Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: "And the sign said, 'Long-haired freaky people need not apply'." That is from the 1972 hit song "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band which, my middle son told me, was also a hit for a rock group called Tesla in 1991. I found myself humming the song repeatedly as I read through e-mails this week. KPFA posted their own sign this week. But before we get to that, let me note this appeal, from The Nation, sent out with David Corn's name attached:

Dear Member of the Nation Community,
I’ve never written a fundraising letter--not counting the few notes I sent my parents when I was in college. I’m a journalist. I write articles and books--about politics, national security, and the world around us. And I’m damn lucky; I get paid to do so by The Nation. But the magazine has been hit by a fiscal crisis--one caused by the sort of institutional Washington corruption I often cover--and I’ve been asked by our publishing team to ask you for help. Please click here to pitch in.
Last week, Teresa Stack, The Nation's president, sent you a letter explaining this crisis. To recap:

Postal regulators have accepted a scheme designed in part by lobbyists for the Time Warner media conglomerate. In short, mailing costs for mega-magazines like Time Warner's own Time, People and Sports Illustrated will go up only slightly or decrease. But smaller publications like The Nation will be hit by an enormous rate increase of half a million dollars a year.

For The Nation, $500,000 a year is a lot of money. Believe me, I know. I’ve been working at the magazine for over 20 years. The pay ain't great. But there are few media outlets that allow their writers and reporters the freedom to go beyond the headlines and take on the powers that be--to ask inconvenient questions and pursue uncomfortable truths.
But starting July 15, 2007, The Nation will face this whopping postal rate hike. Not to be melodramatic, but this rate increase is a threat to democratic discourse. Why should magazines that can afford high-powered lobbyists receive preferential treatment? This rise in mailing costs will make it harder for the magazine to deliver the investigative reporting and independent-minded journalism upon which you depend. (Take my word; I see the editors and publishing people in our New York office freaking out about this postal rate hike and discussing possible cutbacks.)
The magazine is fighting this corporate-driven, unfair and anti-democratic increase as best it can. It has joined forces with conservative publications in an attempt to beat back the rigged rate structure. (Imagine Katrina vanden Heuvel and Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, working together!) But even if we "win" -- which, I’m told, is a long shot--The Nation will still face hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional postage.
So I'm turning to you. I've never asked our readers for anything--except the time it takes to read what I write for the magazine and its website. But The Nation needs you to help us cover this shortfall, and it needs that help now. Simply put, I’m asking you to send us money: whatever contribution you can, as soon as you can. Click here.
I'm not entirely comfortable writing to you as a fundraiser. Because people like you have supported the magazine, I’ve been able to do the work I enjoy for years. I appreciate that. Now I'm hoping you'll come through in this time of need. Certainly, I'd rather be chasing kick-ass stories than worrying about magazine budget cuts and writing pleading letters. So please help us deal with this unfair rate hike, and I’ll go back to my day job.
David Corn,
Washington Editor
The Nation
P.S. The magazine will soon invite you to participate in a special phone conference to discuss this postal rate increase issue in more depth. Please take the time to join fellow Nation readers, Nation editors and writers, and special guest experts, and to learn more about the rate hike and its impact on The Nation.

First, obviously, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Rich Lowry already "work together" in that both make a point to ignore war resistance. Whether they discussed the decision together or just share so many similarities that it was "natural" for both, I have no idea. But they are not that different and, possibly, future fund raising letters should convey that this effects all magazines and not turning to the right for examples?

But, moving on the second point, imagine that you subscribe to The Nation. Once upon a time, that would be a great many community members, so it should not be too hard to put yourself back in that recent time frame. You are a subscriber. One day, you go to your mailbox. Instead of the 'weekly' issue, you have a note from Mr. Corn or Ms. Stack, or possibly poor Peter Rothberg's been ordered yet again to send out a notice from Katrina vanden Heuvel who is far too busy relaxing to ever take a moment to contact the subscribers.

You think, "My subscription is not up. What are they hitting me up for this time?" Opening the envelope you read:

Dear Nation subscriber,
Due to the postal hike, the magazine has decided to take a stand.
The latest issue will not be sent out. Instead, you can check out your local bookstore -- if you are lucky enough to have a local bookstore -- for the issue.
In solidarity,
David Corn and Teresa Stack

How would you react to that letter?

This is not as much of a hypothetical as some might think. If a magazine decided to 'protest' the postal hike by denying subscribers an issue, I think the magazine's image would be pretty much sunk. However, should Ms. vanden Heuvel want to grab this example, she has my permission. I will not fret or worry about the state of that do-nothing magazine. (C.I. has listed reasons to give and reasons not to give here.)

Leaving the land of the hypothetical, print is not the only media facing an increase. Internet radio is expected to pay more for the songs they use as well. To 'protest' that, KPFA decided to not stream on June 26th this week. The thinking appears to have been, "We'll outrage them!" In that, they succeeded. Judging by all the e-mails on this topic, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

A visitor e-mailed this copy of the comments he left for KPFA via their contact form:

As someone who automatically pledges each month, I'm not sure how KPFA thinks "The government screwed us, so now we'll screw the internet listener" is supposed to do anything other than make me find another station to listen to and cease pledging? I can use the money I donate. I'm not just tossing it out. And the fact that this supposed 'solidarity' action doesn't effect your broadcast audience makes it all seem like a bit of tantrum. I give to Pacifica and, in the past, the bulk to KPFA. I may need to find another Pacifica station to focus on, one that doesn't screw over online listeners.
And the rate hike was covered on the programs already.

