Saturday, November 25, 2006

NYT: It looks just like Skinny & Sweet

Defying a government curfew, Shiite militiamen stormed Sunni mosques in Baghdad and a nearby city on Friday, shooting guards and burning down buildings in apparent retaliation for the devastating bombings that killed more than 200 people the day before in the capital’s largest Shiite district, residents and police officials said.
Militia fighters drove through neighborhoods in Baghdad and the provincial capital of Baquba, firing at mosques with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades on the Muslim day of prayer.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Militants Attack Sunnis’ Mosques in 2 Iraqi Cities" in this morning's New York Times. And that's about all I can take of that article. I love 9 to 5. Hilarious movie. All the leads hit strong notes and Jane Fonda's "Don't panic, don't panic" mantra is hilarious. Edward Wong is no Jane Fonda. The article begs for Dolly Parton's one liner when Lily Tomlin crashes the car. "She panicked." We'll be kind and not list the end credits for this article which adds five names to the pile up.

Instead, focus on Martha's highlights, Sudarsan Raghavan's "In Iraq, Reprisals Embolden Militias" (Washington Post):

In previous periods of tension, Sadr loyalists have threatened to walk out of the government. Still, the current climate is unlike anything Iraq has experienced since the invasion. The attacks on Sadr City appeared to embolden Sadr and his followers as they try to capitalize on Thursday's carnage, which Shiite leaders, including Maliki, have blamed on Sunni Arab insurgents.
As long as such attacks continue, and as long as Iraqi security forces are ineffective in providing security, Sadr can justify the existence of his Mahdi Army militia.
"If the prime minister does not give up his intention to meet Bush the criminal in Amman, we will suspend our membership at the council of representatives and the government," Salih al-Ighaeli, head of Sadr's bloc in parliament, told a solemn crowd gathered on the street in front of Sadr's headquarters.
Ali Adeeb, a member of parliament and close Maliki aide, said the Sadr camp was trying to apply pressure tactics, but that the meeting would take place as planned.
The meeting between Bush and Maliki comes at a politically sensitive moment for both leaders. Bush is under pressure from Democrats who have won control of both the House and Senate to come up with a viable strategy to tamp down Iraq's violence and open the way for U.S. troops to come home.
As the sectarian divide within his government widens, Maliki is under U.S. pressure to disarm the Shiite militias, a step the U.S. military believes is needed to tame the violence. But the very people who control the militias, such as Sadr, are key political figures in Maliki's government, capable of causing his downfall.
Friday's reprisal attacks underscore how powerful the Mahdi Army and other militias have become in Iraq, operating above the law, spreading violence even under an indefinite 24-hour lockdown of the capital.
By Friday evening, the attacks were still unfolding. With no other alternative, many Sunnis were hoping for the intervention of U.S. forces.
"Up till now we are waiting for the American forces, and they haven't shown up yet," said Salman al-Zobaye, imam of al-Hashab mosque, in a telephone interview. An attack on the mosque by Shiite militiamen killed four guards.

Back to the Times, Michael Gordon turns in "Army Expands Training for Advisers Who Will Try to Improve Iraq’s Security Forces:"

The American Army has long experience in training and deploying military advisers, most notably in Vietnam. There, the Army began with an active advisory program before the fighting escalated into a major conflict. In Iraq, however, the war began with major combat; American advisers, now called "transition teams," were introduced later, almost as an afterthought.

"Most notably" will strike many as a poor word choice (being kind) but it needs to be "noted" that the Iraqi exile groups are seen by some as the "advisers" -- both during the lead up to the war and in the immediate aftermath -- that the position of "military advisers," as with so much in the inept administration, was "contracted out."

Rachel notes that WBAI provides you with two opportunites to hear Gore Vidal:

Sunday, November 26, 11am-noon
Gore Vidal talks about his new memoir, "Point-to-Point Navigation" in an interview at WBAI with Janet Coleman; excerpts from California Poet Laureate Al Young's performing poetry and jazz at Cal Arts' Inner Spark with The Ralph Jones Quartet.

Monday, November 27, 2-3pm
Gore Vidal talks about his new memoir, "Point-to-Point Navigation" in an interview in early November at WBAI; Sue Mingus previews an upcoming concert of the Mingus Orchestra performing Gunther Schuller's arrangements of Mingus's "Noon Night," "Half Mast Inhibition," and "Taurus in the Arena of Life." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders (on Air America radio, online, XM satellite radio, from 7:00 pm EST till 10:00 pm EST Saturday and Sunday)? Saturday is best of program featuring Robert Redford and Penny Lang among others. Sunday offers up a new, live broadcast with Rania Masri on the topics of Lebanon and the psuedo 'road map' for the Middle East, Isaiah J. Poole from TomPaine.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz
Wally's The Daily Jot
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

At Kat's Korner, Betty filled in on Monday, Ruth filled in on Wednesday. I did not fill in Friday because Kat intended to post. She did the switch to beta and wasn't able to post until this morning. Click here for Kat's latest.

It's Saturday so that means? Before we get to that, Carl notes that The Black Agenda Report is offering their radio broadcasts as podcasts. And Carl, Gina and Robyn note Margaret Kimberley's "Torturing White America" (The Black Agenda Report):

Anyone who aspires to be even moderately civilized opposes torture. Yet these are not good times for the civilized in America. Objections to acts that were recently considered barbaric are scorned, and met with hypothetical scenarios from movie thrillers.
The argument for debasement usually goes along these lines. Suppose Mohammed Atta was arrested on September 10, 2001 and was suspected of plotting a terror attack. Should he have been tortured? The same question could be asked about Timothy McVeigh. If he had been arrested on April 18, 1995, should he have been tortured? The justification to save lives through torture is rarely raised in his case.
Law school professors like Alan Dershowitz give a hearty "Hell yes" whenever torture is the issue du jour. Most politicians say yes. Hillary Clinton says
its OK in the ticking time bomb movie scenario.
"I have said that those are very rare but if they occur there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that. Again, I think the President has to take responsibility. There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don't mind if it's reporting in a top secret context. But that shouldn't be the tail that wags the dog, that should be the exception to the rule."
To make a long story short, a future President Clinton will gladly give the thumbs up to the thumb screws.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Paula Zahn Now, Stars & Stripes, Associated Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Are these independent media outlets?

I would argue that they are not. But in terms of war resisters within the military, that is where news consumers have had to turn. Wednesday, November 15th, CNN's Paula Zahn Now
presented an interview with Lieutenant Ehren Watada and a panel discussion of his stand and the reasons he took it. At the time, the U.S. military had announced that Lt. Watada would have pre-court-martial hearing at the start of January and the court-martial was scheduled to begin in February. Many independent media outlets, magazines and programs, have still failed to note that development.

That is especially surprising to me considering that the panel that addressed the issue: war resister Joshua Casteel, Mommy's Pantyhose, and Amy Goodman. Ms. Goodman, of course, host Democracy Now! which airs on radio, TV and online Monday through Friday. When Ms. Goodman appeared on Comedy Central, it was noted on the next Democracy Now! So it was something as a surprise that the appearance on CNN was not. While not attempting to be a nudnik or a drag, I do think it is worth noting that a silly interview on a comedy network is somehow "news" but a panel to discuss Lt. Watada is not.

The item could have been easily inserted into the headlines of Democracy Now!: "Last night, I took part in a panel discussion, which aired on CNN, on the merits of the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Earlier, Paula Zahn interviewed Ehren Watada who has no learned that the US military has decided to court-martial him next year."

War resister Agustin Aguayo was also in the news, or some of the news, this week. The apparently counter-culture by comparison, Stars and Stripes ran an article by Leo Shane III. What was going on with Spc. Aguayo? Nothing much, to judge by the lack of coverage, his case had just made it to the DC Federal Court of Appeals. It was supposed to be the first of its kind since 1971. Were he to win, the military would have to discharge him and their attempts to court-martial him would cease.

Is it just me or does anyone else see the above stories as news stories?

Today, I read about John A. Rogowskyj, Jr. who went through the channels to be granted conscientious objector status and, as it worked it way through channels with a consensus that Marine Lance Cpl. Rogowskyj mertied c.o status until it reached the Commander of the Fourth Marine Division, D.V. Odell Jr. who, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's Edward Colimore and
the Associated Press reported, refused it on the grounds that he felt Marine Lance Cpl. Rogowskyj was "theologically confused and does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."

