Saturday, March 29, 2008


Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr sent a defiant signal to Iraq's government today, urging militiamen fighting Iraqi and U.S. forces to reject calls to disarm as American airstrikes continued.In Sadr's Baghdad stronghold, Sadr City, a spokesman for the city health department said at least 57 people had been killed there since fighting broke out Tuesday. The battles, which pit Shiite militiamen against Iraqi and U.S. forces, erupted in the wake of a government offensive in the southern city of Basra.

The above is from Tina Susman's "Sadr urges militiamen in Iraq to reject calls to disarm" (Los Angeles Times). The assault on Basra continues and demonstrates how nothing has changed, still no attempts at 'freedom' or 'democracy.' Just an attempt to dig the illegal occupation in further, to give credence to the lies that Nouri al-Maliki is the voice of Iraq and a strong voice at that! He's a puppet. He's a puppet who does the bidding of the White House and they need him to offer a show of force in the face of the repeated criticism from members of Congress -- both Democrats and Republicans -- that he has accomplished nothing.

The war's illegal. It always has been. But if Congress' rage at al-Maliki ends it any sooner, no tears here. He's an illegitimate 'ruler' and he's never put Iraq's interests first. He was ordered to implement the Basra assault and he was ordered to be present (none of that ducking off to England when things get really tough as he's done in the past including already once this year). He followed his orders. He didn't represent the Iraqi people. He betrayed them.

It's a sign of how out of touch with reality the White House is that they thought this would work as the p.r. rollout for the upcoming Congressional 'reports'. All it's done is united many Iraqis behind Moqtada al-Sadr. All it's done is make him even more popular and respected. All it's done is demonstrate that the Iraqi people are not supporting a US installed government.

But no doubt a Charlie Ferguson will show up to claim that installing al-Maliki was right but somewhere after it got screwed up. There's a review in tomorrow's book review of the Times of Ferguson's 'book' which is really cute because it notes he was a supporter of the illegal war. Was? While promoting that awful 'documentary' last week, he was clear to NPR that he still supports the Iraq War. That's why he makes that lying film that argues the Iraq War would have been a 'win' if only there had been planning. There was planning. Naomi Klein and Antonia Juhasz have documented in great detail the planning that went into the illegal war. What happened after the initial invasion wasn't unintended. It was meant to enrich US corporations and throw the Iraqi people off balance so that they couldn't object to the theft of their country.

From Leila Fadel's "Iraqi prime minister softens ultimatum as militias stand ground" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Four days into a major government offensive in Basra, Iraqi government forces have been unable to dislodge Shiite Muslim militias from their strongholds in the southern port city, prompting Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to back off his ultimatum to disarm by Friday.
As Maliki softened his demand, offering cash to anyone who turns in medium to heavy weapons in the next 10 days, U.S. military involvement intensified with U.S. aircraft striking two targets in Basra, according to a British military spokesman.
The U.S. military said a Navy fixed wing aircraft had struck a mortar crew, killing three.
U.S. ground forces clashed with militants in New Baghdad, Kadhemiya and Sadr City, all Mahdi Army militia strongholds in the Iraqi capital. Airstrikes also were conducted in Kadhemiya and Sadr City, as well as in Adhamiyah, a mostly Sunni neighborhood, residents said.

The whole assault has been a disaster. The White House expected al-Sadr, weakened by renewing the truce, would weaken himself further or be taken out. Instead al-Sadr stood up to the occupying powers. When the dead's counted (decades from now?), the world will learn just how many lives were worth destroying in order to 'spin' the illegal war as a 'turned corner.'

From Margaret Kimberley's "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" (Black Agenda Report):

When historians write about the catastrophes that struck the world in 2008, events that have taken place in March of 2008 will surely loom large. The worldwide economic meltdown finally became impossible to deny, with the Federal Reserve using the workers’ dime to bail out a major investment banking firm, Bear Stearns. Dick Cheney traveled to Iraq, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, making sure his nefarious plans went off without a hitch. John McCain claimed that Iran was the home of al Qaeda, the bogeyman that sends already trigger happy Americans on blood thirsty rampages. Democrats who had the power to stop Bush in his tracks, once again pledged to do nothing.
If 2007 both the Senate and House passed resolutions that backed war with Iran. Impeachment, the one weapon Congress could use to stop further war making, is ignored and forgotten by John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary committee.
In recent days Conyers said he would begin impeachment hearings, but only if Bush attacks Iran. Apparently not enough human beings have been killed by Bush and the body count needs to grow exponentially before Conyers will lift a finger. On the other hand, the two-faced Congressman says he fears impeachment because it will hurt the Democrats in the upcoming November election. So it seems he will do nothing, no matter how many people die because of the crimes committed under the Bush regime.

Conyer's position is even more embarrassing when you consider that in 2007 Joe Biden was stating that if Bully Boy invaded Iran he would support impeachment. Conyers only now comes on board to that.

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;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;

The e-mail address for this site is

mcclatchy newspapers

the los angeles times

Foreign Policy in Focus: Think tank without thought

Foreign Policy in Focus just can't keep from embarrassing itself these days. The "think tank without walls" is apparently now also the "think tank with thought." Or facts.

Stephen Zunes left the world of reality a long, long time ago and these days offers the sort of crazed mutterings that would have a good many running to San Juan Batista for sanctuary. Alas, FPiF indulges him in his sad, sad decline.

The reason for that is being a Hillary Hater not only means never having to save your sorry, it also means never being bound by facts. The latest bit of nonsense Zunes manages to both squeeze out and cough up, has been 'edited' by Emily Schwartz Greco at FPiF and reposted at the cesspool that has become Common Dreams.

How does that happen? Zunes has just become a loon. That's been obvious for months. But how does an 'editor' not catch a mistake? How does Common Dreams not catch it?

Are they that stupid?

They don't catch it because they're all after Hillary, they will rip her apart for anything and everything including THINGS THAT HAPPENED ONLY IN THEIR HATE FILLED MINDS.

For a "think tank" -- with or without walls -- thought is actually required and examination. But FPiF seems bound and determined to prove that they are neither a "think tank" nor bound by facts.

Zunes and FPiF exist these days to promote a candidate. And since Barack Obama has no qualifications to be president, they have to distort Hillary. So Zunes regularly shows up with half-truths passed off as 'factual' and hides behind his university cred to give it the appearance of academia and an honest examination.

It's not.

Mike (rightly) selected Zunes as the pick for Dumb Ass of the Week yesterday. As Mike notes, I didn't want to look at the article, Zunes writing these days is an embarrassment to any who know him. Along with the usual shading and bending of the truth that Zunes is so fond of these days, he offers up a FLAT OUT DISTORTION that is all the more appalling when you grasp that the rant supposed had an editor and that another site posted it (Common Dreams).

Zunes, ESG, FPiP and Common Dreams have allegedly been living in the same world as the rest of us and the lie is that they've paid attention to it. So how does Zunes get away with beginning a sentence with the following, "During her one trip to Iraq, in February 2005, she insisted that the U.S. occupation . . ."


How insane are the Hillary Haters that they would invite ridicule so easily?

Travel back with us to 2003. Thanksgiving. It's a period ABC can't forget. They were stormed with phone calls and e-mails when they interrupted their day's broadcast of Life With Bonnie, According to Jim, et al (broadcast during the day) to put on a "SPECIAL ALERT" that viewers pointed out caused a panic. It caused a panic because 9-11 wasn't all that long ago and you interrupt programming for disasters. Instead ABC elected to interrupt programming to show Bully Boy holding a turkey in Iraq. His for-show photo op.

Why did Bully Boy feel the need to rush off to Iraq suddenly on Thanksgiving?

Because US Senators, including Hillary Clinton were getting press for visiting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hillary visited both.

If you're too young to remember (it was five years ago and for some that is a long time ago) or if, like Zunes, ESG, FPiF and Common Dreams, you're just a really sad person pretending to give a damn about Iraq but so out of it that you can't even remember that heavily covered event, you can refer to "Senator Clinton Visits Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Pakistan" and then you can marvel over the shoddy standards at an alleged 'think tank' on an article by a one time academic that also includes a credited 'editor' and even gets reposted at Common Dreams despite the fact that it includes a glaring error obvious to anyone who's followed the illegal war since it began.

The only answer to how it happens is Hillary Hatred. A non-stop loathing of women, a non-stop desire to discredit a woman with any set of lies the politically immature can grab hold of.

