Friday, July 06, 2007

Other Items

A now-dead plan to ring Baghdad with a trench to keep out insurgents has found new life in Karbala, a predominately Shiite Muslim city 50 miles south of the capital.
Iraqi construction crews this month will begin digging a 12-mile-long trench to the west and south of the city of 1.4 million residents to help prevent car bombs and protect two holy Shiite shrines.
U.S. and Iraqi officials shelved plans announced last year for a bigger trench to surround Baghdad. Instead, they've focused on conducting military operations in the provinces and raiding car-bomb shops.
The Karbala trench will create a 10-foot-deep crescent, buttressing approaches from the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Ramadi, about 70 miles northwest of Karbala, to the main highway running south to Najaf. Police towers will punctuate the trench, which will funnel traffic to checkpoints outside the city center.

Remember, for all the talk of new 'plans' and 'new' strategy, there's nothing new about anything going on Iraq. The above is from Hussam Ali and Mike Drummond's "10-foot-deep trench will protect Iraqi city of Karbala" (McClatchy Newspapers). The moat is back. Those paying attention last summer (a small number, granted) will remember when it was previously seen as the 'cure' for Baghdad. Now let's turn to the New York Times for War Pornographer Michael Gordon's latest entitled "G.I.'s Forge Sunni Tie in Bid to Squeeze Militants" which begins like all of Gordo's 'reporting,' he presents things he cannot verify as though they are facts. In this case, an April 7th meeting in Baquba. For those wondering, not only was Gordo not in Baquba at the time, he was not even in Iraq. He was, however, in DC. But Gordo's happy to present stories whispered to him as reality and hasn't that always been the way for his 'reporting'.

It's amazing that Ben Richards is given weight (so much weight?) until you grasp that Richards is pushing the lies the Times always runs. Let a US officer show up publicly stating something that goes against the narrative coming out of the State Department and watch them be the subject of verbs such as:


But when it fits with what's being sold, as Richards' claims to do, a meeting that Gordo cannot verify let alone tell you what took place in it, 'reporters' rush to present it as factual.

So what's today's New Told Lie (nod to Hair)? There's "a new alliance" in the Diyala Province. Gordo's feeling good from head to shoes, he's selling war and he knows what to do, wooh-wooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, he's got a new alliance, apparently.

Not so new and nothing worth bragging over but if Gordo couldn't be useless, what could he be?

Let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot for this comment Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) highlighted from Gordo's recent Charlie Rose appearance:

So I think you know, as a purely personal view, I think it's worth one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view, I think it's worth one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we're never really tried to win. We've simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think if it's done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something.

Now let's go to Democracy Now!, March 17, 2006 for this exchange (also noted in yesterday's snapshot):

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Gordon, do you think the invasion itself was a mistake?
MICHAEL GORDON: Well, that's a policy judgment and a political judgment that’s really beyond the scope of our book.

Gordo, who'd been reporting on Iraq since before the illegal war broke out (and was on DN! to promote his bad book that most thinking adults avoided). Is the escalation not "a policy judgement"? Yes. Gordo who couldn't weigh in on the war itself went on Charlie Rose to peddle his (tired) ass for the Bully Boy, he swung it, he stuck it in the air. No one's buying and not just because of the greasy facial skin or the fish eyes. No one's buying because Gordo's sold himself cheap that he should be offered as a freebie at this rate.

Today, Gordo sells a 'new' 'strategy' that's neither new or a strategy but still Gordo manages to pen this:

The new coalition reflects some hard-headed calculations on both sides. Eager for intelligence on their elusive foes, American officers have been willing to overlook the past of some of their newfound allies.

So Gordo's high on the Sunni alliance, all but doing a lap dance in print. Let's go to Nancy A. Youssef for a reality check:

American officials were surprised Monday when an explosion in the lobby of Baghdad's Mansour Hotel killed six Sunni Muslim sheiks whom the U.S. considered top allies.
The hotel's tower is visible to most officials who work in the heavily fortified Green Zone, and U.S. officials had talked regularly with the sheiks and given them money. But the officials had no idea that the sheiks were planning to talk with their Shiite Muslim counterparts in the hotel's lobby, though clearly someone else did.
One U.S. military officer based in the Green Zone characterized the American reaction as "Huh?"
"No one here knew they were getting together until it happened," said the officer, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.
In the end, the sheiks were operating on their own, and therein lies the risk in the U.S. strategy of working with Sunni tribal leaders.

That's from Youssef's "Experts caution U.S. on alliance with Iraqi tribes" (McClatchy Newspapers) written at the end of June. Whether or not Gordo was born full of ___, it's all he has to offer today and the New York Times is at all troubled by letting him fling it at readers or, as is so often the case -- including today, smear it on their front page.

