Saturday, December 02, 2006

NYT: Bully's got no plans but a lot of starter sets (Sanger & Wong)

"If you think Maliki may not survive," said one senior administration official, "you'd want to make sure that the president is talking to the guy who might well form the next government."

The above is from David E. Sanger and Edward Wong's "Bush to Meet With Head of Powerful Iraq Shiite Party" in today's New York Times and it's addressing the meet up next week (if it comes off) with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Bully Boy also plans to meet with Tariq al-Hashemi who is one of Iraq's vice-presidents.

The article addresses Robin Wright's "U.S. Considers Ending Outreach to Insurgents" (Washington Post) (without noting publication or authorship) wherein the administration that's been in contact with what they've dubbed the 'insurgency' for months and is now rethinking that. What the article in the Times really drives home is that there is still no plan. There are lots of we-mays, that's all.

All this time after, the US administration still doesn't have a plan. Maybe they'll stay with the puppet but his turn of (bad) fortune means they better have something cooking on another burner. At some point, they may actually trip over a plan but currently the only plan for the illegal war remains lying to garner support for it and the only plan they had for a post-invasion was the 'free' market wet dream Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) exposed.

Elsewhere? Shery Gay Stolberg offers an article on body language. It was interesting. Thursday. In the Times of London. Today, it just seems a rather tired topic.

Today, the US military announces: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Armored Division died Dec. 1 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Today, CNN places the count at 2889, ICCC at 2890 -- count of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. Today, the AP reports: "Three parked car bombs exploded in central Baghdad on Saturday near a predominantly Shiite area packed with vendors, killing at least 91 people and wounding dozens, officials said." Today, CNN reports: "Iraq police found 44 bullet-riddled bodies along various Baghdad streets Saturday during their patrols."

Another difference between the Times of London and the Times of New York, Stephen Farrell didn't have to go running to experts to tell him what he should have seen with his own eyes. He just reported what he saw. But thanks for the rebroadcast. There was also a repeat this week. We'll be noting it at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Apparently, putting out a daily paper is too much work for the Times (of New York) so they felt the need to offer up repeats. Maybe they were on hiatus?

Visitors have e-mailed for about two weeks now to get a book review highlighted. I did take it over to The Third Estate Sunday Review as a potential short entry but we had other things both weekends. So I'll address it here.

If a work (of any kind) is something you're unable/unwilling to finish, that's fine. Note it in your review. But don't pretend, in this case, you read a book when, at best, you only skimmed it. The second paragraph of JoE Silva's book review of Static opens, "The cover of Static, which she co-wrote with journo hubby David Goodman . . ." The review concludes, "Through sheer osmosis, those in the electorate who have never heard of her or her husband . . ."

Now visitors may be thrilled by the review (for various reasons) but there's not a member in this community who just read the preceding paragraph and has any desire to read another word. Why? Who cares about Silva's opinion? He's made himself a joke (and the fact that there's been no correction to the review makes the site that carries the review a joke as well).

The review is the standard b.s. meaning it's someone's idea of scholarly. Apparently The New Republic(an) Style Manual is now available and being sent out to many. It's a boring review. It would probably do well in some schools but it's lousy writing, lousy thought. Worst of all, it's lifeless.

But no one in this community would give a damn what JoE Silva has to say because he doesn't just make an error about something not addressed in the book, he makes a HUGE error about a book he claims to have read. Amy Goodman and David Goodman are not married to each other.
They are sister and brother and only a nitwit who skimmed the book to play the "on the one hand . . . on the other" game could make such an idiotic mistake. (Why it wasn't caught by anyone else at the site -- why it still hasn't been caught by anyone else at the site -- calls the site itself into question.)

Do I have quibbles over the book? I identified some. I believe I noted a typo that got a year wrong and I also noted that a War Hawk shouldn't be presented in a chapter on anti-warriors. (And when Mommy's Pantyhose wouldn't let Goodman complete a sentence on CNN, I think my point was backed up.) But I recommended it (and recommend it still) strongly.

The fact that Silva and I disagree on the book doesn't matter to me. I enjoy many reviews I disagree with. The fact that Silva wants to pose as having read a book and can't grasp that the Goodmans are brother and sister, not a married couple, is appalling.

Again, if he couldn't read the whole book, for whatever reason, that doesn't mean he couldn't review it. I walked out on Natural Born Killers. I have a ton to say about that film still. But I don't pretend I sat through until the credits rolled.

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)? Today, Robert Dreyfuss addresses options for Iraq, Malik Rahim gives up update on New Orleans and Dave Marsh discussed his latest book (Bruce Springsteen on Tour: 1968-2005). Sunday, Amiri Baraka discusses Tales of The Out and The Gone (his collection of short stories), Mark Hertsgaard and Herb Boyd join Flanders for a media roundtable, and Kindra Muntz discusses the voting problems in Florida's 13th Congressional district.

Rachel notes that WBAI

Sunday, December 3, 11am-noon
Cynthia Croot curates this presentation from THAW (Theatres Against War) in collaboration with member theatre companies The Driling Company and The Butane Group, with music by The Gentle Troubadour and The Wandering Minstrel.Monday,

December 4, 2-3pm
Author Stefan Kanfer on his new book, "Stardust Lost: The Triumph, Tragedy and Mishugas of the Yiddish Theater in America"; singer Freda Payne on her upcoming tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at Iridium; Norma Rogers and other senior citizens from the St. Margaret House Theatre discuss their original plays. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Last week [this is corrected] the two programs above gave you two chances to hear Gore Vidal. If you missed that, you can access them at the WBAI archives.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz
Wally's The Daily Jot:
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen*

*Trina's having the same problem I am this morning with Blogger/Blogspot. She's got a portion of her entry saved after losing most of it. If she's not up yet, she will be shortly. The time on this post is hours ago now. Take it up with Blogger/Blogspot. If that hadn't happened, I'd be addressing another Iraq topic. About five hours later, I just want this thing posted and over. If we don't address the topic at The Third Estate Sunday Review, I'll address it next week (probably in a snapshot).

We will note Margaret Kimberley's "Black Lovers of White Supremacy" (Black Agenda Report):

White supremacy is on the march in America. White university students boldly host Ghetto Fabulous parties, and film themselves in black face. Michigan voters approved a proposal to end affirmative action. White performers make jokes about lynching and know they will still get laughs.
White actor and wannabe comic Michael Richards yearns for the
good old days, when white men could torture and kill with impunity. During a performance he told black audience members, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass."
Initial reports indicated that Richards had been heckled by black audience members. Heckling is a harsh but time honored show business tradition, but according to Richards' defenders, not for black folks. Even if the account had been true, his words were still inexcusable, an expression of the belief that blacks have no rights that a white unfunny comedian need respect.
Kyle Doss and Frank McBride walked into the Laugh Factory with a group of 20 other friends. As they recalled in a Today Show interview which Richards declined, they made it clear they hadn't heckled or spoken to Richards until he attacked them.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Iraq snapshot

