Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kat's Korner: Holly Near Shows Up


Kat: "Where are the reviews?"

That's the refrain in the e-mails of late.

Week before last, we were all headed to a book event. Dona asks C.I., "Ruth knows she's not doing a report, right?"

Ruth's benched. The week in TX. The week driving down there with Treva, Rebecca, Flyboy and Ruth's grandson Elijah. The week coming back. Busy times. Tired.

I'm crouching low like it's 8th grade math, trying not to get called on. Easiest thing in the world is to say, "I'll do a review for Saturday."

Actually, easiest thing in the world is to stay silent and keep crouching.

So that's what I do.

I'm not off music. Yeah, there's a lot of residual anger over Tower closing. But there are two new CDs I'm listing to pretty often. Thinking maybe there's a review in one of them. Thinking 'bout all the e-mail coming in with the question: "Where are the reviews?". Thinking bout how I excel at putting things off.

Always have.

Aunt used to sneer I'd be late for my own funeral. One day she pissed Mom off who snapped back, "No, she'll outlive us all because she'll keep death waiting."

We'd arrived at the bookstore. Hurrying inside, I gave silent thanks to all the fallen saints: Cass, Janis, Jimi, Jim, John, Kurt, Nina . . .

Same weekend, we're working on what's becoming a tough piece for The Third Estate Sunday Review. We're spit balling and stalling, maybe some of the boys are free balling? I don't know. I do know I'm hitting a wall and voices over the phone are as well. Looking at the faces of Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava, it's obvious they are as well.

All of the sudden, in one of those bits of brilliance, C.I. leaves the circle to stop the music we'd been listening to and put a new CD on.

What the hell is that?

I can't place the voice, but it's an interesting way to start an album. It's sort of like children skipping, the sort of thing Cyndi Lauper did when she made a name for herself, back before everyone just knew the best thing for Lauper was to have arrangements like everyone else. (Those who predate Lauper's music should think of "Once Was A Time I Thought" by the Mamas and the Papas -- enjoyable but not obvious track.) Track one gets going and I'm not thinking what an interesting opening of track one, I'm thinking, "Damn, great song." I'll later learn it's "Family Band." Right now, I'm in the dark as track two comes on.

Half-way in, it will hit me that it's Holly Near. It'll come like a "Well of course the sun rose this morning" thought as I'm listening to:

And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned by the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail

"Somebody's Jail" is the name of track two, as I'll learn quickly enough. At the time, I'm just thinking of how it seems to be capturing a number of thoughts we're having. Is it too much to crib from Roberta Flack's second big hit and say it was like our diaries had been found and each word read out loud? It's like universal truth being spoken for the first time only it's being sung and it's an amazing song.

Paul van Wageningen deserves special credit for the drum work on this wonderful song. Many more amazing songs will follow. I quickly learn, that first listen, never to tell myself, "Okay, that's my favorite song." A week of listening to this CD pretty much non-stop and I'd argue my favorite song is the last one, "Oh River."

Near's got backup vocals on some songs. On this one she doesn't. I wondered if her voice was double tracked but there's no indication of that. It's got this power on this chorus that seems impossible to be coming from just one voice. The wanting future she sings of ("Someday I will fly so high . . .," "Someday I will dance so far . . .," and "Someday I will sing so high . . .,") are sung in fine voice. But when she digs into "Oh river take it on down, take it on down, take it on down . . ." it's with so much power it feels like she's been joined with a chorus of voices.

She wrote "Oh River" and "Somebody's Jail." She sings other people's songs on the album. She does a wonderful job with Jackson Browne's "Lives In The Balance" but I've always felt that was pretty much a fool proof song as long as someone didn't put an accordion onto it. She does a fine job with Jane Siberry's "Bound By The Beauty" and with the centuries old folk song "Drunken Sailor." But Laura Love's "I Want You Gone Too" is the one I still marvel over. Near's added some words and they only enhance the song. It's a kiss off song, it's a political song, it's a pissed off song.

With Michael Butler, John Bucchino and Jan Martinelli, Near's written the title track which, in the opening, pays respects to "Jailhouse Rock." Threw me for a few seconds, but aren't we all living in someone's jail these days?

At a time when the New York Times decides enough has been written about the fact that MP3s are today's singles and the market has shifted back to singles that the paper can finally weigh in, Show Up is the sort of the album that reminds you why one song wasn't enough back in the day.
One song isn't enough for this sort of broad vista. A pick of a few personal favorites might get you a best of collection but it's not going to provide the shadings and additional meanings that a real artist at the top of her game can do.

The tension in "It's About Time," the intensity of "Drunken Sailor" lead up the release that is "Oh River." MP3s, like singles before them, can be wonderful candy, but for a meal you need a real landscape and for a wonderful meal you need someone who knows what to add where to enhance the entire experience. "Rockin'" is an obvious description for Show Up but, if I can drop back a little further, I think "cookin'" describes it equally well.

Put on the CD and grasp that despite all the talk of new formats, of mergers and panic, the whole thing comes down to music. That may not make the Stats Boys, always eager to flash the back of their baseball cards, happy but then they probably aren't urging to listen to anything that's not in this week's top ten. ("With a bullet!") I am. And if you're looking for a musical experience, you'll find it on Holly Near's Show Up.

Ruth's Report

Ruth: I read a few e-mails on the way back from Texas. As I read them, I thought, "Well it's a good thing C.I. said take the weekend off." I hoped, like many, that what the e-mails were complaining about, would quickly be corrected.

As my granddaughter Tracey would shout, "Wrong!"

Let me emphasize the positive. For a real discussion you could have caught Flashpoints all week long, WBAI's Law and Disorder addressed the topic with on Monday, CounterSpin this weekend, WBAI's Wake Up Call Radio on Wednesday, Monday on KPFK's Connect The Dots with Lila Garrett and RadioNation with Laura Flanders right now as I type. Robert Knight delivers "The Knight Report," Monday through Thursday, on Flashpoints. If you're unable to listen to archived broadcasts, C.I.'s typed up Monday's report in "Other Items (Robert Knight's commentary)", Tuesday's report in "Other Items (Robert Knight's commentary)" and Wednesday's report in "Other Items (Robert Knight's commentary)."


Mia wrote, of KPFA, "I have no idea what I'm listening to but it really doesn't strike me as news." She wrote that this week. I have no idea what it was either. Or, sadly, frequently Democracy Now! this past week.

Now if you have ever heard a Judith Miller or Michael Gordon defend their 'reporting,' you're familiar with the excuse. It goes like this, "Well I did cover it!" Often, if you check the article, they, in fact, did. At the bottom of an article where most readers never saw it. They led with the spin and possibly offered an alternative view after they had already created an impression.

So, for review, neither the Senate nor the House passed bills that will "Bring the troops home."
They both passed legislation that, provided the Bully Boy agrees to play fair and respect the will of the people, might ideally allow for half to come home. His escalation means the number of US troops stationed in Iraq will have reached 180,000. The ones the bills urge Bully Boy to bring home are "combat troops." Troops can be reclassified, they can be said to be fighting al Qaeda, there are any number of loopholes in the overly lauded bills.

There is no teeth in either bill. In fact, I think they should be called the "Gums Bills." Lot of gums flapping over nothing.

What the bills do, which really is not open to debate, is continue to fund the illegal war.

But it was very hard to hear that by listening to the radio. How many times did we hear, and I am talking about Pacifica Radio, did we hear that the Senate bill or the House bill would bring the troops home? It seemed that the outcry finally prompted the use of the term "nonbinding."
Why an outcry was needed to prompt that is beyond me.

When Judith Miller and Michael Gordon brought you spin, it really did not matter that at the bottom of their articles they might have presented a qualifier. By the same token, "non-binding" does not really begin to cover the bills which have been treated as though they were passed by the peace movement on far too much Pacifica Radio coverage.

