Monday, July 03, 2006

"Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" (Ellen Knickmeyer)

Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.
As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.

Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.
Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.
Janabi said he agreed.
Then, "I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear," Janabi said. "I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing."
Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter.
Instead, attackers came to the girl's house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister.

The above, noted by Martha, is from Ellen Knickmeyer's "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" (Washington Post). I'd planned only one entry this morning but Martha's highlight deserved to be noted prominently (because not everyone's peddling soft porn). Noting that when it was time to talk to the town where another alleged incident involving US troops took place, it was a woman (Nancy A. Youssef) who filed that story ("not John F. Burns, not Dexy Filkins"), Martha thinks it's worth noting that it's again a woman who's got the story from the town in this instance.

Carl asked if I had an article in mind from The Black Commentator because he really wanted to note Daniel Pryzbyla? There are many good articles up in this week's edition so check out the site and we'll go with Carl's highlight, which is among many of the strong articles, Pryzbyla's "'Poverty is no excuse' is bankrupt" (The Black Commentator):

For educators in classrooms of Title 1 public schools, the hypocritical, "Poverty is no excuse" is a bogus mantra. It's bankrupt for economists too, fearing the rising income inequalities and their economic fallout -- outside the classrooms.
If "poverty is no excuse," why does the government waste its time and tax dollars on "Title 1 – Improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged”? Or does this really confirm the existing economic -- not educational -- "winner take all" present economic system that not only creates and accepts "poverty" as we know it, but now finds itself bogged down with increasing income inequality? Don't expect U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret "In God we trust -- all others bring data" Spellings to include this economic nightmare in her "data" configurations. "That's not my department!" Of course not. It’s not the department of Title 1 public school teachers either. After all, in a calendar year, students are under school jurisdiction only about 15% of the time. The other 85% is spent with family or caregivers. But even Spellings knows from personal experience, being a mother of 2 children, what transpires in that 85% time during a year has a profound effect on the approximate 15% time when students are in school.

Billie notes that the new episode of Law and Disorder airs today on WBAI (10:00 am EST) and that "NSA spying, attacks on environmental activists and a case involving John Ashcroft are the topics." Ruth, again, will be posting this evening.

Marcia notes "White House Makes 1st-Ever Comments on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; When Will White House Stand Up for Gay Americans Who Sacrifice So Much" (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network via Common Dreams):

WASHINGTON - June 30 - During Thursday's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Tony Snow said the Bush Administration's position on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the law barring lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from the armed forces, is "well-established." When asked about the law, Snow first stated "I will defer all questions about military personnel policies to the Department of Defense." Snow's comments marked the first time the White House has commented about the Clinton- era law since Bush assumed power in 2001.
The Department of Defense has indicated that it defers to Congress, recently telling the New York Times that "the law would need to be changed to affect the department's policy." Some Members of Congress, in turn, have called on the Department of Defense to take the lead. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently noted that "military leaders support the ban," indicating he would support a change only if deemed appropriate by the armed forces.
"This is the keystone cops approach to leadership," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "Our men and women in uniform deserve better."
According to the Urban Institute, there are 1 million lesbian and gay veterans in the United States. Since 1993, more than 11,000 men and women have been dismissed under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," including more than 800 with skills deemed 'mission- critical' by the Pentagon.
"When will the White House stand up for gay Americans who sacrifice so much for our country?," asked Osburn. "The Pentagon needs troops, and there are thousands of gays and lesbians willing to serve. Since the ban on gay personnel went into law, America and the military have changed. Both are ready to move on and end this federal discrimination against gay Americans. It is time for our commander-in-chief, who is out of step with the majority of Americans on this issue, to show real leadership and call for an end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
In March 2005, Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) introduced legislation to repeal the law; 117 Members of Congress are co- sponsors of the measure.
For more information on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit

A few members were noting Seymour Hersh's "LAST STAND: The military’s problem with the President’s Iran policy" (New Yorker) yesterday and

The new bombing concept has provoked controversy among Pentagon planners and outside experts. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago who has taught at the Air Force's School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, told me, "We always have a few new toys, new gimmicks, and rarely do these new tricks lead to a phenomenal breakthrough. The dilemma is that Natanz is a very large underground area, and even if the roof came down we won’t be able to get a good estimate of the bomb damage without people on the ground. We don't even know where it goes underground, and we won't have much confidence in assessing what we’ve actually done. Absent capturing an Iranian nuclear scientist and documents, it's impossible to set back the program for sure."
One complicating aspect of the multiple-hit tactic, the Pentagon consultant told me, is "the liquefaction problem"--the fact that the soil would lose its consistency owing to the enormous heat generated by the impact of the first bomb. "It will be like bombing water, with its currents and eddies. The bombs would likely be diverted." Intelligence has also shown that for the past two years the Iranians have been shifting their most sensitive nuclear-related materials and production facilities, moving some into urban areas, in anticipation of a bombing raid.
"The Air Force is hawking it to the other services," the former senior intelligence official said. "They're all excited by it, but they’re being terribly criticized for it." The main problem, he said, is that the other services do not believe the tactic will work. "The Navy says, 'It's not our plan.' The Marines are against it--they know they’re going to be the guys on the ground if things go south."
"It's the bomber mentality," the Pentagon consultant said. "The Air Force is saying, 'We've got it covered, we can hit all the distributed targets.' " The Air Force arsenal includes a cluster bomb that can deploy scores of small bomblets with individual guidance systems to home in on specific targets. The weapons were deployed in Kosovo and during the early stages of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the Air Force is claiming that the same techniques can be used with larger bombs, allowing them to be targeted from twenty-five thousand feet against a multitude of widely dispersed targets. "The Chiefs all know that 'shock and awe' is dead on arrival," the Pentagon consultant said. “All except the Air Force."
"Rumsfeld and Cheney are the pushers on this--they don't want to repeat the mistake of doing too little," the government consultant with ties to Pentagon civilians told me. "The lesson they took from Iraq is that there should have been more troops on the ground"--an impossibility in Iran, because of the overextension of American forces in Iraq--"so the air war in Iran will be one of overwhelming force."

Today on Democracy Now!:

Monday, July 3, 2006: An hour with legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger talking about his music, politics, Woody Guthrie, censorship, the background to the songs "We Shall Overcome" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and more.

We'll have a post on the 4th, probably a talking entry. (We'll have stuff up later today as well.)
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