Sunday, September 21, 2008

And the war drags on . . . (Dona and Jim)

Earlier this month, Iraq's oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani was announcing that contrats with various western corporations including Shell had been cancelled. Today, Reuters reports Iraq's oil ministry annouced that they're throwing Royal Dutch Shell a bone -- a very big bone -- "a natural gas deal," to be signed tomorrow, which will allow Shell a 49% stake in the "joint venture". Quick, call the networks, a new show! The Baghdad Hillbillies. Starring Bully Boy Clampett and Granny Dick.

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 Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war hit the 4,157 was the number. And tonight? 4168. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,267,401 up from 1,255,026.

Dona and Jim with you tonight filling in for C.I. who, with everyone else, is at the Emmys. The award ceremonies are interesting but we'll beg for tickets to something with musical acts (Grammys!) so we said weeks ago that we'd grab tonight. C.I. started an entry to help us out but we thought it worked as a stand-alone and have posted that already. C.I. was noting the New York Times' article on Iraq's own "Fantasy Island" and Zach notes Tina Susman's "Honeymoon in Iraq?" (Babylon and Beyond, Los Angeles Times):

Coming soon: a romantic island getaway in the heart of Baghdad! That's the hope, at least, of Iraq's Tourism Board, which held a news conference Sunday to announce an ambitious project to lure investors to build up the capital's Jazirat Al A'ras, a slab of land surrounded by water from the Tigris River.
Before a sometimes skeptical crowd of mainly Iraqi journalists, the head of the tourism board, Hamood Yakoubi, said the resort, whose name translates to Wedding Island, would be modeled on the "One Thousand and One Nights" tales. Not that King Shahryar, Scheherezade, Sinbad or Alladin had Ferris wheels, fast-food restaurants or a water park to entertain them. But Yakoubi and Ahmed Ridha, the chairman of the government's National Investment Commission, said the point was to give visitors a feel for ancient Baghdad while providing five-star service and amenities.

Zach notes that C.I. had strong words (favorable) for Susman's work last week and wondered who else did an especially strong job? We'll answer for ourselves that we're always glad to see a piece with Susman and Alexandra Zavis' byline at LAT and (we miss Borzou Daragahi's Iraq reporting); at NYT Erica Goode and Richard A. Oppel Jr. are always worth reading (and today's think-piece in the paper by Dexy would have been better if it had been written by some with real thoughts -- as opposed to thoughts for the paper, different thoughts for college campus speaking gigs, and different throughts for TV interviews -- so we would have suggested Sabrina Tavernise, Damien Cave or Cara Buckley); at the Washington Post, Sudarsan Raghavan and Amit R. Paley don't waste words or times and are always a pleasure to read; Christian Science Monitor sometimes features Anna Badkhen whose writing we enjoy; Gina Chen at the Wall St. Journal and that may be it for domestic papers. Those are picks. We doubt C.I. would disagree but C.I. might have additional ones. Woops, we forgot McClatchy. Leila Fadel and the Iraqi correspondents like Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim who we're moving on to now as we note some of the weekend's violence. (We also like Sahar Issa at McClatchy.)


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing in front of "the Journalists' Union in Waziriyah" Saturday that wounded five people ("including the head of the Journalists Union"), a Mosul car bombing Saturday that wounded three people, and a Saturday Tal Afar car bombing that claimed the life of the driver, 2 civilians and left seventeen other civilians wounded. McClatchy's Hussein Kadhim reports a Sunday Baghdad car bombing that wounded Ihsan Ridha ("general manager of the Ministry of Finance"), a Baghdad roadside bombing (also today) wounded five people, while another left seven wounded, and three more Baghdad roadside bombings resulted in fifteen people being wounded, another Baghdad car bombing left four people wounded, a Mosul oil tanker bombing wounded two people while a Mosul truck bombing claimed the life of the driver and 2 police officers with forty-five people left wounded, a Kirkuk car bombing claimed the life of the driver and the lives of 5 police officers with twenty-three more people wounded, and a Tikrit car bombing left three people wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two police officers shot dead in Mosul Saturday and Sheikh Udai Ali Abbass was assassinated in Basra Friday night. McClatchy's Hussein Kadhim reports Brig Gen Adel Abass (of the Ministry of Interior) was shot dead today in Baghdad, a police officer was wounded in a Baghdad shooting today,


