Sunday, March 20, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

Gloria Tatum (Atlanta Progressive News) reports, "Yesterday, Saturday, March 19, 2011, on the 8th anniversary of the criminal US 'shock and awe' attack on Iraq, 160 Atlantans marched in Midtown to bring awareness that the US still has troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that these continued occupations will cost Georgia taxpayers five billion dollars in 2011." Protests took place around the country yesterday. Some were big, some were small, but people turned out. Josh O'Leary (Iowa City Press-Citizen) reports, "Marking the eighth anniversary of the war in Iraq, about 40 protesters gathered Saturday on the steps of the Johnson County Courthouse and marched through downtown Iowa City to call for an end of U.S. occupations overseas." Iowa City wasn't the only municipality in the state protesting. . Clark Kauffman (Des Moines Register) counts over 100 protesting in downtown Des Moines and notes signs included "Bring The Iowa Guard Home" and "Enough Already." ABC 5 WOI-DT adds that the Des Moines participants included army veteran Ed Flaherty who stated, "If you ask people on the street, I think the war on Iraq has gone to the recess of peoples minds but we still have fifty thousand U.S. troops there and people are dying on all sides." Oregon also had multiple protests. Emily Gilliespie (Corvallis Gazette Times) notes, "Nearly 100 anti-war demonstrators marked the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on Saturday by walking about a mile from Central Park to the National Guard Armory on Kings Boulevard in Corvallis. They carried flags, signs bearing messages such as 'Stop the war' and mock coffins in remembrance of the casualties of the war. Bagpipes played but the group otherwise was silent." Michael Stone (Portland Progressive Examiner) notes Portland's protest, "Saturday hundreds gathered in Oregon at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse square to rally for peace on the 8 year anniversary of America's invasion of Iraq. Oregonians rallied in the city square in solidarity and protest of America's foreign adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan." Bobby Allyn (The Oregonian) adds of the Portland protest:

A pack of war protesters from Oak Grove, who assemble every weekend near the Fred Meyer on McLoughlin Boulevard just south of Milwaukie, demonstrated there a half-hour early Saturday so they could march with the protesters in Portland.
"We keep doing it because people forget," said JoAnn Weaver, 71, of Oak Grove, holding a sign that read: Fund health care, not war. "People keep getting sick and the resources aren't there."

KGW offers a video report of the Portland protest. Still in Oregon, Chris McKee (KMTR) reports an estimated one hundred marched in dowtown Eugene and quotes marcher Doublas Bovee stating, "War is not inevitable, war is an option. And we can resolve conflict in much more effective ways to save humanity." Meanwhile Tim Elliott (NBC 15 -- link has text and video) reports on the Madison, Wisconsin protest, "For the sixth Saturday in a row, protesters showed up in full force at the capitol. The difference: Saturday's demonstration was led by veterans. On the eighth anniversary of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, anti-war veterans led thousands of protesters in a march and rally on the capitol steps." James Ewinger (Plain Dealer) reports on "dozens" showed up in Cleveland to protest including Greg Coleridge who "said he regretted that the rally marked the eighth anniversary of the war's commencement, instead of its ending." The Kansas City Star reports on Kansas City's protest and notes, "An organizer, Ira Harritt, said the rally was held to protest the war, but also to remind Americans that the death toll continues to mount." Kyle Jarvis (Sentinel) reports approximately 80 people turned out in Keene, New Hampshire to protest and Jarvis quotes Iraq War veteran Paul J, Krautmann stating of the war, "It makes me very, very angry that this thing just goes on and on. I never dreamed that when I came home in 2005 (from Iraq) that this would still be going on." KRQE (link has text and video) reports on Albuquerque's protest and quotes marcher Marie Ellis stating, "We went into a country where we weren't invited. We went because we were given false information. Eight years later, we're still there, we still don't have the money, but yet in our own country we're in a crisis situation."

The protest getting the most media attention was the one in DC where, Emily Babay (Washington Examiner) notes, 113 marchers were arrested. Catherine Finn (DCist) notes Pentagon Papers whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg was among the arrested. AP adds:

Hundreds of protesters attended the rally and marched around the White House, but the crowd - which included many military veterans - thinned considerably as the U.S. Park Police warned that they'd be arrested if they didn't move. As officers moved in with handcuffs, one protester who clutched the gates outside the White House shouted, "Don't arrest them! Arrest Obama!" and "You're arresting veterans, not war criminals!"