In the real world, you can refer to "False Advertising: New Obama Ad Falsely Claims He Does Not Accept Money From Oil Companies:"

Phil Singer, Deputy Communications Director: "It's unfortunate that Senator Obama is using false advertising to explain why he can be trusted to do something about energy prices. Senator Obama says he doesn’t take campaign contributions from oil companies but the reality is that ExxonMobil, Shell and others are among his donors. I wonder if they’ll fix the ad."
A new ad by Sen. Obama running in Pennsylvania falsely claims that Sen. Obama does not accept money from the oil industry. In the ad, Sen. Obama says, "I'm Barack Obama and I don't take money from oil companies or lobbyists and I won't let them block change anymore."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Obama has received over $160,000 from the oil and gas companies. Two major bundlers for his campaign -- George Kaiser and Robert Cavnar – are oil company CEOs. Sen. Obama has accepted money from Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron and just about every other major oil company. Just last month, Sen. Obama accepted another $8,400 from ExxonMobil, $12,370 from Chevron and $6,500 from British Petroleum.
In 2005, Sen. Obama voted for the Dick Cheney energy bill, which was written in secret with the oil industry. Hillary Clinton opposed Cheney's energy bill, has a plan to eliminate oil industry tax breaks, and would require oil companies to contribute to a $50 billion strategic energy fund to jumpstart research and investment in clean energy technologies.

And let's stay in the real world, this is Melissa Salmanowitz's "Celebrating Women: A Note from Audrey Shepperd and Michelle Battle:"

Thank you for all the great comments and outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the blog posts in celebration of Women's History Month and for Hillary's historic candidacy! Today, we are featuring blogs from two leaders in the women's community who empower women everyday in their efforts on behalf of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum and the National Congress of Black Women.


Audrey Shepperd, President of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum

Watching a woman at the forefront of national politics and on the verge of the presidency, it is sometimes easy to forget how hard and how long women fought just to earn the right to vote. I'm lucky, I am reminded every day of that struggle - within steps of my office hang the suffrage banners carried by women picketing and women in parades, scrapbook photos of them awaiting word on the final vote to ratify the 19th amendment, newsletters and press clippings publicizing the cause.

Not every woman can be so lucky - after all, I am President of a women's history museum - but we cannot forget that our grandmothers knew a time when true democracy was reserved only for their husbands. There are still women alive today - I've met them in my work and I know Hillary has met them on the campaign trail - who were born before women won access to the ballot box.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and so many other brave women began standing up for women's rights in 1848, but it took roughly 70 years before women won national suffrage. By the time the 19th Amendment was passed, the first generation of history-makers had passed the torch to a new generation of women. They, in turn, passed the torch to women who fought for equality not just on election day, but every day - in their schools, in the workplace - for equal pay, equal rights, and equal access.

Now, they have passed that torch to us. Our campaign will not last nearly as long, but it is no less important. We can look forward to next November for the day Hillary will make history, and will carry us into a new era of women's leadership.

As voluntary president of the historic National Woman's Party, I have long looked forward to such a day. Over the past few months, I have phoned, knocked on doors, and traveled out of state talking about this opportunity with everyone I know. This election is our challenge, and when I think about all the hopes and hard work put forth by all the women who came before us, I will not hesitate to continue to put all of my energy into this campaign.


Michelle Battle, Chief Operating Officer of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

Hundreds of thousands of American citizens recognize the unique leadership qualities found in Senator Hillary Clinton and work tirelessly to ensure that she will become the next President of the United States of America. I am honored and proud to support the historic campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States of America! Senator Clinton's campaign is an inspiration to under-represented people all over America. She brings hope and power to hundreds of thousands of citizens who have been disenfranchised from achieving the American dream.

As I reflect on the life and legacies of a few American heroines - Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisholm and C. DeLores Tucker - I am reminded of Senator Clinton's devotion to duty. She worked relentlessly on behalf of the late Dr. C. DeLores Tucker to assist in the National Congress of Black Women's quest to place a bust of Sojourner Truth in the United States Capitol. The landmark Sojourner Truth legislation required Senator Clinton to work across the aisle to ensure that her colleagues understood the monumental value of embracing the contributions of a former enslaved African American woman whose courage is woven into the fabric of our democracy, and showcasing it for the sightseeing world to see. Sen. Clinton worked diligently year after year until the Sojourner Truth bill was passed, without media attention but with her full intention to fulfill her commitment to us.

Hillary Clinton makes history every day as she continues her campaign for the U.S. presidency. She is standing on the shoulders of Sojourner Truth, who confronted presidents to advocate for women's rights; she is standing on the shoulders of Shirley Chisholm who empowered young women from across the country to play major roles in her campaign; she is standing on the shoulders of her friend and colleague, Dr. C. DeLores Tucker who broke barriers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by becoming the first woman and African American to become Secretary of State. Senator Clinton's foundation to serve as President of the United States of America is solid and strong, as is her conviction and ability to provide solutions for America's problems - beginning NOW!