When I learned of it, my first thought was, "Another story that will not be covered." The story breaks on the holiday, that only increases the chances of receiving The Full Brobeck. My second thought was a line was a line from Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Because something is happening here, But you don't know what it is, Do you, Mister Jones?"

When I was a young woman, we would apply those lines to many -- parents, professors, fellow students who seemed desperate to enter the rat race, the corporate media, you name it. The sad reality is that today it can be applied to many in independent media as well.

[Added: Margaret Irish of Stars and Stripes explains the history of the paper in this report by Ruth.]

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, over 200 die in Baghdad on Thursday, war resister John A. Rogowskyj Jr. finds that the US military feels no obligation to follow even their own written policy, Bully Boy's meet up in Jordan comes under attack, and is Nouri al-Maliki on the way out?

Starting with resistance within the US military. Conscientious objector John A. Rogowskyj Jr. was deployed to Iraq at the start of this month. The twenty-two-year-old Marine was deployed, as the Associated Press notes, after a Marine captain recommended he be discharged, after a major said he couldn't serve in compbat duty in June, because a D.V. Odell Jr. ("commander of the Fourth Marine Division") doesn't seem to grasp what a c.o. is the policy that the US military has on them. The AP notes that Odell, a major general, found Rogowskyj to be "theologically confused and [he] does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."

Take that, America's fore fathers. The slow witted Odell Junior might also make some time to check out "Selective Service System: Fast Facts" which notes: "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest." By the military's own guidelines, Odell Junior's statements are not only insulting but ignorant. "May be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Rogowskyj was deployed as a result of Odell Junior's failure to grasp the policies the military has set in place. There ought to be disciplinary actions for Odell (busted back down to a New Orleans post?). More likely, everyone will play stupid (well the tone is set from the Oval Office).

Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports that Rogowskyj declares in the court papers: "I see now that I must separate from the military with all due haste, or suffer without the forgiveness of grace, for defying the truth that I see plainly before me, that violence as a means or end cannot be tolerated."

To repeat for the slow witted Odell Junior, who not only fails to grasp the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution but also fails to grasp official military policy, Rogowkyj need not belong to any church or faith, need not subscribe to Odell Junior's notions of 'old time religion,' in order to be granted c.o. status.

Rogowskyj signed up for the reserves in 2002 thinking he would be helping stateside during national emergencies.

In Iraq, yesterday the violence prompted ABC to break in to their daytime lineup with a breaking news announcement by Elizabeth Vargas on what is being called the most deadly attack in Iraq since the illegal war began. For which ABC got the usual number of complaints, though nothing like the concerned and outraged comments they received in 2003 when they broke in to announce that Bully Boy was carrying a fake turkey around a base in Iraq.

Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that 144 people were killed. That number is incorrect today and was wrong yesterday as well when AFP reported that 152 were already dead. Today, All Headline News reports that the death toll is now 202, that at least 250 more are injured with doctors not expecting all to live and that "Officials said that the death toll could rise, as body parts and bodies are dispersed throughout the city and could not be counted." The BBC reports that "at least three" car bombs were used in the cooridnated attacks on Thursday followed by mortar rounds and quotes photo journalist Kareem al-Rubaie on witnessing the violence, "I saw a car from a wedding party, covered in ribbons and flowers. It was burning. There were pools of blood on the street and children dead on the ground." Reuters places the number of bombs at six. CNN reported Thursday: "Thursday's attacks, launched within the course of half an hour, were part of a spasm of violence that shook two Baghdad bastions of support for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- the Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital's northeast and the Health Ministry compound, controlled by the cleric's political movement."

The BBC reports that Baghdad is now under curfew and the Baghdad Airport has been closed. Reuters states that all vehicle traffic is banned in Baghdad for Saturday as well. AFP adds that the airport in Basra has been closed as well as well as "its southern seaports."

The 202 dead and counting from Thursday's attack surpasses the previous reported most violent day in Iraq. The BBC notes September 14, 2005 as a day when there were 182 reported deaths in Baghdad.

As if the violence on Thursday wasn't bad enough, rumors floated that Dick Cheney was in Iraq on Thursday. CBS and AP report that the White House denies those rumors. Current rumor is that Cheney was supposed to be in Baghdad and the press would be alerted after landing; however, the violence on Thursday resulted in the trip being cancelled.

Press reports continue to caution that Iraq might be on the brink of civil war which leaves one wondering how they might have reported Sherman's March to the Sea?

The violence and chaos continued today.


CBS and AP report that a mortar attack was launched at the Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad leaving four guards injured. This is seen as a retaliation for Thursday's attack as are the multiple attacks, noted by Al Jazeera, in the Hurriay district of Baghdad that targeted "four Sunni Mosques with rocket-propelled grenades" and claimed the lives of at least thirty. Reuters reports one dead and two wounded from mortar attacks in Diwaniya and the bombing of "an office of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's . . . in . . . Baquba". CNN reports that a man set off a bomb "strapped to his body" and one in his car in a parking lot in Tal Afar and killed at least 22 people while wounding 30 more.


Reuters reports that at least two funeral goers are wounded in Baghdad after a US helicopter fired on a funeral.


Reuters reports that thirty corpses were discovered in Baghdad while three were discovered in Mosul. Reporting on Wednesday's UN report, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) noted that, in the September and October period studied by the UN, "Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers."
They do so even when the capitol is under 'curfew' (and the never ending 'crackdown').

In addition, AP reports: "Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of 215 people in the Sadr City slum."

The BBC reports the death of a British solider in Basra and notes that 126 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The British military announces: "The soldier sustained gunshot wounds during the operation and was evacuated to a nearby military hospital. Despite the best possible medical care, the soldier later died from his injuries. The soldier was a member of the Parachute Regiment, on secondment to Headquarters Multinational Division South East, Iraq."

Thursday's attacks and today's is having ripple effects in Iraq that go beyond bombs and bullets.
Tuesday, Charles Wolfson (CBS) reported on next week's planned meet up in Jordan between Bully Boy and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. The meet up was quickly announced following the announcement of al-Maliki going to Tehran for a Saturday meeting with the presidents of Iran and Syria. The meet up with the Bully Boy is now in question.

CNN reports that, today, "Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc threatened to withdraw support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should he meet President Bush as planned next week" and quotes spokesperson Salih al-Aleiki stating: "We announce that if the security situation and the basic services do not improve, and if the prime minister goes ahead and meets with the criminal Bush in Amman, then we will suspend our memberships with the Iraqi parliament and the government." As Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes, it's not an idle threat: "The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite political parties, won 128 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament in December's elections." Should the al-Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member one. That's on the condition that all 98 remain behind al-Maliki -- should he find new support his bloc could increase. The second largest bloc, with 53 members, is the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan which successfully backed (with US support) Jalal Talabani for president of Iraq.

The above follows on the heels of Tom Hayden's report (for Common Dreams) that the US is putting out feelers for new governing officials in Iraq which could include the disposing of al-Maliki.

NYT: Attempting to calm things in print

In the deadliest sectarina attack in Baghdad since the American-led invasion, explosions from five powerful car bombs and a moartar shell tore through crowded insterctions and marketplaces in the teeming Shiite district of Sadr City on Thursday afternoon, killing at least 144 people and wounding 2006, the police said.
The coordinated bombings followed a two-hour siege by dozens of Sunni Arab insurgents against the headquarters of the Shiite-run Health Ministry in northeastern Baghdad, about three miles west of Sadr City according to ministry officials. The gunmen, shooting from nearby byildings and surrounding streets, pelted the ministry with mortar shells and gunfire, though they fled when Iraqi troops and American military helicopters arrived, the officials and witnesses said.

The above is Kirk Semple's attempt to make order out of chaos, "Bombings Kill 144 In Baghdad Slum; Siege at Ministry" in this morning's New York Times. Won't work, it will require expressing shock that military helicopters flying in doesn't lead to some sort of David & Goliath stance. Semple's body count is wrong and was wrong yesterday. More so today (see snapshot later today). But it's the best the Times offers today. Edward Wong takes dictation and the paper runs an article it can't verify.