December 1, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, early numbers for November indicate a dramatic rise (another dramatic rise) in the number of civilian deaths, does the puppet of the occupation feel the EARTH . . . MOVE . .. under his feet (nod to Carole King "I Feel The Earth Move"), and the James Baker Circle Jerk continues to raise eyebrows.
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that the Iraq Interior Ministry has released their statistics for November's death toll in Iraq, 1,850 --  and increase of 44% from their count of 1,289 for October.  Macdonald reminds, "Although it does not appear to encompass all violent deaths in Iraq, the Interior Ministry's statistical series has reflected trends".
And for the living?  Not much better as Dahr Jamail discussed with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday.  Dahr explained how the violence was so common, the attacks so rampant, that for fear of their safety, many Iraqis no longer sent their children off to school (approximately 30% was the number given).  On the topic of the daily violence and the people effected, Isam Rasheed (Alive in Baghdad) provides a video report from a clinic in Adhamiya where Ahmed Hameed (cigarette vendor) explains how a car bombing resulted in his hand and leg being lost, "I was working and someone left a car bomb. It blew up shortly after they had left.  I woke up and found myself thrown against a wall beside my friend Shukri."; Shukri Abdul (owner of the Al-Areesh restaurant) then explains being outside his restaurant speking with an ice vendor when the car bomb went off "And I can remember landing on the ground. I was blown into the air, and when I landed, everything piled on top of me, the pots & corrugated metals."  Shurki Abdul also lost his arm and foot and experienced severe damage to his back.  This is the daily reality and, as Dahr pointed out, the only area under US control was the Green Zone section of Baghdad but now even the Bremer walls that wall off the section do not translate as 'safe.'  Dahr spoke of speaking with a US marine stationed in Ramadi where he was part of 200 US forces expected to provide order to a city of 400,000. 
Dahr noted that move to pull forces out of Ramadi and the rest of the Al-Anbar Province in order to send them to Baghdad to secure the capital.  Earlier this week, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on a Marine Corps intelligence report entitled "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar" which tagged the area "a failed province," one that was beyond US control. Also earlier this week, Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reported that, in an effort to 'secure' the capital -- 'crackdown' in any version didn't, the Pentagon is weighing pulling the 30,000 US troops out of the province and redeploying them to Baghdad.
Also addressed by Dahr was the issue of the realignmment on the ground in Iraq's parliament where new alliances are being formed with Muqtada al-Sadr's group and Dahr wondered exactly how much longer the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, would be in place?  CBS and AP report that Tariq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, has stated "he wanted to see al-Maliki's government gone and another 'understanding' for a new coalition put in place with guarantees that ensure collective decision making" while Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie (handmaiden to the puppet) has said the fault lies with the presidency (a ceremonial position) and not with the prime minister he (al-Zuabaie) serves under. If the memo Stephen Hadley penned November 8th is taken at all seriously don't be surprised to discover US monies are being tossed around right now in an attempt to ensure that new coalitions will be to the US administration's liking.  Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) examines the events and notes "the sudden move by al-Sadr's Shiite bloc, which pulled out of the Baghdad government over al-Maliki's meeting with Bush, provides the anti-occupation coalition with significant, perhaps decisive, power, if they choose to bring down al-Maliki's shaky coalition."  [Hayden's earlier reports on the al-Maliki upset are: "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance."]
Did someone say shaky?

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report a double car bombing claimed one life and left six family members wounded in the Sadiyah section of Baghdad; while mortar rounds "near Muqdadiya" killed three and left 14 wounded; and, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took two lives and left three wounded.  CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad ("near a fruit and vegetable market") that killed two and left 16 more wounded.  AFP notes, "A bomb exploded in the centre of Baghdad on the east side of the Tigris river, killing three people and wouding 16, while another car bomb killed three people on the outskirts of the capital." 
Alastair Macdonald and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) report: "Machinegun fire rained from U.S. helicopters in central Baghdad . . . the Interior Ministry said one soldier had been killed and nine people wounded, including five soldiers."  Reuters reports three people were killed by gunfire (two police officers, one civilian) in Samawa.
Reuters reports that 20 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and fourteen in Mosul while noting the fourteen had been kidnapped on Thursday.

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that, Thursday, "Hadib Majhoul, chairman of the popular Talaba soccer club" was kidnapped.
In addition, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations here Nov. 30."   The death brings to 2,888 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war according to ICCC's count and CNN's as well. Twelve away from the 2900 mark.
This as Antonella Cinelli (Reuters) reports that "Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Friday, lowering the tricolour flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003."
Meanwhile, although the Iraq Study Group has released its findings, people continue to ponder the James Baker Circle Jerk.  As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today, the James Baker Circle Jerk is rumored to call for a 2008 'withdrawal' that is not, in fact, a withdrawal.  It's a continuation of the air war that Norman Solomon has been describing for months now.  It's also the James Baker Circle Jerk stroking themselves on the public dollar.  The onanistic nonsense not only revolves around the air war, it also pushes embedding US forces with Iraqi police squads and forces. 
For those who've forgotten how Patrick McCaffrey died and the battle his mother Nadia McCaffrey has had to fight to force the US government to get honest could see the 'suggestion' as worthy of suggesting.  (Patrick McCaffrey and Andre Tyson, with the US National Guard, were killed in Iraq.  The US government told the families that the two men were killed by 'insurgents.'  In reality, they were killed, June 22, 2004, by Iraqi security forces they were training.) 
Addressing the James Baker Circle Jerk on this week's CounterSpin, Gary Younge (Guardian of London; The Nation) observed to Steve Rendall,, "The fact that this study group was necessary itself highlights a flaw in American politics.  Democracy should have been able to deal with this, not an appointed study group."  As Younge explained the responsibility the group was tasked with was Congress' own responsibility . . . until they outsourced it.
In peace news, Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports that the revelations of the US government spying on peace activists is not slowly plans for the march in Washington, DC January 27th.  Among the groups spied on were CODEPINK, United For Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, the War Resisters League and the American Friends Service Committee.
The War Resisters League will be presenting Sir! No Sir! tomorrow (Saturday, December 2nd) at both seven pm and nine-thirty pm.  This kicks off the War Resisters League and the Brecht Forum's Screenpeace: An Antiwar Film Festival that will hold screenings of other films on Fridays during January.
In other activism news, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are asking for a National "Mandate for Peace" Call-in Day, Monday, December 4th.  To sign the petition click here. To phone your rep and senators, you can dial 202-224-3121.  PDA notes: "On Election Day, voters said enough is enough -- we want a new direction.  Let's make sure Congress hears it again by jamming the switchboards on Dec. 4 with our pleas to bring our troops home immediately."

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Other Items

The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.
[. . .]
Opponents of the proposal cite three dangers. Without reconciliation, military commanders fear that U.S. troops would be fighting the symptoms of Sunni insurgency without any prospect of getting at the causes behind it -- notably the marginalization of the once-powerful minority. U.S. troops would be left fighting in a political vacuum, not a formula for either long-term stabilization or reducing attacks on American targets.
A second danger is that the United States could appear to be taking sides in the escalating sectarian strife. The proposal would encourage Iraqis to continue reconciliation efforts. But without U.S. urging, outreach could easily stall or even atrophy, deepening sectarian tensions, U.S. sources say.
A decision to step back from reconciliation efforts would also be highly controversial among America's closest allies in the region, which are all Sunni governments. Sunni leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms have been pressuring the United States to ensure that their brethren are included in Iraq's power structure and economy.

The above, noted by Lloyd, is from Robin Wright's "U.S. Considers Ending Outreach to Insurgents" (Washington Post). If New York Times readers are wondering why they've been unable to read of the efforts, possibly you can't be a Bobble Head Pundit out of DC and report at the same time? Meanwhile, Peter Wallsten and Solomon Moore (LA Times) note that "Sunni Arab leaders are wary of greater Shiite control over Iraq's security forces, elements of which are widely accused of thousands of death-squad killings of Sunnis."