Yes, the rate hike was covered on public affairs programming. They were late doing so. But they did cover it. Public affairs programming, by the way, makes up the bulk of KPFA's daytime schedule. But you could not hear public affairs programming on June 26th if you tried to listen to KPFA online.

"Tantrum"? I would agree with that word choice. This was not about informing listeners, it was a tantrum. Informing listeners would have been playing the public affairs programming, the news programming, and a pre-recorded message during music programs explaining the rate hikes. Carts of upcoming events could have been played during the music breaks of public affairs programming. They could have used the day to get the word out. Instead they went with silence. Silence, apparently what the world needs now? That is how the cowards play it on Iraq. Silent on the topic, with silent vigils. KPFA was outraged by the hike and decided the best way to address it was to silence their own voices and, Tom Ridge will be thrilled, grab some duct tape to cover their mouths. Oh for the left of my youth which realized action and speaking out trumped silence and lethargy any day.

Despite the duct tape, they managed to spit on online listeners and not all online listeners, as KPFA's figures should tell them, are outside the Bay Area. I have an angry e-mail from three women who work in a government building, in the basement, and cannot pick up the station, due to interference, so they listen online.

A lot of people, in the Bay Area and outside, were put out for what was, in fact, a tantrum.

If you visited the KPFA website on the 26th, you saw a note explaining you could not stream and that this resulted from their tantrum. I have noted that they've switched to a new type or font on their website which is very small. That may be why most people missed the 'button' that was supposed to provide them with information. Instead, they just learned that KPFA was not going to stream online that day in 'protest.' They just saw the announcement which telegraphed that KPFA was pouting and taking their ball home.

Not surprisingly, the response from online listeners was not, "Gee, I hope they come out and play tomorrow." No, as is the usual response to a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum, the e-mails spoke of finding other stations to listen to. Many spoke of automatic, monthly pledges as the visitor noted in his comments he allowed me to share. They wondered if, as online listeners and KPFA supporters, they could get a waiver for the month of June since KPFA did not think enough of them to broadcast?

That is really what it comes down to. KPFA could have gotten the word out on the issue. Instead, they stomped their feet, stuck out their tongue, grabbed their ball, and ran home for the full day. In the process, they ended up looking like fools.

In the process, they also made it difficult for themselves when it is time for on air begging again.
This is not how you build a relationship with listeners and I have listened to enough Pacifica pledge drives to know that KPFA, more than any other station, receives pledges from all over the country, from all over the world.

But their message on the 26th, to all those online listeners who wrongly thought they were KPFA members, wrongly thought they were KPFA sustainers and more, was very simply: You do not matter.

You do not matter to KPFA. Not when they want to throw a tantrum and deny those of you who have pledged online, called their toll free number from out of the Bay Area to pledge, pledged from within the Bay Area but used the online stream. KPFA did not cease broadcasting on the 26th. On the 26th, they continued to broadcast over the airwaves. So there are two sets of listeners now.

Online listeners are second-class citizens who can be denied programming whenever KPFA wants to stomp their feet and throw a tantrum. They will gladly continue to take your money but serving you can cease on a whim, as they demonstrated this week.

Reality is that traditional broadcasting is probably, like my youth and my middle age, a thing of the past. Reality is that satellite and online streaming are probably going to continue to be the way to reach more and more audiences. KPFA laid down their marker and explained that they would be there for online listeners when they were good and damn ready. When they wanted to have a tantrum, the online listeners could twiddle their thumbs in silence.

Of course, that is not what the online listeners did. They went to other stations. Some were Pacifica stations, some were NPR, some were independent stations, some were corporate radio stations. There are many choices online.

There is certainly no reason to listen to an outlet that makes it very clear that, when the ship is taking on water, you will be the first tossed overboard. The anger this has caused demonstrates it was a huge mistake on KPFA's part.

The station might argue that they got the word out. Other stations were also silent on that day. Looking over the list of stations taking part (I know of no other Pacifica station which did), they are mainly music stations. KPFA is not supposed to be a music station. During the day, KPFA is largely a public affairs program station that broadcasts music for a two hour period each day surrounded by public affairs program.

Now after 8:00 p.m. PST, they air music non-stop until 6:00 a.m. the next morning. Ten hours of music programming. Ten hours and they want to complain about a rate hike? Try providing listeners with something of value before you start whining. When you add the two hours played during the day, KPFA is programming twelve hours of music each week day.

KPFA does not have time, four years later, to cover Iraq in a program dedicated to that topic, but they have time to spin tunes for twelve hours a day, Monday through Friday? I must have missed that in the KPFA mission statement.

For those who missed the 'button,' which was a lot of you e-mailing, here is what you would have read if you had seen the 'button' and clicked on it:

What's this all about?: On July 15th, royalty payments for webcast music will increase by as much as 1200%. This outrageous and unfair ruling will result in many webcasters owing music royalty fees that are more than their yearly budget! Because of this, many popular internet radio services will shut down.
Non-commercial stations, like KPFA, must pay the commercial royalty rate once a certain amount of online listeners tune in. KPFA may have to limit the amount of online listeners we have.

