Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: This is a grab bag report and thanks to Kat for grabbing items [language warning] in "KPFA, you're getting on my last nerve" earlier this week. I will be focusing primarily on presentation and Iraq as these are the two topics that have come up repeatedly in e-mails. Where a member, or in one case a visitor, has given permission to be noted, I will note them specifically but, even where an individual is noted, many e-mails came on the topics below.

KPFA Management Report to the Listeners aired June 1st and there were a number of problems with it. The two biggest problems were the time and the handling. Despite all the talk of rotating the report so that it aired at various times, after doing so only once, they are no back at their usual 1:00 pm, weekday hour. Did it tax them too much doing one report that aired on The Morning Show?

If so, too bad. That was the only coherent report that Sasha Lilley, interim program director, has taken part in. Here is the reality, Ms. Lilley and interim general manager Lemlem Rijio, two grown women, cannot deliver a report on their own. With Andrea Lewis acting as moderator, the report was listenable, moved along nicely and sounded like you were hearing adults talking. On their own again, Ms. Lilley and Ms. Rijio are not just a mess, they sound like a really cruel Saturday Night Live skit.

Ms. Rijio did not take part in the report that Ms. Lewis moderated and I said then that I was not arguing it was better because Ms. Rijio did not take part; however, I will say now that Ms. Rijio is one of the biggest problems with the report. At one point in this month's report, while addressing a caller's concerns, both women had answered. Then Ms. Lilley stated she wanted to touch on the second part of the caller's comments which immediately resulted in Ms. Rijio claiming she did as well. Ms. Rijio did not comment on anything new, Ms. Lilley did. I visibly cringed, Rebecca pointed out, when Ms. Rijio rushed in with her 'Yes, me too! I want to comment too!' nonsense. That is because it was embarrassing before she even offered her noncomment. Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon's Margaret Jo and Terry could not have been more embarrassing; however, the two characters those actresses played were supposed to be funny.

This was the report where listeners were informed Peter Laufer would be taking over Larry Benksy's Sunday hours, nine to eleven a.m. PST. Apparently, annoucing that tired both women because Mr. Laufer was then expected to deliver a monologue about himself. Mr. Laufer seemed suprised, and did ask what they wanted to know, that he was brought onto a show not to answer questions from either women, but to provide his resume. This was not a conversation, it was not a question and answer session. It also was not even remotely professional. That was not Mr. Laufer's fault. He did his best to condense what was at least four decades of experiences and history. The fault for the problems belong to both women who never asked questions and seemed to think that their job began and ended with brining someone on the show.

Ms. Lilley does know how to interview but apparently, when with Mr. Rijio, she too is reduced to "giggly girl." That is how their reports play out as they both show up unprepared and suddenly remember an announcement, which they get wrong and then have to correct, and jump from topic to topic. To be really clear, as interim program director and station manager, their reports destroy any image of professionalism for KPFA each time they open their mouths.
They were on in Kris Welch's spot and Ms. Welch, being an adult, may not have wished to moderate a discussion where two other grown women acted like the silliest teenagers you can imagine. If so, I do not blame Ms. Welch for not wanting to participate, but Ms. Lilley and Ms. Rijio need a moderator and they need to conduct themselves as if they are aware of the responsibilities their jobs entail.

This is a huge embarrassment and C.I.'s only comment was, "Well a friend did say it would make a good sketch." (I have permission to note that.) If it does become a sketch on TV, the two women cannot blame anyone but themselves. If they become national laughingstocks, the only reason for that is because they have conducted themselves in that manner repeatedly.

Now if anyone thinks KPFA will benefit from such attention, think again. These two women do not represent themselves on air, they represent the station. They are doing a very poor job of that. They need to cut the 'girl talk' and start acting like women. They need to cut out the cross talk and the "aren't we cute" presentation before they do find themselves sent up on national television. It will not be funny to me, I will be humiliated for KPFA.

"Oh good point, Sasha." "Thank you, Lem-Lem." "Always, Sahsa. If I may add one more thing." "Oh, certainly, Lem-Lem." The skit writes itself.

As usual the first thirty or so minutes were a huge waste that any attempts at organization could have reduced to ten to twelve minutes. Organization would not allow for the giggles or rambles, but I really do not graps the need for either in a report to the listeners. What it conveys, intentionally or not, is that the two at the top of the chain never know what they are doing or what they will say next. That does not encourage faith in the station.

Moving to the second topic, KPFA has changed the look of their website and we are all supposed to be impressed. I thought I was the only one who would have trouble with it since they switched to a much smaller type but e-mail after e-mail complains about it and notes that KPFA had a signature look and it looks now just like the new WBAI layout with different colors. Not noted in the e-mails, but equally true, is that it is just like the layout for Pacifica Radio although Pacifica Radio uses a bit larger type.

Since she listens over the airwaves, Mia goes online only to send comments and she asked that I note that they have still not returned the option of contacting the news department in their online forum.

Mark, a visitor, saw Kat's post this week and e-mailed to remind me that I promised I would address the issue of the news after the fundraiser. Kat has addressed it but I did promise Mark in my e-mail reply the first week of the fundraiser that I would note it, so here goes. Do not expect to reach your goal if your news department has seemed less about news and more about selling Congressional plans. The Pelois-Reid measure in March was nothing but symbolism and many guests that we usually hear on KPFA were pointing that out . . . elsewhere.

Whether or not KPFA grasped that the measure was symoblism and decided to sell it regardless or whether they all followed D.C. correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell's lead, I have no idea. But I do know we did not hear reality and that frequent guests who were calling the measure out in real time were suddenly not showing up on programs. Pacifica is peace radio. It is not radio. Peace was the mission under which KPFA was created and whether you are a member of this community or a visitor, you wrote in complaining about KPFA's news coverage of the Pelosi-Reid measure. I read all 486 e-mails on that and knew, going into the fundraiser, that reaching a targeted goal so soon after so many listeners felt the news had, at best, taken a vacation or, at worst, lost their common sense, would be problematic.

Mark knew it too. The first time he e-mailed, he noted that in his e-mail, writing that he felt no need to contribute this cycle after that news coverage. He predicted then that KPFA would not reach their goal. Mark was correct and, judging by e-mails I received, and conversations I had with Kat, Ty, Ava, Jess, Dona and Jim about how that was playing out in KPFA's over the airwaves listening area, I knew he had a solid point.

You should not offer 'news' that is one-sided, cuts out all debate from the left on a Congressional measure, and does so repeatedly, then turn around with your hand out asking for a donation if you are expecting people to haul out their wallets and checkbooks.

As someone who listens to both KPFA and WBAI, the most amazing thing about this past week has been how little attention Adam Kokesh, Liam Madden and Cloy Richards have received. Another underserved topic was the passing of the 3500 mark for the number of U.S. service members killed in the illegal war. Iraq continues to be the most undercovered topic; however, Aileen Alfandary did have time to discuss Paris Hilton on a Friday's newsbreaks. I am sure that was a popular topic, I am equally sure it is not news nor does have a single thing to do with the reason that KPFA was created in the first place. Liam Madden held a press conference on Thursday but Ms. Alfandary wanted to discuss Paris Hilton? Is KPFA the peace radio station or is it just reading off the CNN feed? The inclusion of that junk news is exactly the sort of item Kat was criticizing earlier this week and they are not the sort of topics Sandra Lupien covered when she did the morning news breaks.

