Thursday, May 18, 2006

Other Items (mini-"And the war drags on")

Three roadside bombs and a drive-by shooting hit Iraqi forces in Baghdad, killing a policeman, The A.P. reported. The bodies of two Iraqi men, handcuffed and shot in the head, were found in western Baghdad.
The police in the northern city of Kirkuk freed six Iraqi oil company engineers and their driver, who were taken by gunmen two weeks ago south of the city, said Capt. Ahmed Mahmoud of the Kirkuk police. He said the captors had beaten the hostages and asked them to divulge information about the Northern Oil Company, the state business that produces oil in Iraq's north.
Fifteen members of the Iraqi Olympic Tae Kwon Do team were kidnapped Wednesday between Falluja and Ramadi as they were returning from training in Jordan, Agence France-Presse reported.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise and Qais Mizher's "Iraqis Expect to Finish List for Cabinet This Week" in this morning's New York Times. At the risk of bringing everyone down first thing in the morning, I'll note that there's no interest in covering the UNICEF report on the malnutrition plaguing Iraqi children. (Those who were bummed by yesterday's comments should know that Elaine, Mike, Wally and Rebecca were as well. I don't think anyone who's paying attention cannot be embarrassed/appalled by the lack of interest on the part of the mainstream media in the malnutrition issue which is taking place under the illegal occupation.) Note the details of Kirkuk and think about how the Times wasn't interested in covering the oil blaze or anything surrounding it. There's also talk of two posts (head of interior and defense) but no talk of who will head the oil ministry. Apparently, we're all supposed to look the other way and pretend there's no competition for that post (or interest in it).

Also of no interest, though Rumsfeld spoke of (lied about the issue) is withdrawal. For more on that, Martha recommends Thomas E. Rick's piece in the Washington Post:

Administration officials have repeatedly said they hope to cut the U.S. presence in Iraq this year, and some lawmakers appear to be growing impatient as the year nears the six-month mark.
"We just seem to have a policy of more of the same," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said.

For life on the ground, check out Bassam Sebti and Debbi Wilgoren's "At Least 16 Killed in Iraq Insurgent Attacks: 15 Tae Kwon Do Athletes Kidnapped:"

In Baghdad, armed men sprayed bullets at a minibus carrying seven mechanics through the al-Shurta al-Khamisa neighborhood, an interior ministry official said. He said the gunmen ordered the driver and passengers off the vehicle and shot them to death.
Meanwhile, a car bomb targeting a convoy of Iraqi police commandos exploded near the Turkish embassy in the Waziriyah neighborhood, killing at least eight people, including four of the commandos, the interior ministry official said.
The explosion caused huge damage to the vehicles and surrounding buildings, but only minor harm to the barricaded embassy building.
In Basra, police chief Gen. Hassan Swadi narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb hit his convoy as Swadi was heading to work this morning, the Associated Press reported. Police spokesman Karim al-Zeidi said said the blast damaged one vehicle but caused no casualties.
In Manathera, a town south of Najaf, two roadside bombs exploded near a U.S. military and civilian convoy, wounding some passengers, Iraqi army Maj. Bshari Ghazali said.
U.S. soldiers then shot "by mistake" at an Iraqi policemen in the area, Ghazali said. "The soldiers thought he planted the bombs, so they shot at him and killed him immediately."

There's more but that last paragraph pretty much covers it. For a close up view of life in Iraq, check out Ellen Knickmeyer's "A Scramble to Defend the Mosque: Cry of 'God Is Great' Mobilizes Secular Baghdad Neighborhood Against Attack:"

His generator roaring in the dark of the locked-down neighborhood outside, Mohammed, a former Iraqi army officer, took a sip from a Corona beer in his brightly lit living room and laughed. "Beverly Hills Cop II." Always funny.
His wife, beside him on the couch, got up and called toward their boys' room for them to turn off either the Playstation or the computer: The grumbling of the generator signaled that it was working too hard.

The boys kept playing and typing, ignoring their parents, and then ignoring an explosion outside, followed by the sound of gunfire. Their little sister, up late and wired at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, barely halted in her running back and forth between her bedroom and a candy dish beside her father. The blast belonged to the war outside.
Just to be sure, Mohammed grabbed his pistol in one hand, his beer in the other, and headed up to the roof to check. A sudden wail stopped him, electrifying him.
"God is great!" cried a man he took to be the imam of one of the mosques of the neighborhood, the urgency and fear in his voice coming loud and clear over the electronic sound system. "God is great!"
The imam's cry was the alarm recognized in all neighborhoods -- Sunni or Shiite -- across Baghdad. The mosque was under attack.

For a look at the realities facing American troops thanks to the Bully Boy, Marci recommends Dahr Jamail's "Support Our Troops, Anybody?" (Truth Out):

As the violence in Iraq continues to escalate, at least 2,450 US soldiers have been killed, with roughly ten times that number seriously wounded since the beginning of the Invasion in March 2003. If current trends continue, May will be one of the deadliest months of the occupation yet for troops, with an average of over three being killed per day. 54 coalition soldiers have been killed in the first 16 days of May alone.
This probably explains why 72% of US troops in Iraq think the US should exit the country within the next year, and over 25% think the US should exit immediately. The
same poll found that only one in five troops in Iraq want to heed War Criminal Bush's call for them to "stay as long as they are needed."
The occupation, now well into its fourth year and going strong, has already produced 550,000 Iraq war veterans. Troop morale is lower than ever before and dropping as fast as Bush's approval ratings. Further adding to the deteriorating situation is the mindless adherence to the highly absurd pledges of the "commander in chief."
"To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief. Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible,"
he says, ad nauseum, "And those are my goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory." Just as he settled for nothing less than complete exemption from military service in Vietnam, a fact his soldiers are all too aware of.
Meanwhile, troops returning from Iraq are finding little comfort in the hollow rhetoric of their chief chicken-hawk. The medical attention necessary to support the troops is becoming scarcer with each passing tax-cut.
When soldiers come home from Iraq, the support they need in order to physically and mentally recover from the hell of Iraq is way out of reach for most. With their pay and benefits cut, health care, already scarce in many cases, is soon to become even more difficult to access.
A case in point is Marine Lance Cpl. James Crosby. He left Iraq strapped to a gurney after his legs were paralyzed and his innards lacerated by shrapnel. When he exited the combat zone to head back home for treatment, he realized the military cut his pay by 50%. "Before you leave the combat zone, they swipe your ID card through a computer, and you go back to your base pay,"
he said.

