Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Other Items

More than 50 other Iraqi civilians and security force members were killed or found dead Monday, police said. In the Shiite district of Bayaa in Baghdad, mortar fire killed a family of five, raising tensions in an area where a car bombing Sunday killed more than 40 people. In Diyala province, armed men stormed homes and killed 12 people. Police found 22 unidentified, bullet-riddled bodies in Baghdad and eight others in Diyala.

Lloyd asked that we open with the above. It's from Karin Brulliard's "Bombs Kill 20 in Sunni Insurgent Stronghold" (Washington Post) and sees it as "the antidote to the math impaired Alissa" J. Rubin ("Suicide Bombers Kill 25 Near Ramadi, Dealing Blow to Recent Gains Against Insurgents"is Rubin's latest miscount and we noted it this morning here). The Times' Rubin has a real problem with counting but so does the Times itself. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that at least 68 died.

In this morning's New York Times, Kirk Semple's "Alliance Built on a Commandeered House" covers Hamed Moussa Khalaf who built his home/villa beginning in 1991 only to see it grabbed by the US military in the current illegal war and turned into "barracks." Grabbed, the US military dickers with the 74-year-old man's request of $40,000 for the furnishings in the house and pay him a disgusting $2,000 for rent. An 11 room villa. $2,000 a month, that's not so bad, right? The $2,000 is a year's rent. From the article:

As they spoke, the sheik's eyes flicked around the room, tracking the movement of the soldiers and taking in the alterations and damge: the thick electrical cables run through holes in the walls, scuff marks on the plaster, captured weapons -- including a rusty surface-to-air missile launcher -- hung like trophies. All the windows had been punched out, filled with sandbags and covered with plywood.

Semple mars an otherwise strong article due to a need to tell readers what most Iraqis want. Now does Semple know that? No. Semple doesn't even speak to some Iraqis. Stringers for the paper speak to more Iraqis than do actual reporters. What do they want, these mythical Iraqis that Semples cites? The US to stay. That's a nice little myth. It mars an otherwise strong article. (For the record, the Times wouldn't necessarily be better informed if their reporters could speak to Iraqis. To believe that you'd have to believe that Iraqis would trust reporters from the same country that occupies them, reporters already seen as an arm of the military.)

Martha notes Jonathan Weisman and Thomas E. Ricks' "September Could Be Key Deadline in War" (Washington Post):

Congressional leaders from both political parties are giving President Bush a matter of months to prove that the Iraq war effort has turned a corner, with September looking increasingly like a decisive deadline.
In that month, political pressures in Washington will dovetail with the military timeline in
Baghdad. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, has said that by then he will have a handle on whether the current troop increase is having any impact on political reconciliation between Iraq's warring factions. And fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1, will almost certainly begin with Congress placing tough new strings on war funding.
"Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September," said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). "I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me."
"September is the key," said
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense. "If we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration."

Well cue up the stereo to Carole King's "It Might As Well Rain Until September." So, pols want us to believe, come September, shirt sleeves will be rolled up and it will be time to get work. Good thing the illegal war just started, right? Thank goodness it's not something that had dragged on year after year . . .

Brenda notes the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter's "Former Marine sent to jail:"

The former Manitowoc County Marine recruiter was sentenced in Manitowoc County Circuit Court today to one year in jail after being convicted of false imprisonment.
Donny Rage, 30, now living in New Orleans, will also spend three years on probation. He faced 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

According to authorities, Rage used his position as a Marine recruiter to gain the trust of two females and took advantage of them.
According to a criminal complaint, Rage groped the younger victim in his South Eighth Street recruiting office and, on a second occasion, attempted to have sex with her after her boyfriend passed out at a party.
The girl said she "was very scared and felt threatened," the complaint says.

More common than we'll ever know and part of the culture created (and not addressed -- maybe in September!) that has led to the assualts on many women serving in the US military, assaults by males serving alongside them. Suzanne Swift? Congress refused their oversight duties, they looked the other way. Swift's story isn't an uncommon one. You can refer to Jane Hoppen's "Women in the Military: Who's Got Your Back?" and Allison Tobey's "Serving in the Rape Zone" (Off Our Backs) for more on the issue and you can visit Suzanne Swift's site for more on what still needs to be done for Swift to receive justice. (My take? Honorable discharge immediately, with full benefits, and a public apology from the US military.)