The rest of this entry's focus is war resistance within the military. First up, Joy notes Dan Margolis' "Super-Sunday events for PWW" (People's Weekly World):

"We'll raise several thousand dollars," Lance Cohn said of the 19th Annual People's Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo Banquet in Illinois, of which he is a principal organizer. Cohn said that the banquet, which will be held in a Greek restaurant, has attracted a wide audience. "We have more elected officials coming this time than before. The mood is going to be upbeat.
"We're coming off of a celebration," Cohn added, "and people will be a lot more generous knowing that the PWW was an important part of this drive to change Congress."
The Chicago banquet, to be held Dec. 3, will feature living wage and peace resolutions sponsor city Alderman Freddrenna Lyle as the keynote speaker, and will honor immigrant rights activist Elvira Arellano, union activists Bea and Frank Lumpkin, disability rights group ADAPT, the March 10th immigrant rights coalition and AFSCME workers who are fighting to organize Resurrection Hospital -- all familiar to PWW readers.
PWW friends in Chicago are not the only ones organizing events. That same weekend, friends and supporters of the People's Weekly World will host banquets and forums across the country, celebrating the November victory, uniting for upcoming struggles, honoring activists and organizations and raising money for the PWW. It’s the PWW's Super Sunday.
• In New York City, Rep. Major Owens will be honored at the annual "Better World Awards" for his years of progressive struggle in Congress. Also being honored is Betty Smith, president of International Publishers and longtime fighter for peace and democracy. Elena Mora, chair of the N.Y. State Communist Party, will discuss the recent election results.
• In Oakland, the featured speaker will be Navy war resister Pablo Paredes. Joining him on the platform will be Kenneth Hayes, recent high school graduate and anti-youth-violence activist. Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the anti-nuclear-weapons organization Western States Legal Foundation; Lester Rodney, sports editor for the PWW's predecessor paper, The Daily Worker; the Blue Diamond Workers Organizing Committee; the Campaign against Unjust Immigration Laws; and the Coalition for Justice for Immigrants are all being honored.

There are more events mentioned in the article, but Joy wanted to note Pablo Paredes. And with more on the topic of war resisters, Brad notes Jay J. Harker's "Is There a Case for War Resistance?" (Dissident Voices):

Conscientious objection is based on a religious objection and is only granted if you have what the draft board considers a sincere belief. Some people's objections to serving are not based on this, so this becomes a problem for them too which should be changed. Many others don't know they could be COs. They haven't heard of it. And they could qualify for the status on religious grounds easily. Maybe we need Congress to change the laws and spread the word about conscientious objection.
In the 1960s we were heavily involved in fighting the Vietnam War and there were massive protests. The Civil Rights had been going on and many people were growing their hair long and "dropping out". As a youth in those days you could not help but be affected.
In High School, I was an honor roll student, an active participant in soccer and baseball, a co-president of the student body and when I met another boy who was doing this, who was not going to register, I said, "Yes, this is it."
Ah, the folly of youth, eh? But I thought it was the right thing to do. It made a clear statement that I would not participate in a system whose sole purpose was the taking of life. This is conscientious, religious objection based on an interpretation of Jesus's message to us. I also think that it is a logical choice in a mad world. At some point we have to say no more of this nonsense. Jesus, too, would have been a "draft dodger"!

And, from United for Peace and Justice, Kendrick notes "War Resisters -- Support the Troops Who Refuse to FightNovember 29th, 2006:"

It takes courage to say that you will not fight -- especially if you are a soldier. As more members of the U.S. military step forward for peace, the peace movement must step forward to support them.
Large numbers are now refusing to serve: The Department of Defense estimates that there are about 8,000 AWOL service members. The
GI Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) is currently receiving about 3,000 calls a month.
Most importantly, a growing number of soldiers are speaking out, against the illegality and immorality of the Iraq war and the orders they are being told to carry out. These brave men and women are risking jail time and their futures to stand up against the war.
Here are two of the growing number of resisters,
click here for a fuller list:
Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, had been facing more than seven years in prison for criticizing the president in a public speech, until the charge of "contempt toward the President" was rescinded following public outcry. He still faces up to four years in prison; his trial is set to begin on Feb. 5, 2007.
A federal appeals court is currently reviewing Army medic
Spc. Agustín Aguayo's case and considering whether to overturn the Army's decision to deny him conscientious objector status. If Aguayo's appeal is successful, it will be a historic victory; if it fails, Aguayo could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
The stories of returning combat veterans helped turn the tide and end the war in Vietnam. Today's war resisters are providing critical first-hand knowledge of the horror and illegality of the Iraq war. Each servicemember who has spoken out against the war in Iraq has inspired more war resisters to come forward.
What You Can Do:
Keep war resisters' cases in the media: Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or call into radio talk shows and talk about their cases;
Organize a war resister solidarity event in your area: Invite a war resister or someone working on a war resister's case to speak at a public event;
Keep pressure on the military to treat war resisters fairly: Write letters to officials at the base where a resister is being held and/or his or her case is being tried;
Write letters of personal support: See websites listed below for details;
Join the December 8-10 days of action, organized by Courage to Resist and the War Resisters Support Campaign, in support of Lt. Watada and all GI resisters.
Click here and on the websites listed below for the latest news on war resisters' cases and more specific information on how best to help them:
P.S. In January, on Martin Luther King Day, a petition called "An Appeal for Redress," signed by more than 500 active duty troops, will be delivered to Congress. It reads: "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home." To support this powerful effort, sponsored by UFPJ member groups Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out, write letters to the editors of your local newspapers and to your congressional representatives bringing this campaign to their attention, and urging them to listen to these courageous soldiers.

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NYT: "Having Pinned Little Hopes on Talks, Many Iraqis Appear to Be Beyond Disappointment" (Kirk Semple)

Even if Sana al-Nabhani had cared about the summit meeting in Jordan on Thursday between Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Bush, she would not have been able to watch the news. As usual, Iraqis went without electricity from the national grid for most of the day and she could not find any gasoline to run her personal generator.
Told by a reporter later in the day about the meeting's outcome, Ms. Nabhani, a 34-year-old homemaker, scoffed: "Is that all? Was that even worth the fuel consumed by their airplanes?"
Her dismay was common among Iraqis who managed to follow the news on Thursday. So was a range of other emotions that probably would not hearten Mr. Maliki or Mr. Bush, including disappointment, indifference and despair.
For many, the talks promised little and delivered less and reaffirmed a widespread loss of faith in the elected government's ability to turn things around.

The above is from Kirk Semple's "Having Pinned Little Hope on Talks, Many Iraqis Appear to Be Beyond Disappointment" in this morning's New York Times. Oh yes, Iraqis. As the press showed how little removed they were from the paparazzi yesterday ("Over here, Jimmy Baker! Can you give us a smile, Bully Boy?"), Iraqis were forgotten. They were pretty much all filing for E! yesterday. Is this the best J-schools can produce? Rona Barretts and Lolly Parsons have infiltrated the supposed serious press? (Actually Barrett would have done a better job.)

Did no one teach them that, for instance, opening with something along the lines of "As at least 80 corpses were discovered in Baghdad alone, the Bully Boy and Nouri al-Maliki met in Amman, Jordan . . ." would not just provide context but also make for what used to be known as "journalism"?