On WBAI's First Voices Thursdays, an interview with singer-songwriter, activist and artist Buffy Sainte-Marie was aired and we heard about she was targeted by the government in an attempt to silence her voice. These days it is not necessary for the government to silence voices when what too often passes for news silences themselves by avoiding real news.

Take Liam Madden. I learned more about his Thursday press conference in Friday's "Iraq snapshot" than I did from Pacifica Radio. The only time I heard it on KPFA was during Thursday's The KPFA Evening News in a report by Dave Goodman. I did not, in that report, hear that Mr. Madden had explained the difference between his case and Sergeant Kokesh's and that may be the biggest failure of independent media which may be due to the fact Mr. Goodman's report was a "headline" from Free Speech Radio News on Thursday, not an actual report. Sergeant Kokesh was engaged in street theater. That does matter, as C.I.'s pointed out, because the Supreme Court addressed street theater and the right of citizens to wear military garb in these productions back in 1970. All of broadcast independent media has failed Sergent Kokesh. That includes Free Speech Radio News which went all week long without reporting on Kokesh's hearing or appeal, even as a headline. Meanwhile, Democracy Now! was signaling that it was summer? How so? Tim Russert declares each Sunday, "If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press." Broadcast independent media's undeclared motto appears to be, "If it's summer, it's Israel." As C.I. noted, independent media is in vacation mode and, apparently, we can now look forward to the occassional report on Iraq but not much more.

It bears noting that Cindy Sheehan became the face of the peace movement not due to independent media but due to the mainstream media. Ms. Sheehan has left the building, as the saying goes, and independent media feels no obligation to provide leadership or to present leaders.

On the subject of Israel and the occupied terrirtories, though unpromoted, a special is airing that is worth your time. Not being promoted? "Ruth," C.I. asked me Thursday, calling from Boston, "Nora's special is airing Saturday, right? If it is, I'll mention it in the snapshot but I'm not finding anything on it." I had heard a few promos, very few, about Nora Barrows-Friedman's special but, until Friday, KPFA did not even note it on their website. Marshall noted that as well and that there was nothing about the special at Pacifica Radio either when he wrote Thursday evening. Why, he wondered, "do you bother to do a news special if you won't even promote it?" That is a very good question. If you missed the special, you can hear it in the KPFA archives for Saturday or at the Pacifica Radio site. It will also air tomorrow on Houston's KPFT at 6:00 p.m. Ava and C.I. have a write up on the special that will run in Tuesday's Hilda's Mix. Buffy Sainte-Marie, whom I mentioned earlier, will be performing Sunday at the Clearwater Festival which WBAI is a sponsor of. It was also stated that the Cowboy Junkies and Bruce Cockburn would be performing Sunday.

This was a grab bag report and my hunch, based on last year when All Things Media Big and Small dropped Iraq as a topic, is that I will be doing many more of those this summer.

NYT: That crazy Nouri al-Maliki

A quandry, how do you point out an obvious problem with the New York Times without contributing to the nonsense? A celebrity is on the front page. We won't name her. We will note that she's not front page news or even breaking news unless you are a tabloid. Today, the New York Times feels the need to join the ranks.

Which leaves John F. Burns' "Wife and Son of Police Chief Are Among 50 Killed in Iraq" on A5. Maybe it belongs there due to the writing/reporting? I'm counting 63 announced dead (corpses included). It's also hard not to note that the police chief in the headline is so unimportant in the text that he doesn't even get named until paragraph ten.

Equally true is that this is at least two stories, the rundown of yesterday's violence (including the home invasion) and another story.

Headline should read "Al-Maliki, Losing His Political Grip, Attacks" and this portion includes a quote by the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, that (at best) is his attempt at bad poetry or (at worst) a sign that he's gone bonkers. Describing his enemies whom he knows are all out there waiting ("Paranoia will destroy ya'" as the Kinks once sang), al-Maliki declares they are all "a black ant on a black rock on a dark night." They do have mental health care providers in Baghdad, just FYI, and al-Maliki should see one promptly. He goes on to trash the London-based, CIA trained Ayad Allawi (which indicates he still has some grip on sanity) and Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni vice president. Burns forgets to tell readers why al-Hashemi might get trashed. He offers generics but forgets what al-Hashemi said this week. From yesteday's snapshot: "'Actually alarming' is the phrase China's Xinhua reports Iraq's Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hsahimi used to describe his country while visiting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak Wednesday." Again, these are two individual stories but apparently they have to be lumped together in order to make room on the front page for Celebrity Justice!

And that's it for Iraq and the Times. AP reports:

Turkish artillery shelled suspected positions of Kurdish rebels based across the border in northern Iraq on Friday, according to reports.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Turkey that it risked expanding regional tensions with any "robust" move of troops into Iraq.

Reuters notes six dead from two Baghdad car bombings, six dead (50 wounded) from a mortar attack on the Camp Bucca prison (run by the US), a police officer dead from a Mosul roadside bombing, and the US military killed six suspect 'insurgents' (five in Falluja, one in Baghdad).

Miguel was the first this week to note Margaret Kimberley's "John Conyers and the Bush Dictatorship" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

According to an old saying, many a truth is often said in jest. Not enough people took notice on December 18, 2000 when George W. Bush said those awful words. On that date the president-elect went to Capital Hill for a get acquainted session with Congressional leaders. He emerged from that meeting with his well known smirk, and gave Congress and the American people the finger. No one should be shocked when a man who tells jokes about dictatorship turns into a dictator.
Without fanfare, or announcement of any kind, the president recently signed a directive which states that in case of a "catastrophic emergency" the "President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government." What is a catastrophic emergency? Well, it is anything that Bush says it is.
"The president can usurp the constitutionally guaranteed powers of Congress and the judiciary because of an attack on Iran or a surge of casualties in Iraq."
The document,
National Continuity Policy, was signed by the president on May 9, 2007 and unceremoniously posted on the White House website. It defines catastrophic emergency as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function."
That language describes hurricanes, earthquakes, black outs, flu epidemics, terror attacks, or mass demonstrations. If location doesn't matter, the president can usurp the constitutionally guaranteed powers of Congress and the judiciary because of an attack on Iran or a surge of casualties in Iraq. L'etat c'est Bush.
The president announced that he is crowning himself king and thereby making his sick wishes come true. What should be a headline in every major newspaper in the nation has been covered only by the
Boston Globe. None of the television networks have said a word nor has a peep been heard from Congress.
This announcement is consistent with other Bush administration actions. In 2006 the federal government awarded a contract to KBR, a subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton, to build
"detention centers" in case of a national immigration emergency. Homeland Security has already established an immigrant detention facility in Texas, the T. Don Hutto center, that has incarcerated entire families, including children. When U.N. human rights investigator Jorge Bustamante showed up for a pre-arranged visit he was refused entry and turned away.

