Saturday, July 22, 2006

RadioNation with Laura Flanders: Sat: National Hip Hop Political Convention; Sunday: Stephen F. Cohen, Jamal Dajani, Claude Anshin Thomas

RadioNation with Laura Flanders is live from location today:

On Saturday, we broadcast Live from the National Hip Hop Political Convention in Chicago.We'll hear from Biko Baker, director of political training, and from activists and artists who aren't fooled by one Presidential appearance at one meeting of the NAACP in five years. And we'll hear how young organizers are reaching the parts of our democracy that other folks don't reach.

That's today ("mere minutes," as Kat would say). Tomorrow, Stephen F. Cohen -- contributing editor to The Nation, NYU professor and like a walking Wikipedia on the subject of Russia but with the facts right! (cheap Wikipedia joke, true, but it illustrates the point) -- and Jamal Dajani (no my dyslexia did not cause me to get Dahr Jamail's name wrong, the guest is Jamal Dajani) the director of LinkTV's Middle Eastern programming. Plus Claude Anshin Thomas on the journey from Vietnam veteran to Buddhist monk and "an upcoming Los Angeles retreat to help heal post-war trauma."

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs from 7 to 10 p.m. EST on Air America Radio, XM Satellite radio and online.

The e-mail address for this site is

Ruth's Report

Ruth: As Joni Mitchell might sing today, "By the time we got to quagmire, there were half a million dead . . ." Iraqis and 2560 American troops dead.

What will end the war? Resistance and awareness so, with that mind, I was happy to grab Mike's idea of a weekly meeting to discuss the war the press still wants to portray as 'winnable.'
Originally, my group was meeting on Saturday but, due to the report going up on Saturday mornings and our own schedules, we are now meeting Fridays.

It's an interesting group of fourteen. (We are already starting to grow.) We are all grandparents (ten women, four men) but our families differ. (Religion wise, we are predominately Jewish.) Some, like mine, were universally opposed to the illegal war when it began. Others contain a mixture of sentiment and support then and now.

So you can see it as an attempt by some to get their own houses in order and by all as an attempt to provide support and ideas. Mainly, though, we are attempting to treat the war like a war and not, as Mike so wonderfully put it when critiquing so much of the press coverage, as an after thought. Like Mike and Cedric, I print up the Iraq snapshots to reference during the Friday meetings. I grab my yellow highlighter and color in various details I want to bring up.

In addition to those, this Friday I printed up copies of Andrea Lewis' "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women" (Salt Lake Tribune) and my notes from the discussion Ms. Lewis and Ruth Rosen had on Tuesday's KPFA's The Morning Show about Ms. Rosen's recent article, "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq." (We discussed Ms. Rosen's article in the previous week's meeting.)

Other topics brought up included CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! and there was some hesitation as to whether or not people our age should or could participate? I took part on the Fourth of this month as did my grandchildren Tracey and Jayson, plus two of my sons and three of my daughter-in-laws. I was able to address the questions of can you get through 24 hours? That was an issue, believe it or not. I think that is because some of the group is old enough to have lived through the tail end of the Great Depression and we were certainly all encouraged by our parents to "clean our plates" growing up with warnings of that and "children starving in China." Two group members are on medical diets and they will be consulting with their doctors to make sure they are medically able to participate in the one day fast we are planning to take part in August 3rd.

That is a Thursday and, as one woman explained, "If I do it, I'm going to be talking about the next day and will be phoning all of you" so that by the time the next Friday meeting rolled around, she was afraid she would have "talked it to death."

In the "Iraq snapshot" Friday, C.I. noted Hannah Charry's report (Hartford Advocate) on sixty-year-old John Woods taking part in a once a week fast every Friday. That went up after the morning meeting so I was not able to bring it into the discussion but I will next week. The group members have, largely, taken part in some form of activism in the past but none had ever fasted and, for my group, I really do believe it has to do with both concerns over our age and the lingering impressions from the Great Depression.

The idea of fasting excites them and there is support for it. Most wondered what their children would think of their one day fasts and what effect it would have on them?

March 1, 2006, on KPFA's Against the Grain, C.S. Soong interviewed conscientious objector Aidan Delgado who felt one area that the peace movement needed to move towards was more settings in smaller groups where people could communicate their ideas. In my group, I am finding that a lot of participants make statements to the effect of, "Saying I was against the war was all I was comfortable with offering." They are now going beyond that. It is offering a forum to test the waters and to explore.

People are strengthening their knowledge and I think we will all take that from the group and into other areas of our lives. I spoke to Mike about this last night before his own group started and he asked me if I remembered that he had mentioned community members Goldie and Marlene in his column for Polly's Brew? I had remembered that but Mike feels that their house parties on the war, which Rebecca has written about, have not received enough attention or credit so he asked that I note Goldie and her mother's work on bringing the issue into their lives and into their friends lives.

Whether you do it in a festive setting like Goldie and Marlene are doing or in a more cut and dry fashion, I hope you will consider starting a discussion group. The public opinion tide has turned with regards to the war. The bravery so many showed in opposing the war earlier no longer results in a lonely stance but to get the troops home will require more than just saying, "I am opposed to the illegal war." It will require that we bring it into our daily lives.

Lorraine talked about how she now reads the scant coverage not only to be informed but also looking for something she can bring into our weekly meetings. Along with information, Lorraine is looking at bringing in other people as well such as a young homemaker two blocks from me who has a two-year-old child. My grandson Elijah is, of course, at the meetings so young children are certainly welcome. Lorraine says that two years ago the woman and her husband were the only ones on that block opposed to the war. The opposition is no longer an isolated viewpoint, it probably was never as isolated as the media portrayed it to be, and now is the time for us to come together and address the issue that the media continues to show reluctance towards.

That will be the real change and, I would argue, the time is now. As C.I. noted, I have again changed the name of my report. It is now "Ruth's Report." I joke that it will soon be just "Ruth" and I will be like Cher after the divorces from Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman. The resons for the change, as the community is fully aware, has to do with leaving the stance of cheerleader. I will happily note people addressing the war but I am not interested in, as C.I. has put it, handing out gold stars each week. Besides the fact that there would be many weeks where no gold stars were handed out, there is the more important fact that everyone should be addressing the war. That is where my focus is.

NYT: Gordo swears he'll talk dirty one day (we believe him), von Zielbauer . . .

A5 is the page for Iraq in this morning's New York Times. And what to make of it?

Paul von Zielbauer contributes "Lawyers for Accused G.I. Say Confession Was Forced" does contain the Cole Porter refrain "American military officials regret . . ." -- a minor sentence in a long press release. Miss Otis was far more believable. (See yesterday's snapshot if you're lost.) There's no attempt to make sense of the events in or near Baquba.

"The American forces . . . attacked a number of armed men after they refused orders to leave, the officer said." There's just no excuse for that sentence. The press release, which the Times had, makes very clear that the call to leave was issued to people in the homes. It preceeds the "Miss Otis regrets" line, if the Times needs help finding it.

On the plus side, unlike the AP yesterday, the Times gets the number correct: six dead, not five. The issue of 23 wounded, however, doesn't rate a mention.