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, March 28, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 28, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Moqtada al-Sadr is still standing and then some, Patrick Leahy attacks democracy, Barack Obama tries out another story about his relationship with Jeremaih Wright, and more.
Moving quickly.  War resisters in Canada are attempting to seek asylum.  They need support as a measure is expected to be debated next month.  For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).  
The assault on Basra continues.  CBS and AP report that, added to the mix, "U.S. warplanes bombed sites in the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight, targeting Shiite militia members".  Robin Stringer and Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) cite UK Maj Tom Holloway stating that the US bombed "positively identified militia targets".   Of course they did. And, no doubt, Basra being an inhabited city, they also cleared out all civilian populations as well, right?  (No.)   US planes aren't the only ones dropping bombs.  Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reported this morning, "British warplanes have carried out bomb attacks on Shi'ite militia positions in Basra, directly entering the fray for the first time since the Iraqi army began the crackdown in the southern city."  Meanwhile Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) report, "U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand."  Appeared to expand?
Tuesday, the word was that the British were sitting it out.  And from the start we've heard of 'Commander' Nouri, rushing to Basra, to oversee the battle.  A decisive battle, we were told.  CNN gushed, "Al-Maliki is said to be personally overseeing efforts to restore order in Basra". That was Tuesday.  By Wednesday (when it was obviously a failed effort) the Pentagon was hoping to grab some bragging rights but it was still "It's All Nouri!" -- and meant it in a positive manner.  By Thursday, displeasure wasn't being murmured, it was being stated clearly and on the record such as when  Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) reported that "independent Kurdish legislator" Mahmoud Othman was quoted declaring, "Everybody is asking, 'Why now?' . . . . People have ill-advised Maliki.  The militias like the timing.  Iran likes the timing.  They want to show there's no progress in Iraq."  It was falling apart before the assault was ever launched. But as late as Thursday, that still wasn't grasped as evidenced by James Glanz (New York Times) reporting how "American officials have presented the Iraqi Army's attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own.  A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own." 
Today, Bully Boy declared at the White House that "any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law. And that's what's taking place in Basra and in other parts of Iraq. I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq. There have been other defining moments up to now, but this is a defining moment, as well. The decision to move troops -- Iraqi troops into Basra talks about Prime Minister Maliki's leadership."  As usual, it would appear someone left Bully Boy out of the loop.  "Criminal elements" echoes Nouri's statements throughout the week but let's note that if you're going to tackle alleged criminal elements, you give the Parliament a heads up.  This is a turf war.   Wednesday on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show featured McClatchy Newspapers' Leila Fadel.
Leila Fadel: Well Basra has been spiraling out of control for months now, the British military pulled out late last year basically handing it over to Shia militias in a city that are battling for power.  Maliki, the prime minister here, finally declared a security operation on Monday night and the battle has been fierce mainly between Iraqi government forces and the Mehdi Army which is loyal to the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.  Basra is a strong-hold for the Mehdi Army and the Sadrists are saying this is a battle against them to consolidate power  for their Shia rivals, the Supreme Council here in Iraq. 
The latter would be the party that provides Nouri with his largest support these days after his own Da'wa party.  Provincial elections are supposed to be held at year's end and this is seen as one of the primary reasons for the assault on Basra.  Another reason was that US Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are due to put on another show for Congress next month and Petraeus has actually grumbled publicly about al-Maliki.  As have many Democrats and Republicans serving in the US Congress.  If the puppet is fingered as one of the failures, how does that look for those pulling his strings?  So this was a rock 'em, sock 'em p.r. bonanza.  If you were an idiot.
Moqtada al-Sadr's power was at the weakest.  He'd declared the cease-fire/truce with US and occupation forces in August of 2007.  The truce was very unpopular in the Sadr City section of Bahgdad where al-Sadr's supporters were.  al-Sadr wasn't there.  al-Sadr was assumed to be in Najaf.  So when Sadrists felt they were being openly targeted.  Then came February when al-Sadr (still not home) declded to renwer the cease-fire/truce.  Objections were strong before the truce was renewed and just the act of renewing it led "loyalists" to criticize al-Sar openly and to the press.  al-Sadr's influence was diminishing.  When a people feel attacked and their designated leader isn't with them, questions will naturally emerge and they were starting to.  And possibly those in the US government who've long plotted the 'departure' of al-Sadr felt, "This is the perfect moment!"  No, it wasn't.  And whomever okayed the operation immediatly up to Bully Boy miscalculated (Bully Boy always miscalculates) because when someone you see as an enemy is naturally weakening themselves through their own actions, you do not 'assist' them by lifting them to a higher stature.  That's what the assault on Basra did. 
Maybe the hope was al-Sadr would stay silent.  He didn't.  He called it out.  Who's winning hearts & minds in Iraq?  Moqtada al-Sadr because, across Iraq, Iraqis saw only one person stand up to the occupation.  Iraqis has seen Falluja slaughtered (twice), has seen their neighborhoods physically carved up with "Bremer" walls, they've seen that, five years after their country was invaded, not only are occupation forces still present (in direct opposition to the wishes of the Iraqi people) but Baghdad is pretty much off limits to most Iraqis.  Who stood up?  Moqtada al-Sadr. 
Nouri al-Maliki painted himself into the corner as did the US.  Wednesday on  The Diane Rehm Show al-Maliki's ultimatums were noted.
Leila Fadel: Well Prime Minister Maliki is saying that he wants every weapon in the hands of the government.  He wants all weapon smugglers, this is a very important city, 90% of Iraq's oil comes from there, it's a border town.  It has the main port of Iraq there.  And a lot of the weapon smuggling, oil smuggling happens there.  And so the main families that deal with oil smuggling, weapon smuggling have been targeted in Basra.  He has given what he calls outlaws 72 hours to surrender while the battle continues it seems that the main targets and the people fighting back are the Medhi army and the Sadrists are saying that they are the targets, the sole targets, of this operation.
al-Maliki was in no position to give ultimatums.  But it was 'strong,' it was 'bravery' -- or that's how it was supposed to play.  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) cited al-Maliki calling al-Sadr loyalists "criminal gangs".  Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quoted Nouri insisting, "The government does not negotiate with a gang; the government does not sign understanding memorandums with outlaws."  Big tough Nouri?  Italy's AGI reports that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, has now extended his 'deadline' (April 8th now and not Saturday) and Al Jazeera notes that he declared, "All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially."  al-Maliki's reputation was on the line, as James Glanz noted, and the US government knew for sure that their puppet was going to be able to pull this off but only because they've deluded themselves into believing that Iraqis see Nouri as a legitimate ruler.  They dodn't.  Protests started the minute the assault on Basra began.  When Moqtada al-Sadr spoke out, the protests only got heavier -- across Iraq.  Moqtada al-Sadr called for a political solution and Nouri al-Maliki insisted he doesn't deal with 'outlaws' (which would mean he ignores his own ministries).  Today in Iraq, al-Sadr's not only the one who stood up to the occupying powers (a big thing in and of itself), he's the one who did so and got concessions. 
China's Xinhua noted the "extraordinary session" in the Iraq Parliament that Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani called today and the press conference announcing it where he was joined by Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's previous prime minister) and others.  AP reports that 78 members of Parliament were present and that the committee met for "about two hours" on the issue of Basra.  Missing the point, as usual, at the White House Bully Boy was still issuing talking points, calling the assault "a test and a moment for the Iraqi government". If it was a test for Bully Boy he failed as he fell back on all his tired answers ("democracy" and mothers wanting their children to go to school are especially overused).  Standing next to him was Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who avoided all questions on Iraq and only addressed that nation in his opening remarks where he mentioned "an assistance package of some $165 million" of which "a large slice" is planned to "train their people better in agriculture and in the wider economy."  Train "their people better" in farming?  Is Rudd unaware that Iraq was considered one of the breadbaskets of the MidEast?
Let's stay with Bully Boy and mistakes. Not last Monday, but the Monday before (March 17th), Michael R. Gordon presented the usual unsourced junk his infamous for.  But because it was pleasing, many picked up on it.  Amy Goodman pimped it but, apparently grasping even her declining audience wouldn't accept a report from Gordo, just credited it to the New York Times.  We didn't link to it the morning of the 17th, we're not going to link to it now.  We noted the morning of the 17th, "At the New York Times Gordo's raving about his insider interviews and access. No link to trash. The thrust is that L. Paul Bremer issued a decree that disbanded the Iraqi military (true) and that this was something Bremer came up with on his own. Collie Powell declares that he was out of the country and called Condi Rice about it to object and Rice explained that it had already been done. The big villian of the piece is Bremer and Bully Boy is painted as someone who was apparently in a daze. (Maybe he was thinking of My Pet Goat?) How true is it? Who knows? It's Gordo and the ship is sinking so the rats are bailing.  If Powell knew it was a mistake (as he insists to Gordo), then Colin Powell should have something in real time -- even as an anomyous source. That's the least he should have done. Anyone with real courage would have stepped down and gone public. Again, the ship is sinking and since Bully Boy won't be working anywhere, they'll finger him as out of it (which is believable) and make Bremer the fall guy. While Bremer wins nothing but boos and hisses here, it is equally true that anyone -- not just Bully Boy -- could have objected. (That includes but is not limited to Rice.)"  It wasn't news.  The tip-off should have been the byline if not the whisper nature of the story.  But the paper then had to offer an editorial 'loosely based' on Gordo's 'reporting' entitled "Mission Still Not Accomplished" and Paul Bremer responded to the apportioning of blame Monday March 24th in a letter to the editor (A24).  Bremer's claiming that there was no military to disband and we're not in the mood for that nonsense but we will note some of his comments just because the disaster that is the illegal war has many parents and none should be left off the hook:
I take strong exception to your assertion that I "overrode" President Bush's national security team on disbanding the Iraqi Army.  Whatever one's view on the issue, there should be no confusion about the process leading to this decision.  President Bush's instructions to me were to report to him through Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.  I did. 
[. . .]
On May 9, two weeks before the decision was made, I sent a draft order based on these discussions to Mr. Rumsfeld, copied to Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the Central Command, and other senior defense officials.  A copy went to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to the commander of the coalition forces in Iraq.  
All had ample opportunity to comment on this and subsequent drafts of the order before it was issued on May 23.  Defense Department civilian leaders and military staffs provided only minor suggested revisions.  
On May 22, I briefed the president at a National Security Council meeting attended by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage; Secretary Rumsfeld; and General Myers.  No one raised concerns or objections. 
Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, says he was unaware of the plan; that is regrettable.  But this suggests a problem with the interagency process in Washington.  
General Myers told The New York Times (front page, March 17) that there had been no "robust debate" about the draft decree.  If any top officials felt strongly at the time that the decision was misguided, as some of them now claim, they had every opportunity, and the responsibility, to make those concerns known to the Pentagon's leadership, or directly to the commander in chief.
Paul Bremer is correct that anyone wanting to claim they were out of the loop needs a better excuse.  If Colin Powell wants to claim he was out of the loop, that's an issue with his then Deputy Secretary.  Bremer is also correct that those opposed (none were) "had every opportunity, and the responsibility" to speak out.  They chose not to.  Now, as resume shock sets in and they realize what they own, it was very cowardly to try to add their blame to Bremer.  Bremer's not innocent and bears responsiblity for his actions.  But when you want to whisper and shove your blame off on someone else -- and you're in power -- you rush straight to Michael Gordon.  And it's a sure sign of how pathetic Panhandle Media is that they merely stripped Gordo's name from it as they rushed to repeat it.  Over and over.  I'm unaware of anyone noting Bremer's reply which ran Monday and I waited until Friday to see if any would bother with "in an update to . . ." but none did.
Basra wasn't the only victim of a US air assault.  Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad bombings from the air with the US killing "3 gunmen, injuring 8" in the first instance and killing "12 people" with "60 injured" in the second.  Robert H. Reid (AP) also notes the air bombings on Baghdad and refers to a Sadr City incident which may be the second one Issa noted or yet another bombing when "a U.S. aircraft fired a Hellfire missile in the Sadr City district -- the Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army -- after gunmen there opened fire on an American patrol.  The U.S. military said the missile strike killed four militants, but Iraqi officials said nine civilians were killed and nine others wounded."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack "near Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's residence inside the Green Zone injuring 2 of his security detail," a Baghdad mortar attack on "the supension bridge (one of the entrances to the Green Zone) in Karrada" that wounded three people.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Qurna city resulted in 5 losing their lives and injured two.  Robert H. Reid (AP) reports armed clashes in "Mahmoudiya, Nasiriyah and Kut" resulted in "[a]t least 26 people" dead.  Reuters notes 3 dead in an armed clash in Kerbala, 6 in an armed clash in Hamza and that "the mayor of Ghmash neighbourhood in Diwaniya" was shot dead today.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 kidnappings of police patrols in Baghdad -- in one instance two police officers were released, in the other three are missing.
Reuters notes 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Center Soldier was killed as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad March 28."
Turning to US presidential politics.  US Senator Patrick Leahy attacked democracy AND LIED today.   Johanna Neuman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Leahy is calling "on Hillary Rodham Clinton to drop out of the presidential race, saying there is no way the New York Senator can wrest the nomination from her rival Barack Obama."  Let's remember that Leahy is the OLD FOOL who endorsed John Roberts for the Supreme Court.  Now let's walk through slowly.  A) If there's no way for Hillary to garner the nomination, what's the big concern with her dropping out?  We'll come back to that.  The Obama campaign got a spook today and are hoping the press doesn't get wind of it.  B)   If Barack has the nomination, it doesn't matter what Hillary does.  C) Neither Hillary or Barack appeared able to reach the magic number of delegates from primaries or caucuses.  Patrick Leahy needs to sit back down.  His ass, like the rest of him, is obviously tired. 
Let's cover the attack on Democracy angle. Vermont held their primary on March 4th.  Leahy didn't think it was important to stop the process then, now did he?  Today Bob Casey Jr. endorsed Barack.  Let's see Bob Casey Jr. echo Leahy, let's see Bob Casey Jr. tell the voters of Pennsylvania that Hillary needs to drop out.  Pennsylvania holds their primary on April 22nd so let's see Bob Casey Jr. stand with Leahy and see him tell the voters of his own state that they don't matter, that their votes don't matter and that their voice doesn't matter.
That is what Leahy is doing and everyone -- regardless of party -- should be offended by this attack on democracy.  Now this nonsense was pulled on Al Gore privately in 2000.  Leahy is so brazen that he thinks he can now do it publicly.   Leahy is not the Director of Democracy and it's past time that he and others got that message.  It's past time that someone held these little chiefs in check.  And the people will.  Leahy's not only offended Pennsylvania and all states and regions still to hold primary, he's also offending Vermont which is a state with a long history of allowing the process to go through.  His offensive lies and attacks need to be called out.
Let's get it straight, the primary/caucus system is gamed over and over.  But the lie those who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire are told each election cycle is that their votes matter to.  They're told that if it's ever close, they'll certainly get a say.  They're told that just because the runway is cleared for Iowa and New Hampshire each year while everyone else is left in holding pattern, it's still fair, it's still equal.  No, it's not.  Which is why Bill Nelson is proposing legislation.  But under the current system, the race continues.  Under the current system, it's not expected that either Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will meet the magic number of delegates required to win the nomination.  The super delegates would decide the nominee.
Everyone knows that.  Leahy knows that though he lies to make it look better for his heart-throb Bambi.  As someone who is lobbying super delegates, you better believe I know it.  But while that battle's gone on, a new battle emerged today, totally unexpected.  It sent the Barack Obama campaign into a tizzy.  On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, a caller named John from Dallas, TX spoke.  He explained he supported Barack Obama.  He explained he voted for him.  He explained he caucused for him.  He explained he was selected as a delegate to represent Obama.  Most importantly, he explained he could no longer support Barack Obama.  Hillary Clinton won the primary in Texas. 
That's why Leahy was sent out.  Clamp down on this quick!  Stop it before it bleeds further!  Jeremy Wright is toxic and viral and it has destroyed Barack Obama.  Not Hillary or anything she's said.  The fact that Wright damned the United States of America is not going down easy despite media lies.  The caller referenced an earlier section of the program and may have meant the embarrassing discussion of polls which included Obama's 'good' news from a PEW poll.  51% rated him well on his speech last week.  But there's the other side which wasn't addressed on the broadcast.  Seven percent didn't know.  42% rated Fair to Poor.  The most heavily pimped speech of the campaign, by any candidate.  The source of endless columns (bad columns) and non-stop gas baggery.  The media was in full force on that speech, trying to shape the minds of Americans.  But they didn't.  42% said Fair to Poor.  (That's the general population but it's also the number for those self-describing as "Independent" in the poll.)  When the US media decided to hop on board the selling of the illegal war, Bully Boy soared in the polls.  51% is very disappointing and that number is only going to continue to lower.  Wright is toxic and viral and Obama showed no judgement
That's what the caller told Rehm and her panel.  And they characterized what he was going through as buyer's remorse.  Wright has not gone away.  He was back in the news for his "I will tour!" which didn't work out that well (it was cancelled for him but he tried to save face) and then came more offensive remarks including "garlic noses" for Italians.  Jeffrey Weiss (Dallas Morning News) covers the religious beat and offers this prediction today: "Barack Obama will face more questions about Rev. Wright.  Yes, Obama has disavowed the sentiments in the endlessly YouTubed excerpts.  But the entire sermon offers a view of America and the American government that stands in sharp contrst to Obama's message.  It's one thing for him to say he hadn't heard his pastor call God's wrath down on America that day.  But surely some of the broader themes of that sermon about the role and history of the U.S. government were woven through other sermons?  And we have not heard how or whether Obama took those up with his pastor and friend."  On ABC's The View, Obama offered yet another version of conflicting stories passed off as truth.  Today's lie is he would have left the church if Wright had "not retired" and that's a new one.  It's equally true that it wouldn't take most people 20 years to make such a decision.  Jake Tapper (ABC News) notes that he also claimed Wright "had said he had deeply offended people" and Tapper questions that only to get a "What he meant" from the campaign.  Tapper notes:
Okay, except Obama wasn't "clearly" saying that at all.
Here's a clear way to say that: 'Had the reverend not retired I would have confronted him about his remarks. If after that Wright still refused to acknowledge that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I think is the great character of this country -- for all its flaws -- then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church.'
Taylor Marsh tracks Obama's changing story and how this new "I would have left if he hadn't been retiring" nonsense is just that.  Brad Warthen (South Carolina's The State) explores the offense of the most famous sermon Wright delivered (and then sold online):
But what Mr. Wright said is clear. The six-minutes-plus of context that went before "G** Damn America" was exactly what I would have guessed went before it. Essentially, it was a review of history, mixed with a small dollop of political partisanship (the comparison of not-so-bad presidencies with the current one). Short version: The government has upheld oppression of black people during the course of American history.
Folks, I'm an American history major, and I've lived in this country for most of 54 years. What part of the rather sketchy overview in that sermon do you think I didn't know already? If I'd been sermonizing, I could have added a lot to it -- including the fact that the blood offering of the Civil War, as horrific as it was, seems to have been an inevitable sacrifice to expiate the sin of slavery. And I would have said the evil didn't end there, nor could it, there being original sin in the world, and no one of us since Jesus Christ born free of it.
But I wouldn't have said "G** Damn America." Not in a million years. For me, the point of bringing up evil is to try to overcome it -- as I believe two people Mr. Darby mentions (King and Bonhoeffer) were trying to do.
Sorry, but I can't accept that the Rev. Wright was saying "things that challenge America to rise above its sins of prejudice and greed." No, if he'd said America was in danger of damnation, or headed straight thataway, rather as Jesus said to the Pharisees in the example cited by my colleague Warren Bolton this week, that might have been seen as a challenge, perhaps even a well-intentioned warning. (Personally, although he had more right, being God, than anyone else to do so, I don't remember Jesus ever damning anything more sentient than a fig tree.)
But Mr. Wright didn't call on us to do anything. Instead, he called on G** to damn America.
Wright isn't going away.  And let's be clear that what happened today was an Obama delegate -- voted for him in the primary, caucused for him -- announced on NPR that he wasn't able to support Obama and wouldn't be, that he was switching his vote to someone else.  It's the story the campaign doesn't want noted. 

