Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth (of Ruth's Report): Imagine if you will that I am on the air on KPFA and channeling Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and a host of others as I use swear words as if they were nouns, articles, and verbs.

"KPFA would be in a lot of trouble."

You would say that if you were uninformed. KPFA is not "live." It is on a delay and it airs on a delay due to the F.C.C. restrictions. While I am covering the F.C.C.'s attempt to further destroy a diverse media at my own site, that is not the point I am attempting to make today.

What is my point today? That either Sasha Lilley, Interim Program Director of KPFA, is lying or she honestly does not have a clue. Ms. Lilley is maintaining that KPFA is truly under a threat if music increases and that, if that happened, they would have to limit their online stream. Music increases? Royalty rates for songs played on air may increase. This is not snippets of songs which can be utilized under free use.

The same technique that allows them to censor me if I curse online allows them to censor music going out over their online stream. It might require a little juggling, a lot of oversight, but they could easily prevent music from going out on their online stream. When music was played during public affairs programming, online listeners would hear dead air much the way that they do when they listen to The Randi Rhodes Show online via WJNO. In that instance, the dead air is not music but what appears to be some of their advertising. Listeners of that online stream are used to it. They do not question it or panic that the stream has dropped out.

KPFA could handle music in public affairs programming the same way. They could be inventive and, instead of dead air, use the spaces to program their carts. Programs that are music programs would be effected differently and the stream could be fed other programs during that time or just be dead air for the duration.

For some reason, Ms. Lilley continues to insist that KPFA is under threat. Either she is lying or she needs someone to walk her through the basics. A community member forwarded the latest nonsense noting he was glad she had replied but could not believe she was continuing to insist that KPFA might have to ditch its online stream.

C.I. saw the e-mail Wednesday night and called me to ask if I felt comfortable addressing it? I do. I also know that C.I. and the gang will be addressing Ms. Lilley at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow and going over this nonsense again was the last thing C.I. wanted.

So, one more time, if publishing and songwriting royalties were to increase, KPFA would not be faced with ending their online streaming. I have no idea why Ms. Lilley continues to make that threat. It probably was not a good idea to do so in an e-mail to a former listener who advised he had taken to his pledges to WBAI because he was not supporting a station that he could not listen to. That really is bad program directing. If you have someone offended by your past threats who has taken his pledges elsewhere, you do not repeat the unnecessary threat. Instead, you explain, "We pulled that threat from the website due to the complaints we received and, obviously, there are ways to continue the online streaming." Instead, she made sure that WBAI has a supportive listener who will pledge during their drives. While it is all in the Pacifica family, program directors of Pacifica stations should not be running off pledges.

Visitors frequently e-mail to suggest that I never disagree with C.I. I do not like Ms. Lilley, I do not pretend to. C.I. does. That has never prevented me from calling her out here or from doing so in harsher terms than C.I. would use if the community was clamoring for a response here to whatever her latest nonsense was.

Last Sunday, The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Dear Sasha" went up and Ms. Lilley appears to be miffed by that article. Despite the title, that was not an open letter to Ms. Lilley. Jim comes up with the headlines for their articles almost always. He came up with that one. His reply is if Ms. Lilley "didn't enjoy the article, too bad. She has no business involving herself in the LSB elections. She did not conduct herself like a program director. That said, she did get some praise in the article. She wants universal praise so she'll be very bothered by the upcoming feature. Her problems are her own and it's not our responsibility to act as the Sasha cheering section. The article should have had a better headline but I was tired and going through and adding titles to everything. Most weeks, Ava and C.I.'s devoted readers e-mail me non-stop to tell me I completely disfigured their TV commentaries with the headline I gave it."

"We could have buried her," Dona explains of the article which she did the final edit on. "A program director has no business injecting themselves into elections for the station's listening board. In effect, what she did in The Berkeley Daily Planet, while an election was ongoing, was to public endorse certain candidates by dubbing one slate 'bad' ones. That's not her job and she could have gotten in serious trouble for it. If someone lost an election and they were in the 'bad' slate, they could argue rightly that the elections were compromised by the program director interjecting herself into the elections. That is not a minor thing, a tiny issue, that is very huge. In that article, we are more than fair to her noting that she has the capabilities to serve, that she is under pressure and that if she uses her own talents she can do the job. That was not a hit piece on Sasha and it's rather sad to read a whine about how it wasn't brought to her attention in some other forum. We're not KPFA, we're not Pacifica. We are The Third Estate Sunday Review and we serve our readers who are the ones who repeatedly brought up the issue. They did so for weeks. Had Sasha stayed out of it, we wouldn't have written about it. When a program director injects herself in the elections it is a topic we will cover. We provided a link to her public comments on the matter and we used as many statements from those comments to rebut her. That article was very fair and there were some concerned that it was too fair. Leave it to her to feel it wasn't. As I'm sure Jim will tell you, she'll be even more furious with the upcoming article. Too bad. I'm furious that her threats to stop the online stream mean we can't cover KPFA. We can't do it at our site, we can't do it community wide because her baseless threats have enraged the community. She caused a lot of ill will with her earlier threat and that she hasn't learned from it and wants to repeat it all this time later is appalling. Obviously, we're working on the Peter Laufer issue for tomorrow's edition so I'm limited in what I can and cannot say. But Sasha Lilley needs to get her act together. Program director isn't a charity position. If you want the job you need to do that job. Running off listeners is not part of the job. Hopefully she'll get it together but currently she's not demonstrating that she is willing to do the work required to hold the position she does. The Peter Laufer issue seems to demonstrate that someone wants the title of program director but doesn't want to do the work required."

Since Kat and I have been most vocal online about the threat to limit the stream, I asked her for some input. Her comments were, "I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall on this. Obviously, as you know, there is no real threat to KPFA's online stream. I can't figure out if Lilley's an idiot or just stuck with a talking point. The point we made in Sunday's feature is a good one: none of the other Pacifica stations have gone into a tizzy on this. Which suggests to me that it's not an issue of the number of online listeners but an issue of a small group at KPFA just not getting it. I'm sick of it. They've run me off, as I've said before, because I'm not going to listen on the radio and be able to enjoy the station knowing how much anger there is among the community over these threats. I listen to KPFK online now. If I'm in the car, I listen to CDs. You're talking about someone who is a lifelong KPFA listener and Sasha Lilley's actions have run me off. I'm sick of it and KPFA needs to address it. There are programs I love and would love to cover at my site but I can't even listen to KPFA due to the hostile situation Lilley's created with that threat and now she's repeating it! Once upon a time, adults ran the station. They were responsive and aware -- with one or two minor episodes where the listeners had to step in. Lilley's doing a bad job and if she can't grasp that the role of any Pacifica station is always to try to build new listeners, not run off dedicated ones with threats, then she isn't up for the job. The article she's 'miffed' by, we purposely avoided the issues swirling around, the accusations and counter-accustation and focused on reality. Lilley would do well to attempt to conduct herself in a similar manner."

Because Ms. Lilley continues to repeat the falsehood that KPFA's stream would cease if royalty rates for music played over the internet increased, I have attempted to explain very slowly and very carefully why that is not the case. Should Ms. Lilley continue to repeat the falsehood from this day forward there would no longer be any debate as to whether or not she was a liar. She can check with KPFA's attorneys who will advise her that what I have explained about 'censoring' music is correct. But there is no excuse for her to continue repeating the threat and the only thing she accomplishes with that is running off listeners. I do not believe that is among the responsiblities listed in her job description.