"KPFA may have to limit the amount of online listeners we have"? It is probably a good thing that so many e-mailing missed that button. When KPFA decides to begin limiting 'the amount of online listeners we have,' look for their fund drives to become a long dry spell. Without pledges from online listeners, they would not have made their target goals in the cycles when they made them. To the surprise of no one, they ended their last fund raiser far from their target goal.

That resulted from angry listeners being hyped and lied to about the Pelosi-Reid measure. That happened when a supposed left station decided that "left" meant "Democratic Party cheerleader." I had hoped KPFA would have grasped how many listeners they had angered as a result of their huge 'shortfall.' If they did, a day of silence did not indicate they had.

When you have listeners trying to get over their anger of the lies told about the Pelosi-Reid measure, it really is not the time to turn around and try to make another group angry. But that is what they have done. Shirley tried to keep a count for me on the e-mails coming in this week addressing the 'day of silence' but when it reached 400, I told her not to bother. I certainly was not going to count them all and did not want to shove that task off on her. I know she, Martha, Eli and C.I. were already overwhelmed working the e-mail accounts on other issues, so much so that Kat worked the members accounts on Thursday and Friday. C.I. had 'benched' Ava and Jess so that they could have a free week.

Many e-mails from visitors opened with a statement that can be boiled down as, "I may be the only one who feels this way, but I want to draw something to your attention." No one got a personal reply from me. There were too many e-mails on this subject. Thank you, to the visitor I quoted above who noted in his single e-mail, "Feel free to quote any line or in full from the comments I left for KPFA." Thank you to the three women who composed the joint e-mail and noted which sections I could quote. They and none of the others writing were "alone." This was a huge issue. Thank you to everyone who wrote, visitor or member, because when I heard about the day off, I really did not get that it would be such a big deal. I assumed people would, as they did, go elsewhere to listen online. This is a topic I would not be covering on my own and I want to stress that because, obviously I am covering it, this is an example of how I can underestimate an issue and the e-mails can steer me to something that is much more important than I would have grasped on my own.

The three in the basement, who have to listen online because the airwaves broadcast is blocked out by wires or something in their building, noted they also have trouble with their cell phones when they are in the basement. But, in their group e-mail, they wanted it noted that they could, and did, go to Democracy Now! for that program. They wrote that they were patient but when it was time for Against the Grain and there was no broadcast that was "the last straw." That day's program, just FYI, was on media portrayals of abortion and they have archived it. I am not sure whether the three will listen to it because they made it quite clear that they can pick up KQED over the airwaves, which Kat explained to me is the area's NPR, and "we think we'll just stick with that from now on."

If the goal was to drive off listeners, KPFA succeeded. If the goal was to get the word out, they failed. If the goal was to telegraph, "We will gladly take your money but you are a second-class listener," that message was received. Tuesday, June 26th, they made that perfectly clear to many listeners, some of whom are now former listeners.

Possibly, had a station decidated to peace grasped that twelve hours of music programming in a 24 hour cycle was excessive, they never would have found themselves in the mess they currently are in? Looking at Pacifica's mission statement, I see nothing stating they will waste 12 hours of each 24 hour cycle by spinning tunes. Maybe I am missing it, but Lewis Hill really does not strike me as the precurser to Wolfman Jack.

I will give the last word to visitor Mark who noted, "It's irony that the same Democrats KPFA has been providing cover for, the same who now control Congress and do nothing, also did nothing to stop the internet rate increase. Looking back on that wh**ing coverage, I'm reminded of how the television networks refused to question the Iraq war in the leadup due to their desire for further consolidation. If KPFA thought putting a price tag on their ass meant Congress would protect them, I'm betting they think differently now."

Burying news of war resisters & US deaths

A U.S. soldier injured in a roadside bombing in Iraq has fled to Ottawa and is seeking refugee status.
James Burmeister, 22, deserted the army while recovering from his injuries in Germany and flew to Canada with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Now he is playing bass with other musicians in Ottawa while waiting for his refugee claim to be processed.
Burmeister, who is from Eugene, Ore., said he joined the army in 2005 after being told that as a soldier he would be doing humanitarian work to help Iraqis rebuild their country.

The above is from Canada's CBC, "U.S. military deserter seeks refuge in Ottawa," and was noted by Vic. But remember, this isn't a movement. If it was a movement, surely we could read about it in the pages of The Nation, the leading magazine for the left. Surely an actual movement would require that, at least for a second, they drop their non-stop gas bagging about the 2008 elections, right?

It is a movement. And never has The Nation come off more out of touch than in their steadfast determination to ignore the big story of 2006 and to continue to ignore it as the movement continues to grow. James Burmeister, the latest war resister to go public. Many before him (and many who didn't go public) and many will come after him. Possibly, having taxed itself so to pretend that Nancy Pelosi is not in any way responsible for the supplemental -- poor thing, Speaker of the House and she couldn't stop a bill, couldn't even stop it from being introduced --
there's no time left to cover reality. And in all the gas baggery they offer, let's not pretend that they have a visa to the 'reality based community,' let alone live here.

"Now it all begins, or continues to," as the Cowboy Junkies sing in "Spiral Down." But don't expect it to be covered in the pages of The Nation. Don't expect to find support, in fact, for any action that goes beyond signing a petition. Anything else causes a severe case of the night sweats for that crowd. "Spiral down, continue to spiral down. I'm nowhere near my peace, as you spiral down."