General Wesley Clark
General Henry Hugh Shelton
Admiral William Owens
Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard
Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy
Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick
Vice Admiral Joseph A. Sestak, Jr.
Major General Roger R. Blunt 
Major General George Buskirk, Jr.
Major General Paul D. Eaton
Major General Antonio M. Taguba 
Brigadier General Michael Dunn
Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote 
Brigadier General Virgil A. Richard 
Brigadier General Jack Yeager 
Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. 
Rear Admiral Roland G. Guilbault 
Rear Admiral Stuart F. Platt 
Rear Admiral David Stone
As retired flag and general officers, we have devoted our lives to our country. We have hundreds of thousands of men and women on the front lines that have done the same. At this critical time in our nation's history, our men and women in uniform deserve better than a presidential debate mired in trivia. The stakes are simply too high. As we are poised to choose our next Commander-in-Chief, we should not allow the media to divert attention from the real issues. What matters is who is ready and inspired to lead -- who can be Commander-in -Chief on Day One.
It is imperative that our new President knows how and when to use force and diplomacy judiciously, to know how to deploy the olive branch and the arrow. The President needs to be ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis. And we think our next President must restore our moral authority and leadership around the world with the courage to meet with our adversaries when appropriate, and the wisdom to pursue diplomacy wisely.
It is especially important to understand the military and diplomatic challenges facing us in Iraq, and to end the Iraq war responsibly and safely. It is also important to rededicate ourselves to winning in Afghanistan, the forgotten front line in our fight against terrorism.
In these critical areas, it is clear to us that Senator Clinton is the candidate best qualified to be our nation's next Commander-in-Chief. 
We believe that she has real understanding of the military through her diligent service on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has worked tirelessly to ensure our men and women in uniform are properly trained and equipped to be sent to battle. And she has fought to make certain that they are treated with dignity when they return home. We have personally and closely observed her respect for our armed forces, and she has earned their respect. And ours.      
We hope that as a country, we will now turn our attention to the critical issues that will determine the future of our great nation. 

Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.