As C.I. noted in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," the Pacifica Radio Archives multi-hour special will take place this Tuesday. The special provides listeners with an opportunity to hear some of the many significant moments in broadcasting history and to show their support to preserving that history. Among the historical voices you will hear are Paul Robeson, Rosa Parks, H. Rap Brown, Patty Hearst, Angela Y. Davis, Lorraine Hansberry, Arundhati Roy, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, bell hooks, and many more. The two programs I am most excited about? "Battle Cry: American Conscientious Objectors from WWII to Iraq" which will be hosted by Amy Goodman with the second hour also featuring Aimee Allison, co-author with David Solnit Army Of None. The other one I am most eager to hear is the one involving Mr. Reiner, Mr. Guest, Harry Shearer, Patty Duke, and John Astin from a 1973 broadcast responding to Tricky Dick's tapes. While all of those names, excepting Tricky Dick, are interesting, the one I am most looking foward to is the late Cass Elliot. That special is entitled "The Whistle Blown: Conversations with the President, 1973." It will air at 3:00 p.m. (EST), 2:00 p.m. (CST), and noon (PST). I do not believe I have to explain to anyone in the community about Cass Elliot. For visitors who are late to the party, you can refer to Kat's review of a 2006 Cass Elliot CD collection. You can listen to Tuesday's multi-hour special via your regular Pacifica station -- over the airwaves or online -- and you can also stream at the Pacifica Radio Archives website and you should be able to listen live at the Pacifica Radio website. In a perfect world, everyone who listened Tuesday would be able to donate an amount, whether big or small. We live under a Bully Boy economy, so that will not be happening. But what everyone can do is get the word out. A record number of listeners means a record number of pledges to preserve the archives. So whether you are able to contribute or not, be sure to get the word out on the special.

NYT keeps fighting to prolong the illegal war

Stephen Farrell gets the front page of the New York Times this morning with "Market Bomb Shatters Lull For Baghdad." It's a hysterical piece for the informed -- that probably leaves out a number of the paper's readers. At one point, referring to the pet market bombing, Farrell gets off the laughable claim that it punctured a "lull in violence [that] had extended from weeks into months". Months? Is Farrell unaware of the September 26th Baghdad twin car bombings? That's not "months" ago. There's a month between the car bombings and the pet market bombing. But with the paper working so hard to sell the lie of 'success' in Iraq, it probably would have shocked many readers had it been presented any other way this morning.

He tells readers that citizens were "reassured by . . . decreased car traffic". Did he just arrive in Baghdad? (No, he didn't.) What is Friday in Baghdad? (If, at this late date, you don't know consider yourself Stephen Farrell.)

If you're looking for an article about the bombing, don't bother reading Farrell. His earlier report dealt with the bombing. What makes it into the paper is repeated nonsense meant to sell yesterday's events as an aberration.

In the real world, Bully Boy's last friend among the war supporters is out (John Howard) and Poland's announced they're leaving Iraq. From Kim Murphy's "New Polish premier pledges Iraq pullout" (Los Angeles Times):

Signaling a rapid about-face after last month's parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Donald Tusk pledged Friday to end Poland's military deployment in Iraq in 2008 and said his nation would engage in more "dialogue" with its neighbors before accepting a U.S. missile defense system on Polish soil.
The three-hour speech before Parliament marked a significant departure from the politics of the last two years, when President Lech Kaczynski and his twin, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, set Poland on a nationalist course. The government largely supported U.S. military objectives but antagonized neighboring nations in the European Union and was at times openly hostile to Russia.

In news that Peggy Noons will avoid, Philip Pullella (Reuters) reports:

Pope Benedict, elevating 23 prelates from around the world to the elite rank of cardinal, made a pressing appeal on Saturday for an end to the war in Iraq and decried the plight of the country's Christian minority.
One of the new cardinals is Emmanuel III Delly, the Baghdad-based Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, and the Pope used the solemn occasion, known as a consistory, to express his concern for Iraq.

As CNN notes yesterday's Mosul bombings death toll is actually 21 and not nine. So Kirkuk is under 'crackdown'? Maybe that's due to expected rage in northern Iraqi over the cancellation of their (KRG) oil contracts (cancelled by the central goverment)? AP quotes an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesperson and then the KRG:

He said Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has warned that companies that sign contracts with the Kurds without approval of the central government "will be blacklisted from any future deals with Iraq and that anything outside this framework is illegal, illegitimate and rejected by the central government."
Asked to respond to those comments, Jamal Abdullah, spokesman of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said Kurdish authorities would not be dissuaded from seeking deals with foreign oil companies.
"These statements will not hamper the contracts with the oil companies and nullifying them falls outside the ministry's authority," Abdullah said. "These statements are not constitutional and worthless and the work of the foreign oil companies in Kurdistan will be continued."

In Iraq today, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombings (two police officers and two civilians wounded) and that yesterday a Babil bombing wounded two people, Khamis Rodhan Saleem ("a member of the local council of Al Riyadh town") was shot dead outside of Kirkuk while Sameer Taha Youssef was kidnapped.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

was the first to note Margaret Kimberley's "Black America Left Behind" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

If a group of people were enslaved, terrorized, and legally excluded from all routes to improvement and prosperity, how would they fare? If they somehow managed to better their lot but then lost jobs, and were incarcerated in high numbers would they succeed or would they fail? If those economic and social changes were accompanied by political and economic decisions that put more money in the hands of the wealthy, would it be possible for that group to emerge from its awful predicament? The answers are obvious. That group of people would move backwards economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually. The decline would be certain and it would be awful.
Of course the people in question are black Americans. The state of disarray and regression observed by anyone with common sense was proven recently by a Pew Charitable Trust study,
Economic Mobility for Black and White Families. The study indicated that 45 % of black Americans whose parents were classified as "middle class" are now worse off than their parents. In other words, they are now poor.
The propaganda that America is always the land of opportunity is manifestly untrue and particularly damaging to black people. If America is good and perfect, then any who fail are themselves to blame for their plight. Black people are by these terrible definitions inherently more blameworthy than any other group. After all, they were grudgingly given a break or two in the Sixties and Seventies. Because America is great and good, the redress of centuries of injustice was seen as a favor, not as the righting of many great wrongs. If the undeserving group doesn't thrive, then obviously that group is populated by lazy, ungrateful, inferior beings, entirely responsible for their plight.

The e-mail address for this site is

War resisters in Canada


The above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Canada in Distress" depicting US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey (Hughey's on the left, Hinzman on the right). We'll pair it with Vic's highlight. From Lawrence Hill's "Just desertions: Canada should open its arms to soldiers fleeing the horrors of an illegal American war in Iraq" (Ottawa Citizen):

Over the last few years, dozens of American soldiers have deserted and fled to Canada to avoid service or continued duty in Iraq. They have argued that they should be allowed to stay in this country rather than being forced to carry out an illegal and immoral war or being jailed for refusing to do so. To date, not one of them has convinced the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, or won any support from Canadian judges.
Two facts bear repeating.
First, the Anglo-American attack on Iraq in 2003 was an offensive -- not a retaliatory --strike. The war had no approval from the UN Security Council, and for this reason Canada's prime minister of the day, Jean Chrétien, refused to support it. In 2004, then-UN secretary general Kofi Annan declared explicitly that the U.S.-led war on Iraq was illegal.
Second, according to official UN policy, soldiers who are likely to be punished for having deserted military action "condemned by the international legal community as contrary to rules of human conduct" should be eligible for refugee status. To date, neither fact has been of any concrete assistance to Mr. Hinzman, Mr. Hughey or any of the other U.S. war deserters seeking asylum in Canada.
Sadly, Canadian courts and the Immigration and Refugee Board have danced around the question of whether deserters from the U.S. forces should not be compelled to take part in an illegal war. When she ruled against Jeremy Hinzman last year, Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court of Canada wrote: "It should be noted that the question of whether the American-led military intervention in Iraq is in fact illegal is not before the Court, and no finding has been made in this regard." And when he ruled against Mr. Hinzman the previous year, Brian Goodman of the Immigration and Refugee Board noted that "evidence with respect to the legality of the U.S. embarking on military action in Iraq," would not be "admitted into evidence at the hearing of these claims." "They are ducking the question of whether a soldier can be forced to fight an illegal war and whether a soldier can be jailed for refusing to fight an illegal war," Mr. Hinzman's and Mr. Hughey's lawyer, Jeffry House, said in an interview. As he noted in written arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr. House pointed out that although our courts have so far refused to grant refugee status to Americans soldiers who are deserting military duty out of moral objection to the war in Iraq, in 1995 the Federal Court of Appeal granted refugee status to a deserter from Saddam Hussein's armed incursion into Kuwait, on the basis that he should not be compelled to take part in an illegal war.