What else doesn't rate a mention? Anthony W. Yribe. The "Accused G.I." of the headline iis James P. Baker whose confession wasn't taped, apparently, and supposedly wrote, line for line, a confession that was dictated to him by investigators. In what? Abeer Qassim Hamza murder and alleged rape as well as the murder of three of her family members. You know the Times isn't mentioning the fourteen-year-old girl by name. They've done everything they could to avoid mentioning her name in print. There's also no mention that federal prosecutors want Steven D. Green's (the first charged in the incident) court date pushed back to November because of the August 6th scheduled start of proceedings in Iraq for the other five charged. (Yribe is charged with dereliction of duty for failure to report the incident to his superiors. He's not mentioned in von Zeielbauer's article. Federal prosecutors argue that they can't try the case against Green, who was discharged from the army prior to being charged, in the United States at the same time that the case against the other five is going on in Baghdad due to the fact that they'll need many of the same witnesses.)

Then there's Michael R. Gordon the war pornographer who does a little mutual stroking with "Gen. John P. Abizaid." Gordo loves a man in uniform. Their encounter is entitled "More Troops to Be Deployed In Baghdad, General Says" and you know that went over like whispered sweet nothings to Gordo. Look for the HBO bio pic on Gordo to be entitled If These Foxholes Could Talk. When not getting weak in the knees and over the prospect of more troops, Gordo doesn't have much to offer. You picture him, after the encounter, bored and flipping through old, dog eared copies of Soldier of Fortune for a quick rush. Hard to blame the Incredible Mr. Limpid for failure to launch -- there's nothing in the article that he didn't cover earlier.

Lastly, Paul von Zielbauer's back for "In Baghdad, a Courtroom for U.S. Troops" (listeners of The KPFA Evening News heard the details in this story Wednesday -- not a complaint, just noting it for those who prefer audio). This is about the Article 32 hearing (that finished taking testimony on Wednesday) against Nathan B. Lynn and Milton Ortiz. What's strange is that von Zeilbaure appears to confuse the charges against Lynn and Ortiz (the Feb. 15th incident where an Iraqi male was killed and a gun was later allegedly planted after the killing to make it appear that he was an 'insurgent') with another charge against Ortiz for a separate incident. As the AP reported earlier this week: "Ortiz also faces one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said." Lynn's not charged in that incident. Someone may argue it's clear that only Ortiz was charged in the March 8th incident but it's not, not when von Zielbauer writes:

. . . Specialist Nathan B. Lynn and Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr. sat quietly in a miliatry hearing known as an ARticle 32 accused of crimes against two Iraqi citizens.

Specialist Lynn and Sergeant Ortiz, of the National Guard's B. Company, First Battalion, 109th Infantry, were charged in connection with two episodes, on Feb. 15 and March 8, near Ramadi . . .

Whether that's a space issue (if it's a lack of space, War Pornography Gordon's Me Talk Dirty One Day could have been ditched) or whether von Zielbauer doesn't know the actual details is open to debate. But the way the article's constructed, readers may be left with the impression that Lynn was accused of involvement in both incidents which is not the case.

von Zeilbauer does tell you that the the charges against Lynn (for the Feb. 15 episode, the only one in which he was charged) are in doubt -- "Colonel McClory . . . recommended that both charges against Specialist Lynn be dropped" while the recommendation for Ortiz is "that he receive a nonjudicial punishment instead of proceeding to a court-martial".

I don't know where we go with that? Do we go to the update? Or do we note the ridiculous and apparent coverup?

Let's go to the update. Martha notes Josh White's "Killing by Guardsman in Iraq Called Appropriate" (Washington Post):

Army Lt. Col. John W. McClory found that Spec. Nathan B. Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, Pa., did nothing wrong in shooting Gani Ahmad Zaben in the post-curfew darkness outside a group of homes on Feb. 15. McClory ruled that Lynn thought the man was armed with an AK-47 and believed he was a threat.
[. . .]
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who commands Multinational Corps-Iraq, is expected to make a final decision in the case this weekend, and Lynn's military defense attorney said he has "high expectations" that Chiarelli will follow the recommendation.
The military ROE in Iraq are central to most homicide cases against U.S. troops and are at the heart of a major investigation into the killings of two dozen civilians in a group of homes in Haditha. Lawyers representing several Marines in that case -- which has so far yielded no charges -- have said they plan to argue that their clients were following the ROE when they thought they were under attack.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that four Army soldiers charged with killing three detainees they captured in raids near Samarra told investigators their ROE were to kill "all military-age males." They said commanders authorized the rules for a special mission and initially cleared them of wrongdoing, according to the AP.

Is following orders (I'm assuming the statements that orders were given to that effect) an excuse? It looks like it will be one incident after another. And that's apparently all that the military's concerned with. Right or wrong, the responsiblity to reject an order that may be illegal, none of that will come into play.

People will walk with maybe a slap on the wrist and nothing more. Who does the hard time? Who does the military go after? As Gerry Condon notes "Support for War Resisters Grows:"

In 2004, Sergeant Kevin Benderman, a 10-year Army veteran, returned from the horrible violence of the Iraq War and declared himself a conscientious objector. The Army violated many of its own procedures, denied him CO status, and ordered him back to Iraq. But Benderman refused to return to war. Last July, he was given a general court-martial, usually reserved for high crimes. He was convicted of "missing movement" and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and a dishonorable discharge. He is currently in his second year of confinement at the stockade in Fort Lewis, Washington.
After Benderman's court martial, his commander, Army Captain Gary Rowley, had some telling words: "If [the rest of the Army] saw this and found it works using smoke and mirrors to get by, we'll have other soldiers saying, 'Well, I'm a conscientious objector.' . . . They need to know there are consequences for not doing their duty." Captain Rowley also posted photos on base bulletin boards of Benderman being led off to prison, in order to intimidate his fellow soldiers from even thinking about conscientious objector status.

The above is from (pdf format) the July edition of The Objector. [Which is put out by The Objector (CCCO).]

So who gets punished? Think about Ehren Watada facing a potential seven years in prison for refusing to deploy in the illegal war. And leave the notion of 'military justice,' and focus on the Times. Gail Collins floated mea culpa (addressed in "And the war drags on . . ." last Sunday) is meaningless. It's bad enough that the reporting for the paper has never felt the need to mention the name "Ehren Watada" (the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq -- or the first we know of -- with no thanks to the Times), but if Collins' own mea culpa meant anything, maybe she should have been asked why her paper's never covered Watada?

Is Collins not aware it's news? Does she think that it wouldn't have a reaction of any kind on the editorial and opinion pages? Or is it a case of yet another clampdown because God forbid we let the American people know that the besides the enlisted who have left for Canada and the ones who've stayed in this country and refused to deploy (such as Benderman and Camilo Mejia), the refusal spread to the ranks of commissioned officers?

The lack of interest from the reporting side of the paper is shameful. But Collins deals in opinion. That's her responsibility. Does she think Ehren Watada doesn't provoke opinions? Does she think the topic doesn't allow for a debate? If so, why? And are the rumors true that she's nixed any mention of Watada by the paper's regular columnist as well as turned down op-eds submitted on the topic from outside the paper?

Three years after the illegal invasion, she wants to (finally) acknowledge that she got it wrong. Well, not exactly, she wants (and we covered this Sunday) to say she should have listened to some skeptical voices on the editorial board. That wasn't her big mistake. Her big mistake was accepting an assertion by the US administration as fact. (Even when, in real time, there were more than enough indications that the lies were lies.) If she can't tell the difference between fact and opinion, that may go a long way towards explaining why the Times had to establish a correction policy for the op-ed pages.