Other Items

More than three dozen Democratic congressional candidates banded together yesterday to promise that, if elected, they will push for legislation calling for an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq that would leave only a security force in place to guard the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The above is the opening paragraph of Paul Kane's "42 Democrats Vow a Drawdown in Iraq If They Win Seats" (Washington Post) and it is cited by angry visitor who is "furious with you" (me) "for your non-stop promotion of this plan" and for not insisting that no military guard the US Embassy in Iraq. Anger can be a good thing but needs to be directed appropriately. For the record, the paragraph above, that the visitor is highlighting, is the first mention of the plan that has appeared at this site (and I would guess that's true of all community sites). I haven't had time to read the plan so I certainly could not have advocated for it and, in fact, I was making a point to avoid mentioning it before I could read it. So the visitor has obviously confused this site with some other site. In terms of the embassy, unlike many of the gas bags supposedly wanting to end the illegal war, we have noted that the US military will guard the Iraq embassy and usually include this phrase when we do note that "as they do every embassy around the globe." That's just standard practice. All the more so for an embassy in Iraq considering the events in Tehren during Jimm Carter's presidency.

Already the US State Department cannot get enough of their own diplomats to go to Iraq. Pull the military from guarding it after the illegal war ends and it will be even more so. You can argue that the US shouldn't have an embassy in Iraq (a point that really has not been pushed by the peace movement) but it's a bit late in the game to be pushing that and expecting it to garner traction. While it has been alternately dubbed "a fortress" or "a miltary base" (and there are truths to both categorizations), there has been no call put foward of "NO EMBASSY!" It's not a point the peace movement has rallied around.

They may attempt to do so. It will require a lot of education and also explaining since an embassy is supposed to represent diplomatic relations which translates to many as dialogue and that is something any peace movement encourages.

However, for the most part, the peace movement has focused elsewhere and/or accepted that an embassy will remain in Iraq (possibly due to the fact that, realistically, the US government has sunk so much money into that fortress that it's hard to imagine they would easily give it up). If an embassy (either the fortress or another structure) is present, standard operating procedure would be for it to have military guards. All the more so in the region due to the seizure of the embassy in Iran and the hostages taken during Jimmy Carter's presidency. Due to that moment, no president, coming from any poliltical party, would be likely to say, "Oh sure, we'll have an embassy but we won't have the military guard it." A bunker-like mentality led to the construction of the embassy and a bunker-like mentality will continue to center around that embassy.

If the visitor feels passionately about the issue (and he appears to), he can certainly begin advocating for no US embassies in Iraq but, again, that hasn't been a point that the peace movement has rallied around thus far and such an idea would need to be introduced repeatedly to gain traction.

But repeating, one more time, the above paragraph is the first time this site has noted the proposal.

In the New York Times today, Paul Krugman examines the proposals from Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama who are all running for president and are all talking the housing crisis:

All in all, the candidate's positions on the mortgage crisis tells the same tale as their positions on health care: a tale that is seriously at odds with the way they're often portrayed.
Mr. McCain, we're told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.
Mrs. Clinton, we're assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eat babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive. Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

Tonight on NOW on PBS (check local listings and some stations air it Saturday or Sunday):

Could a new effort to fight global warming save money and create jobs at the same time? NOW looks at a city-wide plan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to make all its buildings more energy efficient. Up to 80 percent of emissions in many urban cities comes from buildings. Cambridge hopes that this unprecedented effort to green its buildings will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent in just five years, the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road. If every major city in America took the same approach, it would have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of the United States --and it would generate tens of millions of new "green" jobs.
The Cambridge Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group, will help clients cut their energy use 15-30 percent, which translates into a lower utility bill. The Alliance will then help clients secure loans to pay for the building retrofits, loans designed to pay themselves off by the savings on those utility bills. Retrofitting thousands of buildings could also create a new green job market in Cambridge. It's a bold new experiment, but the Alliance hopes to become a national model that puts green thinking on display, as well as more green in people's pockets. Will this entrepreneurial effort bring new converts to the environmental movement?

Back to Basra, Polly notes Damien McElroy's "Iraqi army calls on British air support in Basra" (Telegraph of London):

British warplanes have carried out bomb attacks on Shi'ite militia positions in Basra, directly entering the fray for the first time since the Iraqi army began the crackdown in the southern city.
Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, conceded failure in his bid to crush rebel fighters in Basra today, offering an extended deadline and cash incentives for the surrender of heavy weapons.

The e-mail address for this site is

Basra assaulted now bombed

The British military admitted Thursday that some of its troops breached the human rights of an Iraqi man who died in custody and of eight other detained Iraqis.
The Ministry of Defense said it expects to negotiate compensation for the survivors of the dead man, Baha Mousa, and with the eight former detainees.
The nine were taken into custody as suspected insurgents, then were held in stress positions and deprived of sleep for about two days in extreme heat at a British army barracks near the southern Iraqi city of Basra in September 2003, prosecutors told a British military court.
Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist, died from asphyxia after soldiers restrained him following an escape attempt.

The above is from Robert Barr's "UK Admits Mistreating Iraqi Detainees" (AP). Turning to Basra, the New York Times does run Joao Silva's photo on the front page and while it's still a strong photograph, turning a wideshot into a close up doesn't really convey the same scope the original photo did. It's run on the front page with James Glanz and Steve Lee Myers' "Assault By Iraq On Shiite Forces Stalls In Basra" which notes the death toll to be at least 100 with 500 more injured and this:

An Iraqi employee of The New York Times, driving on the main road between Basra and Nasiriya, observed numerous civilian cars with coffins strapped to the roofs, apparently heading to Shiite cemetaries to the north.

The article also lists Baquba, Amara, Kirkuk, Kut and Hillar among the other cities where violence is ongoing thought to be in response to Nouri's assault. That would be the assault that was supposed to provide Nouri al-Maliki with a new image, it's not happening.

Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) underscores how al-Maliki has yet against set himself against the people of Iraq in his referring to those associated with al-Sadr was "criminal gangs". Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quotes Nouri insisting, "The government does not negotiate with a gang; the government does not sign understanding memorandums with outlaws." Not only has the assault increased al-Sadr's power, it's weakened al-Maliki's. This morning, James Glanz (New York Times) reported, "American officials have presented the Iraqi Army's attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own. A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own."

That was yesterday and, as Diana Ross once sang, "Every day is a new day." Today, Italy's AGI reports that
Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, has now extended his 'deadline' (April 8th now and not Saturday) and Al Jazeera notes that he declared, "All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially."

A bit of a come down for the p.r. stunt that was supposed to shore up his weakening of support in the US. And when you've lost (and Nouri's lost), what's to do? Bomb. CBS and AP report:

U.S. warplanes bombed sites in the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight, targeting Shiite militia members, a British military spokesman said Friday.
The aerial bombardment is a sign of the difficulty Iraqi forces have had clearing the crucial oil city of armed militias that, until less than a week ago, ran Basra unchecked - most notably by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

If you're not getting what a failure this stunt (that has cost many lives) to shore up Nouri's reputation (on the eve of Petraeus' report to Congress, don't forget), check out the opening of James Hider's "Areas of Baghdad fall to militias as Iraqi Army falters in Basra" (Times of London):

Iraq's Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.
With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki's police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.
Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq's two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias -- who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade -- would not stop at mere insurrection.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Hate The War

Obama makes it quite clear that he not only considers white men's riches to be sacrosanct, but he believes every word of the mythical origins of the white settlers who seized power from the British Crown. These men were "farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787," said Obama. No mention of slaveholders or slave traders in the bunch. By dishing out a historical narrative of race in America that omits the theft of the continent and genocide of Native Americans Obama tacitly accepts the lie that most European settlers were escaping religious persecution -- a fairy tale that even children’s schoolbooks seldom tell anymore -- and pretends that the whites acquired Indian lands by legal means. But what's the point of arguing about such matters, since everyone involved -- especially the Indians -- is dead.
Having taken "off the table," so to speak, almost every aspect and resource of American life that over many generations created a thoroughly racist society, Obama then encourages Americans to engage each other in mutual self-help, all the while deftly avoiding any speech that might upset whites, especially males, jealous of their privileges. "I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together -- unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction -- towards a better future for ourchildren and our grandchildren." What does that mean? Nothing, except that people should be nicer to each other and avoid hurting anybody’s feelings by bringing up racial privilege.

The above, noted by Lewis, is from Glen Ford's "Obama Runs a Crooked Game" (Black Agenda Report). Lewis: "Bambi's history of race was disgusting and dismaying. I'm glad to see that after all the White gas bags stroked themselves over the speech, it's finally being noted by a few that the slaughter of and the theft from Native Americans doesn't even exist in Bambi's racially history."

You have to wonder about that, you really have to wonder, as Panhandle Media props up Bambi even for a speech that avoided the invasion and occupation by which this country (US) was created. But if you think about it, you'll realize that Panhandle Media isn't really interested in the ongoing invasion and occupation (Iraq War). It's cute to see our 'leaders' who couldn't touch on Iraq at all (until the corporatist peace movement decided to run with "Iraq is costing us money!") are all rushing to point out how the Iraq War has fallen off (big/real) media's radar. I believe it was Amy Goodman who waited until January 25th to get around to Iraq and the first month of this year. I believe it's Amy Goodman (and many others) who've ignored all war resisters to emerge after the fall of 2006. That will soon be two years ago. That ignoring is only all the more laughable when you read her latest 'book' (released next month). It should be filed under humor. The snapshots are dictated and today's included an aside that I didn't mean to be included but, yes, Ava and I will be tackling that 'book' at Third.