Hill is co-author with Joshua Key of the book The Deserter's Tale which recounts Key's realization that the Iraq War was illegal and the decision he and his wife Brandi Key made to move their family to Canada. Both the War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist have launched campaigns to lobby the Canadian Parliament to do the job Canada once did -- the one that the courts have refused to do.

The e-mail address for this site is

jeremy hinzman
brandon hughey

John Howard's 'humiliating defeat'

In what Patrick Barta and Rachel Pannett (Wall St. Journal) call "a humiliating defeat," Australia's littlest bully John Howard has been sent packing in the country's federal election in which 73.8% of the vote has been counted. Gemma Daley (Bloomberg News) sums up the Labor Party's winning platform: "tackle climate change, restore workers' bargaining power and withdraw Australian troops from Iraq." Michelle Grattan (Sydney Morning Herald) explains the winning side of the election:

Kevin Rudd will be prime minister and, as John Howard said in his last desperate days during the campaign, Australia will change. Just how much, we will learn over coming months and years.
The Rudd agenda is still a work in progress. Despite some nerves in the ALP camp about whether it would really be able to get the needed 16 seats, last night's Labor win did not come as a surprise. But if we think back a year - before Rudd displaced Kim Beazley - it was another story. This result seemed out of reach, even though Beazley was doing all right in the polls.
Once Rudd was there, people felt freer to decide they were over Howard, that it was time for renewal. A move to Rudd would be generational change; going to Beazley wouldn't have been.

Daley notes the following of the election (see what gets ignored):

Labor won't hold a majority of seats in the Senate, unlike Howard during his last term. The Liberal-National coalition has 37 seats against Labor's 32, according to the ABC.
The balance of power will be held by five Greens party senators, the sole Family First representative and anti-gambling independent Nick Xenophon.
The son of a share cropper in Queensland, Rudd attended Australian National University before becoming a diplomat in Stockholm and Beijing between 1981 and 1988. He worked for the Queensland state Labor Party before entering parliament in 1998.
Voters were attracted to his pledge to abolish the government's workplace laws, which prompted 500,000 people to march in protest in 2005. The reform eliminated unfair dismissal rules and made it harder for workers to strike.
Labor has promised a package named "Forward With Fairness,'' which allows workers to bargain as a group and has a "safety net'' to safeguard wages and conditions.

What got left out? Withdrawing from Iraq. It's as though The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel was a stringer for Bloomberg.

AP notes the reality in their first sentence but also indicates Rudd may be playing the kind of shell games that the Democratic leadership in the US Congress play: "Australia has elected a new prime minister who has promised to withdraw his country's 550 combat troops from Iraq, and leave twice that number there in mostly security roles. Kevin Rudd succeeds John Howard, who had said all the troops would stay as long as needed. Rudd is also promising to change Australia's approach to climate change, and make the issue his top priority."

Australian troops haven't been engaged in a combat role. Overall, they've been stationed at the Australian embassy in the Green Zone. That is where Jake Kovco died and Kovco's death looms over the election even though various outlets refuse to acknowledge it.

Jake Kovco was the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq. The Howard government attempted to turn his death into a p.r. blitz but, as usual, bungled everything. Kovco's body was to return to Australia on April 26, 2006, but instead of the 25-year-old Kovco, the casket held Bosnian contractor Juso Sinanovic. Among the many questions the Howard government could never shake was that they rushed the return to turn the return into part of ANZAC Day (April 25th). The government bungles did not stop there. Juso Sinanvic, for example, couldn't be returned to his family until nearly a month later. Brendan Nelson, Howard's Defence Minister, repeatedly angered the Kovco family and the public with his conflicting statements and outright lies. The previous alone was enough to underscore that no one was in charge of the federal government and Nelson's mealy-mouthed, self-serving statements and claims that he was distorted by the press (he wasn't, Australia's ABC had his statements on an audio recording) chipped away at already sinking public confidence day by day.

The inquiry into Jake Kovco's death only demonstrated the lack of leadership. How Kovco died is still unknown (and Judy Kovco, Jake's mother, continues to demand a real and independent inquiry) but what was known from the inquiry that took place in the summer of 2006 was that no rules were followed. Kovco's body was stripped of his clothes and they weren't preserved, there was no effort made to preserve the crime scene and people came and went -- despite orders to seal the room -- before investigators could arrive from Australia. At some point recently, Crapapedia put out the lie that Kovco died in his barracks room alone (cited by many e-mails in the last weeks). Kids, it's not Wikipedia, it's Crap -- Crapapdeia. Kovco was not alone in the room and the two soldiers present testified that they were present. The Australian government made the decision that the two soldiers could not be indentified by name in the media (they would be identified after they returned from Iraq to Australia). One of the two had his DNA on the gun that shot Kovco and gave a laughable explanation that his DNA jumped off something he touched onto Kovco who then touched his gun and that's how it ended up on the pistol that killed Kovco. Despite the fact that forensic experts testified that 'hypothesis' wasn't scientifically possible (a large amount of that soldier's DNA was on the gun), the inquiry went with the non-scientific explanation. Self-serving officials testified at the inquiry including one who had a pathetic moment as he broke down in tears during his testimony, tears over how hard these questions were on his career, not tears over the death of Jake Kovco. The result was a clearly bungled inquiry further casting doubts on the Howard leadership.

If domestically in the United States, Katrina demonstrated the bungles and lack of compassion of the Bully Boy, in Australia, Jake Kovco's death demonstrated that the country had no leadership. As Brendan Nelson received no public repremand for his non-stop errors, bungles and lies, it became clear there was no accountablity and that's before you get to the DVD-Rom that contained an early report or the later -- and non-connected -- images of Australian soldiers began popping up in the Austrlian media doing very non-honorable things in Iraq.