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

This was noted in the public account, from Carl Bloice's "Lebanon: A Media Cover-Up?" (The Black Commentator):

On the morning of May 22, 2007, CNN International (not to be confused with the network’s often horrid domestic service), carried what could only be called a sensational report. While Lebanese Army forces were bombarding the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, the station interviewed veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, who sketched a quite different background to the fighting than that being offered by most of the major media. It seems that Fatah al-Islam, the group that touched off the conflict, is not primarily a Palestinian organization. Its existence has been known for some time and it has been able to function freely because officials of Lebanon minority government welcomed it as a weapon against the popular Lebanese group, Hezbollah.
After viewing the Hersh interview, I phoned a friend to tell him about it, and his response was, "Well, if the major papers pick up this report it could really become interesting."
They didn't.
The information in the Hersh interview was cited frequently on the internet and in foreign media. A few days after the CNN International appearance, Hearst was interviewed on the radio show
Democracy Now. But the major media? Not a mumbling word.
The New York Times totally ignored the Hersh revelations - which actually were not new but had been contained in a February article in the New Yorker. In it, he writes that under the sponsorship of Vice-President Dick Cheney, an arrangement was worked out to create conflict between militant Sunni groups and Shiite Hezbollah.
Actually, the Times editors didn't need Hersh to give an accurate picture of Fatah al-Islam. On Mar. 16, the paper ran a report by four of its own reporters about the group, which included an interview with its leader Shaker al-Absi. In it, he is described as "a fugitive Palestinian" who “has set up operations in a refugee camp, here, where he trains fighters and spreads the ideology of Al Qaeda.”
Now get this: a man who had been sentenced to death in absentia in Jordan for the murder of a U.S. diplomat, Laurence Foley, and has arrest warrants out for him in three countries, is able to set up shop in Tripoli with a band of 150 fighters "and an arsenal of explosives, rockets and even an antiaircraft gun"? Not only that, intelligence officials in Beirut told the Times reporters "he has also exploited another source of manpower: they estimate he has 50 militants from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries fresh from fighting with the insurgency in Iraq."
Where was the CIA?