Another obvious point was how many programs took a pass on addressing the criticism of the bills. You might hear the words "some critics" in a news bulletin, but there was not time to explore the realities of the bill. As Zach wrote, "I like Rebecca Walker, I enjoy her mother's writing even more, but I really did not need a lengthy interview exploring her pregnancy at a time when KPFA was refusing to address the realities of what Congress was doing. I'm sure Walker's book is interesting and glad she wrote it but I really don't think it was the main topic that needed discussing this week nor do I think that, when so many women in Iraq are under attack, it was appropriate since that topic continues to be largely avoided by KPFA." Megan wrote noting a supposed Iraq segment, promoted as such, that had nothing to do with Iraq when it aired live. It had to do with Iran, an important topic, but it had nothing to do with Iraq. Megan wrote, "Let me echo C.I. on this: Where are the regular guests: Antonia Juhasz, Medea Benjamin, John Stauber, Phyllis Bennis, Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, Norman Solomon, etc.? Seems to me that everyone who has used their voice to speak the truth about the bill have been strangely absent from KPFA for the last two weeks." I can speak of last week because I did listen but the week prior I was on the road. I asked Kat and C.I. and was told Antonia Juhasz could be heard two Mondays ago so obviously she was reachable then. She was protesting on the anniversary of the start of the illegal war but suddenly she vanished from KPRA airwaves just as the first weak bill passed the House of Representatives. Somehow, KPFA appears to have lost her number.

KPFA's purpose is not to cheer the Democratic Party or to be disingenuous with the listeners when covering the Democratic Party. I have no idea why the news staff offered one embarrassment after another. I do think it comes back to the point that Kat and C.I. have been making for years now: All this time later KPFA still offers no program that is devoted to Iraq.

If they did, they would have some in house experts to utilize. That does not that mean they would use them, last week did not provide us with any discussions about the Iraq bills from voices who can usually get air time. But if, for instance, Sandra Lupien's slot at KPFA was Iraq, if she hosted a program on the topic, even only a weekly show, she would be listening to the coverage that we heard and thinking, "I need to call the station because that's not really what the bills do."

I enjoy listening to KPFA, usually, and the other Pacifica Radio stations; however, I have no problems calling something out if I think it needs to be. Like most members, I am fully aware that if C.I. is calling something out, it means it is something members are bringing up repeatedly. So, knowing how C.I. loves KPFA, when I started seeing the criticism appearing here while we were on the road coming back from Texas, I knew before I read a single e-mail that there was a problem brewing that the community felt needed attention.

Has it been any better this week? I stop listening each day after Flashpoints went off. That happened mid-week as I heard the evening news offer too often the "Troops come home" nonsense. Each morning, I would check out The Morning Show with high hopes and, after the first news break dashed those hopes, find something else to listen to.

Neither bill brings all US troops home. Neither bill is binding. Neither bill defunds the war. Neither bill calls on the Bully Boy to get Congressional approval before declaring war on Iran. We can argue that Bully Boy cannot declare war on Iran because only Congress has the power to declare war but the way he has used the War Powers Act of 2001 makes such an argument a waste of time. Neither bill says "No permanent basis in Iraq." Neither bill opposes the privatization of Iraq.

Those things really are not in dispute. It is not surprising to hear Democratic Party Hacks spin the bill. It is not even surprising, at this late date, to see The Nation write an embarrassing editorial. That editorial, posted online late Thursday, was pointed out to me by my grandson Jayson who printed it up to carry it to school so he and his friends could laugh at The Nation which is apparently one of the more popular crazes on campuses across the country among politically minded students. Independence rarely is found in the pages of The Nation these days. The snap-thoughts journal now exists mainly to promote the Democratic Party.

It is like expecting the news breaks on Air America Radio to provide you with reality which is why I just rolled my eyes at the start of the second hour of Ms. Flanders' show when Frank Sullivan promoted both a "timeline for troop withdrawal" and that Iran had "kidnapped" British soldiers. Soldiers are not "kidnapped," they are "captured."

But KPFA and Pacifica do have actual news staff. Leigh Ann Caldwell, who covers DC for Free Speech Radio News and the Pacifica network, seemed to have little grasp of the news when it came to the bills in question. Appearing as a guest Wednesday on WBAI's Wake Up Call Radio, Ms. Caldwell stated, "I know it doesn't go as far as many Democrats would like in cutting the funding."

Does not go as far in cutting the funding? It does not cut any of the funding. How does a news correspondent fail to grasp that? Bully Boy's request for the latest stage of funding the illegal war was met by both houses of Congress. To suggest otherwise is to be, as my granddaughter Tracey would put it, "WRONG!" I was also confused as to which Democrats she was referring to and whether she was reducing the populace to one of the two major party groups?

But it was a confusing week. There are points of debate about either bill. There are also basic facts. I expect the news team to get the facts correct. When they do not, it troubles me, and I have no problem taking anyone to the woodshed. Ms. Caldwell and others have done strong work elsewhere but they have failed repeatedly in covering the bills in either house. To spread the blame around, except for the show mentioned at the top, the programs have failed to offer any conversation on the bills.

Ms. Flanders, tonight as I listen, has repeatedly made the point that this is a time for more action and more voices. She is correct. She is also correct that nothing would have happened without the pressure coming to bear. Congress did feel it.

The frustration and the rage that many listeners feel goes to the fact that the "news" did not qualify for news on the coverage of the bills. But there is also the very real concern that Democratic Party Hacks who rush to say "Be happy!" are, intentionally or not, attempting to lull people into thinking, "The Iraq war is now taken care of. Go home. Stop calling. Stop taking to the streets. The Democrats are on it."

That is not reality. But when spin by Party Hacks is not countered with reality by the news, that myth can take hold.

antonia juhasz

NYT: "Shiite Cleric Donemsn U.S. as His Militia Takes to Streets" (Edward Wong)

Religious leaders commanded by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr delivered a searing speech at Friday Prayer condeming the American presence in Iraq, while militamen loyal to Mr. Sadr engaged in street battles against Iraqi Army soldiers in south-western Baghdad, signaling a possible resurgence of the militia.
Mr. Sadr has ordered the Mahdi Army, the militia he controls, to lie low during the early days of the new Baghdad security paln so as not to provoke a direct confrontation with the Americans. With the speech on Friday, which the religious leaders attributed to Mr. Sadr, it appeared that he was continuing to walk a tighrope, not openly defying American and Iraqi government attempts to secure the capital, but still sharply critizing the United States presence in Iraq.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Shiite Cleric Condemns U.S. as His Militia Takes to Streets" in this morning's New York Times. Wong also notes that the US military has maintained that al-Sadr is in Iran but those close to him say he is in Iraq and that "at least 12" corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Friday. If the above seems important to you, not so to the Times which front pages a story, Dateline would be so proud!, on the injury increases/risks for cheerleaders.

We'll note this from Carl Hulse and Thom Shanker's "Army's War Funds Can Last Through July, Report Says:"

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has estimated that the Army has enough budget flexibility to pay for its military operations through July in the even that a standoff between the White House and Congress over Iraq holds up the money [. . .]

Thank you to Joan for sending ("for a good laugh") the kiss up to WalkOn. I guess there was extra time after ripping off writers and threatening children for a big long ass smooch to WalkOn? Joan notes that "17" appears to be the age that "made it personal" and thinks it's too bad the illegal war wasn't an issue at "16, 15, 14 or younger". Agreed. Interesting that none of the questions included: "With the American people against impeaching Bill Clinton and many fighting to stop the right dead in the tracks, why did you enable by offering censure -- which was seen as doing very real harm in the fight to derail the impeachment?" (Answer? Probably because it was "easy" and "attention getting." As noted before, friends in the Clinton White House were outraged and saw that as appeasement.)

Joan wondered if everyone was scared of WalkOn? No, some defenders and supporters are in bed with it. They hear that number bandied about (3 million!) and think, "If I could get some of that . . ." Reality is that WalkOn wishes they had 3 million members -- membership isn't that high today (that was the peak) and people signed up mulitple times (as different people using different e-mail accounts).