It was in that climate that Rudd initially seized control of his party (April 2006). Only this week, Australia's ABC offered a look at key moments on the political scene and, unlike the international media, they moved quickly to the issue of Kovco, in "Reflecting on party performance:"

BARRIE CASSIDY, PRESENTER: Election are not decided by formal campaigns alone, but by performances over it's previous three years, let's take a moment now and reflect on the short history leading up to election 2007.
JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: I am truly humbled by this extraordinary expression of confidence
MARK LATHAM, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: The ongoing speculation is damaging the party.
Our conclusion is I should look after my health and pursue a normal life outside of politics.
Therefore I've decided to resign both as Labor leader...
JOURNALIST REPORT VOICEOVER: This is a Government department under siege, since the wrongful detention of Australian resident Cornelia Rau.
MARK LATHAM: Why shouldn't people know about such a two-faced stance?
JOHN ANDERSON, FORMER NATIONAL PARTY LEADER: I've decide the time is right for me to step down as leader of the Nationals.
(excerpt from Government advertisement)
VOICEOVER: Australia has come a long way. But we can't stand still. It's why we're introducing WorkChoices.
(end of excerpt)
PROTESTORS: (chanting) We're union and we're proud! Howard's a coward!
JOURNALIST REPORT VOICEOVER: If John Howard was nervous this morning, he wasn't showing it.
The third and final member of his Government to front the inquiry...
JOHN HOWARD: By see two senior ministers appear, this Government has demonstrated its transparency.
JOURNALIST REPORT VOICEOVER: It was supposed to be a dignified home coming for a fallen soldier.
JUDY KOVCO, MOTHER OF JAKE KOVCO: Have you got his body?
BRENDAN NELSON, DEFENCE MINISTER: They were angry, and they dished it out to me, and I don't blame them.
KIM BEAZLEY: My commission is terminated, and caucus has decided to change leadership to Kevin Rudd.
KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION LEADER: I went purely as Mr Graeme Edwards' guest. I stand by the statements I said the other day.
JOHN HOWARD: I would probably.... certainly form the view well into my term that it would make sense for me to retire, and in those circumstances, I would expect that Peter would take over.

Kim Beazley, whom Rudd ousted in 2006, didn't attend Kovco's funeral and went on to whine that he wasn't able to attend due to late notice (and lack of travel arrangements by the government) -- unable to attend due to late notice while giving repeated interviews on that day (including to Madonna King for ABC's Australia radio).

As late as last month, when David Pearce died serving in Afghanistan, Jake Kovco was still in the news. From the Sydney Morning Herald's "Soldier 'a patriotic Australian':"

Trooper Pearce's body will be returned home under constant ADF escort, to prevent any repeat of the mix-up over Private Jake Kovco, whose body was confused with that of a Bosnian carpenter while being returned from Iraq.

Repeating, the death of Jake Kovco and the aftermath punctured John Howard's blustering image and revealed how inept and uncaring his administration was. Whether or not Rudd will provide the change many voters hope for, Howard was exposed as a faux-leader in a way that he'd never been before in his long political career.

Sounding like the thankfully dead Ego of Us All, Howard's concession speech included this bit of bragging: "I bequeath to him a nation that is stronger, prouder and more prosperous than it was 11 1/2 years ago."

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 23, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the mainstream press continues to issue spin, the so-called 'coalition of the willing' receives notice that one member is leaving the club, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are US war resisters in Canada who have sought refugee status.  That status was denied and Canada's Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals to that decision.  Matt Mernagh (Canada's NOW magazine) reports the status on legislative efforts: the leaders of Canada's Liberal party are cowards.  Instead of addressing the situation, they're attempting to buy time by scheduling a hearing.  Mernagh notes that war resisters will be allowed to testify at the hearings and quotes war resister Phil McDowell declaring, "We'll give them an understanding of what we're doing here.  I think we can make a great case."  Dee Knight (Workers World) ties the refusal by the Canadian Supreme Court with other recent actions and decisions and notes, "In the U.S., the organization Courage to Resist has organized a letter-writing campaign to Canadian government officials. The letter asks them "to make a provision
for sanctuary" for U.S. war resisters, and cites Vietnam-era Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's statement that "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." (To sign, go to Courage to Resist.)"
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, 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, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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.  In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers. 
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.  
March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
On Thursday, NPR's Melissa Block and Guy Raz (All Things Considered) reported that the US military was saying that violence in Iraq had been reduced.  Block and Raz are both self-effacing and not interested in giving credit to their peers.  The reality is the US military said it and then the neutered and spaded press repeated it over and over -- including Block and Raz.  Truth didn't matter.  Actual reporting didn't matter.  It only mattered that they all file the claim and then -- if they hadn't already strained themselves taking down dictation -- they grab onto some anectdotal 'evidence' (which Centcom has been happily supplying) and offer that as proof.  From the Abbey of Non-think, St. Thomas filed in the New York Times this morning the absurd claim that, "It's clear that the surge by US troops has really dampened violence in Iraq."  Never one to be left out on a misinformation campaign, the paper's own War pornographer Michael Gordon (Judith Miller's co-writer on several of the more fictious 'reports') was given room to prance around naked on the front page shreiking "violence in Iraq on the decline"!  And I thought that was his career that was on the decline?  Gordo and St. Thomas and all the other cowardly peers missed the fact that Thursday saw at least 54 deaths reported in Iraq with reports of over 29 injured. And that doesn't Cara Buckley (New York Times) reporting today on an attack on Hawr Rajab village that claimed the lives of "at least 11 people" with the attackers wearing the uniforms of either the Iraqi military or the US collaborating Awakening Council.  That would take the 54 to 65 dead.  However the number is higher and AFP's reporting suggests that Buckley's referring to one incident but using the numbers from another.  AFP reports that there was an attack in Hawr Rajab but it killed 3 Iraqi soldiers and 10 citizens while 11 died in another attack -- an attack on the village of Al-Kulaiyah.  Regardless of where the attacks took place, that's another thirteen bringing Thursday's total to 78 dead.  At least 78 deaths that were reported.  And the press organs sends their dancing monkeys out to entertain with lies of safety.  Dance, little monkeys, dance, prove that training didn't go to waste.
Staying on the topic of lies there's The Myth of the Great Return.  Things are so safe in Iraq, that people are eager to return.  That's the lie anyway.  BBC tried to enlist and do their part this week.  Like a battered woman confronted by the stares of her neighbor, they repeated the lies they were told to, that a large number of Iraqis were returning to Iraq.  They used the numbers the puppet government of Iraq fed them.  They didn't try to verify the numbers.  Maybe because the numbers can't be verified and they figured, "Why bother?"  But buried in their own 'reporting' were certain uncomfortable realities.  The Iraqi government is sending buses into Syria to bring Iraqis back and paying them to return.  That explains the small trickle.  But don't let the press off the hook because desperate though the refugees may be, if the media hadn't popularized the lie of 'safety' in Iraq, some might have elected not to return.  The families of any who die should closely scrutinize the reports and columns to determine whether they have a case for litigation.  The United Nations today issued a statement condemning the claims which noted, "UNHCR does not believe that the time has come to promote, organize or encourage returns.  That would be possible only when proper return conditions are in place -- including material and legal support and physical safety.  Presently, there is no sign of any large-scale return to Iraq as the security situation in many parts of the country remains volatile and unpredictable."  Repeating from the statement "no sign of any large-scale return to Iraq".
Patrick Martin (WSWS) zooms in on the lies of the New York Times regarding the alleged 'Great Return': "A front-page report in Tuesday's New York Times gave the newspaper's stamp of approval to the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. The report, spread across four columns under the headline, 'Baghdad's Weary Start to Exhale as Security Improves,' described improving conditions of life and security in the war-torn Dora neighborhood in southern Baghdad, portraying it as the outcome of the massive US military buildup in the Iraqi capital.  The Times report consists of a single anecdotal account--the story of one Shiite family who fled sectarian violence in Dora and has now returned--buttressed by figures supplied by the US military and the Iraqi regime, showing a decline in violent attacks from the highs recorded in the early part of this year. . . . After laying it on thick in this fashion, the Times is compelled to admit that the Shiite family profiled is more the exception than the rule. It describes the condition of a second Shiite family, the Nidhals, who fled violence in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliya and have not returned because a Sunni family now occupies their home. . . . Why then the rose-colored portrayal of conditions in the Iraqi capital, prominently displayed in the most important American newspaper? Clearly what is involved here is a political adaptation by the Times, the most influential voice of official liberalism, to the Bush administration's policies in Iraq."
Operation Happy Talk never ends, it's just one wave after another.  In the real world . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Salahuddin roadside bombing that left four police officers wounded, a Mosul truck bombing targeting an Al-Qayara bridge in which "[t]wo of the bridge pillars" were destroyed, 2 Mosul car bombings that claimed 9 lives and left twenty-one wounded and a Baghdad roadside bombing on a pet market that claimed the lives of at least 13 people with fifty-seven more wounded.  CNN puts the wounded toll at fifty-eight. Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reports, "The explosion left headless bodies, dead birds and shattered fish tanks around the Ghazil animal market in east Baghdad, where many families of all sects visit one of the most popular attractions in the city on the Muslim day of prayer."  Paul Tait (Reuters) calls it the worst attack in Baghdad since car bombings on September 26th and notes, "Body parts were strewn among bird carcasses as bystanders piled victims into carts and rushed them to ambulances after the blast at the crowded Ghazil pet market.  Police said four policemen were among the wounded."  Reuters notes a Jurf Al Sakhar car bombing that killed 2 people visiting a mosque and injured two others.  That's at least 24 reported dead today with at least eight-five wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that yesterday a "husband and wife" team of journalists for Al-Hayatt were shot at while traveling in their car but survived unharmed while today a boys school in Diyala was where a security "guard and his wife" were beheaded because "their two daughters are not following the Islamic laws."  Reuters reports the beheadings differently: "Three suspected al Qaeda militans, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife forcing the couple's children to watch, Iraqi police said on Friday.  The militans considered that school guard Youssef al-Hayali was an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers, they told police interrogators after being arrested in Diyala province northwest of Baghdad.  The three cousnins executed Ayali and his wife Zeinab Kamel at the all-boys school in Jalawlah in Diyala province, village police chief Captain Ahmed Khalifa said."  Reuters notes that yesterday "a doctor who was working with the US military" was shot dead in Kut.
That's two dead today (other reports were from yesterday but reported today).
Reuters notes "the manager of a grain company in Dhi Qar province" was kidnapped today.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Dhuluiya.
That's at least 9 corpses reported found today.  Add it to the previous figures and you have 35 reported dead so far today. 
Free Bilal Huessein -- the Pulitzer Prize award winning photo journalist who has been imprisoned by the US military since April 12, 2006.  AP reports, "A media watchdog on Thursday urged the U.S. military to show good cause for the detention [of] an Associated Press photographer in Iraq, and described his incarceration as 'unjust.'  Military officials have alleged that Bilal Hussein, who has been detained for 19 months, had links to terrorist groups but are refusing to disclose what evidence or accusations would be presented.  An AP investigation of the case, made public Wednesday, shows no support for allegations that Hussein, 36, took part in insurgent activities or bomb-making, and few of the images he provided deal directly with Iraqi insurgents.  In a statement, Johann P. Fritz, director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said that the only grounds for Hussein's detention appeared to be the suspicion that he committed an offense.  The burden of proof lies with the U.S. military to prove Hussein's guilt, Fritz said, adding it was fundamental to any criminal system that those holding the accused show good cause as to why they arrested him.  This, he added, should then be tested in an independent court."  David Crary (AP) reported on the AP investigation noting that, "Evidence and testimony collected by the AP shows no support for allegations that Bilal Hussein took part in insurgent activities or bomb-making, and few of the images he provided dealt directly with Iraqi insurgents" and then quotes from the fifty-page investigative report, "compiled last spring by lawyer and former federal prosecutor Paul Gardephe," noting, "Despite the fact that Hussein has not been interrogated since May 2006, allegations have been dropped or modified over time, and new claims added, all without any explanation. . . . The best evidence of how Hussein conducted himself as a journalist working for AP is the extensive photographic record.  There is no evidence -- in nearly a thousand photographs taken over the 20-month period -- that his activities ever strayed from those of a legitimate journalist."  The fifty-page investigative report can be read in full here (and it's not PDF format so there shouldn't be any problems for anyone attempting to read it). Bilal's 'crime' was documenting reality at a time when other trained (or 'trained') journalists were happy to supply fluff and stenography. 
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) continues to report reality from Iraq and notes that the true escalation of the year was the money the US tossed around to thugs and militias creating the roots for warlords (similar to the 'success' that is Afghanistan) and quotes Iraqi historian Wayil Hikmet explaining, "It is said in the Arab world that if thieves were not seen while stealing, they would be seen while dividing the loot.  That is what goes for the accelerating collapse of the Iraqi political system that was made in the USA.  The thieves of the Green Zone are now giving me and my colleagues good material to write down for the coming generations." and
Lukman Jassim explaining why the American-imposed 'parternship' of  Abdul Aziz Hakim's Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq and Mutqtada al-Sadr's Sadr Movement will not work, "Hakim and Muqtada were brought to the scene by the Americans who employed the two ambitious clerics in order to fight side by side against any Iraqi resistance.  But it is well known in Iraq that the two groups cannot put up with each other because of the historic disputes between their fathers and grandfathers and the conflict between them over power in Iraq.  It was another American mistake."
Meanwhile the 'alleged' coalition continues to shrink.  Press TV reports Donald Tusk, new prime minister, has declared Poland will be withdrawing from Iraq: "In a year's time, I will tell you here in parliament that our military mission in Iraq is over."