But there's plenty of shame to spread around. While The Nation offers the sort of crap one would expect from Readers' Digest, guess which other 'leader' fails (yet again) at their basic job?

Five US soldiers were announced dead on Friday from one incident. We covered it yesterday. Today the New York Times does. And if you're looking for it, turn to A3.

Five US soldiers die in Iraq and the paper believes that's page A3. Front page? You've got the Taliban. Okay. You've got the London non-bombing. You've got Guantanamo. What else? China and worker's rights. A joke of an upbeat article that belongs inside the paper or on the Business pages (which, granted, is a section that doesn't run on Saturday). [CORRECTION: The Business Section does run on Saturday. Thanks to Micah for catching that. Front page story? In the top center it's . . . China! ] They're suddenly interested in immigration. (Of course they are. The hideous bill they were pushing failed. Time to step it up for the Times.) And, of course, there's the very non-news that "The Man Behind Bloomberge" is Kevin Sheekey.

5 US soldiers died. When Gordo's got war porn (when doesn't he), the paper can front page it. But five US soldiers dying in one incident isn't front page news to the New York Times. It's a US story, it's an Iraq story, it's both domestic and international, but it's not front page.

Not to the paper of little record. They'd rather off that China's (hold the laughter) improving workers' rights. They'd rather gas bag on Skeekey. They've really got to get out ahead on the immigration issue because without their 'fine' work, immigrants might really get something helpful. Come on, they pushed the rate hikes on Social Security payments (into -- they also sold the decrease in the moneys retirees receive), they can screw over immigrants as well, just give them time.

And, as always, they need to continue to sell the illegal war. Which is how five dead US soldiers end up buried inside the paper when anyone claiming to be any sort of news organization should grasp that's a main story.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributes "Buried Bomb Kills 5 G.I.'s in Baghdad Neighborhood" and you can read it if you want. No offense to Oppel, but if the paper thought the story was worth reading, don't you think they'd front page it?

Unlike the AP (see Mike's "Patrick Cockburn"), Oppel gets the figures correct so we'll note this:

The attack on Thursday in Dora, a dangerous neighborhood in southern Baghdad, added to the toll of the deadliest quarter yet for the American military in Iraq: 330 troops have been killed over the past three months, including 100 so far during June, according to the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count.

It's a straight foward news article and possibly that's why it's buried in the paper? And another death is announced today: "One Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed and three other Soldiers were wounded when an explosively-formed penetrator detonated near their patrol during combat operations in a southern section of the Iraqi capital June 29." This brings the monthly total to 101 thus far, the total since the start of the illegal war to 3578.

Spiral down
Continue to spiral down
I'm nowhere near my peace
As you spiral down

Forget the slogan "What the hell are we fighting for," "What the hell are they dying for?" All this time later, when there is no link between 9-11 and Iraq, when there were no WMDs in Iraq, when every lie offered (including 'to bring peace') has fully been exposed, why is the illegal war allowed to continue?

Kara notes Howard Zinn's "Put away the flags" (The Progressive):

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?
These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.
National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.
Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.
That self-deception started early.
When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."

Rachel notes the following programs on WBAI this coming week, times given are EST:

Sunday, July 1, 11:00 am to noon
Post Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew host a special guest.

Monday, July 2, 2-3pm
Cat Radio Cafe
Steve Cosson and The Civilians talk about "Gone Fishin'," their newdocu-musical about lost things; poet Omar Shapli on his newcollection, "The General is Asked His Opinion (and other sad songs2002-2005)"; and Robin Hirsch and Angelo Verga celebrate the 40th July4th anniversary of the Cornelia Street Cafe. Hosted by Janet Colemanand David Dozer.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

Susan e-mailed asking if Kat knew about the Cowboy Junkies new CD? Yes. That's her second planned review. She hopes to have one up this weekend. Ruth will be posting her report this weekend as well. (Intended to post tonight.) The Cowboy Junkies new CD is entitled at the end of paths taken and "Spiral Down" was written by Michael Timmins.

Keesha was the first to note Margaret Kimberley's "Marianne Pearl Is Black" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

When Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 his wife, Marianne, became a fixture in international media. The first time I saw her I made a very simple observation. "His wife is black," I said to myself. I know a black person when I see one, and I saw one in Marianne Pearl. In the new film A Mighty Heart, Pearl is portrayed by actress Angelina Jolie. Jolie is white.
Here we are in the 21st century and a white actor is portraying a black character. Not just any character, but a real life, well-known, still living human being. Anyone who sees Marianne Pearl knows she isn't white, but the powers that be in Hollywood didn't care and knew they could get away with this offensive charade.
Marianne Pearl was born in France to a Cuban mother and a Dutch father. Her mother was quite obviously black, photos are unambiguous on that point. Her father was European, so she can be described as multi-racial or biracial. It doesn't really matter what term or words Pearl uses to describe herself. She is clearly a person of African ancestry, and putting dark make up and a curly wig on Angelina Jolie doesn't change that fact or fool anyone.

[. . .]
Pearl and Jolie are just fine with the arrangement, and why not. Jolie gets a role she wanted and Pearl gets to see her story on the silver screen. Both are defensive about the casting criticisms and plead with the peasantry to remain silent.
"I know that people are frustrated at the lack of great roles [for people of color], but I think they've picked the wrong example here," Jolie opined. Why is this example wrong? Is it because honesty and integrity would have denied her the part? If Jolie can possibly think of a reason why the rest of us should just shut up and accept modern day blackface she needs to come up with a better explanation.

