green Belt Park) in DC: had an early visitor, a police officer who apparently does double duty as a 'journalist': "This confirmed to all of us that he was indeed, not a journalist and in fact, a cop with a bad attitude who wanted to leave before he was subject to any more inquiry. Then, to top it off he drove by with a bright, fluorescent orange vest in his passenger seat. You know, the kind cops wear when they need a bright fluorescent vest. We carried on with the BBQ and 7 active duty military personnel joined us along with at least a dozen IVAW members and another 15 civilian supporters. We declared the first cook-out a success as we recruited 4 new members, raised over $200 and did what we set out to do, have meaningful conversations and meet good people. We later got a phone call from the news station asking why we sent their reporter away. Ooops."

At his website,
Adam Kokesh responds to comments that have been left, pro and con.

In Iraq, the escalation, like the year long and counting crackdown, has achieved little as evidenced by the continuing daily violence.


Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on the Baghdad car bombing that claimed the lives of 25 people and "struck during the rush hour in Baghdad's Bayaa neighborhood as many of the victimes were lining up to catch rides to work. About 40 minibuses were incinerated, police reported." John Ward Anderson and Naseer Nouri (Washington Post) count this bombing as "at least the third time that the site has been targeted".
Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) counts 50 wounded, along with the 25 dead, and quotes Ahmad Kamil, "I felt the huge blast and I was pushed away violently. I didn't realize what had happened at that moment. I almost fainted. I felt that people came to me and carried me away amid cries and shouting for help and voices of people in pain." Dean Yates (Reuters) notes that the explosion "dug a huge crater where the minibuses parked. Residents could be seen searching the burned out minibuses for bodies. Corpses, some charred beyond recognition, lay twisted on the ground." CBS and AP report, "Bystanders, some weeping, gingerly loaded human remains into ambulances." AFP rightly notes the obvious regarding the beefed up US presence in Baghdad: "The increased presence has failed to prevent continued communal bloodletting including car bombings." Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) observes that car bombings are once again on the rise in Baghdad after a drop off earlier in the month.

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left 12 injured, a Baghdad car bombing "near Al Mansour fuel station" that claimed 4 lives (10 injured), 6 other Baghdad mortar attacks that left 6 people dead and eight wounded, a Baghdad bombing "near Al Tobchi not far from Ibn Haian bridge" that left two people wounded, two other Baghdad bombings that left 5 wounded and "Police sources in Basra city said that 5 civilians were killed yesterday evening when a British helicopter bombed their vehicle in Al Hussein neighborhood" to the west of Basra.

On the topic of civilians killed by the US military,
yesterday we noted Mohammed al Dulaimy's report that the people of Khalis maintained those killed (and wounded) on June 22nd by a US helicopter attack were not 'terrorists.' The BBC reports today, "Relatives of 11 Iraqis killed by US troops in the village of Khalis last week have demanded compensation, and have called for the Americans to withdraw claims the men were from al-Qaeda."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one shooting death in Baghdad.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in the capital. NPR reports that 30 corpses ("hands and legs bound") were found "on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad . . . The male bodies -- all aged 20 to 40 years old -- were bound at the hands and legs and some of the heads were found next to the bodies, two officers said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information." Almost immediately, Iraqi's Interior Ministry began casting doubts. Dean Yates (Reuters) reports an official with the ministry asserts those who have gone to the site have found no corpses.

Today the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and one soldier from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) in Basra, southern Iraq this morning, Thursday 28 June 2007." The deaths bring to 156 the number of British soldiers killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003. Sophie Borland (Telegraph of London) reports that the soldiers had been on "a supply run to a base in Basra Palace" while the BBC reports plans for British troops in Basra to begin moving "from Basra city to the airport" and that this is part of a "military plan over the next 12 months . . . to reduce the numbef of British troops from 5,500 to just 1,500, although he cautioned that this coud be changed by surprise political announcements." Ed Johnson and Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) remind that the British have already turned over three out of four provinces to Iraqis and that the "U.K. is scaling back the number of troops it has there and plans to hand control of Basra Palace, the last remaining British base in the city, to Iraqi forces next month." On the de-escalation, Reuters observes that the UK has cut the number of troops from "7,000 to about 5,500." China's Xinhua notes that the appoximately 5,500 troops have been "based mainly" in Basra. Sam Marsden (Independent of London) quotes Major David Gell on a fourth soldier, one injured in the bombing, "He is now receiving the best possible medical care" while "being treated at the field hospital at the the British base at the airport."