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Victor Rabinowitz, a New York lawyer who successfully represented Fidel Castro's government before the Supreme Court as well as a who's who of liberal clients in the United States, has died. He was 96.
Rabinowitz died Nov. 16 at his New York City home, his longtime law partner Michael Krinsky told the Associated Press. No cause of death was reported.
Rabinowitz was a socialist who chose the law as a vehicle for his activism, and his career covered most of the major political causes of the 20th century.
He defended trade unionists in the 1940s, leftists in the McCarthy era of the 1950s, civil rights activists in the 1960s and Vietnam War resisters in the 1960s and '70s.
He helped found the second incarnation of the American Labor Party in the mid-1930s and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1947.
In 1964, Rabinowitz defended the Castro government, which nationalized U.S.-owned holdings after Washington banned sugar imports from Havana.
In defending Cuba's position before the U.S. Supreme Court, Rabinowitz contended that the Act of State doctrine applied, meaning that U.S. courts could not question the decisions of other countries concerning their internal affairs.
"It was a watershed case about when American courts can look into another case beyond its own borders," Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, told the Washington Post. It "was a remarkable victory, considering American hostility to Cuba."

Megan noted the above from the Los Angeles Times' "Victor Rabinowitz, 96; lawyer defended Castro regime." Ratnter also hosts, with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith, the weekly program Law and Disorder which airs on many stations including WBAI each Monday at ten a.m. EST. As Ruth noted, among the guests on this week's program were Daniel Ellsberg. If you missed it, it's archived. If you heard Ellsberg, there's an article in Harper's December issue that you can pair the broadcast up with, Kate Doyle's "The Atrocity Files: Deciphering the archives of Guatemala's dirty war" (pp. 52-64). It is and it isn't available online. Harper's has opened the archives to subscribers -- archives going back to 1850. If you're a subscriber of the magazine, you have online access to everything in this month's issue. In addition, if you're a subscriber, you have access to the archives. This isn't like The Nation's archives where you have to pay to read their archives even after you subscribe. The format is PDF and, as a current subscriber to Harper's, you can access the archives at no additional cost. A friend asked me to note that (and yesterday we accessed some of the Vietnam coverage). With the archives, you can access, among others, articles by Horatio Alger, E.B. White, Seymour Hersh (Vietnam, back when he covered actual wars as opposed to ones that may or may not be on the horizon), etc. Harper's has done the most extended articles on Iraq during this illegal war (they also had strong work during the first Gulf War) such as Naomi Klein's ground-breaking "Baghdad Year Zero" (that's available in non-PDF format). In the current issue, Luke Mitchell's "The Black Box" takes a look at the Iraqi oil industry from the point of view of American workers. (One of whom, noting the pools of oil polluting the environment, gives thanks that Iraq doesn't have an EPA.)

