Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: I am still doing my reports. I am a little stunned because I thought I would go through the e-mails in the public account to help out everyone. I saw repeated e-mails from one man and thought, "What does he want?"

I have never seen such filth in my life and not only am I no shrinking violent, all of my children were boys. I had honestly assumed there was little I had not heard. I called C.I. to inform about the e-mails and C.I. had been ignoring them and instructed everyone working the public account to do so as well. I was out of the loop which is how I ended up being the first one to read them.

But that was over three hours ago and my hands are still shaking from the threats and the filth. To use the term of my day, I was "freaking out" when I read them. When I told C.I. about them, C.I. was cool as a cucumber so I will assume those sort of things come in frequently.

If someone was threatening me with talk of 'come Monday,' I would be freaking out. C.I. pointed out, "There's no reason for anyone to be nervous. He's just another crackpot making threats and getting angry when the response isn't 'I'm scared! I'm so scared! Please don't hurt me!' Don't worry about it."

That does explain the sexism at you know what site since the stalker, and I will use that word, is a friend of the man who makes it a point to tear into any female reporter but always sees a new day dawning when it comes to male reporters.

I had not planned to write about this. For one thing, when I sat down at the computer this evening, I did not even know about it. I knew it had a problem in 2005 for Rebecca. She avoided him and left the country for a summer vacation. I called Rebecca to ask, "Was he this obsessive with you?" She told me that he finally went away. She also feels bad because she never responded to him. He wrote her and she did not respond. Then he started writing C.I. and Rebecca asked C.I. to respond saying she was out of the country. Then he pops back up a few months ago and apparently has been writing these strange e-mails ever since. I may have missed one earlier, but I believe I read seven e-mails.

When I phoned C.I. my hands were shaking and they still are. C.I. juggled the phones to get several people over to look at the e-mails and one person to do a security check on the home but mainly stayed on the line with me repeating, "Ruth, don't worry." I honestly am worried.

The man sounds nuts. Hannibal Lecter nuts.

I just really cannot get beyond the abuse in those e-mails.

My chest feels tight and my arms are stiff and numb while my hands shake.

I called my oldest son and he came right over because he was afraid I was having a heart attack. I am not having a heart attack, I am just stunned and, even though the e-mails were not to me, really frightened.

The smartest thing to do would be not to do a report; however, if I do that I will have missed two weeks in a row.

I had planned to note some radio programs I enjoyed during the week but I cannot concentrate when I look at the notes I made. So maybe there is some value in just sharing about this?

As a feminist from way back, I do believe in the value of sharing. Consciousness Raising helped us realize that these "personal" events were not happening just to one woman but to many. It really helped us re imagine the world and change it. I certainly do not think enough change has taken place but the feminist movement has transformed the world.

That did not come about because we asked for things, not even nicely, that came about because we refused to be sidelined or turned into doormats.

In sharing our stories, we realized it was not just one of us suffering, it was all of us. We realized that the so-called "personal problem" was very much a societal problem. For some of us, that meant realizing that we might get by on a pass as an exception but the pass could be revoked at any moment, whether it was based on our position, our skin color, our sexuality, our attractiveness, or what have you. At the core, we were all judged as "less than" based on our gender.

We learned about respecting ourselves as much as anything else. The movement's accomplishments are rarely noted in the mainstream press, unless they are ridiculed, but for any woman living in that period, the changes have been immense.

My best friend in high school, to offer an example, had the highest G.P.A. She was named salutatorian, not valedictorian. A number of us were angry but we did accept, back then, the explanation that the man who was named valedictorian needed the title because he would someday be supporting a family.

That was bunk then and it is bunk now. But we rolled over on it because we were taught and socialized to believe that we were "less than." Our gender made us "less than" on the scale of humanity. This lie was based on another, that biology was "destiny."

Now if biology truly were destiny, they would not have needed to game the awarding of valedictorian. But that happened repeatedly in various scenarios. A man was all better and, when he was not, the system was gamed so that he would still be recognized as if he were. That really drove home the lie when we took the time to think about. The system was set up to reward males by their very gender but when a woman could win on the unlevel playing field, the system had to be gamed.

Certainly, during WWII, women demonstrated they could work in large numbers. The war ended and the women were told to go home. These were "male jobs" and "male destiny." So how did women ever manage to hold them down in the first place?

We were told a number of lies, our mothers, and their mothers were told a number of lies. Every step forward, every challenge that a woman who came before made eased the road for all of us. It gave us the foundation to build a movement on.

When we shared, we realized crimes were not "personal problems." A woman being beat up, a woman being raped, those were not "personal problems." But the system certainly allowed them to be judged that way.

Systematic abuses and discrimination were supposed to be just "natural." That was the way things were, we were told. The Civil Rights Movement and the peace movement laid the groundwork for the challenges we would make as well. Women were part of those movements and we saw the power that we had. Some of us owned our power immediately, some needed to learn it was okay to own it.

But we really did change the world and are still changing it.

So that a man from that period is a woman hater is not surprising. That he attacks a woman and threatens her is not surprising. With equality, not full because we still are not there, making strides, he obviously has felt under attack for some time. So he probably feels very powerful sending threatening e-mails. He probably expected C.I. to cower. When C.I. noted them here, the man was enraged because no abuser likes to be exposed. Ike Turner still attempts to pass off his physical and mental abuse of Tina Turner as something minor and pin the problems on her.

That is how it is when a woman tells the truth. When abusive men are exposed, they are even angrier because it was all supposed to be "personal" and remain unknown. It always the public shame they face for their actions that enrages them, the sunlight of day shining on their behaviors.

Which, when you think of it, demonstrates that, despite claims otherwise, even they know their behaviors are not the "norm" or acceptable.

The Washington Post, a few months ago, explored the abuse of women online. So hopefully this somehow contributes to that discussion.

I am an old woman now with grandchildren and, no doubt, great grandchildren on the way in the near future. My generation and ones that came after have fought for a better and more equal world. Younger generations take up the challenge today and we see, fortunately, that many males are willing to join in the struggle. The feminist movement has never stopped or ceased. The accomplishments have been immense and more will be done. We should probably see the attacks on women online as a the last struggles of sexists who think they have a "right" to bully women, to threaten them, and to silence them. Hopefully, those final gasps will have died out when my granddaughter Tracey is a grandmother.

Dear Dumb Ass

Your threatening e-mails are not private. I can and will quote from any I see fit.

Cease and desist writing them.

Your name was here in two entries and it's been removed and replaced with "Dumb Ass" because a friend with the FBI suggests you have "issues." He now has copies of all your e-mails.

Your name is no longer up here. You will have to find some other way to get a little fame.

Quit harassing me.

Stop threatening me.

And don't contact me again.

It has been repeatedly noted that the privacy policy does not cover your kind.

Continued attempts to contact me will be seen as continued harassment.