Joana Godinho (CNN) adds, "About 1,000 people from various antiwar groups, including Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against War and Code Pink, marched around Lafayette Park to make three demands of the Obama administration: stop the war, expose the lies and free Bradley Manning." The Argus-Press National runs a photo from the DC protest by AP's Jacquelyn Martin. Those are amazing numbers and if there was one true surprise -- and disappointment -- Saturday, it was Madison Wisconsin. Gayle Worland (Wisconsin State Journal) reports, "Though their numbers were dwarfed by the estimated 100,000 people who gathered there a week earlier, more than 1,000 demonstrators against Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget and his efforts to end most collective bargaining rights for public workers returned to Capitol Square on Saturday, unified by what they said they had in common: Staying power." IVAW really tried to get the word out for that but they were up against a 'left' and 'independent' press that didn't care. You can go to any of those outlets (I'm being kind and not naming but I heard all about it last week while IVAW was trying to get the word out) that promoted the other Wisconsin protests but weren't interested in this one. And in terms of the peace crowd, the event was billed as a labor event with some war tacked on. I wasn't there, I don't know how it went off but the various small press radicals who promoted other actions weren't interested and the peace and justice crowd wasn't courted. Madison was expected to be the huge protest of Saturday because of all the huge protests that have happened one right after another in Madison. Instead, for Madison, they had a meager turnout. A lot of that can be traced to the fact that there was no word of mouth generated by the independent media -- or so-called independent media.

Chicago had less people working behind the scenes but managed to pull out significant numbers and that's in part because their local media (not corporate media) did work to get the word out ahead of time and generate some excitement. Fight Back! News reports on Chicago's action:

1000 people rallied and marched here March 19 to mark the eighth anniversary of the war in Iraq. A large contingent was organized by the Committee Against Political Repression (CAPR), which included many of the 23 persons subpoenaed to a grand jury for because of their anti-war and international solidarity efforts. Chants and signs carried the message that activism is not a crime. Seven of those subpoenaed are Palestinians. A large group of youth, mostly Arabs, carried a 60-foot long Palestinian flag behind the CAPR banner to show the unity of the Arab and Muslim communities with the fight to resist FBI and grand jury repression.
Stephanie Weiner, whose home was raided by 25 agents last fall, was the first speaker at the rally at the end of the march. She thanked the anti-war movement for six months of support for the targeted activists, calling out, "Courage, courage, courage," as the watchword for those standing up to the repression. She made it clear that she and the other 22 people will continue to stand on the side of the people suffering through U.S. wars and occupations.

Evelyn Holmes (WLS -- link has text and video) reports the crowd was 1,500 strong and quotes marcher Julie Harley stating, "We cannot continue to spend billions of dollars on war." NBC Chicago (link has text and video) adds that the chants included, "We need money for jobs, not the war. We need money for schools, not the war. We need money for health care, not the war." To no one's surprise the pro-war and right-wing Chicago Tribune underestimates the turnout by approximately 10%. No link to their nonsense.

Actions took place in New York as well. Stacey Sager (WABC) reports on the NYC protest and notes "U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel joined the protesters. He said he's undecided on whether the military action against Libya is justified. But he is angry that Congress was not consulted beforehand." Chris Hawley (AP) reports the Raging Grannies were among the 80 or so participating. As Jim notes in "Roundtable," " I went to take part in the NYC protest -- the one Joan Wile, founder of Grandmothers Against the War and author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace was getting the word out on and was one of the organizers of [. . .]" We noted it in two Iraq snapshots last week, running Joan's announcement of the event, and did so twice because I realized they weren't getting any attention from media that should have been supportive. In addition, for some stupid reason, the Left Forum decided to counter-program against the Iraq War protest. Joan and the other organizers worked very, very hard and deserve to be congratulated for their work and for the turnout.

I was at the Los Angeles protest. It actually got LA media attention ahead of the protest. KPKF was the media sponsor of the event and worked to get the word out. Which may be why Los Angeles may have had the largest turnout. If CNN's numbers are correct, LA was the biggest turnout across the country. I'd estimate we were approximatley five thousand. A.N.S.W.E.R. which, along with March Forward!, sponsored the LA rally (and many other ones across the country) notes the protests around the country but we'll quote them on the LA rally:

Thousands of people hit the streets in Los Angeles in a spirited, youthful demonstration to stop the wars. Led by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, including active-duty soldiers and marines, the march of well over 4,000 people chanted, “Money for jobs and education, not for wars and occupation!”

