Thursday, May 15, 2008

Other Items

On the first day of the final exams, at work, translating an article about the difficulties that are expected to face students during their exams, my phone rings.
"MOM! There was an explosion near to our school! Some of the boys ran to see -- but I remembered what you told me about them coming in twos and kept walking. But I took photos of the smoke -- Mom, do you think many people were hurt?
A wave swept over me. I closed my eyes for a second and took a deep -- shuddering -- breath and answered him, "Well done, habibi. Abu Ahmed will be waiting for you around the corner, don’t go home, just come straight here." I didn’t want to think of the outcome of an explosion so near to a boy’s school at the time they were all going home.
Ten minutes later, my phone rings again.
"Hello, Khala (aunty), please tell me that your son is OK!" A young friend of the family, a doctor who works in the nearby hospital.
"Yes, alhamdu lillah -- he called me after the explosion. You please tell me that none of the school boys were hurt."
"The first explosion was just a trap to catch their attention. Many boys walked towards the site out of curiosity. It was only after there was quite a group surrounding the burning car that the second explosion went off. It was terrible."

The above is from a McClatchy Newspapers Iraqi correspondent's "Final examinations commence today…A begining or an end?" (Inside Iraq). Remember, the violence is over . . . or ending . . . or whatever the spin is for the day.

Tensions also continue between northern Iraq and Turkey. From Hurriyet's "Turkey's pro-Kurdish DTP's PKK criticism, denial creates confusion:"

Turkey's pro-Kurdish party criticized the PKK on Wednesday saying its armed struggle hurt Kurds, as Turkey set to intensify its relations with the administration in northern Iraq in its fight against the outlawed separatists. However Ahmet Turk and other DTP officials immediately denied the report. Turk said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told him that the Kurdish issue should be solved through diplomatic and political means and he told the president that they are exerting efforts to end violence, Milliyet reported. Turk added he didn't even use the name of the PKK. Turkish MPs from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) welcomed on Thursday Turk's statements.

While "US colonel: no PKK impact in Kirkuk" (Today's Zaman) notes:

US Army Col. David Paschal, commander of the 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, on Monday spoke to Pentagon reporters in a teleconference from his headquarters at Contingency Operating Base Speicher. His remarks came in response to a question over whether he had seen "any evidence or any influence by the PKK in his area," particularly taking into consideration the fact that winter snows have melted and PKK members are able to move over rugged terrain more easily.

Meanwhile Blackwater remains in the news. From Tony Perry's "Blackwater's proposed San Diego training facility draws criticism" (Los Angeles Times):

Blackwater Worldwide, the global security firm whose conduct in Iraq has drawn criticism, is again trying to open a training facility in the face of local opposition.
In March, the firm dropped plans to build a 220-acre training camp in rural Potrero, about 45 miles east of downtown San Diego. A coalition of rural property owners, environmentalists and antiwar activists opposed its effort to build a "combat town."But the coalition did not know that Blackwater was simultaneously moving to open a smaller facility with a shooting range in Otay Mesa, within the city limits and near the Mexican border.The other project became known to the public only after leaders of the coalition received a tip from someone with inside information.
Unlike the Potrero plan, which would have required approval from the county Board of Supervisors, the Otay Mesa project required only the sort of basic permits that can be issued over the counter.

On the subject of money grubbers, Chevron is the focus of an upcoming action:

Tell Chevron Executives and Shareholders:

From Richmond to Ecuador, Nigeria, Canada, Philippines, Burma and Iraq

WED, MAY 28, 7am to 10:30am
Mass Theater Action and Demonstration
Chevron World Headquarters

6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, CA

Special Guests:
Luis Yanza, Ecuadorian Community Organizer and 2008 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Hugo Criollo, Ecuadorian Indigenous Leader

Omoyele Sowore, Nigerian human rights, pro-democracy and anti-corporate leader.

Larry Bowoto
, Plaintiff in the lawsuit against Chevron for their 1998 flying of Nigerian soldiers by helicopter to attack a nonviolent occupation of Chevron's Parabe offshore oil platforms. Two activists were killed, others injured, and Bowoto himself was tortured.

These leaders from Ecuador and Nigeria will demonstrate with Bay Area environmental justice, solidarity, antiwar, and human rights groups, and will also join supportive shareholders and organizers in confronting Chevron executives and shareholders inside their annual shareholder meeting. While we take action at the gates of Chevron World Headquarters (please come on time so we can greet the shareholders who arrive by 7:30am), some shareholders have filed a resolution demanding that Chevron report on the environmental laws in every country where it has operations, in an attempt to push for accountability.