You're sick.

You've written repeatedly this week. Your harassments and your threats need to stop immediately.

Get help.

Finally, I am not your "buddy," The Common Ills is not a "blog" and your offensive e-mails would be offensive to any woman. Save your tough guy act for your male friends (if you have any) and quit harassing women via your e-mails. This one is sick of it.

White House uses 'reduction' in hopes of continuing the illegal war

If the Bush administration does not change strategy, the elevated U.S. troop levels in Iraq will continue until this time next year, the second highest ranking American commander in Iraq said Friday.
As the White House and Congress gear up to renew the debate over U.S. strategy in Iraq next month, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno outlined current military plans, saying the first of the extra "surge" forces would begin returning home in April. The last of the units that are part of the buildup would leave next August as the U.S. force in Iraq returns to its previous level of about 132,000.

The above is from Julian E. Barnes and Carol J. Williams' "Troop buildup could last year, general says" (Los Angeles Times). Odierno held the press confrence and he has a strained relationship with the truth so take it for it's worth. In addition, the drawbacks being tossed around would leave US ground forces at approximately 140,000 which means there would be more in Iraq than pre-escalation (if a reduction comes). Also remember this myth of 'improvements' has been disproven by McClatchy Newspapers figures. (And McClatchy -- then Knight-Ridder -- got it right when the New York Times was willfully getting it so wrong.)

Speaking of the Times, remember when War Pornographer Michael Gordon's 'reported' on the prison tents? Waleed Ibrahim and Peter Graff (Reuters) offer a reality based report of "hundreds of inmates packed into tented wire-mesh cages" and this is from their article:

The U.S. military says it is now holding 23,000 Iraqis, 19,000 of them at Camp Bucca, a giant prison camp in southern Iraq. Washington says its own prisoners are covered by U.N. Security Council resolutions which allow its forces to hold them without charge as long as they are deemed a threat.
Although U.S. forces are not responsible for prisoners held by Iraqi authorities, "we encourage them to treat their prisoners with as much respect as is seen in the West," said U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver.
The Shi'ite-run Interior Ministry was criticised over the treatment of detainees in 2005 after U.S. forces said they discovered secret cells in which detainees had been tortured.

The prisoners can be held by some coverage from the UN? And the occupying power (the US) thinks they also have no responsibilities for the treatment of prisoners "held by Iraqi authorities". Well what Bully Boy hasn't rewritten, he's trashed. Apparently the new system is a form of "responsibilitization" or however he might mangle the word.

The AP reports a Baghdad mortar attack today that has thus far claimed at least seven lives including an infant and that at least four people are dead and thirty-eight wounded from ongoing bombings in Kirkuk that began Friday night.

The August 7th snapshot noted the following:

Today, Prensa Latina reports: "Sectors from the Puerto Rican society will start a campaign next week against military recruitment in schools to enter the US Army, said activists from the Independentista Party of Puerto Rico (PIP) Monday." You can't vote in the presidential elections, the US won't allow you your independence but your children can die in an illegal war started by the US."

With more on those and other efforts, Martha notes this from Paul Lewis' "Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico" (Washington Post):

The scene outside the Ramon Vila Mayo high school unfolded at schools throughout Puerto Rico this week as the academic year opened. On this island with a long tradition of military service, pro-independence advocates are tapping the territory's growing anti-Iraq war sentiment to revitalize their cause. As a result, 57 percent of Puerto Rico's 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, or their parents, have signed forms over the past year withholding contact information from the Pentagon -- effectively barring U.S. recruiters from reaching out to an estimated 65,000 high school students.
"If the death of a Puerto Rican soldier is tragic, it's more tragic if that soldier has no say in that war," said Juan Dalmau, secretary general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). His efforts are saving the island's children from becoming "colonial cannon meat," he said.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools receiving U.S. federal funding must provide their students' names, addresses and phone numbers to the military unless the child or parents sign an opt-out form. Puerto Rico received $1.88 billion in U.S. education funds this year. For five years, PIP has issued opt-out forms to about 120,000 students in Puerto Rico and encouraged them to sign -- and independista activists expect this year to mark their most successful effort yet.

In the New York Times, Mark Lander provides comic relief by noting Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling's concern that spouses remain at the base in Germany. The punch line being, they had no concern about getting Steph Teske there when her husband Chris Teske was being stationed there. The headline writer also provides a chuckle, "At German Base, Troops and Kin Gird for New Iraq Tour." Kin? Who knew Ma and Pa Kettle were on the paper's payroll?

Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker's "White House to Offer Gradual Cuts as Iraq Plan" runs on the front page and

One administration official made it clear that the goal of the planned announcement was to counter public pressure for a more rapid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on "a sustainable footing" as least through the end of the Bush presidency."

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "You Are Staying" below:


Rachel notes two upcoming programs on WBAI (broadcasting out of NYC and available to online listeners as well)

Sunday, August 19, 11am-noon EST
Poet Hugh Seidman interviews poet Harvey Shapiro upon publication of Shapiro's "The Sights Along The Harbor: New and Collected Poems." (Re-broadcast of a program that originally aired April 16, 2006.)
Monday, August 20, 2-3pm EST
Political satirist Will Durst, just opened to rave reviews in "The All-American Sport of Bi-Partisan Bashing"; actor/musicians Preston Clark and Grant Vargas on their play "33 to Nothing," about an aging rock band; and author Leslie Garis on "House of Happy Endings," a family memoir involving her grandparents, the authors of The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift and Uncle Wiggily. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

The e-mail address for this site is


Just replies to e-mails as I go through the public account (

A) If the members are sick of something, there's no point in e-mailing about it. I'm one member. If the community says "No more," then it's no more.

B) If you're someone who's e-mailed and felt you should have had a response, by all means e-mail again. But there are too many e-mails in the public account which is why you need to be specific in your titles. Most working the public account (Martha, Shirley, Eli, Jess, Ava and myself) will delete it without reading if it looks like spam. There's not enough time. Four people were apparently deleted without being read for that reason. You need to be clear in your e-mail heading what you're writing and titles like "Can I trust you?" (if you have to ask, then, no, you can't), "Urgent" or "Repond please" will be seen as spam (to cite only a few popular titles by spammers).

C) If you're Dumb Ass, it was made clear that you wouldn't be read. Stop e-mailing. I'll also assume those unread e-mails deal with things other at websites so, I'll repeat, the public address does not exist for you to whine about something someone posted at another site.

D) Members e-mail to the private accounts. Those get worked more often. When others go through the public account, they move any e-mail that they think I need to read into another folder. I check that as often as possible. Otherwise, I get a report on the e-mails. If you're moved to the "Must Read" folder, you are read by me (you're also read by me if you're on the top four pages when I check the public account -- that's 100 e-mails and that's generally all the time I have in one sitting to read). If a reply's needed, I do reply when I read. (Actually, I reply and it goes to the "Draft" folder. Ron long ago explained the need for that to me. I send out no e-mails myself. So you've got another delay on top of the ones listed.)