A huge student contingent from high schools and community colleges in Long Beach, Orange County and L.A. participated, along with large numbers from the Muslim community. Speakers included Vietnam Veteran Ron Kovic, students, teachers, union leaders and anti-war activists. Chris Shiflet, the lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters, spoke and played a song.

The ANSWER Coalition initiated the March 19 protest in Los Angeles. Over 100 additional community and progressive organizations endorsed the action.

Press TV has a nice photo of the LA rally and they also observe:

Nominally, the U.S. is required under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to leave Iraq by the end of the year, but all indications are that this won't happen. Indeed, reports are that a mostly behind-the-scenes debate is ongoing not on if the U.S. occupation will continue, but how big it will be. Antiwar
The White House proposed on February 14, 2011 to spend $671 billion on the U.S. military next year. Reuters
The Obama administration's budget proposal for fiscal 2012 includes $118 billion for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, on top of the base budget of $553 billion.

Lisa Brenner (LAist) offers a photo essay of the protest. Those are only some of the protests which took place across the country on Saturday. As pointed out in "Editorial: Success in spite of them" (Third), the protests took place without assistance from Beggar Media. The Nation couldn't even note Iraq last week, let along the protests scheduled for Saturday. Though The Progressive has turned into State Of Wisconsin Monthly, they couldn't do a damn thing to give a heads up to the protest in Madison. Organizers in Madison worked so hard and it is so sad that they're turnout was so small. That's not a reflection on the work they put in or on their commitment. It is a reflection upon the state of our Beggar Media which is happy to send out fliers asking for moeny or hit the airwaves asking for money and point to what they did on Iraq in the past, to grandstand on 2003, for example, but while they are happy to take your money still, they're just no longer interested in covering the events that matter to your lives. There's a Democrat in the White House, people, so now they have to work for him and his sell his policies and worry less about wars. The people only come first to the likes of The Nation when Republicans occupy the White House. When Democrats do, it's time for The Nation to waste every issue defending a Democrat from any crack pot charge (that doesn't even need to be re-aired let alone disputed) and defending the Democrat from every appropriate criticsm (ObamaCare does not help America and is not single-payer, it is a gift to medical and insurance lobbies) as well. It's about them covering things that administration wants advanced and burying things (like the Iraq War) that the administration doesn't want the people to pay attention to. For all the attacks on Fox News, the Beggar Media has repeatedly demonstrated they're no damn better. For example, how many times does John Nichols going to get caught in a beg lie before we see 'independent' media impose the same discipline they demand from Real Media? Or how many times did FAIR repeatedly whine about a journalist joining the Bush White House and this awful "revolving door" between jounalism and the White House but they never said "Boo!" about any of the many journalists who joined Barack's administration.

The Iraq War continues because of these outlets. And you might remember that the next time they beg you for money or your subscription's up for renwal. They can't work in the real media. They have neither the talent nor the skills and their clippings are so awful that no one would ever hire them. (John Nichols is dressing as a woman even as I type, prepared to pull a Tootsie like press move.) So, unable to get real jobs, they have to beg for money. Vagrants, that's all they are. And now these pathetics want to pretend they rub shoulders with the White House when all they are, to steal from Apocolypse Now, is the errand boy sent by the grocer to collect the bill.

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, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4441. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD still lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4441.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


Reuters notes 2 Mosul grenade attacks which left six people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 man and left four other people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured six, another Baghdad roadside bombing left three police officers injured and a Baghad mortar attack resulted in no injuries.


Reuters notes a Baghdad attack on Iraqi Army Maj Gen Ahmed Obeidi which left him injured, a Baghdad attack on an Electricity Ministry engineer which left him injured, a Baghdad attack on the Ministry of Oil's Najib Jamal in which Jamal was killed,

File it under what Reuters 'forgot' to tell you, Alsumaria TV reports:

Iraqi demonstrators in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square affirmed that they will pursue protests until achieving their goals.

In Ramadi, hundreds of protesters called for the topple of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s government.

Demonstrators accused Iraqi Parliament of focusing on the situation in Bahrain and neglecting people’s demands in Iraq. Protesters rallied in Al Shajariah District, eastern Ramadi, waving Iraqi flags and chanting slogans against the government while calling to improve services in the country.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. I will be doing a snapshot tomorrow. I may or may not have other things (morning entries). Most of us are still in DC and there's a DVD marathon (film noir) that's been going on while I've written this. I want to catch at least one film before I go to sleep.
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