A community member who is supporting Hillary Clinton is bothered by a New York Times article. I'm not endorsing anyone (and "War Hawk" usually accompanies Hillary's name here -- She could change that by getting real on Iraq). But the Times article is nonsense. The handicappers who treat political campaigns as horse races follow the money. Bill Clinton is both a liability and an asset for Hillary's campaign. She'd be foolish to hide him away because those who want to critique Bill Clinton (and there are valid critiques of him) will do so regardless of whether he campaigns for her or not. She's playing in a corrupt field (fundraising) and anyone who thought she wouldn't (or that the majority of candidates wouldn't) was kidding themselves.
She has every right to use Bill Clinton in her fundraising efforts. The Times article -- and note its worship of the money and how it doesn't address one issue about the campaigns other than money -- appears to think it was out of bounds for Hillary to deploy Bill Clinton so early. It was smart on her part because she knows this quarter's fundraising (ends today for anyone planning to contribute to any presidential candidate) will be worth two weeks worth of 'reporting' and will be mentioned throughout the campaign. The fundraising is disgusting and the press' coverage is as well. But in terms of Hillary, she's playing on the same field others the press promotes are and there's nothing wrong or evil about her allowing Bill Clinton to fundraise for her. It's smart and the Times can play shocked but the only whining really comes from other campaigns who wish they were able to get Bill Clinton to fundraise for them. I'll fault her for many things (Iraq being the biggest one) but the psuedo shock of the Times is a put on.

I'll also address the issue of the "big squeeze." Poor baby. One whiner complains that it's a big squeeze and it's too much for him. I have friends working for Hillary's campaign and they all know I'm not giving a cent to anyone supporting the war. If the little baby is having problems with being hit up for money it's because he's not speaking clearly to the campaign, just whining in the press.

I think we need real campaign finance reform. We don't have it and Hillary's using every asset she has is smart and nothing to be shocked over. Ahnuld used Maria during the campaign because she's a very strong asset and there wasn't shock over that. It's a double standard and goes to the Times long hatred of Hillary. Bill Clinton is beloved by many and hated by some (some might feel it should go the other way). Their marriage is no hidden secret and the press has never had a problem running smears on it. They've stood together before and there's nothing wrong with her using his fundraising strengths. (She has her own fundraising strengths and is using those as well.)

So for that member (who wants to go unnamed) and any other who is supporting Hillary, if an article bothers you about her policies or politics, consider that. An article that endorses the money race (which the paper does by covering it -- and not the policies candidates are advocating)? Realize it's a cheap smear.

I'll take her to task for many things but her fundraising efforts demonstrate that she grasps the system (a system that needs to be changed) and is mastering it. Some on the left will, no doubt, disagree with that. Unless it's an article on the system or the fact that all the designated 'major' candidates are playing in the same system, we won't note it here. I want to be clear because someone will say "She's mastering the greed system" or something to that effect. She's mastering the same system that Biden, Obama and the other 'majors' are. Holding her up for ridicule because she's doing it better doesn't reveal a flaw in her, it just underscores that other candidates who are defining the race through money are having trouble holding their own. It should also be noted that her fundraising efforts for her campaign are no different than the same ones she used in 2002 and 2004 to help other candidates and there was no "OH NO!"s uttered then. And when she and her husband used their one-two punch, it was cause for celebration. Apparently, a female politician is allowed to do that for others but supposed to refrain from doing it for herself -- it's sexism.

Find one section of the article rejecting the current system of furndraising? You can't. The article endorses it but wants to take Hillary to task for being good at ("good" is probably too weak -- she's a proven fundraiser). If you endorse the system, and the Times does by covering it -- each election cycle -- as one of the most important 'issues' -- you really should be focusing on the 'majors' who have chosen that race but can't keep up.

It's the weekend which means RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST) takes to the airwaves on Air America Radio, XM radio and online. Here's some of what's in store for the two weekend shows:

The Bush administration's ducking and covering as if Nixon never happened while in progressive ranks, there's a lot of learning going on. Author, radio host, DEEPA FERNANDES, at the immigrants' rights movement since Cesar Chavez’s day and Nation magazine contributor, CHRISTOPHER PHELPS investigates the revival of Students for a Democratic Society and what they are taking from the original SDS to create a dynamic contemporary student protest movement today.
MONET OLIVER DePLACE, of Billionaires for Bush believes he knows why the New York Police Department spied on his group before and during the 04 Republican National Convention. We'll find out. [. . .] The Nation's ESTHER KAPLAN reflects on 20 years of ACT UP! Election protection expert and RadioNation alum STEVE ROSENFELD and FRANCES MOORE LAPPE joins Laura to launch the Blue Grit Forum, where listeners tells about progressive victories in their neighborhoods.

WBAI listners should note guests Esther Kaplan (Beyond the Pale) and Deepa Fernandes (Wake Up Call). [Beyond the Pale airs Sundays at noon EST. I don't know of an individual website for the show. Rachel, Micah, Jonah and other community members who are WBAI listenrs will quickly steer us to it if there is one.] Rachel notes she was out the door last Saturday before the e-mail came in, but here are two upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- over the airwaves in the NYC area (and beyond) and also available online (times given are EST):

Sunday, April 1, 11am-noon
Author, actor, raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, April 2, 2-3pm
Spiritual leader Agnes Baker Pilgrim, one of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, talks about a new book, "Grandmothers Counsel the World"; activist-artists Joan Wile and Vinie Burroughs, founders of Grandmothers Against the War, talk about their expanding movement, Grandmothers for Peace International; and jazz vocalist Sachal Vasandani talks about his new CD, "Eyes Wide Open." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

And Marcia and Kayla both noted Margaret Kimberly's "Freedom Rider: Abortion Rights are Civil Rights" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) on Thursday:

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled that abortion rights were constitutionally protected. The Roe v. Wade decision was one of the most significant in the court's history and one of the most important for black people. Roe v. Wade is a perfect solution to the abortion controversy. It allows every woman to follow her own conscience, a principle that most Americans claim to support whole heartedly.
After 30 years of legal abortion, that right is now under assault across the nation. Religious conservatives have long planned to over turn Roe. They have been at work in state legislatures throughout the country, establishing
"trigger" mechanism legislation that would immediately outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court. Numerous states require waiting periods and specious warnings about mental and physical risks before abortions can be performed.
The South Carolina legislature is on the verge of passing a bill requiring women to see an
ultrasound image of the fetus before undergoing an abortion. They would then be forced to sign an affidavit swearing that they had seen the ultrasound. An African American legislator, Gilda Cobb-Hunter, summed up just one problem created by this needlessly meddlesome legislation. "You love them in the womb but once they get here, it's a different story."