E) Ruth plans a report for later today. She had one planned last weekend but pulled it. This was addressed at The Third Estate Sunday Review last Sunday. I haven't made a point to link to the piece with a "Here's why Ruth has no report" because it was feared by others involved in that piece that if I did so, ____ would see it as an opening to avoid writing Jess (at to offer the apology he needs to give Jess. Ruth won't be addressing it specifically for the same reason (I just got off the phone with her). She did have a report planned, she'd made notes on it and, for reasons explained at The Third Estate Sunday Review, suddenly was without a report. This has been addressed in community newsletters but a number of visitors have e-mailed about it this morning. She did not have a family emergency, she was not "blowing off" her report, and she's not sick. She's fine and plans a report for later today.

F) A vistitor was "thrilled" that Isaiah did two comics this week: Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Casual Lunch" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Karl Rove Leaves the Administration". The visitor wondered why Isaiah can't do a comic every day? Because he has life. He is also doing comics for Maria, Miguel and Francisco's newsletter and for Hilda's. Visitors may only see one comic a week (or none if he's taking the weekend off) but he's doing three already. The visitor offers a list of suggested comics. That e-mail's not going to get to Isaiah. I've trashed it because Isaiah has explained that's not helpful. He has to visualize the comic himself. He's been doing illustrations for the community over two years. If you need to see more of his illustrations, you should use the link provided in each comic to look at past work. Going to Flickr will not help you. We used to use Hello! until it ended its arrangement with Blogger/Blogspot December 31, 2006 (with no notice that it was ending the partnership, no heads up to users). We then switched to Flickr. However, not all of his comics are up at Flickr because there have been Sundays when Flickr either wouldn't take it or took hours and hours. He has considered creating an archived site and actually planned to do so before he started doing illustrations for two community newsletters. Time for him, like everyone else, is limited. What happens to the originals? Some he's held on to, some he's passed on to members. ("The Peace Resister" is framed and hung in Rebecca's mother-in-law's house so it's not "available." Nor are any to visitors. I know Elaine has several framed throughout her place as well. He usually sends the hard copy original onto her if it's a movie parody.) Isaiah and I are working together on something else that will hopefully be done here next month. For more on Isaiah, you can see the May 2005 piece at The Third Estate Sunday Review "Talking With Isaiah, The Common Ills cartoonist" (there's at least one other interview but I'm forgetting the title and the last template switch by The Third Estate Sunday Review screwed up the archives. I'm not remembering the title of it and don't feel like playing with Google for twenty to thirty minutes to find it.)

G) Kat has had a stomach virus as well as many other things going on in her life. She has a draft she's editing of her latest CD review. It should post on Sunday morning. If she or I remember, it will post no later than 8:00 am EST. She is now holding them for Sundays so that there's something up Sunday mornings due to the fact that I'm usually very late here on that day due to the all night writing edition (which stretch into all morning) at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Her review that should post tomorrow is on the latest Cowboy Junkies' CD.

H) Folding Star ran A Winding Road (at Blogger/Blogspot and at Blogdrive). FS remains a member but got sick of blogging for several reasons. The current websites of that name (at Blogger/Blogspot and Blogdrive) are not run by FS (though someone's made a real attempt to make it look as though they are). FS deleted both sites after deciding to stop blogging. That was either the fourth community website started (after this one, after Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and after Third Estate Sunday Review). Some of Folding Star's posts are quoted in The Third Estate Sunday Review's archives, some are re-posted in full there.
You can see The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Folding Star interviewed by C.I." for more of FS.

I) The Beatitudes is a new book by Lyn LeJeune and the royalties go to "directly to the New Orleans Public Library Foundation as part of The Beatitudes Network Campaign, dedicated to rebuilding the public libraries of New Orleans." Libraries are one of our most important physical resources and, certainly, the libraries in New Orleans need assistance because so much was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The book:

portrays New Orleans as Dante's purgatory, a place where the sins of men are exposed for all to see, where redemption is close at hand but most often lost.
This world is revealed by the lives of two social workers, Hannah Dubois (white and nicknamed Scrimp) and Earlene Washington (African-American and nicknamed Pinch), who start their own business, Social Investigations, in order to solve the murders of ten foster children in New Orleans, Louisiana. The NOPD, the Catholic Church, and politicians have sidestepped clues that point to those who hold great power. As Hannah and Earlene find more and more evidence, they also know that they are dealing with a force that crosses into the realm of the paranormal. The murderers are part of a secret organization called the White Army (la Armee Blanc), centered in New Orleans, but rooted in Medieval Europe and the Children’s Crusades. Each clue leads to a beatitude and each chapter defines the novel: The Pure of Heart, The Persecuted, The Merciful, The Sorrowful, The Peacemakers, The Meek, The Poor in Spirit, and Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Justice. The Beatitudes is thus a study of good and evil, and that act, the murder of innocent children, which encompasses all of the seven deadly sins. The Beatitudes is Book I in The New Orleans Trilogy.

You can find out more information by visiting The Beatitudes website. As funds are steered elsewhere, all public libraries need support and if the book is interesting to you, a purchase would help out the New Orleans public library system.

That's a reply to some of the e-mails I'm coming across this morning. After Jess got burned, less and less people will receive personal replies when they write the public account which is

Friday, August 17, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, al-Maliki tries to save his ass via a Sunni shut out, the 4,000 mark for foreign fighters killed in Iraq has passed, a mosque is attacked in Iraq, A.N.S.W.E.R. is attacked in the US, IVAW & Vets for Peace & Military Families Speak Out and others gear up for a march in St. Louis this Sunday, and more.

Starting with war resisters. Melissa Fryer (The Nanmio News Bulletin).reports on war resister Timothy Richard who enlisted in the National Guard in 1999 and self-checked out and moved to Canada after he was stop-lossed: "In August 2005, just three months before his six-year contract expired, he was called up and moved from calvalry to infantry, and began training at Camp Shelby, Miss. for deployment to Iraq. . . . His contract was extended to 2031 without his permission, due to a clause that allows the U.S. government to extend military contracts at their discretion". Camilo Mejia, who tells his story in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, also found his 'contract' (legally binding only when it's in the military's favor) extended to 2031. Richard self-checked out during the Thanksgiving 2005 break and moved to Canada. Fyrer reports, "Because his dad is Canadian, Richard was able to acquire Canadian citizenship, which allows him to work and go to school, and protects him from extradition to the U.S. to face desertion charges. . . . Other war resisters are not so fortunate. To support them, and to help repay the support he was shown when he landed in Nanaimo, Richard is using his singing talents to raise money for the Nanaimo War Resisters Support Group and St. Andrew's United Church" with "A Concert for Peace" scheduled to take place August 19th, starting at seven p.m. at St. Andrew's Church (ten dollars is the price for a ticket).