The three deaths come one day after the Bully Boy's poodle, Tony Blair, steps down as prime minister of England. Yesterday,
Military Families Against the War were present to bid Blair farewell with banners, portraits, etc. For video of the protests, click here (ITV). Rose Gentle notes that, "For the past 3 years I have asked Mr. Blair to see Military Families, but he has refused to meet us. This the man that sent our loved ones to war, so to me this man will leave as a coward. I have now asked Gordon Brown to meet with us, as we all need answer. Lets hope Gordon Brown will not step into Blair's shoes and look at the families of our brave troops as if we should just shut up and go away. Let's hope Mr. Brown's reputation is not the reputation of Mr. Blair. But this is just to let Mr. Brown know that Military Families will always be here, we will be here longer than any prime minister will be."
The three deaths come after, as
Sophie Borland (Telegraph of London) observes, one day after John Rigby's corpse was returned to England from Iraq. As Alan Hamilton (Times of London) reported earlier this week, John Rigby was wounded from a roadside bomb and taken to a field hospital in Iraq where he died from the wounds. This is London notes that his twin brother Will was at his side when he died (they both were serving in Iraq), that the roadside bombing took place on their 24th birthday and quotes their father Doug Rigby stating, "The Army has been enormously supportive to us but as to what they are doing over there and the cause which they are fighting for and the politicians that have caused that to happen, the boys were less than impressed, especially Will. He could see through the whole thing and I don't think that he liked it." A family statement is quoted by BBC, stating John Rigby was "a cherished and devoted son and brother; a talented hardworking and successful soldier, popular with his peers and across all ranks alike."

Today, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when a combat patrol was struck by a roadside bomb in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital June 28." The announcement brought the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war since March 2003 to 3570 and to 93 for the month thus far.

Julian Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports that US commanders in Iraq are preparing for Congress to impose some sort of redeployment/drawdown by the end of summer. This is in anticipation of the report that Congress will receive as to the 'progress' in Iraq resulting from Bully Boy's escalation. However, CBS and AP report that Daniel Speckhard ("second-ranking U.S. diplomat in Iraq) told reporters on Wednesday "predicted progress by fall" and that chiefly appears to be based on Speckhard's hopes of strong arming the Iraqi Parliament to pass legislation guaranteeing the theft of Iraqi oil. The two reports aren't necessarily in conflict. Once that so-called 'benchmark' has been achieved, there is little need to occupy the country. The oil fields? That's another issue.

But . . . Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' Iraq's Culture minister has an arrest warrant on him for alleged activities in a 2005 assassination attempt.
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported today that Alaa Makki (who is handling the negotiations between al-Hashimi and the Iraq authorities) stated, "The minister is ready to face justice, but we believe that the investigation was weak and it was faked. We are negotiating with the prime minister on this matter, and we have three demands to which we would like a response: the release of all his guards, restoration of the minister's good name and a new, independent investigation committee."

Finally, in the US,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted: "The nation's body of city mayors has called on the Bush administration to begin planning for a quick withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. In a measure passed this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors says; '[the Iraq war] is reducing federal funds . . . for needed domestic investments in education, health care, public safety, homeland security and more.' The resolution was passed by a vote of fifthy-one to forty-seven."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Laura Flanders & Stanley Aronowitz (Law and Disorder)

Hump day, hump day, why can't you be pump day? :D It's Wednesday and 91 US service members have been killed so far this month in the illegal war. I got a disc in the mail and I'm going with the first half. Sorry to Wally and Cedric, my title of this post is going long.

WBAI's Law and Disorder (other stations too, but I think it airs first each week on WBAI) this week had a segment on Agent Orange that I might talk about tomorrow but (and I might not) tonight I'm going to focus on the first half. This was a debate between Laura Flanders and Stanley Aronowitz. Kat wrote about it yesterday in "Law and Disorder: Laura Flanders, Stanley Aronowitz" and I love what she wrote. I disagree with some of it. (I called her and she said, "That's cool." But I went back to listen to the first segment over after I called her which is why I'm really not interested in talking about the second half which I haven't heard as much of.)