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, March 30, 2007

Iraq snapshot

March 30, 2007.  Chaos and violence continues in Iraq, war resister Corey Glass appears before a supposed independent body, and the puppet of the occupation plays catch & release while the 'crackdown' again cracks up.
Starting with war resisters.  In Canada, a US war resister appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board today.  Matthew Chung (Toronto Star) reports that Corey Glass and his attorney, Jeffrey House, will attempt to argue that the Iraq war is illegal.  Chung notes: "Glass joined the National Guard in Indiana four years ago to, so he says, fill sand bags and help guard U.S. soil.  Instead he was sent to Iraq, a war he said he doesn't believe in.  He fled during a two-week leave."  So he says, Chung?  He's maintained that repeatedly including when he spoke at Tilley Hall Auditorium in October of last year "filling sand bags to stop a flood on American soil".  After self-checking out, Glass was underground for seven months before going to Canada and, during that time, the Army (which supposedly just waits for traffic violations to catch self-check outs) was visiting his parents, calling phone numbers trying to track him down.  As October started last year, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved.  However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed.  Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start of November, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back."  In September of last year, Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it.  If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would."  The supposed independent body of the Immigration and Review Board has refused to grant asylum thus far to every Iraq war resister who has come before it. 
Staying on war resistance, Joshua Key, who is in Canada with his wife Brandi Key and their children,  wrote, with Lawrence Hill, his story in the new book The Deserter's Tale which has been receiving favorable reviews across the political spectrum.  Karen Alego Krizman (Rocky Mountain News) is the latest to review the book and observes, "Key admits he believed the recruiter who promised he wouldn't have to go overseas or into combat if he joined the Army - mere months after 9/11. Couple this naivete with the steady dose of racism Key says the Army fed recruits and it's no wonder that abuses such as Abu Ghraib occur."  Paul Gessel (Ottawa Citizen) notes the Ottawa International Writers Festival from April 15-22 will include Lawrence hill, David Suzuki, Tom Harpur, Roy MacGregor and Barbara Gowdy and reports: "Hill is riding high this year with two books, one a novel about the slave trade called The Book of Negroes and the other a non-fiction story called The Deserter's Tale, about an American soldier who went AWOL while home on leave from fighting in Iraq.  That soldier, Joshua Key, is trying to obtain refugee status in Canada and will be joining Hill at the festival April 16."
On Monday, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees  took a look at Kyle Snyder and other war resisters who were making a life in Nelson British Columbia.  Cooper noted, "We all know the stories about Vietnam War-era deserters who fled to Canada.  But less well-known are the members of today's armed forces who are refusing to serve in Iraq.  Many have fled to the same town in Canada where they're being welcomed with open arms."  Thelma Gutierrez was the reporter for the segment.
Kyle Snyder: I joined when I was 19. . . I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud, I could just remember the look on the man's face.  . . .  I was a .50 cal. machine gunner and I was an escort for very high-ranking officials.  What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me. . . . I was first angry at that.  And then I became angry at the fact that there were no repercussions.  This -- there was nothing done to prevent this from happening again. . . . I made my decision off of the things that I personally witnessed in Iraq.  I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'I'm going to leave my country, I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on,' nobody does that. . . .  I can walk around shops here and, you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs.  I see community getting involved and getting together.  High schoolers come up and say, what can I do to support the anti-war movement?
Meanwhile, Canada's Chronicle Herald reports, "Police have initiated an investigation into" Snyder's arrest "which will be conducted by the Abbotsford police".  Snyder was pulled from the home he shares with Ryan and  Jen Johnson, the day before his wedding, arrested in his boxers and carried to a jail where he was held (still in his boxers) for several hours as a result of some sort of 'special' and 'unofficial' deal between the police and the US military.
Glass, Key, Snyder and Johnson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, 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 the United States, the press continues to believe that claims of a withdrawal garner more interest than headlines of "Some Troops May Come Home . . . Someday."  The realities were addressed on yesterday's Flashpoints:
Meanwhile in Washington the Senate a sort time ago passed a long discussed resolution that ties military funding to non-specific suggestions that President Bush accept the goal but not the requirement of removing less than half of the 150,000 US occupation troops from Iraq by the unenforceable deadline of March 2008.  Nevertheless, President Bush has promised a veto.  Today's 51 to 47 vote was mostly along party lines and now the Senate and House must resolve their respective legislation neither of which require a full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq till well after the installation of the next American president.  And that's some of the news this Thursday, March 29th, 2007.  From exile, I'm Robert Knight.
Robert Knight has been one of the consistent voices throughout. (Also on yesterday's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein interviewed the Washington Post's Peter Eisner.  Rebecca will be covering that late tonight.)  This week's CounterSpin (which began airing today) featured a discussion on the issue of what the US House and Senate bills actually state as opposed to the way the press has portrayed them.  Co-host Janine Jackson spoke with The Institute for Policy Studies Erik Leaver.  Leaver noted that
the bills' "terms of reference only are for combat troops and if you look at the current number of troops deployed in Iraq only half of them would be considered as are combat troops."  Jackson, noting reality versus coverage, asked, "Well then are some of the press characterizations or glosses of this as a withdrawal bill, it sounds as though that's not quite on the money?"  To which Leaver responded, "That's exactly correct."
Janine Jackson: Well looking at that broader context and we don't have much time left, the majority of the population want an end to the occupation and the war and media acknowledge that, it's their polls that show that, but it doesn't seem somehow guide the questions that they ask or the sources that speak to and I wonder in this case were there not other pieces of legislation that maybe came closer to what the public was calling for?  Was there no way for journalists to kind of put this in the context of: "Is this going to end the war sooner?"
Eric Leavler:  I think that is the missing element in the story.  Again, if the news media reported on: "This brings half the troops home" I think you would see a lot more public discontent about the bill and they would  perhaps I think there would be a lot more dissatisfied with Democrats than they are. 
Michael Shank (Foreign Policy in Focus) interviews US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich explains why he refused to vote 'yes' on the House bill, "It's very simple: the bill kept the war going.  I want to see this war end.  I have created, with the help of people who worked on security and peacekeeping missions for years, a plan to end the war.  It's embodied in H.R. 1234.  It would end the U.S. occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, establisha parallel process creating a peacekeeping and security force, reach out to the nations of the region and the international community for help -- something we won't get as long as we continue to occupy Iraq.  That plan is much more expansive and in the course of this interview I'd be happy to over it with you but in short, I oppose the resolution because it kept funding the war.  And I say we need to the war now.  Not a year from now, not two years from now, not five or ten years from now, but now."
"People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. Congress is now continuing that betrayal by failing [to] cut off funding for this unjustifiable war.

"Miliary Familes Speak Out renews our calls for Congress to use their 'power of the purse' to support our troops and de-fund the war. We call on Congres to fund our troops by funding a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and by funding care for our troops when they return home. This is the 'funding for troops' that is desperately needed.

