Saturday, April 21, 2007

NYT: 1 article filed from Iraq

In this morning's New York Times, you get one story filed from Iraq. You also get the free floating, no dateline needed, Paul von Zielbauer. PvZ pops up on A6 (filing from where?) to tell us about William T. Kallp ("officer in immediate command of three marines accused of killing civilians in a house-to-house attack in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005") who has agreed to testify after being given immunity. He follows in the footsteps of Sanick P. Delta Cruz who also agreed this month to testify after he was promised immunity.

Turning Iraq, Edward Wong and David S. Cloud file "U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall To Keep Rival Sects Apart:"

American military commanders in Baghdad are trying a radical new strategy to quell the widening sectarian violence by building a 12-foot-high, three-mile-long wall separating a historic Sunni enclave from Shiite neighborhoods.

New? Like the majority of things implemented under Bully Boy, the "ideas" can be traced to the Israeli government. Other than that, the thing that stands out (at the end of the article) is a single sentence:

Hospital officials in Mosul said they were treating 130 Iraqi Army trainees suffering from stomach illness, in a possible case of mass poisoning at a training center north of the city.

That single sentence appears before the final article. With reporters in Iraq, you might think they'd offer a story on that (or even more). They don't. They do offer another front page story on Monday's shootings in Virginia as well as two stories inside the paper. The columns focus on other things. For instance, a male tells us what the Court's attack on reproductive rights mean. Isn't it great to hear a man tell women not to worry? (That was sarcasm.)

Billie was the first to note Margaret Kimberley's latest Freedom Rider this week. From Kimberley's "Black America and Palestine" (Black Agenda Report):

A nation that inflicts collective punishment on civilian populations, tortures minor children, uses civilians as human shields, and commits extra judicial killings ought to be condemned by all decent, civilized nations. It seems like a no-brainer. If that country is Israel, those common sense assumption no longer apply. The United States routinely vetoes any and all United Nations resolutions that condemn a variety of Israeli actions.
Israel's existence depends totally on America's largesse, yet
Israel calls the shots. That nation receives $15 million aid every single day. In return Israel sends spies to the United States and effectively controls the Congress through its American allies.
Americans are participating by proxy in an ongoing atrocity against the Palestinian people. That is how millions of people around the world view the situation. If "they" hate "us" Israel is a significant cause of that hatred.
Israel's continued occupation of Palestine is in defiance of the wishes of every other nation on earth and causes it to be a danger to the American people. Its allies in this country are the biggest advocates for empire building, first encouraging the occupation of Iraq and now demanding an attack on Iran.

What does the weekend mean? New broadcasts of RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST) over the airwaves on Air America Radio, XM radio and online. Here's some of what's in store for the two weekend shows:

We're broadcasting live from our Air America affiliate, 92.1 The Mic, Madison, Wisconsin’s Progressive Talk. We’ll be joined by Nation Magazine National Affairs correspondent JOHN NICHOLS, who'll give us his take on Alberto Gonzales's appearance in the Senate. We'll also welcome Nation writer LAWRENCE GOODWYN, who'll explain why a political realignment is coming, and progressives should be excited. And we'll discuss this week's Supreme Court decision on abortion with attorneys LYNN PALTROW and JANET BENSHOOF. Plus, Nigerian Journalist SUNDAY DARE tells us what life was like under military rule, and give us his thoughts on the Nigerian election.
We're broadcasting live from the Barrymore Theater in Madison, Wisconsin. I'll welcome award-winning investigative journalist and best-selling author GREG PALAST to the Barrymore, and we'll find out what's stories he's working on. Plus we'll highlight the independent media movement that finds many of its roots here in Madison, when we talk to BOB MCCHESNEY from Free Press, DIANE FARSETTA from the Center for Media and Democracy, FRANK EMSPAK from Workers Independent News, and MOLLY STENTZ from the Independent Media Center. If you're in Madison, come on down. Otherwise, tune in!

In addition, Rachel notes two programs coming up on WBAI (over the airwaves in the NYC area -- and beyond -- as well as online streaming -- for free, no membership fee, no surveys):

Sunday, April 22, 11am-noon
Actor/author/raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, April 23, 2-3pm
Author and essayist Pankaj Mishra on "Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakisatn, Tibet, and Beyond"; Preston Stahley on the Tribeca Music Festival now playing at The Flea; and, to commemorate Alcohol Awareness Week, the return of actors from "Bill W. and Dr. Bob," a dramatization of the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

That's radio. Face to face? An e-mail to the public account notes the Record Online's "Nader to campaign for West Monday April 20, 2007:"

New Paltz -- Ralph Nader is coming to town to campaign for fellow Green Party member Jason West on Monday.
Nader, probably the country's best-known corporate critic and a former presidential candidate, is expected to attend a screening of "An Unreasonable Man," a documentary about himself at the Rosendale Theater at 6:30 p.m. He'll answer questions and sign his latest book afterward.
Nader's appearence marks the first time in living memory that a national political figure has come to campaign on behalf of a village of New Paltz candidate. West is running for a second four-year term as mayor against Terry Dungen, a current member of the village board. The election is May 1.
West said in a prepared statement that he was honored to have Nader campaign on his behalf.
Earlier Monday, Nader is scheduled to give an address at Vassar College.
Jeremiah Horrigan

That's this Monday. Jason West's site has information as does On The Wilder Side, specifically this post. So you can learn about Jason West, you can see the documentary An Unreasonable Man and you can participate in a q & a with Nader. (And before someone e-mails, no, I don't believe Nader is a member of the Green Party. He has topped their ticket, but I don't believe he's a member.)

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

Ruth's planning a brief report this weekend (possibly tonight). In addition, there are 17 e-mails suggesting a TV program that Ava and I should address at The Third Estate Sunday Review. We actually were hoping to review one, feeling obligated to review another and wondering whether to tackle a sitcom. But, Betty caught that program and had suggested it last night. We watched, we'll be addressing it. We noted Robert Parry's "Time for PBS to Go?" (Consortium News) on Thursday but, if you missed it, it would probably be a good idea to read it. The e-mail address for this site is

[C.I. note: Jason West link fixed and Cat Radio Cafe link added.]