Kat points out that it was more of a discussion between Flanders and Aronowitz and I'd agree with that. But there was a debate. Between Aronowitz and the moderator who was flat out rude. "Stanley, Stanley . . ." he says at one point with so much superiority and listen to the questions he ask Flanders and then the ones he asks Aronowitz.

Wally and I didn't go see it. We were talking about it but wiped out (a) from the weekend in Chicago for the Socialist Forum and (b) wiped out from cleaning up my kid sister's mess from her wild weekend alone. I'm glad we didn't go because I would have been booing the moderator. (His name is not mentioned because chicken sh*ts who work Darrell Anderson's name into an article in May, quote Anderson and don't have the guts to note that Anderson is a war resister don't get promoted at my site.) I really would have been booing that jerk. He was so confrontational with Stanley. He was supposed to be the moderator and that doesn't mean "favor one side over the other." He was just a real ass.

Kat and I have talked a lot about Stanley's idea for a left newspaper (we both love that idea). She notes that Stanley appears to be getting at things like that in his answers, the need for it. I agree with that. But I also think Stanley's talking theoretical and Laura Flanders is offering concrete examples of things happening on the ground.

The only thing I strongly disagreed with Flanders on was Iraq Veterans Against the War which is one of the most dedicated and hard working organizations around. I think they do real work (unlike a lot of others on the left). But Flanders brought up that she felt they should be leading the marches. I don't. We've dealt with this at Third. They should be up front and certainly in leadership roles. But I don't believe we play hide behind the vets.

That's for the right. Bully Boy did that to sell a war. Iraq Veterans Against the War have earned a place on the stage and a place at the front but not as the only ones in the front. The peace movement needs to be diverse and speak to all and, I think C.I. pointed this out at Third, if we do that, what we're saying is that with the next illegal war, we'll have to wait until vets start coming back to make any real attempts to halt the illegal war. There's no question that the people of IVAW should be at the front, but they shouldn't be the only ones. We need students, we need older people, we need to make sure the diversity of the peace movement is present.

There's also the fact that, no matter where they are or what order they speak in, Iraq Veterans Against the War get through to people. So I'm not really nervous that they're going to get lost. They stand out because they are not afraid to speak the truth.

But is this movement just to stop the war in Iraq? If so, let's turn it over IVAW (who I think would do a better job leading than any other group currently). But if this is about building a movement that can call out illegal wars, I don't know that we turn everything over to one group (any group) and if it's IVAW, the worry is that if we enter an illegal war with North Korea, we'll have to wait for US vets to start returning from that war in order to get traction.

Vietnam vets who spoke out then deserve a place now. And with the next war, IVAW will too. But if we're rushing to hide behind IVAW then what do we do with the next war?

I don't like the idea of rushing to hide behind anyone. I think the ones up front should be the strongest voices and most inspiring and, on that alone, IVAW has a right to be up front because they really are the main source of life today (too many other organizations seem to be focused on lobbying Congress these days as opposed to getting the message out). I'm all for, for instance, Kelly Dougherty and Garrett and Adam being upfront because they've earned it. But, if they're still alive during the next war and as active, I'm all for them being upfront then too. And there are people like Ron Kovack (spelling?) from Vietnam that are just amazing today and should be up front. But the danger is we just end up waiting (next time) for vets to return and do the speaking for us. That's not democracy and it just prolongs a war.

I'm not big on NOW these days and, having endorsed Hillary Clinton, pull their position at any march or demonstration. Give it to others. That's fine with me. But there are people who do amazing work and they need to be heard. I just don't believe we hide behind anyone.

Look at Cindy Sheehan. A lot of people hid behind her. She became the big target and that, and the lack of support from people who think "Vote Democrat!" is the ultimate answer, and IVAW is carrying on but a lot of groups aren't. We don't need just one person or one group of people out front. There's a vet that's already burned out. (Wally called that a few months back.) It's a lot of work to be up front. Cindy and one vet have burned out. We shouldn't hide behind people. And we shouldn't be silent when someone like Cindy is attacked.

The war's not going to end by anyone group, it's going to take all of us. So I disagreed with Laura Flanders on that. (And her wording, this was a small point of a larger point, might have been rushed. She might not disagree with the points I'm making. She might, however, disagree. That's fine. It's how I feel and it's not changing.)

Flanders was pointing to actions on the ground, to concrete things. Stanley wasn't talking about that. Stanley was talking about the death of socialism and the need for new theories. It's like that Carly Simon song my folks love (I love it too), "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." That's from "Let The River Run." That's what Stanley was about.