Apparently not.

Apparently, they learned gushing only.

And were happy to display it repeatedly yesterday. Even Reuters couldn't stop filing that crap over and over all day yesterday.

Where were the editors? Were they on an extended lunch? They weren't doing their job. They weren't reminding the 'reporters' that this wasn't the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and that entrances and exits weren't, in and of themselves, 'events.'

Even if they assumed the photo ops mattered, did they not think to instruct the reporters to explain why they mattered in the 'reports' they were filing?

Apparently not. We saw the usual bias and the usual fawning which, at this late date, is no surprise. What was surprising is how divorced from actual news the majority of the 'reporting' was. Reporters, real reporters, used to sneer at features and 'soft' journalism. Yesterday demonstrated (again) that feature writing offers more context today than what now passes for 'hard reporting.'

And what may be the worst thing is reporters and 'reporters' saw what was weighted, what was given play and many may adapt to this new model. Semple's piece (and another one we'll do an excerpt from in a moment) could have been heavily pushed on the Times website yesterday. Instead, they went with the Davids (one of whom offers a news analysis today -- apparently it's a make up assignment but does that make up for the incomplete being shared repeatedly with readers yesterday?).

How does this matter? Why does this matter? The 'reports' yesterday that just repeated claims without even examing them never bothered to consider those issues. Press releases abounded, real journalism took a holiday.

While Semple gives voice to Iraqis (the people who will be directly effected by yesterday's press releases) and notes some of the chaos and violence, Hassan M. Fattah takes a look at how the 'announcements' greeted with so much breathless panting in the news media domestically were received in the Araba world with "As the Talks on Iraq Conclude, Arabs Wonder, Is That All?"

But as the summit meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Kamal Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq concluded Thursday morning, the Arab world was left dumbfounded that nothing had come of it.
"I am baffled by what I saw," said Abdel Moneim Said, director of the Ahram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo. "This was an expression of the Americans in deep trouble, but Bush's approach to dealing with the Iraqi problem also bore the signs of someone out of touch with what is going on."
Mr. Bush said American troops would remain in Iraq unless Mr. Maliki's government asked them to leave, and he pledged to accelerate the transfer of authority to Iraqi security forces, but without offering any details. He dismissed calls for a timed withdrawal and emphasized that he and Mr. Maliki would oppose any plan to partition the country. And he seemed to dismiss the possibility of opening relations with Iran while insisting he is realistic about the difficulties in Iraq.
"I did not see a coherent strategy that really deals with the situation," Mr. Said said. "I did not see Bush realizing how bad it is."

Today, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations here Nov. 30." And, in what may shock many news consumers after yesterday's failure to report on Iraq, Alastair Macdonald and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) report:

Machinegun fire rained from U.S. helicopters in central Baghdad on Friday as U.S. and Iraqi troops clashed with gunmen during a raid to seize militants, police and witnesses said.
The fighting erupted when the troops moved into the Fadhil area, a stronghold of Sunni insurgents, and were fired upon by militants hiding in houses, an Interior Ministry source told Reuters.
The fighting came a day after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said his forces could take over from the Americans in June. His comments followed talks with President Bush, who strongly backed him as the "right guy" for Iraq.

Some news consumers may think, "I thought the violence stopped." It didn't, just the reporting of it yesterday.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

In the summer of 2006, a group of young women who had just become aware of Abeer Hamza's story approached Not in Our Name. These women were so outraged and sickened by the story they had heard in the news media that they pledged to somehow remember Abeer on what would have been her 15th birthday. This effort grew into a collaboration with other groups and individuals that resulted in tri-city vigils remembering Abeer Hamza's life on Saturday August 19th, 2006. At that time, we demanded "No Amnesty" for those responsible for these acts. We demanded justice for Abeer and all Iraqis.
Today we are reminded again of Abeer and her family. Today we are reminded that Abeer will not reach her 16th birthday this coming August. That her life was taken in the most horrific of crimes. That her young body was burned by the perpetrators to cover the evidence of their misdeeds.
Today we must also be reminded that this heinous crime happened against the backdrop of an illegal war and a brutal occupation. We can claim a small victory because one of these men has been held accountable for his actions. Our demand for No Amnesty and Justice for Abeer has been met in this way. However, until the last U.S. troop leaves Iraq, we continue to demand that the U.S. get out now. Abeer Hamza's case is one of many. It is one that has broken through the media silence and has reached our living rooms. Alongside this case are hundreds more.
What is happening in Iraq is more than a "quagmire," it is a crime against the people of Iraq and it must be stopped.

The above, noted by Lynda, is from Max Diorio's "More than a 'quagmire,' the occupation war is a crime against the people of Iraq" (Not In Our Name). Lynda noticed the Jeff Paterson photo credit from Courage to Resist and thought to check Not In Our Name. She wanted it noted that while a pool of reporters can chase after the Bully Boy to Jordan, they weren't interested in chasing down the story of Abeer.

Lynda: I have lost respect for all media outlets. Abeer's story should be as well known as Phan Thi Kim Phuc's. That image forced Americans to face what was going on in Vietnam. This story? Nothing. On the 'left' media, I don't know if they're fools, cowards, idiots or just all talk but there's no excuse for the silence. I'm disgusted by all of them.

Lynda, did you coach a group of college students? (That's a joke, see Kat's entry tonight.) Phan Thi Kim Phuc, for younger members, was nine-years-old when her village, Trang Bang, was bombed by the South Vietnamese. Nick Ut was the AP photographer who took the infamous photo.

For more on Abeer, you can refer to "Justice for Abeer and her family?" and "Abeer" (both The Third Estate Sunday Review pieces). This should have been a big story. Maybe it will be? Maybe when Steven D. Green goes to trial, since he was discharged from the military, he'll be made the sole focus? Possibly so. But while there was time to gas bag about the elections (and apparently still is), there was time to cover James P. Barker's confession. Not a big surprise since, when Abeer's story was unfolding during the Article 32 hearing, no one was too interested. Well, Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall were interested in making sure that the defense argument was made . . . before the defense could even make it. Before anyone knew of it. Strange that Worth and Marshall knew what the argument would be, especially since it came as a surprise to at least one legal expert. Guess they're psychics.

Strange how their 'gifts' work. For instance, not a peep out of them during the reign of Paul L. Bremer. Iraq's still suffering from his reign. West notes Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Business Becomes a Big Casualty" (IPS):

"Iraq got the foreign investment rules long sought by U.S. corporations," Antonia Juhasz, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, and author of 'The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time' told IPS earlier.
Juhasz said the new laws, which were a part of the 100 'Bremer Orders' instituted by former U.S. administrator Paul Bremer when he headed the Coalition Provisional Authority during the first year of the occupation, provided a flood of benefits for U.S. companies.
These included "100 percent repatriation of profits earned in Iraq by foreign companies; 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, including banks; privatisation of Iraq's state owned enterprises; 100 percent immunity for U.S. contractors and soldiers from Iraq's laws; and 'national treatment' which allowed for Iraqis to be all but excluded from the reconstruction for years while the U.S. government paid 50 billion dollars to some 150 U.S. corporations for work in Iraq."
What followed was "a U.S. corporate invasion of Iraq," Juhasz said. "Many companies had their sights set on privatisation in Iraq, also made possible by Bremer, which helps explain their interest in 'major overhauls' rather than getting the systems up and running."
In contrast, there was much state support for businesses under the previous regime, which followed a socialist system under which the government allowed Iraqis to establish their own factories and workshops, and supported them in many ways.