Friday, April 20, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 20, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the death of another service member, "development" passes for an answer in Baghdad ("Time-shares" is next), Helga Aguayo explains the status of her husband (war resister Agustin Aguayo), and Bobby Gates finally gets to act out his long held dream to be Marisa Tomei.
"The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere.  However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscienious objector," Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today.  Helga Aguayo sketched out
how her husband came to see the illegal war as immoral while serving in Iraq, how he attempted to receive CO status, the obstacles there and a great deal more including the the convictions of missing movement and desertion.  On the latter, she noted that it "is unheard of for people that are gone less than thirty days -- soldiers that are gone less than thirty days."  Aguayo was gone from September 2nd through September 26th.  The rule of thumb is that if you are gone less than 30 days, desertion isn't even a possible charge.  Not only was Aguayo gone less than 30, he turned himself in.  Helga Aguayo explained how the two felony convictions mean trigger an automatic appeal: 
Helga Aguayo: And the other thing is that Agustin will not be discharged.  I'm getting congratulations -- 'Oh, congratulations, he's coming home' -- we don't know when he's coming home, one.  And, two, he actually will not be discharged from the military for twelve to twenty-four months from now, because he got a bad-conduct discharge and it's such a serious offense.  He has two felonies.  It goes onto an automatic appeal, and because of that, he will remain active-duty, which means he has to abide by the standards that is required of every soldier. He could potentially be charged with anything else during the time that he's on voluntary or involuntary leave or administrative leave.  They'll give him of the three, if it's approved.  And we won't know if it's approved.
Amy Goodman: Could he sent back to Iraq?
Helga Aguayo: I hope not.  I don't think so.  I think it would be -- I mean, Agustin's gotten a lot of support.  And I, you know, would definitely just go to the press and go to the people.  I don't think it would be in their best interest to do that.
Agustin Aguayo's repeated attempts to receive CO status demonstrate the need for the system to be fixed.  As does the case of Robert Zabala who had to take the issue to the civilian courts to be awarded his status.  The two, and many others, illustrate the problems with and arbitrary nature of the way the US military chooses to recognize (or not) CO status.
Aguayo is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes  Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia,  Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, 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.
Turning to news in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates landed in Baghdad Thursday to provide war weary Iraqis and US service members with a bus and truck show of My Cousin Vinnie.   David S. Cloud, Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong (New York Times) report that he visited "to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a momment when Mr. Maliki's ability to deliver appears limited, at best."  This allowed Bobby Gates to attack the part of Lisa with vigor as he stomped his feet in the safety of the Green Zone.
Bobby Gates:  Well I hate to bring it up because I know you've got enough pressure on you already.  But, we agreed to get an oil law passed as soon as we installed you.  Meanwhile, ELEVEN MONTHS LATER, no oil law, Iran is making us nervous and our bully clock is TICKING and the way this war is going, I ain't never going to see the theft of Iraqi oil.
While Gates was telling/ordering al-Maliki to step it up, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that it really doesn't make a great deal of difference: "Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.  Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, had dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said."
As most play mum on that revelation, Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes, "Washington today said it would take political reconciliation in Iraq into account when it decides this summer whether to reduce troop numbers."  Translation?  There will be no real reduction unless the people insist upon it.  Just more stalling tactics on the part of the US installed puppet and more bluster from the bullies of the US administration.  Meanwhile, the government of Turkey has set a deadline.  KUNA reports that Turkey now has: "a 'specific timetable' for trans-borders operations including intrusions into northern Iraqi, Turkish NTV news website reported Friday. . . .  The plan, envising the intrusion of thousands of Turkish troops into northern Iraqi areas to hunt rebel Kurds, is about to be a reality, according to the report."
Meanwhile in "New Listings" news, need a getaway?  How about some place just east of a river, a gated community with rustic charm?  CBS and AP report that gated communities are coming to Baghdad in the form of "a three mile wall": "When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community or Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said."
Gated communities?  And people think the US administration has no ideas in the tank.
While the US administration continues their attempts at stand up, Tom Clifford (CounterPunch) notes the very real increase in Iraqi deaths including that last month was the deadliest in the last 12 months and that the escalation has claimed at least 7,400 reported deaths.  And in some of the reported violence today in Iraq . . .
AFP reports a Nasiriyah bombing that killed 4 "including an 11-year-old girl".  Reuters reports an eastern Baghdad mortar attack the killed 1 person and left 4 injured as well as a truck bombing in Falluja that killed 2 people and left 37 wounded. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that gunfire and helicopter fire were used around a mosque as US forces attacked what they hope are 'guilty' people since they killed four -- however, they originally denied the deaths and the attack only to correct that later on..
Reuters notes two police officers shot dead in Baquba and eight wounded, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (2 more injured), and 1 person shot dead in Kufa.  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Employees working for the North Oil Company were targeted in Kirkuk by gunmen yesterday evening.  The gunmen attacked the employees' while they were coming to Baghdad, the incident took place on Karkuk-Baghdad motorway when the insurgents opened fire injuring 4 employees." 
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Friday. 
In addition, the US military announced today: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a rocket struck Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah Thursday night."
And in news of activism, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes the national Make Hip Hop, Not War tour which attempts to welcome important segments that have otherwise been overlooked.  Ford writes: "The 'Make Hip Hop, Not War' movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war 'movement,' which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people.  Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founded of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, 'This is why the anti-war movement is not working.  How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?'"

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Other Items

Rahid Sabah Abid, a 25-year-old shop owner, left work on Wednesday afternoon and began his homeward journey on a day that seemed then much like any other. He wended his way through the crowded streets of the Shorja market, then boarded one of the minibuses waiting in the Sadriya neighborhood to take him home to his wife and five daughters in nearby Sadr City.
His first hint of trouble was a car racing against traffic toward the line of buses. "There was no warning," he recalled. "I saw the explosion in front of me and felt the pain in my legs. The bus was on fire and I jumped out, then began to crawl. There were five burning cars with people in them. I shouted for someone to help."

The above is from Michael Kamber's "Car Bombs, and Pain, Define a War With No Place to Hide" in this morning's New York Times. There's so little coverage of Iraq, it would be easy to applaud this article. There's so little coverage of Iraq, from Iraq, that features the voice of the Iraqis (once supposedly so important -- if you believed the lies used to sell the illegal war), that it's tempting to just move along. But Kamber (well, the stringer) speaks with Iraqis and the only ones included (spoken to as well?) are men. Near the end, Kamber writes of a "family" and apparently it's some sort of Cartwrights in Baghdad clan because there's no woman to be quoted. How does that happen? And how does it happen day after day?

Now at any outlet, reporters are always jockeying. They're fully aware of what their co-workers do that gets attention and what doesn't. Considering all the attention given to a cover story on a woman who was assassinated, you might think that would lead reporters at the paper to think, "We've left women out of nearly all our coverage!" Thinking that, you might expect that they'd then attempt to rectify it. Not out of any concern for Iraqi women but just to try to grab some of that attention. You would be wrong. To read the Times is to be left with the impression that there are no women in Iraq.

They offer a DC story that some will see as Iraq coverage. What else do they offer? Front page contains another story on the Monday shooting. Inside the paper the story continues along with five more articles on that topic. Fingers are pointing at NBC but the reality is that all the outlets have behaved like vultures and created the feeding frenzy. (To be clear, I don't think NBC made the wrong decision with the tape. They should have aired it in some manner. Not having watched any of their airings, I have no idea how much they showed, how well they handled it. But the videotape they were sent was news.) So the worst bombings in Iraq this year will apparently have to make do with two stories (one yesterday, one today) but they'll keep going to the well, over and over with Monday's shooting. In addition the five articles on the topic, they offer another column on it.