MASS THEATER: We need 100 people to join us, put on HazMat suits and gloves, and help us "clean up" Chevron's human and environmental rights abuses and oil wars. If you are willing to join us, please send a note to:

Sponsored by:
Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Direct Action to Stop the War, Amazon Watch, Laotian Organizing Project, Justice for Nigeria Now, Global Exchange, Burmese American Democratic Alliance-SF, Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES), Rainforest Action Network, West County Toxics Coalition, Richmond Greens, Richmond Progressive Alliance

How to Get There:
Take BART to Walnut Creek BART: We will provide shuttles from Walnut Creek BART to the demonstration. Or you can take short ride on County
Connection shuttle 121, or it's a flat 12-mile bike ride.
Carpools: (if you have space in your car or need a ride):
SF: Meet @ 6am; Safeway parking lot, Church and Markets Sts.
East Bay: Meet @ MacArthur BART @ 6:15am
Driving/Carpooling Directions: Fast 25 miles E. of Oakland.
Take 580 to Hwy 24 E. to I-680 S to exit #34/BOLLINGER CANYON ROAD. Left over Hwy. 1st left into Shopping Center. Park, walk back to Chevron across Bollinger.

For more information:
(510) 984-2566

Related events:
TUES. MAY 27, 5:30-9pm
111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco
CHEVRON BASH; On the eve of the Chevron Shareholder Meeting, join locals and international guests affected by Chevron's human rights and environmental violations as they share their stories and inspire our continued struggle for justice.

THURS. MAY 29, 7pm
COMMUNITY FORUM: Capping Chevron's Crude
Richmond Recreation Complex, 3230 Mac Donald Ave., Richmond
Teach-In about Chevron's Dirty Crude Richmond Refinery Expansion plans that will go before the Richmond Planning Commission on June 5. With Antonia Juhasz, Henry Clarke, Greg Karras, and Marleen Quint
Info: 510 232-4493

Brenda notes Hillary Clinton's "Clinton will 'stand for you'" (Louisville Courier-Journal):

Campaigning in Kentucky and across this country has been an honor and a privilege. Day after day, I've been inspired by the people I've met -- people who embrace opportunity, never waver in the face of adversity, meet hard times with hard work, and never stop believing in the promise of America.
I'm in this race to stand for you -- to stand for everyone who's struggling to pay the grocery bills and the doctor's bills, the credit card and the mortgage payments, and the ridiculous price of gas at the pump.
With two wars abroad and an economic crisis here at home, we need a president who knows how to turn our economy around, and who is ready on day one to be commander-in-chief, end the war in Iraq and keep our families safe. We need a president who will get this country back in the solutions business. That is exactly what I'm offering.
Because the real test is not the speeches you deliver -- but whether you deliver on the speeches. You have to get the job done, and that is exactly what I will do as president.

Michelle York's "An Antiwar March Through Towns Unused to One" (New York Times) reports on some actions to end the illegal war:

He watched as a small group protesting the war in Iraq marched toward him, carrying peace signs and waving at the cars and tractor-trailers whizzing by. "I don't think it's going to do any good," Mr. Price said of their efforts. "I want to get out of there, too, but I don't think this is the way."
Yet once the protesters, headed for Fort Drum, more than 50 miles away, reached him, Mr. Price eagerly offered them water and a place to rest -- a more pleasant welcome than they had received from many others along the way.
[. . .]
"Many may have believed in the principle of the war at the start, but now they’re saying that they want the soldiers to come back," said Kathleen Castania, 59, an organizer who lives in Rochester. Whatever the reaction they draw, the organizers say they are making headway, both emotionally and physically.
"There is some apprehension" in the towns, said Tod Ensign, the director of Different Drummer Cafe, a veterans'-support organization in Watertown. "But I don't believe this has ever been done before anywhere in the country. This is a first step."

Also in the Times, War Hawk Michael Gordon writes about the US military constructing the wall in Sadr City and how residents don't want it -- the supposed thrust of the article -- is an aside. Somehow the wishes and wants of the inhabitants of the country don't matter to the occupiers and Gordo seems fine-and-dandy with that. Alissa J. Rubin notes:

The Mosul operation follows two other offensives, in Basra and the Sadr City district of Baghdad, that the government has carried out in recent months; the other two offensives focused on Shiite militias.
Iraqi and American security forces believe that Mosul is the last urban stronghold of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which American intelligence says is a homegrown militant group led by foreigners.
The Iraqi Army began the offensive over the weekend and is being aided by American troops. There has long been support in Mosul for the Sunni insurgency because many former members of Saddam Hussein's security forces live there.

Yesterday we noted "Hillary's Remarks at Charleston, WV Celebration Event" ( in text. Here's the video:

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