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, 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, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th. (And, on the 19th, there will be a march led by, among others, war resister Darrell Anderson. See further details at later in the snapshot.)

Earlier this month, when the United Nations Security Council voted to 'expand' the UN's role in Iraq, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) wrote of the "fig leaf" nature of the UN 'mission' in Iraq observing that "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expects to send all of thirty more U.N. personnel to Iraq. But the staff union at the U.N. opposes this, and even wants those currently in Iraq to be withdrawn until the safety situation there improves" and also noted how it was "difficult to imagine how the U.N. will be able to help the security situation any. The response by Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, was laughable. He said he hopes 'the U.N. will soon be able to redeploy a contingent to Basra, where its expertise would be helpful in delivering capactiy building in Iraq's southeast'." Basra would be the site where the UK has seen many losses throughout the illegal war (the current number of UK soldiers killed in the illegal war is 168). So the "all of thirty more U.N. personnel [sent] to Iraq" is laughable and, indeed, a fig leaf.

Fig leafs are all that's left to cover the illegal war and the new one this week has been the so-called 'alliance' Nouri al-Maliki has formed which shuts out the Sunnis. Always quick to parrot the US government's talking points, Damien Cave (New York Times) misses every bit of reality and promotes the 'alliance' as just another manuever while quoting an unnamed US official who declares its too soon to tell whether the alliance will be successful or not? Too soon to tell? The shut out of the Sunnis violates the White House endorsed, Congressionally mandate 'benchmarks' two and sixteen. Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports that the make up of the 'alliance' "effectively undermines the coalition's chances of breaking the political gridlock that has frustrated U.S. and Iraqi officials" and quotes Sunni Hachim al-Hassani declaring, "This is not the solution for Iraq's problems. The solution for Iraq's problems is for the real parties to get together and agree on an agenda to fix Iraq's
problems." The Australian observes that the Sunni shut out in the 'alliance' "immediately raised questions about its legitimacy as a unifying force" and declares, "The key disappointment after days spent negotiating the pact's membership was the absence of Iraq's Sunni Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi, and his moderate Iraqi Islamic Party. That portends even deeper political divisions, but Mr. Maliki chose a more optimistic assessment." The Sunni shut out also comes after US efforts to arm and train some Sunnis alarmed many Shi'ites in the puppet government and the back-and-forth dance the US does with Sunnis and Shi'ites serves to throw everyone off balance (which is the point of it). al-Maliki, while trashing two 'benchmarks,' is already (once again) eager to spin happy about the chances to pass the theft of Iraqi oil, the privataziation of Iraqi oil opposed by most Iraqis but something the US administration wants. Sabah Jergest (AFP) reports "Leaders of Iraq's disenchanted Sunni Arab community on Friday slammed the new Shiite and Kurdish alliance formed to salvage Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national unity government. The National Concord Front, the main Sunni Arab political bloc in the country's 275-member parliament, said the new tie-up between the two Shiite and two Kurdish parties was a 'futile' excercise."
David Hardaker (Australia's ABC) notes that "Sunni leader and Vice President Tariq Hashemi has severely criticised the government's record on security and human rights." And so has the mainstream press in recent months but the 'alliance' is a new chance to spin 'possibilities.'

Sam Dagher (Christian Science Monitor) provides context: "With a mid-September deadline looming for the Bush administration to deliver its Iraq progress report to Congress, American diplomats in Baghdad are working overdrive to prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government from total collapse -- something that could shatter all efforts to forge a long-elusive national reconciliation." Fig leaf. That's all the 'alliance' is. An effort by the US and al-Maliki to have something -- anything! -- worth spinning as the September 15th 'progress' report (to be delivered to Congress) looms. In light of this comes the 'alliance' and also talk of a crisis summit. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review observes of the latter, "How familiar is this dirge. The government is run by the Shiite majority, the Sunni minority feels put upon and many Kurds would just as soon go their own way." Among the Shi'ite militias Sunnis have called "death squads" is the Badr Brigade. Last week, the governor of the Qadasiyah province was assassinated. CBS News and AP report today that Sheik Hamid al-Khudhan, "secretary-general of the Badr Brigade" has just been elected the new govenor "by a narrow majority" of council members. With these and other actions, the puppet's cry of "We must unite" seems less like a slogan and more like a threat.

How familiar is this dirge? Tuesday multiple bombings in northern Iraq led to mass deaths. Today BBC reports the death toll at 344 with four hundred wounded and that Abdul Rahim al-Shimari, mayor of Baaj, held a press confrence where he declared, "People are in shock. Hospitals here are running out of medicine. The pharmacies are empty. We need food, medicine and water otherwise there will be an even greater catastrophe." The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that they are "dispatching surgical and medical supplies to Telaafar General Hospital which is receiving an influx of casualties resulting from the four explosions that rocked the Sinjar district in the north west of Iraq late on Tuesday evening. Similar supplies for the treatment of over 400 wounded have also been dispatched to Sinjar General Hospital and Dohuk Emergency Hospital." While the Red Cross (and Red Crescent) provide aid, Damien Cave (New York Times) gets giddy that Nouri al-Maliki's puppet government has announced it will provide families with $1600 (US) for each family member killed. Ignoring all context and reality, this meager sum stands in stark contrast to to the puppet's July 2006 declaration that he would send $35 million (US) in aid to Lebanon.
Diamond Jim Brady al-Maliki has all the cash in the world to toss around . . . outside of Iraq but when Iraqi lives are to be compensated for, he sends the message that the lives are of much less value on the monetary scale.

Staying on the topic of money, CNN reported yesterday on Iraqi women who have been forced into prostitution due to their losses from the illegal war as they attempt to support themselves and their children with some earning $8 (US) a day. Suha, not her real name, is 37-years-old, the mother of three children and she tells CNN, "People shouldn't criticize women, or talk badly about them. They all say we have lost our way, but they never ask why we had to take this path. I don't have money to take my kids to the doctor. I have to do anything that I can to preserve my child, because I am a mother." The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yanar Mohammed explains to CNN that her group "pounds the streets of Baghdad looking for these victims often too humiliated to come forward," victims of the illegal war whom she points out have been forced into prostitution: "At this point there is a population of women who have to sell their bodies in order to keep their children alive. It's a taboo that no one is speaking out. There is a huge population of women who were the victims of war who had to sell their bodies, their souls and they lost it all."