This is from Reuters:

The convoy of the son of powerful Iraqi Shi'ite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim was attacked in the southern Baghdad district of Doura on Thursday and six of his bodyguards were wounded, an official said.
Ammar al-Hakim's convoy was fired on as it was travelling to Baghdad from the southern holy Shi'ite city of Najaf.

You can be sure the Times will not create a special section on that incident. They won't offer days and days of multiple stories. They won't commission op-eds on the subject.

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: Gates' Bully Clock

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here on Thursday intending to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a moment when Mr. Maliki’s ability to deliver appears limited, at best.
Mr. Gates told reporters he would press the government to pass laws on oil revenue sharing and rolling back purges of Sunni Arabs from the government.

The above is from David S. Cloud, Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong's "Gates Presses Iraq Premier on Healing Sectarian Divide" in this morning's New York Times. Now put aside that Gates is stomping his foot (like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinnie) and going on about how his bully clock is ticking. What are we left with?

Why is in he Baghdad? He gives two reasons. Roll back purges is offered but first up is the oil law. That would be privatizing Iraq's oil and allowing big business (foreign) a bigger slice of the profits than Iraq. Gates represents an administration that's a bit like an arsonist who moonlights a fire fighter but isn't about to rescue you until you pay out.

Martha notes Bill Brubaker's "Army General Says Security in Baghdad Has Lost Traction" (Washington Post):

Recalling the recent attacks on the heavily fortified Green Zone, Army Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero predicted more violent, high-profile incidents.
"The Green Zone and predominately Shi'a areas remain extremely high priority targets both physically and symbolically for an adaptive, ruthless and thinking enemy looking to make headlines and undermine stability," said Barbero, the deputy director of operations for the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We can expect this enemy to use every means at his disposal, no matter how brutal, to attempt further high profile attacks."

Martha wanted this noted because of the use of the term "Green Zone." Everyone calls it the Green Zone. It's only Alissa J. Rubin, doing someone's bidding, that insists upon calling it the "International Zone."

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, April 19, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Current polls and public discourse -- in spite of media inclinations to tamp down authentic anger at the war -- do reflect an "antiwar America" of sorts. So, why is the ghastly war effort continuing unabated? A big factor is the undue respect that's reserved for American warriors in American society.
When a mentally unstable person goes on a shooting rampage in the United States, no one questions that such actions are intrinsically, fundamentally and absolutely wrong. The media condemnation is 100 percent.
However -- even after four years of a U.S. war in Iraq that has been increasingly deplored by the American public -- the standard violence directed from the Pentagon does not undergo much critical scrutiny from American journalists. The president's war policies may come under withering media fire, but the daily activities of the U.S. armed forces are subjected to scant moral condemnation. Yet, under orders from the top, they routinely continue to inflict -- or serve as a catalyst for -- violence far more extensive than the shooting sprees that turned a placid Virginia campus into a slaughterhouse.
News outlets in the United States combine the totally proper condemnation of killing at home with a notably different affect toward the methodical killing abroad that is funded by the U.S. Treasury. We often read, see and hear explicit media commendations that praise as heroic the Americans in uniform who are trying to kill, and to avoid being killed, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ronald noted the above from Norman Solomon's "Bowing Down to Our Own Violence" (CounterPunch) and agrees that it's "a hard hitting column." It is one. It's making strong points throughout including in the section Ronald chose to excerpt. There are silences we accept and ones we impose. Hide behind the troops was the Democrats 2004 campaign message which is how John Kerry's best public moment gets buried. Sometimes, you'll hear that people "aren't ready" for that. They were ready. They could've handled realities. But realities didn't come in 2004 and they didn't come from a presidential candidate. We got reality in 2005 when Cindy Sheehan started Camp Casey.

For all the moral posturing from the campaigns of both major parties, we got nothing that spoke to ethics or reality. It took a person, not an elected official, to speak truth to power and drive the realities home. It took someone stepping up and speaking her truth to wake the nation -- a nation lulled into sleep with far too posturing. Even post-Sheehan, we saw cowardice from many. Who could cover the war crimes done to Abeer and her family? A 14-year-old girl is gang raped by US soldiers (Steven D. Green still maintains his innocence, three others have confessed) while her five-year-old sister is murdered, while her parents are murdered. After the gang rape ends, Abeer is killed. That's not even good enough for the criminals. They need to set her body on fire as well in an attempt to dispose of the evidence. They then go grill some chicken and drink some beer.

And when that broke, what did we get? 'Nobody better call them baby killers!' With hoseanas and amens. And the really sad thing was, while you might expect that reaction from the right, it came from those who think of themselves and present themselves as the left. Did that cowardice in the blogosphere prevent our independent media from covering the War Crimes? Something sure as hell did.

Of the print magazines, Off Our Backs didn't shy from reality. How many others can make that claim? In fact, only in this month did The Nation finally print Abeer's name. (That came via an Alexander Cockburn column.) Now she would turned 15 last August, had she not been murdered. And there were demonstrations to note that day. But didn't independent media dummy up on the subject. They did so as details came out, they did so during the Article 32 hearing and, honestly, they've done so through repeated confessions. Are they saving the coverage for when Green is tried in a federal court?

No, we've just got a lot of silence in independent media. 30 plus (I believe it's up to 34) people at a college die and and damned if if everyone in independent media can't rush to weigh in on that. Katrina vanden Heuvel weighs in. Abeer? Not one damn word. Not. One. Damn. Word.
How does that happen? How. Does. That. Happen?

When you are both the editor and the publisher and you and your magazine are silent, a message is sent. When your token feminist columnist (in print) is silent, a message is sent. When your legal correspondent is silent, a message is sent. All three are women. Katrina vanden Heuvel, Katha Pollitt, Patricia J. Williams. Now there's no excuse for the males being silent. (David Corn focuses on DC, that's his beat. He's the only one who can offer a valid reason for not commenting.) But three women in positions because of the advances in society -- that other women paved the way for -- choose to take a pass on the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by US soldiers. How does that happen? (Cockburn's CounterPunch did cover Iraq and Abeer has been cited there. Like most in the community, I don't consider him of The Nation.)

Now no one expects the Cindy Brady of the faux left to cover it. AlterPunk's hostitlities to women are there in his writings (the silences on women, the repeating of right wing falsehoods about women -- sometimes in a "quote" that he allows to stand). But the self-styled media columnist could have commented on the Abeer coverage. For instance, he could have written of how, in the Article 32 hearing, the defense presented an argument that was "unknown" in military justice but, somehow, the New York Times was able to promote this same defense in their 'reporting' and to do so before the defense ever presented it in court. Guess they used their crystal balls for that one?