Previously, Collins' biggest ridicule came from a heavily circulated e-mail she wrote where she argued that she didn't feel the need, just because Maureen Dowd (the paper's sole female columnist on the op-ed pages) was on vacation, to offer a woman the spot. Collins, a "first", didn't see any need for a woman to be represented on the pages she was in charge of. She felt it was perfectly natural for the paper to offer a replacement male when the op-ed page regulars were already all male except for Dowd. The ridicule may have resulted in some questioning on her part (or she may have just wanted to avoid further embarrasment) since, later, women were brought in to sub for vacationing regulars.

But if she wants her mea culpa to be taken seriously, this may be time for some more questioning on her part because she's yet to demonstrate that she grasps what was wrong with the paper's editorials. It wasn't that they decided to believe the administration's bogus WMD claims. It was that they presented the claims as factual. There was no vetting process. The administration made the claims and the paper accepted them. That is what she needs to apologize for. Until she does that, there's no indication that she grasps the journalistic mistakes made and, therefore, no indication that the same mistakes won't be repeated.

The silence on Watada is laughable. The paper seems to think (shades of the Downing Street Memos?) that as long as they don't mention it or seriously address it, it just doesn't exist. Though a newspaper technically, the Times survived hard times by becoming an "opinion shaper." When Collins decided to present claims as facts, she was carrying on the long tradition of the paper. She wasn't, however, being much of a journalist.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue. Or else just think of the decision of the extended curfew in Baghdad as the capital beginning to note ozone days. The BBC reports that the Friday daytime ban "now covers most of the day" and that it ends "just two hours before the daily night-time curfew begins." 'Liberation' by unofficial house arrest.

If the 'crackdown' is to cut off all attempts at daily life in Baghdad, how's that hearts & minds strategy going? AFP reports that in Baquba hearts and minds scatter to the wind when six people were killed and 23 wounded. Killed how? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Among the five dead were an infant and two women. The two adult males are being dubbed 'insurgents' by the US military. The women and the infant? AP trumpets one sentence into a condolence card: "The Americans expressed regret for the civilian deaths." Reuters, using sources other than the military's press release, reports that six, not five (as the AP reports -- the AFP was at the hospital and counted six corpses), were killed and that it came from an air raid bombing of three houses. (AP's iffy on what happened, AFP also calls it an air strike). Though the US dubs the two dead males 'insurgents,' reports indicate that the troops were seen as the 'insurgents.' AFP has an eye witness, Mohammed Omar, who states that the men on rooftop were guards (not an uncommon occurence in Iraq) and they fired at approaching troops believing they were 'insurgents'.

What happened? Probably no one involved, American or Iraqi, can tell you in full. For the military, that's what happens when the people you are supposedly 'liberating' are seen as the 'enemy.' The press release (which the New York Times will probably build from tomorrow -- though we can always hope that isn't the case) outlines (at length) a version of events. Those events aren't reflected in reporting by Reuters or AFP which actually spoke to people involved. And just to repeat, it's a lengthy press release. The AP treats the one 'regret' sentence as though it's prominent or lengthy. It's an afternote. The twenty-three wounded? Women and children in that number as well.

Elsewhere in Iraq today?


The AFP reports that, in Baghdad, clashes led to the shooting deaths of three Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi police officers, as well as the shooting death of "a Christian government official". Reuters notes that "[t]wo Salvadoran[,] . . . four Polish soldiers and an Iraqi transloator were wounded when their convoy was attacked . . . not clear how the convoy was attacked." That was "near Numaniya." In addition, Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Mosul. And, in an update, Reuters is noting that a police officer and a civilian were shot dead "in separate attacks in Muqdadiya."


AFP notes one in Baghdad, "outside a Sunni mosque" that killed one person. Reuters notes that another person died in a roadside bomb near a Sunni mosque in Khalis (two others were wounded).


Reuters reports that three corpses were found near Falluja ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") and that they were wearing the uniforms of Iraqi soldiers while another corpse (headless) was discovered in Kirkuk. In addition to that corpse, KUNA notes that the corpse of a two-year-old child was also found in Kirkuk. AFP notes four corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("signs of torture"). And Reuters is now reporting the discovery, in Muqdadiya, of the corpses of five kidnapped victims.

The US military announced that a US marine died Friday in the Anbar province. This as Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that "Col. Michael Shields, commander of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team operating primarily in the Mosul area" says that the target of the 'insurgency' is now Iraqi soldiers.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continued as attorneys for Shelley Kovco (widow of Australian soldier Jake Kovco) and Judy & Martin Kovco (parents of Jake) sought to establish that yesterday's 'key witness' had less than impressive qualifications. Conor Duffy reported on PM (Australia's ABC) that Wayne Hoffman faced questions on the 12-point document he'd prepared with it being noted that his document went beyond his area (ballistics) into a "largely speculative" area. (The reference is into Hoffman's statement that the death was a suicide -- which led Judy Kovco to leave the courtroom yesterday.) Duffy notes a number of things the 'expert' was confronted with such as the fact that, although he'd weighed in with expertise and great authority on the matter, "he was unaware there was another pistol in the room at the time of the shooting, and . . . he hadn't read the statements from Private Kovco's room mates." Dan Box (The Australian) reports that 'expert' Wayne Hoffman testified that he hadn't been able "to find any prints on the gun" -- not Jake Kovco's, not anyone's. Box notes: "NSW detectives will now travel to Baghdad to take DNA samples from those soldiers in Kovco's unit after unidentified DNA was found on the gun, including on its trigger." However, although that's been reported previously, it appears the journey to Baghdad is on hold. Conor Duffy (Australia's ABC) reports that although the expectation was for the testimony of soldiers in Baghdad to be heard Monday (via "videolink" as noted earlier this week), that's not the case: ". . . a spokeswoman for Defence Public Affairs says this has been delayed while a request to conduct DNA on more soldiers in Iraq is considered." So to recap, not only will soldiers not testify Monday via videolink (on hold) but the trip to Baghdad to take DNA samples (which had previously been stated to be a go) is now on hold. As Dan Box notes, the original investigation in Baghdad was made "without any foresensic equipment. In fact, no forensic tests were carried out by the military police." Speaking to Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy noted that Frank Holles [attorney for Judy and Martin Kovco] raised the issue that Hoffman appeared unaware that "Private Kovco was reportedly dancing around to a Cranberries song and communicating with his wife at the time of his death. 'Have you ever seen a suicide like that before?' he asked."

Also covering the inquiry, Belinda Tasker (Perth Now) reports that Hoffman stated that his reasons for believing that Jake Kovco pulled the trigger "was the fact that the pistol was his own." Tasker also notes that his two former roomates reported that he was joking with them and "singing along to pop songs" but they claim they did not see anything when the gun went off. Finally, Tasker reports that Shelley Kovco "excused herself from hearing much of the cross-examination today."

In news from American courts, Kay Stewart (Courier-Journal) reports that Steven D. Green, the former Army solider charged with raping and murdering 14 year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza and then murdering three members of her family, "won't be indicted until at least mid-October, under a motion granted yesterday in U.S. District Court in Louisville' at the request of federal prosecutors who would like it rescheduled to November 8th. The other five charged in the incident, Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard -- Yribe is only charged with dereliction of duty for failure to report the incident, "are scheduled for a miliary hearing in Iraq beginning Aug. 6" and the federal prosecutors argue that "[t]he same evidence and witnesses are necesaary components in both prosecutions."