Keesha wanted it noted, "Too bad they didn't make her a singer in the movie. If it had been a musical, I'm sure they would have considered casting a Black woman in what is, for all intents and purposes, the story of a Black woman. I look foward to next seeing Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie take on the Julian Bond story with Pitt cast in the lead. Musicals and sports films remain the easiest way for Blacks to get cast in the movies."

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, June 29, 2007

"Five IVAW Members Arrested at Fort Jackson For Wearing IVAW T-Shirt" (Adam Kokesh)

When he arrived, we proceeded to the ManchuWOK for some lunch. I was last in line, and while I was getting my drink and talking to a GI, Lt J O Smith of the Department of the Army Fort Jackson Police #008 told me to put my tray down and step towards the door. On the way he grabbed the rest of our group, Nate Lewis, Mike Blake, Sholom Keller, and Steve Mortillo, who were sitting down having lunch with our soldier. When we got outside, we were surrounded by police, and there was a Park Ranger truck blocking in my car. They took our IDs and harassed us for a while with stupid questions, all the while refusing to tell us why we were being detained except for something about protesting on base.
When he arrived, we proceeded to the ManchuWOK for some lunch. I was last in line, and while I was getting my drink and talking to a GI, Lt J O Smith of the Department of the Army Fort Jackson Police #008 told me to put my tray down and step towards the door. On the way he grabbed the rest of our group, Nate Lewis, Mike Blake, Sholom Keller, and Steve Mortillo, who were sitting down having lunch with our soldier. When we got outside, we were surrounded by police, and there was a Park Ranger truck blocking in my car. They took our IDs and harassed us for a while with stupid questions, all the while refusing to tell us why we were being detained except for something about protesting on base.
They lined us up against a row of vending machines and told us to keep our hands at our sides. Sholom happened to have a copy of the Constitution on him and began quoting some craziness about rights, like "to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation." One of the officers went to give him back his ID card. "Is this your ID card, brother?" "Yes it is, and I'm not your brother. Dr King was a brother, Malcom was a brother, Huey P Newton was a brother. You are a traitor and a sell-out." Then one of the officers told me that because the base registration sticker on my Bronco was expired, he was going to have to scrape it off and he called me over to watch him do it. That was when I started taking pictures. Then the Lt started taking pictures of us with his phone.

The above is from Adam Kokesh's "Five IVAW Members Arrested At Fort Jackson For Wearing IVAW T-Shirts" (Sergeant Kokesh Goes to Washington). A number of members noted it in e-mails (and Shirley passed the news on to Kat). In the 1970s, there were arrests on military bases. (To avoid confusion, maybe I should have said "during the 'sixties'"?) but that generally involved someone not in the military, not ever having been in the military, handing out literature. Kokesh and others were meeting a friend stationed at the base. They were at a table talking with the friend. It's interesting that the arrest and harassment just 'happened.' It's not as though Iraq Veterans Against the War has been targeted by the US military, It's not as though Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, Madden has been targeted and threatened. It's not as though Kokesh was asked in that mockery of a hearing, if was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Oh wait, all that has happened and more.

Well Iraq Veterans Against the War are obviously making head honchos nervous -- a sign of power is when you're feared.

The other thing being noted repeatedly in e-mails is Madden's response to the dropped charges. This is a press release, so we'll note it in full. "Marines Cut and Run -- Drop Charges Against Vet Who Claimed Iraq War is Illegal -- "Marines Cower at a Real Debate on Whether War Crimes are Being Committed in Iraq" (Common Dreams):

WASHINGTON - JUNE 29 - Liam Madden, the Iraq War veteran who claimed the military attack on Iraq was "an illegal war of aggression under Nuremberg principles" and that "war crimes were being committed in Iraq," received word today that the Marines have dropped the charges against him rather than provide a forum for these issues to be debated. The Marines had claimed his comments were "disloyal" and threatened to reduce his discharge from honorable to less than honorable.
"I planned to argue that my comments were accurate and therefore not disloyal. In fact, it is the duty of veterans and active duty members of the military to stand up and tell their leaders when war crimes are being committed," said Madden. "Now that the military has chickened out and dropped these charges I hope others will join me in speaking out against this illegal war."
The Marines offered to drop the charges against Madden if he agreed to not wear his uniform at demonstrations. Liam responded that he would agree to that only if the Marines agreed that his comments about the war being illegal were not disloyal because they were accurate. His response to the Marines is below.
"The dropping of charges in my case should be a signal to all vets that they can speak out. The Marine Corps fear of holding a disciplinary hearing is an admission that my comments were accurate. If the Marines had moved forward to discipline me I would have brought forward leading legal scholars, military law experts and historians to demonstrate conclusively that the United States is now engaged in an illegal war of aggression under international law and therefore all acts being taken are war crimes," said Madden.
Madden is currently on tour with fellow vets going to military bases to reach out to active duty troops and urge them to get involved in efforts to end the war. "The reception we are receiving is remarkable. There is no doubt that more and more troops are coming to the conclusion that this war is wrong and are ready to speak out. Indeed, under international law all acts taken in an illegal war of aggression are considered war crimes," noted Madden.
Madden can be reached while he is on the road for interviews. His number is 703-408-3626.