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 8, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad Christians get a warning, Mitt Romney cares about "faulty intelligence" except when he doesn't, and the US military continues to use prosecution as an attempt to silence dissent.
Yesterday, in Boston, Liam Madden spoke on the steps in front of the Massachusetts State House wearing a black Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt and jeans about the efforts of the US miltary to, as with Adam Kokesh and Cloy Richards, silence him.  Madden sees the "hearing and this investigation to be a vindicative waste of tax payer dollars to silence free speech and to assault the First Amendment rights of our veterans."  Madden was honorably discharged from active duty status (with the rank of Sgt.) in January only to be notified May 14 that he "was being recommnded for an other than honorable discharge from the IRR [Inactive Ready Reserves]."  He is being investigated for two things.  First, for "wearing a partial uniform at a protest" which he translated as "a camaflage utility top, unbuttoned with jeans and t-shirt" and noted that Vietnam veterans, during that illegal war, participated in demonstrations, rallies, etc. in their uniforms with no such punishment.  He is also accused of making "disloyal" statements while speaking last February. Before taking questions, he concluded with, "I stand by what I said."  If you stand with Liam Madden, you can demonstrate that by signing a petition in support of Madden.
In the question and answers that followed, he was asked of Adam Kokesh and responded,
"Adam's case is different than mine he was charged with wearing a uniform during a political street theater and also with making disrespectful comments to a superior commissioned officer. So his charges are different and the board will be different.  And that is just one grounds that Adam has to appeal his case."  Notice how well, and briefly, Madden can sum up the issues at stake in Kokesh's case.  Much better than you can find it done in the media.  Take Marilou Johanek (Toledo Blade) whose column should be entitled "Call Me a Dumb Ass" when she makes fact-free statements such as this: "As long as a reservist is still obligated to the Marine Corps and can be reactivated at any time, he must play by the rules."  The rules everyone must "play by" are the rules governing our nation so, pay attention Johanek, when the Supreme Court rules in Schacht v. United States (1970) that the US military has no right to dictate theater productions -- when Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black specifically notes that street theater is theater -- that's it, it's over.  Prior to Schacht v. United States, the US military thought they had the right to allow some productions (pro-military) and disallow others (anti-military).  They thought they had the right to determine whether their uniforms could be worn or not based on what they thought of the performance.  Daniel Jay Schecht participated (with two others) in street theater (not at all different from Operation First Casualty that Kokesh did) in front of a recruiting center in 1967.  The case made it to the Supreme Court and the Court found that the US military had no say in theaterical productions.  Let's quote Justice Hugo Black one more time since it's so difficult for some to grasp:
The Government's argument in this case seems to imply that somehow what these amateur actors did in Houston should not be treated as a "theatrical production" within the meaning of 772 (f). We are unable to follow such a suggestion. Certainly theatrical productions need not always be performed in buildings or even on a defined area such as a conventional stage. Nor need they be performed by professional actors or be heavily financed or elaborately produced. Since time immemorial, outdoor theatrical performances, often performed by amateurs, have played an important part in the entertainment and the education of the people of the world. Here, the record shows without dispute the preparation and repeated presentation by amateur actors of a short play designed to create in the audience an understanding of and opposition to our participation in the Vietnam war. Supra, at 60 and this page. It may be that the performances were crude and [398 U.S. 58, 62] amateurish and perhaps unappealing, but the same thing can be said about many theatrical performances. We cannot believe that when Congress wrote out a special exception for theatrical productions it intended to protect only a narrow and limited category of professionally produced plays. 3 Of course, we need not decide here all the questions concerning what is and what is not within the scope of 772 (f). We need only find, as we emphatically do, that the street skit in which Schacht participated was a "theatrical production" within the meaning of that section. 
This brings us to petitioner's complaint that giving force and effect to the last clause of 772 (f) would impose an unconstitutional restraint on his right of free speech. We agree. This clause on its face simply restricts 772 (f)'s authorization to those dramatic portrayals that do not "tend to discredit" the military, but, when this restriction is read together with 18 U.S.C. 702, it becomes clear that Congress has in effect made it a crime for an actor wearing a military uniform to say things during his performance critical of the conduct or [398 U.S. 58,63]   policies of the Armed Forces. An actor, like everyone else in our country, enjoys a constitutional right to freedom of speech, including the right openly to criticize the Government during a dramatic performance. The last clause of 772 (f) denies this constitutional right to an actor who is wearing a military uniform by making it a crime for him to say things that tend to bring the military into discredit and disrepute. In the present case Schacht was free to participate in any skit at the demonstration that praised the Army, but under the final clause of 772 (f) he could be convicted of a federal offense if his portrayal attacked the Army instead of praising it. In light of our earlier finding that the skit in which Schacht participated was a "theatrical production" within the meaning of 772 (f), it follows that his conviction can be sustained only if he can be punished for speaking out against the role of our Army and our country in Vietnam. Clearly punishment for this reason would be an unconstitutional abridgment of freedom of speech. The final clause of 772 (f), which leaves Americans free to praise the war in Vietnam but can send persons like Schacht to prison for opposing it, cannot survive in a country which has the First Amendment. To preserve the constitutionality of 772 (f) that final clause must be stricken from the section.
To repeat: the US military has no say regarding theater (street or otherwise).  To repeat, and you have to go to Iraq Veterans Against the War to find this out because idiots like Heather Hollingsworth left it out of the reports, "the Marine Corps panel, as well as the prosecution's key witness, Major Whyte, agreed that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) does not apply to members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)."  UCMJ does not apply to IRR?  That only leaves the Supreme Court verdict.
Mark Rainer (World Socialist Web Site) notes that Kokesh's military appeal was denied Wednesday and the panel's finding "must now be approved by Brig. Gen. Darrell Moore, commander of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, Missouri.  A decision is expected within a week.  According to Kokesh's attorney Mike Lebowitz, who is also an Iraq veteran, Moore cannot increase Kokesh's punishment by issuing an other-than-honorable discharge, but can only accept the board's general discharge recommendation, or reinstate the honorable discharge."  If the other-than-honorable discharge stands, Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) reports, it "probably won't affect his veterans' benefits.  But two other marines in the IRR [Liam Madden and Cloy Richards] face similar charges and risk losing their veterans' benefits, such as healthcare and money for education."
Turning to other news of war resistance, earlier this week  Geoff Ziezuleicz (Stars and Stripes) reported that US war resister Aguayo will recieve an award from AnStifter, "According to an interpreted release put out last week by Connection e.V., another German anti-war group, the prize will be awarded to Aguayo on Dec. 1 during a ceremony in Stuttgart."
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
In Iraq, oil workers went on strike and the puppet government's response?  As Great Britain's Socialist Worker noted Wednesday, the response was to order "the arrest of four leaders of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, including Hassan Jumaa Awad, for 'sabotaging the Iraqi economy' by ordering a strike."  The puppet government believes the most important 'freedom' is the 'freedom to arrest' whomever they want for whatever they want.  Ben Lando (UPI via AfterDowningStreet) reports US House Rep Lynn Woolsey has stated, "If they're working for a true democracy, working rights have to be front and center".  Ben Lando (UPI) reports today: "With an arrest warrant looming, an Iraqi union leader warned during a U.S. visit failed negotiations will escalate a standoff in Basra's oil sector.  Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, said a five-day colling off/negotiation period, which began Wednesday, is crucial to keep Iraq's oil sector pumping and 1.6 million barrels per day flowing to the global oil market."  Also under attack are Christians in Baghdad.  Hannah Allam and Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report that a group suspected ties of al-Qaeda have issued an edict to Christians living in Baghdad: "Convert to Islam, marry your daughters to our fighters, pay an Islamic tax or leave with only the clothes on your back."  That would be the city of the fabled 'crackdown,' ongoing for over a year now, repeatedly beefed up, with no results to show for it.  Unless you see 'success' in CNN's report that the first week of June saw 199 corpses discovered in Baghdad alone.  "Actually alarming" is the phrase China's Xinhua reports Iraq's Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hsahimi used to describe his country while visiting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak Wednesday.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the "Fatah Basha mosque, Sunni mosque, in Al Bayaa neighborhood" of Baghdad was bombed, an Al Sakran bombing that killed 2 police officers (one more wounded), that a bombing involving a person in a "vest bomb" and a parked car in Kirkuk resulted in 19 dead (20 wounded), and two car bombings in Al Qurna led to 10 dead (25 wounded).  Reuters notes a mini-bus explosion outside Basra that left 12 dead (33 injured) and 19 dead from a Dakok car bombing (20 wounded).
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Colonel Ali Dilaiyan Al Journai's Diyala province home was invaded and his "wife, his son and 10 policemen" were shot dead in a home invasion in which three police officers were also kidnapped while in Basra Lt. Ali Adai was shot dead.  Reuters raises the death toll on the home invasion from 12 to 14.  BBC reports that the 14 includes the police Col.'s wife but that three of their children are kidnapped.  CBS and AP note that the children (undetermined age) are thought to include two males and one female and note: "Unknown gunmen speeding by in the northern city of Kirkuk shot and killed a soldier, Adnan Mahmoud, as he drove with his 2-year-old daughter Friday morning.  The child also was killed, said police Capt. Jassim Abdullah."  On the home invasion, Kim Gamel (AP) reports that the three children kidnapped are "grown children" and that Col. al-Jorani is Sunni.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 4 corpses discovered in Falluja.
In the United States, Petey Pace has given the full Rumsfeld.  AFP reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared today that General Pace will not remain "as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to avoid a divisive showdown in Congress focusing on the Iraq war" and quotes Pace declaring he is "disappointed."  Admiral Edmund Giambastiani has been picked to replace Pace. He will require Senate confirmation.  CBS and AP state: "The decision has been in the works for more than a couple of weeks, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports."
In US political news, Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) informs that Sam Brownback and Gordon Smith, Republican US senators, "got behind new legislation designed to encourage the Bush administration to reduce U.S. military involvement in Iraq" and that this "comes a day after five GOP senators signed on to separate legislation that would enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which envisioned most U.S. combat troops coming home by early 2008."  Brownback is also hoping to become the GOP nominee for the 2008 US presidential race.  In news of other GOP candidates for president,
CounterSpin offered this today:
Janine Jackson:  In the June 5th Republican presidential candidates debate former governor Mitt Romney made a straight up factual error claiming that Saddam Hussein had not allowed inspectors into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction in advance of the 2003 invasion.  That's simply wrong.  Inspectors were in Iraq -- looking for, but not finding, WMDs up until they were ordered out before the war began,  Perhaps Romney was misled by reading the paper  or numerous papers over the years?  The story about Saddam Hussein not allowing inspections is one of those mainstream media seem to find too useful to let go of despite its utter falsehood.  When George W. Bush himself made the same claim in July of 2003 most outlets didn't even report it while the Washington Post boldly declared that Bush's claim "appeared to contradict the events leading up to war."  Even though the story is completely bogus, media have gotten it wrong so often that for them it seems to carry a cloud of ambiguity thus Democratic strategist Paul Begala found himself having to debate a basic fact of history on CNN's Anderson Cooper show.  Begala said Romney's error was "like saying the Mexicans bombed Pearl Harbor."  But he was outnumbered by Republican strategist Mike Murphy and by conservative pundit Amy Holmes making the historical record seem like a minority opinion.  Even worse, Begala himself screwed up by asserting that Saddam Hussein had thrown out inspectors in 1998 before a round of US bombing directed by Bill Clinton.  That too was false but it's also a perinneal media myth.  In the end, Anderson Cooper was left to declare, "We're not going to get this resolved tonight."  To which viewers might respond, "No, so long as falsehoods are given the same weight as facts, it seems unlikely such matters will be resolved." 
Of the lack of serious attention to Romney's error/lie, Robert Parry (Consortium News) explains, "The answer to the media question of why the U.S. press corps didn't object to Romney's bogus account is that Washington journalists have accepted this revisionist history since Bush began lying about the facts in July 2003. . . .  Facing no contradiction from the White House press corps, Bush continued repeating this lie in varied forms over the next four years as part of his public litany for defending the invasion."
Romney's offered other reasons in the past for why he believes the US started the Iraq war.  In 2005, when he met with military families, he cited a different reason for the illegal war.  Scott Helman (Boston Globe via Military Families Speak Out) reported October 18, 2005: "After meeting with six families whose loved ones have served in Iraq, Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday that the United States had invaded the country based on 'faulty intelligence.'  But he refused to press President Bush to bring  home the state's National Guard."  In a Februrary 2006 report by Glen Johnson (AP), Romney was continuing to cite "faulty intelligence" and Johnson observed, "Romney's kaleidoscopic views have allowed him to express support for the war when it benefits him and his potential candidacy, but maintain distance from the president when necessary."  "Faulty intelligence," so oft cited by Romney, is something you might expect his campaign to run from.  That really hasn't been the case.
Romney was pleased as punch to discuss all the 'flip-flops' of his rivals in an interview with Liz Sidoti (AP) last April and revealed he had a "senior adviser" joining his campaign one with a "faulty intelligence" connection of his own:
Cofer Black served as the director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center during the attacks and was singled out for especially harsh criticism by the agency's inspector general in a 2005 report on faulty intelligence efforts before the attacks.  Black has worked for the past two years as vice chairman of Blackwater USA, a North Carolina-based security firm which specializes in private security and private military services.
Turning to Democratic presidential candidates, Matthew Rothschild interviewed David Swanson for this week's Progressive Radio about a number of issues including US House Rep Dennis Kucinich who is running to be the Democratic 2008 presidential nominee:
David Swanson:  It's a real uphill fight and it's a fight largely against the media. . . .  In that [2004] campaign, before I even got involved, when there was no separation among the candidates in the polling or the financing, he was blacked out.  There were other candidates
getting hundreds, literally hundreds of times the coverage.
Matthew Rothschild: The thing that stuck in my mind from the media coverage of the Kucinich campaign was the one Ted Koppel debate where Kucinich really took it to Ted Koppel and actually won the debate and you could search high and low in the media stories
to find reference to Kucinich at all, much less the fact that he clearly won the thing, hands down.
David Swanson: Yeah, it became a verb to get Koppel-ed and Kucinich really let him have it because he [Koppel] opened this debate in New Hampshire with a question about polls a question about money and so on, and Kucinch said "Wait a minute, look at what you've just done.  Here are the topics you've addressed.  We've wasted half the debate."  And the crowd went nuts because the crowd gets it, you know, and they understand that the media is determining who is quote-unquote "viable" and who is not and what that power means and how the media trivializes the debate.  And so that applause was just thunderous.
Matthew Rothschild: And they're doing it again this time.
David Swanson: Oh absolutely.  . . .  But it's going to depend on people overcoming that prejudice and saying "Wait a minute.  It's two years until this thing happens, don't tell me who is viable or not and even if I want to influence who you tell me is viable the best way for me to do it is to back who's with me and if he ends up winning, we'll prove you wrong and you'll have to cover it because he'll be president."
KPFA will broadcast a special tomorrow (Saturday, June 9th) beginning at 11:00 am.
Sunday, June 10th marks four decades of Israel's illegal military occupation of Palestine, against a backdrop of nearly sixty years of ethnic transfer and displacement.
On this national Pacifica special, producers from around the country investigate the cause and effect of Israel's continuous military occupation policies toward the Palestinians, which permeates every aspect of life - from the suffocating checkpoints and land theft inside the West Bank to the violence and chaos inside a hermetically-sealed Gaza strip; to the issues of identity and culture in a widening diaspora.
As international witnesses to an ongoing crisis in occupied Palestine, this special will also address America's role of responsibility toward the intractable Palestinian-Israeli crisis and offer avenues of involvement in peace, justice and solidarity movements.
Hear Palestinian voices from the older generation and today's youth movements, from refugee camps and the Palestinian diaspora.
This is a Pacifica Radio special so it will likely be broadcast on other stations as well.  Houston's KPFT will broadcast it Sunday, June 10th at 6:00 pm.  Flashpoints Radio's Nora Barrows-Friedman will be the host or one of the hosts.
In other media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"
Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at:
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