Zach's already noted that Dahr was a guest on Flashpoints tonight and I'm listening to a broadcast of that right now. We'll work it into the snapshot tomorrow. But to the article West noted, it's important to remember there was a "plan." They say there wasn't. They say that's why Iraq suffers now. There was a plan. Naomi Klein documented what it was in "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine). That's where 'planning' went.

And when you grasp how much time was spent on that, you realize what a con the talk of 'liberation' and 'democracy' always were.

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 2871. Right now? 2887. That's 13 away from the 2900 mark. It's 67 for the month thus far and, no doubt, some will rush to print with "67 Dead for November" if they bother to leave the pack of sycophants surrounding Bully Boy (the fawning press) long enough to remember to check on Iraq. Of course, the US military has a habit of noting a death a day or two after the press plays the summary game.

So as 2006 enters it's final month and winds down, how's that 'cakewalk' feeling? March 2003, almost four years ago (no, I have no idea why some people are saying 'four and a half years' either, my math may not be strong but even I can count years). And we'll hit the 2900 mark. shortly. Some 'cakewalk,' huh?

And because Congress and many in the media, big and small (especially small?), can't address Iraq without hiding behind something (the flag, generals, you name it), that number will continue to climb and climb. And when the illegal war is finally over, watch for some of the media outlets who did nothing (I'm referring to small media here) to make claims they have not earned and to continue making those claims when the next illegal war comes along. People will scratch their heads then, as many do now, wondering what happened?

How come they were so brave then but they aren't now?

The truth, and be sure to pass this on because it's important, is that they weren't that brave in real time. They're brave only in a hazy afterglow. They can turn out election guides. They can write bad pieces on tired topics that have already fallen off the op-ed pages months ago, they just can't address the realities of war.

Today, one of the groups we spoke with, as Kat notes, was very angry about one print outlet. They had examples, oh, did they have examples. Valid ones. People are noticing, students are. While students are being slammed and hectored about their own activism (and they are active, despite the myth), they're noticing that would-be-leaders aren't.

To be tip-toeing, all this time later, is both silly and embarrassing. (And for one group of students, disgusting.) It's shameful, actually.

When the people are ahead of elected officials and the mainstream press, it's not surprising. Change comes from the people. But when supposed independents spend their time trying to avoid topics, it's just shameful. All the more so when the public has long ago turned against the war.

But not everyone's silent and let's be grateful for the few, the proud, the truly independent. Keesha notes Mickey Z.'s "Vietnam, Iraq, and the M Word" (Op-Ed News):

Jimmy Carter was the latest to use the M Word. The former president said he believes the "occupancy of Iraq and all the consequences of it are a big mistake." This echoes John Kerry's infamous 1971 question: "How do you ask a man to die for a mistake?" Hmm...perhaps recalling a few details about the Vietnam "mistake" might shine some light on the Iraq "blunder."
In 1954, Vice President Richard Nixon explained the need for U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia: "The Vietnamese lack the ability to conduct a war or govern themselves." Over the next two decades, the U.S. (by mistake?) dropped the equivalent of one 500-pound bomb for every person living in Vietnam. (Those bomber doors really needed better latches.) In 1966, David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News & World Report, wrote: "What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times." When challenged with stories of American atrocities in Vietnam, Lawrence corrected his little gaffe, "Primitive peoples with savagery in their hearts have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized existence." When at war with savages, you can rationalize dumping 400,000 tons of napalm on them.
What Americans (mistakenly) called the "Viet Cong" was really the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the NLF enjoyed the broad support of the Vietnamese people. In response, the U.S. Army began, as author Mark Zepezauer explains, "destroying villages, herding people into internment camps, weeding out the leaders and turning the countryside into a 'free-fire zone' (in other words, shoot anything that moves)."
Part of this terror campaign was Operation Phoenix, an assassination program put into action by the CIA (oops). "Between 1968 and 1972 hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians were rounded up and turned over to the Vietnamese police for questioning," says former CIA agent, Ralph McGehee. "Such interrogation has usually been marked by brutal torture." (Our bad.) Zepezauer adds: "Some were tossed from helicopters during interrogation." (Surely they slipped.)