# # #
Liam Madden's response to the Marines
June 25, 2007
Lt Col Blessing,
This letter is in response to the offer the Marine Corps Mobilization Command relayed to me via my military appointed attorney. I am prepared to accept the settlement proposed in which the Marine Corps agrees not to continue with the discharge proceeding regarding my alleged disloyal statements and protest activity. I understand that this is contingent on my oral promise not to engage in further political protest while wearing articles of my Marine uniform.
I will make such an oral agreement and stand by my good word if the Marine Corps is prepared to meet the following condition.
I will orally agree to not wear my military uniforms while engaged in any political protest, hell, I’ll have it carved into stone if you'd like, upon receiving a signed, written statement on official USMC letterhead acknowledging that my statements in question were neither disloyal nor inaccurate. If the Marine Corps issues this statement, apologizing for erroneously (or possibly vindictively) accusing me of disloyalty to my country, I will not share it with another living soul. I believe that the statements I make and the protest I engage in is necessary. If it’s not true that the war in Iraq is illegal, then I believe it would be indeed disloyal to declare such a position. However, the fact of the matter is that the United States is violating the sovereignty of another nation without the approval of the UN Security Council or a legitimate claim to self defense. Sir, is honesty disloyalty?
Additionally, if it isn't true, I would hope the US Government would prove to the skeptical world that the war is legal instead, of trying to stifle political opposition. I am sure we can agree that protesting against an illegal war, premised on lies and baseless assertions cannot be considered disloyal.
If the Marine Corps decides to not accept this condition, then I cannot agree to stop wearing my uniform at protests and we must continue to exhaust my legal alternatives. Which at present, include my right to an administrative board and may ultimately result in a case in federal appeals court.
I assure you, as a fellow patriot, my actions are taken in the best interest of the American people and the people of the world. Therefore, if the Marines decide to stop pursuing this case, I will accept that measure as your implied tolerance and support of protesting against war crimes while wearing military uniforms.
Thank you for considering my counter offer and I hope we can come to agreement on the matter. I understand men in your position have their careers to think about, as I’m positive many German Colonels did in 1939.
Semper Fidelis,

Liam Madden

And to round out this entry, an excerpt from a highlight Marci noted. Camilo Mejia is a war resister and the first for this illegal war who served in Iraq (first public one at any rate). Mejia has written about his journey in Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. This is from "Rethinking patriotism this Fourth of July" (The Progressive):

This Independence Day, we should rethink our concept of patriotism.
Is it patriotic to support a war that our president launched on false premises and that has turned into a disaster?
Or is it patriotic to oppose that war?
I had to face this question while in uniform.
Back in 2003, when I fought in Iraq, my infantry unit was going out on combat missions without bulletproof vests and without basic radio equipment. For a while, we even had to suspend patrols because we didn’t have enough water to hydrate ourselves.
After 10 months of deployment and five months of combat without a purpose, I made the agonizing decision not to return to the war. A few months later, I publicly denounced the war and vowed that I would no longer fight in it.
That got me a 12-month sentence in a U.S. Army jail, demotion to the lowest rank and a bad-conduct discharge from the service.
I have no regrets.
Today, our young men and women in the military still find themselves in the role of occupiers, in a war that to this very day remains unjustified, a war that seems to be helping only U.S. companies like Halliburton that have profited from it.

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Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 29, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.
Starting with Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden.  Madden and two other members of IVAW,  Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them.  They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more.  Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines.  Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches).  Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War").  Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something.  Of what?  Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US.  He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory.  The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".
Madden and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm. 
And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel.  Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war.  He is also a supporter of 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel.  He has my vote.  The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army.  I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others.  I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking."  Those were both noted in May.  In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish.  I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter."  In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year.  I have served in combat.  I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat.  I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things.  Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience".  Courage to Resist has more information here.
Eli Israel is part of a 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed 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, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .  Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th).  Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity.  A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.  A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens."  AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."
When not begging al-Sadr, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law".  However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.'  With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket.  Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers."  That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan).  Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament.  In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant.  Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours".  Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded.  CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today.  Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.
The US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack."  The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.  The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year.  BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."
Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .
As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's) ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stir
because it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.  Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."
Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.  Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .
Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)."  Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created.  Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad. Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts.  The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues."  And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become.  Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks."  Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying.  Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped.  In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."
And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.  Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown.  Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq."  Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead.  Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be.  He didn't want to be there.  He was more scared than anything else.  He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."
For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."  CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."
Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.

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A6 of this morning's New York Times is where the Iraq coverage is. Three stories. (We're not counting Cindy McCain's cover story which is pure fluff -- if only the administration had listened to her husband John about Iraq! Though she does get in a good dig at Bully Boy by hiding behind a supposed quote from her daughter.) Of the three stories, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell's "Sectarian Attacks Kill Dozens of Shiites in Baghdad" covers the dialy violence and notes the back and forth regarding the 20 headless corpses in Thursday's news. The most pressing news in the article appears well past the half-way mark. This is referring to the site of the bombing in Baghdad yesterday that resulted in mass fatalities (25):

As one Iraqi reporter for The New York Times arrived at a Mahdi Army checkpoint, 20 fighters milled about and inspected vehicles. On the next road over, a group of American Humvees approached. "The Americans are coming!" one of the militiamen shouted. The fighters then walked away, blending into crowds already outside who were heading to the blast site.