On the anniversary of the fourth year of the illegal war, the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq released the following statement:

Women of Iraq have gradually let go of most of their 20th century gains and privileges in the last 4 years of occupation. Iraq turned from a modern country of educated and working women into a divided land of Islamic and ethnic warlords who compete in cancelling women from the social realm. Millions of women's destinies are wasted between the destructive US war machine and different kinds of Islamic rule who have have turned women into helpless black objects of no will or worth.
After 4 years of "democratizing" Iraq, systemic group rapes of detained women have become a routine procedure to be practiced in police staions and detainment camps. It has also become another ugly face of the atrocious sectarian war where assaulting females of
the other sect is considered a political victory and punishment.
Abeer, Sabrine and Wajidah's sufferings were known, heard, and ended but hundreds of unknown assaulted women still get beaten, raped and videotaped daily in the Iraqi ministries and around the American bases.

And yes, Virgil and Virginia, there is prostitution in Iraq and in Baghdad and it's been known throughout the illegal war though many outlets have worked overtime to officially ignore it (officially ignore).

Orphans? CBS News' Lara Logan files an update on the Baghdad orphan horror story (back in June, US soldiers found an 'orphanage' that was practicing neglect and abuse and rescued the children) by noting that the US soldiers who saved the children have been awarded but she fails to mention the names of those receiving awards other than Osman Koroma. She also fails to mention how the situation (and others like it that remain unreported) came to be.
Congratulations to Koroma (and the others) for a well deserved medal but the facts remain -- and remain unreported in US media -- that the orphanage and others like it exist due to the illegal war. This was not a case of children made orphans, this was actually (though Logan doesn't note it) a special needs residential center. In the Arab media, parents of the children and of other children have been interviewed, have discussed how they placed their special needs children there because they hoped the children would have the best chance at safety in a war torn country. Parents have been vocal -- outside the US media -- about how the story CBS broke (and others picked up) have made them decide that bombs falling, shootings, barely enough food to survive on, be damned, they were going to pull the children from these institutions. CBS News continues to act as if an isolated center was found and what took place happened by mere chance. That is not reality. There are many others and 'care givers' know they can get away with it because the daily violence makes visits by parents near impossible (and, as one father revealed, many of these centers require the parents to make appointments to visit) and they thrive because Iraqi parents (or in some cases, an Iraqi parent since the illegal war has left many families with one parent -- some with none) see the daily violence from the illegal war and look for any sort of safety for their children. By all means, applaud Osman Koroma and the other US soldiers who made a huge difference by not just discovering the children but by rescuing them (up the chain commanders deserve no credit or applause for the individual actions of the soldiers) but don't ignore the fact that this center and others like it exist due to the illegal war.

Meanwhile, yesterday a mark stood at 3999. The mark? The number of official military members who had died after foreign governments had sent them into Iraq to fight in the illegal war. The 4,000 mark has passed. Today the US military announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad. An investigation into the cause of death will be conducted." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died of wounds sustained from enemy gunfire in Baghdad Province, Thursday." This took the total to 4001. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported earlier today, "In Iraq, the coalition death toll has now topped four thousand. The vast majority are American, with thirty-seven hundred and two U.S. troops killed. Forty-four U.S. service members have died this month."

But the number climbed still higher later in the day. Later today, the US military announced: "One Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated during a patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Aug. 17." And they announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad." ICCC's total for the number of US service members who've died in the illegal war thus far this month is 48 and the total number who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 3706. The total number of foreign military members (US, UK and "Other") killed in the illegal war currently stands at 4003.

As noted above a US soldier died of gun wounds on Thursday. The guns were fired from the roof of a mosque and have resulted in a mosque being the site of a battle. AP reports the US fired missiles at Honest Mohammed Mosque (which was damaged) as worshippers fled.
CNN reports 14 Iraqis were killed by the US including a "boy." The US military states the mosque battle took place in Tarmiyah while glossing over Iraqi fatalities.

In other violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left three people wounded and 3 bombings that claimed 2 lives and left 8 people injured (four were Iraqi soldiers). KUNA reports a Kirkuk bombing wounded four civilians and five Iraqi police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two people wounded from gun fire when unknown assailants in five vehicles opened fre as they drove through Albu Faraj village. AP reports the airing today of a taped execution of Alaa Abboud Fartous Diab who had been an official at the Iraqi Defense Ministry and was "killed with two pistol shots to the back of the head."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Haditha ("gunshot wounds and signs of torture").

Yesterday, the media began reporting on US Army study that found a 15% increase in suicides among active duty members of the army which AP had. Today, Pauline Jelinek (AP) notes that "nearly a third of 99 [suicides] committed in 2006 were among soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time of their deaths. Iraq accounted for the overwhelming number of those -- 27 of the 30." Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessing says, "This report only shows the tip of iceberg, as it does not cover those who took their lives after leaving active duty service. Until the war in Iraq is brought to an end, we think the tragic reality will only become worse" and notes the suicides of Brian Jason Rand and Jeffrey Lucey -- two of many suicides that were committed after the service members left active duty status and are not tracked in the heavily covered study.

This Sunday, [PDF format warning] Military Families Speak Out and others including war resister Darrell Anderson will be conducting a march in St. Louis, MO called "The National March Through the Arch" which will begin at 10:45 a.m. with partipants encouraged to meet at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of 9th and Cole streets.

Many organizations and individuals will also be taking part in an August 25th march in Maine. Kennebunks Peace Department announces the August 25th Rally and March for Peace which will include Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Melida and Carlos Arredondo, David Rovics, Indigo Girls, Pat Scanlon & Band and others. Participants should "gather in the park outside the Kennebunkport Consolidated School on School Street at 10 a.m. for a morning of speeches and music. Then the group will march to the Bush family compound on Walker's Point. The march will be followed by another speaking and music program."

In other peace activisim news, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported yesterday that A.N.S.W.E.R. is being targeted for a demonstration next month, "In Washington D.C., city officials have threatened a ten thousand dollar fine to the anti-war group ANSWER unless it removes posters promoting an upcoming peace march. Several hundred yellow posters have been posted around the city announcing the September 15th event. The protest is timed to coincide with the release of a Pentagon report on the so-called troop surge in Iraq. D.C. officials say the posters are illegal because they don't meet city standards on adhesive use. ANSWER calls the fine threat a political move aimed at silencing the march."

A.N.S.W.E.R. maintains it "will not pay one penny to the government for our First Amendment rights or to stave off their threats against us. We are working with the expert constitutional rights attorneys at the Partnership for Civil Justice to determine our next steps for legal action against this government harrassment and attempted repression." They are asking for people to take action by calling the Director of Department of Public Workds, William O. Howland Jr. at 202-673-6833 and the DC Mayor, Adrian Fenty, at 202-724-8876 and/or to use this link to send or a letter or fax. And, to be sure everyone is clear, the march remains on.

Luggage? GPS? Comic books?
Check out fitting gifts for grads at Yahoo! Search.