In peace news, Hannah Charry (Hartford Advocate) reports that John Woods passed on his 60th birthday to take part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! Woods is "striking one day a week" (Fridays) for two months and states that: "His anti-war stance is in part something that he attributes to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he developed upon returning from Vietnam where he served with U.S. forces as an interrogator in 1969." Charry notes that Kat West is following Woods example and "will be fasting five days a week."

And in Canada, Ken Eisner (Vancouver's Straight) reports: "Fact: Jane Fonda's biggest fans in her antiwar tours were American GIs. Fact: returning soldiers were the vanguard of the out-of-Vietnam movement by the end of the 1960s. Fact: far more veterans of the military now serving in Congress are Democrats than are Republicans. Fact: U.S. soldiers are deserting at a rate greater than at any time since Vietnam." Though truth is always welcome, why is Eisner reporting that? Because the documentary Sir! No! Sir! is opening at the Ridge. Eisner speaks with the film's director, David Zeiger, who says of the film: "This story has been so thoroughly buried, I knew it would take a lot of digging to get it out there. I thought it would be emotionally draining too, and that's one of the things that scared me off. But what I found as the process went along is that it became much more celebratory. This gave a lot of people a chance to tell their stories within a context that would inspire others. The conversations certainly did conjure up painful memories, but overwhelmingly it was a positive experience for everyone involved."

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Other Items

At her home in central Baghdad, Niran al-Sammarai frets over the fate of her husband, kidnapped Saturday with 30 of his colleagues from a conference hall in one of the most heavily patrolled parts of Baghdad.
In Rasafah district, a police captain says he and colleagues are contemplating mass resignations in frustration over mistrust from US forces and orders from Iraqi politicians to release known criminals.

In the once fashionable Mansoor shopping district, metal grates are drawn over half of the businesses. And in Karada, one of Baghdad's safest neighborhoods, many of the businesses are shuttered too. The remaining shopkeepers complain that poor security is driving customers away.
In Baghdad and across much of the center and south of the country, the rhythms of normal life and commerce are rapidly breaking down in a sign that US and Iraqi government plans to build an effective security force are faltering. Reports of police standing aside as civilians get attacked are common, as are claims by survivors that government security forces, infiltrated by sectarian militias, took part in the killings.
The United Nations estimates 14,338 Iraqis were killed in the first six months of the year, and there are indications the rate of bloodshed is rising; more than 3,000 Iraqis were killed in June, most after the June 7 killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose death US officials had hoped would diminsh violence.

The above is from Dan Murphy's "Iraq's police overwhelmed by violence" in today's Christian Science Monitor. Sondra noted it because "I think it's a good report and I also think with everything else going on in the Middle East, Iraq's getting lost. I just read this and thought, 'At least someone's covering Iraq. Doesn't seem like many are." No, it doesn't seem like many are.
Which always begs the question of what do we note? For instance, Damien Cave has an article in this morning's New York Times that has bits of interest but doesn't seem to have resulted from much leg work which is a problem when it contradicts the reporting featuring actual Iraqis on the ground. (For instance Aaron Glantz has already covered the refugee camps in Iraq this week, spoken with actual Iraqis in them. Cave?) We'll note this from Cave's "More Iraqis Fleeing Strife and Segregating by Sect:"

Khalid Abdul Wahid al-Janabi said he was one of the few Sunnis living in his Baghdad neighborhood when he was recently kidnapped and tortured by a Shiite militia. "I was dumped with 13 dead bodies," he said. "I have no enemies but during the last few months Mahdi Army militias started to assassinate so many people."

Something we will note, noted by Zach, is Julian E. Barnes' "Crackdown Yields Little Security in Baghdad" (Los Angeles Times):

More than a month after the beginning of a highly publicized security crackdown and the killing of militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, the number of daily attacks in Baghdad has actually increased. Iraqi and U.S. forces began stepping up patrols, creating new checkpoints and conducting more searches June 14. But the initiative, Operation Together Forward, has not reduced the number of attacks in the capital, according to statistics released by U.S. military forces Thursday.

Another mainstream outlet we'll note today is the Salt Lake Tribune which is running Andrea Lewis' "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women" (this is a syndicated column that's part of The Progressive's syndication efforts):

Recent allegations of sexual abuse by U.S. military personnel should make us wary of the culture of sexist violence that the Pentagon is fostering.
More than 500 U.S. servicewomen who have been or are stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan or other countries say they have been assaulted by fellow soldiers since 2003, according to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of violence associated with the military. The Defense Department says that reports of sexual assaults involving members of the armed forces rose 40 percent in 2005, and 65 percent in the last two years.
Sexual harassment of female soldiers is often blatant, and harassment and assault often go hand in hand.
One recent case involves Army Spc. Suzanne Swift. She is among the estimated 4,400 U.S. troops who have refused to continue serving in Iraq. Swift alleges that three of her superior officers sexually harassed her, and that military officials have ignored her efforts to report the incidents.

Andrea Lewis is the co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show which airs from seven to nine a.m. Pacific time on KPFA. (And will be addressing the Middle East this morning. I forget the guest. It's the professor that Ruth enjoyed a few months back. Or she's one of this morning's guests.)

And connecting the events in the Middle East to the big picture, and the big plan, is Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Neonuts" (Editor's Cut, The Nation) noted by Marci:

For them, Afghanistan and Iraq will not suffice. They want to take out Syria and Iran, and speed full steam ahead towards World Wars III and IV. The Weekly Standard asks simply, "Why wait?"
According to Newt Gingrich, there is no need to wait at all. On Meet the Press this past Sunday he offered that the Israel-Hezbollah conflict "… is, in fact, World War III" and "the U.S. ought to be helping...."
And how might the US help fight Newt's World War? The Weekly Standard provides the answer: "It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions – and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

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NYT: "Sects' Strife Takes a Toll on Baghdad's Daily Bread" (Sabrina Tavernise)

The front line in this city's sectarian war runs through Edrice al-Aaraji's old backyard. He is a Shiite and a baker. So are his two brothers.
For the past year, Sunni Arab militants have swept through their old neighborhood, a heavily Sunni district in northwest Baghdad that borders a Shiite area, forcing Shiites out of their homes and shutting their shops by killing customers and workers inside. One after another, bakeries, whose workers are overwhelmingly poor and Shiite like Mr. Aaraji, began to close.
Now, out of 11 bakeries in the area, northern Ghazaliya, just one, the Sunni-owned Al Obeidi on Center Street, remains open. The neighborhood, like a mouth with missing teeth, is almost entirely without the simplest of Iraqi needs, freshly baked bread.
"To shut down a well-known bakery in a neighborhood, that means you paralyze life there," Mr. Aaraji said, sitting in a bakery in a Shiite neighborhood where he now works and usually sleeps.
As the most basic of local institutions, Baghdad's bakeries are an everyday measure of just how far the sectarian war here has spread.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Sects' Strife Takes a Toll on Baghdad's Daily Bread" in this morning's New York Times. There's a great deal worth noting in this article (including the attitude that the US military is 'show business' -- showing up with great flair and production and protecting no one). Rachel, Eli and Jordan all say this is the "must read" for this morning. It's a look at life on the ground and Iraqis actually speak for themselves. Not officials, actual Iraqis trying to live their daily lives in the chaos and violence that is the illegal occupation.