But the men and the women of The Nation collectively failed. In fact, Cockburn remains the only writer to mention Abeer. Had they printed Martha's letter, we could note that Abeer was mentioned in the letter pages. In fact, let's note Martha's letter here:

Reading Katha Pollitt's "Ho-Ho-Holiday Donations -- 2006" two questions arose
1) Ms. Pollitt refers to In These Times as The Nation's "sister publication." In light of concerns regarding media consolidation, that phrase needs to be explained.
2) Looking through the ten recommended organizations and publications, I see Hurricane Katrina, I see Vietnam, et al. I don't see Iraq. Is Ms. Pollitt aware that a war is going on? MADRE, an organization recently recommended on RadioNation with Laura Flanders, seems much more fitting than a periodical (two make Ms. Pollitt's list). In addition, there are numerous organizations working for peace and supporting C.O.s.
If Ms. Pollitt is unaware that a war is going on in Iraq, that might explain why she has never written one word about the rape and murder of fourteen-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi -- a topic that strikes me as much more important than Hillary Clinton being "bird-dogged."

There's a point to noting the silences. We'll get to that. But, for now, why does the war drag on? Because too many who are in a position to speak out choose not to. They silence themselves.

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 3296. Tonight? ICCC reports 3315 with 68 for the month thus far. 19 since last Thursday.

Wednesday, on KPFA's The Morning Show, Matthew Rothschild noted this:

I do think that the Democrats are not doing enough to demand withdrawal within 6 months or, max, a year and not having loopholes where even if that thing passed and even if Bush were to sign it, Bush would still be able to stay in Iraq for years and years because even the Democrats' legislation allows the president to keep training Iraqi security, keep going after al Qaeda and, you know, helping out patrolling Iraq in defense of US personnel which could be Haliburton. It could be US contractors over there. So with those loopholes even in the best of bills this war could go on under Bush -- or under Bush's sucessor if it be Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama. None of the Democrats are demanding withdrawal without conditions and that's what's going to have to happen at some point because otherwise, you know Bush is going to keep this going and I think the Democrats are going to capitulate. I think Harry Reid, not only has he capitulated on gun control, but he's going to capitulate on this, he's going to take even the kind of fake deadline the Democrats have in that legislation and he's going to take those away. And so Bush will get his funding and this war will go on and it's going to go on until the 11th hour on January 20, 2009 when Bush leaves office and then the Democratic president, if it be a Democratic president, or the Republican successor is going to continue to wage that war unless we really raise the stakes that people of this county, not just Democrats, but the people across party lines are way ahead of the politicians on this. They want the troops to come out within a year. And, at some point, we've got to raise our voices a little bit louder.

But you haven't heard that very much. You've heard a lot of lies and you've heard a lot of, if you dared to point out the very obvious realities of the measures, heard Party Hacks try to silence you with cheers of "Root! Root! For the home team!" You didn't get a lot of independence. Amazinginly, the same gas bags who rushed in (some over and over) with commentaries on Monday's shootings had nothing to say about the slaughters in Iraq yesterday.

So today, one of the things I spoke at was requested by a friend of a friend. There was a group, a women's group, that wasn't really an adovacy group, or a political one (a business group), and the war wasn't anything they'd touched on. They'd avoided it among themselves to the point that the organizer wasn't even sure where the membership stood on the war. So I was asked if I would speak against the illegal war while another speaker spoke in favor of the illegal war.

I don't usually do that. But the structure wasn't a debate and a friend of a friend was calling in a marker. The other speaker went first. She went on and on about how this was "just" and "right" and we needed to show "fortitude." We each had a little less than thirty minutes allotted to us. She spoke for all of her alloted time except for two minutes at the end when she asked for questions and comments. There were none. The reaction throughout the speech had been expressionless faces. Not bored, just stone-faced. And now they had nothing to say.

Did they really have no opinion at all? Is that why even their organizer couldn't figure out where they stood? I don't get up and give lengthy speeches. There was a time for longer speeches (before the illegal war started and in the immediate aftermath). What I do is emphasize a few things and then toss it out there so we can all share. But I'm standing before them and thinking I'm going to have to fill for about 30 minutes, cursing myself for not wearing a watch, and discussing war resisters and the silence on them in our media. I was probably two minutes in when a woman stood up and asked if she could say something.

I said sure, that I prefer a conversation anyway and had no idea where she was going to go but I was very interested. She cleared her throat a couple of times so I left the formal setting and walked over next to her. When she finally spoke, she talked about her own life. Her now ex-husband had been a war resister during Vietnam. He was opposed to the war. He had been thinking of self-checking out. She was pregnant and he applied to go on leave. His leave wasn't granted. Others got their leave. He was told that his commanding officer hadn't even processed it. He asked about that and was told that wasn't reason enough.

He self-checked out. They had a few more children, were married for twenty years ("most of them happy") and what she wanted to talk about was how, during the 70s, it wasn't a big issue. Then ("around 1985") it suddenly became an issue with some people they met. She spoke of a number of things (including that he received a discharge that wasn't disorderly -- hold on, I'm trying to remember what it was, it was like "unfit" and may have been, it had "un" in it) but the main thing she wanted to talk about "was the slow embrace of embrace of war that we've allowed to happen." She spoke very powerfully and very elequently. So well that there was silence after so I jogged it a bit and then they were off and running.

They talked about the inability of the media (three cited The Nation) to address the illegal war, to address what went on over there. One woman spoke of "the unspoken, but very real silence" which included a failure of big media "to buck the administration" and of little media "to really explore." They had opinions but, and this was usually stated by one and agreed to by the next woman speaking, even post-Cindy Sheehan (whose name came up often) they still didn't feel a space had been carved out for a real discussion that went beyond "stay" or "bring them home." Near the end, one woman referenced the first to speak and talked about how she felt the same thing, the huge switch away from honesty to "blind obedience" and traced it to "when Reagan was president."

