Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, May 1, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Bully Boy prepares to veto a Congressional bill, the puppet's position grows more questionable, the UK military and US military each announce another fatality, and more.
It was four years ago today, Bully Boy decided to bray . . .  Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty observes: "Today marks the fourth year since President Bush gave his 'Mission Accomplished' speech where he declared that 'major combat operations in Iraq have ended.'  With April marking the deadliest month in Iraq in 2007 for our military, with 104 deaths, major combat operations are anything but over.  The U.S. military death toll in Iraq is now at 3,351.  For the British, who lost 11 soldiers.  April was their deadliest month since the war started in March 2003.  The Iraqi people, meanwhile, continue to see thousands of their loved ones killed every month.  Amidst this ever-increasing violence, the Democratics and Republicans are busy with petty squabbling over the toothless supplemental bill that will give the president $93 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Democrats have hailed the supplemental bill passed by both chamgers of Congress last week as a sincere attempt to end the war, although in reality the bill would do little to bring our troops home quickly and safely.  Today in Iraq, our troops endure the daily suspense of wondering whether each day will be their last, but in Washington D.C. there is little suspense over the fate of war funding.  President Bush has promised to veto the Iraq spending bill, and Democrats have said that they will capitulate and give Bush the money with no restrictions.  In November 2006 people across the nation voted for an end to the war, not for its indefinite continuation.  As a veteran of the conflict in Iraq, I will never forget the death and destruction of a war that has cost more than 3,351 U.S. lives as well as the lives of countless Iraqis.  I am joined by the over 400 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War in fighting to end the occupation of Iraq, ensure our veterans get the care they deserve, and give the Iraqi people back their right to self-determination."
As Dougherty noted, 3351 is the death toll for US service mebers in Iraq. When Bully Boy declared "major combat operations ended" while standing below the banner that read "Mission Accomplished," 139 US service members had died in Iraq.  3,212 US service members have died in the illegal war since that day.  Then there were 150,000 service members stationed in Iraq.  Now?  The number dropped but it soared back up.  Between 145,000 and 150,000 US service members are currently stationed in the country with more to come as part of the never ending crackdown's escalation phase.
139 lives is too great for an illegal, unnecessary, pre-emptive war of choice.  But today it's at 3351.  If it had been stopped on May 1, 2003, the death toll would have been 139.  When Congress refuses to stop the illegal war,  it's no longer just Bully Boy's war.  It's their war as well.   When they pushed the toothless, nonsense, when they passed it in both houses, the death toll was 3234.  That's 117 deaths in the illegal war they now co-own.  Actually, 118 and the count is now 3352.  Today, the US military announced another death: "An MNC-I Soldier died at approximately 10:30 a.m. Tuesday of non-battle causes."
The new issue of The Progressive (May 2007) contains Howard Zinn's "Are We Politicians or Citizens?" which was posted online last month due to the nature of the column: "As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq.  In response to the Bush administration's 'surge' of troops and the Republicans' refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months.  And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them.  That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democratic proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, 'like many of us, don't think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war.'  . . . When a social movements adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.  We who protest the war are not politicians.  We are citizens.  Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shameful timorous Congress."  Today, John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) notes, "Democrats in Congress are growing increasingly hostile toward their antiwar base."  He cites US House Rep David Obey's embarrassing snit fit aimed at Tina Richards as well as his own experience with US Senator John Kerry's staff and in speaking with US House Rep Michael E. Capuano.  And Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) reminds, "Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), actually at one point publicly stated that it would be 'good' for Democrats if the Iraq War continued into November 2008."