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

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

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

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THE MILITARY may well be within its rights to make an example of a Marine Corps veteran who was photographed at an anti-war protest while wearing parts of his uniform. But why? Or, more to the point, why now? After a tour of duty in Iraq, Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh had left active duty with an honorable discharge and commendations for his service under fire in Fallujah.
Like many soldiers and Marines who still have time remaining on their military obligations, the 25-year-old Kokesh went on inactive reserve, which is how he got into trouble. To mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, he joined a group of his contemporaries in March who staged a mock military patrol of Capitol Hill and downtown Washington. The protest by the Iraq Veterans Against the War featured camouflage-clad demonstrators carrying imaginary weapons.

The above, noted by Oliver, is from Marilou Johanek's "
Marine takes right path, wrong approach" (Toledo Blade) and Oliver notes that while he appreciates Johanek's support for Adam Kokesh, he has to wonder why she "struggles with the actual issues?" Maybe lines like this (from the column) provide a clue: "The dichotomy between freedom of speech and militaristic mandates is difficult for a civilian to comprehend." To me, that translates as: "Someone wasted a lot of money on my education because I didn't learn a damn thing but how to take handouts and turn them into a report." That's really all most j-schoolers ever learn. And, truly, shame on the media for their ignorance regarding the fact that the issues in Kokesh's case were decided in 1970 by the US Supreme Court. But to know that would require a broad based education and j-school really doesn't provide that. Now there are exceptions but that's the reality for the bulk of our 'educated' journalists (and at some point we're taking on the idiots in the RTF program at, I believe, NYU quoted in The Progressive's June issue). In fact, that may be worth noting right now. I was planning to do so Sunday but we'll leap ahead. I'm dicating this. I went through and put in the links but all the comments are being dictated while I'm on my way to speak on a campus. Point, The Progressive has a link on the left, use that because the friend who is kindly taking my dictation over the phone isn't familiar with links. This article isn't available online, it's from the June 2007 issue. The title is "The Army Goes On Spring Break" and Kirk Nielsen visits Panama City Beach on spring break to find out what the apathetic, spoiled drunkards think of the illegal war:

Not far away, I encounter two nineteen-year-olds, Ellen Martinez of Houston and Justine Watson of Charlotte, North Carolina, sitting on towels and reading celebrity magazines. They are freshmen television and film majors at New York University. Each is definitely not considering military service, though their sense of whether the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq is less certain. "It doesn't seem like it's going very well at all," says Martinez who has resided in Dubai and Damascus because her father is in the oil business. "I guess if we left right now everything would have been for nothing, I don't know."
Watson adds, "I don't see, like, a clear end. What would be the definition of us winning this war? Like, who do we have to capture? Like, what is the ultimate goal? So it's hard to say when it could end?"

Little Ellie and Justy have obviously tortured their souls over this illegal war . . . or as close as they will ever come to thought that ever goes deeper than their nail polish. (Not what color to paint, mind you, no thought that's ever deeper than a layer of nail polish.) Last time I checked, NYU was considered a respectable university.

You see those idiots throughout the article. The names get shuffled around, but it's the universal ignorance. Now this, these people, are the ones the US media (big and small) use to say students are apathetic and don't care about the illegal war. That's a lie. Students have been speaking out, organizing and much more. But the spoiled segment -- which, for the record, was also present in the 'sixties' -- today explains a great deal about our press.

Let's journey to the Television and Film program at NYU.

The Undergraduate program of the Institute of Film and Television offers the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts. Candidates for the Bachelor's degree must fulfill the following requirements:

*A minimum of 54 points in Area I (UGFTV).
*A minimum of 44 points in Area II (General Education).
*Enough credits in Areas I and II to total 128 points, or enough credits in Areas I, II, and Electives to total 128 points.