Where did they stand? All but one was against the war and the conversations they had today don't stop there. They'll continue it. Greg had a highlight and wasn't sure of which section to go with so he copied and pasted the entire thing. I'm choosing the section because it reflects what I heard from the women today (and many cited The NewsHour, PBS and NPR as their primary source of news). This is from Robert Parry's "Time for PBS to Go?" (Consortium News):

PBS has been sinking into this pattern of corrupt behavior for years, especially after the Right took aim at public broadcasting in the 1980s and early 1990s. CPB was intended to insulate PBS from political pressure, but the Reagan administration began a systematic process of salting the board with partisan Republicans and neocon ideologues.
By reshaping the CPB board, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush turned CPB from its original purpose as a shield to defend professionalism at PBS into a weapon for breaking down the network’s editorial independence. Simultaneously well-funded right-wing pressure groups went after individual PBS journalists and programs.
When I worked for the PBS documentary series "Frontline" in the early 1990s, I saw this process first-hand, as CPB and PBS increasingly bent to Republican pressure. At one PBS conference, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan gave a keynote speech trashing "Frontline" -- and few PBS executives dared come to the program’s defense.
After Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994 and targeted PBS funding, the network twisted itself more to the Right, hoping to appease the angry Republicans by adding more and more conservative content while taking for granted the bedrock support of the Democrats and liberals.
This PBS dynamic had become second nature by the second Bush administration -- and grew more entrenched after 2002 when Republicans gained control of all branches of the federal government. The few PBS holdouts, like Bill Moyers, were soon isolated and pushed toward the door.
Even when the invasion of Iraq turned sour and more prominent Americans began to speak up, CPB and PBS knew to rush to Bush's defense. To correct for supposed "liberal bias," CPB ordered up and funded the "America at a Crossroads" series.
In that sense, "America at a Crossroads" -- and especially Perle's "The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom" segment -- has the look of Pravda during the Soviet era when the Russian people could learn what dissidents had to say mostly by reading between the lines of Pravda denouncing them.
The Perle-narrated program -- and PBS's disdain for the idea of giving equal time to the other side -- had that kind of feel to it.
The likes of Martin Sheen and Tim Robbins were held up as enemies of the state, either disloyal or crazy. However, Perle still managed to present himself as the victim, noting that Robbins had written a play in which a character modeled after Perle was the bad guy.

The switch the women were speaking of includes what Parry's outlining. It also includes the backlash against women, the trash films attempting to rewrite reality and a culture that refused to call it out. Can't risk hurting feelings, can't call out the revisionary lies on Vietnam. What harm's really going on, right? The very real harm can be seen today (whenever the media elicts to cover Iraq). Some of the women today were old enough to have lived through the period during some of their adult years, some lived through it in their childhood years (no one in the organization was young enough to have been born after the US left Vietnam). Regardless of their personal politics, they were conservative in the way they conducted themselves. They had lived through the change in the country -- the one Parry's writing about via PBS -- and I don't think they suddenly remembered how they felt during Vietnam, I think they picked up on the signals that they weren't supposed to discuss such issues.

Norman Solomon is. Once the first woman got the ball rolling today, other women were. I wonder what it will take to get The Nation talking? About Abeer? About war resisters? Someone who always keeps the conversation going is Cindy Sheehan and Billie highlights her
"Keynote Speech for the Omaha Peace and Justice Expo" (BuzzFlash):

I understand that coming to DC, especially on a Monday, is an inconvenience and a sacrifice -- but I believe ending this war and making a true and lasting change in the world will entail such sacrifice from us all. We ALL need to sacrifice from our substance, our subsistence, and not just our plenty. I know many of you do an incredible amount of work for peace and justice -- but how many of you sleep in a different bed every night? How many of you have slept in drafty attics, stuffy basements, floors, jail cells, or lumpy couches in search of peace? How many of you have spent every last penny you have on this cause? How many of you have been physically uncomfortable for a prolonged period of time -- like camping in a ditch in 105 degree heat for 26 days? Or staging a sit-in during freezing cold weather for any amount of time? How many of you have done any of these things mourning a needlessly and prematurely killed child? How many of you know anyone in Iraq right now, whether American or Iraqi?
I have done, and do all of these things, some on a daily basis. My son was used as sacrificial cannon fodder by the military industrial complex and the Bush Crime family to line their pockets. Every cell in my body aches for Casey every second of the day -- I have been smeared, slandered, and libeled and my life physically threatened, but I push on -- why? Because I don't want anyone else on this planet to have to sacrifice the way my family did.We can all do more. The war machine has a stranglehold on this country, our economy, our elected officials, our educational system, and our young children and will not be broken unless every one of us looks into our hearts and figures out what more we can do. If you are financially comfortable, donate to peace groups such as mine that are actually in the vineyards doing the work -- if you aren't, then your heart has to become involved. I have a feeling each and every one of us can do with less to make sure every other human has enough physical comforts and security and safety.

