Friday, October 09, 2009

Iraq realities

After I survived my first bombing, I said to myself, I won't see worse than this. Then I survived my second bombing and it changed everything.
It was a Wednesday in August, and I was sitting at my desk in the Foreign Ministry doing routine paperwork. I can't remember what time it was. My colleague entered the room, and at that moment, there was a huge explosion. Glass flew in and the ceiling collapsed. Black smoke came through the window.
I felt pain in my abdomen; blood stained my shirt. I heard a friend moaning. I helped him up and went to the hallway. Employees were screaming. The smoke made it hard to see.
The Aug. 19 attack on the Foreign and Finance ministries killed about 100 people -- and all my hopes for Iraq.

The above is from Saad Khalaf's "Hope survived one Iraq bombing, but not the second" (Los Angeles Times) which I'd hope to note yesterday but there wasn't any time. A friend with LAT reminded me of the article in a phone call this morning. Last year, for those who've forgotten, Khalaf was among the reporters targeted by the Iraqi military (emulating thug Nouri in an open hatred of the press) and shouted out by an Iraqi Colonel about how he could and did ban all photographs from the neighborhoods he patrolled. Despite that and other events, Saad Khalaf had hopes and faith for the future. Read the article and find out how and why that changed due to Black Wednesday. Meanwhile Tim Cocks (Reuters) thinks things are better in Iraq -- a judgment as ill conceived as his current hair cut. With hair as curly as Tim's, a short style like that -- which needs to be straight to set smoothly -- will be a nightmare as it grows out. He can consider the next months of Hair Hell part of his punishment for mistaking his relief over leaving Iraq (and it's good that he's leaving and that he survived so much very dangerous reporting -- reporting, not 'reporting,' he filed some strong pieces) as 'improvement' in Iraq. Anthony Shadid moves to the New York Times in a few months. It's the latest raid from the Post. The Times really is unable to develop their own talent. Hopefully Shadid will not have the problems another correspondent who moved to NYT not all that long ago did -- finding out that there's reality and reporting and then there's the way NYT does things. That reporter's taken a huge hit critically and being blamed for doing it the NYT way. ____ says if the paper business was more stable, it would be time to look for a new job. Robert H. Reid became the latest in the huge wave of Iraq reporters moved elsewhere. AP *has* moved him over Af-Pak. Rebecca Santana is now heading AP's Baghdad bureau.

While Tim mistakes relief for safety, James Denselow (Guardian) explains new actual developments in "The thieves of Baghdad:"

In the past month several high-profile incidents have highlighted what Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, described as the outbreak of "a frenzy of violent crime" in Iraq. Writing in the Times, Richard Kerbaj explained how "everyone is looking for a way to make a quick buck in Iraq, but none more so than the insurgents and gangsters". Indeed, present-day levels of crime in Iraq reflect the institutionalisation of criminality that may undermine the country's long-term development.

CNN has a very strong report on yesterday's Senate committee hearing entitled "Man with breast cancer testifies that he blames Marine base." No excerpt. There were four personal stories shared in the hearing and each was powerful and important. I tried to give each equal weight in the snapshot yesterday and to do an excerpt from the CNN report would be to give weight to one. (CNN covers three of the personal stories.) The hearing is online now and can be streamed. If you do stream and there's a section that stands out for you not covered in the snapshot yesterday, e-mail before the snapshot goes up -- e-mail by 4:00 pm EST to be sure I hear about the e-mail -- and I'll pull out the notes and we'll include it in today's snapshot.

We'll also cover the latest report on Iraqi refugees in today's snapshot. Avi Selk (Dallas Morning News) reports on Iraqi refugees and notes Feizah Hussein whose family settled in Fort Worth, Texas after receiving threatening letters:

Hussein and her sister got their letters in early 2007, but figured they had been sent in error when a final warning never followed.
A month later, the two women were walking to the grocery store when four men jumped out of cars and shot Hussein in the head. She passed out before she could see them execute her sister.
After Hussein got out of the hospital, her family moved to a Shiite neighborhood, where her Sunni husband was kidnapped and never seen again. She and her children holed up in Syria for a year and a half while their application to America wound through international bureaucracies.
She was among a dozen area Iraqis who shared detailed accounts of terror, trauma and torture.

Meanwhile Zhang Pengfei (CCTV) reports that Iraq's lack of potable water has a band-aid in one region -- "Iran has agreed to provide regular shipments of drinking water to the drought-striken areas in southern Iraq." "Band-aid" is not a criticism of Iran, it's noting that Nouri was installed in the spring of 2006 and, nearly four years later, the issue of drinking water has still not been addressed.