Courage to Resist, several members have e-mailed, is sending out reminders to people who have registered but not used their form to contact the Canadian government and show your support for US war resisters in Canada being granted asylum. I've written before about their site coming up on campus with a college student asking if you had to pay to sign the forum? If that's prevented anyone from signing it that wants to, the answer is no. There is an option to make a donation (which would help defray costs); however, if you don't have any money to spare, that's no reason to skip out on the form. The issue is set to come up in mid-April.

Kayla notes this from an e-mail:

Recently, Tina Richards resigned from her post at Grassroots America. After first marching to Capitol Hill to speak on behalf of her son, an Iraq veteran, Tina has accomplished much as a veteran's rights advocate. What she has done to honor our country and returning soldiers overshadows any monument Public Parks could erect or any bill passed on the hill.
Many of the Marines I served with in battle have told me countless times to tell Tina "Thank you", "Keep up the good work", and "We love what you're doing for us". As her son, I couldn't be more proud to have a mother who loves, cherishes, and defends the very country I have been so willing to give my life for.
It is with my love for her, for God, for America, and most importantly, for the love of all who have served and are serving in our military that I, Cloy Richards, look forward to accepting the appointment of CEO of Grassroots America, a non-profit. Grassroots America will continue its efforts to empower military families, minority voices, veterans and disabled veterans alike. We will continue to change the debate on Capitol Hill. We will continue to stand up and speak out and help everyone who is silenced or muzzled find their voices and speak truth to power. We will continue Tina's great work...together.
I look forward to working with everyone who has helped Tina during her many battles in D.C. and I hope we can accomplish much more together. Thank you for your time and supportFor God and country...
Cloy Richards,
Grassroots America

Yes, Tina Richards is gone from Grassroots America. She set a high benchmark but her son and others can certainly continue the work and, with their own hardwork and creativity, take Grassroots America to even more people. Not tonight (I just want to get this up and over), I'll change the links to put Cloy Richard's name in place of his mother (I will also be removing some links when I have that time).

In terms of Tina, she was made to suffer, as we all remember very well, for speaking out. She was treated so rudely by some of our 'anti-war' Congress members such as David Obey. She fought on and she's not ending her fight. But she also needs to make money and a wonderful opportunity came via Iran's Press TV which offered her a program. I don't believe it's on yet. If it is or when it it is, if it has a link, we'll add it right below Grassroots America. My reaction when I learned of it was, "What a great face for America to be selected." At a time when there are still so many pushing for a war between the US and Iran, Tina Richards will be a wonderful choice to act as not only a host but as a diplomatic face for the country. It would be wonderful if one of the US networks thought to do something similar with an Iranian host but I won't hold my breath on that. So she gets to make some money (not enough, to be sure) and she gets to be a common sense American voice at a time when that's really needed. So she's truly providing a service.

I don't think the following factored into it, but it's also true that you can get stuck in a rut where you're just grinding it out, so this prevents that from happening to Grassroots America. Again, I don't think that applied for Tina Richards, but when you pick any issue, let's go with Winter Soldier, and look at what so many of our 'leading' 'voices' didn't do to get the word out on that action, it's obvious that if it's not burnout effecting so many, it's just lack of caring. Grassroots was her baby and it takes a lot of strength and courage to hand something like that over. It probably helps that it was to someone she rightly trusts (her son Cloy) but it was still a very difficult decision and she showed real courage in making it. (Among the sites being delinked when I do go into the template is a peace organization that hasn't added anything to their website in over a year. I'm sure we all know which one I mean.) So take a moment to note all the work she did and appreciate that she's continuing that work in a new role that is an important one. And appreciate that Cloy Richards is carrying it on and will be taking the organization in new directions. They both have given so much already and out of a belief that we can all make a difference.

Of course, some choose to ignore that power and embrace being useless. Which never ends an illegal war or accomplishes much of anything.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3992. Tonight? 4004. Four over the 4,000 mark. How quickly that came and went. And when you really think about it, how little attention it received.

Just Foreign Policy lists 1,193,619 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war. The slaughter in Basra continues. And spreads to other cities. As usual, the puppet government is responding with curfews. The 'crackdown' never worked in Baghdad, but it's really all they have, isn't it? The illegal war has been the same bag of tricks from the White House over and over. Peace never came, after five years, peace never came. But at this point, it really seems about running out the clock so that it can be dumped on whomever ends up in the White House. The way Tony Blair did to Gordon Brown in England and, if you pay attention, it's obvious that Gordon Brown has yet to grasp that it's his 'blot' (to use Colin Powell's term) as well now.