B-b-but those days are over! Remember Judith Miller died for all their sins! No, she was public stoned and nothing at the paper changed. Scott Shane writes an article that will sail over many heads but it's the sort of thing that makes Rebecca hate one organization.

Turning to e-mails. Kayla knows what Ava and I are reviewing for The Third Estate Sunday Review and passes along something by the idiot Bellafante that "truly allows stupidity to shine." While I don't doubt it, I'm hoping not to read it. Ava and I worked several hours last night on the TV reviews. As we did last year (which is how Kayla guessed), we decided to review two music specials. While noting what needed to be addressed in each, we decided to make them two reviews instead of one. We also wrote the one Bellafante's weighing in on (or maybe just gushing over the star of the special -- only a certain type of woman gets Bellafante's gushing -- they trade in sex and never have a thought deeper than their nail polish). We spent a healthy chunk of time writing that review and to read the idiot Bellafante might mean that we go back and start reworking the review. (We note two idiots on the Stunted Girl's 'art' -- both from the 80s, one of whom is quoted. Two should be more than enough.)

We use the word "cock" twice but the f-word is noted as the "f-word." Due to 15 e-mails, we did try to make it welcoming to everyone.

In other e-mails, there's a whiner noting that his e-mail was answered in last night's entry and then the answer was pulled. He got his answer, why he has a problem is anyone's guess. I made the decision to pull that paragraph about three hours after the entry posted. (It's been covered in Polly's Brew in the column "'Sins' of the flesh.") He further whined about other sites being on vacation and "no one" posting. That's not true, Elaine posted last night.

For this site, the only one I'm responsible for, we had three entries up yesterday. I had a houseful of guests (about half of which are still here), a number of us participated in a round-table for today's gina & krista round-robin last night.

To the indymedia no-star who wrote in objecting to commentary offered last night, poor baby. Shine on, not whine on, we all shine on, that's what John Lennon sang. Try applying it to your own work. I'm informed that I don't even cover anything but Iraq!

Uh, yeah, here, at this site, that was the community's decision. Guesting for Kat and participating at The Third Estate Sunday Review, I have covered other things. At this site, the community voted that the emphasis would be on Iraq.

The e-mail informs of 'student' coverage as well and that's laughable because we've noted more students here (just here) attempting to end the war then the laughable student coverage the e-mail refers to. It's also true that if you want to claim you cover students, you damn well should have covered the longest student protest of 2006. It was one day or one week. And the students were successful.

Now maybe you see "deaf" and get squeamish? Maybe it's too much in your little faux world to note that? I have no idea. Many people run from people deemed 'different.' In earlier times, that mean only covering White males. Today, it apparently means ignoring the disabled community.

If you wanted to be quoted here, you should have noted it. If you still do, e-mail again and it will be, believe me, I would love to go to town on you and your idiotic points. Till then, you can refer to "The students of Gallaudet University are standing up." And you can ask yourself why, with all the people on the payroll, neither you nor any co-worker made the time or space to cover that? Spare me the lecture on student coverage which appears to exist only in relation to whether or not their goal is to elect candidates.

And I just got the title for the piece we're doing Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review!

So thank you to the Whine On because we tossed around idea over dinner yesterday and couldn't find the right title for the mock magazine intended to be a combination of three independent magazines serving the left.

Whine On also takes issue with the fact that on Wednesday, Wally's "JUDITH REGAN: BORN TRASH, DIE TRASH AND STINKING UP THE WORLD IN BETWEEN" and Cedric's "Trashmouth Judith Regan" dealt with News Corp.'s attempt to enrich O.J. Simpson, grab attention for itself (via the book company and Fox 'entertainment') and further debase the public.

If Whine On doesn't grasp that it's offensive to turn over millions to a man who beat his wife, well domestic abuse is an issue that some still don't grasp. When you add in that Simpson is believed to have killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman and further add in that the money- making scheme is nothing but O.J. Simpson profitting from that belief, it's rather disgusting.

It's also exactly what Fox 'entertainment' has done all along. 24 sells the Bully Boy's torture policies to America more than the idiot Dershowitz ever could. They popularize torture. That Whine On doesn't grasp the damage Fox 'entertainment' has done to the country is only surprising if you fail to realize that for all the attention given to big media right now, there was no charge led by Whine On's outlet when Fox 'entertainment' could have and should have been stopped. The strongest critique came not from the pages of Whine On's outlet but from Mike Nichols' Working Girl. 20 years from now, the outlet will probably be focused on undoing the things that happen right now (and that they ignore currently) as well.

They offer a laughable watching-the-media beat that really doesn't. They're under some mistaken belief that what Bill O'Reilly says has more impact than the abuse Jack Bauer heaps on while the audience cheers.

That's the e-mails, that's the entry. It's called a 'talking entry,' Whine On, and before this week rolled around, members were polled (by Gina and Krista) to be sure all were fine with that. They are. If you're not, well at least you didn't have to fork over any money to read this.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, November 23, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

In the worst attack on Baghdad since the war to unseat Saddam Hussein, insurgents killed 152 people and wounded 236 in a series of car bombings in the Shiite district of Sadr City, security and medical sources said.
The attacks prompted the interior ministry to announce an indefinite curfew in the capital, effective from 8:00 pm (1700 GMT).
Wounded clogged the hospitals of Sadr City, with dozens lying bleeding in the corridors as overworked staff struggled to tend to the casualties.
"Of those killed, 88 bodies are in the Imam Ali hospital and 55 in Sadr City hospital," a medic told AFP, saying many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

The above is from AFP's "Worst bombing in Baghdad since war kills 152." The worst bombing (on the ground) since the illegal war began. And the Pentagon's weighed "Go Long," "Go Deep" or "Get Out." The last option could also be called "Get Real."

But there was no reality leading the nation into the illegal war so why should reality lead the United States out of it?

So the US military can announce three deaths ("Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 diedWednesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al AnbarProvince"), Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) can report on the UN study's findings that October 2006 was the deadliest month for Iraqis since the illegal war began, the UN can note "that freedom of expression continued to be undermined, minorities continued to be adversely and directly affected, women's conditions continued to deteriorate, the targeting of professionals, such as journalists, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors and other intellectuals, political, tribal and religious leaders, Government officials and members of the security forces continued unabated and that violence is impacting education, preventing many schools and universites from opening," war resisters can be covered in print by the AP and other mainstream sources but ignored by our leading independent magazines, and the war drags on.

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, the total number of US troop fatalities stood at 2865. Right now? 2871. 51 for the month. And the best anyone in Congress can do in terms of grabbing headlines this week is to offer the idiotic suggestion to reinstate the draft as a way to maybe end the war. ("Maybe" due to selling the draft on needing forces to deal with Iran and others which -- although it may use this decade's hula-hoop -- doesn't really come off as the slighest bit peaceful or even anti-war.) Though Charlie Rangel seems unaware, the movement during the Vietnam era was to end both the war and the draft. His 'well meaning' is neither appreciated or smart.

Today, it's taken for granted that males, when they turn 18, will register. Ronald Reagan brought that back, right? Wrong, it was Jimmy Carter. There was a mini-uproar. Some even publicly refused to register. (Emilio Estevez among them.) Ronald Reagan offered a campaign promise of ending registration. So along comes Charlie Rangel to play the Holy Doofus and make the situation far worse. War isn't the province of one party. Nixon didn't get the US into Vietnam. War is a bi-partisan process by which both parties screw over the people.

The Holy Doofus wants the burden to be shared. Is he really that stupid?

Maybe it plays well to the uninformed who are under some mistaken belief that a draft means everyone is drafted in the same manner.

For those who missed it, John Abizaid testifed to the Senate last week that the military did not have enough bodies to flood the ground in Iraq. A draft is the last thing that is needed and will hardly result in starving the war machine or in ending any war. It will take the onus for the current off Bully Boy and the GOP and maybe that's what needs to happen?

The Democrats in the 90s were just as eager for the war with Iraq. They weren't as brazen as Bully Boy to lie a nation into war but when you've never accomplished anything in your life and you're surrounded by minions telling you this is 'the moment' and that you can top your father, maybe it's no surprise that you go with an illegal war?