The 4,000 mark passed for service members who've died after being sent to Iraq from the US, UK and "Other"

The total number of foreign (non-Iraqi) military who have died in the illegal war now stands at 3,999. That's US, British and "Other" (i.e. Poland, Italy . . .). This the number of military members ordered to fight in the illegal war who have died in it. One away from the 4,000 mark. And scratch everything I just said, ICCC's reporting that the 4,000 mark has now been passed.

Today the US military announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad. An investigation into the cause of death will be conducted." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died of wounds sustained from enemy gunfire in Baghdad Province, Thursday." ICCC's total for the number of US service members who've died in the illegal war thus far this month is 46 and the total number who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 3704. The two deaths bring the total number of all foreign military service members (official, we're not counting mercenaries) who have died in the illegal war since it started to 4001.

As the deaths mount, US opposition (public, not government) remains strong. Zachary Coile's
"California voters want troops to begin pulling out of Iraq in spring, poll says Most California voters want to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, Field Poll shows" (San Francisco Chronicle) notes a new survey by Field Poll which finds that six out of every ten registered voters in California want the US Congress to impose a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Coile reports:

Voter anger over Iraq is the main reason Bush's approval ratings in the state have stayed at rock bottom: 26 percent of voters approve of his job performance, compared with 65 percent who disapprove. Only President Richard Nixon dipped to lower levels -- a 24 percent approval rating -- and that was at the height of the Watergate scandal.
Bush's approval rating also was 26 percent in March, the last time the Field Poll conducted its survey.

Mike's father, who would also be Trina's husband, notes this from AP about Alicia Birchett who was from Massachusetts (and the second woman from the state to die in the illegal war):

She was an engineer mechanic who joined the military immediately after graduating from Falmouth High School in 1995. She also served tours of duty in Germany and Korea.

And we'll also note this from Ryan Haggerty and Megan Tench's "Franklin Soldier is slain in Iraq" (Boston Globe):

News of Staff Sergeant Robert Pirelli's death in Iraq spread quickly through town yesterday, touching Franklin officials who never knew the 29-yearold Green Beret.
"It's a terrible tragedy," said Jeffrey D. Nutting, Franklin's town administrator, as he and other town employees answered calls from residents about Pirelli's death, including one from a local church member asking whether it was proper to lower the church's US flag to half-staff in the soldier's honor. Nutting said it was.
"You never think it's going to hit home" Nutting said. "You see it on TV and in the papers, but it's always somebody else."

Turning to the topic of sucides among active duty service members, Pauline Jelinek (AP) notes
this on the US army's study:

Announcing a new report on suicides, officials said nearly a third of 99 committed in 2006 were among soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time of their deaths. Iraq accounted for the overwhelming number of those _ 27 of the 30.
About half the Army suicides last year, the most since the first Iraq war, in 1991, were soldiers who hadn't reached their 25th birthdays.

On most PBS stations, Bill Moyers Journal begins airing tonight (check local listings). Tonight Moyers addresses the impending departure (August 31st) of Karl Rove. The commentary has also been posted on YouTube. Also in most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio begins airing tonight:

In the fall of 2003, one of the largest recorded wildfires in California's history destroyed over 2,200 houses and killed fifteen people. Soon after, many who'd lost their homes had a rude awakening: their insurance did not nearly cover their losses as expected. The insurance industry, which claims to cover "more property, more lives, more liability-related risks than any time at history," is busy fighting allegations that customers are receiving smaller payouts than what they were promised. On Friday, August 17 (check your local listings), NOW collaborates with Bloomberg Markets magazine to investigate tactics some insurance companies may be using to reduce, avoid, or stall homeowners' claims in an effort to boost their own earnings.
"The insurance purposely misleading customers," California Lieutenant Governor and former Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi tells NOW. "The first commandment of the insurance industry is, 'Thou shalt pay as little, as late, as possible.'...You go to financial heaven if you can carry out that commandment."
The insurance industry is enjoying record-breaking profits, but who's paying the price? Next time on NOW
The NOW website at will offer more insight into these claims of impropriety and reaction from insurance companies

The e-mail address for this site is

al-Maliki places a low value on Iraqi life and Damien Cave pretends not to notice

In this morning's New York Times, Damien Cave contributes "While Kurds Count Bodies, Iraqi Leaders Try to Bridge Their Divide" and there is so much that goes unstated that to qualify it as merely 'bad' is an understatement. It's so bad that it's difficult to pick a starting point in noting the lows. Cave, of course, was the paper's filer on the Tuesday bombings in northern Iraq that were the deadliest since the start of the illegal war. So let's start with the victims since he's made it a point do a poor job there already.

Cave informs readers, "Security officials near Qahtaniya, where the explosions killed at least 250 people Tuesday night, said plans were being made for the Iraqi government to pay 2 million Iraqi dinars, about $1,600, to the family of each person killed in the blasts. " Now that the figure is insulting should be rather obvious.

The US equivalent of $1600 is an insulting figure even before context is included but, Cave being Cave, context never gets included.

So before the impression sets in that the puppet Nouri al-Maliki doesn't have the dough to toss around let's look at the cash he was tossing around last year. In July of 2006, al-Maliki visited the US and addressed Congress with a speech that ignored the victims of the chaos and the violence in Iraq but one in which he did not his concern for victims in another country (Lebanon) and the figure (US figure) he pledged to send that region was?

$35 million dollars. Dropping back to July 27, 2006:

Okay, he's committed to sending $35 million to Hizbollah (which might be off now judging by yesterday's remarks by Iraq's foreign minister). Where does Iraq find $35 million to donate to anyone? Forget the fact that US citiziens are footing a $300 billion bill currently on Iraq alone, he doesn't have $35 million in aid to share -- a point Zernike could have made if her only interest wasn't corpses. For those who've missed it, the UN has highlighted the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, they've noted the vast increase in malnutrition. Charity may start at home and stays there when your kids are starving. When you're kids are starving, you don't cough up the big bucks to hand over to someone else.
So here's what happened, al-Maliki came to the Congress and gave a speech where he slammed the so-called 'cut and run' option -- despite the fact that cut-and-run is what saved his own butt. If he hadn't 'cut and run,' he'd be dead by now. So it's okay for him, it's just not okay for American women and men. He went on to criticize the US for not doing enough in his mind during 1991's invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that he wasn't in Iraq. If it mattered so damn much to him, maybe he shouldn't have been living in Iran and Syria? If fighting was so important to him, maybe he should have stayed in Iraq? Since he didn't, maybe the last thing he's entitled to is to lecture about the 1991 invasion not doing 'enough'?
And maybe it's not a good idea to hit up another country for money while you're prepared to give $35 million in aid?

From the same period, you can also see Arianna Huffington's "Maliki's Testy Visit: Is This What Our Troops Are Dying For?" (The Huffington Post). So the Iraqis who died from Tuesday's bombings will each be worth the US equivalent of $1600 to their families but in the summer of 2006 he could proudly announce he was sending the US equivalent of $35 million dollars to another country. That's a detail that can really enhance readers' understanding so, no surprise, it's not one you'll find in Cave's article.

al-Maliki can send $35 million dollars out of the country but thinks $1600 is an acceptable amount to pay the families for each loved one they lost.