"Leadership and courage, two character traits that our loved ones rely on every day as they put their lives on the line, seem to be in short supply on Capitol Hill. We hope that as the Supplemental Appropriations bill goes through the House-Senate Conference Committee and then back to the floors of the House and Senate, we will see our elected officials stand up for our troops and for our nation by ending the funds that allow this unjustifiable war to continue and providing the funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal and the care they need when they get home."
Richard W. Behan (CounterPunch) zeroes in on one aspect of both the Senate and the House's measures, the privatization of Iraq's oil law, defined by the Bully Boy and both houses of Congress as a 'benchmark' Iraqis must meet, "If passed, the law will make available to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell about 4/5's of the stupendous petroleum reserves in Iraq.  That is the wretched goals of the Bush Administration, and in his speech setting the revenue-sharing 'benchmark' Mr. Bush conscisously avoided any hint of it.  The legislation pending now in Washington requires the President to certify to Congress by next october that the benchmarks have been met -- specifically that the Iraqi hydrocarbon law has been passed.  That's the land mine: he will certify the American and British oil companies have access to Iraqi oil.  This is not likely what Congress intended, but it is precisely what Mr. Bush has sought for the better part of six years."  Steve Kretzmann (Oil Change) notes that the Iraqi oil unions were locked out of the drafting process but they are quite clear where they stand on the law: "The British and American oil companies were the first to obtain the concession to extract and invest Iraqi oil, nearly 80 years ago.  After Iraq got rid of this octopus network, these foreign oil companies have again attempted to dominate this important oil wealth, under numerous pretexts and invalid excuses."
The House and the Senate managed to endorse the privatization of Iraq's oil even if they didn't bother to address the malnutrition -- Cartias Internationalis reports "[o]ver 11 percent of newborn babies are born underweight in Iraq today," that one third of Iraqi children now suffer from malnutrition, and quotes President of Caritas Middle East North Africa Claudette Habesch stating, "Iraq has the second largest oil supplies in the world, but it has levels of poverty, hunger and underdevelopment comparble to sub-Saharan Africa.  The last four years, but in particular 2006, we have seen life get worser rather than better for the ordinary Iraqi.  And people are voting with their feet.  Everday 5000 people leave Iraq.  In 2007, one in ten Iraqis is expected to leave the country.  We are seeing minority groups such as Christians completely disappear from the country or leave their homes for safer areas."
And when someone tries to return?  Edward Wong and Ashley Gilbertson (New York Times -- Wong text, Gilbertson photos) report on Suaada Saadoun, a 49-year-old Iraqi woman who made the mistake of believing a wave of Operation Happy Talk that the latest juiced up version of the eternal 'crackdown' would make Baghdad safe.  Suaada returned to her home last month amidst the big talk of the protection and how things would be safer.  She, her four daughters, her son-in-law, and grandchildren returned to her Baghdad home after fleeing Iraq for Syria when the Shia gangs and militias became too threatening.  Upon returning, Suaada attempted to deal with the new threats by notificing the Kurdish and US military.  When two thugs, Abbas Radhi and Zuhair Naama, showed up with papers from the Ministry of Finance (which, make the connection, they obviously worked for), she phoned the Kurdish and American military.  The Kurdish military was able to stop the two men at a checkpoint.  They and the US military arrested the two men.  Suaada was shot dead the next morning in front of a bakery.  Her family has now fled the home. 
But it was safer, said US military flacks, things were better in Baghdad -- this version of the crackdown was really something, really accomplishing something . . . Really nothing but more of the same. Oh, there is a difference.  More attacks.  Attacks on the fortified Green Zone are up.  Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports the US military is saying that car bombs have "soared 30 percent since the start of a security crackdown in Iraq last month" -- since the start of the latest version of the crackdown that's been ongoing since June of 2006 is ther reality.  David Byers (Times of London) reports that "the death toll rose to nearly 400 in four days following a multitude of deadly bomb and shooting attacks."  Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "violence is returning to previous levels throughout the country.  The number of unidentified bodies found dumped on Baghdad streets, which had dropped to an average of 13 per day in the weeks just after the plan began, has averaged 19 a day for the past two weeks.  The average numbers of people killed and of car bombs also have increased slightly, according to statistics that McClatchy compiled."
Meanwhile CNN reports that Moqtada al-Sadr "is calling for an anti-American protest in the Iraqi city of Najaf on April 9, the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad."  Sounds like Clear Channel needs to get off their asses and head on over to Iraq to stage some of their propaganda rallies they held in the US during 2003.  CBS and AP note that al-Sadr's call comes as "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose backing is dropping even among fellow Shiites, issued an angry statement pledging to bring the bombers responsible for Thursday's attacks to justice."   That apparently means al-Maliki will make a big show about detaining them and then release them hours later with no fanfare.  Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that the 18 police officers who went on a massacre in Tal Afar, dragging people from their homes, killing at least 70 people, the ones identified by survivors, the ones who were taken into custody with much, much fanfare -- "had been freed after being detained for only a few hours."  CNN reports that they were arrested (re-arrested) today.  No word yet on whether they've also already been released.
CNN reports: "A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood about 2 a.m. Friday killed at least 16 people and wounded 14 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.  He said all of those killed were guards who protect neighborhoods in Sadr City. The U.S. military said it is looking into the report." 
Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Hilla.
CNN reports 25 corpses were discovered in Mosul.
Today, the US military announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol, a MND-B Soldier died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldiers in a southern section of the Iraqi capital March 29."  AP notes this brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal to 3,245.
CBS and AP report that six weeks after the Washington Post (Dana Priest and Anne Hull) and ABC News Brian Woodruff put the scandals of veterans health 'care' front and center, Bully Boy mosied down to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to throw some empty words around about how "we're going to fix the problem" and that he toured an "empty" patient room.  Hopefully, his prepared remarks weren't delivered there but with the Bully Boy who knows . . .
Finally, students in the US have been protesting and continue to protest the Iraq war.  The latest indication that gas bags need to rethink is The Nation magazine which makes the new SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) their latest cover and includes a sketch (no articles -- it's fastly becoming the Highlights of the political set).  Been there, done that and never awarded a student, as The Nation did not that long ago, for writing an essay spitting on her peers, LeftTurn was there first and best with Doug Viehmeyer's article "Steppin It Up: The New SDS."  From the article: "SDS has gone forward, with 250 chapters springing up nationwide (and internationally). The most surprising aspect of the growth of SDS has been the number of chapters established at high schools and community colleges. When compared with the initial years after the founding of the original SDS, we are ahead of the curve.  The spring and summer of 2006 was the incubation period for SDS, with the initial chapters getting off the ground and spreading via word of mouth and the web, participating in joint actions with other groups, and beginning the slow development of organizational vision and strategy."  Applause to Viehmeyer and LeftTurn for doing such an amazing article that The Nation (already suffering bad campus cred -- for good reason) had to rush to copy. 

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NYT says "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun’s family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol.
Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east.
The men tried to drive away, but the soldiers had blocked the street. They pulled the men out of the car.
"If anything happens to us, they're the ones responsible," said Ms. Saadoun, 49, a burly, boisterous woman in a black robe and lavender-blue head scarf.
The Americans shoved the men into a Humvee. Neighbors clapped and cheered as if their soccer team had just won a title.
The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.
After the police took the body away, all that remained in the alleyway was a pool of blood, a bullet casing and the upper half of Ms. Saadoun's set of false teeth.
This reporter met Ms. Saadoun when the Kurdish soldiers he was accompanying helped arrest the two Shiite men on Tuesday.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Iraqi Widow Saves Her Home, but Victory Is Brief" in this morning's New York Times and if you think he's going to stop, wipe his eyes and say, "I knew Jack Godell . . ." or stop people on the street and ask, "Do you think Jack Godell was crazy?" -- it's not that kind of report. Which is too bad because there's a story to tell here -- both micro and macro. The paper ignores the micro and blows the macro.

Let's follow the Times and go to the macro. Suaada Saadoun is the latest death in the sectarian conflict. Shia and Sunni violence.

You know the drill. You've heard it all before. You've heard less about the Shias running Jews and Christians out of Baghdad, about the murders of the Jews in Baghdad, so maybe it's not all the surprising that the paper chooses to portray Suaada Saadoun as a Sunni and targeted solely for that reason.

Really? She's a widow. After the illegal war began, she bought her home for $10,000. How did she get the money? Did she work before her family fled to Syria as their neighborhood was overtaken by thugs? She wore a blue headdress. After returning to her home, after the thugs began returning, she challenged them.

You really think this has nothing to do with the constricted way the Shia militias see women? You really think Suaada Saadoun's murder wasn't part of the continued war on Iraqi women?

US service member, Captain Benjamin Morales (28, from the Bronx) is quoted quoting his sergeant saying to him: "What can you do? It's their problem. This is their country, and they need to work it out among themselves. There's nothing we can do about it."

On the micro level, Ashley Gilbertson's photos (Times staff) do more to tell Suuada Saadoun's story than does the text. There's a photo of, as the text tells you, the upper half of Suuada's false teeth. In the text, it's something to be rushed past: "and the upper half of Ms. Saadoun's set of false teeth."

In six photos, Gilbertson's captured a great deal about Suaada's life. Wong tells you she smiled when the thugs were led away, etc. The photos tell you (see first one the front page where she's speaking with US service members) that she was confident. See the second and third one on the front page and you're getting a look at her grandchildren and a look at her through them. Notice what they're wearing. They, her four daughters and one son-in-law lived with her. The girls are dressed as Iraqi children would have been prior to the illegal war, there's no effort to appease the thugs. The young girls haven't covered their heads, they're wearing the clothes children would wear. Two of the granddaughters appear in both pictures -- one taken before Suaada was killed, the other after. Did Suaada speak English? She appears to in the photo where she's engaging with the US soldiers. One of her granddaughters appears to have "Magical" on the front of shirt.

You see one of the thugs pictured, Abbas Radhi. Wong's text tells you that he and Zuhair Naama, showed up with papers claiming they stated the government was taking over Suaada's home and she and her family had to leave. The papers, from the Ministry of Finance, were -- and the two thugs knew this -- for a home in another area. They'd been harassing Suaada for some time prior to this visit. It's why she called the US troops and, more importantly to her and to her initial safety, the Kurdish troops. The thugs got calls on their cell phones, warning them that the Kurdish and American soldiers were en route. They attempted to flee in their car "but were stopped at a checkpoint run by Kurdish soldiers at the mouth of the street."

Wong's article in another paper? The Times has ignored Iraqi women. That was very true of the paper's first wave of Green Zone reporters. So appearing in this paper, with this paper's history of Iraq coverage? It's hard not to notice.