Caro (MakeThemAccountable) observes:

I no longer have any respect whatsoever for the Nobel committee. Obama is continuing TWO wars, with no end in sight.
How that can be considered giving hope for peace is simply beyond me. Obama no more deserves this prize than George Bush.
The man never has to do a damn thing for people to shower him with praise and gifts.

TV notes, NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations:

How did private discussions between seniors and their doctors about end-of-life choices for the very ill or dying become a flash point in the national health care debate?
This week, NOW travels to Wisconsin to sit in on some of these sessions and see how health care reform could profoundly affect the lives of American seniors.
The not-for-profit Gundersen Lutheran Hospital has two decades of experience in this area. Their "Respecting Choices" initiative has become one of the most comprehensive end-of-life planning programs in the country.
Two families grappling with the most difficult and complex life and death issues gave NOW on PBS extraordinary access to their discussions and their decisions.

Washington Week was among the shows taking off last week due to the latest Ken Burns documentary. Tonight (on most PBS stations), Gwen returns and joining her around the table are Peter Baker (New York Times), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News).

Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Amanda Carpenter, Cari Dominguez, Jaclyn Friedman and Patricia Sosa to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Golf Company
Scott Pelley spends time with a U.S. Marine company in Helmand Province, sent there as part of President Obama's troop buildup in Afghanistan. | Watch Video

A Blow To The Brain
New studies show that athletes, especially professional football players, who suffered many blows to the head, became brain damaged. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video

The Birdmen
In the latest craze that has killed several extreme adventurers, men don wing suits, jump off mountain tops and glide at speeds of 140 miles per hour. Steve Kroft reports. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, this Sunday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Public radio notes, today on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show (begins airing on most NPR stations and streaming live online at 10:00 am EST), Diane's guest host Susan Page (USA Today) discusses (first hour) domestic news with Jeanne Cummings (Politico), Michael Fletcher (Washington Post) and Jerry Seib and (second hour) international news with Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Hisham Melhem (Al-Arabiya TV and An-Nahar) and Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times).

With Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the seminal Army Of None -- a must read and, sadly, one of the few books of this era you can say that about. (It's a wonderful book.) David Solnit has a request with regards to books and Courage to Resist, so listen to the author:

We need your $ and they will be amazing events. If we are ever going to fight our way out of imperial wars, corporate capitalism, and climate chaos we are going to have to support the 2 1/2 million armed soldiers and their tens of million of family members n the US being part of the solution, as with getting out of Viet Nam. Courage to Resist exists for this purpose.

First Sunday Oct 18th with US Army Colonel Ann Wright, who publicly resigned to protest the 2003 Iraq War and now has a book about others who also spoke out, and leading journalist who just came out with an amazing book on GI resistance. I have a new book I put together with my sister and with contributions from my Direct Action Network co-organizers from a decade ago; The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle (AK Press, Nov 2009) will be out just before the ten year anniversary, and bizarrely the next meeting in Geneva of the WTO-- to the day: Nov 30! Courage co-organizers put me in the event, so I'll give a book preview with strategy lessons for toppling corporate power and it's ugly wars and global warming.

The following Sunday My sister Rebecca will talk from her amazing new book, joining Gulf War 1 resister Aimee Allison and leading Int'l law expert Prof Majorie Cohn, who will explain the clear legal reasons why we need to rebel.

Hope to see you at both and please invite your friends and comrades!

hope and resistance, David

Book release benefit events for Courage to Resist, Oct. 18 & 25, 7pm, Oakland
First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St (@27th St-Across from Whole Foods), Oakland

First Congregational Church


Sunday, October 18, 7 pm - more info
Ann Wright, US Army Colonel (retired) and former US diplomat. Dissent: Voices of Conscience—Gov't Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq
Dahr Jamail, author and journalist. The Will to Resist—Soldiers who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan
David Solnit, author and organizer. The Battle of the Story of the "Battle of Seattle" (Ak Press, Nov 2009)

Sunday, October 25, 7 pm - more info
Prof. Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild. Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent
Rebecca Solnit, award winning author/writer/essayist.A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster
Aimee Allison, author/public affairs/TV host. Co-host of The Morning Show on Pacifica station KPFA

This event is a benefit for Courage to Resist in support of military war resisters. Endorsed and supported by Veterans for Peace SF Bay Area Chapter, Iraq Veterans Against the War (SF Bay Area), BAY-Peace, Asian Americans for Peace and Justice, CodePink, War Resisters League-West, United for Peace and Justice - SF Bay Area, and American Friends Service Committee - SF.

Events graphic & events PDF leaflet. Many of these great books are available from our orders page.

Free event, $5 donation suggested. Wheelchair accessible. Book signing will be held.

For more information, contact 510-488-3559.

The e-mail address for this site is

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