Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, January 2, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; independent media continues to do a lousy job of covering the war and, in fact, helps cement the US administration's 'big picture' today; Ehren Watada has a pre-trial hearing Thursday so why does a supposed journalist think Thursday is all about her?; Tony Blair plans to stick around a few months more; and the answer to who loved ham and pineapple pizza.
Starting with the lousy performance of independent media.  Today, on KPFA's The Morning Show, Antonia Juhasz rightly stated that of the two markers -- reaching the 3,000 mark for US troops who have died in the illegal war (Sunday) and Saddam Hussein's execution (Saturday), "the Bush administration wanted the latter to be the one that got the attention" because it could be promoted as "a victory for the Bush administration."
Intentionally or not, independent media was there to do the administration's bidding.  On Democracy Now! today, the bulk of the show was a discussion on Saturday's execution.  The 3,000 mark?  Reduced to headlines.
Did it even lead the headlines?  No, it was the fifth listed item.
Did it get equal attention to the show execution?  No.
Not only that, but it also got less time than the funeral of a wife beater -- but then 'friend' to children Michael Jackson didn't speak at any ceremony for the 3,000 US troops who had died.
In this morning's Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White stated that "the majority of Americans, have been largely unaffected".  Point the finger at the media, not the people.
To stay on Democracy Now!, the program could have presented highlights of the various gatherings from yesterday -- though that might have required realizing that news was a 24 cycle which means you work on a 'holiday' and go to "midtown Manhattan" where "60 anti-war grandmothers" read the names of the dead -- or they could have presented a discussion featuring family members, friends, ect. whose loved ones make up the 3,000 dead.  Instead, it was blah-blah-blah Saddam.  At one point, on KPFA, the feed was lost and listeners instead heard the lead up to the service for Gerald Ford which made perfect sense since both that service and Democracy Now! were absorbed with covering dead officials and ignoring the realities of the people.  (Micah, Rachel and Jonah e-mailed that WBAI also lost the signal in the midst of the pomp & circumstance of the show death.)
If "the majority of Americans" are removed from the war -- if -- start blaming independent media for the shoddy performance they gave in 2006 and for the shoddy performance they're already starting 2007 off with.
The 3,000 mark is either an aside or ignored. 
Currently, at The Progressive's website the top story is Saddam's execution.  And the 3,000 mark?  Nothing. At The Notion?  (The blog for The Nation.)  Currently (it's past 2:00 pm EST) the last item is from 12/31 and the topic is . . . Saddam Hussein.  On all the website?  Not a damn thing about the 3,000 mark.
Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White postulate that "the majority of Americans, have been largely unaffected" -- well, if true, why should they feel effected when the 3,000 mark is thus far ignored by the two leading magazines of the left (in terms of sales) and when Democracy Now! thinks the funeral of James Brown -- and quoting Michael Jackson -- is more important than 3,000 Americans killed in an illegal war?
It matters.  What you choose to emphasize matters. To repeat, of the two milestones, the US administration wants one emphasized, the show-death.  As Antonia Juhasz noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, "the Bush administration's intent to have that be the last image of 2006 rather than the 3,000 who have died."
In news of war resistance, Dahr Jamail, speaking on Democracy Now! today, attempted to address Ehren Watada's remarks in August . . . however, there was no time for that.  Time ran out or was wasted as Sarah Olson repeatedly asked for sympathy because she might have to decide whether she's a journalist or not.
A journalist refuses to testify.  Olson has gotten a tremendous amount of publicity for someone who refuses to say what she will do (or as she put it on Democracy Now! -- what legal strategy she will "employ").  When journalists, real ones, get support, it's because they take a stand. 
As we've noted in several snapshots (most recently on Thursday of last week), Olson's being asked to tesitfy this week (Thursday) in Ehren Watada's pretrail hearing.  If you want editorials and colums of support, you need to commit to something.  No paper in the world is going to come out ahead of you and take a stand for you.  Olson backed out of a scheduled and announced appearance on KPFA's The Morning Show with the statement that her attorney had advised her not to comment on the case.  That doesn't get editorial boards rushing to defend you over what you might or might not do.