When the country's own leader signals their lives are cheap, is it any wonder that the chaos and violence continues?

And when Cave can't include any perspective for readers on that subject, what good is he?

He's 'good' at repeating the US government spin. Which he does with regards to the alliance al-Maliki's formed which shuts out the Sunnis. Cave could note that this violates the White House endorsed, Congressionally mandate 'benchmarks' two and sixteen. With Petreaus set to deliver some form of a 'report' to Congress on September 15th, Cave could note the realities of the benchmarks. But he doesn't. He could attempt to get analysis on the situation from independent voices, but he doesn't. He mentions "Western" and then runs with an unnamed US official to comment on al-Maliki's alliance and, wouldn't you know, it's too soon to tell. The talking point that was all over the place yesterday is in Cave's report today. From Nermeen Al-Mufti's "Al-Maliki's days are numbered" (Al Ahram):

A source close to Al-Maliki said that the prime minister may have to appoint Sunni ministers in order to keep the government going. His other option would be to form a government of parliamentary majority, which would include the Unified Iraqi Alliance, the Kurdistan Alliance, and independent parliamentarians.
Political analyst Alaa Al-Hodeithi voiced fears that a government of parliamentary majority may give Kurdish leaders a chance to impose their conditions on Al-Maliki. The Kurds want a referendum on Kirkuk before the end of the year, something that other Iraqis, especially the Turkmen, oppose.

So the article's of no use to anyone outside the US government. (He has served them valiently -- even while failing as a journalist.) Lloyd highlights Joshua Partlow's "Iraqi Shiites, Kurds Announce New Political Alliance" (Washington Post) and we'll note the following from the article:

For weeks, politicians have discussed an alliance among the four leading Shiite and Kurdish parties, with the hope that marginalized Sunni factions would join the coalition. But politicians from the largest Sunni bloc in parliament said they would remain apart from the new group, asserting that the ruling Shiites still have not met their demands for greater participation. The Sunnis' stance effectively undermines the coalition's chances of breaking the political gridlock that has frustrated U.S. and Iraqi officials.
[. . .]
Some Iraqi officials interpreted the new alliance as an attempt to manufacture a majority in parliament to help push through several pieces of stalled legislation. But with the Shiites and the Kurds already in close alignment, the announcement struck several observers as little real progress. The agreement also does not replace the current political blocs in parliament, but adds another layer of alliances to them.
"This is not the solution for Iraq's problems," said Hachim al-Hassani, a secular Sunni lawmaker, who said he planned to join the alliance despite his criticism of it. "The solution for Iraq's problems is for the real parties to get together and agree on an agenda to fix Iraq's problems."

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, August 16, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

It seemed like a good idea when Timothy Richard joined the U.S. Army in November 1999.
But weeks prior to his scheduled discharge he found himself training in the infantry, readying for deployment to Iraq, with his contract in the army unilaterally extended.
He fled to Canada.
"It was something I wouldn’t have minded doing, defending America," Richard said, from his home in Ontario. "After Sept. 11, we were all very behind the president."
Richard joined the National Guard at Sioux City, Iowa in 1999. He was placed in the cavalry, performing maintenance work on machines. He understood that being in the inactive reserve meant that he would be stationed at home, putting in his one weekend a month, two weeks per year, in case of attack on the U.S.
In August 2005, just three months before his six-year contract expired, he was called up and moved from cavalry to infantry, and began training at Camp Shelby, Miss., for deployment to Iraq.
"I initially went along with the whole thing," Richard said.
His contract was extended to 2031 without his permission, due to a clause that allows the U.S. government to extend military contracts at their discretion, said Richard.

The above, noted by Vince, is from Melissa Fryer's "War resister returns support" (The Nanmio News Bulletin). And before anyone late to the party questions Timothy Richard's stop-loss, that was not an isolated incident. It happened to many others. It happened to Camilo Mejia who has talked about it and it is noted in the afterword to his book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. Timothy Richard is one of many war resisters who have gone to Canada (including Kyle Snyder, Johsua Key, Patrick Hart, Ryan Johnson, Ross Spears, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Corey Glass, Christian Kjar . . . The War Resisters Support Campaign is an organization created to assist war resisters in Canada, to raise awareness of the issue, to mobilize the public and more. It's a Canadian organization and their information is available online in both French and English. War resisters take a very strong stand and know there will likely be no amnesty because there wasn't after the US left Vietnam.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3684. Tonight? 3702. Funding the war is killing the troops -- Tina Richards, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out.

The 3700 mark was passed. Who headlined it?

Who mentioned it as anything but an aside?

We're talking media outlets. The Ottawa Recorder offered it in a headline "U.S. military deaths in Iraq at 3,700." They used the AP count. All who did should have (as The Ottawa Recorder did) have run their stories already. Their brief identifies Army Staff Sgt. Alicia A. Birchett as the last name released (story ran Wednesday) by the military (By the AP count or ICCC, she was not the 3700. She was just the most recently identified when The Ottawa Recorder ran the story. Noting that before an urban legend starts.) The Defense Department says she died August 8th at the age of 29, was from Mashpee, Mass., assigned to Fort Campbell, and her death resulted from "injuries suffered from a non-combat related accident" in the capital. ICCC doesn't have the 3700 yet either (the name hasn't been released yet by the Defense Department). The last name released is actually five. All died in the helicopter crash Tuesday. There names were Christopher C. Johnson who was 31 and from Michigan, Jackie L. McFarlane Jr. who was 30 and from Virginia Beach, Va., Sean P. Fisher who was 29 and from Santee, Calif., Stanley B. Reynolds who was 37 and from Rock, West Virginia and Steven R. Jewell who was 26 and from Bridgeton, North Carolina.

Their deaths directly effected friends and family and all the 3700 have had those. Another mark's approaching. 3999 is ICCC's current count of the total number of foreign service members killed in Iraq. That's one away from 4,000 lives. That's 299 deaths that have been non-US citizens. As long as the illegal war continues, the numbers will get higher and higher. Funding the illegal war is killing the troops.

It's also killing the Iraqis and the Just Foreign Policy counter currently reads 1,009,516 Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war. That number builds on The Lancet study and the reported deaths since the study. Many Iraqi deaths go unreported. Some bodies aren't found, some don't make it to a morgue or a hospital but are buried by family and friends right away.

Most people in the US seem to grasp that the illegal war is not worth the cost of the US lives. (CNN's poll out today found that only 33% of respondents support the illegal war.) There were many lies that sold the illegal war and one of them was the idea that the Iraqi people would be 'helped'. Over a million dead is helping? Is liberation? Is democracy?