Laura was about, look at what people are accomplishing! And she's right, they are accomplishing. But he was getting at the need for theories and frameworks (not framinings -- he's not a hula hoop kind of guy). Laura Flanders was talking about how people were doing work with little or no support and that is happening. But Stanley's point seemed to me to be that was like a car that had run out of gas and, yeah, it's great that people are able to keep going, push it to a gas station, but where's the thing that they're going to fill up on?

He talked about how when Karl Marx wrote, he was writing about things that hadn't happened, he was dreaming. Stupid moderator started harping on how there is optimism in the real world today. No sh*t, dumb ass. That wasn't Stanley's point (and maybe if the moderator would have let Stanley speak . . .) Yeah, there is optimism, there is hope. Hope that we can stop this or stop that. But where's the framework, where's the theory?

I didn't think Laura Flanders came off like a cheerleader for the Democratic Party or even a cheerleader for the people doing things around the country. She noted those and usually because she was asked about it. Those are important things (and you should read her book Blue Grit). And they give us all hope in dark times. But, to me, that's hope that we will survive and, to me, Stanley's points were that we need more than that. We need something larger than what we're being provided and individual battles may train us and all but we really need to have a larger theory. That's what his newspaper idea is about. It's what Laura Flanders did with her show when it was live. She would make the connections. Sometimes her callers would, but if they didn't, she would. She could relate Hurricane Katrina and Iraq and whatever scandal the administration was facing at that week. She could pull it all together and I think she's got a framework (I don't know what it is) and that's why she can do that. But Stanley's point is that we need to be getting a framework out there. (Again, she did when her show was live.)

It's easy to go "I'm for social justice." Or "I'm for peace and justice." And some people do that. But what does that really mean? The fact that Our Modern Day Carrie Nations have gotten so far with their push for war on Darfur demonstrates to me that a framework is sorely needed.

I don't know that Marxism or socialism is dead. Stanley's a smarter guy then I am so I'll take his word for it. But what's the unifying theory and don't give me buzz words. Don't say "social justice" because those crazy Carrie Nations use those same buzz words to scream for war on Darfur.

Okay, C.I.'s got Iraq addressed in the snapshot so I think that's going to be it for me except for a few links. Disgusted with 'news' yet? If not read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! JUNK NEWS DOMINATES!" and Cedric's "More Blonde Woman "News" to Distract the US " about how one junk news topic replaces another. Oh good!. Elaine's "Spying, Marjorie Cohn." She types much faster than me (your dog types faster than me) and I knew what she was covering tonight and wanted to give her a shout out. (I give her multiple shout outs in private! :D) And like she says, you should also read Kat's "Ford and CIA discuss Jane Fonda, Kissinger tries to cover his own War Criminal ass" and Rebecca's "gonzales & other scandals" and make sure you read C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy" from last year.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey makes noises about an armed mission into northern Iraq, the US military announces another death, Falluja remains under siege, a paper editorializes in favor of Adam Kokesh, Gordon Brown is a 'new man' acting just like the last one, and more.

Starting with war resistance,
Ehren Watada has provided a spark fueling actions in Washington. Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and the first to be court-martialed for it (a kangaroo hearing that ended in a mistrial back in February). Linda Averill (ZNet) observes that Watada's "defiance, amplified by an effective defense effort, inspired many anti-war activists, including Gibbs" referring to Molly Gibbs who attempted to get Congressional attention for Watada but only "got the runaround" from Senator Patty Murray and decided, "I'm done dealing with my congressional representatives. It is in our hands. We have to do something." Which for Gibbs including counter-recruitment at high schools and joining with others in SDS, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and United for Peace of Pierce County in actions like shutting down ports which, Averill observes, take those participating "from demonstrators and lobbyists into direct actors against the war masters, blocking streets and facing arrest as needed." And, in Hawaii, Watada is hailed as a hero at a "War and Peace Art Exhibit." Gary T. Kubota (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports the Maui event brought over "100 artists and writers" to 1134 Makawao Ave (exhibit closes Saturday -- may move to "galleries in California, Oregon and Arizona") and included a piece by Tom Seweel involved the "scanned . . . faces of more than 3,00 American soldiers who have died in Iraq into the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag." Along with adult artists, the exhibit in Maui (closes Saturday, repeating) also included artwork done by children. Watada inspires as do others standing up.