On some of yesterday's chaos and violence, Martha notes Andy Mosher's "An Ebb Proves No Respite In Violent Summer in Iraq" (Washington Post) (first two paragraphs below, I'm noting the third paragraph, see note after):

The violence once again centered on Baghdad, where a car bomb in the morning killed six people, including three police officers, in the neighborhood of Baladiyat; another at noon in the city center also killed three police officers and three civilians; and a third in the afternoon killed three more police officers and three more civilians in the northern Shiite neighborhood of Shula, according to Col. Sami Hassan of the Interior Ministry.
A roadside bomb on the city's eastern side killed two people, he said. Hassan also said police squads searched different areas of Baghdad, looking for the corpses that are found most mornings on the city's streets. Working from sunrise until 1 p.m., in heat that exceeded 110 degrees for much of the day, they found 38 bodies. Most were shot in the head and chest, according to Hassan.

[. . .]
Across Iraq, the number of Iraqis registered as refugees has jumped by 30,000 since the beginning of July, according to Iraq's Migration Ministry. A total of 162,000 refugees have registered with the ministry since Feb. 22, when the bombing of a Shiite shrine in the northern town of Samarra triggered the current phase of intense sectarian fighting.

[Note: My math is wrong in yesterday's snapshot on the figure for the refugees. I'm correcting it right now on another screen.]

And Brandon notes Elise Fox' "Take Back Our Country" (The Nation) which he hopes "we'll get us motivated for the work that needs to be done." From Fox speech:

I was a young woman living in Seattle during the Depression of the Thirties. I saw the Crash.
I saw the banks close and people losing their jobs and being evicted from their houses. I saw industry stop. I saw the country stop. I saw people go hungry! I saw fear. Fear of hunger is almost as bad as hunger itself. I saw people go without health care. I saw racial discrimination among black people, immigrants, women, and the elderly. I saw unfair labor practices. Does all this sound familiar? President Hoover told us that the benefits of big business would trickle down to the people. Sound familiar? And what did we, the people, do?
We, the people, marched from one end of this country to the other to demand change. We marched ten thousand people strong down Main Street of Seattle, demanding work and food. Incidentally, the man who led that march later became my husband. We pooled our resources and drove our "Tin Lizzies" and took boxcars and thumbed rides to Washington DC to demonstrate on the Capitol Mall.
We, the people, educated the working class by publishing a newspaper, the Voice of Action, and distributed it door to door.
We, the people, organized Townsend Clubs after pensions were lost when the banks closed, and we discussed ways to provide security for the working man's future. This was the beginning of Social Security.

By the way, Ann Rose has been guest blogging for Eleanor Smeal at The Smeal Report (Ms. magazine) on the issue of anti-choice attempts to close the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

A new Quinnipiac University poll released today finds Ned Lamont holding a 51 to 47 percent lead over Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters. Just six weeks ago, Lieberman was up by fifteen points. And a month before that, Lieberman's lead was three times that size.
Talk about a surge for Lamont. In a state where 83 percent of the population disapproves of the Iraq war and only 31 percent approve of President Bush, Lieberman's in big, big trouble with Democratic voters.

The above is from Ari Berman's "Lamont Over Lieberman" (The Notion, The Nation) and Lori noted it. In a week with little attention on events in Iraq (or events in this country opposing Iraq) it seemed a good way to open. Lieberman's in hot water and that's a result of people finally having enough. (Berman writes that, as an independent, Lieberman will probably win the election.) Molten Joe's been a disappointment for some time but his repeated stance as a War Hawk is igniting emotions. That's part of the reality in the opposition to Lieberman. And it shouldn't just be him.

From United for Peace & Justice:

No Peace, No Vote: Sign the Voters for Peace Pledge
The 2,500th U.S. serviceperson recently died in the war in Iraq. The majority of the people of this country, of Iraqis, and of active duty soldiers want to see an end to the war. But rather than take a clear stand against the war, too many candidates for Congress are fudging on what should be done.
We urge you to stand up with other outraged voters and
sign the Voters for Peace pledge:
"I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
Read More »

There are other things you can do as well. You can take part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! -- only one example of things you can do. Brenda notes Eli Painted Crow's "Becoming a Peace Warrior" (Troops Home Fast, CODEPINK):

Wisdom is sometimes found in the challenges that the Universe brings before us to make us strong in the places where we are weak, and to remind us that we need each other to create change.
I would like to offer my gratitude to CODEPINK for allowing me to voice what is in my heart for my compatriots still serving in Iraq. I am honored to share the gifts I have received throughout my journey with CODEPINK, and my perspective of the events that occurred over the last week during the Troops Home Fast action held in San Francisco. Rae does a wonderful job at coordinating and her openness to receive different points of views is one of the reasons I am proud to support this organization.
I honor those who have fasted; I could only fast for the first 24 hours, as my health and medications would not allow more than this. Fasting for me is a time of prayer and holding energy with others who by their sacrifice make this event very sacred. Thank you all for holding the energy of peace and life in this sacred act that continues.

Taking actions requires courage -- the courage not to be apethetic, the courage to take the nonsense from the last remaining Bully Boy holdouts. Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Arrest, Death Threat, for Farmer with Upside Down Flag" (McCarthyism Watch, The Progressive):

Dale Klyn raises beef cows in Corydon, Iowa.
For the past six years, he has been flying an American flag on his property.
But since May 21, that flag has been upside down.
He gives two reasons.
First, he's angry at a judge for allowing a debtor of his to declare bankruptcy. The debtor, who had bought a business from Klyn on a contract and still owed him $282,000, now only has to "pay me six cents on the dollar," says Klyn. "The judge approved that on the 18th of May. I was pretty upset about that."
Second, he wants to show solidarity for
Terri Jones.
She's the Iowa mom who has been flying her flag upside down after her son returned from the Iraq War and committed suicide. (Klyn had never met her before.)
"When I got the Des Moines Register and read the
article about Terri Jones and how her son didn't get the medical attention he needed, I decided I'm going to support her and oppose what the judge had done and fly my flag upside down," he says.

The result for Klyn has been a lot of nonsense but he's standing strong. That really is the most important thing about a protest. People will try to shut you down, try to bully you, shame you, any technique in the world, to stop you from standing up. Everytime someone caves, it makes it that much harder for anyone to stand up. And it emboldens the bullies who think they can go after everyone and have the same reaction. So good for Klyn because action and standing strong is the only thing that will end the illegal war.