What would you think if the news wasn't covered . . .  Over 655,000 Iraqis have died in the illegal war.  Many Americans, when polled recently, were grossly off in their estimation of the Iraqi death toll.  This month, a dumb idiot pinned the blame for that on the peace movement.  Addressing the same poll when it was still in the news, Peter Hart (CounterSpin) rightly noted the blame goes to the media.  We saw that play out on the small scale today.  The New York Times attempted to press their undercount yet again claiming that, on Monday, "bombs and mortars killed at least 22 Iraqis."  Over fifty were reported dead on Monday from bombs and mortars.  As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today: "Meanwhile at least 102 Iraqis died on Monday alone including more than 30 in a suicide bombing that targeted a Shiite funeral."  Goodman's referring to the Baghdad bombing.  From yesterday's snapshot:
Dean Yates (Reuters) reports a Baghdad funeral today was the site of a bombing as a man blew himself and at least 32 other people up via "a vest packed with explosives"  CBS and AP report: "Police said the bomber detonated his explosives about 6:30 p.m. inside a tent where people were mourning a 60-year-old man from a Shiite family in Khalis, a flashpoint Shiite enclave in Diyala province, where U.S.-Iraqi forces have seen fierce fighting with Sunni and Shiite militants."  That appears to be the highest toll from a single bombing today; however, there were many other bombings in Iraq.
More than 30 -- in one bombing -- somehow becomes "at least 23" in today's New York Times.  The same Times' piece, Alissa J. Rubin states that 9 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  The true answer was 27.  When over 50 becomes "at least 22" when 27 corpses becomes 9, don't point to the peace movement.  Peter Hart was right, the problem is the media and the New York Times undercounting is only one more examples of the media failure.  (It should also be stated that when you go on a radio program and wrongly smear the peace movement -- as a 'friend,' you understand -- you should know your figures and to be 5,000 off the number reported in The Lancet study is embarrassing for anyone -- especially so for a mathematician.)
Picture yourself with a moral dilemma . . .  Camilo Mejia fought in Iraq.  Camilo Mejia returned to the US.  As he notes in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia -- The New Press released it today, he's haunted by a young man he shot in Iraq.  Returning to the US, looking at his own daughter, Mejia realized he couldn't continue to fight in the illegal war.  He self-checked out.  Before turning himself, he gave an interview to Dan Rather for CBS' 60 Minutes II (March 31, 2004) where he stated, "When you look at the war, and you look at the reasons that took us to war, and you don't find that any of the things that we were told that we're going to war for turned out to be true, when you don't find there are weapons of mass destruction, and when you don't find that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, and you see that you're not helping the people and the people don't want you there . . .  To me, there's no military contract and no military duty that's going to justify being a part of that war."  Today, Francisco Alvarado (Broward-Palm Beach New Times) covers Mejia's story which apparently requires including name-calling quotes like "mama's boy."  For the record, if someone wants to call Mejia a "mama's boy" that opens them up for name calling -- and if they're a "charity boy" because they couldn't support their own family, maybe they're in no position to cast stones as Mejia?  Maybe someone could tell the name caller that Mejia's not the enemy -- but the person devising and approving military pay scales may be.
Alvarado writes, "Camilo was the first soldier to go AWOL and publicly protest the war, but many others followed him.  There were 2,450 deserters in 2004, according to Army statistics released in early April.  The number rose to about 2,700 in 2005 and  3,300 last year.  Since the fiscal year began this past October 1, 871 soldiers have deserted.  The military has also amped up its prosecution of deserters.  From 2002 to 2006, prosecutions have more than doubled to an average of 390 per year."
Mejia, as Courage to Resist reports, will join with war resisters Pablo Paredes, Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This will be Aguayo's first publicly speaking appearances since being released from the brig earlier this month (April 18th).  The announced dates include:
Wednesday May 9 - Marin           
7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento        
Details TBA