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Iraq snapshot

November 30, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Baker-Hamiliton Love-Fest sucks up more headlines than the addled-brain panel deserves, shifts on the political ground occur but the media's too busy being whimpering little dogs chasing after their master to note reality, and peace organizations call for a show of support for war resisters and for some action.
Starting with yesterday's  The KPFA Evening News where Sandra Lupien spoke with Global Exchange's Raed Jarrar who explained that some members of Iraq's parliament were under the impression that they would be discussing the possibility of renewing the UN mandate for US forces next week and were unaware that the puppet of the occupation had already 'addressed' that (on Tuesday). Jarrar discussed how what support there was for the puppet had faded as it had been apparent how ineffectual Nouri al-Maliki was, how he's now seen as a failure and how hope is pretty much destroyed.
Raed Jarrar: Let me add one thing, during the last three days some  major developments are happening.  Yesterday one of the secular groups pulled out of the government -- a group called Reconciliation and Liberation Front, they pulled out from the government.  And today a southern group pulled out from the government.  And tommorow it's a big possiblity that a number of secular and Sunni and Shia  are planning to pull out from the government as well and form this newly, form a front under the name Iraq Salvation Government or the National Iraqi Salvation Front or something.
So all of these things are happening now, at the same time that Maliki is meeting with Bush, so it seems the Iraqi political map is going to change radically within the next few days or
Staying with that topic (the one the New York Times may trip over and discover tomorrow), CNN reports that Muqtada al-Sadr announced a possible new political alliance with Sunnis and Christians.  Calling the group" you know this is coming "'a national front,' the head of al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament -- Falah Hassan Shanshel -- said the groups would target the U.N. Security Council's decision to extend the mandate of 160,000 multinational force in Iraq for another year."
Meanwhile, the Iraq Study Group has issued their findings: (1) All US troops should be brought home immediately; (2) Reparations shall be paid by the US government to Iraq through the United Nations; (3) The US Congress should immediately begin impeachments hearings; (4) A War Crimes Tribunal should hear testimony into the destruction of Falluja; (5) Dexter Filkins shall be charged with crimes against humanity for his 'reporting' on Falluja and, in fact, all of his reporting on or from Iraq.
The findings were published today by the original Iraq Study Group, not the lame Lee Hamilton-James Baker Circle Jerk.  The findings are signed by the original chairs: Nina, Tony and Mike. And if the findings seem more democratic than those of the James Baker Circle Jerk, well one was of the people, the other was created to provide cover for the US administration.
Turning to news of the James Baker Circle Jerk.  They did not recommend withdrawal.  David E. Sanger and David S. Cloud (New York Times) reported in this morning's paper that the James Baker Circle Jerk would recommend that 15 combat brigades be stationed at bases in Iraq or neighboring countries and the James Baker Circle Jerk would not endorse withdrawal of US troops.  The James Baker Circle Jerk hopefully checked with "neighboring countries" because, as many will remember, Turkey got aid from the US while hemming and hawwing and, woops, what do you know, their air space would not be used for Bully Boy's illegal war.   The James Baker Circle Jerk was a way for him to tap into the Saudi monies he's always tapped into and greed merchants like Lee Hamilton got to go along for the ride.  At 75-years-old, there may be nothing left for him to do but stand around open mouthed.  But then the James Baker Circle Jerk was never about the "best and brightest."  It was, instead, the tired, the corrupt and the cronies.
The Davids are back with their update to say, "Our sources were right."  Yes, in what passes for bravery at the Times, all that sucking up allows them their exclusives about reports that will be released.  So they've twice wasted everyone's time stroking their sources off on in print while real issues went uncovered and critical abilities (which are supposed to be in a journalist's bag of tricks) again get shoved to the curb.  They've chased after Bully Boy, they've chased after the James Baker Circle Jerk
They just can't find Iraq with a seeing eye dog and an escort.  (Should that read a heavily armed escorts?  It should.)  As Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) noted Tuesday, on potential findings of the cover group, "It only postpones the inevitable, the need to exit Iraq before the blood of war sills over into the national presidential election."
Let's leave the James Baker Circle Jerk to the boys (and Sandy Day O'Connor) and instead focus on reality.  The BBC reports that two Iraqi women were killed in Baquba on Wednesday by US forces which follows by one day the killing of "five girls . . . by US tank fire in Ramadi."  This comes at a time when the ICRC issues a statement ending with: "The ICRC calls again upon all parties to the conflict to respect the rules of international humanitarian law and to spare civilians and civilian property.  In addition, it urges all those who can make use of their moral and political influence on the ground to call for respect of human life and dignity."  "All parties."  Yes, the Red Cross/Red Crescent would be referring to "all parties" which does include foreign fighters such as the US.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera reports Bully Boy has stated no troops are leaving, that they'll remain till his "job is complete" which apparently means his Blood Lust has yet to be satisfied, after three years, and more will need to die as a result.
A lot is being made of the brief meeting (Brief Encounter?) between Bully Boy and Nouri al-Maliki that finally took place on Thursday. 'A 'speedy handover' (of Iraq forces) to the puppet!' pants CBS and AP. Did no one read  the memo yesterday?   The memo was published (online) by the New York Times.  Did anyone bother to read it?  What did Stephen Hadley write about ways that the puppet could look strong?  Handing him "additional control over Iraq forces, although we must recognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces."
Apparently there was no point in the Times publishing that memo, even those who read it appear to act as though they hadn't.
AFP notes Bully Boy wanted to put an end to the "speculation" that the US might attempt "some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq."  No word on whether Bully Boy belched after that remark but the lack of grace hardly needs underscoring after three years of an illegal war.
While Bully Boy demonstrates his lack of grace, common sense, et al, AFP reports that South Korea is pulling their 2,300 troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007.  KUNA reports that: "The government also accepted the ruling party's proposal to draw up an action plan for the all-out withdrwal by June 2007, according to Yonhap News Agency."  The so-called 'coalition' gets increasingly smaller.  Meanwhile, Nouri al-Maliki announces, according to Reuters, that Iraqi troops can take over control in June 2007.  Predictions from the Puppet who couldn't meet the Constitutionally mandated deadline for selecting his cabinet?  The man who went on to miss the 'bonus' time he gave himself to select the cabinet?
As the press rushes to cover the circle jerk or the Bully Boy, Dave Clark (AFP) reports: "Baghdad's overlowing morgues have welcomed another grim daily harvest of bullet-riddled coprses".
DPA reports three Iraq police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in al-Mosayyab and three more were left wounded.  Dave Clark (AFP) reports that mortar attacks wounded 13 in Samawa.
Thomas Wagner and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that, in Basra, Nasir Gatami ("deputy of the local chapter of a group called Sunni Endowment) and three of his bodyguards were shot dead. The BBC raises the number of bodyguards killed to six.   Dave Clark (AFP) reports six shot dead in sectarian conflict in Baquba while a police officer was shot dead in Falluja.
The BBC reports that "At least 80 bodies" were discovered in Iraq "in the past 24 hours."  The Daily Telegraph notes that 58 of those corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
That's the reality of Iraq -- some of it.  What managed to get reported by the ones not confusing the James Baker Circle Jerk or the Bully Boy's travel itineray with the Beatles landing at JFK.  Worshipful fans don't generally make for solid reporters and, for those noticing how Iraq has been sidelined by "Follow The Officials!", that's tragically clear.
Not tomorrow, but the Friday after next, December 8th, Courage to Resist will beging three days of public action: 
Military resisters, their families, veterans and concerned community members call for public action Dec. 8-10th!
photo by : Jeff Paterson
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!
It takes courage to say that you will not fight -- especially if you are a soldier. As more members of the U.S. military step forward for peace, the peace movement must step forward to support them.
Large numbers are now refusing to serve: The Department of Defense estimates that there are about 8,000 AWOL service members. The GI Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) is currently receiving about 3,000 calls a month.
Most importantly, a growing number of soldiers are speaking out, against the illegality and immorality of the Iraq war and the orders they are being told to carry out. These brave men and women are risking jail time and their futures to stand up against the war. Click here to find out how you can support them.
On Monday, WBAI's Law and Disorder interviewed Jonathan Hutto with Appeal for Redress which is gathering signatures calling for Congress to bring the troops.  Signatures of those currently serving in the military.  Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith spoke about the historical importance of this and how the rights for those serving were won, not given and Hutto stated that currently they have "a little over 1200" signatures.
War resisters also include Kyle Snyder, Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Joshua Casteel, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Patrick Hart, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are only some of the names of those resisting who have gone public.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Soldier Say No!, the War Resisters Support Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

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When President Bush meets Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday, it will be clear that the real power in Iraq rests with radical cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr.
In one swift maneuver Wednesday, Sadr cast a shadow over the diplomacy in Amman and issued a reminder of his growing influence in Iraq when a bloc of his party's lawmakers and cabinet members suspended their participation in the government to protest Maliki's decision to meet with Bush in Jordan.

The move raises concerns about the ability of Maliki and Iraq's fragile unity government -- beset by political paralysis, feuding rivalries and corruption -- to survive. If Sadr decides to prolong his departure from government, it could lead to deeper crisis in a nation already divided by sectarian strife.

Martha notes the above, Sudarsan Raghavan's "Sadr Casts a Shadow Over Bush-Maliki Meeting" (Washington Post). Zach e-mailed about a report on KPFA yesterday but didn't name the program and only notes "new groupings of parliament" in his e-mail. I'm on the road and didn't hear KPFA yesterday. (Zach, e-mail what the program was and we'll note it in today's snapshot.) I'm assuming the report was about the rumblings of regroupings and new alliances being formed in the parliament while the puppet is out of the country. When Nouri al-Maliki returns he may be facing a new landscape in parliament. This goes beyond al-Sadr.

There's a lot of rumblings about and from the parliament. al-Maliki is seen as weak and that's a story the Times can't bother reporting. They can't bother to tell readers of anything that happened in Iraq yesterday either. They're panting over the faux group but, hey, think about how many members of it gave them quotes over the years -- nothing that amounted to much, but did give the impression that the insider status was still protected.