The e-mail address for this site is

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, March 27, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Puppet al-Maliki painted in a corner, Bully Boy apparently high, fighting continues in Basra and throughout Iraq, and more.
Lawrence Toppman (Charlotte Observer) disses Kimberly Peirce's brave new film Stop-Loss but we'll noting his opening paragraph, "Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou" sears the soundtrack, a young man chooses between a tour of duty overseas and exile in Canada, an unpopular president sends people to war against their will -- did I fall into a time machine before the screening of 'Stop-Loss'? It felt as if I'd flown back 40 years, as I watched somebody go AWOL while dealing with a "de facto draft" that shoves soldiers into combat more than once."  Stop-Loss opens tomorrow.
In the meantime, war resisters in Canada need support as a measure is expected to be debated next month.  For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).    
Before we get to Basra, a factoid from UPI's "The almanac" worth noting, on this day "In 2003, U.S. President George Bush, seeking to calm concerns that the war in Iraq is proving tougher than expected after its first week, said the United States and Britain will battle Saddam Hussein's forces 'however long it takes to win'."  And you can be sure that, five years ago, some idiots not only applauded, they high-fived. 
Turning to Iraq where the assault on Basra receives more criticism.  This morning Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) reported that "independent Kurdish legislator" Mahmoud Othman was staing that there was no discussion of the assault "with parliament or other political groups" and is quoted declaring, "Everybody is aksing, 'Why now?' . . . . People have ill-advised Maliki.  The militias like the timing.  Iran likes the timing.  They wnat to show there's no progress in Iraq."  People have ill-advised puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki?  Who could do advise a puppet?  Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the US government is concerned over bragging rights with both the White House and the Pentagon rushing forward yesterday to attempt to grab "partial credit for the Iraqi government's new military offensive". This despite the fact that, as Youssef notes, "There was no sign from the ground, however, that the new offensive, which involves 15,000 Iraqi troops and police units, was suceeding."  Let's see, even Gen David Petraeus, due to 'report' to Congress next month, is calling out al-Maliki.  Democrats and Republicans in both houses of the US Congress are calling out the puppet.  Who would think a 'show of strength' would go over well?  The US administration.  How's it going over in Iraq? 
Sudarsan Raghavan, Sholnn Freeman and Howard Schneider (Washington Post) report, "Thousands of supporters of hard-line cleric Moqtada al-Sadr poured into the streets of the Iraqi capital Thursday to protest an ongoing security crackdown against Sadr's militia . . .  Demonstrators rallied in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City and the neighborhood of Kazimiyah, carrying a coffin decorated with a picture of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- a symbol of the political risks Maliki has run by ordering Iraqi security forces to move against Sadr's Mahdi Army and other politically backed armed gangs in Basra."  Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that on the coffin, under the photo, "were the words 'The New Dictator'."  Today's chant goes, "Maliki, keep your hands off.  People do not want you."  Leila Fadel and Ali al Basri (McClatchy Newspapers) described a popular chant in Najaf on Tuesday, "Oh Nouri, you coward.  You spy of the Americans."  James Glanz and Graham Bowley (New York Times) note, "In direct confrontation with the American-backed government in Iraq, thousands of supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia took to the streets of Baghdad on Thursday to protest the Iraqi Army's asault on the southern port city of Basra, an intense fighting continued there for a third day."  The photo by Joao Silva of those demonstrating should make the front page of the Times tomorrow -- note how many are marching.  Adam Brookes and Crispin Thorold (BBC) quote a Baghdad protestor declaring, "We are very patient but if the government does not respond to our demands, something bad will happen" and the demands are defined "the prime minister must resign; foreign troops must leave Iraq; the operation in Basra must be halted." Glanz and Bowley quote demonstrator Jabbar Azem Hassan: "They are killing our sons and they are harming innocent people.  We need to reform the national government from all parts of the Iraqi populace."
CNN plays stupid so before we get to the violence and its effects on the Iraqi people, let's address the nonsense Michael Ware pushes that "the Iranians" have a relationship with Moqtada al-Sadr.  No more so than with al-Maliki.  But the reality that's being missed is that al-Sadr was neutralized and on his way to little importance before the assault.  It was widely accepted that, as he continued his education, he was a hotel clerk in Najaf.  Not the stuff of legendary rebels (even allowing for the "Pirate Jenny" aspect).  He was out of Baghdad and that had turned some followers against him for the basic reason that while he was seen as 'getting on with' his own life, they felt they were under daily attack from al-Maliki's forces and militias.  The break-aways going public and criticizing were doing a very natural thing -- if your leader abandons you and the movement (and that's how it looked), he is no longer in charge.  Had the Basra assault not taken place, al-Sadr would have continued to decrease in influence.  What al-Maliki has done is 'rebrand' al-Sadr, turn him into Moqtada! and make him even more influential (regardless of the outcome) than he was before.  His influence was fading and it had nothing to do with "the Iranians" which CNN chatters on about (having absorbed that crap from the US military brass).  Basic realities, when a leader and his/her followers are apart and the leader appears to have things easier, the followers toss him or her aside.  al-Sadr's strength was waining and without the assault on Basra someone (more likely someones) would step forward claiming to be the true leader of Sadr City in Baghdad.  That person would have to gather strength slowly (and ward off rivals).  That was six to eight months time the US and al-Maliki would have had without any real issues.  Instead, they've armed al-Sadr by turning him into a rebel all over again.  No matter what happens in Basra, al-Sadr now has more power today than he ever had and that power will only continue.  Should he be killed, he will only be even more power and mythic.  But as it is, he is now seen as the one person in Iraq who is defending the Iraqis, defending the country.  This elevates him higher than in 2004 because in 2004 he had others on the scene to compete with.  Today, thanks to actions by the US and the puppet, he is Iraq. 
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) underscores how al-Maliki has yet against set himself against the people of Iraq in his referring to those associated with al-Sadr was "criminal gangs".  Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quotes Nouri insisting, "The government does not negotiate with a gang; the government does not sign understanding memorandums with outlaws."  Not only has the assault increased al-Sadr's power, it's weakened al-Maliki's.  This morning, James Glanz (New York Times) reported, "American officials have presented the Iraqi Army's attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own.  A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own."  Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) offers, "A new civil war is threatening to explode in Iraq as American-backed Iraqi government forces fight Shia militiamen for control of Basra and parts of Baghdad. . . .  The gun battles between soldiers and militiamen, who are all Shia Muslims, show that Iraq's majority Shia community -- which replaced Saddam Hussein's Sunni regime -- is splitting apart for the first time."
A point missed by the Bully Boy of the United States.  Speaking at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base's National Museum of the United States Air Force today, Bully Boy declared, "The military achievements in Iraq have been accompanied by a political transformation."  Whatever he's smoking, shouldn't he be arrested for it?  He spoke of non-existant political gains and claimed his 'surge' was a success ("But this much is clear: The surge is doing what it was designed to do.")  With Tony Blair and John Howard gone from power, Bully Boy needs a new boy-crush so he inflates and elevates Nouri, "And as we speak, Iraqi security forces are waging a tough battle against militia fighters and criminals in Basra -- many of whom have received arms and training and funding from Iran.  Prime Minister Maliki's bold decision -- and it was a bold decision -- to go after the illegal groups in Basra shows his leadership, and his committment to enforce the law in an even-handed manner. . . . Prime Minister Maliki has traveled to Basra to oversee it firsthand."  That last statement may have been a speechwriter getting in a jab over Bully Boy's failure "to oversee" the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina "firsthand." In terms of Iran, there is still no proof, only baseless accusations intended to sell another illegal war.  As Ruth noted yesterday, the New York Times' Steven Lee Myers appeared on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show and continued to insist -- with no proof -- that the Iranian government was supplying weapons to Iraqi resistance fighters.  He needed to insist on that even when, as Ruth noted, Rehm pointed out that weapons tend to travel over borders all on their own without government assistance of any kind leading Myers to reply that this was true which was why he wasn't sure which branch of the Iranian government was passing on the weapons but . . .  He has no proof and repeatedly lied to claim a connection he can't back up.  Bully Boy did the same today.  The paper has enlisted in selling the next war.  Anna Mulrine (US News & World Reports) notes the "postive spin" Bully Boy attempted today and that US military officials do not share his upbeat evaulation.  One is quoted explaining, "It' snot a sign of success. . . . It's too early to tell."  Adam Brookes and Crisipin Thorold (BBC) note that Nouri's deadline has less than 48 hours left yet "the militiamen -- in particular those of Mehdi Army, loyal to the cleric Moqtada Sadr -- show no signs of doing so. . . . Mehdi militiamen are holding key points around Basra, say local sources, and are harassing Iraqi troops from alleyways and back streets, where armoured vehicles find it hard to manoeuvre." Sam Dagher and Abdul-Karim al-Samer (Christian Science Monitor) report, "At the moment, witnesses in Basra say there appears to be no sign of any letup in fighting between government forces and the Shiite gunmen, who are said to still control 75 percent of the city."  
On the ground, Alexandra Zavis and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) observe, "Basra residents trapped in their homes by raging gun battles worried that food was running out with no end in sight to the clashes between Iraqi security forces and followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr and other armed factions."  At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent explains that their mother's eye surgery was scheduled for Tuesday but due to the strikes in Baghdad, the clinic the surgery was to take place had shut down and they had to make multiple trips just to get to a hospital (Sadrists turned them away on the first three attempts). Charles Levinson (USA Today) observes, "Al-Sadr's ironclad control over Iraq's health system and other key ministries has come under renewed scrutiny following recent clashes between his Mahdi Army militia and the Iraqi army. . . .  The Health Ministry has been under al-Sadr's control since 2005, when his political party gained more seats than any other group."  AFP counts "[a]t least 105 people" who "have died countrywide in clashes since" the assault on Basra began.  Richard Beeston (Times of London) cautions, "The battle for Basra now raging on the streets of Iraq's second city shows every sign of turning into a nightmare for the dwindling British forces near by" and notes that British troops might have to be added to the region or "[t]he only other option would be for Britain to admit finally that it has lost the fight in southern Iraq."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an east Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 1 life and wounded two people, a central Baghdad mortar attack that wounded one person, a Baghdad car bombing damaged one wall of the Red Crescent office, the Baghdad Da'wa Party (al-Maliki's party) was "torched, causing only material damage" a Baghdad mortar attack on a bus station claimed 2 lives and left fifteen wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack on a commercial area wounded two people, a Baghdad mortar attack on the Ministry of Interior claimed 1 life (an employee) and left four more wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack on an apartment complex wounded two people, an RPG attack on Amara's Badr Organization Bureau which left a civilian wounded, a Baiji bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, a Khanaqin roadside bombing wounded two people, a Kirkuk car bombing claimed the life of Capt. Tayib Mahmoud ("a Kurd security intelligence agency" officer) and wounded two "of his security detail" plus five more people, the torching of the Hilla "offices of al-Da'wa and the Supreme Council" that resulted in the deaths of 3 police officers (four more wounded) and, on Wednesday, Mona Ajaj was killed from a Baiji mortar attack that also wounded two adults and three children.  This morning Reuters reported: "A giant column of black smoke was visible near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone on Thursday after an apparent mortar strike, a Reuters reporter said."  CBS and AP note 1 "American was killed . . . a government employee whose identity was being withheld" and CBS News Lara Logan "reports the Green Zone, not long ago one of the safest areas of Baghdad, has become in recent days one of the deadliest.  In a visit to one of the foreign embassies inside the area, Logan says she and her crew had to quickly move into protecitve bunkers four times with one hour due to the relentless rocket fire.  She says all non-essential movement of personnel within the Green Zone has been restricted."  AFP notes a Basra car bombing targeting Maj Gen Abdul Jalil Khalaf (police chief) that he walked away from but in which 3 police officers died.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "the Commander of Garmian Peshmerga Forces" was shot dead along with 4 members "of his security detail," 5 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Basra, a Salahuddin Province home invasion targeting a member of the "Awakening" Counil that claimed the life of the US collaborator and his son (wounding two women), 2 people were shot dead at Yugoslav Bridge (seven more wounded) from the crossfire exchanged by the Iraqi and Mahdia armies, 1 Iraqi soldier and 2 police officers shot dead in Hilla during an armed clash that also wounded thirty others, seventeen Iraqi soldiers were wounded in Basra (and transferred to Baghdad for treatment), three Iraqi soldiers were wounded in Baghdad, in Talbiyah's armed clash eight Iraqi soldiers received injuries, 1 father a thirteen-year-old son were shot dead in Talbiyah and a Baghdad shooting that wounded one person. Reuters notes 3 police officers killed (three more wounded) in Hamza