Lynda notes Tom Hayden's "Hawks for Withdrawal" (The Nation) where he addresses what the hawks (elected, in power and imprisoned in the think tanks of the psuedo left) attempts at 'peace' mean and mean for the peace movement:

Not all the party leaders agree. Senator Hillary Clinton continues to posture as a military hawk. Senator Joe Biden wants to dilute and divide Iraq into three sectarian enclaves. Neither Senator Charles Schumer nor Representative Rahm Emanuel, who are charged with winning November's elections, have a coherent message on Iraq, preferring themes like "corruption" and "incompetence" to a straightforward alternative.
Despite the timidity and paralysis, however, Democrats on the campaign trail increasingly know they must address the war. Polls show that Iraq is dragging down ratings for the President and the Republican Party. Democrats prefer to simply criticize the Administration's handling of Iraq without discussing an exit plan of their own. This Democratic approach worked brilliantly on Social Security, where Bush could find no Democratic divisions to exploit. John Kerry's presidential campaign tried the same approach on Iraq but discovered that Kerry was losing both centrist and progressive voters. Today, the most common concern voters have about the Democratic Party is whether it stands for anything.

And our last highlight focuses on the actions of the peace movement. (Hayden writes of what the hawks proposals mean and don't mean for the peace movement.) So we've already had life on the ground in Iraq, extreme close up on one Iraqi family, Rumsfeld's spinning before Congress on Iraq, Hayden putting the hawks into context and Dahr Jamail offering the realities of "support." It's a rare entry (outside of an "And the war drags on . . .") that we can find so much coverage of Iraq. (It should be noted that three of the highlights, suggested by Martha, come from the Washington Post.) So with a look at actions in the peace movement, Cindy's highlight, Haider Rizvi's "U.S. Antiwar Activists Launch Campaign Supporting Conscientious Objectors" ( via Common Dreams):

Peace groups in the United States are testing new ways to stop the U.S. war machinery in Iraq, Afghanistan, and places that might become new targets in the new future.
Peace advocates in New York and Washington, DC have held a series of meetings with their counterparts from other countries to discuss how they could strengthen an international movement to support those who refuse to join the military or choose to stay away from taking part in combat operations.
To mark International Conscientious Objectors Day, which is held in many countries on May 15, they held workshops with peace activists from Israel, Paraguay, Turkey, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Canada, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.
"We learned a lot not only about how the struggles in Latin America are critical to opposing militarism in those countries, but also about how U.S. militarism affects the lives of the youth in those countries," Oskar Castro, of the Nobel Prize-winning American Friends Services Committee (AFSC), told OneWorld.
Established in 1947 by members of the Quaker faith, AFSC promotes peace and social justice throughout the world and provides conscientious objectors with an opportunity to help civilian victims of war.
In collaboration with other antiwar organizations, the group held a two-day conference in Washington, DC this weekend, where it launched "Operation Refuse War," a campaign that has been joined by conscientious objectors, peace activists, U.S. military families, and others.

We do have the indymedia roundup this evening. (We'll probably highlight Dahr Jamail in that again.) For Susan and Julie, we'll note the song:

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. And a Democracy Now! event Rod passes on which you can be sure addresses the war:

Special Democracy Now! Benefit in NYC
Sunday, May 21, 2006

7:00 pm
An Evening of Readings and Conversation with
Sunday, May 21, 2006

7:00 pm
The Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street,

New York
Between 6th Avenue & Broadway
Doors open at 6:15 pm --
Reserved seating in front of house, $100 per seat all proceeds got to support Democracy Now! Tickets are very limited.

TO order, call 1-888-999-6761 -- at prompt, hit option 0 (zero). Credit card orders only.
Eduardo Galeano, one of Latin America's most admired writers, and Arundhati Roy, who won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel, The God of Small Things, in an evening of readings and conversation. Galeano and Roy are both recipients of the Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom, in 1998 and 2002 respectively. Voices of Time: A Life in Stories (Metropolitan Books) is Galeano's latest book and he is also the author of the Memory of Fire trilogy (for which he won the 1989 American Book Award) and Open Veins of Latin America. He lives in Montevideo, Uruguay. In addition to her novel, Roy has also published several collections of essays, including Power Politics, War Talk and most recently, An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. She lives in New Delhi, India.
Pre-signed copies of books by Eduardo Galeano, including his new book, Voices of Time: A Life in Stories (Metropolitan Books 2006), and by Arundhati Roy, including An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire (South End Press 2004), will be available at The Town Hall before and after the event.

Roy's An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire was discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review (and the feature has a link to ordering and information via Powell's Books).

That's this coming Sunday. Today:

* Amy Goodman in Washington, D.C.:
Thur, May 18
BEA Party
Busboys and Poets

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[C.I. note: Post corrected to give Debbi Wilgoren credit for the article she co-wrote. My apoligies.]