Friday May 11 - Stockton    
6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.

Saturday May 12 - Monterey      
7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447

Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 
7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.

Monday May 14 - Watsonville           
7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto          
7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka  
7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland    
4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
They are all part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.  In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others.
It's getting better all the time . . .  In the May 2007 issue of The Progressive, two pages (20-21) of photos are devoted to protests around the world on the 4th annivesary of the illegal war including Jeff Patterson's photos of Iraq Veterans Against the War's street theater in DC to show the realities of war (Operation First Casualty) and Noah Berger's San Francisco photo of a man carrying a sing, "IM 88 THE WAR'S a Mistake! WWII VET".  Page 22 features 4 photos noting global actions for International Women's Day, two photos noting Sheetmetal LU 441 on strike in Pascagoula, Missippi.  Page 24 features 3 photos from the Port of Tacoma protests on March 6th ("Peace activists blockaded the port of Tacoma, where Stryker vehicles were awaiting shipment to Iraq on March 6.") and 4 photos from Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania's actions to "shut down Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Center, which develops military technology for the federal government."  Today is May Day (Labor Day in most countries around the world) and rallies in support of immigrant rights are taking place around the country.  Peter Prengaman (AP) goes with "thousands" to describe groupings around the country and notes that the turnout is expected to be smaller than in 2006 due to fear over new laws passed, fear of ICE and the general crackdown on immigrants that's gone largely unremarked on in big media.  Despite those fears, many people (immigrants and non-immigrants) are participating around the country, students are staging walk outs, voices are demanding to be heard.  Ramy Khalil and Philip Locker (Socialist Alternative) report on the April 18th Seattle walkout where "[o]ver 800 students walked out of schools" and that the action "culminated in a protest at a meeting of the School Board, calling for military recruiters be kicked out of our schools.  The students also protested the School District's plan to close 7 Seattle schools, calling instead for money for education, not war."
We were talking, about the space between us all . . . Matt Spetalnick (Reuters) reports that Bully Boy will veto the non-binding Congressional bill today "and will explain his actions to Americans in a statement from the White House".  Bully Boy explain his actions?  Americans have long waited for that but don't hold your breath.  As CBS and AP reported, in his infamous May 1, 2003 speech, Bully Boy declared that US actions in Iraq were a "victory in a war on terror."  Maybe he'll explain that as well?  This morning, Scott Shane (New York Times) reported: "Terrorists attacks against noncombatants nearly doubled in Iraq from 2005 to 2006" and that Iraq and Afghanistan are "where large numbers of American combat troops are deployed are also where terrorism is rising the fastest.  Terrorist attacks are up 91 percent in Iraq".  Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) notes: "Of the 14,338 reported terrorist attacks worldwide last year, 45 percent took place in Iraq, and 65 percent of the global fatalities stemming from terrorism occurred in Iraq.  In 2005, Iraq accounted for 30 percent of the world wide terrorist attacks."
I read the news today oh, boy . . .

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 4 and wounded 6 (Al Baia neighborhood), another Baghdad mortar attack (same neighborhood, later in the day) that left one person dead and two more wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack (Al Ealam neighborhood) that killed one person and left 7 wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack (Al Jihad) that killed one and wounded 6.

CBS and AP report: "Gunmen ambushed travelers on a highway leading from Baghdad to Shiite areas to the south on Tuesday, killing 14 people."  Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one Baghdad shooting death, and an attack in Khalouf that killed 3 and left 4 wounded.  Reuters reports a Mussayab drive-by that left three people dead.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad and a "chopped head of the kidnapped police Brigadier Abdullah Mustafa near Beiji.  Mustafa was kidnapped two days ago from Beiji town near his house."  Reuters reports 10 corpses discovered in Baquba.
The UK Ministry of Defense accounced: "It is weep deep sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier from the Royal Signals in Iraq this morning, 1 May 2007.  The soldier was riding a bicycle in the Contingency Operating Base at Basra Air Station when he was involved in a road traffic accident at approximately 0800 hrs local time.  He was evacuated by ambulance to the Field Hospital, but sadly died of his  inuries."
Nothing to do to save his life . . .  In Iraqi political news, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported today: "The largest bloc of Sunni Arabs in the Iraqi Parliament threatened to withdraw its ministers from the Shiite-dominated cabinet on Monday in frustration over the government's failure to deal with concerns. . . .  If the Sunni group followed through on its threat, it would further weaken a government already damaged by the pullout two weeks ago of six cabinet ministers aligned with the renegade Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr".  This as Arwa Damon (CNN) reports on allegations by the US and Iraqi military that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, "has created an entity within his government" which "is being used as a smokescreen to hide an extreme Shiite agenda that is worsening the country's sectarian divide."
For the benefit of Mr. Kite . . .  Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC), Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their  Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci.  Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.

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