Sudarsan Raghavan, Sholnn Freeman and Howard Schneider (Washington Post) report "gunmen seized a well-known member of Maliki's government, storming the home of Tahseen al-Sheikihli and taking him prisoner.  Sheikhli is a chief spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, in charge of a big to build public support for Iraqi efforts to quell violence in the city."  It does not appear that his job has worked.  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that "at least one of" his bodyguards is reported wounded during the kidnapping and that "Sheikhly has appeared frequently at news conferences alongside U.S. officials discussing what they consider progress of the security plan.  The bold abduction, in the middle of the afternoon, was a sign of the spreading insecurity since the Basra offensive began."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 5 discovered outside Baquba, 4 were discovered "south of the town of Baladruz,"  and 4 corpses were discovered "south of the town of Baladruz."
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed at approximately 4:30 p.m. March 27 after being struck by an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad while conducting a combat patrol."  The announcement brings the number of US service members to 4004 killed in the illegal war since it started.
Returning to the violence and economcis.  Mark Mooney (ABC News) notes "a bomb blasted a crucial oil pipeline in Basra, triggering a massive fire and threatening the country's ability to export oil" causing the price of crude oil barrel to rise to $107. Remember the shock months ago when oil reached a hundred dollars a barrel? Atul Aneja (The Hindu) states that the bombing's impact will be huge, "Oil exports are expected to be affected in a big way as Zubair 1 -- the main pumping station -- has also been shut down.  Nearly one-third of the oil produced in the area is transported through the affected pipeline."  Mark Shenk (Bloomberg News) states that prices have actually risen "above $107 barrel".  Australia's Sydney Morning Herald notes, "US crude oil futures ended higher for the third consecutive day on Thursday, fueled by a rally in heating oil futures and as traders remained edgy over a major oil pipeline explosing in Iraq." 
Turning to US presidential politics, why does Amy Goodman distort for Bambi?  (We know why.)  Today on her crap-ass show, which she claims informs (she also claims she's an author but Ava and I will put that lie to rest next month at Third), she declared, "In other campaign news, Senator Obama's former pastor has canceled scheduled appearances in Texas set for this weekend. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright has come under heavy criticism from political pundits for linking the attacks of September 11 to US foreign policy in the Middle East and for saying the United States was founded on racism. In a statement, Reverend Wright cited safety concerns for his decision to cancel his appearances."  Jeremiah Wright has come under heavy criticism for damning the United States.  Amy Goodman may pretend otherwsie but that is what he's under fire for.  As for his cancelling apperances, those appearances were cancelled for him.  When institutions that had invited you make it clear that you're no longer wanted, you really don't need to cancel.  In the real world, MSNBC's First Read notes that Barack Obama is attempting to target Pennsylvania's 30% Catholic voters (not a chance) and will do so so by attempting to "play down the Rev. Jeremiah Wright issue."  The issue's not going away.  Play it up, play it down.  It's here to say and liars like Amy Goodman (who is in real danger of losing NPR outlets due to her 'ethics') can keep lying through their yellowed teeth but the controversy will continue.  First Read also notes that "Clinton backers Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert F. Kenney Jr. last week wrote a letter to Pennsylvania Catholics emphasizing her plans on health care, mortgage foreclosures and fuel costs."  Bruce Fisher (ArtVoice) appears to right the obituary for the Obama campaign today and cites Jeremiah Wright.  Joe Wilson (via No Quarter's reposting) notes, "Among other things, Wright preaches that the United States government unleashed the HIV virus in Africa to kill blacks.  (Having worked in African for much of my adult life, including with one of the early AIDS researches, Dr. Jonathan Mann, I can safely say that there is absolutely no evidence to sustain Wright's reckless charge.)  Obama had no choice but to address his 20-year close relationship with a man he still considers, as he made clear in his speech, a mentor."   Joe Klein (Time magazine) weighs in on the topic of what he calls "Jeremiah 'G-- damn America'" Wright.  Democrats will soon learn how damaging that relationship might be in a general election." And this morning on NBC's Today, Andrea Mitchell offered some of the latest:
Andrea Mitchell: And now even more controversy regarding Rev. Wright.  An internet search reveals church bulletines over the past year with controversial pastor pages from the reverand.  Some reprint anti-Israel writings from a range of people -- from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to an advisor to Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farkahn of the Nation of Islam and Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook.  One of Marzook's columns, reprinted by the church from the Los Angeles Times, says "Why should any Palestinian recognize the monstrous crimes carried out by Israel's founders and continued by its deformed modern apartheid state?"  Obama told the Jerusalem Post the church was outrageously wrong to reprint the article and he denounced  Hamas.  And Trumpet, a magazine run by Wright's daughters quotes him as saying "White supremacy is clearly in charge" and slurring Italian's quote "garlic noses" and he also calls Jesus' crucifixion "a public lynching Italian style."
And that, which is offensive, is the only thing that Michal Tomasky (American writing for the Guardian of London -- no link to Tomasky's trash) is bothered by, calling the slur against Italians "inconceivable".  Mitchell also a noted a Wall St. Journal - NBC poll which we're not interested because of the oversampling error Taylor Marsh draws to everyone's attention.  It wouldn't fly in any research and methodology class and it's amazing that the two outlets didn't scrap the poll when they learned of the oversampling.  In other campaign news, Taylor Marsh highlights MSNBC's Race for the White House where Richard Woffe (a Brit still nursing his political crush on Joe Lieberman) gets called to the carpet by Joe Scarborough who pounces on Wright's "we" to point out, "We?  You said that's how 'we' decided it?  If that's the way the Democratic Party decided it then they wouldn't have super delegates!  Let me tell you what 'we' love to do.  'We' in the media love to tell everybody, which 'we' have been telling everybody for months that the numbers don't add for Hillary Clinton, she can't get enough delegates . . .  Well guess what?  The numbers don't add up for Barack Obama but 'we' don't tell that side of the story, do 'we'?"  The super delegates are the rules of the Democratic Party and they can go any way they want."
In other news, Mike Gravel has left the Democratic Party.  AP reported yesterday that Gravel sent out an e-mail to supporters stating that the party "no longer represents my vision for our great party.  It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism -- all of which I find anathema to my views. . . .  I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views."  Meanwhile Cynthia McKinney, who also left the Democratic Party, is running for the Green Party presidential nomination.  Larry Pinkney (Black Commentator) notes, "Sister Cynthia McKinney has both the credibility and the capacity to truly excite the people in a substantive vs. superficial fashion; and can inspire people to see that they themselves/we oursevles are the only viable solution to the Republicrats and their flawed and corrupt electoral system.  We must move the people from being excited about meaningless superficialities that do nothing to address systemic change -- to being excited about substance that is the catalyst for systemic change."  The indepdent Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez ticket is collecting signatures for ballot access and have currently set up a location in Albuquerque where they are gathering signatures.
Yesterday, a Pennsylvania editorial board asked Sen. Clinton how she would have "responded if [her] pastor had said some of the things that Rev. Wright said?" In response, she said Rev. Wright would not have been her pastor, an honest view shared by many Americans.   
The Obama campaign's response? Attack Sen. Clinton and accuse her of trying to divert attention from the Bosnia trip story and her record of foreign policy experience.
Sen. Clinton's response was sincere. The Obama attack was disingenuous.     
We are happy to discuss Sen. Clinton's foreign policy experience and her record overall. Unfortunately, the Obama campaign doesn't want to discuss its candidate's record and prefers personal attacks instead.       
Sen. Obama knows that if he focused on his experience, he'd get questions about the shortcomings in his record and the efforts he has made to embellish it.          
He'd have to deal with the fallout from this week's Washington Post report on his gross exaggeration of his role on immigration reform and housing policy.      
Sen. Obama would have to explain why the New York Times reported that he claims credit for passing nuclear leak legislation that never got out of committee.      
He'd have to confront reports from and other independent organizations that say his claims of providing a universal health care plan are based on selective, embellished and out-of-context quotes from newspapers.      
He'd have to discuss the LA Times story that reported on how his fellow organizers say he took too much credit for his community organizing efforts.   
He'd have to explain why he regularly claims he was a law professor when in fact he held no such title.     
Sen. Obama seems to think disingenuous attacks on Sen. Clinton will address the concerns voters have about his record and readiness to be the Commander-in-Chief and the steward of our economy. They won't.   
In the end, Sen. Obama's words cannot erase Hillary's 35-year record of action because when all is said and done, words aren't action. They are just words.
Meanwhile West Virigina University's student body president Jason Parsons explains his support for Hillary's presidential campaign, "As the student body president at West Virginia University and as an ordinary college student, I talk to my friends everyday who are saddled down with debt and college loans. They face the dilemma of tuition going up while financial aid is going down, and many have fallen victim to predatory student loan companies. Hillary Clinton, throughout the course of her presidential campaign, has talked consistently about the challenges college aged people face and she has offered solutions. That's why I support her. The 35 years of experience she brings to this race is so important at a time when our country needs real change and when young people need to believe that our best days are still ahead."  To be creeped about by Obama groupies, check out the video noted by intranets (Corrente) which is like a Hitler moment and there's no other word for it. As intranets notes, it is "creepy".  Truly, like Hitler campaign propaganda.  (If you view, pay attention to the background and not the cult-like testimonials, pay attention to the subliminals.  It truly is the GOP's 2000 campaign.)  And as the topic returns to Bambi, Anibal Acevedo Vila, governor of Puerto Rico and pledged super delegate for Barack Obama "was charged Thursday with 19 counts in a campaign finance probe, including conspiracy to violate U.S. federal campaign laws and giving false testimony to the FBI."

Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo! Search.