Thursday, June 07, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, June 7, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the 3500 mark is passed, what is Turkey doing, and more.
The 3500 mark for US service members who have died in the Iraq war was passed yesterday but it takes AP (and others) a little longer to count. ICCC lists the current total as 3504. Don't expect to hear much about it or for it to lead to many pieces (or air time) exploring Iraq -- it's summer so it's time for All Things Media Big and Small to begin their summer breaks.
As with last summer -- or the 'coverage' of the 3,000 mark -- don't expect a great deal.  There's an election!  A cruise!  A summer rental!  And about fifty other 'fun' topics that will yet again grab all the attention. 
As media tries to covering their mouths while yawning, the illegal war drags on and it's up to the people to stop it.   Adam Kokesh did and is doing his part and maybe someday someone in little media other than Matthew Rothschild can provide some serious coverage?  That is it, for the record.  The Nation -- when you've got a cruise to pack for, you've got a cruise to pack for!  They can't do everything!  They can't even do one damn thing. But  Adam Kokesh has been standing up.  On Monday, he faced a hearing for engaging in street theater with other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War while he wore fatigues.  The recommendation was to recommend he be issued a general discharge.  Yesterday, his attorney Michael Lebowitz attempted to file an appeal but KMBC reports that the appeal was denied by Brig. Gen. and shrinking violet Darrell L. Moore who also has the "power" to decide whether the recommendation of general discharge goes forward or not.  Dave Helling (Kansas City Star) notes that "Moore can't increase Kokesh's punishment by issuing an other-than-honorable discharge."  Writing to Editor & Publisher, Tom Wieliczka points out that while Kokesh is punished for street theater, General Petey Pace is able to write a letter of support for convicted liar Scooter Libby and no one questions that "the hypocrisy of the military when it comes to the 'grunts' vs the 'generals' when both of them use their first amendment rights."
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, 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, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Turning to the issue of Turkey? Did they or didn't they?  Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Khalid W. Hassan (New York Times) obeserved that the Turkish military was reported to state yesterday that "thousands of soldiers crossed the border [into Iraq] in pursuit of members of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or P.K.K." but that "American and Turkish officials quickly denied those reports".  Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports that Turkish troops did enter "northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas" causing the US concern "that its entanglement in Iraq is about to become even more complicated if American troops and aircraf are asked to counter even a limited Turkish assault."  China's Xinhua reports US State Department's flack Sean McCormak declaring, "Bottom line it for you, (I) don't think there's any substance to it.  Our ambassador in Ankara, Ross Wilson, went in and talked to the Turkish General Staff, they said the reports weren't accurate."  Turkish Daily News states the PKK killed 7 Turkish soldiers on Monday and wounded 6 yesterday.  The Turkish Daily News also notes that the country's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Levent Bilman, declared yesterday that "the Turkish Republic is ready for anything any time."  Lebanon's Daily Star reports that the border crossing happened, quotes a Turkish military official characterizing it as "a hot pursuit, not an incursion," and quotes their third Turkish official stating that "600 commandos entered Iraq and were backed up by several thousand troops along the border.  He said the commandos raided Iraqi territory across from the Turkish border town of Cukurca before dawn after rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] opened fire from Iraqi soil on Turkish patrols." Audio on this topic can be found on Thursday's Flashpoints (KPFA) where Robert Knight covered it in his "Knight Report" at the start of the program noting that Jabar Yawir declared, "This afternoon ten Turkish helicopters landed in a village in Mazouri, which is 2 miles inside the Iraqi border.  They landed with around 150 Turkish special forces."  Scott Peterson (Christian Sciene Monitor) notes the "hot pursuit" reports as well as: "Analysts say news of the raid is a warning to both the US and Iraqi Kurds, nominally in control in northern Iraq, to clamp down on the PKK, which has waged a fight for a homeland in southeast Turkey since 1984. Peterson also notes that ill will is building and cites Metehan Demi ("Ankara bureau chief of Turkey's Sabah newspaper and a military speciailist") noting, "The Americans are not doing things deliberately.  But the Americans are not acting as much as they can [to control the PKK in northern Iraq], according to Turkey. . . .  When any Turkish soldier dies, immediate focus [lands] on the US -- this is the public view, that the US is not acting sincerely for Turkey as an ally."  Patrick Seale (Agence Global via Pacific Free Press) maintains, "Turkey is dangerously close to launching a full-scale war across its eastern border into northern Iraq.  The aim would be to wipe out the bases of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), destroy once and for all the party's separatist ambitions, and put an end to cross-border terrorist attacks and hit-and-run raids by the PKK, which have inflamed nationalist opinion in Turkey."  The BBC notes the establishment of "temporary security zones" by Turkey "near its border with Iraq, where it has already deployed extra forces."  Vincent Boland (Financial Times of London via MSNBC) notes that troop build up will result in "special security measures in three provinces close to the border with Iraq" and that the approximately "100,000 Turkish troops" have led to "intense speculation that they are preparing for a large-scale incursion."  Suzan Fraser (AP) observes that "temporary security zones" has not been clarified; however, it may mean that "the areas would be off limits to civilian flights.  Others said the zones meant that additional security would be implemented, and entry into the regions would be restricted and tightly controlled" presumably through September 9th which the Turkish military has announced as the projected end date. As the details are discussed and debated, only Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) notes the upcoming "referendrum . . . to be held on the future of the oil province of Kirkuk before the end of this year."
Meanwhile, tensions rise in Iraq as the BBC reports that Iraqi's Islamic Party (Sunni) states that two Sunni Baghdad mosques were attacked by Shi'ite "militiamen, backed by commando troops, [who] raised their banners over the Rahman and Fataah Basha mosques." 