Kyle asked that we note this from Left Turn magazine:

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Sobered by the challenges facing independent media and inspired by national conversations around "The Non-Profit Industrial Complex" that have discussed alternatives to foundation funding, we are launching our "100 Grassroots Sustainers" campaign to sign up 100 monthly supporters by January. We are asking you, the grassroots organizers and activists that make up our base, to donate $5, $10, or $20 a month to keep Left Turn not only alive and well, but also innovative and powerful. READ MORE

Melissa notes the opening of Poka Laenui's "Commentary: An Honorable Exit from Iraq" (Yes! magazine):

The United States should not win in its war against Iraq. It should change its strategy to being just.
The United States was wrong to attack Iraq. Possession of weapons of mass destruction is not a justification, moreover Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Toppling Saddam Hussein is no justification; the imposition by a stronger nation of its political preference for the running of another nation’s government has never been a legitimate basis for attack.
Every justification for the attack by the United States against Iraq leads to the same conclusion: the United States acted as an international delinquent, a violator of Iraqi sovereignty, and an international threat to peace.
So how could one even entertain the notion of winning a war for which there is no justification?

Apparently news that the 'surge' is working hasn't reached Yes! magazine. That was sarcasm. The escalation hasn't worked the same way other attempts at controlling Iraqis (don't mistake it for democracy) hasn't worked. A lot of money's been tossed around and the violence has stopped. The limited coverage of the violence has decreased. The illegal war was sold via the constant repetition of lies. Today we see the same thing playing out with the repetition of 'safety' and the myth of The Great Return. They both get told and retold to the point that people begin to believe the lies or fear that they must be silent because -- even though it doesn't feel right, even though it doesn't add up -- what if it's true! It's not true. But blood on the hands didn't bother the press after the illegal war began and the lies were revealed, so telling news lies to sell the illegal war doesn't bother them either.

They'll 'correct' the narratives in a few months and pretend like they had no part in spreading them. Or possibly, if the calling out becomes universal, print a mini-culpa. But violence never stopped in Iraq and Green Zone encased reporters really aren't the ones who can talk about life on the ground (although that does beat DC located journalist presenting eye-witness accounts of life on the ground in Iraq -- another popular feature of the month).

Ali al-Fadhily continues to explore the realities in Iraq. Many days he's the last one standing in a press that long ago caved and crumpled. This is from his "Infighting Increases Instability" (IPS):

Increasing conflict and finger pointing between leading Shi'ite political blocs are heightening instability in war-torn Iraq.
"It is said in the Arab world that if thieves were not seen while stealing, they would be seen while dividing the loot," Wayil Hikmet, an Iraqi historian in Baghdad told IPS. "That is what goes for the accelerating collapse of the Iraqi political system that was made in the USA. The thieves of the Green Zone are now giving me and my colleagues good material to write down for the coming generations," Hikmet said, referring to new scandals floating to the surface of the political scene in recent days.
The Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq (SICI) led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, and The Sadr Movement led by anti-occupation cleric Muqtada Al- Sadr are accusing each other of committing serious crimes against humanity in the southern parts of Iraq.
In early September, clashes between Sadr's Mehdi Army militia and the Badr Organisation militia of SIIC erupted in the holy city of Kerbala, 100 kilometres southwest of Baghdad. Kerbala, with a population of about half a million, is a holy city, particularly for the Shias, as it is home to the tomb of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The shrine of Imam Hussein is a place of pilgrimage for many Shia Muslims. The clashes between the two powerful militias left at least 52 people dead and over 200 wounded.
"Hakim and Muqtada were brought to the scene by the Americans who employed the two ambitious clerics in order to fight side by side against any Iraqi resistance," Lukman Jassim, a former Baath Party member, told IPS in Baghdad.
"But it is well known in Iraq that the two groups cannot put up with each other because of the historic disputes between their fathers and grandfathers and the conflict between them over power in Iraq. It was another American mistake," Jassim explained.

In the public account, a visitor wonders why we're not noting the fact that foreign fighters in Iraq fighting against the foreign occupying powers are largely from Saudi Arabia? Because we've noted that. Amy Goodman has repeatedly highlighted that fact (and will again, and we'll note it when she does). The majority of resistance to the foreign occupying powers remains Iraqis despite the 'hook' some of these stories (that we're not noting) appear determined to sell: "The only resistance is from Saudis!" That's not reality. Third Party writes to note that the same 'left' voice who slammed Ralph Nader and said that the left (apparently all the left is Democrats and Democrats are all the left) had to support Democratic candidates only is now playing cheerleader for the Republican libertarian Ron Paul. Yes, that would be confusing were it not for the fact that logic obviously left that mind some time ago. For the record, it takes a lot of DUMB to write about Ron Paul and how money could have been used instead of on the illegal war when Paul is interested in dismantiling the government, not in aiding citizens. Were the nation not in an illegal war, Paul would no doubt make the same arguments about where money could go . . . instead of through Health and Human Services or any number of departments or (limited) assistance the government currently provides. Remember, John McCain -- despite the lies -- is not a creation of the mainstream media alone -- it took a lot of hype from the center-left to build up the lie that he was a 'straight talker'.

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NYT: The Fraterist Gordo

A front-page report in Tuesday's New York Times gave the newspaper's stamp of approval to the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. The report, spread across four columns under the headline, "Baghdad's Weary Start to Exhale as Security Improves," described improving conditions of life and security in the war-torn Dora neighborhood in southern Baghdad, portraying it as the outcome of the massive US military buildup in the Iraqi capital.
The Times report consists of a single anecdotal account--the story of one Shiite family who fled sectarian violence in Dora and has now returned--buttressed by figures supplied by the US military and the Iraqi regime, showing a decline in violent attacks from the highs recorded in the early part of this year.
"The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real," the article asserts. "Iraqis sound uncertain about the future, but defiantly optimistic. Many Baghdad residents seem to be willing themselves to normalcy, ignoring risks and suppressing fears to reclaim their lives."
The family interviewed "said they felt emboldened by the decline in violence citywide and the visible presence of Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint a few blocks away," the article continues, although, significantly, no quotes are offered to substantiate this supposed sentiment.
After laying it on thick in this fashion, the Times is compelled to admit that the Shiite family profiled is more the exception than the rule. It describes the condition of a second Shiite family, the Nidhals, who fled violence in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliya and have not returned because a Sunni family now occupies their home.
"In Baghdad there are far more families like the Nidhals," the newspaper concedes, citing official figures: "About 20,000 Iraqis have gone back to their Baghdad homes, a fraction of the more than 4 million who fled nationwide, and the 1.4 million people in Baghdad who are still internally displaced, according to a recent Iraqi Red Crescent Society survey."
Why then the rose-colored portrayal of conditions in the Iraqi capital, prominently displayed in the most important American newspaper? Clearly what is involved here is a political adaptation by the Times, the most influential voice of official liberalism, to the Bush administration's policies in Iraq.

The above, noted by Markus, is from Patrick Martin's "American liberalism and the Iraq War: The New York Times gives its blessing to Bush 'surge'" (WSWS) and consider it a must-read for today. Also remember that WSWS wasn't among the latecomers showing up as the lights were being turned off and guests sent home -- they were among those leading the charge in questioning the 'reporting' of Judith Miller.

Turning to paper of little record, War pornographer Michael Gordon (Miller's co-writer on several of the more fictious 'reports') leaves an ugly stain on the front page of today's paper ("Expanded Role Sought For G.I.'s In Iraq Training") as he he carries on his long distance love affair with the illegal war he helped sell. From DC, Gordo starts out, "With violence in Iraq on the decline . . ."