In the Times of London, Tom Baldwin writes about Malachi Ritscher:

The death of Malachi Ritscher was reported by a local television station as just another frustration for commuters driving into Chicago one morning when police were told that a statue was burning and slowing-up traffic along the Kennedy expressway.
This was not how the anti-war activist had envisaged media coverage when on November 3, he set up a video-camera and a small sign reading "thou shalt not kill" next to Chicago’s Flame of the Millennium sculpture. He then doused his body in petrol and set himself on fire.
Mr Ritscher, 52, had even written a lengthy "mission-statement" on one of his many websites, saying: "If I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country."
There was a passage on the midterm Congressional elections taking place on November 7, which he perhaps hoped to influence, as well as some speculation about how others would judge him: "Maybe some will be scared enough to wake from their walking dream state -- am I therefore a martyr or a terrorist? I would prefer to be thought of as a spiritual warrior."
Like the Czech student Jan Palach in 1969, or Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc in South Vietnam in 1963, he had chosen the most dramatic and agonising form of suicide to draw attention to his protest against the Iraq war. "What has happened to my country," he wrote, that it is "more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell-phones than the future of the world?" What Mr Ritscher had not reckoned with was that people would continue to be more concerned with TV sport -- and getting to work on time -- as they drove past his flaming body. It was not until the day after the election that the Cook County medical examiner got round to identifying the corpse, charred beyond recognition. But it was at this time that a small article appeared in the alternative newspaper, the Chicago Reader, about his "apparent suicide". Soon, its website was being inundated with hundreds of messages from people who knew him from the city's jazz scene, fellow anti-war activists and family members.

Danny Schechter, the News Dissector, noted the death last week.

Lastly from Eric Lichtblau's "U.S. Will Pay $2 Million to Lawyer Wrongly Jailed" (New York Times):

The federal government agreed to pay $2 million Wednesday to an Oregon lawyer wrongly jailed in connection with the 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid, and it issued a formal apology to him and his family.
The unusual settlement caps a two-and-a-half-year ordeal that saw the lawyer, Brandon Mayfield, go from being a suspected terrorist operative to a symbol, in the eyes of his supporters, of government overzealousness in the war on terrorism.

Iraq related? The illegal war is built upon the fear being pushed by the so-called "war on terror." And as a result of "The Fear"? Over 655,000 Iraqis dead, 2885 US troops dead (15 away from the 2900 marker, if anyone's paying attention), 126 British, 121 other.

For humor, check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY GETS STOOD UP BY A 'DUD'!" and Cedric's "Bully Boy's mystery date goes bust." For a look at the state of independent media, see Elaine's "Well look who's showing up late to the party and without a gift," Mike addresses the topic of impeachment (and a kitchen fire -- seriously) in "Impeachment, Iraq," Kat takes on the wheezers in "Don't gas bag on Tower, spare us all" and Rebecca tackles pretty much everything in "bully boy gets stood up, ray mcgovern & more."

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NYT: Pushing the show panel

The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force.

The above is from David E. Sanger and David S. Cloud's "Iraq Panel to Recommend Pullback of Combat Troops" in this morning's New York Times. It could also be dubbed "Reporting Badly." The most important number doesn't make it into the Times piece. How many US troops are currently in Iraq? About a 140,000. Go with the 3,000 number and multiply it by 15. That's 45,000. You'd still have 90,000 and that's if, if, they were brought home as opposed to being, as the journalists write, "simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries."

That's not half, that's not even a third. The group was designed only to provide the Bully Boy with cover and bad reporting ensures that happens. There is no 'win.' The American people know that. At this late date to threaten to pull less than a third isn't an "answer" or a "compromise." It's cover for the Bully Boy, that's all it is.

He can go through the motions of accepting it and then turn around and do something else. Near the end of the article, readers are supposed to be impressed and assured by the panel: Sandra Day O'Connor, Vernon Jordan and a host of other losers who aren't known for doing much other than serving the interests of their party are listed. By the time Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Edwin Meese III pop up you realize it's not only the dull and dim witted, it's the worst of the worst.

They've sucked up more than enough press attention, the faux group, and they do so again this morning in the paper which passes this crap off as an Iraq story. You get the dogs chasing after Bully Boy as well. You just don't get a damn word about Iraq.

52 corpses were found in Baghdad yesterday. To know that, you'd have to read the McClatchy Newspapers' article.

Martha notes Nancy Trejos' "Remains Found at Crash Site May Be Those of U.S. F-16 Pilot" (Washington Post):

U.S. military officials said Wednesday that they are trying to determine if human remains found at the crash site of an Air Force F-16 fighter jet 20 miles northwest of Baghdad are those of the plane's pilot.
The officials identified the pilot as Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, who had been deployed to Balad Air Base from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. They provided no other details about the pilot.

[. . .]
It took hours for U.S. troops to arrive at the crash site, and by the time they did, Gilbert was gone, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the top American military spokesman in Iraq, said earlier this week. Even as television networks reported that they had video footage of the dead pilot, U.S. officials remained vague about what had been found at the crash site.

There's no time for the Times to explore that story or any. There's a laughable story that proves Brown University employs its share of uninformed slackers but what's Michael Slackman's excuse, if he wants to point to non-Americans couching arguments on religious speech, for not noting that Zalmay did as well when speaking to Iraqis? (Which truly was offensive considering how the US has fueled a religious split within the country.)

In the real world today, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations in the Iraqi capital at approximately 3:30 p.m. Nov. 29."