The war is illegal. The reasons for it were false. And it's easy for some Dems who supported it to claim that they were 'tricked,' but the reality is that some of the 'tricked' knew better in real time. The same is true of pundits. It wasn't just the ones who are right that cheerleaded an illegal war, it was some on the left or 'left.' Most of whom have now moved to the hand wringing circle of "The US can't leave now! It would rip Iraq apart!" It's just as phoney as their cheerleading of Colin Powell's laughable UN performance.

And the fact that there's always a place for them in big media lets you know where big media stands on war (they want it).

Independent media? On the left, they're against the war. In fact, if the illegal war accomplished nothing else, it finally woke the nation up to the fact that The New Republic isn't a left publication. But our big left magazines are against it in a strange sort of manner.

They can't cover war resisters within the military, they can't cover the peace movement, they can't expand the discussion. They take what big media offers and toss out a counter argument. They don't lead, they react. Sometimes the distract.

Such as getting all worked up about Ralph Nader running in 2004. Let me be clear here, when Randi Rhodes was hostile to Nader on air, I was quite happy. It took hearing the way Patti Smith and Ani DiFranco would be treated to check my own behaivor. But that's the sort of 'discussion' we got in 2004. Should Nader run or shouldn't he?

Of course he should. Anyone who wants to hold office should run. The dog pile on Nader was an echo of the dog pile in the 90s on Elizabeth Holtzman. In 2004, Nader was supposed to drop out of the race. Earlier Holtzman was suppoed to (in her case, a primary). The conventional wisdom was that Geraldine Ferraro had some pre-ordained right to a set in Congress. Well she didn't end up in Congress and John Kerry didn't end up in the White House.

What's Geraldine Ferraro done since Bully Boy was installed in the White House? Elizabeth Holtzman? She's calling for his impeachment. If Ferraro is such a leader that Holtzman should have stepped aside for her, where the hell is Ferraro today?

Who's the fighter? Who's the leader?

Janet Reno, Janet Reno!, is objecting to Bully Boy's power grab. Where the hell is Ferraro? As the only woman to be on the presidential ticket of one of the two main parties, Ferraro should have lived up to her 'legacy' some time ago. (For the younger members, Ferraro was second on the ticket when Mondale was the Democratic candidate for president in 1984.)

But this mid-term election cycle, we again saw 'endorsements.' Was it as bad as the slam job in 2004 portraying Nader followers as pathetic and sad? Maybe not but there wasn't much attention given to any non-Democratic candidate. If nothing else, a third party candidate can introduce concepts and ideas. ("If nothing else" is not intended as a slam, just noting that this is a generally agreed upon point in the field of poli sci.) That doesn't happen when they're not covered.

Coverage does matter. And it matters for more than just a candidate, it matters for our understanding of where we could be headed. The Democratic Party, at this point, shows little desire to take us there. Due to the struggles going on, that's hardly a surprise. (Struggles within the party.) It is a surprise that our independent media can't or won't take us there.

What was the point of building up John Murtha? Apparently nothing but gas baggery because last week we saw him taken out. I'm not fond of Murtha. We didn't offer him as a savior here. But it was really amazing to see some of the same sources that spent forever pushing him suddenly turn on him. ABSCAM was tossed out even though, for anyone old enough to remember, Murtha ddidn't take a bribe. That wasn't explained, but nothing was. Just toss out the phrase "ABSCAM," tar and feather him with it, and never bother to explain what it was or the fact that there were repeated attempts to bribe him and he repeatedly did not take the bribe.

Why did our independent media even care? A true independent media wouldn't read like a gossip sheet on Congress, Rona Barrett's Congress!, it would remind people that what goes on in this country wasn't a spectator sport for the public. It would drive home the very real power that people have and the very real they are effected by the 'decision makers.'

When Cindy Sheehan staged her first Camp Crawford, a blogger tried to insist that Sheehan wasn't for bringing the troops home and when a member provided the proof that Sheehan was indeed calling for the troops to come home, the blogger offered that it didn't matter what Sheehan wanted, that Congress should make those decisions. In a democracy, according to that blogger, the will of the people is unimportant and people demanding action or accountability was unimportant. That's the message when someone believes that a citizen's voice isn't worth listening to.

Where would someone get such an idea? From a shaking civics understanding obviously. But you could also point to a lot of independent media outlets that repeatedly pants and drool over DC and never report on the people. In the Wednesday entry (that the visitor e-mailed about), I referred to the "no-stars" of independent media. That's a phrase I've used often in columns for Polly's Brew and the gina & krista round-robin. But it was new to visitors e-maling to offer that ___ and ___ were stars. The e-mails were so pathetic you'd think Erin Moran wrote them.

The "no-stars" did not refer to the fact that there are "no stars" in independent media. Amy Goodman is obviously a star of independent media. The only name listed in the e-mails that I personally agreed with. Goodman's not without her problems (no one is, that's part of being human) but she's not doing what the no-stars do. The no-stars seem to read their Times (sometimes their Washington Post) and attempt to figure out how to present the same points from a left perspective. The Times doesn't exist for people, it exists for officials (which is why they cover what they do and how they cover what they cover).

Goodman doesn't do that. The reality is that's probably why she's a star. If you're offering watered down NYT (form the left!) the reality is people can get it in a better package by reading the paper. Imitations rarely become stars. When they do, they're still jokes. (As the then Mama Cass observed of the Monkees, so what, we'll still have the legacy.) I wouldn't argue 2006 has been the finest year for Goodman, but she's still had more moments than anyone else can point to. Those moments didn't come about because she tried to figure out how to respond to the Times. She can, and does, fact check them. But she has a very strong vision of what matters and what doesn't. That vision doesn't rest upon whether Obama is the Water Cooler Talk this week or not. It rests upon the belief that people do matter and that, if they're made aware of their power, they can be agents of change.

That powerful (and liberating) view is why she's a name. Not because she's wasting everyone's time with trivia for political junkies.

The inability of other independent media outlets to do the same may be just as responsible for the current state of the country.

Unlike the illegal war, 2006 is almost over. 2007 would be better spent by independent media devoting attention to something beyond the beltway 'players.' Instead of all the attempts to provide a racing forum for the election of 2008, they might actually offer something that was independent and that did reflect a point of view -- setting the agenda instead of constantly responding to an agenda set by the mainstream.

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Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "A Bully Thanksgiving"

Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "A Bully Thanksgiving." Bully Boy 's back from his Vietnam trip and Big Babs, the Bully Momma, has a few words to share: "After all your father and I did to keep you out of Vietnam, you go there for a lousy dress!"

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NYT: 3,709 Iraqis died in October (Sabrina Tavernise)

More Iraqi civilians were killed in October than in any other month since the American invasion in 2003, a report released by the United Nations on Wednesday said, a rise that underscored the growing costs of Iraq's deepening sectarian war.
According to the report, 3,709 Iraqis were killed in October, up slightly from the previous high in July, and an increase of about 11 percent from the number in September.
The figures, which include totals from the Baghdad morgue and hospitals and morgues across the country, have become a central barometer of the war here and a gauge of the progress of the American military as it tries to bring stability to this exhausted country.
A dangerous trend has surfaced: Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers.
[. . .]
The figures illustrate in stark percentages just how deeply the killing has sunk into Iraqi society.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Civilian Death Toll Reaches New High in Iraq, U.N. Says" in this morning's New York Times. And today, Thanksgiving, the US military announces: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 diedWednesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al AnbarProvince."

On a related topic, there was an idiotic article in the Times yesterday that Trina's going to grab this weekend. Those who saw it, know it goes with the above. Marci, Paul and Micah e-mailed about it. I checked with Trina this morning and she saw it and is planning to address it.
I think it says less about who they think they're speaking to and more about themselves. Other than that, I'll wait for Trina's commentary.

Lloyd notes Lolita C. Baldor's "Marine Corps May Need to Grow, General Says" (via Washington Post):

The Marine Corps may need to grow to sustain deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan without sacrificing needed training or putting undue stress on the corps, the new Marine commandant said yesterday.
At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Gen. James T. Conway also warned that it could take years to adequately train and equip the Iraqi security forces -- longer, perhaps, "than the timeline that we probably feel . . . our country will support."

"This is tough work. It doesn't happen overnight," and patience by the American people will be needed, he said.