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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, April 19, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq may have even more oil than originally thought, just in time more pressure to privatize Iraq's oil, Ricky Clousing reflects on war resistance, Ms. magazine addresses the realities for Iraqi women, Norman Solomon calls out media coverage, and the war resistance movement adds another name.
Yesterday in Iraq, AP notes, "233 people killed or found dead across Iraq.  At least 183 of those are killed when four large bombs explode in mainly Shiite locations of Baghdad."  Kirk Semple (New York Times) bills it as "the deadliest day in the capital since the American-led security plan for the city took effect two months ago."  It is also the deadliest day in the capital or Iraq this yearAFP observes that the violence "raised questions about the US-backed security plan for the capital."  Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) opens with, "Yesterday will go down as a day of infamy for Iraqis who are repeatedly told by the US that their security is improving."  CNN reports: "It was the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital since the 4-year-old war began, topping the February toll of 130 dead in a bombing in the same marketplace."
Salam Faraj (AFP) reports that today: "Devastated Iraqis hunted for dead relatives in the city mortuaries on Thursday" and quotes one man sobbing, "Oh God, why all that!" as he stared at "frozen corpses stacked up in the giant morgue at the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City after a night-time curfew was lifted and daybreak made it safe enough to leave home."  Kirk Semple notes Salar Karmal Zari who had been visiting the capital, declaring, "The blast threw me to the ground and shattered a window over my body. . . .  I saw a human head in front of the store and many cars burning and smoke everywhere. . . . I will never stay in Baghdad anymore."
Roger Hardy (BBC News) notes of yesterday, "This was supposed to be a day when the Iraqi government could show it was making tangible progress towards the eventual withdrawal of foreign forces."  Hardy's referring to the handoff of the Maysan province to Iraqi control.  As noted yesterday, the transfer was supposed to be a brilliant photo-op, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki had a speech all prepared but ended up being a no-show when the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk splashed and crashed against reality.  Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's National Security Adviser, ended up reading al-Maliki's speech.  The empty words are all the more empty because, quoting Patrick Cockburn, "the transfer of political or security control by the US and Britain to Iraqi authorities has always been deceptive.  Iraqis believe, with some reason, that real control remains in the hands of the occuyping forces.  Earlier in the year, British forces blew up a police headquarters in Basra and US helicopter-borne troops tried to kidnap two senior Iranian officials visiting Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president."
If you use the links or read any of the coverage, you may note something missing -- what tends to always go missing: Iraqi women's voices.  Though many reports mention that women (and children) were among the victims, Iraqi women's voices are abesent from the reporting. Did you know that on one day in November, a Baghdad morgue housed 150 female corpses?  (They had gathered over a ten day period with no one claiming them.)  Ms. readers will know that.  In the spring 2007 issue of Ms. (in stores on April 24th), Bay Fang contributes "The Talibanization of Iraq" (pages 46 through 51) which takes a look at women's lives in Iraq since the start of the illegal war, noting the destruction of basic rights and much more.  Yanar Mohammed (Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq) tells Fang of being able to "meet with groups of 200 or 300 women at factories or the railway station" in the early years of the illegal war; "But this year is completely different.  A woman can't even walk two to three blocks safely, much less [come to] a meeting."  Bay Fang addresses the MADRE report (which may make Ms. one of the first national periodicals to do so -- on MADRE's report click here to read in full in PDF format or in HTML), addresses the issue of "OH THERE ARE WOMEN IN THE PARLIAMENT!" by noting "During the January 2005 elections for the National Assembly, political parties were required to field electoral slates on which every third candidate was a woman, and as a result women captured 31 percent of the seats.  But nearly half of the elected women parliamentarians ran on the list of the Shiite alliance, and they have had to toe the conservative line of their party.  Some of the women parliamentarians could be forces for moderation and progress -- such as Mayson al-Damluji, a former undersecretary of culture who has urged the prime minister to honor his pledge to improve women's rights -- but the dangerous political environment of targeted assassinations has prevented them from being very outspoken."  Again, the latest issue of Ms. magazine (Spring 2007) goes on sale April 24th.  And though Fang's article isn't available currently online, Martha Mendoza's "Between a Woman and her Doctor" went up yesterday.
Now if the news above is news to you, that's because the media (big and small) have been in a feeding frenzy over twin (dueling?) soap operas and reality has fallen even more out of favor.  Addressing this with a hard hitting column, Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes: "Several days after the mass killings at Virginia Tech, grisly stories about the tragedy still dominate front pages and cable television.  News of carnage on a vastly larger scale -- the war in Iraq -- ebbs and flows.  The overall coverage of lethal violence, at home and far away, reflects the chronic evasions of the American media establishments."  Solomon goes on to explore the reasons for the different approaches in coverage.
Turning to the issue of war resisters, yesterday in Germany Agustin Aguayo was released.from the military prison he was sent to after his March court-martial.   
David Rising (AP) notes that Aguayo, credited for the time he was held following his turning himself in September, served "less than six weeks behind bars" on an eight month sentence.  Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports that Aguayo received "a bad conduct discharge, which he has since appealed" and that the appeal means, according to Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner, that he is "on active-duty status, with the same standards as all the other soldiers in the unit."  Aguayo attempted (repeatedly) to receive CO status and the Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors". 
Meanwhile, Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports on Marc Train who self-checked out the US Army last month, following the March 16th DC demonstration. Olson reports that Train signed up "under the delayed-entry program".  That's a nice little trick that the US military likes to play whereby someone under the age of consent when it comes to signing a legal contract is allowed to do so.  (Note: If you sign up under the delayed-entry program, you can say "NO."  You do not have to go in.  There are a number of legal reasons for that including contract law.  But anyone who has signed up to enter after high school graduation or after they turn 18 is not required to follow through.  Don't go to a base, don't go down to speak to anyone.  You can send a letter saying that you have changed your mind.)  Garrett Reppenhagen (Iraq Veterans Against the War) tells Olson, "Everyone's situation is different, and you have to weigh your obligations to your country and your oath against your moral compass and your higher conscience.  There is never a right or wrong answer when matching such powerful forces." 
Yesterday on Flashpoints, Olson interviewed US war resister Ricky Clousing who spoke of how learning of Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman "and others" were examples.   Clousing self-checked out and, after turning himself in, was court-martialed October 12th and served three months.
Ricky Clousing: I definitely don't regret my decision, I really feel like I responded the way that I needed to.  You know, there's this quote that says, you know, if you bow to the universe the universe bows back.
Sarah Olson: So today, though, war is increasingly unpopular, more American soldiers are denouncing it, the Iraqi resistance is growing, people on both sides continue to die.  Where do you, from your pespective as someone who's served in Iraq, where do you believe we need to be headed?
Ricky Clousing: A lot of people want to ask me, a lot of people want to know, 'Well who should we vote for,' you know, or 'What do you think's going to happen in the next election' and this, and this, and this.  And I think people are, they're living in a fantasy land if they think that by electing a Democrat in 2008 is going to fix all our problems, you know.  And like, "Oh there's this amazing spokesperson, they're speaking out against the war."  Sure, it's great that it's becoming more popular and more mainstream that people are questioning stuff but this is a radical movement.  It doesn't stop with the Iraq war, at that, you know.  It's much larger and demanding that our government not only be accountable but provide the type of government that we're supposed to be living in which isn't happening, you know?  I mean, we're not, we're not a people, the government is not by the people and for the people cause the people have a completely different priority list and a completely different agenda than the people that are in power and are benefitting you know  from corporate America that's tied into war and conflict and so many other aspects of society that are getting neglected because of it.  I mean the war machine in general is not just just about Iraq, it's not just about Afghanistan, you know, all the weapons that are being made and sent across the world and the role that we play economically across the world.  There are so many huge issues, you know.  So I think that it's so big and I don't mean to sound like a downer about stuff, I'm just saying I think that . . . I don't know the answer to like where things should be I just know that change doesn't happen without awareness, you know.  To start there, all of us need to be becoming more self informed and also spreading that awareness in whatever avenue we have.
Train, Clousing and Aguayo are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes  Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, 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.
Information on oil?  Ed Crooks (Financial Times of London) reported yesterday that a new "comprehensive independent study" of Iraq's oil resrouces has determined that "Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought" which "would raise Iraqi from the world's third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran."    How lucky (for corporations) that the steal-Iraqi-bill continues to be pressed.  CBS and AP report that the law, approved by al-Maliki's cabinet, is headed "to parliament next week" and note: "Passage of the law, thought to have been written with heavy U.S. involvement, is one of four benchmarks the Bush administration has set for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's struggling government."
Since Iraq has so much oil, possibly US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates can pump some, refine it and then use that to save the US tax payers the expense of his little stop in Baghdad today?  CBS and AP report that he arrived there today "to tell Iraqi leaders that the U.S. commitment for a military buildup in the country is not open-ended."  Believe that message (laughable though it is) has been made repeatedly already.
Government?  Remember Clousing's remarks to Olson?  In the US, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other members of Congress went to the White House yesterday to meet with the Bully Boy. Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) reports that the result was no "progress toward ending an impasse over an emergency spending bill."  Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that "Congressional Democratic leaders are moving to make their proposed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq 'advisory' as they seek to reconcile two versions of war spending legislation into a single bill that they plan to pass next week, according to several House members."  So the toothless, non-binding measures that would have never brought all the troops home (despite the hype) are now targeted for removal?  As Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) points out: "The supplemental passed by both Houses had been opposed by the vast majority of peace groups, now it looks like the supplemental developed by the conference committee will become even weaker.  Whether this weakening will be enough to avoid a veto remains to be seen.  But it sounds like the Democrats are making the already unacceptable more unacceptable to Americans who believe it is time to end the war.  And this rapid compromise before a veto is not a good sign for how much the Democrats will bend to the president if he follows through on his threat to veto the bill."
AFP reports: "A suicide car bomber killed 12 people in Baghdad on Thursday . . . in the central Jadriyah district -- a majority Shiite inhabited area . . . wounding 28 and also setting ablaze a nearby truck loaded with gas cylinders, a security official said."  Reuters reports a Diwaniya mortar attack that left three people wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 and left three wounded,
CBS and AP report a woman and a police officer were gunned down in Baquba (five additional police officers were injured) while seven people were injured in a Kirkuk drive-by.  Reuters reports a woman was shot by a sniper in Baghdad.
Reuters reports 4 burned corpses discovered in Shirqat.
Today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."  And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device north of Baghdad April 18.  The unit was returning from a combat patrol in the area when the attack occurred."
And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a combat security patrol was attacked with small armss fire in southwestern section of Baghdad April 18."
Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers in south-east Iraq at approximately 1120 hours local time on Thursday 19 April 2007.  Both were killed by an improvised explosive device in Maysaan Province."  That, for those dozing, would be the Maysan Province -- yesterday's photo-op turn over because things were so much calmer there. 
Reuters reports 144 is the total number of British soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and 144 is also ICCC's count.    3315 US service members have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war by ICCC's count and  3315 by Reuters.
Finally, in news of activism, Erica Pelzek (The Daily Cardinal) reports on a student protest: "Afer walking out of their classes at 1 p.m. Wendesday in protest of the war in iraq and rallying students down State Street, more than 40 members of US-Madisons's Campus Anti-War Network staged an all-night sit-in at U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's, D-Wis., Madison office.  The protesters insisted the senator return to Wisconsin to meet with the group and hear its demands regarding the war in Iraq."  Offering support to the students via phone were Howard Zinn and Dave Zirin.

