Sunday, December 31, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war has now reached the 3,000 marker. Earlier today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southeastern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 30." Now Claudia Parsons (Reuters) reports:

U.S. troops began the New Year with news their 3,000th comrade had died since a 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in weeks but pitched them into a war that has riven Iraq and raised increasing alarm at home.
With Saddam's hanging on Saturday polarising the country, there is no sign that the sectarian bloodletting will slow.
The death toll milestone was reported on Sunday by the Web site, It listed the death of Specialist Dustin Donica on Dec. 28 together with a soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Saturday, bringing the total to 3,000.

And Bill Trott (Reuters) notes:

U.S. peace groups pledged on Sunday to start the new year with protests and vigils to mark the death of the 3,000th U.S. soldier in Iraq and to press their call for an end to the war.
[. . .]
The American Friends Service Committee put out a call for anti-war activists to rally across the country on New Year's Day to mourn American and Iraqi casualties in the war. Group members in Dallas planned to ring a bell to mark the deaths in their demonstration in front of City Hall.
"We're not pretending to appropriately honor those who have died," said organizer Bill Betzen. "It's just impossible."
In Pittsburgh, peace activists were to gather at a military recruitment center on Monday to mark the 3,000 milestone.
"These occasions can be important and take on tangible meaning if they provide a chance for personal reflection or spur people to take action that alters the future," the Pittsburgh Organizing Group said on its Web site.
Another candlelight vigil was set for Tuesday near Philadelphia's City Hall with participants planning to read names of both U.S. military personnel and Iraqis killed.
Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization founded by prominent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan after her son was killed in Iraq, is planning a rally in Washington on Jan. 3-4 to press for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, as well as the impeachment of President George W. Bush.
United for Peace and Justice will stage a march in Washington on Jan. 27 and urged supporters to arrange meetings with members of the new Congress on Jan. 29 so they can lobby for an end to the war.

Community members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you got a mention by Reuters. Billie notes Monday's ceremony from the American Friends Service Committee:

At 5:45 PM, Monday, January 1, 2007, we will begin gathering in front of Dallas City Hall, near the 3 flag poles. At 6:00 PM a five minute period of silence will begin with the tolling of a bell. The bell will be rung once every 10 seconds. Each ringing remembers another 100 of the soldiers lost. No signs, no talks, only silence and the tolling of the bell. Arrive in silence and leave in silence. This time is for them. We will not pretend this is an adequate memorial of their sacrifice.

There is also a ceremony planned on Tuesday. Billie says it's mid-day and she's not going to be able to take time off for that (she says it's a two hour ceremony beginning at noon).

On KPFA they're in the midst of their Rock en Rebelion special. KPFK is broadcasting a musical special as well. WBAI has music as well ("too busy making dough . . . Someday you'll have your fun when you're a millionaire") KPFT is broadcasting music as well. Not only that, KPFA didn't broadcast the evening news tonight. Let's be really clear that's f____ bull s___. Tomorrow if Amy Goodman and company broadcast the canned special with Noam Chomsky as planned on Democracy Now! that's f___ bull s___ as well.

KPFA had time on Friday evening to give thirty minutes of the news program over to the impending execution of Saddam Hussein. (Aaron Glantz hosted the discussion and did a good job.) But the 3,000 mark?

I'm sorry that doesn't cut for any news department -- broadcasting music. It doesn't matter that it's a damn holiday, you get off you ass and you go into the station. And some little whiner that's wants to kvetch that he or she tuned in for music? Too damn bad. And any programmer that wants to whine about the time put it to prepare a music special? Too damn bad. You get your ass down there, you get on the air and you do a program.

That's the reality.

It's as embarrassing as the New York Times' refusal to cover the deaths of US troops for most of the month. Holiday doesn't matter, you get off your ass, you do your damn job.

I have no sympathy on this issue.

I don't know about the other stations but KPFA had their canned music special ready before it aired. It's not even live. So you get your butts down to the studio, you pull that special off the air, and you do a program about the 3,000 mark.

Let's review the Pacifica mission statement:

(c) In radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community; to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students; and to promote and aid other creative activities which will serve the cultural welfare of the community.
(d) In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.
(e) In radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community.

I'm not finding: "Air canned music specials when a milestone is passed." You're broadcasting 24 hours, seven days a week, you get on the air and you do the damn special.

I am very supportive of Pacifica but this is crap and there's no excuse for it in the world. You get on the air, you make the announcement, you do a program on it. Can't get guests at the last minute? I find that hard to believe but if so, you read the names, all 3,000.

NPR (live feed, national) has a discussion with John Conyers about Watergate (Debbie Eilliott, All Things Considered). Now they're discussing Somolia. Now NPR is discussing Saddam Hussein's execution. And that's it for Iraq. Now they're discussing films. What a load of crap. Repeating, what a load of crap. ("Enormous stars in them, Brad Pitt . . ." -- pretty much demonstrates NPR's priorities.)