If hearing her try to press the world to stand for her when she won't stand for herself (on Democracy Now!) didn't bore you enough, you can check out her similar non-stance in text form at ZNet.  For those who are missing how ridiculous her dance is, Ehren Watada is on trial for taking a stand.  Sarah Olson wants people to rush to her defense for . . . not taking a stand.  Make a decision.  If you testify, you're not a journalist.  If you're a journalist, you say "No."  It's that simple.
In the real world, Courage to Resist reports that Lisa Brobeck is asking people write to her husband, war resister Ivan Brobeck, "so he is constantly reminded that he is not alone during this time in the brig and that he is supported in his brave and courages stand."  The mail does not run (in the US) today (apparently Gerald Ford is honored by the government stopping its business) but the way to address your postcards or envelopes is:
LCPL Ivan S. Brobeck
MCB Quantico Brig
3247 Elrod Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134
Ivan Brobeck self-checked out of the US military after serving seven months in Iraq.  He went to Canada in April 2005 and remained there until he returned to the US in November to turn himself in on election day with an open letter to the Bully Boy. The day before he turned himself in, November 6, 2006, he was interviewed by Nora Barrows-Friedman on Flashpoints which remains one of the few media outlets to note his decision to return then or since.  "The Full Brobeck" is the term coined for a brave stand that media outlets bend over backwards to avoid noting.
As noted earlier, Ehren Watada faces a pre-trial hearing on Thursday.  On Thursday, there will be at least two rallies in support of Watada.  One rally will be held at Fort Lewis, off Interstate Five, exit 119.  Among those scheduled to participate are Bob Watada (father of Ehren), Sara Rich (mother of Suzanne Swift), US war resister Darrell Anderson, Chanan Suarez Diaz, Michael Cuzzort, Pia Rivera and Carrie Hathorn.  The rally will begin at ten a.m. January 4th (this Thursday).  Another rally will be held in San Francisco and begin at 11:15 a.m. (Thursday, January 4th) at Japantown Peace Plaza (corner of Post and Buchanan) which will then move to the San Francisco Federal Building at noon and culminate in a Die-in at the front enterance of the Federal Building (one p.m.).  More information can be found at ThankYouLt.org.
Jason Leopold (Truthout) notes that the pre-trial hearing "comes on the same day the new Democratic-controlled Congess returns to work and begins to investigate one of the lingering questions surrounding the nearly four-year-old war.  It's the same question that Watada said led to his decision to publicly challenge the legality of the war and refuse deployment -- whether the intelligence that led to the US-led invasion was cooked by Bush administration officials."
Ivan Brobeck and Ehren Watada are part a movment of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress this month.
In fatality news, the US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Jan. 1." And they also announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, were killed Dec. 31 as a result of an explosion while conducting operations in Diyala Province." The announcements brought the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3,003.
Lauren Frayer (AP) reports a mortar attack the left four wounded in Iraq. CBS and AP report a roadside bomb in Baghdad that took three lives and left seven more Iraqis wounded. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Tribune Newspapers) reports a mini-bus in eastern Baghdad hit a roadside bomb and at least one person was killed. Reuters notes that the mortar attack (first sentence of paragraph) in Baghdad killed four in addition to the four wounded.
Reuters reports that Ali Majeed Salbokh ("member of the Diyala provincial council) and three of his aides were shot dead in Baquba yesterday. Today, Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Tribune Newspapers) reports Mohammed Younis Hasan ("Iraqi employee of the Algerian Embassy in Baghdad") was shot dead.
Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Nahrawan. CBS and AP report that 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.  Reuters updates the body count of corpses discovered in Baghdad today to 45.