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The Alberto Gonzales Show


Who can approve torture with a smile?
Who can take the rule of law
And suddenly make it just fade away?
Well it's you, Albie, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement, you show it
Hate is all around
No need to find it
You can destroy a town
And you wouldn't mind it
You're going to shred the Constitution after all.

The Alberto Gonzales Show airing live on KPFA. Larry Benksy hosts the broadcast of the Senate testimony. (Jim just asked me to make this its own item.)

The e-mail address for this site is

Other Items

Today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."

Two things not getting attention were noted by Maria (I passed them on to Mike and Elaine who commented at their sites yesterday):

"Group: 230 University Professors Killed So Far In Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
Two professors from Mosul University were murdered on Monday - the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting. The school's dean of political science was shot as he walked through the university gate. A second professor was killed in front of his home. The International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors estimates that over 230 university professors have been killed since the Iraq war started. 56 are reported missing and more than 3,000 others have fled the country. Schools in Iraq have also been targets of frequent attacks. In January at least 70 people died in a double suicide bombing at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University. Another suicide bomber struck the school in February killing 40 more students, faculty and staff.

"UN Holds Conference on Iraqi Refugees" (Democracy Now!):
[. . .]
* Angelo Gnaedinger: "Bombings, suicide attacks, shootings, abductions, murders, the destruction of civilian property and forced displacements are a daily reality for millions of Iraqis. In this dreadful situation and after years of violence, one wonders if a single Iraqi family has been spared human and material loss and their accompanying physical and psychological scars."
Meanwhile Iraqi officials are now estimating the war has produced 900,000 orphans.

The second item is edited to emphasize the last point made -- the illegal "war has produced 900,000 orphans." Remember that and pair it with IRIN's "Doctors warn of summer dehydration among children and the elderly:"

Doctors are warning of a possible increase in diseases among children and the elderly as Iraq’s hot summer months begin. Dehydration, cholera and bacterial infections are of the greatest concern, they say.
"The sewage and electrical systems in Iraq have completely deteriorated, worsening the situation, especially for children, as summer begins," said Dr Ibraheem Kaduri, a paediatrician at the Children Teaching Hospital in the capital, Baghdad.
Iraqis get less than eight hours of electricity a day and during summer, some cities or districts of the capital get less than six hours. Kaduri said that many people, especially those in displacement camps, have no access to drinking water. Children are forced to drink less water and as the weather gets hotter, they become dehydrated.
"But we can’t forget that children could also drink dirty water from rivers to quench their thirst, and with the contaminated water, they can be susceptible to diseases like cholera and diarrhoea," he said. "These children have no access to ventilators and air coolers and with temperatures sometimes reaching 48 to 50 degrees Celsius, it could be disastrous for them."

Equally disastrous for Iraqis is the depleted uranium and other chemical weapons used in their country by the United States. Those chemicals the US elected to use (the same that many suspect led to US service members getting Gulf War Syndrome during the first Gulf War) remain in Iraq. From "Insecurity and lack of funds prevent cleansing of polluted sites" (IRIN):

According to specialists, the number of cancer cases has increased dramatically over the past five years, partly as a result of exposure to polluted materials during wars over the past 25 years.
"We see more than six new cases of cancer in our hospital per week. Years ago, we were treating about 4,000 patients per year but in the past three years, the number has jumped to more than 9,000 cases a year," Bassima Jua'ad, oncologist at the Cancer Radiation Hospital in the capital, said.
"The most worrying thing is that dozens of those patients have been exposed to radiation in different forms. Some were living near polluted sites, others were children during the last wars who played near dangerous sites and now the effects are appearing on them or in their children," she added.

Meanwhile Polly notes this from BBC:

The death of eight UK servicemen in an US helicopter crash at the start of the Iraq conflict was due to mechanical failure, a coroner has ruled.
Andrew Walker's view goes against a US finding that pilot error was to blame. The commandos died along with four US marines in Kuwait on 21 March 2003.
The Oxford coroner said it was "unacceptable" the US had failed to release evidence about the incident.
Relatives of the Britons said the lack of co-operation added to their grief.

The names of the UK service members who died in the March 2003 crash are:

John Cecil
Philip Guy
Sholoto Hedenskog
Mark Stratford
Jason Ward
Ian Seymour
Les Hehir
Llwelyn Evans

It should be noted that the US government has also been less than forthcoming with the Italian government in what's known as the Calipari-Sgrena Debacle. Yesterday, Iraq announced it would pledge $25 million to Syria and Jordan since the latter two countries are housing many displaced Iraqis. In other economic news, Lloyd notes Steven Mufson and Robin Wright's "In a Major Step, Saudi Arabia Agrees to Write Off 80 Percent of Iraqi Debt" (Washington Post):

Saudi Arabia has agreed to forgive 80 percent of the more than $15 billion that Iraq owes the kingdom, Iraqi and Saudi officials said yesterday, a major step given Saudi reluctance to provide financial assistance to the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
But Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabr said in an interview that
Russia was holding out on debt forgiveness until talks begin on concessions that Russian oil and gas companies had under Saddam Hussein. Russian Embassy officials in Washington declined to comment late yesterday.