Let's stay with McClatchy Newspapers because they really are the only US outlet doing any real work in the last 24 hour cycle on Iraq. They have two blogs on Iraq and this is from Leila Fadel's and is from her June 23, 2007 post "Slander:"

Twenty-four young special-needs orphans were discovered by U.S. soldiers June 10, naked, starving and laying in their own excrement. Some of the emaciated little boys were chained to cribs in a government orphanage. The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mahmoud al Sheikh Radhi, was outraged according to Iraqiya State Television after the images of these abused boys were aired on CBS. Who wouldn't be outraged to see emaciated children treated like this, when in a locked closet there were shelves of new clothes and food?
However Radhi's outrage was with U.S. troops, according to state television. State television reports that the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs wants to sue the U.S. military for "slandering" Iraqi children.
In a press conference earlier this week the minister told reporters that U.S. soldiers put "terror into the souls" of the abused boys by rescuing them at the Al Hanan orphanage at 2 a.m., according to Iraqi news outlets.
"I believe that those who conducted this raid deserve to be tried," he was quoted in Iraqi news outlets as saying. "Can a reasonable person accept horrifying these sons and putting terror into their souls at such a late time."
He said the boys were naked because of the summer heat. He didn't explain why they had been beaten and starved.

We link to McClatchy's Iraq section on the permalinks on the left. We'll get back to links in a moment, but Brad notes Khody Akhavi's "Torture Routine in Kurdish Jails, Report Charges" (IPS):

Kurdistan's security forces, attached to the two largest political parties in the region yet out of the control of the government's Interior Ministry, routinely torture detainees and deny their due process rights, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch Tuesday.
The 58-page report, "Caught in the Whirlwind: Torture and Denial of Due Process by the Kurdistan Security Forces," documents systematic mistreatment of detainees held by Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish (literally "security").
While detainees' have experienced torture at the hands of Asayish, many of the abuses reported in region pale in comparison to the violence, terrorism and criminality currently engulfing much of Iraq.
"The outside world, they look at Iraq they see this mess and disaster, and Kurdistan appears secure and stable," said Ayub Nuri of Human Rights Watch. "The violence in the rest of Iraq has overshadowed the abuses in Kurdistan."
Most detainees are not charged with offenses, given information regarding their legal status, or provided with a mechanism to appeal their detentions. The Asayish have held hundreds of detainees, particularly those arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offenses, without due process, for more than five years in some cases. Many detainees also complained that the authorities denied them access to relatives, and that in some cases their relatives were unaware of where they were being held, according to the report.

As noted already, Australia's just not news to the US domestic media. Neither is Falluja. As Mike noted yesterday, apparently someone serving in Iraq who took part in acts that are War Crimes as described, applied for a Secret Service job, was asked during a polygraph test about involvement in killings and the issue came up. This is from Thomas Watkins' "Navy Probes Marines in Captives' Deaths" (AP):

The Navy is investigating claims that Camp Pendleton Marines killed between five and 10 unarmed captives during a fierce battle in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004, current and former Marines told The Associated Press.
The criminal probe centers on the actions of several members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, they told the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

Different members of the same unit were later accused of wrongdoing in the killings of 24 civilians in Haditha in 2005.

Two things. One, Nate Helms has interjected himself into this and we don't need to go Helms' entire history, we can just note that he is a bad writer (writing about yourself in third person -- and yes, he does refer to events and actions, in his writing, as "told Nathaniel Helms" -- is only one of the more obvious problems). Two, Falluja was a slaughter, the city is still destroyed.

Turning to the US, we'll note David A. Love's "My Letter to Clarence Thomas: The Man Who Desecrates The Legacy of Thurgood Marshall" (The Black Commentator) which includes a letter Love wrote to Thomas in 1995 as well as this from Love's introduction about what has happened since:

Twelve years later, not much has changed, Clarence Thomas has not changed, and the Supreme Court has emerged once again as a disaster for those who care about civil rights, and one of the greatest impediments to democracy in America. This is the revival of the Dred Scott court, the Plessy court, the kind of extremist court that Bush promised he would give us. While Bush tells us to fear an "Axis of Evil," the greatest threat to America comes from within, from our government—the executive branch and the Supreme Court. The problems we are facing are not going away, they just get worse, and Thomas has a decisive role in that process.
Yet his supporters once assured us that in time, Thomas would evolve and make us proud. After all, they posited, he is African American and has experienced racism, he feels our pain. Well, his tenure on the Supreme Court has been over a decade and a half of disappointment, daunting mediocrity and misplaced priorities. Since joining the Court, he has presided over the wedding of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who once told an African-American caller to "take that bone out of your nose," has called abortion rights activists "feminazis", referred to the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib as "blow[ing] some steam off," and declared that "what's good for Al Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party."
Thomas says that he selects only "the cream of the crop" when hiring law clerks: "I look for the math and the sciences, real classes, none of that Afro-American study stuff. If they'd taken that stuff as an undergraduate, I don't want them." Perhaps it should not be a surprise that all four of his law clerks are white males. A justice on the nation's highest court, he fails to take advantage of a golden opportunity to do some good, in the time-honored tradition of leaving a place better than you found it. Sadly, he continues to desecrate the memory of Thurgood Marshall. The late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham was right when he said "I have often pondered how it is that Justice Thomas, an African American, could be so insensitive to the plight of the powerless. Why is he no different, or probably worse, than many of the most conservative Supreme Court justices of this century? I can only think of one Supreme Court justice during this century who was worse than Justice Clarence Thomas: James McReynolds, a white supremacist who referred to blacks as 'n***ers.'"

