Monday, October 30, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Monday, October 30, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the US reaches a 'benchmark' but not one that will market well;  Different Drummer opens to business; and war resister Ehren Watada's father and step-mother continue raising awareness on their son.
Today, the US military released a press statement announcing: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Sunday from injuries sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar province."  That death brought the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month to 100. On that benchmark, John Ward Anderson and Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) reported that this month has been "the deadliest month for U.S. forces since Jan. 2005 when 107 U.S. soldiers were killed." Already, the number has climbed today to 101 (for the month, 2814 since the start of the illegal war). Reuters notes: "A sniper killed a member of the U.S. military police in east Baghdad, the military said in a statement.  It was the 101st death in Iraq this month, making October the deadliest month for U.S. troops since January last year."
Meanwhile, in the United States, Different Drummer opened to business last Friday in Watertown, NY. Celebrating the first G.I. coffeehouse of the current war, included a free screening on Saturday of the films The Ground Truth and this Saturday will offer a free screening of Arlington West (2:00 pm). The coffeehouse, located at 12 Paddoack Arcade, 1 Public Square, provides music, coffee, counseling for soldiers and more.  The mission statement reads: "TO PROMOTE the free and uncensored exchange of ideas and information among military personnel and civilians.  This includes, but isn't limited to, issues of war and peace, foreign policy, the military mission of our soldiers both at home and abroad, and the proper balance between the rights of citizen soldiers and military authority in a democratic society.  TO PROVIDE accurate information, referrals, and counseling regarding the rights and duties of America's service members under U.S. and international law.  TO ENTERTAIN servicemembers, civilians, and their families with performances of music, dance, comedy rap, poetry, and authors' readings reflecting a wide variety of viewpoints."  The coffeehouse is a project of Citizen Soldier.
In Iraq, chaos and violence continued today.
AFP reports "a deadly bomb attack" in Baghdad today and quotes Abu Zeinad ("eyewitness") stating, "The bomb was hidden in a plastic bag.  It's the third time that an attack has hit this place this year". The BBC notes that the explosion took place "early in the morning in Mudhafa Square".  Reuters counts 28 dead and 60 wounded. 
In addition to that bombing, Reuters also notes 5 other car bombs in Baghdad today which left 13 dead and 43 wounded. Outside of Baghdad, the BBC notes a bombing in Kirkuk that claimed the lives of two police officer. Reuters adds that it also took the life of "a three-year-old girl" while 19 were left injured while, near Kahalis, a roadside bomb killed two workers and left three wounded while, in Mosul, five were wounded by mortar rounds.
CBS and AP report that Essam al-Rawi,  "a leading Iraqi academic and prominent Sunni political activist," was shot dead outside of his home. Christopher Bodeen (AP) notes that appoximately "154 university professors have been killed since the March 2003 U.S. invasion."   Reuters notes an attack by "gunmen" on a police station in Baiji which killed two police officers.
Reuters notes six corpses ("signs of torture, blindfolded . . . bullet wounds") were discovered in Mahmudiya, five corpses (ditto) were discovered in Suwayra. In an update, Reuters noted that four corpses were also discovered in Mosul.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that Iraq's foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari is stating that the United Nation Security Council resolution 1637 should be renewed and the occupation continued.  Polling demonstrates that the Iraqi people do not support Zebair's conclusion.  But the request comes one day after, as CNN reported yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki's convoy came under attack in Baghdad and one of his guards was wounded.
This also comes as the British consulate in Basra is being 'evacuated.'  Thomas Harding reported the evacuation in The Telegraph of London noting: "Despite a large British military presence at the headquarters in Basra Palace, a private security assessment has advised the counsul general and her staff to leave the building after experiencing regular mortar attacks in the last two months."  [Polly noted that yesterday.]  David Sanderson (Times of London) reports that: "Civilian employees will be moved to the airport, eight miles outside the city" and that the evacuation will not include "the Counsul-General and other staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development".  This follows the August 24th 'evacuation' of the British military base in Amara (also due to mortar attacks).
In peace news, Bob Watada continues his third speaking tour to raise awareness on his son, Ehren Watada, who is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As Austin's KXAN notes, today Bob Watada is speaking "at Garza Independece High School.". Kim Miller (Austin's CBS 42) reports that Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) also spoke in Austin Sunday with Sakanshi noting: "We know that he is taking the hardest way to do it.  But he is eager to do it.  Willing to do it because he thinks he's doing the right thing."  Rudy Koski (Austin's KVUE) reports that at Sunday's gathering (Cafe Caffeine on Mary Street), Bob Watada stated of his son, "He is a patriot, by any definition he is a patriot because he is standing up for what is right in this country." 
After Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi finishing speaking to students today, they next to head Oklahoma.  Here are some of the upcoming dates of the speaking tour:
Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. Robinson
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

Nov 1, TBA
Miami, Florida
Democracy for America Miami Dade and the South Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 32
Venue and time TBA

Nov 2, TBA
Cincinnati, OH
Meet Dr. Victoria (Vic) Wulsin, candidate
for congress 2nd district Ohio currently leading Jean Schmidt who
called Rep John Murtha from PA. a coward.
Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Venue: TBA

Nov 3, TBA
St. Paul MN.
Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand Avenue
Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27
Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM
Milwaukee, WI.
Location: Great Lakes Arlington Event
Contact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991,
Sponsor: VFP Chapter 102
* See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"

Nov. 5, 2PM
Boston, MA
Encuentro 5
33 Harrison Ave. 5th floor
Asian American Movement Ezine
Asian American Resource Workshop
Boston Hawaiian Club
Chinese Progressive Association
Massachusetts Global Action
New England Japanese American Citizens League

Nov 5, 7PM
Cambridge, MA.
Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard Square
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter
Contact: Lee VanderLaan, 978-257-2350

Nov 6, 2-4:30PM
Boston, MA
Location: University of Massachusetts/Boston
Sponsor: The Institute for Asian American Studies
William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence
Time: 2-4:30 pm

Nov 6, 7PM
Worcester, MA.
Location: Clark University – University Building, Lurie Room
Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,
A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
Brad Buccholz (Austin American-Statesman) interviewed Bob Watada for a piece that ran Sunday and wondered whether imprisonment was "a certainity" for Ehren?  Bob Watada replied: "Well, right now, this is what the military wants to do.  They have him for eight and a half years, for simply saying 'I do not want to go to Iraq to commit further war crimes.  I don't want to go to Iraq to lead my men into commiting war crimes and putting their lives at risk, for nothing . . .'  They (The Army) are basically trying to shut him up.  They don't want their soldiers to tell the truth of what is going on in Iraq, though many, many are now.  But (Ehren) is the first officer to publicly come out and say, 'This who war is based on a deception.'  There were no weapons of mass destruction.  There were no chemical and biological weapons. . . . There were no (9-11) terrorists in Iraq, and yet we're killing thousands of people over there, and getting ourselves killed (in violation of) the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter."

More information on  Ehren Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

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