It apparently doesn't offer anything to underscore the realities of the world we live in judging by the superficial, beyond-uninformed comments offered up by Ellie and Justy in the midst of their sabbatical from so much apparent deep thinking. Note "General Education." They really are nothing but glorified "general studies majors." Now NYU's journalism major proper does require you double major but many will take their TF NYU degrees (which lack even the "R" these days) and go into the world of journalism where they will do many, many years of damage.

On the topic of Adam Kokesh, the US military denied his appeal on Wednesday. That has nothing to do with justice nor is it the end of the road unless he decides he's tired of their crap (and who could blame him for that). Erika notes Mark Rainer's "Antiwar US Marine veteran stripped of honorable discharge status" (World Socialist Web Site):

Kokesh was justifiably angered about the resulting investigation. At a press conference June 1, he said, "I knew that the Uniform Code of Military Justice was not supposed to apply to members of the IRR. I was deeply offended to see that Marine Corps resources and tax payer dollars were being used to investigate the political activities of an active reservist. I expressed that in my e-mail, so I chastised him for wasting his time, while Marines are dying every day in Iraq, on such a trivial political issue."
His attorney added: "This case is important because it affects hundreds of thousands of Iraq and war-on-terror veterans. As the first in a number of cases where the military is seeking to stifle political speech of IRR civilians, we need to draw a line in the sand now in order to protect the First Amendment rights of those who may have picked up a rifle in order to defend our country."
At least two other members of the IRR are being investigated by the Marine Corps for political speech against the war. Liam Madden has been accused of wearing his uniform at a Washington, D.C., antiwar march in January, and making disloyal statements during a speech in New York in February.

Cloy Richards and Liam Madden are also facing witch hunts from the US military. Madden held a press conference/rally in Boston yesterday. Ty, Wally, Mike and I were able to make that. Wally did ask about the t-shirt Madden wore. It's the black Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt that Kokesh has been wearing. At present, they're not selling the t-shirts at their site. Wally's going to make some up with "Support Iraq Veterans Against the War" across the chest and knows they'll be popular on his campus. Kokesh, Richards and Madden are being targeted and probably other members will be as well so it may be a very good idea to figure out how you can pre-emptively show your support in your community. Liam Madden's conference is what I focused on for my piece in today's gina & krista's round-robin. Beth's got a humorous column as well as her usual ombudsperson column. And Gina and Krista's roundtable focuses on Kokesh, Richards, Madden and Even Knappenberger (whom we'll get to here in a minute) the address for the petition to sign in support of Liam Madden is in the column and you can also click here to sign.

Evan Knappenberger has been covered this week at Iraq Veterans Against the War and he's also the topic of Charlie's highlight (Charlie is among the members participating in the roundtable -- check your inboxes), Sam Taylor's "War vet cites support for stop loss protest" (The Bellingham Herald) and his demonstration is taking place in Bellingham, WA:

Evan Knappenberger stood in front of The Federal Building downtown Thursday morning, dressed in fatigues and ready to speak to anyone interested in listening.
It was his final full day of a week-long stint protesting the government's stop loss policy. The practice allows the military to extend tours of duty even if a soldier’s contract is expiring.
And so he has spent his time, 24 hours a day in downtown, hoping to educate people about the policy.
Nights have been spent hunkered down in a sleeping bag on top of 6-foot-tall yellow scaffolding. Some local Vietnam War veterans lined the top with sandbags.

In the New York Times this morning, Thom Shanker offers "New War Czar Wins Praise, But White House Is Faulted" which exists to cover Dougie Lute's attempts to lower expectations as the September deadline looms. Not surprising. Surprising is Shanker's claim that it was "a hearing that alternated between back-slapping and back-stabbing". It may very well have. Life is too short for me to waste my own time watching people shuffle through the motions but nothing in his report indicates "back-stabbing." Paul von Zielbauer's "At Haditha Hearing, Dueling Views of a Battalion Commander" offers news on the ongoing Article 32 hearing of Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani and notes that Chessani made a sworn statement in March that included these comments: "I believe the enemy picked the ground where he wanted to attack us. They were -- they had set this up so that there would be collateral damage." That kind of excuse goes a long way to explaining how so many Iraqis were slaughtered. It's nonsense. As PvZ has previously reported, among the many slaughtered were two women protecting children (presumably their own). The "enemy" did not "set up" or "create" the deaths of those women and children but a mind set that would argue that in a sworn statement goes a long way towards explaining how the November 2005 slaughter happened to begin with. Tony Perry's "Marine says he erased photos of Haidtha victims" (Los Angeles Times):

The testimony by Staff Sgt. Justin Laughner, taken under a grant of immunity, is the first evidence suggesting that any Marine officer may have engaged in a coverup in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005.
Other testimony has suggested that officers made only a superficial review before deciding that the deaths were combat-related and thus no war crimes investigation was required.
At the Article 32 inquiry, similar to a preliminary hearing, for a former battalion commander, Laughner testified hat he felt the order to destroy the pictures, which he said was given by Lt. Andrew Grayson, amounted to obstruction of justice but that he complied and later lied when asked whether any pictures had been taken.
"It was wrong," Laughner said. "Somebody was asking for them [the pictures], and we're not going to give them to them? It's not right, but I didn't say anything."

The entire slaughter, a War Crime, has been treated by Jeffries (and people higher than Jeffries) as not something to get to the bottom of but instead something to obscure.

Elizabeth de la Vega is a guest on this week's CounterSpin which begins airing in many markets today as is Jeff Cohen. Bill Moyers Journal begins airing in markets today (PBS) and among the segments scheduled will be one on CEO pay and one with Christian Parenti discussing Afghanistan.

The e-mail address for this site is


199 killed in Baghdad during the first week of June

The double bombing on Thursday occurred in Rabia, a town about 75 miles northwest of Mosul, near the Syrian border. The blasts destroyed at least one building and damaged many more. Blood and concrete were scattered across the streets.
Captain Zebari said the second bomb consisted of 500 pounds of explosives packed into a minibus. It detonated minutes after a suicide bomber tried to get into the police station and blew himself up when officers discovered his intent.
"This is a new tactic for us," Captain Zebari said, "to start with one explosion and then have the second bigger than the first."

The above is from Damien Cave's "Bombs and Gunmen in Iraq Kill at Least 22 and Wound 55" in this morning's New York Times. Lloyd notes John Ward Anderson's "Suicide Attacks, Bombings Kill Dozens in Iraq" (Washington Post) which also takes a look at Thursday's violence including:

Gunmen also shot three professors from Islamic University in Baghdad, killing two and wounding one, and killed the head of the Education Ministry's department of research and development as he drove to work, police said.
[. . .]
At least 211 university professors and 104 officials from the ministry have been assassinated in Iraq since the war started in March 2003, Khatib said. In addition, 91 professors have been kidnapped, and their fate is unknown, he said.

"He" is a spokesperson for the Education Ministry, Basil al-Khatib. And this comes as CNN reports that the first week of the month saw 199 people killed in Baghdad alone. As the violence continues, some in Congress take steps away from the Bully Boy. From Noam N. Levey's "2 GOP senators back troop reduction in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times):

In another sign that congressional Republicans are losing patience with the White House war strategy, two GOP senators Thursday got behind new legislation designed to encourage the Bush administration to reduce U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Gordon Smith of Oregon are cosponsoring a nonbinding resolution by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) that urges decentralizing the Iraqi government and creating semiautonomous regions for Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Biden has been championing the plan for more than a year.
That comes a day after five GOP senators signed on to separate legislation that would enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which envisioned most U.S. combat troops coming home by early 2008.