Oh, Gordo, keep it in your pants. For those who missed it, at least 54 deaths reported yesterday and over 29 wounded. But Gordo's so busy pulling himself, he can't be distracted. What he should do in private, the Times tosses on the front page.

The "gains" Gordo sees while stroking his war-on are all in his own head. Cash was tossed around like Imelda on a shoe shopping spree. It's cute that weeks after we were pointing out there have been no political gains, the Times can tell you the same but there haven't been 'security' gains either. Gordo, good house pet for the establishment, thinks loyalities can be bought. He's being inductive. All that's been bought is a starter set for war lords. Gordo scribbles about training because war lords need -- like bad reporters -- require a lot of hands on training.

While Gordo's trying to resell the training option (which hasn't worked before, but keep yanking it, Gordo) and claiming Peace in the Valley on the front page, A12 carries Cara Buckley's "Gunmen Dressed as Iraqi Troops Kill at Least 11 in Village Near Baghdad." The article tells you that Hawr Rajab village was where "at least 11 people" were slaughter "at dawn on Thursday". Though the ones doing the slaughter wore not only Iraqi military uniforms, but also "Awakening Council uniforms," Buckley feels the best witness to cite is the sheik in charge of the village's Awakening Council. To no one's surprise, he tales a tale (that the Times prints as truth) which pins the blame somewhere other than the US collaborators in the Awakening Council.

Buckley explains that the Awakening Council had sent their wives and children out of the village but 'safety' meant that they returned. "Now, that looks far from certain." Tell it to Gordo. Buckley also notes that the cholera crisis continues in Iraq and that yesterday's mortar attack on the Green Zone left "10 people wounded".

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

"Of course here in Canada, the country has meant so much to those who do not fare so well in the United States, especially people of colour. From the days of slavery you were a door of opportunity . . . (and) people who were unjustly put upon found a haven here certainly during the civil rights movement. During the anti-Vietnam mobilization, Canada was a haven for young people who were war resisters."
Belafonte has harshly criticized the U.S. administration under President George W. Bush, whom he called the "greatest tyrant" and "terrorist in the world" during a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year. Belafonte has also had some choice words for former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in recent years.
He'll never regret his statements about Bush, he said.
"Absolutely not," said Belafonte. "As a matter of fact, I marvel at how tempered I was. The comment did not in any way match my state of anger and rage at those people, but I choose to behave as civilly as I can and set a civil example for those who might be influenced by what I say."
"But I," he said exhaling deeply, "I don't retreat one millimetre of an inch from what I've said. As a matter of fact, it's more evident and I'm more validated every day that Bush opens his mouth. I not only feel that way but thousands of people who write me say so."
Belafonte still lives in New York City, where he was born. He spent part of his childhood in his mother's home country, Jamaica, but moved back to Harlem where he started his career in theatre and music.

Keesha noted the above and it's from Victoria Ahearn's "Singer and activist Harry Belafonte has high praise for Canada" (The Canadian Press). Harry Belafonte's has received the International Diversity Award from the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and there's only one Harry Belafonte. Of course, as Keesha reminds, he received another 'honor' in 2006 -- Katrina vanden Heuvel elected to include him on a list of 'bad' to score points in her shameful move to the center. And, it should be noted, in order to have a bad column printed in the mainstream. (The non-stop, run on embarrassment was published in full online by The Nation.)

For those who missed, that stab in the back, that embarrassment was picked up by the mainstream. David Montgomery cited it in "Tally Mon Come, Name Belafonte" (Washington Post):

Even some allies on the left have wondered whether the old man is going too far. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, recently called on people, including Belafonte, to drop the Nazi analogies because, she wrote, they demonize more than they encourage debate.

Katrina vanden Heuvel misquoted Julian Bond in the same article, by the way. The Washington Post ran a correction to her brief (and bad) column they ran. Column? The Post turned it into a laundry list which may be the only way for editors to publish bad writing. They pulled a portion of her conclusion, condensed it and made it the opening. At The Nation, bad writing can run free and did. On and on.

But The Nation is a political journal so what was the point of doing a hit on Harry Belafonte? Trying to score a little mainstream cred off the back of someone who'd done more than his share to make the world a better place. What a fine and proud moment for the magazine. (That was sarcasm.)

Cedric called it out in real time. Cedric and Wally have touched it on since. One of the coffee fetchers elected to post a comment at Cedric's site back in 2006:

I read your blog and like it a lot, but whats with the random vanden Heuvel attacks? I saw her at the conference too (i agreed with much of your critique of it) and she was ... by herself once and with a female assistant another time ... and i thought that Monday night panel was a good discussion. The Nation has also done a lot of work in the last mon th to expose Hillary Clinton's hypocrisy -- I commend them for it. anyway, love your blog but tone down the nastiness!

Tone down the nastiness? As, Betty responded to that (White) coffee fetcher:

Cedric and Wally, doing joint-posts, are trying to be funny unless they state otherwise. Nastiness? Little coffee fetcher, why don't you ask Katrina vanden Heuvel why she felt it was okay to hold up Harry Belafonte for ridicule in a column that appeared in "The Washington Post" and "The Nation." Cedric and I are both Black and forgive us if we don't rush to prop up a White woman that tried to get mileage by lumping a decent Black man with a long history of social justice in with a bunch of right wing crazies."The Nation" has done a lot to attack Hillary Clinton and they've given bi-racial Barack Obama a pass. As the mother of three Black children, I don't need to hear about "Black" Obama. I don't need to have to constantly explain to my children that, no, he would not be the first "Black" president because, no, he is not "Black." I am offended by that and offended by the heavy panting over the very DLC Obama."Tone Down the nastiness." It's a humor site, you moron. They have made fun of everyone here -- Republicans and Democrats. If you are a public figure, at some point you stand a good chance of being made fun of. And what kind of fool writes "tone down the nastiness" when one of the 'contributors' is "Bully Boy Press"? Every joint post reads "Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix." Get a life and stop worshipping at the shrine of your goddess Katrina. As a Black woman, don't speak to me about her multitude of virtues. There's a reason the White White White magazine sees Barack Obama as "Black," they know very little about race today and that's demonstrated in their coverage. As for Cedric and Wally's critique of the conference, they are just grabbing whatever is in the news the day they post and try to find a funny take on it. There were many participants at the conference they that liked and agreed with. They weren't reporting on the conference, they were trying to find a funny way to write about it and they succeeded with all but Katrina lovers apparently. It's humor and if it's too "nasty" for you, I believe many papers still run The Family Circus so stick to that and the Davy & Goliath cartoons for your laughter needs.

I love Betty. She does an amazing site but if you ever wonder why we all wish she had a blog, it's stuff like that. A White coffee fetcher will never grasp how offensive vanden Heuvel's remarks were. But the right-wing was happy to repeat them (including the faux 'democracy' group because vanden Heuvel also felt the need to take Hugo Chavez to task for his comments). Did Harry Belafonte, a longtime voice for peace, say anything outrageous? No. But to the timid mind of Katrina vanden Heuvel it was just the way to score points with the mainstream. Well maybe it got her a view more bookings on the low-rent chat & chews? And isn't that the point?

What is the point of the web? (Keesha asked that and asked that it be addressed.) When vanden Heuvel took a similar approach to bloggers -- telling them how to speak and what to write in her online snit-fit -- she got called out. But when she slams Belafonte the domestic web is largely silent. Why is that? Because you've got a White perspective dominating on the web in this country and a lot of them don't know the first thing about Harry Belafonte. If they have some knowledge of him, it's that his song was used in Beetlejuice. So she can use his good name to score points in the mainstream and it's not worth calling out? No, it is worth calling out. And if coffee fetchers can't grasp how offensive that was, they need to leave their limited terrain because there's a whole world out there.