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad Saturday and three discovered in Tal Afar on Saturday. McClatchy's Hussein Kadhim reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

Moving over to the US presidential race, Matthew B. Stannard's "McCain, Obama closer in opinons on Iraq war" (San Francisco Chronicle) tells some truths that will have many covering their ears:

And Obama and McCain are no longer polar opposites on the war.
"The differences between the two sides are becoming muddled by actions on the part of the (Bush) administration, even more so by acts on the part of the Iraqi government," said Wayne White, a former State Department intelligence analyst. And that, he said, makes it difficult to sort out which candidate has the best overall feel for the situation in Iraq.

As Obama and McCain have sought to adapt to a rapidly changing situation, each has made statements that some analysts have interpreted as showing they are moving toward each other on Iraq strategy.
Obama has emphasized he will seek guidance from military leaders on the pace of withdrawal and has talked about succeeding in Iraq, not just leaving. McCain, when pressed, recently called al-Maliki's timeline "pretty good" and, in a speech about his hypothetical first term, said most U.S. troops could be home by 2012.

Yeah, Barack and John are similar on Iraq. Barack's always been just words. If anyone had been paying attention during the primaries, they would have been calling him out then and not (like Tom Hayden) ignoring Samantha Power's BBC interview back in March (which the above excerpt just echoes -- Power's own words). But they didn't want to tell the truth, they wanted to whore for a War Hawk. As you'll remember, Tom Hayden showed up July 4th looking like he'd been beat up by his pimp and crying that he didn't know Barack was a War Hawk and how could anyone know and blah, blah, blah. All you had to do, as Barack infamously said at that time, was listen to what he said. It was no huge change. Even the things he said at his Hitler Youth rallies wasn't promising to end the illegal war. "We want to end the war!" That's not, "I will end the war." Buy a clue, Hayden. But in fairness to Hayden, he wasn't the only Hooker For Barack and have you seen any of the rest offer even a mini-mea culpa? Remember that list includes Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders, John Nichols, David Corn, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, Philip Maldari, Jeremy Scahill (he'd deny it but we're thinking specifically of the interview he gave at Winter Soldier and how he dismissed Hillary doing what he supposedly wanted a candidate to do -- re: mercenaries -- and making excuses for Barack for refusing to do it), and, oh, so many more. They better all pray Barack doesn't get elected because if he does, their day of reckoning will come. They've staked their entire reputations on Barack -- a War Hawk -- ending the illegal war. Better for them he loses and they can falsely whine "It was racism!" No, it was coporatist, War Hawk, propped up by both the corporate press and Panhandle Media, allowed to steal other people's words (word for word), allowed to cave on NAFTA, FISA, Iraq and so much more and never be held accountable. As C.I. long ago noted, they treated Barack like an infant (which actually goes to their own racism) applauding his every baby step while never getting tough with him.

We're voting for Ralph Nader. Lauren notes this from Team Nader:

This Thursday National Day of Action to Open the Debates
Posted by Emily Przekwas on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 03:29:00 PM
William Greider put it best yesterday when he called Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's upcoming bailout of Wall Street: "All sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims."
"As I have been saying for several months, this crisis has the potential to bring down one or both political parties, take your choice," Greider said.
And investment analyst Christopher Whalen chimed in:
"The joyous reception from Congressional Democrats to Paulson's latest massive bailout proposal smells an awful lot like yet another corporatist lovefest between Washington's one-party government and the Sell Side investment banks."
Strip aside the rhetoric of the two major parties.
And what is left is one party devoted to Wall Street.
Who represents Main Street?
So, why is that when the Presidential debates open this Friday, only Wall Street will be in the ring?
And the man who predicted the disaster of deregulation is out?
Because the Commission on Presidential Debates is controlled by the two parties and funded by the corporations.
That's why we're sponsoring a National Day of Action to Open the Debates.
This Thursday, September 25, 2008, the day before the first debate.
Once again the Commission intends to silence the majority of Americans by shutting out Nader/Gonzalez from the debates.
We're asking all of our supporters to get ready.
Because on Thursday, there are four ways you can take action to Open Up the Debates.
1. Write
Letters to the editor, to your friends, family and anyone in your address book, companies and corporations who sponsor the presidential debates.
2. Phone
The Commission on Presidential Debates, Obama and McCain Campaigns, Talk Shows, Newspapers, and National and Local Media Outlets.
3. Create
Posters, fliers and literature to pass out and hang up at college campuses and other high traffic areas and banners to display to morning and evening rush hour traffic -- Check out our
"Open the Debates" section on the website for downloadable materials.
4. Protest
Outside the Democratic and Republican headquarters in your community, at corporations that sponsor the debates, at radio stations, newspapers and media outlets not covering Ralph Nader.
(Phone numbers, e-mails and addresses will be available tomorrow at
Many Americans believe they are getting the full story when they tune into the televised and highly publicized debates.
What people don't see is that behind the scenes the debates are controlled by a corporate funded entity.
Third party and independent candidates are arbitrarily required to be polling at 15% according to five national polls in order to participate in the debates, even though these third parties are forced to devote all resources to get on the ballot in all 50 states during the months leading up to the debates -- costing well over a million dollars!
Who decides who gets into the debates?
The so-called "non-partisan" Commission (as described by the New York Times today). Non-partisan? Headed by Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf, the former heads of the Democratic and Republican parties?
Since the media blithely adopts the framing of the corporate parties, we must take it upon ourselves to expose the Commission on Presidential Debates as the real spoiler of the democratic system in this country.
Just recently Green party candidate Elizabeth May was included into the debates in Canada.
Massive e-mailing, phone calls, and letters to the editor, including one from former Prime Minister Joe Clark, displaying public outrage prompted the debate commission to invite Elizabeth May to participate.

We can do it too!
So on Thursday, take action.
And then send us your videos and photos and we'll post them on our Open the Debates page.
And here is something you can do right now.
Donate to Nader/Gonzalez.
We're in the middle of our Three Way Race fundraising drive.
And we need to hit $150,000 by the end of the month.
And if you
donate $100 now, we'll ship to you a copy of The Ralph Nader Reader, a 441-page collection of Ralph's writings on Wall Street vs. Main Street, the battle for democracy, the corporate state, and our hyper-commercialized culture. If you donate $100 now, we will send you this historic collection -- autographed by the man himself -- Ralph Nader. (This offer ends at 11:59 p.m. September 30, 2008.)
Onward to November
Emily Przekwas

The Nader Team

New stuff at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Spending in an economic meltdown
TV: Shrinkage and expansion
Real Change vs. Small Change
Arthur Krystal delivers a lesson in exclusion
Cock Rock Hall of Fame
Coming Up
Jerk off Artiste of the Week
E-mails (Dona and Jess)

Pru notes Ken Olende's "Thousands march at Labour conference against war" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

More than 5,000 people marched through central Manchester today against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the spread of war to other countries.
The demonstration was timed to coincide with the start of the Labour Party conference. As marchers passed the conference venue many held their palms up towards it, shouting "blood on your hands”.
Falak, a young woman from Liverpool, said, "If you don't speak up nothing's going to change. The threats to Iran and the trouble in Pakistan show this war isn't over."
At a rally at the demonstration's end Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of the Unite union, called on marchers to remember the "many thousands of innocent victims of the lunatics that have taken us to war".
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, said, "In the middle of this economic crisis Gordon Brown should be helping the people struggling to pay the bills, not spending £3 million a day on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan."
Rose Gentle of Military Families Against the War said she was disgusted how the government treats its own soldiers. "They leave them to rot once they get back," she said.
The demonstration was diverse and good spirited. There were banners from Stop the War groups from around the country and trade union banners from Bristol Health Service Unite to Kirklees Unison.
The march was called by Stop the War, CND and the British Muslim Initiative.
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Quick notes in closing. Wally's with them and this is his first awards ceremony so they're planning to hit a few parties. Point (you thought we were going to steal from Ava and C.I. and say "Translation," didn't you?), tomorrow morning's entries here may go up late. Isaiah's planning a mid-week comic due to the fact that C.I. wouldn't be at the computer tonight. (Rebecca and C.I. are the ones who know best the ins and out of Flickr. The rest of us can handle Flickr when it's working right but when it's all goofy, we don't have a clue what to do.) Also, C.I. tries to tag everything. We're about to watch DVD (Jumper, finally) and our pizzas just got here so we're tagging minimally.

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