The Shi'ite militia members are, rightly or wrongly, assumed to be lining up future victims with their self-styled checkpoints. Other news in the article is that Moqtada al-Sadr's call for a march (next week) has led the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, to call for a call-off. He declared ("bluntly" Oppel and Farrell report) that "Samarra was not safe". The march was to show 'solidarity' following the mosque bombing in Samarra that knocked out the towers (following the previous year's bombing of the same mosque).

'Solidarity' because although al-Sadr issued a call for unity the unity didn't include Takfiris -- Oppel and Farrell translate that as "Sunni extremists" (or, more accurately, "those who accuse others of apostasy"). However "Sunni" isn't a translation for Takfiris. al-Sadr may have meant "Sunni extremist" or even "Sunni" but it means extremist. Oppel and Farrell's interpretation is not as questionable due to past actions and statements but, just to be clear, it only means extremist. The term was more recently used (at the start of this month) by Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim who served on Iraq's alleged Governing Counil (July 2003 through June 2004). al-Hakim is a Shi'ite close to Ali Sistani, his father was the Grand Marjay of Shiia World Grand Ayatullah Sayyed Mohasin Al-Hakim, and his militia is the Badr Brigade. al-Hakim used the term in reference to violence in Lebanon, stating that 'takfiris' had not been opposed by neighboring countries and, as a result, the events were taking place.

Alissa J. Rubin contributes "Iraqi Shiite Parties Agree To Try to United Moderates." Has the laughter faded yet? No? Okay, take another minute. Alright, al-Maliki's attempting to cut al-Sadr out of the process (he's playing both ends) and this isn't about Iraq's interests, it's about the 'benchmarks' which Rubin sums up as, "constitutional changes an an oil revenue-sharing law." It's really amazing how these alleged 'benchmarks' that the Iraqi Parliament suspended their summer vaction for, are not what the Iraqi people want, what the Iraqi people are demanding, but, because the US wants it, that's what the focus must be -- over and over, year after year. If the theft of Iraq's oil is not pulled off this summer, count on al-Maliki to enjoy the winter (and later seasons) in London.

Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the march is taking place. From his "Sadr march to Samarra raises fears of new Iraq violence:"

"I really don't know what is the benefit of the visit to Samarra, and I don't know why Muqtada insists on sending the innocent to their deaths," said Baghdad resident Hussein al Maliki, 34, a Shiite. "I'm sure the insurgents will do their best to kill as many Shiites as possible during the visit."
For Sadr, the leader of the anti-American Mahdi Army militia, the march poses a test of his popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limits of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens.
In any case, the event promises a volatile mix of weapons and ill will, with members of Sadr's militia gearing up to provide security alongside Iraqi and U.S. forces that are still fighting his militiamen in the south.

Back to the Times, and A6, where Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny contribute "Bush Defends War at Naval College as Senate Republicans Show Increasing Impatience" from which we'll note this section:

Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .
Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said).

John Warner has set July 15th as a date to mark on the calander. (Other aspects of the article will be addressed Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)

Lloyd notes Thomas E. Ricks' "Bush: Key to Evaluating Iraq Is at Its Local Level" (Washington Post) also addressing Bully Boy's attempts to lower the stakes and asks what this reminds everyone of:

In another sign of a potential policy shift, Bush also said in his speech that one of the encouraging signs in Baghdad is that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups." It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces.

I'm guessing it reminds everyone (in this community) of the puppet of the occupation claiming last summer that he was creating those groups as part of the so-called crackdown. This was part of his multi-point 'plan'. One of the few points covered was this nonsense of local security groups. And, wrongly, the press credited that to al-Maliki (remember when so many were so high on him) when they groups were already in existance. Ricks is correct to note "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias". It should also be remembered that the plan was introduced after six weeks of the 'crackdown' had produced no results. The 'crackdown' has been ongoing for over a year now. In fact, Tony Snow remarked on it almost a year ago stating of the crackdown, "It has not achieved its objectives." Many covered that in real time (though every seems to have forgotten now). See Edward Wong's "Top Iraqi's White House Visit Shows Gaps With U.S." (New York Times) from last summer.

Maura Reynolds and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) cover Bullly Boy's attempted to shuffle step in "President says troop buildup needs time:"

Bush's comments come at a time when popular and congressional support for the war -- and the troop increase initiated in January -- has diminished even faster than the White House had anticipated.
Earlier this week, a key administration ally, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and a leading voice on international affairs, said in a speech on the Senate floor that he could no longer support the strategy.
The White House dispatched National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to meet with Lugar on Thursday, part of a new, orchestrated effort to buy the military commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, more time to show progress ahead of an expected evaluation of the plan in September.
White House officials said the president plans additional speeches in coming weeks to make the case that the strategy was gaining traction. The addresses will be aimed at wavering Republicans as much as at an increasingly skeptical public.
A CNN poll this week showed American support for the war had dropped to 30%, the lowest level since the 2003 invasion.

On yesterday's announcement of 3 British soldiers dying in Iraq, James in Brighton notes Andrew Pierce and David Blair's "Iraq deaths cast shadow over Brown's first dayBy Andrew Pierce and David Blair" (Telegraph of London):

Gordon Brown's first full day in office yesterday was overshadowed by the death of three young British soldiers in Iraq -- two of them from his Scottish constituency.
The killings were the result of a roadside bomb in Basra, detonated as a patrol passed by. A fourth soldier was seriously injured.
The new Prime Minister was told of the latest deaths first thing yesterday morning. The victims were Black Watch privates James Kerr, 20, from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency and Scott Kennedy, 20, from Oakley, Dunfermline, close to his Scottish home.