It doesn't happen overnight, or three years later. Or ever. It hasn't happened, it won't happen. But some have problems with reality. Which is why the illegal war will hit the four year mark in March.

Skip e-mails to note the silence on Ehren Watada in "your country" (United States). He notes that the United Kingdom covered Watada (we noted Alex Massie's "It was my duty to refuse to go to Iraq, says first American army officer facing court martial" yesterday) and notes that in an article about Bully Boy and the puppet meeting up in Jordan next week, "Bush to meet Maliki as diplomacy gathers pace," The Sydney Morning Herald notes Watada:

The first American army officer to face a court-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq said it was his duty to recognise and refuse "illegal" orders.
Lieutenant Ehren Watada, 28, faces four charges over his refusal to join his unit in Iraq. Watada said said before a pre-trial hearing that his refusal had been justified by "a surge in popular resistance to the war, as evidenced by the recent [congressional] elections".
"The army seems intent on making an example of me," he added.

Skip thinks it's "embarrassing, no, disgusting, how the American media, 'big and small,' has no interest in this story." I don't think anyone in the community would disagree with that and Ruth's Report that went up Monday night was not planned. The planned report, which she'll have today or tomorrow, was going to address an aspect of this topic. When she saw the news that Watada would be holding a press conference on Tuesday morning, she wanted to weigh in (and did a wonderful job) before she dealt with an issue of accountability. It won't be pretty. But it's not supposed to be. And we shouldn't give passes to those who self-promote but don't bother to cover the issue. As she discussed it this weekend (her plans for the report), it's going to focus on one voice. She may expand on that, due to Agustin Aguayo, but it sounds like it will be worth reading. Ruth doesn't have to run anything by me for approval, her report is her space. She wanted to check to see, before she started thinking about the topic in depth, if we were grabbing it at The Third Estate Sunday Review for last Sunday's edition? Since we weren't she called dibs on it.

On the topic of The Third Estate Sunday Review, if you use a work computer to visit and have guidelines re: language, do not go there for Ava and my review this weekend. We'll probably be using the f-word. Time permitting, we'll go through and clean it up some before it's posted but "time permitting" is rarely possible. I believe I know most members that have to watch for that and Jess did a heads up e-mail earlier this morning to them. (An edited version will be e-mailed Sunday to those members.) If you're someone who didn't receive an e-mail about that but it does effect you, please use one of the private e-mail addresses and we'll add to your list. In addition to the f-word, we'll probably use quite a few other words. We haven't written it yet, but we're pretty sure it will trend that way. We may also include the question we asked a friend (who was once involved with someone on one of the two shows we're reviewing). So it will probably be something of concern for those who surf at work. You have been warned.

We'll close with Cindy's highlight. First though, note the qualifer at the end (use link) -- "that
there is no reason to believe that these US gestures are anything more than probes". This is from Tom Hayden's "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" (Common Dreams):