We never get to know the victim in the text, we don't hear, after her death, from her daughters or any women in the neighborhood. Do you think they weren't effected by her death? Check the photos on A8. Wong can (and does) quote an Iraqi soldier (Sunni) who lived in the home. The man has moved and in hiding with his family ("I'll probably move in with another relative next week. This life is like that of cats, moving home to home," is among his quotes to Wong). But the reporter can find him, can get a quote from him.

Suaada sold rooms to the soldier and his family, rooms in her home. ("Sold" is the word the article uses.) Her daughters? They obviously knew her.

With all the Iraqis who die and are never noted, the paper had a chance to illustrate a life. With all the Iraqi women who are rendered invisible in the paper's coverage, telling Suaada's story would have been a good corrective. But though her daughters cry in public and have their photo taken by Ashley Gilbertson, Wong's idea is to locate the Sunni soldier?

What did her daughters think? It's not in the text. Gilbertson has taken some strong pictures. The story the paper refuses to tell (not just today) day after day comes closer to being told in her photos.

In the end, Wong's skips out on giving The China Syndrome. He does give Chinatown:

"What can you do?" his first sergeant said to him. "It's their problem. This is their country, and they need to work it out among themselves. There's nothing we can do about it."

In other words, "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." Cue music, roll credits.

Yes, that refuses to explore how the current realities came about but Robert Towne hadn't intended Chinatown as a stand alone.

Turning to war resistance, Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale has gotten another review. We'll pull something from it for the snapshot, but we'll note this for now, from Karen Alego Krizman's "War's foggy truth" (Rocky Mountain News)

The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away From the War in Iraq
• By Joshua Key, as told to Lawrence Hill. Atlantic Monthly Press, 240 pages, $23.
• Grade: B-
The Long Road Home
• By Martha Kaddatz. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 320 pages, $24.95.
• Grade: A

Martha Kaddatz? Well, thank goodness it's not the ABC reporter who's book was rumored to have been pieced together. In fact, the word is that not since Valley of the Dolls has a manuscript required so much work. (In fairness to Raddatz -- yes, it is ABC's Martha Raddatz -- thoughts of "Cinema!" danced through the heads above her.)

Last night, we noted a press release in full (Charlie's highlight) that's in PDF format. Kendrick asked if we could note it one more time? This is "Military Families Speak Out Responds to Senate Vote To Continue Funding For Iraq War:"

Contact: Riptide Communications, 212-260-5000
Nancy Lessin, Military Families Speak Out, 617-320-5301

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2007: Today, Military Families Speak out, the largest organization of military families speaking out against a war in the history of the United States, issued the following statement in response to the vote in the U.S. Senate to provide continued funding for the Iraq war:

"The Senate has now joined the U.S. House of Representatives in abandoning our troops by passing legislation that will provide funding for a continued U.S. military occupation of Iraq. While leaders in both the House and Senate point to the deadlines or time limits in both versions of the supplemental appropriations bill, the reality remains that the Senate version of the bill contains only non-enforceable 'guidelines' for troop withdrawal, and the House version has exceptions to their August, 2008 'deadline' that would allow tens of thousands of troops to remain in Iraq indefinitely. With three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men dying each day, with thousands more being wounded both physically and psychologically, end dates -- even if they were enforceable -- that extend into spring and summer of 2008 are simply unacceptable.

"People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. Congress is now continuing that betrayal by failing [to] cut off funding for this unjustifiable war.

"Miliary Familes Speak Out renews our calls for Congress to use their 'power of the purse' to support our troops and de-fund the war. We call on Congres to fund our troops by funding a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and by funding care for our troops when they return home. This is the 'funding for troops' that is desperately needed.

"Leadership and courage, two character traits that our loved ones rely on every day as they put their lives on the line, seem to be in short supply on Capitol Hill. We hope that as the Supplemental Appropriations bill goes through the House-Senate Conference Committee and then back to the floors of the House and Senate, we will see our elected officials stand up for our troops and for our nation by ending the funds that allow this unjustifiable war to continue and providing the funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal and the care they need when they get home."

Military and Gold Star Families, members of Military Families Speak Out and its national chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interview.

For more information about Military Families Speak Out see

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: The puppet's catch and release program

More than 100 people were killed Thursday in a series of attacks around Iraq that included two suicide bombings that struck crowded markets during the week's busiest shopping hours, the authorities said.
The attacks extended an extraordinary surge of sectarian violence in Iraq this week, including a series of bombings and reprisals in the northern city of Tal Afar in which more than 140 people were killed in two days.
On Thursday, officials said 18 police officers in Tal Afar suspected of participating in the massacre of Sunni Arab residents in reprisal for the bombing of a Shiite neighborhood had been freed after being detained for only a few hours.
At a time when the Shiite-dominated central government has been under intense pressure to rein in Shiite militias and death squads, the releases are sure to bring even more outrage from Sunni Arabs.

The above is from Kirk Semple's "More Than 100 Are Killed in Iraq as a Wave of Sectarian Attacks Shows No Sign of Letting Up" in this morning's New York Times. The 18 were released? Does the whole thing not recall the response to Sabrine's rape in February? From Semple's article we learn that the puppet of the occupation made his usual noises while the world was watching ("immediately ordered an investigation") and then, after the accusded were "held only briefly," the whole matter is to be forgotten. If a victim or eye witness comes forward, no doubt Nouri al-Maliki will go out of his way to attack and smear him/her the way he did Sabrine. Now he could get away with that nonsense when it was Sabrine because the mainstream press has shown little interest in covering the rapes in Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers was the only one to take the single page from a medical report supposedly on Sabrine to rape experts who all agreed that the page he was putting forth as proof that she wasn't raped indicated that she had been). But apparently the puppet or the White House realized this would be a little harder to get away with. Reuters is reporting: "Police in the nearby city of Mosul said the 18 policemen had been re-arrested. It was unclear where they were being held."

Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "More Than 100 Killed in Baghdad, Nearby Town" (Washington Post):

The bombing in Shaab, which police said killed at least 60 people, took aim at the six-week-old Baghdad security plan, under which U.S. and Iraqi officials have sought to protect public marketplaces from such catastrophic attacks.
The area is patrolled by the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, the first additional U.S. brigade to arrive in the capital as part of the security effort. The neighborhood was part of an initial security sweep by thousands of American troops at the start of the plan in mid-February.
But Thursday evening, as shoppers stocked up on supplies before the weekend, at least one suicide bomber sneaked into the area and detonated explosives amid the bustling crowd of the Shalal market. Area residents said the market is barricaded on both ends to prevent vehicles from entering, but the attacker walked in wearing an explosives belt, police said. Soldiers from the brigade rushed to the warren of stalls to assist in recovery, U.S. military officials said.

Partlow notes that the Baghdad bombing's death toll has risen to 75. Meanwhile the US military announced today: "While conducting a combat security patrol, a MND-B Soldier died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldiers in a southern section of the Iraqi capital March 29."

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, March 29, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

While the headlines will read that the Senate voted to withdraw U.S. troops in Iraq, the peace movement recognizes that the Senate bill will extend the war not end it. The exit date in the bill is merely a goal for the removal of combat troops, and there are large loopholes that would allow a commander in chief to keep as many troops as s/he wants in Iraq. The bill provides $123 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- nearly $20 billion more requested by Bush.
The real issue now is whether the Democrats will cave into President Bush’s threatened veto by providing a funding bill with no exit requirements or whether they will challenge the president further. If they cave they will have given Bush new life -- he will no longer be a lame duck, but rather will remain "the decider." The Congress will be seen as a "lame Congress." How they respond will be determined after their April recess.
Many peace advocates held a demonstration shortly after the vote to protest the extension, rather than end of the war. The "occupation" of the Hart Senate office building emphasized that the Democrats have the power to end the war and highlighted the deaths of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis with a series of gravestones and photos. Below is an article published in The Hill describing the protest as well as a link to video of the event.

The above is from Kevin Zeese's "Senate Passes $123 billion More for Iraq and Afghanistan Wars" (Democracy Rising) and Melanie noted it. She also noted, with distress, a piece by writer that's been the topic of phone calls from last week through Sunday: William Greider.
Now I defended him on the phone when former Rolling Stone-rs noted that he had contributed nothing to the dialogue or understanding of Iraq, when his most recent book was termed "touchy feely crap, his current editor's influence." But I have my limits.