Mike notes Michael Schwartz' "The Struggle Over Iraqi Oil: Eyes Eternally on the Prize" (TomDispatch via Common Dreams):

The struggle over Iraqi oil has been going on for a long, long time. One could date it back to 1980 when President Jimmy Carter -- before his Habitat for Humanity days -- declared that Persian Gulf oil was "vital" to American national interests. So vital was it, he announced, that the U.S. would use "any means necessary, including military force" to sustain access to it. Soon afterwards, he announced the creation of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, a new military command structure that would eventually develop into United States Central Command (Centcom) and give future presidents the ability to intervene relatively quickly and massively in the region.
Or we could date it all the way back to
World War II, when British officials declared Middle Eastern oil "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination," and U.S. officials seconded the thought, calling it "a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."
The date when the struggle for Iraqi oil began is less critical than our ability to trace the ever growing willingness to use "any means necessary" to control such a "vital prize" into the present. We know, for example, that, before and after he ascended to the Vice-Presidency, Dick Cheney has had his eye squarely on the prize. In 1999, for example, he told the Institute of Petroleum Engineers that, when it came to satisfying the exploding demand for oil, "the Middle East, with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies." The mysterious Energy Task Force he headed on taking office in 2001 eschewed conservation or developing alternative sources as the main response to any impending energy crisis, preferring instead to make the Middle East "a primary focus of U.S. international energy policy." As part of this focus, the
Task Force recommended that the administration put its energy, so to speak, into convincing Middle Eastern countries "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment" -- in other words, into a policy of reversing 25 years of state control over the petroleum industry in the region.
Energy Task Force set about planning how to accomplish this historic reversal. We know, for instance, that it scrutinized a detailed map of Iraq's oil fields, together with the (non-American) oil companies scheduled to develop them (once the UN sanctions still in place on Saddam Hussein's regime were lifted). It then worked jointly with the administration’s national security team to find a compatible combination of military and economic policies that might inject American power into this equation. According to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, the National Security Council directed its staff "to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: 'the review of operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'"
While we cannot be sure that this planning itself was instrumental in setting the U.S. on a course toward invading Iraq, we can be sure that plenty of energy was being expended in Washington, planning for the disposition of Iraq’s massive oil reserves once that invasion was successfully executed. In 2002, just a year after Cheney's Task Force completed its work, and before the U.S. had officially decided to invade Iraq, the
State Department "established a working group on oil and energy," as part of its "Future of Iraq" project. It brought together influential Iraqi exiles, U.S. government officials, and international consultants. Later, several Iraqi members of the group became part of the Iraqi government. The result of the project's work was a "draft framework for Iraq's oil policy" that would form the foundation for the energy policy now being considered by the Iraqi Parliament.

On today's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviews Carol Sobel (National Lawyers Guild) about the attacks on peaceful protesters in Los Angeles last week when they rallied for immigration rights. (Also attacked were journalists.) And one of Cedric's favorite voices, Michael Parenti, is also a guest on today's broadcast. Due to fundraising at various places, Democracy Now! may not broadcast today's episode in full at some outlets. If you miss something, remember that you can listen, watch or read (transcripts) online.

Bonnie e-mailed about the earlier post. Yes, I was planning to note more comments from members; however, I checked the public account and we ended up with the fancies of a reporter that will now be made into a film. For the record, by refusing to address the issue, the paper could be liable. If the studio was sued, the studio could turn around and sue the New York Times since it can be proven that the paper refused to address the various problems with a report they printed. The report is the only thing that interested the studio to begin with and part of the 'selling' was that a major paper was running it -- indicating that it had been vetted. Now mistakes are made and that's understandable. But when the paper has been contacted by people about the problems with that article, people who knew Charles King, and the paper has refused to respond, they have left themselves open to any lawsuits brought and they have also left themselves open to a studio suing them.

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