You won't find it in The Nation which a friend with the magazine says has dropped their "IRAQ" folder online. Apparently Jeremy Scahill's latest Blackwater article is filed under "MORE POLITICS" because the rag's tiny interest in Iraq just got a whole hell of a lot smaller.

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 3866. Tonight? 3874. Just Foreign Policy's total for the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war stood at 1,112,745. Tonight? 1,118,625.

While the US buys off and arms groups (similar to the Afghanistan 'strategy' and, my, how well that's worked out) and Iraqi refugees are paid and then bussed in from Syria, the violence has apparently vanished, right? Wrong. From Retuers and McClatchy alone at least 29 people are reported wounded and 54 are reported dead (plus one reported kidnapping). Most violence never gets reported. But let's all pretend things are looking up, things are looking up, things are . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing targeting a bus wounded two people, two Baghdad roadside bombings targeting the police wounded three police officers and two civilians, an attack on Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad with grenades that left one Iraqi soldier wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two Iraqi soldiers wounded, a mortar attack on the Green Zone, and three police officers wounded in a Mosul car bombing. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombings that killed 1 police officer (one more wounded) and a Mosul car bombing that claimed the lives of 2 civilians with twelve more wounded.

Total: 26 wounded, 3 dead


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead and three more wounded (and a Humvee "seized") in a Baghdad attack, "former member of Baath party" Jabur Haloub was shot dead in Najaf, a clash in Diyala's Al Kubat and Al Kilaeat villages left 22 people killed (three were resisdents, nineteen were not) and that a clash in Basra's Al Badran village on Wednesday left 4 dead (the clash came about after "the family refused to marry their daughter to one of the four killed militia men"). Retuers notes "a member of the municipal council near Kirkuk" was shot dead.

Total: 3 wounded, 31 dead (counting the 4 from Wednesday reported today).


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi soldier Amjad Shalgham Bander was kidnapped in Kirkuk.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 13 corpses discovered in Ramadi, 1 corpse discovered outside Hilla, a decapitated corpse was discovered in Kirkuk and a second ("of university lecturer from Tikrit") was discovered in Mosul.

Total: 20 corpses discovered.

B-b-b-ut! The 'surge' worked! Or at least the dollars bought off a lot of temporary alliances. Creating even further tensions as you pit one group against another. What did you do to end the illegal war today? I'm sure you did your part but, to tie in the opening, the reality is our media (big and small) doesn't. It's not really the job of mainstream reporters to end the illegal war, it is their role to tell the truth and there many of them are failing. Small media? Don't the bulk of them always seem to have other things to do.

We'll close with Marcia's highlight, Dee Knight's "As more GIs resist Supporters wrestle with courts in U.S., Canada" (Workers World):

Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq war, won a big victory on Nov. 10 when a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the U.S. Army from conducting a second court-martial against him. The judge said a second trial would violate Watada's constitutional rights by trying him twice for the same charges.
has won a court victory.
In February, Watada's first court-martial ended in a mistrial just before he was to take the stand in his own defense. Immediately before the mistrial was declared, Watada told the court that to him, leading soldiers into battle in Iraq "means to participate in a war that I believe to be illegal."
"This is an enormous victory, but it is not yet over," said Kenneth Kagan, one of Watada's attorneys. The charges against 29-year-old Watada remain in effect, and Army officials said they would file briefs in U.S. District Court to try to prevent the injunction blocking a new trial from becoming permanent.
Canadian ruling against resisters
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Canada dealt U.S. war resisters there a setback on Nov. 15, announcing it will not hear appeals for refugee status by
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. These two Iraq war resisters have been in Canada since going AWOL from the U.S. Army in 2004.
The ruling was met by demonstrations the same day in cities across Canada, including Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Nelson and Vancouver, organized by the
War Resisters Support Campaign. The campaign has the support of the Canadian Labor Congress, the United Church of Canada, peace organizations and thousands of individuals and families. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians say resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada, according to a June 2007 poll.
The fate of hundreds of U.S. war resisters living in Canada now rests with the Canadian Parliament. "Following today's decision we call on Parliament to take a stand by enacting a provision that would allow U.S. war resisters and their families to stay in Canada," said actor and activist Shirley Douglas.
Lee Zaslovsky, a Vietnam-era military deserter and coordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign, said the proposed provision has the support of two parties in Parliament--the New Democrats and the Bloc Québecois. Pressure is now focused on the largest opposition party, the Liberals. If the three parties unite to support the provision, they could override the refusal of the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Bush clone.
Zaslovsky said the campaign has generated massive Canadian media coverage and a "heavy wave" of e-mails and phone calls to Parliament from across the country.
The attorney for Hinzman and Hughey, Jeffrey House--himself a Vietnam-era war resister--said, "We're not giving up on any of the legal cases" of other U.S. war resisters in Canada. He said the current case means "we can't use international law [as our legal basis], but we have other things." Zaslovsky said there are another 25 to 30 refugee status appeals pending.
In the U.S., the organization
Courage to Resist has organized a letter-writing campaign to Canadian government officials. The letter asks them "to make a provision
for sanctuary" for U.S. war resisters, and cites Vietnam-era Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's statement that "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." (To sign, go to
Courage to Resist.)
AWOL GI with PTSD arrested
As if to illustrate the claim that war resisters face persecution in the United States, on Nov. 13 Sgt. Brad Gaskins was arrested by Army officials and local police as he was preparing to turn himself in at Ft. Drum, near Watertown, N.Y.
Sgt. Gaskins had traveled almost 300 miles with his mother from his home in East Orange, N.J., to the
Different Drummer Internet Cafe near Ft. Drum. He was waiting there while his attorney Todd Ensign telephoned the base to arrange for his return. When the MPs and local police grabbed him, his mother screamed at them, "Why are you grabbing him?" "Because he's a deserter," they yelled.
Ensign said that Gaskins is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress disorder and severe depression after two tours in Iraq. He has been hospitalized for psychiatric problems and should be discharged from the Army for medical reasons, Ensign said. Following legal pressure and media attention, Gaskins was taken to a veterans’ hospital in Syracuse after his arrest. On Nov. 16, he was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington.
PTSD is reaching epidemic proportions among active-duty GIs and veterans of the U.S. imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. An Army report released Nov. 15 estimates that one in five active-duty soldiers, and as many as 40 percent of reservists, are in need of treatment for PTSD. It adds that soldiers suffer even more mental distress in the transition to life at home than they show on leaving Iraq.
According to the Army, more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers have deserted since the Iraq invasion started. Every year, the number has gone up. Official statistics say 3,196 went AWOL last year, compared to 2,543 the year before. But
Iraq Veterans Against the War says the calls it receives suggest the real numbers are 10 times the official figures.
A large network of military counselors and lawyers across the United States is ready to help active-duty and AWOL GIs who need help. They can call the
G.I. Rights Hotline at 877-447-4487. Also, a growing network of churches and community organizations offers sanctuary for soldiers who refuse to fight in the illegal U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Actually, we won't close with that. We'll close with this: IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
Thank you to everyone for voting no snapshot today. Gina called me at noon to tell me of the poll (I didn't know about it) and the results. I gladly grabbed the chance. The gina & krista round-robin does go out tomorrow morning so check the inboxes. The roundtable was done on Wednesday night. We will have entries up here tomorrow. Mine may start late because I may sleep in.

The e-mail address for this site is

jeremy hinzman
brandon hughey