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 Thursday, the count for American troops who'd died in Iraq stood at 2546. Tonight? 2558.
The war drags on. As nearly 6,000 Iraqis lost their lives in May and June, as Baghdad's morgue reports nearly a thousand Iraqi civilians have already died this year. The war drags on. Some people lose their lives in Iraq (a lot of people) and some return. Remember Klyn's mentioning Terri Jones earlier? Lloyd also provides the background on that via Matthew Rothschild's "Mother of Iraq War Vet Who Committed Suicide Flies Flag Upside Down" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Terri Jones lost her son Jason Cooper just over a year ago.
He was an Army Reservist in the Iraq War.
On July 14, 2005, four months after returning home to Iowa, he hanged himself.
He was 23.
Since then, Jones has been flying her American flag upside down, though someone came on her property once and turned it right side up, and another person stole it.
"We had a flag out the whole time Jason was in Iraq," she says. "Once he died, my boyfriend Vince turned it upside down to protest everything that's happening with our government, especially our soldiers being failed when they come home."
Jones says Jason wasn't the same when he got back from Iraq.
"He was a really upbeat, happy, funny kid" before he left, she says. "You could tell his smile was gone when he came home."
He also had a hard time paying attention.
"We did notice right away that he'd space off while you were trying to talk to him," she says. "His thoughts were floating off somewhere else."
And the reaction of some of his friends caught him by surprise.
"He was excited to see them," she says, "and he thought they would be, 'Hey, Coop, good to see you.' But instead, the first thing that would come out was, 'Jas, you shoot anybody?' He was so taken aback he didn't know how to answer. He'd just say, 'I don’t want to talk about it.' "
Jones tells me her son was hit by enemy fire. "His flack jacket took 37 pieces of shrapnel," she says. "He didn't even get a bruise."
Jones also told Jennifer Jacobs of the
Des Moines Register of one haunting memory he had about an insurgent who executed an Iraqi child in full view of Cooper and other members of his unit.
Jason was having a lot of nightmares and flashbacks, his mother says. "His girlfriend said he'd wake up in night sweats, and she had to take him out for a walk at three in the morning."
Jones says she really got worried three days before her son died.
"He called me at work towards the end of the day," she says. "He was at the mall. He was crying. He was really disoriented. He didn't know what was happening. He was afraid. He told me a friend of his had just died. I asked what his name was. And he said Jeremy Ridlen, who had died a year before." (Ridlen, an Army National Guard Specialist, died in East Fallujah on May 23, 2004.)
Jones says her son "knew he needed help, but he didn’t want to go the VA." She says he'd gone there the month before, after he hurt his wrist in a motorcycle fall. "When he went to the VA, they didn’t have room to treat him that day," she says.

Some casulities who return are visible to the eye, others not so. It's all a part of Bully Boy's illegal war that's destroying Iraq, destroying the United States, and destroying humanity. And there are many of these stories. Stories of casulities, stories of survivors, stories of people speaking out and taking stands. There's a lot going on in the world this week and Iraq's been pushed off the radar in many ways (in many outlets) but the war drags on and will continue to do so until we get serious.

When the topic seems to be everything but Iraq, what do you do? Dig deep. Micah notes an article from The Objector's July issue (PDF format) which is available online.

Before we get to his excerpt, I'll note that Sunny Raleigh writes of her decision to become a consceintious objector while serving in the Navy (as a doctor): "I would not have continued my participating in the United States Navy had my CO claim been rejected. They threatened me with jail time and I informed my investigating officer I would choose jail over active duty. In all practical purposes, there will be conflicts of interest amongs people of the world. The approach to the resolution of conflict must be nonviolent."

Now for the thing Micah notes and members reading it will grasp when he notes this one.
Bill Evers contributes "My Path to Conscientious Objection" which traces his own awakening:

A new life started in the summer of 1967, after spending a few weeks with one of my sisters, who lived in Manhattan. Sally was into Manhattan and the bigger world. She got the Village Voice, which I started to read. There was this guy, David McReynolds, who was with a group called the War Resisters League (WRL). He wrote some things that were not typical Socialist Worker, jargon-laden, ego-tripping stuff. They were clear, gave facts, asked questions, and opened the door to the notion that humans could be humane and still live a good life. I was reading about people who were speaking out and realized that the things that didn't make sense to me being macho, killing people to end wars that killed people, or not liking someone just because of their skin color were things than an entire group of people were objecting to.
When I went back to college that fall, I kept on reading the Village Voice.

Those days (for the Voice) are gone. But when the alternative media realized their power and excercised it (not in pursuit of approval from outside but to create a true alternative flow of information) it had tremendous power. We're still waiting (in vain?) to see something similar from some outlets old enough to know better. (As Micah has noted, the Village Voice is dead.)

When you think of all the people who are doing the one fast or the ongoing fast (or a several day fast) and realize how little coverage it has gotten, you realize how far the focus has gone away from Iraq. A number of e-mails are noting "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" and asking why I didn't give a heads up to that?

Because surprises are always nice. Kat's on vacation, Mike and Cedric are attempting to fill in for her. But the main reason is I'm not advocating a long term fast. If you read that and think, "Screw you, I'm going on a long term fast" -- well good for you. But that needs to be your decision. It's a very serious one. I do encourage a one day fast. I think most people can do that. (And wish that they would -- it's an ongoing fast, you can grab a day at any time.) But if you decide to try a long term fast, that has to be your decision. It requires a committment and no one can give you that, it has to come from inside. (And as I noted in the surprise entry, you should check with your doctor or medical advisor.)

Some people are on the long term fast and planning to stay on it through August. (I'm stopping August first.) Ben notes notes Ann Wright's July 14th reflections in "DAY 10 OF THE FAST" (Troops Home Fast, CODEPINK):

Not eating frees up a lot of time. You don't spend much time in the grocery store, except for buying juices and health supplements. No time for food preparation. Time with friends is not spent in eating, but in talking and discussing critical issues of our time, such how to put more pressure on the Bush administration and the US Congress to end the war in Iraq to save tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and thousands of American and coalition lives, how to have fair trials for those in Guantanamo and administration secret prisons throughout the world, how to restore civil liberties while maintaining national security and how to restore domestic programs reduced or closed by diversion of funds to administration corporations in the war on Iraq. That's a lot to chew on, I would say!
Other than a small decrease in energy, I feel just fine. I don't get hunger pains and my stomach doesn't rumble anymore. Around mealtimes, I still have the habit of thinking I should be stopping to eat, which brings a smile when I remember that I don't need much time for that--just a sip of water or juice and I'm finished!
We now have over 3900 people who have signed up for the fast. There are fasts going on in virtually every city in America. Fasters are in ten other countries. Some are fasting for one day, some for one day a week, some for two weeks and some have signed on to fast until the war in Iraq ends. The length of the fast really does not matter. What matters is that an individual has made the decision that she/he will focus energy on an issue that is critical for the destiny of America-ending the war on Iraq.
This summer we will have fasters at the Veterans for Peace Conference in Seattle August 9-13, fasters at Camp Casey August 16-Sept 2 and fasters at Camp Democracy in Washington, DC September 5-20. Fasters will be in Washington, DC for September 21 and the following week for the week of Civil Disobedience.
The commitment and dedication of fasters to an issue is a time honored tradition. Governments and administrations have altered policies due to fasters. In talking with veteran fasters Dick Gregory who fasted over 2 years during the Vietnam War and Diane Wilson who has fasted for environmental issues in Texas, fasting requires patience, tolerance, and understanding of the psychological dimensions of physical actions and their long-term effect on others. In the beginning, many of those not on the fast, think the fasters are crazy and stupid.
On July 25 in Lafayette Park in front of the White House Codepink Women for Peace, and members of Gold star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and various Washington, DC anti-war groups will have an International fasting day. We will be joined by a woman member of the Canadian Parliament.

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Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue.