But note:

Neither bill sets a firm deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, a key demand of antiwar Democrats, who have fought for months to force Republican lawmakers and the White House to accept such a plan.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, June 07, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Having received an honorable discharge from active duty, former Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh thought he could once again partake in all the privileges of civilian life, namely free speech. So Mr. Kokesh, who'd served one tour of duty in Fallujah with a civil affairs unit, became active in the antiwar movement.
There was one problem, though: Kokesh wasn't technically out of the military. He was still part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a gray area of military service where personnel are neither active duty nor entirely civilians. So when Marine Corps officials noticed pictures in The Washington Post of Kokesh protesting while wearing pieces of his uniform --– OK for civilians, not for anyone in the military -- they took disciplinary action. On Monday, the Corps recommended a downgrade of Kokesh's honorable discharge to a general discharge.
That probably won't affect his veterans' benefits. But two other marines in the IRR face similar charges and risk losing their veterans' benefits, such as healthcare and money for education.
The three marines' situation has raised questions about when military personnel officially become civilians entitled to free speech and all the other rights that Americans outside the service enjoy. Additionally, legal experts have accused Marine Corps officials of overstepping boundaries and have questioned their motives.
Although veterans have donned parts of their uniforms while protesting other wars, it is extremely rare, perhaps unprecedented, to be punished for doing so. A brigadier general is scheduled to decide Kokesh's case Friday.

The above is from Tom A. Peter's "For US military veterans, a free-speech dispute" (Christian Science Monitor). Adam Kokesh's case is playing out in the press (still) as if it's the same as Cloy Richards and Liam Madden's and it's not. It is in that they are all be targeted. But what Kokesh participated in was street theater and the Supreme Court ruled on this in 1970 but try to find any of our press, big or small, who will address that. Now when I took constitutional law, we were told these Supreme Cases were important but, of course, journalists rarely take constitutional law. They learn how to grab a list of facts and write an insta-article. So for those visitors who feel I've been so hard on the media this week, they've earned it. (And you should probably skip this site on July 4th and Labor Day -- both of which will contain media posts that will upset the delicate sensibilities of some.) As for the ding bats who've been writing (whose legal basis seems to be a high school civics class they apparently slept through) . . .

Let's reply to one of the many here.

Please take into account the Supreme Court ruled in 1970 that the US military had NO say over theater productions and Justice Hugo Black specifically noted that included street theater.

Please take into account that whether or not "you" do not put your 'military family' down, he did not attack the military.

Please take into account fatigues are not uniforms and -- if indeed you are a military member -- you're quite aware of that.

Please take into account that your suggestion that 'uniforms' must be taken off when voicing an opinion against the illegal war but they can be worn to demonstrate 'support' for the country is laughable. Supporting an illegal war is advocacy and doesn't sound 'patriotic.' It does sound pathetic and stupid. Kokesh believes firmly the war is illegal; therefore, it is his duty to speak out and speaking out is an act of patriotism. You appear to have confused a democracy with a totalitarian state revolving around a cult of personality leader.

When he and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War speak out, they are still doing 'their duty' both as American citizens and as veterans. If everyone who knew the war was wrong would use their own voices, the illegal war would be over. Instead?

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, the American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3475 (ICCC). Tonight? 3504. How much lower would the number be if everyone used their voices to speak out against the war? How many more will die because too many are afraid to use their voices or because too many treat the illegal war as an after thought?

The snapshot today resulted in the same visitor who supports Barack Obama e-mailing to complain. Here's some reality. Everyone running is evaluated on Iraq alone -- I didn't slam the laughable health care plan Obama's offered. Obama can be slammed when he's wrong. This is the visitor who felt I was unfair to Obama. I'd avoided mentioning him here at all while I considered that. That meant not highlighting some fine writing at Black Agenda Report. Too bad, he gets the same treatment as any other politician.

In the debate Sunday, he made a point to tell John Edwards that he (Edwards) was four years later. (See Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY TALKING POINTS NOT GOING TO FLY IN 2008!" and Cedric's "Obama and Clinton get their clocks cleaned" from today, by the way.) That's interesting if you want to examine it. Forget that Obama's done nothing in the Senate since elected for one minute, Obama wants credit for speaking out against the war in 2003 and for some of 2004. Now, in 2007, he wants to run for president. Where is his plan for Iraq?

If someone knew the war was wrong in 2003 and they are a politician, shouldn't they be proposing a detailed plan? Dennis Kucinich has one. Where's Barack Obama's plan? He wants to be president. He thinks he's seasoned and experienced enough. He told John Edwards he was 'four and a half years too late' on Sunday. Well, where's Obama's plan? Mike Gravel has a plan. Where's Obama's? Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson have plans. Where's Obama's? Seems if you're going to call someone else late to the party, you might need to have your own homework done.

And Joe Biden? He's calling for a primary debate on the topic of Iraq:

Following the announcement yesterday by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of six sanctioned Presidential Debates, Senator Joe Biden called on all four participating network news Presidents to organize one 90-minute debate focused solely on ending the War in Iraq. Biden also asked DNC Chairman Howard Dean to join him in his efforts.

Click here to find the petition and add your voice to the debate.

The American people want to understand our plans for ending the Iraq war, and numerous news outlets all agree that Iraq is the defining issue of the upcoming Presidential election. As such, the Concord Monitor argued that, "Joe Biden is absolutely right about one thing: 60 seconds is not enough time to debate the future of Iraq. He's called for a 90-minute debate on that one topic alone. The other candidates for president should sign on to the idea and find a television network willing to give them the airtime." [Concord Monitor, 5/2/07] Des Moines Regiser columnist David Yepsen also endorsed a debate on Iraq. Yepsen said that a debate should be held "on Iraq and the U.S. role in the world." [Des Moines Register, 5/8/07]

This community despises Barack Obama so no votes are lost by any of my comments. Gina, Betty and Kendrick have been much more vocal (and on the money) than anything I've stated here. And if that's confusing to the Obama lover, he might try leaving behind the 'boy wonder' press and asking himself questions. Obama continues to utilize the 'red' and 'blue' state lie even though he called it out in 2004. He has a transportation 'plan' that reveals he knows nothing about the country. Not having the money for public transportation fees is a problem . . . if you have public transportation. Time and again, he demonstrates how empty and thought free his slogans are. Instead of whining to me about how you love Barack Obama, you might try demanding from your candidate that he do some serious work.

And hype's not going to win a general election. If he's serious, he needs to get serious. And these people who say, "Remember Reagan's rule!" Reagan's rule came into being when he was a Republican. I know some on the left and 'left' think they need to ape the right, but I don't. And I don't think anyone calling out the flaws in Democratic candidates is doing a disservice. The primaries should be tough. There's this stupid idea put forward by those whose 'history' begins in 1992 that an easy, breezy primary is the best thing and anything else means that the Republicans will draw their knives. Based on what? Not reality. The Republicans draw the knives anyway. Better for candidates to address issues now then to go through another August 2004 Swiftboating where a candidate's never been tested on that issue and his 'team' tells him to sit it out. More importantly, my only goal is to be honest. I'm not a Party Hack.