AFP reports 9 dead and twenty-two injured from a truck bombing in Rabiaa. AFP also reports a bombing in Ramadi that killed 2 people and wounded six  and a Baghdad car bombing ("northwestern Shiite district of Talbiyah") that left 4 dead and fourteen injured.  Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an east Bagdhad car bombing that killed 5 people (fifteen wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that left 1 person dead and nine more wounded and notes the Baghdad car bombing's death toll had risen to 5 and that it involved two car bombs.  Reuters notes that a roadside bombing outside Tikrit wounded two bodyguards of "a senior pollice officer".
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Iraqi soldiers wounded from gunfire in Baghdad,  Reuters reports 8 "suspected insurgents" were shot dead by Iraqi soldiers.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that journalist Sahar al-Haidari was shot dead as she was "waiting for a taxi" in Mosul today: "She was attacked by gunment who pulled up in a car and opened fire" and had worked for Voice of Iraq.  China's Xinhua reports that Sahar al-Haidari used fake names to avoid attacks and that she was mother of three children.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 32 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 5 corpses discovered in Falluja and 2 in Mahmudiya.
The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced today: "It is with much sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier from 4th Battalion The Rifles, in southern Iraq today, Thursday 7 June 2007.  The soldiers was part of a patrol conducting a search and detention opertaion in the Al Atiyah district, north west of Basra City at about 0220 local time when he was shot by small arms fire."
The US military announced today: "A Multi-National Divison - Baghdad Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations in a southwestern section of Baghdad June 6."
Turning to political news, rotund talk show host Ed Schultz got a lot of mileage out of trashing Hillary Clinton (something he no doubt did very often before his recent conversion to the 'left') back in January of this year, whining her staff was rude and immediately putting a photo of himself with Barack Obama up at his website -- then going on to trash Hillary regularly. Call it karama, but BuzzFlash has posted an explanation of why their recent wide ranging interview with Randi Rhodes (The Randi Rhodes Show) will not be followed by an interview Schultz: " arranged two interview times with Ed Schultz's producers.  Schultz stood us up for both appointments.  The producer then asked if we would call back next week and he 'might' be able to arrange something.  We responded that, considering the blow offs by Ed and our shortage of time, it was up to Ed to call us on our BuzzFlash interview phone line at his convenience." 
Meanwhile, Obama's gotten a ton of attention -- none of it serious -- for a (bad) speech given earlier this week.  Speaking Tuesday at Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia), Obama delivered a speech billed by some as being on the Iraq war, poverty and race.  Strangely, in the long winded speech, Iraq gets three mentions (four if you count "Iraqi") while God and Jesus are mentioned at least 19 times.  On Iraq and US senators and 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, Bob Geary (Raleigh Durham Independent) observes the antics of "those two brave presidential candidates who say they want the war to end" by noting:
But Sunday night, Edwards called them out for their lack of leadership on the issue, and he was right. Clinton and Obama finally did cast the "correct" vote, but not until the last possible minute, each apparently waiting for the other to take a stand before finally, with the vote clock running down, Obama entered the chamber and voted no, after which Clinton, rushing in, also voted no.
Until that moment, however, neither Clinton nor Obama had said a word about the bill, what was wrong with it, or that anything was wrong with it or with the Democratic leadership. They are the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Think they might've had some influence over what the Senate bill said if, that is, they'd wanted any influence?
In the new issue of The Progressive (June 2007), Ruth Conniff looks at Obama mania, the empty suit behind it (pp. 14-15, "Obama's Kenney Bid") and notes of his highly hyped latest book: "Less inspring, in his best-selling book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama stakes out the middle ground between political poles he describes as right and left 'extremes.'  He associates Rush Limbaugh with one and NPR with the other.  This 'truth is in the middle' canard, designed to appeal to apological swing voters, is depressing for progressives."  And depressing for reality because who but the most Fox-ified right-winger would put out the b.s. that NPR is extreme liberal?  As Conniff observes, he owes a huge debt to "Third Way" and triangulation.  In the Sunday debate, John Edwards (rightly) pointed out that though Clinton and Obama voted "no" to the supplemental, they didn't canvas for it or attempt to build support.  He stated that was not leadership to which Obama whimpered that Edwards was "about four and a half years late on leadership on this issue" as if that would excuse the cowardly behavior by Obama or Clinton.  If Edwards is late to the party, he was present this year.  Where has Obama been?  Ducking outside to have a smoke?  The way he's spent the bullk of his public life after allowing his campaign to unearth trash on his only serious opponent in 2004?  Obama can bore everyone with his double-speak and his 'inspirational' sermonettes, but he's yet to offer the American people anything they couldn't find inside a Hallmark card.  And those giving him a pass on his nonsense aren't helping the Democratic Party.  (Though Katrina's former coffee fetcher's work for the campaign does provide unintentionally hilarious laughs.)
In news of contractors, Editor & Publisher's "Documents Emerge Two Years After Col. Westhusing's Controversial Suicide in Iraq" explores the suicide from two years ago of Col. Ted Westhusing whose suicide note ends:
I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. I trust no Iraqi. I cannot live this way. All my love to my family, my wife and my precious children. I love you and trust you only. Death before being dishonored any more.
More on Westhusing's suicide can be found at
In media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"
Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). Today, June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, click here or e-mail" He will also be interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Thursday June 7th.

June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at:
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.

Don't get soaked. Take a quick peak at the forecast
with theYahoo! Search weather shortcut.