At least five bombs went off in Iraq today, according to Reuters. But don't fret for the Operation Happy Talkers, the military is pushing "Operation Baghdad is Beautiful" wherein the "trash, debris and barrier materials" are being removed. While it is true that Lady Bird Johnson had a beautification program in the United States, she didn't try to implement it in Vietnam. This as William Caldwell (US major general) announces that attacks in the "Bahgdad area" have incresed 40% this month. Is that 'beautiful' as well? Maybe they can slap some blue bonnets on it? Meanwhile the BBC notes: "But the US military admitted on Thursday the massive security clampdown that followed the killing of al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had achieved only a 'slight downtick' in violence." Or, as Adnan Dulaimi told Borzou Daragahi (LA Times), "What is happening in Iraq is a disaster and a tragedy."


The Associated Press notes that ten are dead as a result of a car bombing near a gas station in Beiji and one dead (and seven wounded) from a car bomb in Kirkuk. Reuters reports five were wounded near Karbala from a roadside bomb; a bomb that exploded near a police patrol in Baghdad killed two (wounded 11 including 5 police officers); while another bomb in Baghdad (the third for the day) killed three; ten people were wounded from a roadside bomb near Najaf; and one person was wounded from a bomb near Diwaniya.


Reuters notes the shooting death of a cab driver in Diwaniya; three oil engineers in Baiji; police officers in Tikrit and Falluja (one in each city); and one in Baghdad.


CBS and the AP report that four corpses were found in Baghdad. The AFP notes that Iraqi police are saying the number is 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours." Reuters reports that Baghdad morgues' figures for July, thus far, are "about 1,000 corpses." Reuters notes a cab driver whose corpse was found in his taxi in Numaniya; two corpses discovered near Balad; and the corpse of a translator who had been kidnapped Tuesday was discovered near Tikrit.

Centcom announced "A Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today."

Reporting on Iraq yesterday Aaron Glantz (The KPFA Evening News, Free Speech Radio News) explored the security situation speaking with a number of people including one Iraq male, Ali, in charge of investigating the Tuesday bombing in KUFA who delcared, "The police doesn't have any information about anything. They're just kids. They don't really check anything at checkpoints, they just ask people where they are from and let them go without checking anything. Until recently you didn't any kind of diploma to get into the police. Now they have changed it so that you have to have graduated from middle school to apply to be a police officer." Glantz also spoke with an Iraqi professor, Shakir Mustafa of Boston University, in the US who is attempting to get his family out of Iraq. The professor explained how neighboring countries are growing less welcoming to those who flee from Iraq with Glantz noting the UN predictions of how things would grow increaingly worse for Iraqi refugees (child labor, sex traficcing, malnutrition and poverty).

Meanwhile, Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports on a refugee camp in Baghdad which Um Abdullah says was attacked with gunfire and that this and other events have caused all but five of thirty-four families to leave the camp. Reuters estimates that over [CORRECTION] 30,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and become refugess in the last three weeks.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April death of Jake Kovco continues. Australia's ABC reports that Judy Kovco walked out on the inquiry when Wayne Hoffman gave testimony that the wounds that killed her son were self-inflicted. Hoffman's testimony included a twelve-point presentation and flies in the face of the testimony given by Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes which found DNA other than Jake Kovco's on the gun believed to be the weapon. Hayes wants "up to thirty" of Kovco's fellow troops in Iraq to submit to DNA tests and homocide detectives have left for Baghdad to begin testing. Belinda Tasker (Courier-Mail) reports that attorneys for Judy and Martin Kovco, Lt Col Frank Holles, and for the solider's widow Shelley Kovco, Lt Col Tom Berkley, objected to Hoffman's arguments noting "There are a number of assertions in there ... which aren't conclusive of the findings they purport to reach," and "at the end of the day you can't say whether the firing of the firearm was intentional or unintentional, it's all predicated on the fact that it was Jake."

Yesterday in Iraq, an attack in Basra indicated the level of hostility some Iraqis feel towards the occupation. As Daveed Mandel noted on The KPFA Evening News: "Today, assailants slit the throats of a mother and her three children in southern Iraq where the family had fled to escape threats stemming from accusations that they cooperated with Americans. The mother's sister was also slain in the southern city of Basara. Five other family members were rescued but they almost bled to death."

And yesterday in the United States, the AP reports, an Article 28 hearing was held to determine whether or there is evidence to warrant a trial of Nathan B. Lynn and Milton Ortiz Jr. for alleged actions in Ramadi where they are accused of killing an Iraqi man on February 15 of this year and then planting a gun by him to make him look like an "insurgent." The AP notes: "Ortiz also faces one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said."

Finally, the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza will not be exhumed reports Reuters. The family is refusing the request and Reuters quotes Muayyad Fadhil as saying, "It is disgraceful to remove a body after burial." Abeer Qassim Hamza and three members of her family were murdered in March. Six US soldiers have been charged in the incident (one with failure to report the incident) and five with rape and murder. Of the five, four are currently serving in the military. Steven D. Green is the only one charged (with rape and with murder) who has left the military. Reuters notes: "U.S. court documents in the case of Green indicate that other defendants say he killed three family members then raped Abeer al-Janabi and killed her too. They accuse one other soldier of raping the girl and a further two of being in the house during the killings." The five others charged are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard (Yribe is the one charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident).

The e-mail address for this site is [C.I. note: Post corrected due to my bad math on the refugees figures.]

Other Items

Throughout the country, at least 49 people were killed or found dead on Wednesday, including an Interior Ministry official who was shot in his car at 8 a.m.
Most of the attacks appeared to be sectarian-related, and they came a day after a suicide car bomber killed at least 53 people and wounded more than 100 in the Shiite holy city of Kufa. On Wednesday, the Mujahedeen Shura, an insurgent umbrella group that has often directed attacks against Shiite civilians, posted Internet messages claiming responsibility for that bombing.
The abduction of workers from the oversight group, the Sunni Endowment, Iraq’s most prominent association of Sunni mosques and shrines, continued a string of high-profile kidnapping attacks against government-related figures this month.
Many of the attacks have been against Sunni Arab officials, leading to speculation that Shiite militias or death squads have sometimes been involved. But little else has tied the attacks together other than a continuing demonstration of the lawlessness that has struck the capital and surrounding areas.

The above is from Damien Cave's "Overseers of Sunni Mosques Are Seized in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times. Susan noted that reading the above this morning made her think of Jackson Browne's "Say It Isn't True" (off the album Lawyers in Love) and wondered what song I'd put to it. I'd actually go with Susan's choice but, since she's beat me to it and since I rarely note another artist, I'll go with Lindsey Buckingham's "D.W. Suite" (off Go Insane):

If we go, go insane
We can all go together
In this wild, wanton world
We can all break down forever . . .

And here's the section of Browne's "Say It Isn't True" that Susan picked:

I'm alive in a city
In a country of the world
And I want to go on living
I want to see my life unfold
You know it's hard to go on looking
At the stories of our day
And the dangers we're all facing
Growing worse in every way
And you would think with all of the genius
And the brilliance of these times
We migh find a higher purpose
And a better use of minds

And, on that note, Martha notes Andy Mosher's "Iraqi Factions Implored to End Violence" (Washington Post):

Wednesday's bombings, shootings and kidnappings did not approach the carnage of the previous two days, when two attacks south of Baghdad each killed more than 40 people, or the death tolls that last month averaged more than 100 Iraqi civilians a day, according to a U.N. report. The deadliest incident Wednesday was an apparently coordinated small-arms and bomb attack that killed seven people and wounded seven in Baghdad.
[. . .]
The human rights office of the U.N. mission in Iraq reported Tuesday that more than 14,000 civilians had been killed during the first half of this year, including more than 3,000 in June.