As noted yesterday, NOW with David Brancaccio recently interviewed Michael Moore about Moore's new documentary Sicko which you can see a clip of on YouTube or can watch via NOW by clicking here. (There is a transcript at NOW's site.) Still on NOW with David Brancaccio, the program's latest episode begins airing in most markets on Friday (on PBS) and will take a look at children's health insurance:

While 45% of all children in the United States are receiving some form of public medical assistance, 9 million children are not covered by either public or private health care. The State Children's Health Insurance Program -- or SCHIP -- is a block grant from the federal government to cover those low-income children, but the fund is running out of money.On Friday, July 6 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW investigates how SCHIP's future is caught up in a battle between those who think the government insures too many kids, and those who think it's not doing enough.
The NOW website at will provide additional coverage starting Friday morning, July 6. Features include a closer look at the debate and information about your state's healthcare coverage programs for children.

Also something that begins airing today, Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) is on this week's CounterSpin.

Last topic. A number of e-mails expressing relief regarding the gina & krista round-robin this morning. Apparently, "And the war drags on . . ." concerned some members. I noted in that the fact that I pulled six or so paragraphs from the top of that before posting. The issue was covered in the round-robin. It was more of a starting point for me. Without it in there (the six or so paragraphs) and without people having read the round-robin, a few were concerned that it was an apology to The Nation in places. No, it wasn't intended as such and I certainly would never apologize for (among other things) calling out sexism (and when 181 more men than women are printed, it's sexism). In case any visitor is confused, I'm addressing the topic again and this time will include it in what goes up online (I think all members now get the round-robin). The (deleted) opening referred to a topic covered in the roundtable for the round-robin. Eddie brings it up and he's far from the only one. This feature ran on Wednesday (links go to all sites):

"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"

I could care less if I'm ignored or crapped on. (Partly because most people who would pull that nonsense really don't matter in my own world. Partly because I was raised to do for others without expecting anything in return -- it was consider a social duty.) But Eddie (and other members participating in the roundtable) had attempted to get this highlighted. Eddie explained he did that because this was writing by all members doing sites. (I've asked, since summer 2005, that members do not send anything from this site around to get highlighted).

So Lotta Links (happy to e-mail asking for links to their site) wasn't interested in the feature? Even with Eddie not being the only one in the roundtable suddenly admitting they'd noted it too? It wasn't even worth mentioning in the alleged mailbag -- forget about linking to it on their main page?


That's strong writing. They (Lotta Links) wrote just a few weeks ago. They can write anytime they want, I have no intentition of highlighting them or to put back in their links. That was the point of last night in the paragraphs that got pulled. The first paragraph explained that 5 things were gone from the permalinks. Joshua Frank's Brick Burner was pulled because he ended the site (and apparently deleted it). His writing will continue to be highlighted here. But Lotta Links and it's various sites? All pulled.

Spit on me, ignore me, I could care less. But no one gets away with screwing my friends over. Lotta Links thought they could. That is incredible writing in that feature. Now Lotta Links (Mike's name for the site -- which he hates and which he's noted as hating from the first weeks of his site starting back in 2005). With those six paragraphs missing, I can see how the rest of it would be confusing going up before the gina & krista round-robin went out. I apologize for any panic I caused. (Or just confusion.)

The point about The Nation being linked to is my feelings which are I would highlight any appeal from them (due to their history). I'm also comfortable calling them out. I'm not, on the other hand, interested at all in Lotta Links with whom I have no history with (unless their constant e-mails begging for links is a history). They stopped highlighting us in the summer of 2005 (the whole West issue). Mike thought (and I'm sure thinks) they are cowards. (True. Let's be honest. They are cowards.) They continued to want highlights. I gave them. It didn't matter to me personally.

Someone doesn't like something I've done, it's not the end of the world. I could care less. But, as Eddie pointed out in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, this wasn't my writing. This was a feature everyone in the community worked on. That is exactly correct. And if the incredible and strong writing of my friends isn't good enough for Lotta Links, screw them.

Again, I'm sorry I pulled that. I wasn't interested in it when I finished "And the war drags
on . . ." The focus was the draft and I really didn't even want to note Lotta Links at that point. So I pulled the section, added the note about The Nation's fund raiser (in case that hadn't remained in what was still in the entry) and posted it.

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