In addition, AFP notes that "six members of a family were kidnapped" today. Reuters notes that the kidnapping took place in Madaen.
Other violence?  Oh, please, like the independent media, the mainstream serves the administration by making it non-stop Saddam.
Despite that, the Guardian of London reported today that the Iraq Interior Ministry released numbers that found "12,320 Iraqi civilians had died" in 2006.  BBC notes that the figure, given out by the ministry, for last month is 1,930.
Meanwhile a US attack is leading to questions and accusations.  Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reported that the US military is referring to the action as a raid targeted at al-Qaeda while Saleh al-Mutlak ("head of the Sunni-led Iraqi National Dialogue Front") is stating that he lost two bodyguards and two buildings in the action.  CNN adds that in addition to the two bodyguards killed, the dead also included "a family of four that lived next door" to the offices of the National Dialogue Front.
In political news, Al Jazeera notes that the Baath Party in Iraq has named Izzat al-Douri "its deputy secretary-general, as secretary general" and quotes Baath party spokesperson Abu Muhammad replying to Nouri al-Maliki's offer that the Baath Party rejoin the political process with: "We would like to tell Mr al-Maliki that our only mission is to continue armed struggle until we get him and his masters [US] out of our country."  Also in political news, KUNA reports that the talk in England is Tony Blair will stay on as prime minister "until this July". This as Robert Barr (AP) reports that Tony Blair's non-new New Year's message was that British troops must remain in Iraq (and Afghanistan).
Who loved ham and pineapple pizza?  Dustin Donica of Spring, Texas.  The 22 year-old was the 3,000th American service member killed in Iraq and news of him comes not from the US independent media or the US mainstream media.  James Bone (Times of London) reports that in addition to the pizza, Dustin also loved trance music and soccer and hoped to return to college (UT at Austin) after his service.
An enlightened rage is building in the peoples of the world and it is antiwar.  Never before have we seen war so clearly; its horror and stupidity and waste.  We watch, those of us in the West, mostly on television, unimaginable blunders of planning and strategy; we walk past our rapidly deteriorating hospitals and schools while reading about the ten billion dollars a day, or is it a month, or is it a minute, spent on war in what is obviously the wrong country, in newspapers that report this news, it seems to us, casually.  We feel helpless in that moment, but we do not feel ignorant.  That is a great gain.
It is bad enough, we feel, that our young, often poor, badly educated and frequently desperate young men are forced into war; they have few alternatives.  But to see our young women, likewise disadvantaged, leaving their babies behind in order to fight -- and sometimes facing harassment, assault and rape from their own male compatriots, in addition to the dangers and malevolence of war, feels like more than we can bear.
What does it mean to love one's child and not be able to protect him or her? Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in the war in Iraq, demonstrates the power of grief.  Holding vigils outside the president's ranch and elsewhere, demanding that he sit with her; speaking everywhere, telling the truth of her sadness and exhibiting her fury, she lends us courage by her presistence.  We have slumbered a long time believing the lies of those in power.  Sending our children to fight those who might have been their playmates.  And we know that those in power must spend a lot of their time laughing at us.  Take a moment to think how gullible, how innocent, we must seem to them.  Moved about the world to do their bidding, like pieces on a chessboard.  But in this time we are beginning to see and hear from mothers and fathers who assume the role of Those Who Also Know.  The world is getting its Elders back.
Turning to Cindy Sheehan, writing at BuzzFlash, Sheehan concludes: "3000 dead. I can virtually guarantee who is not counting: Bloody George who readily admits that he gets a good night's sleep every night while he has condemned millions of people all over the world to agonizing nights of intensely worried or anguished insomnia. Why should Bloody George lose sleep? War business is booming and his own children are safely surrounded by Secret Service. I can never remember a time when peace has been so absent, yet so urgent. Won't you do one thing everyday to help prevent the next thousand Americans and next one-hundred thousand Iraqis? Please?"

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