Again, to drop back to a point made yesterday (and before), eye ball the Iraqi Body Count site and see if you see that reflected in their count -- you won't. Dahr Jamail has argued in print and in interviews, far kinder than I would put it, that Iraqi Body Count served a purpose at one point (giving some idea of the numbers) but that it no longer does and can now be used (due to the low numbers deriving from the way they tabulate) to justify the ongoing illegal occupation by people who point and say, "Look, the numbers aren't that high." To say over 250,000 Iraqi civilians have died (the figure Robert Fisk uses) isn't shocking unless you take IBC as gospel. I think the number's close to or just over a half million now.

Brenda notes Dahr Jamail's "'Open War' in the Middle East" (Truth Out):

"In my judgment, the best way to stop the violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place." That one sentence (a surprisingly rare example of a complete sentence spoken by Cheney spokesman George W. Bush), taken on its own, would fully explain why the Middle East is now on the brink of regional war. But of course, Bush always finds a way to engage in Orwellian newspeak. At a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, he managed to rewrite history in the very next sentence by blaming Hezbollah for instigating the violence by launching rocket attacks into Israel and capturing Israeli soldiers. But then, George most likely has no idea where Gaza is, let alone what has been occurring there for decades.
As puppet Bush goes on saying things like "Every nation has a right to defend itself," referring to his favorite ally, Israel, his use of the word "every" would of course exclude Lebanon, since their army is using anti-aircraft guns against Israeli warplanes. And let us not forget the Iraqi resistance - as it may never cross his feeble mind that they are defending Iraq from the American invaders.
Most Arab leaders are refusing to back Hezbollah, although US-influenced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II issued the usual statements demanding "an immediate halt on attacking civilians and vital infrastructure," saying that such attacks breach the international humanitarian conventions. As if Israel will listen. As if the US listens to any calls from countries demanding similar actions by the occupation forces and Western contracting companies who are busily raping and pillaging Iraq. As if any country in war ever abides by the Geneva Conventions nowadays. And without a functional UN to actually take a stand for human rights or real justice, why should they?
The typical response among the people here in the Middle East is to scoff at their leadership - who continue to cower and bow to US interests.
Friday at the Lebanese/Syrian border, I spoke with a 50-year-old Kuwaiti man, Emad, as he fled Beirut with his family. "It's very bad there, as the Israelis are attacking civilians, bombing police and petrol stations and even the fuel storage depots," he told me, "In fact, they have even bombed the airport once again. I saw F-16's bombing and there is smoke everywhere. This is a big disaster for the Lebanese."

An e-mail in the public account (from a visitor) notes a breaking AP story that "you won't note" ("you" being me) because "it's good news. I'll wait all day and you'll never note it." You will wait all day for that to be linked to. The reason is because we noted it, via the BBC, in yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" (about the four kidnapped who were released -- it's our last item in the snapshot yesterday). The only "breaking" is that an official announced it today (announced that it happened yesterday). Lastly Eddie notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Brothers In Arms" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

The Bush administration has spied on our library records, phone conversations, and bank records and then castigated the free press for freely reporting on it. We've just learned that he personally stopped a Justice Department inquiry into the domestic surveillance program. And of course there are the presidential signing statements, which even some conservatives consider to be unconstitutional.
Maybe what Bush saw when he looked into Putin's authoritarian soul was a reflection of himself.

It's addressing the overheard conversation (via open mike) and Eddie notes, "It's going a little deeper than Bully Boy said a naughty word!" (On that, I didn't note it here for two reasons. One is that I use the word -- "s**t" -- myself. I wasn't all that shocked. Second reason? It's in Friday's gina & krista round-robin.) But if others were shocked or found it of news value (the swear word), they could and should note it.

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[Corrected to put back in the link to KvH. If the links aren't closed on my end, they can vanish. Apologies.]

NYT: Wong and Slackman play "smackdown" with al-Maliki

"The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon's infrastructure," Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American Embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. "I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression."

The above is from Edward Wong and Michael Slackman's "Iraqi Prime Minister Denounces Israel's Actions" in this morning's New York Times. Is the puppet forgetting who pulls the strings? Or maybe he missed Ewen MacAskill, Simon Tisdall and Patrick Wintour's "United States to Israel: You Have One More Week to Blast Hizbullah" (Guardian of London via of Common Dreams):

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.
[. . .]
"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

Back to Wong and Slackman for one paragraph because it's rare that you read reality in the Times:

His stance is noteworthy because it is a significant split with American policy toward Israel. It has been the Americans' hope that Iraq would become President Bush's staunchest ally among Arab nations. The Americans arranged a series of elections that ended up putting Shiite parties in power, and the White House helped boost Mr. Maliki by pushing last spring for the ouster of the prime minister at the time, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Maliki relies on the presence of 134,000 American troops in Iraq to stave off the insurgency led by Sunni Arabs, who ruled over the majority Shiite Arabs for decades.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that when al-Maliki comes out against US administrastion backed armed agression, the Times decides to give a very concise history (for them). Possibly when a puppet of the war predicted to surpass spending on Korea and Vietnam (second only to WWII) forgets his place as administration lacky and speaks out, the Times feels they can offer a "smackdown" (well when haven't they felt that way)?

Tom notes William Rivers Pitt's "Meanwhile, in Iraq ..." (Truth Out):

Every network television news program, every cable news station, every newspaper and every news web site has been covering, and will continue to cover, the horrific mayhem unfolding between Israel and Lebanon. Anyone seeking information on that situation will not struggle to find it. In fact, it has become something of a challenge to stay abreast of the continuing carnage in Iraq.
We still have tens of thousands of soldiers there. Nineteen of them have died since the beginning of July, and 2,553 have died since the whole thing started. 150 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last three days, adding to the 6,000 civilians who have been killed in the last two months, adding to the tens of thousands who have been killed over the last three years.
A few days ago, the UK Times published an article titled "Baghdad Starts to Collapse as Its People Flee a Life of Death." The author, James Hider, offered a glimpse of life within a civil war. "I returned to Baghdad on Monday after a break of several months," wrote Hider, "during which I too was guilty of glazing over every time I read another story of Iraqi violence. But two nights on the telephone, listening to my lost and frightened Iraqi staff facing death at any moment, persuaded me that Baghdad is now verging on total collapse.
"Ali phoned me on Tuesday night, about 10:30 p.m.," continued Hider. "There were cars full of gunmen prowling his mixed neighbourhood, he said. He and his neighbours were frantically exchanging information, trying to identify the gunmen. Were they the Mahdi Army, the Shia militia blamed for drilling holes in their victims' eyes and limbs before executing them by the dozen? Or were they Sunni insurgents hunting down Shias to avenge last Sunday's massacre, when Shia gunmen rampaged through an area called Jihad, pulling people from their cars and homes and shooting them in the streets?"

And if you were only semi paying attention, the above is from Truth Out which is back up online.
Tom, Brenda, Cindy and Charlie all e-mailed to note that this morning. Phyllis Bennis ("The Gaza/Lebanon Crises: Escalating Occupation & Danger of New Border Fighting") and Robert Scheer will join Kris Welch today at KPFA's Living Room (noon Pacific Time) to address the armed agression in the Middle East.

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