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Iraq Veterans Against the War have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to force them to stop speaking out. The three targeted are Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh. Bob Audette (Brattleboro Reformer) speaks with Madden who explains he will not enter agree to any deals to end the matter -- deals offered by the military brass -- until the note in writing "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate." Madden also discussed the strong reception to Iraq Veterans Against the War's summer base tour which goes to Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC tonight at 7:00 pm and follows with: Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm. And Kokesh is the subject of an editorial from the Charleston Gazette which basically states that the brass needs to back off and cites
VFW head Gary Kupius' statements echoing that ("These Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it.") before concluding: "Kokesh and Kurpius both merit praise for defending free speech as guaranteed in America's Bill of Rights."

In Iraq,
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Governmental and political parties' sources in Khalis disputed a U.S. military statement that was issued a few days ago; the statement said that a U.S. helicopter killed 17 terrorists but these sources say these men were protecting their own town from terrorist attacks. They said that Abbas Muthafar Hashim, Shakir Adnan, Ali Jawad, Jassim Jaleel, Abbas Jaleel, Kamal Hadi, Jamal Hassan and Mohammed Abdul Kareem were killed and 8 others were injured. They noted that the killed were members of what is called the popular committees that protect the area from the terrorists attacks, as they said." The US military press release on that incident was issued Friday, June 22nd and noted that those killed were "17 al-Qaeda gunmen" and that they US forces "observed more than 15 armed men attempting to circumvent the IPs and infiltrate the village. The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen and destroyed the vehicle they were using." Obviously the people of town differ with the US military on the dead and, since they knew the dead and didn't just observe them from the air, one would assume a follow up by the military is in order. Those very likely wrongful deaths make the news as Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports this from today, "Witnesses said U.S. troops opened fire on civilians in the sprawling Sadr City neighborhood of the capital after a passerby fired a revolver into the air to settle a family dispute. The ensuing gunfire left two men dead and three injured, witnesses said. A spokesman for the U.S. said he had not received reports of soldiers firing at civilians."

Meanwhile the tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq continue.
Al Jazeera reports that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit declared today, "I have said [in April] that we need a cross-border operation and that this would bring benefits. I repeat this view now." "BBC correspondents say attacks in Turkey by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have increased recently, sometimes carried out by rebels based across the border in northern Iraq," notes the BBC as well as the fact that Buyukanit's statements may also have Parliamentary intent (attempting to prove the controlling party -- AK party -- is "weak on terrorism") right before the elections scheduled for the fourth week next month. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports that Turkey is shelling villages in Iraq currently as "part of an effort by Turkey to create a de facto 10-mile buffer zone inside Iraq and stop terrorists of the Kurdish independence movement, PKK, infiltrating its borders from their mountain training camps. Turkey has mobilised more than 20,000 of its soldiers in an operation to stop the PKK using Iraq as a staging post for a new campaign of violence. Yesterday Turkish newspapers sounded an alarm over the terrorist group after it staged an Iraqi-style suicide truck bomb attack on Turkish troops for the first time." Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which generally announces every visit in Iraq or abroad with a dignitary, carries no annoucement of this meeting. The alleged statements come at a time when the US is not seen positively around the world. Alan Fram (AP) reports that an international poll ("46 nations plus the Palestinian territories") found that "wide-ranging majorities think the U.S. does not consider their intersts when formulating policy; worry that U.S. customs are hurting their countries; and think the U.S. contributes to the gap between rich and poor nations", that even the 'coalition' partner England has gone from "75 percent favorable" opinion "in 2002 to 51 percent now".

In news of other neighboring countries,
Al Jazeera reports that during a visit to Iran by Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared, "The main elements of insecurity in Iraq which are behind the current atrocities are the US and the Zionist regime intelligence services and some accompanying nations."

Meanwhile in the US,
Bill Schneider (CNN) reports on CNN's latest polling which has found
54% "of Americans do not believe U.S. action is morally justified," support for the illegal war has now fallen to an "all-time low of 30 percent," 69% "of Americans believe the war is going badly" and that Republicans are among those (obviously, when approximately 70% of Americans are against the illegal war) and 42% of them "support some form of troop withdrawal."
CBS, MTV News and the New York Times did a joint poll of young adults (17 y.o. to 29 y.o.) on their attitudes today. In the Times write up, Adam Nagourney was doing his usual spin but the real news (unreported by the Times) was that 58% of young people say that the US should have "stayed out" of Iraq and 72% say that the illegal war is going badly (34% "somewhat badly" plus 38% "very badly").