In they-keep-saying-the-war-wasn't-about-oil-news, Ed Crooks (Financial Times of London) reports:

Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought, according to the most comprehensive independent study of its resources since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The potential presence of a further 100bn barrels in the western desert highlights the opportunity for Iraq to be one of the world’s biggest oil suppliers, and its attractions for international oil companies -- if the conflict in the country can be resolved.

If confirmed, it would raise Iraq from the world’s third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran.

And remember that KPFA is providing live broadcast of The Alberto Gonzales Show.


Who can approve torture with a smile?
Who can take the rule of law
And suddenly make it just fade away?
Well it's you, Albie, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement, you show it
Hate is all around
No need to find it
You can destroy a town
And you wouldn't mind it
You're going to shred the Constitution after all.

Theme song and illustration via The Third Estate Sunday Review (and theme is send up of "Love Is All Around" -- theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Alberto live on KPFA. Larry Bensky is anchoring the Senate testimony.

The e-mail address for this site is

KPFA live broadcast Gonzales before the Senate

A U.S. Army medic who refused to return for a second tour to Iraq was released from a military prison in Germany on Wednesday after serving a sentence for desertion, the U.S. military said.
Specialist Agustin Aguayo, 35, was convicted at a court martial in March of desertion and other lesser charges and sentenced to eight months in prison, well short of the possible maximum of seven years, in a case that has become a cause for peace activists.
With credit for time already served, he spent less than six weeks behind bars before being released, said U.S. European Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner.
Elsa Rassbach, whose anti-war group American Voices Abroad has assisted Aguayo, said his release was bittersweet.
"Even though he's free, the decision against him was unjust in our opinion, because he is a legitimate conscientious objector,,'' she said.

The above, noted by Gareth, is from David Rising's "Army Medic Serves Sentence for Desertion" (AP via Guardian of London). You can also read the AP article at CBS. Also on Aguayo, from Mark St. Clair's "Soldier who refused 2nd Iraq tour is released" (Stars and Stripes):

Aside from confinement, Aguayo, 35, was also given a bad-conduct discharge, which he has since appealed, Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner, a U.S. Army Europe spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
According to Hibner, because of the appeal, Aguayo has two decisions: either stay as a member of his unit until the process is completed, or request voluntary excess leave from the Army and go stateside to his home of record.
Leave requires approval of the regional court-martial convening authority, the commander of 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwöhr, Germany. As of Wednesday, Aguayo has not requested any leave.
"As of now," Hibner said, "(Aguayo) stays with the unit until he files (for leave) … He'll be on normal active-duty status, with the same standards as all the other soldiers in the unit."
If given permission to go back to the States, Aguayo would be on active-duty status until his regularly accrued leave expires, at which time he would no longer receive any pay, Hibner said.

Kyle asked if we could note Marjorie Cohn's "The New Watergate: U.S. Attorneys and Voting Rights" (Marjorie Cohn):

The Bush administration is shocked, shocked, that the firing of a few U.S. attorneys has caused such a stir in Washington. After all, the Oval Office says, the President can choose whomever he wants to prosecute federal cases. But the Supreme Court declared in Berger v. United States that a prosecutor's job is to see that justice is done, not to politicize justice. The mass ouster of the top prosecutors had more to do with keeping a grip on power - by manipulating voting rights - than with doing justice. And like the Watergate scandal, the evidence points to a cover-up.
This cover-up revolves around efforts by the Bush administration to disenfranchise African-American voters in communities where the vote would likely be close. George W. Bush came to power in 2000 by a razor-thin margin awarded him by the Supreme Court. During the 2004 election, there were allegations of attempts to disenfranchise African-American voters, especially in Ohio. Yet no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African-American or Native American voters from 2001 to 2006.
Instead, the administration instigated efforts that would further disenfranchise these voters. U.S. attorneys were instructed to prosecute "voter fraud" cases. "Voter fraud" has "become almost synonymous with 'voting while black,'" the New York Times' Paul Krugman observed. Also, Republican lawmakers enacted voter ID laws which established new hurdles for voters to jump.

Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild and, obviously we can note this, and has already been one of the people speaking to Larry Bensky this morning about the Gonzales scandal/cesspool ("tip of the iceberg") -- live coverage of the Gonzales testimony on KPFA. Bensky anchors the live broadcast and there will be many experts brought on (Bensky will take calls at some point and also give out the e-mail address for those wanting to comment).
That coverage is airing right now, it's live, you can listen over the airwaves or online. (No membership, no fee, no request that you fill out a survey.)

A visitor has already e-mailed this morning to inform that "there are three articles on Iraq!" in this morning's paper. Apparently, I confused someone when I wrote:

And the Times? Why do you have multiple reporters in Iraq (not counting stringers who do the bulk of the work) when yesterday results in only one story?

Seems pretty clear to me -- "multiple reporters in Iraq." There are two other stories in the Iraq section. David S. Cloud files from Tel Aviv on Robert Gates' trip. Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg file from DC. Multiple reporters in Iraq resulted in only one story, Kirk Semple is the only article with a Baghdad dateline. If there's any real surprise it's that the Times is (still) so caught up in the drama that they relegate the DC story to inside the paper -- think of a time when you have Bully Boy meeting with the Senate Majority Leader and the House Speaker and the Times (with their own photos of the meet up) wouldn't front page that?

There's not a lot of room when you're caught up in the drama. Not one, but two shooter articles on the front page (one by Tamar Lewin, one by Shaila Dewan and Marc Santora). That's two cover stories. On a Monday shooting. On the cover of a daily newspaper. If you don't grasp the problem your mind's been rotted by cable TV. As if that's not bad enough, flip inside the paper to A18 for the "MASSACRE IN VIRGINIA" section. Yes, today is Thursday, the Times is a daily paper, the shooting took place on Monday and they've run two front page stories today. That doesn't mean they can't hop in the sewer with the rest of the tabloids.

Bill Carter writes a piece, Neela Banerjee writes a piece, Jennifer Steinhauer writes a piece, there's a piece of "biographical sketches, you've got a piece by Colin Moynihan and you have a piece by Michael Luo. That's eight pieces on Thursday, in a daily paper, about an act of violence that took place on Monday (and has been covered every day in the paper already). Need more drama?

Turn to A27 and you've got columns by Bob Herbert and Barbara Oakley.

171 dead in Baghdad yesterday. One story in today's paper. 33 people dead in Virginia on Monday and, despite non-stop drama already, 8 pieces plus two columns. On the third day of the paper's nonstop drama (don't call it coverage) they still manage to squeeze out a little more drama because these days there's not a great deal of difference between the cesspools of cable TV and the New York Times.

At West's request, we'll close with Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Alberto Gonzales from the Land of Denial."


Again, live coverage of the Gonzales testimony on KPFA.

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