"Breathtaking" he tells us the Congress' non to semi-action is. Well, the Greider everyone knew in the 80s wouldn't have hailed a Boland amendment that set goals for defunding the Contras (goals, no enforcement) as "breathtaking." In fact, I'm not even sure that incarnation had "breathtaking" in his vocabulary.

In fairness to him (and I'll get calls griping for including this), I'll note what I noted in phone calls, in Rolling Stone he was (a) expected to write serious analysis and (b) was given the space to do it. Today, he writes for a magazine where he'd have to elbow past Party Hacks (among others) and one that's not interested in thinking. Thinking can interfere with talking points. And when your magazine exists as a long list of memos to the Democratic Party, you really don't have space for thought.

The eighties was what kept coming up because the topic of the phone calls was Rolling Stone (venting about it's sad current state), because the 80s had a Democratically controlled Congress and a Republican in the White House, so his name came up quiet often. The writer who did serious analysis is nowhere to be found. It's as though he saw the acclaim the right-winger got for his sleight scribbles and decided he'd be the alternative to it and add the weight of inspirational.

Again, I defended him on the phone. Not now. (Friends feel free to call back and say, "I told you so." I was wrong, everyone else was right and I'll state that individually in call after call.)

Would a similar version of the Boland Amendment be "breathtaking"? The 80s version would have rightly decried it and noted that people would continue dying. There wouldn't have been a desire to hand out passes to the Democratic Party.

An angry visitor wondered why "All of you have to spoil this great moment?" He went on to list community sites. I'm not responsible for what other people write. You'll have to ask them your ridiculous question. (I'm sure they'll laugh as loudly as I did when Ava read the e-mail to me.)

"This great moment" currently includes the privatization of Iraqi oil as a "benchmark" that must be met. That's something "great"? That the Democratic leadership is on board for the privatization of Iraqi oil? Iran was stripped from the measures. That's a "great moment"?

If you're naive enough to believe that under current proposals (yet to be reconciled), the US is pulling out of Iraq, possibly you're one of the ones saying lame things like, "They only just now got into power!"

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize they were born on election day in November 2006. I didn't grasp that, being newborns, they hadn't lived with the Iraq war the way the world has for four years and going. Well, with that information to process, they deserve to be praised through the roof. For people who knew nothing about the war prior to election day November 2006, this was truly "breathtaking."

Of course, the reality is that not only were none of them birthed on election day 2006, a healthy portion of them have supported the illegal war in previous Congresses. The reality is that, like Evan Blah, they put off discussing any plans for Iraq before the election. Good thing because the current plans endorsed by both Houses wouldn't have won them control of Congress.

There's a lot of rah-rah over the aspect of health care for veterans (something that shouldn't have taken four years to address and that doesn't deserve praise for doing what is obviously desperately needed at this point) and possibly that's why no one's called the bills out on the very obvious crap that there are no funds going to the Red Cross and Red Cresent that sent out a plea for help before either house began debating. But the bill isn't about helping Iraqis, it's about punishing them, punishing the "naughty children" who just haven't met their end of the obligation. Puppet governments don't have a lot of say. al-Maliki takes his orders from the White House, not the Iraqi people.

Do the bills to be reconciled say one word about the monies owed to Iraq? Reperations isn't a word I'm seeing.

Spinach, they've got. I like spinach. I eat a ton of it. But I'm failing to see what spinach in the United States has to do with the displaced in Iraq or the alarming (and disgusting) level of child malnutrition in Iraq. Maybe I'm just missing that aspect?

Is there anything more Republican than rushing in to back the privatization of a public industry while ignoring the welfare of children? Outside of stealing elections, I'm having a hard time thinking of anything.

There are plenty of Party Hacks (I'm not calling Greider a Party Hack) that you can seek out who will tell you the sweet lies you need to sleep easy tonight. I'm not interested in that crap.
The Party Hacks, Flacks and Cheerleaders apparently are which is why they get dry in the mouth with excitement over veteran's health care but fail to notice Iraq's given "benchmarks" and nothing else.

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3230. Tonight, ICCC's count is 3244. The Council of Foreign Relations tells you that casualties are down, US ones, in February. (They mean "fatalities.") Yeah, they were down by three from the previous month. If we want to play that game (as opposed to looking at the real trends), Feb. 2007 was higher than Feb. 2006, Feb. 2005 or Feb. 2004. January 2007? Only January 2005 had higher numbers. December 2006 was higher than Dec. 2005, Dec. 2004, and Dec. 2003. The Council of Foreign Relations also tells you that Petey Beinhart's thinks the Dems are right. That should indicate to any thinking person that their actions are troubling.

PB (whom I know, disclosure) has been wrong on the war from before it started. He's cheerleaded it, he's done everything to prolong it. Now PB think they're right? Why is PB even considered an authority on Iraq? How wrong do you have to be for people to stop seeking out your opinion on the topic?

What's really going on is that what's happened in Congress has allowed gas bags who've spent months avoiding Iraq to dust off their lack of knowledge for one more round. BE HONEST, if you had nothing to say about Iraq in the months before now, why should anyone take you seriously now?

If you never addressed the gang rape and murder of Abeer, the murder of her parents and her sister, why should anyone give a damn what you think now?

If you've offered no support to those brave enough to say "no" to the illegal war, why exactly should anyone be interested in one damn word you have to say now?

It's Invasion of the Gas Bags and they don't know (or else just stay silent) about Madre's report, about anything. They come rushing in with their set talking points that they dusted off from the last time they gas bagged and they think we've all been awaiting their next not-so-bold move. (Nod to Ani diFranco's "Next Bold Move.") It's as though they've sat out the class for the entire semester and now want to show up in the last class before the final and waste everyone's time while they try to catch up.

BE HONEST, is never covering Abeer a source of pride, something that speaks to qualifications to address the topic of Iraq now? (Note, The Nation finally mentioned Abeer in print, their April 2nd issue and, no surprise, it comes via a column by Alexander Cockburn.) (While The Nation's been consumed with elections, Cockburn's CounterPunch has addressed the illegal war.) If we're lucky, the Party Hacks who seem to populate so much of The Nation will tear one another limb from limb over some candidate and the real writers at the magazine will be able to rebuild it to somewhere what it once was -- a journal of thought with the occasional strong reporting.

For any visitor confused, Micah's found a thought piece, Jon Basil Utley's "Left-Right Alliance Against War?" (Foreign Policy in Focus)

The leadership of both parties supports war and empire. The Republican establishment’s war promoters include the big conservative foundations, congressional leadership, old-line media such as National Review and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, and the Religious Right’s Armageddonites. The recent Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting suppressed any antiwar debate, while speaker after speaker denounced foreigners, immigrants, and Arabs. Cheers resonated for PATRIOT Act author John Yoo, and John Bolton was a banquet speaker. The current Republican presidential front-runners all favor continuing the wars in the Middle East.
Against the above some lonely libertarians and a very few constitutional conservatives opposed attacking Iraq, both in 2003 and before the first Gulf War in 1990. Although many Republicans opposed the Kosovo war, they did so mainly because a Democrat, Bill Clinton, started it. The rationale for that U.S. intervention, like with Iraq, was also based on
Most Democratic congressional leaders also voted for the Iraq war. Outsider Howard Dean, a vocal opponent of the war, was blown away by the Democratic establishment in 2004. In a recent Washington Post
analysis, political scientist Tony Smith explains why the Democrats can't put together a successful vote against the Iraq war. Many of the Democrats, according to Smith, are influenced by an ideology of using American military power for Wilsonian ends. They take their cues from "special interests...that want an aggressive policy-- globalizing corporations, the military-industrial complex, the pro-Israel lobbies, those who covet Middle Eastern oil." The policies of these powerful "neo-liberals," Smith writes, coincide with those of the "neo-conservatives."
War is Washington's big business. The
military industrial complex has never been more profitable. Last year, 15,300 earmarks for defense spending went to projects carefully designed to gain adherents in every state. The F-22 fighter plane, for instance, has 1,000 subcontractors in 43 states. Electronic chips and secret superweapons are so complicated that profits can be hidden all along the production line well beyond the scrutiny of outsiders. Even newly planned missiles for Poland to "defend Europe" from Iran may be less about a grand strategic design than simply about selling more arms. Russia’s resultant concerns and European dismay are considered inconsequential.
Over and over, Washington's
War Party trumps the views of most business interests as well as the foreign policy and academic establishment. The consequences of Washington having made enemies of nearly a quarter of the human race, the Muslims, are only now unfolding. Yet the War Party continues to look for new conflicts, next with China, to justify the vast budget for weaponry mostly irrelevant to the War on Terror. The recent CPAC meeting and much of the conservative media are, for instance, full of dire warnings of a great Chinese military threat to America.
Beyond Left and Right
To change Washington from its cowboy, shoot-first approach to a more cooperative stance with other nations is not just a matter of defeating George Bush. Opposing new wars, whether in Iran or elsewhere, requires cooperation of the Left together with libertarians and constitutional conservatives. There is now a convergence of interests. The Left today is a minority and can’t expect to win power alone. The Republicans, because of the war, are splitting apart. Concern for deficits and constitutional freedoms have driven out libertarians, while immigration issues split business interests from the cultural conservatives.
To work together, the Left and Right must first confront their differences. There are past animosities and fundamental divergences in worldviews. Arguments that move one side have little effect on the other. In general the Left is more focused on America’s shortcomings and emotional issues, while the Right fears the outside world and looks to simplistic military solutions for most problems.