In Iraq, Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' al-Hashimi is Iraq's Culture Minister.
Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) notes the arrest warrant issued yesterday for al-Hashimi resulted in a raid on the minister's home and that some Sunnis are seeing the efforts against al-Hashimi as "a trumped-up attempt to discredit a Sunni leader." John Ward Anderson (Washington Post) reports, "A statement by Hashimi's party, the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, said two gunment involved in the attack had been tortured into falsely implicating Hashimi. The minister, in a telephone interview with the al-Jazeera satellite television network, said the case was 'fabricated' to damage his party and 'to run us out of the country'." AP notes the incident in question took place Feburary 8, 2005 and was an "ambush against then-parliamentary candidate Mithal al-Alusi, according to governmental spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed." Al Jazeera quotes Mithal Allusi stating, "He is on the run now and hiding in one of the houses of an Iraqi official in the Green Zone." Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) observe that Mithal al-Alusi is yet another exile who came back to Iraq after the US invaded -- could we poll on how many holding powerful positions in the puppet government actually never went into exile -- and "Returning to Baghdad from exile in Germany he headed a committee that purged thousands of Iraqis from government jobs because of their membership in Iraq's ousted ruling party. He allied himself with Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, the kingmakers in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the lives of 3 people and left ten more wounded, a Baghdad car bombing "targeting an Iraqi police checkpoint on the western side of Al Jadiriyah Bridge" which left 1 police officer dead and 3 more wounded as well as 3 civilians wounded, a Diyala attack using gunfire and a mortars with the mortar attack resulting in 5 deaths and fifteen being wounded. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports a Samarra roadside bombing that killed "four Iraqi police commandos" and wounded three more. Reuters reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 7 lives.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the combined mortar and gunfire attack in the Diyala province resulted in 14 Iraqis being shot dead (thirteen more wounded), an attack on a Kirkuk police station that left 4 police officers dead, an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in the Salaheddin province, two men were shot dead in Basra, a police officer was shot dead in Al Zubair and "Men in Iraq Ministry of Interior commandos uniforms executed a 60 year-old-man in front of his grocery shop in Mariam makret in central Samara this afternoon." Reuters notes that "two members of the Assyrian's Beth-Nahrain Association Union" were shot dead in Mosul.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21corpses discovered in the capital today, while in Tikrit the detached head of someone "wearing an Iraqi military hat" was discovered in a bus station, and 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk.

Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed June 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3568 since the start of the illegal war (ICCC). The monthly total thus far is 91 which puts June (so far) behind May (126) and April (104) but ahead of March, February and Januray. The total thus far also makes June 2006 the most deadly June for US service members since the war began. In June of 2003, 30 US service members were announced dead, in June of 2004 42 were announced, in June of 2005 78 were announced dead, and in June of 2006 61 were announced dead (ICCC).

Yesterday, Ellen Massey (IPS) article on Iraqi women was noted but the link was included.
Click here to read Massey's article. Today Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the two month seige of Falluja (attacked in April of 2004 and destroyed in November of 2004) noting that "Cars have not been permitted to move on the streets of Fallujah for nearly a month now. A ban was also enforced on bicycles, but residents were later granted permission to use them" which prompts a school teacher named Ala to say (this is sarcasm for any who miss it), "Thank God and President Bush for this great favour. We are the only city in the liberated world with the blessing now of having bicycles moving freely in the streets." al-Fadhily notes that aid is being prevented (by the US military) from reaching the city and that "[m]edical services are inaccessible".

Finally, the poodle is no longer prime minister.
In England, Gordon Brown has succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister. As Chris Bambery (Socialist Worker) observes, don't throw the confetti just yet: "Yet in accepting the leadership, Brown made clear his devotion to Blair's policies -- in particular to the 'strong relationship' with the US, and to Britain continuing to play a central role in the global 'war on terror'. The closest he came to acknowledging the failure of the war was when he said that Iraq had 'been a divisive issue for our party and our country' and that his government would 'learn lessons that needed to be learned'. But he then concluded that the war had been 'necessary'." For corporate economic enrichment?