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wedensday, November 29, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a classified US assessment, jotted down in memo form by Stephen Hadley, finds the puppet of the occupation untrustworthy; whack-a-mole continues to be the game of choice for US military heads, and the big meet up in Jordan hits a snag right out of the box.
Starting with the memo:
We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.
Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so. Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks.
Despite Maliki's reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki's government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister's office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq's most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries -- when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi's (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings -- all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.
Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) reports that author of the memo is National Securtiy Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and that Hadley wrote the memo November 8, 2006.  The memo was based on conclusions Hadley drew while visiting the Green Zone on October 30th, a visit John F. Burns and David E. Sanger (New York Times) noted was spoken of "only in the vaguest of terms".  The memo's distrust of Nouri al-Maliki and its suggestions fly in the face of what Geroge W. Casey Jr.  was publicly pushing immediately prior to Hadley's visit.  As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported the US' military commander's claims of Iraqi security forces 'success' was doubted by American troops on the ground.
The memo covers a number of topics.  Mainly it attempts to chart how the puppet can be propped up if he agrees to continue to following orders from the US administration (such as "support the renewal of the UN mandate for multinational forces" -- done yesterday -- through the end of 2007 as Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's  The KPFA Evening News).  If that is the case, US tax dollars can be used to prop up political parties that do not support Moktada al-Sadr and thereby sideline al-Sadr from the process.  ("This bloc would not require a new election, but would rather involve a realignment of political actors within the Parliament.") Mainly the memo's concerned with appearances, ways to make it appear the puppet is independent and strong.  Such as: "Encourage Zal [Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador] to move into the background and let Maliki take more credit for positive developments."  As noted in previous snapshots, Zalmay-Take-Me-Away is on his way out.  His supposed 'success' in Afghanistan began to implode in front of the world shortly after he was shipped to Iraq to create more 'success.'  Reality didn't wait and Zalmay is on the way out.
The memo offers that al-Maliki can appear 'strong' if the US administration will: "Seek ways to strengthen Maliki immediately by giving him additional control over Iraq forces, although we musr tecognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces"  While pushing appearances, Hadley makes it very clear that al-Maliki is extremely out of touchand that he has one self-presentation "when he talks with Americans" and another at other times.  Hadley writes: "But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggest Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."
The memo reveals the doubts, all the times after, that the US administration still has of their puppet.  Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) reports that Tony Snow Job issued a statement of Bully Boy's confidence in al-Maliki which should make the puppet shudder if he's aware of "Heck of a job, Brownie."  [Or of November 1st, when Bully Boy was singing Rummy's praises.  As Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reported:  "Rumsfeld's ouster came a week after Bush told a small group of reporters that he wanted the defense secretary to stay on the job until end of his presidency."]
Silva also speaks with a nameless administration official who states that the memo is about raising questions and it "doesn't mean you're casting judgment" which is either cover up or the nameless hasn't read the memo.  The third step Hadley outlines that al-Maliki "should take" is to "Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries." 
For those paying attention months ago, al-Maliki's claimed that was happening.  He began saying it was happening after he finally got a cabinet semi together.  He missed the Constitutional deadline as well as his own appointed deadline.  When he finally had a 'cabinet' it was short three positions.  As soon as those were filled, al-Maliki began making repeated noises about a 'shake up' that has still not taken place.  That was telling when Hadley visited in October, it was telling when Hadley wrote the memo on November 8th and, as November draws to a close, it's even more telling.
As Tony Snow Job tries to spin the memo, the US administration still attempts to deny the reality of the civil war that has been raging in Iraq.  Shatha al-Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) registers quite clearly what she has seen in the last year in the neighborhood she lived, the neighbors who left as strangers began showing up, the talk of impending attacks, the need to build a secret passage way between her home and her parents, the night when violence was only streets away, her baby crying from the mortar rounds falling and her promise to herself to leave if they made it through tomorrow. 
In the face of such reality, the US administration continues to deny Iraq is in a civil warJames Coomarasamy (BBC) reports that Stephen Hadley, of all people, "has said the Iraqi government does not see it in those terms, while the president himself described the latest attacks as part of an ongoing campaign by al-Qaeda militants."  The same Hadley who wrote "the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on"?  Meanwhile, Diala Saadeh (Reuters) reports Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, has stated, "I would call it a civil war. . . I have been using it (civil war) because I like to face the reality."  (Like your blot?)  On CBS' The Early Show, Bob Schieffer (host of Face the Nation) offered, "This is not a memo that was leaked by some Democrat in Congress.  This is something that obviously came from someone within the administration itself.  It shows that the situation in Iraq is the kind of chaos that has been described by others at every level, political and military.  It paints a picture that is unlike what we have been hearing from the administration.  We've been hearing that things are getting better and so on and so forth, that al-Maliki is doing his best.  Now this memo raises questions about those statements."
As CNN reports, ahead of the Jordan meeting with Bully Boy, Nouri al-Maliki has seen "his support erode on two fronts Wednesday as a White House memo questioned his leadership and a powerful political bloc suspended participation in Iraq's government."  The suspension of participation was made quite clear Friday when al-Sadr's bloc stated that if al-Maliki went to Jordan to meet with the puppet, they would be pulling their support for al-Maliki.
Thomas Wagner and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that "the 30 lawmakers and six Cabinet members" in the Sadr bloc "said their boycott was necessary because the meeting" between Bully Boy and al-Maliki "constituted a 'provocation to the feelings of the Iraqi people and a violation of their constitutional rights'."  As Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now! today, the bloc announced they were boycotting because "Bush is a criminal who killed a lot of Iraqis and we do not want him to interfere in Iraq's affairs" but prefer that the puppet instead do business with the U.N. Security Council.  Deb Riechmann (AP) reports that the meet up in Amman, Jordan that was due to start today (Bully Boy & puppet) has now been put of with the US administration declaring it would take place "on Thuresday."
Meanwhile the city of Baquba is "shutdown" by violence.  "Shutdown"?  The sequel to 'crackdown'?  (Which Baghdad is still under.)  AP reports bombing raids by US aircraft while "the univeristy, public schools and many stores remained closed" and the deaths of five Iraqi police officers.
AP reports a roadside bomb in Bahgdad left three Iraqis dead and 11 more wounded and
"[t]wo mortar rounds also exploded near the Health Ministry, wounding two soliders" in the heavily fortified Green ZoneReuters notes: two car bombs in Iraq (one in central Baghdad, the other in southwestern Baghdad) that left two police officers dead and five Iraqis wounded;
a car bomb in Samarra that killed six police officers; a car bomb in Mosul that left one civilian dead and 23 more injured;   On the car bomb in Samarra, AP notes that it was a coordinated attack using the car bomb and guns and reports that four police officers were killed and four more wounded.
AP reports that the Green Zone in Baghdad was ringed with gunfire "for most of the morning."  AFP reports that four guards of the Pensions Department in central Baghdad were shot dead while on duty.
Reuters notes that the corpse "of a teacher with gunshot wounds" was discovered in Diwaniya today.
Today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday. A second Soldier from this unit was wounded and transported to a CoalitionForces' medical treatment facility."; and they also announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Al-Anbar Province?  Before we move on, let's note that the count for US troops who have died in Iraq this month thus far is 65. (Which doesn't include Major Troy L. Gilbert whose plane crashed this week and who is classified as missing by the US military while other press reports report he died in the crash or following the crash.)
We're going to flash back to the August 3rd United States Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when the following exchange took place:

Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?

General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.

[. . .]

McCain: And where are these troops coming from?

Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.

McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?

Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.

McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?

Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.

McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?

Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --

McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
Is the situation in Ramadi under control, McCain repeatedly asked?
Ramadi is in Al-Anbar and the entire province is not "under control" (nor could it be).
As Edward Wong (New York Times) reported, "American troops killed five girls, including at least one baby" on Tuesday in Al-Anbar Province. Andrew Buncombe and Nick Paton Walsh (Independent of London) report that in addition to the five dead, "Fighting broke out in the city of Ramadi, considered a stronghold of the anti-US insurgency, after a US patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of the city." 
This comes as Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reports that the "Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad."  Has Al-Anbar Province been 'pacified'?  No (and it won't be).  As the four year anniversary of the illegal war comes ever closer, the US military is still attempting to impose order on Baghdad -- the only area that's ever been 'safe,' the area that's now been under a 'crackdown' (in all its variations) since June.  And nothing's stopped the chaos and violence. 
So the 'answer,' for the US government, is the same 'answer' they always have, what John McCain labeled "whack-a-mole."  Writing in the Guardian of London, Dilip Hiro proposes another answer: "Now, a revived proposal should have the American and British troops withdraw in stages from Iraq and hand over the stabilization task to a combined force of Muslim countries under UN command.  Stationing a Muslim stabilization force in Iraq would dispel the intense alienation that exists now between Iraqis and the Anglo-American troops. The brown-skinned Muslim troops would be seen praying in the same mosques as Iraqis, and they would have an innate understanding of the social and cultural mores of the local people since they come from societies similar to that in Iraq. Unlike the Anglo-American troops, they would not be advancing an agenda like planting a Jeffersonian model of democracy or seeking preference in exploiting Iraqi oil."
Instead, Reuters reports, the 'answer' remains to 'shift' "a couple of battalions" here and there. It hasn't worked, it won't work.  But the US adminstration refuses to face reality.  Which is why CNN reports that "the U.S. military plans to move at least three more battalions of American soldiers into the Iraqi captial".  And which is why the illegal war continues to drag on.
Remember, the Pacifica's Archives is  on day two of  a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence.  It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online.  The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives.  (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.)  Among the voices heard since yesterday MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Medea Benjamin, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis, Ruth Gordon, Malcolm X, Angela Y. Davis, and many others.

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