Air America Radio is airing canned programming as well -- Laura Flanders best of to be followed by a Steve Earl show. It's not really a news network so I'm less concerned about that. Although Flanders is a best of, it applies more to today than anything NPR or Pacifica is offering. A guest just stated, "You're motivated to action because you feel, then you can act." Eliza Gilkyson was the speaker and she's now singing "we sleep so easy" while war goes on ("Down By The Riverside.") Which gives the indication that Flanders and company grasped, when picking highlights for the program, that Sunday could be the day the 3,000 mark was hit. Maybe they were just lucky, but her program is the only thing airing right now (that community members would be listening to) which demonstrated any grasp that war was raging.

Pacifica is supposed to be the peace network. There's no excuse for this canned programming. You either treat the milestone like it matters or you don't.

And I can't criticize the New York Times for their shoddy coverage and play dumb when it comes to independent media. That's not reality. It's one thing to make allowances for the fact that a Pacifica station isn't operating with the budget of the Times (or any NPR station) but it's another thing to just bite the tongue when they're not even trying and playing a pre-taped music special on KPFA is not doing your job when the 3,000 mark has been met.

If there was some concern that it was New Year's Eve so things needed to be "light," well things aren't "light" in Iraq and that's called reality. If there was concern that some people listening might be brought "down" by a special, too damn bad. You cover it. It's news and especially if you're Pacifica, you pull whatever programming you have on (live or canned) and you start broadcasting.

And Democracy Now!, if Amy Goodman wants to trot out that "Go where the silences are" again, then she needs to be addressing reality on Monday and not airing that canned special with Noam Chomsky (who they just did a canned special with on December 19th).

Reuters notes three car bombs in Baghdad with four Iraqis killed and eighteen wounded, a rocket attack in Baghdad the killed two children and wounded two adults (probably a family),
and twelve corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters also notes that the illegal war currently has 134,000 US troops deployed in Iraq, that 22,057 US troops have been wounded since the start of the illegal war and that the war has now dragged on for 3 years and 287 days.

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)

Last Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2969. Tonight? As noted before, 3,000. That's 31 since last Sunday. 111 for the month announced thus far.

And the war's going to keep dragging on until people start treating it seriously. That means the Times not doing their puff pieces on Tony Blair's stop-over in the heavily fortified Green Zone or undercounting the US dead. That means independent media getting off their butts and doing their job. Hint, canned programming when the 3,000 marks is passed is not doing your job.

Again, I support Pacifica but I'm not going to be a hypocrite and call out the Times day in and day out and then act like independent media's done their job. They haven't. For the most part, they haven't throught 2006. When they took their summer break from Iraq, Damien Cave and Paul von Zielbauer may have filed groaners from Iraq (they also filed some strong pieces, I'm sure) but they were covering it.

There aren't any excuses tonight. Not any valid ones. You do your job or you don't.

The above was posted earlier. Rebecca passed on (through Dona) that it would help her (she could link to it). In the time since, every one of the community sites has noted the 3,000 mark.

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz
Wally's The Daily Jot:
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

In addition, Kat, Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and I wrote "The 3,000 mark has been reached" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). Remember:

United for Peace and Justice:

Another Grim Milestone -- 3,000 Deaths Too Many
More than 2,990 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. By the time you read this, the death toll may have reached 3,000. We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year. And when we do take action on this occasion, we must remind others that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have also died in this outrageous war and occupation. Our call to end this war and to bring all the troops home now must be heard in every corner of the country! The killing must stop. Click here for some suggested ways to bear witness.

Military Families Speak Out:

MILITARY FAMILIES MOURN 3,000TH TROOP DEATH, PARTICIPATE IN NATIONWIDE VIGILS AND CALL ON CONGRESS TO END THE IRAQ WAR Family Members of Fallen Soldiers and Families of Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq Available for Interview Dec 29, 06 On the eve of the 3,000th troop death, the next horrific milestone in the Iraq war, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,100 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, calls on the 110th Congress to honor the fallen and prevent further deaths by taking action to end the Iraq war. read more »


3000 Deaths Too Many As Bush considers sending thousands of additional troops to Iraq to control the violence, our troop death toll nears the 3,000 mark. It is crucial that we commemorate this grim milestone in Bush's disastrous war by pressuring Congress to bring the troops home NOW, and to stop this insanity NOW! Click here for CODEPINK suggested actions you can take.

We'll close with Megan's highlight, Riverbend's "End of Another Year..." (Baghdad Burning):

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.
2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.
That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.
The question now is, but why? I really have been asking myself that these last few days. What does America possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I'm certain only raving idiots still believe this war and occupation were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam.
Al Qaeda? That's laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.
This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.
Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair?

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