And if you think about the Party Hack's and how they sold out the peace movement in March, you'll realize that the last thing we need is more Party Hacks. If a trinagulator ends up in the White House, Party Hacks will tell you (as they did in March) that they are realistic and this is the best we can get and blah blah blah. Whomever ends up in the White House needs to hear from the American people. And the people don't need to be confronted with a team of Party Hacks acting as bouncers. If Hillary Clinton were to win, for instance, pressure would need to be applied constantly.

Barack Obama thinks NPR is the far left (or think that's what to write in a book to win voters). That should bother everyone. And the fact that he wants credit for speaking out (actually wants credit for speaking out as early as 2002) but has yet to provide any leadership or plan of significance on the issue of Iraq, that he repeats the lie that Congress had to approve the supplemental because the money would go to the soldiers (if he really believes that lie, then maybe he should have voted for it?), should bother everyone.

While the likes of Patty Williams talks him up ("Harvard Law Review!"), the reality is Latino voters (a key block of voters) are very aware that he supported the nonsense wall being built currently. His sole Iraq legislation borrowed heavily from the centrist-right-leaning James Baker Circle Jerk. Which should remind people that he had to ask that the DLC remove his name from their rolls in 2004. His book, if you can get beyond the gushy slogans, reads like the work of a centrist and there's the fact that his opponents in elections always seem to have skeletons in their closets (or the appearence of them) that just happen to pop out when Obama's trailing badly. He's a dirty campaigner with no Democratic plan for ending the illegal war (let alone a left plan). That's reality and Patty Williams can gush all she wants and make a fool of herself endlessly (apparently some things can't be helped) but he's untested, he lacks experience and he's shown no bold vision. When you factor all of that in, it's no surprise the mainstream media crowned him as a front runner. (And, for the record, when someone goes after Michelle Obama's business practices, he has no right to cry foul after he's benefitted from charges of domestic abuse or unsealed court records of his opponents which humiliated not only the opposing candidates, but the families.)

If he wants to get serious about Iraq (which would require that he stop attempting the centrist route -- which is what he does when he speaks to the Council of Foreign [Business] Relations or writes for their periodical), he'll be noted for that here. More than likely, he won't get serious. It would mean giving up his 'front runner' status. The media crowned him for a reason and it wasn't because he was the "Great Left Hope."

Liam Madden held a press conference today and I write about that in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin. Turning to another person speaking up and being slammed for it, Camilo Mejia was the subject of a trashy article by New Times and it's resulted in two letters being printed which Rob noted:

Regarding "Hero or Coward" (May 3) by Francisco Alvarado: Is Camilo Mejia a coward? Three letter-writers in the past two weeks (and who knows how many readers) have said yes. They can't read his mind. And they cite no empirical evidence (such as quotes about pants-sh*tting), so for them, refusal to fight must mean cowardice.
I ask them to do a thought experiment: Sergeant Schultz of the Nazi German army in, say, Lithuania in 1944, decides he can no longer kill and invade and occupy. He deserts and goes back to Munich. Is he a coward or a hero? Or (more difficult) to whom is he hero, and to whom is he a coward? Most of us here in Miami would say he's a hero.
If you believe that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral (as I do), you consider Camilo a hero. If you believe the Iraq war is good and just, you must allow for Camilo to consider otherwise, and allow him to follow his conscience.
Cowardice is not the issue here. Sometimes it takes more courage to say, "Sir, no sir," than to go along with the program.
Eric Smith Miami

The "Hero or coward?" question New Times posed is bunk. The Broward edition of New Times doesn't publish "Get Your War On" -- does that make you heroes or cowards? The real coward keeps his mouth shut and pumps an RPG into residential windows upon command from brain-dead, backwoods sergeants and then pisses on the resultant corpses in foreign lands, as Marines did recently in Haditha, Iraq. Anyone who waddles through basic training holding an M-16 without visualizing the exit wound its projectile would make coming out the back of mommy's head is a mental derelict. Is Mejia a coward for road-testing lethal weapons for three years and then using them in Iraq on random humans, choosing to stay in bed instead of report back for more? Who cares!? Army Regulation 635-20, Conscientious Objection as Soldier, was written for those of us who resisted the call to murder when the light bulb went on after strafing grass huts in the Mekong. Leave Combat16Romeo and others like him to measure their morality and courage by standards of military industrial bloodletting; Camilo Mejia and others willing to do prison for their beliefs have guts. It's always easier to keep your mouth shut and pull the trigger; otherwise you become the target.
Robert Dollar Kendall

Lastly, Marci notes this from CODEPINK:

Can you imagine being afraid to leave your home because of the very real threat of attack--whether by bomb or bullet or stone? This is a fear, a threat, Iraqi women have to live with every single day.
In April 2006, CODEPINK released
Iraqi Women Under Siege, a detailed report on the status of Iraqi women. In it, we describe the serious deterioration of women's rights since the U.S. invasion. We explore how the high level of violence in Iraq has constrained women's lives and limited their options, leaving them and their families to grapple with the traumatic impact of war both physically and psychologically.
We also produced a video based on our sponsorship of a tour of Iraqi women to the United States, Women Say NO to War: Iraqi and American Women Speak Out. You can order it
Unfortunately, since we produced these materials, the situation of Iraqi women has gotten dramatically worse. A recent
Reuters article documents how sectarian violence is forcing Iraqi women from their jobs and into arranged marriages. We receive heartbreaking letters from our friends in Iraq on a regular basis. Here is an excerpt from one we received a week ago:
Our country before the war in 2003 was beautiful, clean, shiny, full of historic monuments and huge universities. The streets were full of people working, visiting friends and families, drinking tea until very late at night.
Our country was full of colors. Today the only colors are red and dark, red by the blood and dark by the smoke of bombs and cars burning.
We are ready to clean our country, we are ready to rebuild our country with our hands, we are ready to forget that our petrol and our history were stolen. All we ask for is security. Is it so much to ask for?
Unfortunately, security is almost impossible to come by for Iraqi women. In the Kurdish north, the part of the country insulated from most of the violence, the situation of women has reached new lows. Du'a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old from the town of Bashiqa, in Iraqi Kurdistan, was stoned to death on April 7, 2007. She came from a family of Yazidi faith, and was snatched from her home by Yazidi men who had discovered that she was in love with a Muslim Arab man and had visited him. In front of hundreds of people, including local police, they dragged her to the center of town and stoned her to death. Townspeople watched and even filmed this barbaric act. You can see a portion of the tape
here (viewer discretion is STRONGLY advised). The killers, obviously well known in the community, are still free.
We have created a petition which demands that the Iraqi Government and Kurdistan Regional Government condemn this brutal act and bring the killers to justice and that they outlaw honor killings, as well as all violence and oppression of women. You can sign it
We will deliver this petition to the Iraqi Embassy and Kurdish Representatives in Washington, DC. Together we can raise our voices to help our sisters in Iraq.
For further information about the status of Iraqi women, and to learn how women in Iraq are organizing to fight for their own rights, please visit the website of the
Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq.
With outrage and compassion,Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Karin, Libby, Medea, Nancy, Patricia, Rae and Samantha
P.S. On the home front, we need to continue to pressure Congress to end the war and bring our troops home. Sign up to join our Phone-A-Thon this summer and give your community an easy way to speak out against war. For more information, click here.

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