According to credible Iraqi sources in London and Amman, a secret story of America's diplomatic exit strategy from Iraq is rapidly unfolding. The key events include:First, James Baker told one of Saddam Hussein's lawyers that Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, would be released from detention by the end of this year, in hope that he will negotiate with the US on behalf of the Baath Party leadership.
The discussion recently took place in Amman, according to the Iraqi paper al-Quds al-Arabi. Second, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice personally appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council in October to serve as intermediaries between the US and armed Sunni resistance groups [not including al Qaeda], communicating a US willingness to negotiate with them at any time or place. Speaking in early October, Rice joked that if then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "heard me now, he would wage a war on me fiercer and hotter than he waged on Iraq," according to an Arab diplomat privy to the closed session. Third, there was an "unprecedented" secret meeting of high-level Americans and representatives of "a primary component of the Iraqi resistance" two weeks ago, lasting for three days. As a result, the Iraqis agreed to return to the talks in the next two weeks with a response for the American side, according to Jordanian press leaks and al-Quds al-Arabi. Fourth, detailed email transmissions dated November 16 reveal an active American effort behind the scenes to broker a peace agreement with Iraqi resistance leaders, a plot that could include a political coup against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The plan is for an evening entry ("evening", my time zone). We'll grab another section of Tavernise's report for that. (Where she speaks with an Iraqi women.) In addition to that, Isaiah's latest comic goes up as soon as this posts and Ruth will either post this evening or tomorrow with her latest.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, November 22, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a lesson is learned (hopefully) that stand up comedy is not for everyone; is England planning to withdraw troops from Iraq?; October becomes the deadliest month for Iraqis since the illegal war began;
Starting with news of war resisters within the US military.  Yesterday, Ehren Watada held a press conference, early in the morning.  Possibly too early for the independent print publications or possibly it didn't make the New York Times so they had no heads up?  Whatever the reason, Alex Massie (UK's Telgraph) did cover it and notes that Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, intends to "fight with with everything I have for my freedom and that of all Americans.  I will face imprisonment to stand up for my beliefs" which means "subpoena withnesses - including 'decision-makers' - whose testimony will . . . demonstrate the war's illegality."
Turning to news of another US war resister,  Agustin Aguayo, who had a day in court yesterday, even if he wasn't present for it.  Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) reports that while Aguayo is held in "military confinement in Mannheim, Germany," his attorney, Peter Goldberger, told the judges of the  US Court of Appeals in D.C. that Aguayo was wrongly denied c.o. status and not supplied a sound reason for the denials: "Enough is enough.  This decision by the Army has been baseless and cruel.  They've had two previous chances to recognize his status, and they've failed to give a reason for denying it twice."
Turning to news of war resister Darrell Anderson who self-checked out of the military in January 2005 and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 3, 2006. By the end of the week, he was released from military custody and it was announced he would not be charged.  He continues to speak out and will be taking part in events next month.
Military resisters, their families, veterans and concerned community members call for public action Dec. 8-10th!
It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI's who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights.  We call for the  following:1) Support for War Objectors 2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection 3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's 4) Sanctuary for War Objectors. We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in supportof GI Resistance and GI Rights!
As part of those events, Darrell Anderson will be at the College of Marin on Friday, December 8th to speak at a screening of The Ground Truth.  Also speaking will be Anita Anderson (or Anita Dennis to use her married name), Darrell's mother.  This is one of a number of events Courage to Resist and other organizations will be staging.
And we can't note Anderson without noting Kyle Snyder  who shared the same attorney and was supposed to share the same agreement.  Synder self-checked out and moved to Canada after serving in Iraq.  He returned to the United States last month and,  on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again.  As Courage to Resist notes, "At the risk of arrest, he is speaking out bravely on behalf of war resisters and active duty GI's."  They are asking that you: "Call Ft. Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Commanding General Major General William McCoy, Jr., 573-596-0131 and the Public Affairs Office, 573-563-4013 email:  -- Demand that the Army 'Discharge Kyle Snyder with No Punishment'."
Until resistance is covered, the illegal war continues.  And the dead and wounded mount on all sides as the war continues.  CNN reports that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq has issued a new figure: 3,709.  3,709 is the figure of Iraqis killed during the month of October.  The UNAMI found "that 7,054 civilians were violently killed, with no less than 4,984 in Baghdad alone, most of them as a result of gunshot wounds.  Compared to the number of 6,599 killed in July and August reported by HRO [UN Human Rights Office] previously, it is evident that violence continued to claim an increasing number of victims. . . .  During the period under review, the report points out that freedom of expression continued to be undermined, minorities continued to be adversely and directly affected, women's conditions continued to deteriorate, the targeting of professionals, such as journalists, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors and other intellectuals, political, tribal and religious leaders, Government officials and members of the security forces continued unabated and that violence is impacting education, preventing many schools and universites from opening.  According to the report, the deteriorating situtation in the country, coupled with increasing poverty, has generated unparalleled movements of IDPs [Internally Displaced People] in search of safety within and outside the country.  In addition, the document indicates that the total number of detainees in Iraq as of 31 October stood at 29,256 (13,571 of which are in MNF I facilities), noting a decrease from 35,543 at the end of August."
And the violence and chaos continues.  Among the reported events today . . .
Reuters notes that bombs continued to explode in Iraq: roadside bombs in Baghdad injured two polie officers,
CBS and AP report on the shooting death of Raad Jaafar Hamadi who worked "for the state-run al-Sabah newspaper in Baghdad . . . The slaying raised to at least 92 the number of journalists who have been killed in Iraq since the war began.  Thirty-six other media employees -- including drivers, interpreters and guards -- also have been killed, all of them Iraqi except one Lebanese." Al Jazeera notes that he was shot by four people "travelling in a black BMW".   Reuters notes the following gunfire incidents: Ahmed al-Allawi seriously wounded in an attack in Kerbala, a police officer shot dead in Falluja, and three police officers shot dead in Baquba. CNN notes the shooting deaths of two in Muqtadya (five more wounded).
Reuters notes that 14 corpses were discovered in Mosul, three near Ramadi, and the "police Major Basim Hasan al-Hasnawi" was discovered shot to death in Kerbala.
Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died of a non-battle injury in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday." Don't expect to read about it indymedia, the soldier probably couldn't have made them a playa so they have no time.  Which was followed later by this announcement: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle while they were conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday."  The two deaths bring the US troops fatality count to 49 for the month and to 2869 since the start of the illegal war.  (If ICCC has not updated those numbers when this goes up, Monday we noted their count of 47 and 2867.)
Is there a change in the air?  In England, This Is London reports: "Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett this afternoon surprised MPs by signalling the countdown to a withdrawal from Iraq. She told the Commons that Basra, where the bulk of the UK's 7,200 personnel are stationed, could be handed over from British military control to Iraqi forces as early as next spring."  Basra has been a violent area for British soldiers (and for Iraqis).  Earlier this month, on England's Rememberance Sunday, four British troops were killed while on a boat patrol in Basra and three more were wounded.  The four killed included Sharron Elliott who was "the second British female servicewoman to die in action."  The other three were Jason Hylton, Ben Nowak, and Lee Hopkins.  Mortar attacks have been common in Basra and, in August, a British soldier died as a result of wounds received from mortar rounds.  In October, a British soldier died in Basra from road traffic.  The end of October was also when the British consulate in Basra was evacuated after it was decided it was no longer safe after two months of mortar attacks.  (In August, British troops 'evacuated' from their base in Amara due to repeated mortar attacks.)
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Dhi Qar and Muthanna have already been returned to Iraqi control and that "[m]ost UK troops are stationed in and around Basra".  Tran also notes that General Richard Dannatt had earlier stated (and later dickered over the wording) the statement that England should leave Iraq "some time soon."  Dekiva Bhat (Times of London) notes that Beckett expressed "confidence" about turning over another province, Maysan, "in January" which would leave Basra as the only area UK troops are currently responsible for patrolling. Bhat notes the opinion of the paper's Diplomatic Editor Richard Beeston: "The most likely forms of a withcrawal, Beeston said, would see British troops leaving Basra but remaining in the Shaiba logistics base, outside the city, where they would have armoured units and helicopters on stand-by should Iraqi forces need reinforcements. He added that it appeared that the US military was thinking in similar tones -- considering the possibility of handing over to Iraqi forces by withdrawing from bases but without completely leaving the country."
In which case, it wouldn't be a withdrawal at all.  It would be more like a man who says he's going to pull out and doesn't.
Turning to news of long, public "deaths," some people shouldn't try to do stand up -- both because they aren't funny and because they can't handle hecklers.  Yes, we're talking Poppy Bush.  On Tuesday, Poppy Bush took his tired act to the United Arab Emirates and it wasn't pretty.  Even the sure laugh getter of "My son is a honest man" didn't turn out the way Poppy would have liked.  While Poppy tried to command the stage, it was a female heckler, who stated: "We do not respect your son.  We do not respect what he's doing all over the world," who got the crowd pumping.  AP reports: "Bush appeared stunned as the auidence of young business leaders whooped and whistled in approval."  Poppy Bush stated that the Bully Boy "is working hard for peace" a 'funny' that didn't help pull the audience to his side and even the laugh getter of "This is going to work out in Iraq" didn't turn him into Jon Stewart.  Attacking the audience, Bully Boy began baiting them with "How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?" 
Possibly he was so weakened by that point causing even the hecklers to not notice the significant and obvious drop in attempted enrollments at US campuses?  And apparently finally responding to the public fact that his family built their money not just on oil but also by collaborating with the Nazi war machine, Poppy Bush stated: "To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy."  Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell (Guardian of London) reported the following in 2004:
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.
The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.
Let the record show that Poppy Bush has stated the drive wasn't just about money.  Apparently that family also believed in 'causes.' 
In news of a draft in the United States, which US Rep. Charlie Rangel is advocating, Marc Sandalow (San Francisco Chronicle) notes that "Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this morning she does not support bringing back the military draft."  Also weighing in against Rangel's proposal are Ron Jacobs (at Op-Ed News) and Mike (Mikey Likes It!).
Lastly, as Danny Schechter News Dissector reminds today is the anniversary of the assassination of JFK (November 22, 1963).  Danny notes Beyond JFK and refers to people to Globalvision for more info.  Beyond JFK is a documentary he made while Oliver Stone's JFK was being filmed.  He interviews various people who were there (including Robert MacNeil -- formerly of The NewsHour).  If you rent or purchase the DVD special edition (two disc) of Oliver Stone's JFK, the documentary is included as a bonus disc. Jess notes a number of e-mails are asking about it.
In addition,on today's KPFA's Guns and Butter (airs over the airwaves and online at 1:00 pm PST, 3:00 pm Central and 4:00 pm EST) Bonnie Faulkner offers the second half of her interview with John Judge on the topic of the JFK assassination.  And Joan Mellen (who is still doing events on her book tour for Farewell to Justice) essay on the topic remains popular with members.  (Book tour events include Mandeville, LA on Jan 16th and NYC Jan. 28th).

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Other Items

The first American army officer to face court-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq said yesterday that it was his duty to recognise and refuse "illegal" orders.
Lt Ehren Watada, 28, faces four charges of conduct unbecoming an officer for his refusal to join his unit in Iraq in the summer. Speaking ahead of a pre-trial hearing, the conscientious objector pledged that he would "fight with everything I have for my freedom and that of all Americans. I will face imprisonment to stand up for my beliefs."
If he had gone to Iraq, his service would have been due to end next month. Instead, if convicted, he could face six years in prison.
He claimed that his refusal to follow orders had been justified by "a surge in popular resistance to the war as evidenced by the recent elections" and complained that "the army seems intent on making an example of me".
"No one else is speaking up for the troops dying every day," he said.

The above is from Alex Massie's "It was my duty to refuse to go to Iraq, says first American army officer facing court martial" (Telegraph, United Kingdom) and Gareth e-mailed to note it. In her report Monday night, Ruth wondered, quoting Blondie, "Will Anything Happen?" No, just the same old ignoring of the war resisters within the US military. Ehren Watada held a tele-news conference yesterday morning. There's time, for independent media, to be used as tools by the DLC wing (such as with the attack on Murtha last week). And wasn't that cute the way they dusted off an old Congressional scandal that didn't result in charges against Murtha? They didn't provide you the background on the scandal and the ones involved because that would be too much work. So they just sketched out the bare details. And proceeded to trash one of the people they'd built up. We didn't build him up here. But we don't worship at the feet of the Congress. It was interesting to see the usual 'respectable' indymedia no-stars prove yet again that they've got their own way of doing business. Business that doesn't appear to be either independent or reporting on any level.

Here's something we should demand from those doing those sort of late-breaking-reports/hit jobs -- explain what you're talking about. Did they even know? They may have. They may have realized that to talk about that ages old scandal in any detail would have resulted in people grasping that Murtha wasn't really a player in that -- which was why he wasn't charged. But toss around something that happened before many were adults (and before some were even born) and it's got scandal written all over it.

They proved they still can carry the water pails for the very wing of the Democratic Party they supposedly warn you against. And editors, you have no excuse for running that. Not that you like Murtha, not that it was free speech, not that you don't 'interfere' with one of your writers. It was badly written. You should have told them to walk readers through the actual scandal they were attempting to piggy back on.

So when war resisters still don't get coverage, we should all grasp that there are several agendas at work these days and war resisters just can't compete with all the intrigue it takes for some to try to be 'playa's.