Cpl Paul Joszko, 28, of the Royal Welsh Battalion, was also killed.

The current total of British soldiers who have died in the illegal war is 156.

Lewis notes that a 1966 column ("Black Power") by MLK is posted at The Progressive.
The website of the magazine has been posting more from their archives. This is not "BUY A DIGITAL PACK BECAUSE LOOK HOW DAMN GREEDY WE ARE!". They are making these archived writings available online to all.

Bill Moyers Journal begins airing on some PBS channels tonight. Check your local listings for time and air date. This week, his commentary will address Rupert Murdoch's potential takeover of The Wall St. Journal (which would mean Murdoch owned two New York papers -- anti-trust much). The commentary can be watched or listened to via online streaming at YouTube and, as always with Bill Moyers Journal, the program's website for the show will be inclusive to all -- text of the commentary and the rest of this week's show will go up by tomorrow morning if not before.

On many PBS stations, NOW with David Brancaccio also debuts its new episode tonight (check local listings for time and for when it airs -- PBS stations decide air dates locally). They will examine health care in the United States and Brancaccio will interview Michael Moore about the topic and Sicko (Moore's new documentary on the health care crisis):

NOW Host David Brancaccio sits down with the controversial chronicler of American culture to find out what makes him tick, and why our healthcare system ticks him off.

In addition to the broadcast of NOW with David Brancaccio, the program's website "will provide additional coverage starting Friday morning, June 29. Features include a web-exclusive audio interview with former 9/11 volunteer emergency responder Reggie Cervantes, who was featured in Sicko; and information on getting and keeping good health insurance in your state."

In many markets, both programs begin airing tonight. Lastly, WBAI's Law and Disorder (and other broadcast stations as well) aired a portion (approximately 28 minutes) of the debate/discussion (sponsored by the Left Forum) between Laura Flanders and Stanley Aronowotiz on issues such as where does the left go now? Kat's "Law and Disorder: Laura Flanders, Stanley Aronowitz" and Mike's "Laura Flanders & Stanley Aronowitz (Law and Disorder)" offer two views of the debate/discussion. And the program can be streamed online.
Probably at many places but two are the program's website and the WBAI archives (scroll down to Monday).

The e-mail address for this site is

5 US soldiers announced dead in Baghdad

"Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack," the US military announced today. The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Meanwhile an election looms in Australia and (Australia's) ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stir
because it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party. Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq. Tony Blair having stepped down as prime minister in England leaves Howard as the Bully Boy's most vocal supporter (and the most vocal supporter of the illegal war) having already, earlier this year, demonstrated his love for Bully Boy and the illegal war by attempting to interject himself into the US's Democratic primaries by taking 2008 presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama to task for comments.

In other Iraq news, Martha highlights this from John Ward Anderson's "Residents Say 17 Killed by U.S. Were Not Insurgents" (Washington Post):

The U.S. military is investigating the killings of 17 people in a U.S. helicopter attack north of Baghdad a week ago, after residents of the area complained that the victims were not fighters from the group al-Qaeda in Iraq, as the military originally claimed, but members of a village guard force and ordinary citizens.
A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, said the June 22 incident in Khalis, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, was under investigation "because of discussions with locals who say it didn't happen as we reported it." The attack occurred in the opening days of Operation Arrowhead Ripper, an offensive against al-Qaeda in Iraq that is centered on Baqubah, about 10 miles southeast of Khalis.

From yesterday's entry (I'm pressed for time this morning):

Also from the BBC we'll note this:

Relatives of 11 Iraqis killed by US troops in the village of Khalis last week have demanded compensation, and have called for the Americans to withdraw claims the men were from al-Qaeda;That's one of two incidents that are getting very little attention.

From yesterday's snapshot (and the first item is the one the BBC's noting):

In Iraq, Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Governmental and political parties' sources in Khalis disputed a U.S. military statement that was issued a few days ago; the statement said that a U.S. helicopter killed 17 terrorists but these sources say these men were protecting their own town from terrorist attacks. They said that Abbas Muthafar Hashim, Shakir Adnan, Ali Jawad, Jassim Jaleel, Abbas Jaleel, Kamal Hadi, Jamal Hassan and Mohammed Abdul Kareem were killed and 8 others were injured. They noted that the killed were members of what is called the popular committees that protect the area from the terrorists attacks, as they said." The US military press release on that incident was issued Friday, June 22nd and noted that those killed were "17 al-Qaeda gunmen" and that they US forces "observed more than 15 armed men attempting to circumvent the IPs and infiltrate the village. The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen and destroyed the vehicle they were using." Obviously the people of town differ with the US military on the dead and, since they knew the dead and didn't just observe them from the air, one would assume a follow up by the military is in order. Those very likely wrongful deaths make the news as Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports this from today, "Witnesses said U.S. troops opened fire on civilians in the sprawling Sadr City neighborhood of the capital after a passerby fired a revolver into the air to settle a family dispute. The ensuing gunfire left two men dead and three injured, witnesses said. A spokesman for the U.S. said he had not received reports of soldiers firing at civilians."

So one of two incidents is now under investigation. No word on whether or not the Sadr City shooting is under investigation.

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