Now it's a bit much for Party Hacks because it requires thought and not just parroting talk points in print (they are the Carville and Begala of the print set). Micah wrote he didn't agree with every point in the essay but wondered why The Nation couldn't offer that kind of exploration?

Here's a question for Micah, why can Iraq Veterans Against the War offer thought pieces when the magazine can't? Brendan notes Vic Blazier's "What have we become?:"

It's now four years since we invaded Iraq. FOUR YEARS, dammit! It's time the America people looked themselves in the mirror and asked some painful questions. Namely, are we a nation full of self-righteous hypocrites? Not sure? Think good and hard while pondering the following...
Regarding the legitimacy of preemptive warfare- The world agrees it was wrong when Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and even Saddam Hussein did it. Why then is it permissible for America to preemptively invade other sovereign nations?
Regarding the justifications for the Iraq invasion- Why did the U.S. ultimately spit in the face of the U.N. to invade Iraq for apparently spitting in the face of the U.N.? Why did we use dangerous nuclear weapons in the form of depleted uranium (DU) as we invaded Iraq looking for supposed "dangerous nuclear weapons programs"? Will we also use our "dangerous nuclear weapons" on Iran in order to keep them from obtaining "dangerous nuclear weapons"? If not, are we providing others, perhaps Israel, with similar weapons for use on their enemies much as we feared Iraq and Iran would if they secured advanced weaponry?
Regarding who and who can't have WMD's- Why are we, the only country in the world to actually use nuclear weapons on another county (TWICE!), reserving the right to determine who can have this technology? If we're so worthy of our right to have nuclear weapons, why are we considering the use of nukes on another country (Iran) in order to stop them from developing the same weapons we use so willingly? Since countries that actually have nuclear weapons are left unmolested by the U.S., are we inadvertently encouraging other countries to race for Nuclear Club status as a form of deterrence against American empirical aggression?
Regarding spreading democracy- The American people went to war in Korea and Vietnam to stop the spread of communism -an unsavory but, none the less, internationally recognized form of government. Why are we now the ones spreading our own form of government throughout the World? Is this a democratic ideal that we should be proud of?

Taking a break for community business here. As many guessed, Hilda is the one starting the new community newsletter mentioned in Polly's Brew Sunday. It will publish on Tuesdays and the biggest difficulty was, believe it or not, a name. Kat suggested Hilda's Mix and Hilda wanted to be sure Cedric wouldn't be bothered by that (Cedric's site is Cedric's Mix) which, of course, he wasn't. Hilda is deaf and her primary focus is going to be serving those members of the community. She's got an interview with a disabled vet for the this Tuesday's edition. Ava and I will be do a column each week on radio programs (yes, this morning was serving as an introduction to that). Democracy Now! has transcripts available, Free Speech Radio News makes a text version available of their headlines (and prior to that, Eli was transcribing the headlines for members of the community who could not hear them). But there are a number of programs that have been discussed here (more often by Ruth -- who will have a report this weekend, I benched her and told her to take last weekend off) that they read a thing or two about but would like an overview to. Robert will type a column written by him and his wife (who is blind) and that will be a weekly column. I've written about this in depth for tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin. Hilda's e-mail address is at the top of the column and if you'd like to sign up for Hilda's Brew, please e-mail her. It will be a "mix" and the first newsletter, about 80% completed, is very strong. So I hope there is a lot of interest among the community in this newsletter. Francisco, Maria and Miguel have a piece in the first edition (and an interview with Hilda for their El Espiritu Sunday) and Francisco asked me to note that their newsletter started off slowly "until we started offering English translations for every piece, so don't assume Hilda's newsletter is not universal in appeal. This is something you do not want to miss." I'm not sure what I'm going to write about after the first six weeks, but I'll be doing a weekly column. (I've already lined up six friends with disabilities/challenges who've agreed to talk about their experiences -- the first of which is done and will run Tuesday. After the six weeks, I may stay with that or try something else.) West has agreed to do a weekly illustration and says, "It won't be on the level of what Isaiah does, but I'll share what I've learned and enjoyed from The World Today Just Nuts." I'm sure I'm forgetting something but it's discussed in the gina & krista round-robin so check your inboxes tomorrow morning. And take a minute to salute Gina and Krista who did the first community newsletter. We now have that, and the bi-weekly one from the UK Computer Gurus, Polly's Brew each Sunday, El Espiritu also on Sundays and now Hilda's Mix on Tuesdays.

Back to topic, we'll close with Charlie's highlight, (PDF format) "Military Families Speak Out Responds to Senate Vote To Continue Funding For Iraq War:"

Contact: Riptide Communications, 212-260-5000
Nancy Lessin, Military Families Speak Out, 617-320-5301

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2007: Today, Military Families Speak out, the largest organization of military families speaking out against a war in the history of the United States, issued the following statement in response to the vote in the U.S. Senate to provide continued funding for the Iraq war:

"The Senate has now joined the U.S. House of Representatives in abandoning our troops by passing legislation that will provide funding for a continued U.S. military occupation of Iraq. While leaders in both the House and Senate point to the deadlines or time limits in both versions of the supplemental appropriations bill, the reality remains that the Senate version of the bill contains only non-enforceable 'guidelines' for troop withdrawal, and the House version has exceptions to their August, 2008 'deadline' that would allow tens of thousands of troops to remain in Iraq indefinitely. With three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men dying each day, with thousands more being wounded both physically and psychologically, end dates -- even if they were enforceable -- that extend into spring and summer of 2008 are simply unacceptable.

"People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. Congress is now continuing that betrayal by failing [to] cut off funding for this unjustifiable war.

"Miliary Familes Speak Out renews our calls for Congress to use their 'power of the purse' to support our troops and de-fund the war. We call on Congres to fund our troops by funding a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and by funding care for our troops when they return home. This is the 'funding for troops' that is desperately needed.

"Leadership and courage, two character traits that our loved ones rely on every day as they put their lives on the line, seem to be in short supply on Capitol Hill. We hope that as the Supplemental Appropriations bill goes through the House-Senate Conference Committee and then back to the floors of the House and Senate, we will see our elected officials stand up for our troops and for our nation by ending the funds that allow this unjustifiable war to continue and providing the funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal and the care they need when they get home."

Military and Gold Star Families, members of Military Families Speak Out and its national chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interview.

For more information about Military Families Speak Out see

BE HONEST, do you really think a gas bag carrying water for Dems in Congress has spent as much time thinking about the illegal war has as the families in Military Families Speak Out? (No, they haven't.) The e-mail address for this site is

and the war drags on