Another thing you didn't hear or read about probably, Leo Shane III's "Appeals court is asked to overturn Army's denial of medic's conscientious objector request" (Stars and Stripes):

Lawyers for Spc. Agustin Aguayo on Tuesday asked a federal appeals panel to overturn both the Army's decision to deny the medic conscientious objector status and a court ruling earlier this year backing the Army’s finding.
Attorney Peter Goldberger said the Army failed to present a clear argument why his client -- a 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment soldier -- didn't qualify for a discharge from the service on a basis of his beliefs, and that it must be held accountable by the civilian courts.
Lawyers for the Army told the appeals court that the reasons were made clear: Aguayo’s anti-war stance was not based on religious tenets or long-held personal beliefs, but instead on a sudden desire not to return to Iraq.
Aguayo, 34, did not attend the hearing in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. He is currently in military prison in Schweinfurt, Germany, on charges related to refusing to deploy with his unit in September.
Supporters said Aguayo expected to be jailed for refusing to go to Iraq when he turned himself in to military authorities in Germany two months ago, but instead commanders there said they would simply force him to deploy.

Today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died of a non-battle injury in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday." Don't expect to read about it indymedia, the soldier probably couldn't have made them a playa so they have no time.

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ehren watada

NYT: "Bomb Blasts Speaker's Car in Green Zone" (Edward Wong)

A bomb exploded in an armored car among those belonging to the speaker of Parliament, wounding the American security guard who was driving it out of a parking area in the government Green Zone and disrupting a meeting of lawmakers nearby, a parliamentary aide said.
Though the speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, was not in the vehicle and was unscathed, the assassination attempt was one of the most serious breaches of security yet within the Green Zone, the heavily fortified government district on the west bank of the Tigris River.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Bomb Blasts Speaker's Car in Green Zone" in this morning's New York Times. The breach.

Two other items from the article. First:

In the summer, senior Shiite and Kurdish leaders, backed by some American officials, called for his ouster because of inflammatory comments he had made about various groups in Iraq and about the American presence.

I believe Wong leaves out an important "various group" -- the press. Including the Times. The Times wrote his obit. They didn't do it once, but they did do a smear campaign. The last article was probably the worst because it left readers with the impression that he was so upset, so wounded, that while he licked his wounds he couldn't even speak to the press and his father had to take his calls. That wasn't reality. He wasn't wounded. He wasn't harmed by it (despite gas baggery passing for reporting). He also wasn't in Iraq.

He was in Jordan. And you could read about that in the Arab press, just not the American press. (And forget indymedai, it was summer when they had no interest in Iraq.) So the impression was that he'd be stepping down, that it was over for him.

In reality, he was in Jordan (a scheduled trip, planned and announced in advance) working on issues like trade.

Second thing from the article:

The most serious breach of security inside the Green Zone occurred in October 2004, when insurgents set off two bombs in crowded areas that killed at least five people, including three Americans. Individuals have also been attacked there: at least one foreign jogger was reportedly stabbed, and another intentionally hit by a vehicle.

That's not the one that rocked the Green Zone. The breach that was the most serious happened in June, when people attempted to storm the Green Zone. That's what led to the 'crackdown.'
The bombing yesterday?

It's caused far less ripples due to the number of enemies Mahmoud al-Mashhadani has. Speculation of who was behind it is the focus, not the fact that the Green Zone was breached. October 2004 barely caused a ripple. The June storming resulted in the 'crackdown' (still ongoing -- still unsuccssful). If the target had been seen as anyone else, the bombing would be much bigger news within the Green Zone; however, due to the fact that al-Massadani has enemies outside and inside the Green Zone, the breach registers far less than it would have had someone been seen as the intended target.

Martha notes Nancy Trejos' "Iraqi Parliament Speaker Escapes Car Bombing" (Washington Post) on the same topic:

[Christopher] Garver [US military flack] said he was not sure how the explosives made it so far into the Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British embassies and thousands of foreign troops and private contractors. Anyone trying to enter the zone must pass through several checkpoints -- first to get into the complex, then to enter individual buildings.
The Green Zone has been a frequent target of mortar and rocket attacks, but although bombs have exploded at checkpoints at entrances to the zone, they rarely infiltrate the fortresslike compound. "Obviously, there is an investigation going on," Garver said.
Mashhadani is the fifth high-ranking Iraqi government official to be targeted in recent days. An outspoken Sunni Arab, Mashhadani last summer called the U.S. occupation "the work of butchers." Shiite and Kurdish groups called for his ouster after that and other provocative comments.
On Tuesday, his supporters reacted angrily to news that he had been targeted for assassination.
"We condemn and denounce this act, and we consider this as a criminal act, for Dr. Mashhadani is valuable to us," said Ammar Wajih, director of the media office at the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading Sunni Arab group.

And we'll close with this from CBS -- "U.S. Troops Ill-Prepared To Train Iraqis?" -- which goes to the 'planning' all these years after the illegal war began:

Of the 140,000 American troops in Iraq, 5,000 of them are training and advising Iraqi forces. But according to the trainers themselves, the army did not prepare them to accomplish their mission, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.
Training is what counter insurgency warfare is all about -- training local forces to take over the fighting -- and the linchpin of the American exit strategy. But in reports recording their experiences in Iraq, advisors like Colonel Nicholas Demas said the training he received before leaving the U.S. "was a phenomenal waste of time ... nearly irrelevant to the current situation" in Iraq.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, November 21, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq;  Syria, Iraq and,yes, Iran prepare for a weekend summit; US war resister Agustin Aguayo's case lands in court; a new poll finds Shia and Sunnis in Iraq agreeing:  US troops out of their country; and Kofi Annan sings a little Jimmy Cliff.
Starting with Agustin Aguayo.  On September 2nd, Aguayo self-checked out of the US military after his repeated attempts to obtain conscientious objector status failed (2004), after his attempts to address the matter in the US federal courts failed (August 24, 2006) and while he was about to be sent back to Iraq.  While serving in Iraq, as a medic, previously, Aguayo was confronted with the realities and decided that, due to moral and religious reasons, he could not serve in the illegal war.  Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, explained to Mimi Mohammed (Los Angelest Times): "My husband has never broken a law and I am proud of him.  He doesn't want to support the war -- he cannot do so conscientisouly.  He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister."  On September 26th, less than thirty days after self-checking out, Aguayo turned himself at Fort Irwin.  Though Fort Irwin is in California, Aguayo's wife and two daughters were not allowed to see him and the military quickly sent him back overseas to Germany.
On yesterday's The KPFA Evening News, Aaron Glantz reported on Aguayo's case which landed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. -- the first "for a federal court since 1971."  Glantz spoke with Vietnam war resister and author David Cortright (Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today) and Cortright noted the similarities between then and now: the "transferring . . . to other bases" and the fact that such transfers put them in contact with "other soldiers who were opposed". 
Kevin Dougherty (Stars and Stripes) reported that the court schedule for today would "considst of just oral arguments.  Each side has been alotted 15 minutes to articulate their case." Today, Glantz reports (at OneWorld) on the above and notes Aguayo's beliefs: "By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be.  I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation.  By helping countless soldiers for 'sick-call' as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physcially better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill.  This is something my conscience will not allow me to do."
Matt Apuzzo (AP) reports: "Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of the three judges on the case, said he'd been reading up on the Vietnam appeals and asked how the case differs from those filed decades ago by people who realized their opposition to war only after receiving a draft card.  Attorney Peter Goldberger said the Aguayo's beliefs evolved over time and 'crystalized' to the point that he could no longer take a life."   Joel Seidman (NBC News) notes that "Aguayo has unsuccessfully fought the Pentagon for more than two years to be declared a conscientious objector and win a discharge."
In his court statement, Agustin notes: "And even if I truly had non-combatant status, I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect.  I know what will be expected of me.  And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment.  Some people might think that a fear of death is the number one reason for refusing to deploy.  But that is not correct.  I have to be true to myself and do what is right.  Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation . . .   When you know better you do better.  Therefore, this time I will not deploy.  My conscientious objection applies to all forms and aspects of war.  . .  I have come to believe and understand that the purpose of our existence on earth is to value, cherish and conserve the miracle that is human life.  To do so one must show each and every day through actions that nothing is of greater importance than the conservation of life. . . . I have made my choice for peace, for humanity, and for a better tomorrow.  Even though I understand that one of the consequences of refusing to deploy may possibly be a trial by court-martial and even my imprisonment, I cannot and will not deploy."
CNN reports: "A decoy vehicle used in a convoy of the Iraqi parlaiment speaker exploded Tuesday inside the heavily fortified Green Zone while parliament was in session, a parliament information officer said.  The vehicle, part of Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's convoy, was damaged when explosives placed under the rear right side of it exploded in a parking lot, the officer said.  One of the drivers was slightly wounded."
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left nine wounded and a car bomb in Baghdad that took one life and left six wounded.
A US raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad resulted in deaths.  Xinhua notes this was the third day in a row that US and Iraqi forces had "raided the Shiite slum".  An early AP report by Thomas Wagner cited Mohammed Ismail ("Police Capt.") who "said a young boy and two other people were killed in the early morning raid and 15 people were wounded.  Several houses were damaged."  The US military has claimed that they are after a "cell [which] has more than 30 members" which apparently includes the young boy?  CNN notes that "a mother and her 8-month-old child" were also killed and puts the wounded at 18.
Bassem Mroue (AP) reports that Shi'ite legislator Saleh al-Ukailli held "the body of the dead child* outside the hospital morgue and angrily condemned Iraq's government for allowing such attacks" while vowing not to "return to parliament until the occupation troops leave the country."  [*When this was Thomas Wagner's article, it made sense.  If you use the link, a whole chunk of it is gone. Including the paragraph that was before, the one on Mohammed Ismail.]
Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Hawija, the shooting death of of another police officer in Mosul, and the shooting death of "Ali al-Shimari, the mayor of the town of Hibhib, near Baquba".
CBS and AP report that 24 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and Dujail. 
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the International Organisation for Migration has found (no surprise) that the at risk groups in Iraq of being left homeless and hungry are : "[s]ingle women, children and the old and sick" with "children . . . especially vulnerable to malnutrition and spread of disease."  The United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that "at least 1.6 million Iraqis" are now displaced within Iraq.
This comes as the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports: "Heavy rains, thunderstorms and enormous mudlsides in Iraq's northern Kurdish region have submerged vast areas and made nearly 3,000 families homeless, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said on Tuesday."
For all the above and so much more, it should come as little surprise that the Iraqi people still want US forces out of their country.  Editor & Publisher notes the latest polling which "found that 74% of Shiites and 91$ of Sunnis in Iraq want us to leave within a year.  The number of Shiites making this call in Baghdad where the U.S. may send more troops to bring order, is even higher (80%).  In contrast, earlier this year, 57% of this same group backed an 'open-ended' U.S. stay."  Of course, "earlier this year," was prior to the 'crackdown' that only increased the chaos and violence in Baghdad.  From World Public Opinion's poll summary: "An analysis of two nationwide polls taken by World Public in Iraq over the past year reveals both a heightened sense of insecurity in Baghdad, which is suffering from a wave of shootings, kidnappings and bombings, and an increasing desire to place some time limit on the presence of foreign troops. Unlike Shias elsewhere, those living in the capital do not favor disarming the militias.  Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only 'as the security situation improves,' a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence."
Meanwhile, a summit is expected for this weekend.  As CNN notes, "Syria cut diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1982."  They have restored ties and an summit is scheduled this weekend, in Tehran, for leadership from Iraq, Syria and Iran.  CBS and AP note Hoshyar Zebari (Foreign Minister of Iraq) declared, "Iraq's flag will fly in the sky of Damascus and Syria's flag will fly in the sky of Baghdad."  Jonathan Steele (Guardian of London) reports that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will meet with Bashar al-Assad (president of Syria) and Jalal Talabani (president of Iraq).
At the start of the month, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, demonstrated that there was no freedom of the press (one of the points in the four-point 'plan' that the media avoided covering) by shutting down two television stations.  As Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) reported, the crimes of  Salahiddin and Zarwra was "showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations."  And how's that working out for the puppet?  Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the latter is back on air, in spite of al-Maliki: "Al-Zawraa's ability to broadcast round the clock in defiance of the government is yet another example of the increasing technological prowess of insurgents and their supporters."  Now beamed in from Egypt, Mishaan al-Jubouri tells Allam, "When we were broadcasting in public from inside Iraq, we had to respect Iraqi law.  But when the Iraqi government broke the law and closed the channel for no legitimate reason, they turned us into a channel that broadcasts in secrecy."
So the puppet can't improve things.  Can anyone? 
Seems like I've
been sleeping in
your bed too
Seems like you've
been meaning to
do me harm
But I'll teach my
eyes to see
Beyond these
walls in front of
Someday I'll walk
out of here again
Someday I'll walk
out of here again

Ooh yeah
Ooh Yeah
Ooh Yeah
Ooh Yeah
Who knew Kofi Annan (UN Secretary General) was a Jimmy Cliff fan?  He might as well have been singing Jimmy Cliff's song when asked today what he thought of Tony Blair's agreement to the description of "disaster" applied to Iraq?
Kofi Annan: The US in a way is trapped in Iraq, trapped in the sense that it cannot stay and it cannot leave. There are those who maintain that its presence is a problem, and there are those who say that if they leave precipitously, the situation would get worse, and that they should stay on to help calm and stabilize the situation before they leave. I think the US obviously will have to think through this very, very carefully, but the timing of its departure will have to be optimal in the sense that it should not lead to further deterioration of the situation but try and get it into a level that when it leaves, when it withdraws, the Iraqis themselves will be able to continue to maintain a situation that would ensure a reasonable secure environment.
Meanwhile, in legal news from the United States, the Pendleton Eight is now four-to-four.  The eight (one sailor, seven marines) are accused in the April 26th death of Iraqi Hashim Ibrhaim Awad in Hamdania.  They are alleged to have kidnapped him from his home (when, supposedly, they couldn't find the person they -- not the military, they -- were after), killing him and then attempting to paint the grandfather as an "insurgent."  AP reports that Jerry E. Shumate Jr. "has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges . . . of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice".  Mark Walker (North County Times) notes that the other three to plead guilty Tyler Jackson, John Jodka III and Melson Bacos. The remaining four are Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Trent D. Thomas and Marshall L. Magincalda.
Also in the US, Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) report on "an anti-terrorist database used by the Defense Department" that was used to track and spy on peace "meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations".
As Mike noted yesterday (Mikey Likes It!), WBAI's Law and Disorder is doing a four-part series on the police state and, in the most recent installment, they spoke with Konstanty Hordynski of Students Against the War (UC Santa Cruz) whose group was among those spied on by the government.  The illegal spying hasn't stopped others from speaking out against the war (or stopped Hordynski or Students Against the War).  David H. Price (CounterPunch) reports on the most recent group to approve "resolutions condemning the occupation of Iraq and the use of torture": the American Anthropological Association.
As the calls for the war to end increase all over the world, the dangerous at any location, Bully Boy was in Hawaii today.  CNN notes that "three poplice motorcycles excorting his motorcade crashed on slick pavement and rolled onto a grassy median" -- one is in serious condition, one in stable condition and no word on the third.  Wait, there's more.  AP reports that Greg Pitts ("acting director of the White House Travel Office") left Bobby G's Dance Club (Waikiki) at two a.m. (just when the Tru Rebels were winding down) and "was robbed and beaten".  Dawg House and Coconut Willie's are so close by.  But they do have the Monday night jello shots for a buck.
Turning to news of passings.  The BBC reports on the funeral for Walid Hassan, sketch comedy star of the Iraqi TV show Caricature, who was shot dead Monday in Baghdad: "Mr Hassan's coffin was tied to the top of a taxi for the 160km (100 mile) journey from Baghdad to the Shia holy city of Najaf."  Meanwhile director Robert Altman (Nashville, M*A*S*H, Short Cuts, The Player, Gosford Park, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, and more) passed away Monday.  The 81-year-old Altman was a vocal opponent of the illegal war singing on to the Not In Our Name petition in the fall of 2002 and continuing to speak his mind including while up for an Oscar (Best Director) for Gosford Park in 2003 when he stated "This present government in America I just find disgusting, the idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully -- he can't even speak!"

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