4 million Iraqis are displaced either internally or externally. Combine it with the death toll and over 5 million Iraqis are paying for Bully Boy's 'cakewalk' of choice. That's a fifth of the CIA's estimate for the Iraqi population. And let's not pretend other Iraqis aren't suffering (outside the Green Zone) where potable water remains a dream, where electricty has become a novelty as it is not only below pre-war levels, not only out more hours than it is on . . .

Today, CNN reports on the Iraqi women who have been forced to turn to prostitution and the report is on Baghdad. It's 'cute' the way so many US reporters pretended prostitution didn't exist there while frequenting the women. But no one's supposed to talk about that. When prostitution finally began to get coverage from the mainstream media, Iraqi women turning to prostitution, they rushed to focus on what was happening to Iraqi women whom the illegal war turned into refugees outside of the country. That was especially cute coming from one paper whose correspondents have lived it up in the Green Zone while doing very little reporting. And of course, they were one of the first outlets to finally discover Iraqi women engaged in prostitution . . . outside of Iraq.

The CNN report talks about how the Iraqi women, in Iraq, often end up trying to commit suicide. It's doubtful that's a mental picture any of our Big Boys of the press will bring home with them or have brought home with them.

This was never unknown. It just wasn't talked about.

Maybe to cover their own asses, maybe because it fit the whole narrative they were selling? For whatever reason, the prostitution in Iraq was largely ignored by mainstream media coverage even if it wasn't ignored by US mainstream media reporters.

Possibly someone should write a book entitled You'll Never Make Love In The Green Zone Again?

Women and children have been especially hard hit by the illegal war. The US hasn't produced democracy but it has created orphans. It has allowed the malnutrition rates to soar.

Also targeted have been gay men and lesbians because, yes, they did exist in Iraq as well. Again, that might not fit with the narrative of 'simple children who need the "super-power" to save them.' But they did exist. They still do. In smaller numbers. Because the US government backed the religious extremists. They backed them and they looked the other way while segments of the population were targeted. They were the 'friends' and so it mattered less if they targeted other Iraqis because, after all, how much is an Iraqi life worth?

That's been the attitude from day one. The US government has disregarded Iraqi life. It's disregarded the public opinion of Iraqis that ALL foreign fighters need to withdraw. It's disregarded the history of one of the first advanced civilizations in the world. What did it matter if antiquities were destroyed? Didn't Rumsfled say it was just one vase shown over and over on a video loop?

The greed for oil and markets made Iraqis an inconvenince to get around. That's how you install a puppet government and tell the world (including the US) that it's the 'democratic' voice of the Iraqi people.

And to keep everyone off guard and living in fear, you explore funding and backing 'the other side'.

Those are some of the realities of this illegal war. The children trying to grow up in the war zone that the Bully Boy has turned the country of Iraq into will all pay a huge cost. If they're lucky their families will remain somewhat intact. Some are already orphans on the street attempting to support themselves. But all live in the chaos and fear imposed by the daily illegal war.

On the subject of Grassroots for America (Tina Richards' group), In Dallas fowarded a wonderful e-mail. We'll rerun it in the newsletters (it'll be in the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow, etc.) but it's not up at the site so we'll consider it a private e-mail. You can sing up for the alerts and actions and more at the website. From the e-mail, we'll note this (I don't think that's private):

CALL TO ACTION: March of the People Need Your Help
Mario, Elliot, and Gordy started a march from Chicago to DC. It wasn't a march with rides in between nor was it a march funded with stays in plush hotels; it was a march started with a dream and a belief in the People of our Country. Right now that dream is struggling. Places that they reached out to have not responded. Their car to carry their gear is gone. Their resources are low.
As our youth speak out to us for help, we must be there.
Below is a list of places needed for hosts. If you know of someone near those areas, please reach out to them. Register as a host on their website as soon as possible so they know they will not be left on the streets. A warm place to sleep and a hot meal is all they ask. People to walk beside them.
Grassroots America is not just an organization, but an idea. An idea with a belief in the people across our nation that support peace, denounce prejudice and torture, and above all, places the power in the people, not our government. If not you, then who?
I will be joining them in Baltimore MD, Laurel MD and on to College Park in their walk. Everyone that is planning on coming in for all the events starting September 11, will you come join in their walk on September 8th to help them reach DC?
"We do not march out of hate. We do not march out of abandonment. We march out of hope, provoked out of sadness for the Nation we love. It is a Nation that our forefathers, and with them, our own soldiers, died to protect. It is a Nation degenerated into a prison of fear and silence that is the current administration. It is a prison of deceit and half-truths, and a trail of unaccountability that is so long it pales the very length of this march. We march to Washington in the name of the Constitution, in the name of the Soul of the People that inspired it, both of which are hijacked by the conspiracies and unilateralisms that History will infamously know as the Bush regime." Mario, Eliot and Gordy
59 Greensburg, PA
60 St Vincent College
61 Ligionier, PA
62 Jennerstown, PA
63 Stonystown, PA
64 Schellsburg, PA
65 Bedord, PA
66 Everett, PA
67 Graceville, PA
68 McConnellsburg
69 Mercersburg, PA
70 Hagerstown, MD
71 Smithsburg, MD
72 Thurmont, MD
73 [reststop-Frederick Cnty], MD
74 Frederick, MD
75 Ridgeville, MD
76 Lisbon, MD
77 West Friendship, MD
78 Ellicott City, MD
79 U of Maryland, MD
80 Elkridge, MD
81 Waterloo, MD
82 Laurel, MD
83 Howard U (Beltsville)
84 U OF Maryland, MD
85B Washington Monument, DC
85A John P. Sousa Brdg: Capital March
85C Lincoln Memorial: Captial Rally
Where will you be September 15?
I'll be standing with the Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Council of Arab Americans, Muslim America Society Freedom Foundation, Veterans for Peace, and military family members, like myself, as we confront Gen. Petreaus when he delivers his report to George W. Bush and congress on September 15.
Those that sacrifice the most for this war realize the importance of September 15. We live with this occupation everyday. When we turn off our televisions, our radios, close our papers or books, the war rages on for ourselves, friends and family.
Every politician in Washington DC has said wait until September 15. Wait for the report. As they waited, more of our sons and daughters died. Iraqis saw their country ever more devastated while tens of thousands more became displaced in their own country.
The wait is over. The Gathering of Eagles is mobilizing on September 15 to try to intimidate us. The Department of Interior is threatening $10,000 and more in fines for lawfully advertising for this day. The forces are mobilizing to try to silence us as General Petreaus gives his report. As he calls for years more of war. The streets of DC cannot be silent on September 15.
The streets of DC cannot be filled with warmongers as they spread their hate. September 15 is our day, the day of the peace makers, to denounce their policies of war, denounce their occupation and denounce their hate as we strive for justice in our streets.

The e-mail address for this site is