First, thank you to Kat and C.I. who ended up listening Wednesday (repeatedly) to sections of the post while I was working on it. Kat and I had spoken earlier, prior to my starting the post, and when we spoke during, she was working on "Both Sides of the Coin -- Ben Harper's Both Sides of The Gun vs. The Living Room Tour" (which is wonderful, please read it if you haven't already). C.I. had a business function and would return my calls repeatedly. They both offered patience and encouragement. As Mike has noted, C.I. also offered me the advice (before I started writing it and during) not to worry about spelling, grammar, et al. Just write it (actually, open a vein and let it pour) and don't go back over it trying to smooth it over. I know that I rushed through some spots so quickly that at least twice a sentence is missing a word. I wish I had caught that while I was typing it but, reading some of the e-mails, I grasp that if I'd smoothed it over it wouldn't have registered the way it did.
Thank you to everyone who wrote. I do a group on Thursday nights, which is why I don't post that night, and when I come home, I turn on the stereo, grab a snack, and then crawl into bed exhausted. I don't post on Thursdays, I don't check the e-mails. I'm doing sessions all day and then the evening one. So I haven't had time to read all the e-mails. I've started from the top and now wish I'd gone to the first that came in. But I will get to all of the e-mails. Thank you also to classmates of Mike (as well as his professor) for their interest and kind words.
"Monthly Spending on Iraq, Afghan Occupations Nears $10B" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, a new report from the Congressional Research Service says the US is now spending close to $10 billion dollars a month on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan -- an increase of nearly $8 billion dollars from one year ago.
Ten billion a month? Our schools are suffering, our libraries, our medical care systems and everything else. Our government is not taking care of its citizens. Our quality of life sinks further and further. Do we realize that? Students are about to be walked over with regards to changes in the student loan programs. We are losing ground -- not because we've dedicated ourselves to a noble purpose, but instead because we fail to grasp that, in this country, the whole system is being undermined.
At what point do we see the price tag and grasp not just that the war is illegal but that we are harming ourselves. Granted, some people are cleaning up, profiting from the war. But most of us, as with the Bully Boy tax cuts, are not beniffiting.
As a society, the illegal war takes a toll on our psyche, on our hopes, understanding and the very notion of a civil society gather together. We also lose out due to the fact that the funding for that illegal war reduces the funding for other, needed programs.
"New Mexico VA Hospital Admits Nurse Wrongfully Accused" (Democracy Now!):
This update on a story we've been following: In New Mexico, Albuquerque's Veterans Affairs Medical Center has publicly admitted it wrongly accused one of its nurses of sedition. In September, the nurse, Laura Berg, wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Her employers responded by confiscating her computer. Shortly after she was informed she was being investigated. Up until this week, the hospital had given Berg a private apology, but had resisted calls to publicly admit that its allegations were false.
Laura Berg deserved an apology. Anyone in that situation does. But I don't think that cuts it. I think the hospital should be on TV making an apology. Without that, it just seems to me someone decided to run a "test" on how much they could get away with.
They were forced to make a public statement but it's not public enough for me. If they'd found that she wrote the letter on her work computer, they wouldn't be offering anything right now more than likely.
"Libby Defends Releasing Fitzgerald Letter" (Pete Yost, Associated Press):
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton threatened to impose strict silence on everyone connected with the case last week after lawyers for defendant I. Lewis Libby distributed a letter from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald before the letter was made a part of the case record.
Libby's lawyers rushed out the letter to the news media because it was advantageous to their client. In it, Fitzgerald acknowledged making a mistake in one of his earlier court filings.
Scooter Libby is still leaking. That is his m.o. Whether he grasps it or not, his actions form opinions in the "court" of public opinion. If his defense's m.o. is to leak to the press, he's not shoring up support for the view that he's not the type to leak. This actually reminds me of a point Robert Parry made on Pacifica. I don't remember which show, or which network. He's been on Pacifica a great deal lately. However, his point was that the American people have a right to know about the case prior to the elections this November.
Mike and I are attempting to highlight C.I.'s Iraq "snapshots" to be sure that with so much breaking news, people are still aware that the violence continues in Iraq:
Reuters reports that Cambodia has turned down requests to send troops to Iraq.This as the BBC notes Tory MP Michael Ancram's call for withdrawal from Iraq by all British troops. Ancram's statements break with his party's official position. Though
Jawad al-Maliki is the new nominee for prime minister in Iraq, some aren't waiting for parlimentary process to make deals that will effect Iraq for decades.
Reuters is reporting that Shamhi Faraj, director general of marketing and economics in the oil ministry, has announced that the Iraqi parliment doesn't need to pass the investment law, oil contracts can start now. That is important to the US administration, they're getting antsy that they won't be able to install a new figurehead soon enough. The investment "law" doesn't need to become "law" says Faraj. Do the Iraqis want it? No. This is more US policy stamped "Iraqi" and passed off as a sign of "democracy." In a true democracy, other countries don't design the potential laws and the proposal does not go into effect before it's been passed into law. As Exxon and Chevron (and others) sniff around, it's worth noting that this is one more aspect of the (illegal) occupation that causes tension and strife. It's not unrelated. More traditionally recognized violence continued in Iraq today.
Iraqi police officers continue to be killed. AFP notes the death of seven including five killed near Tikrit. Irish Examiner reports that four police officers died in Mosul (roadside bomb) and that, in Baghdad, at least nine Iraqi police officers were wounded in road side bombings. While in Baquba, a police officer walking to his house was gunned down.
Corpses were discovered by police, six in Baghdad, one in Mahmudiya. Al Bawaba reports that two bodies with signs of torture were discovered between Qaem and Rutba. One body that was identified earlier this week, reports CBC News, was Sadeq Aldifai. A Montreal tailor, Aldifai left Iraq in 1991. He was returning for his first visit since 1991 and had hopes of seeing his two eldest daughters. In Beiji, the Associated Press reports that six Iraqi soldiers were killed following a kidnapping by unidentified people. Finally, in Al Diwaniya, Deutsche Presse-Agentur addresses a rocket attack aimed at a US Army base: "The extent of the damage inflicted on the US base and information regarding casualties was not yet know."
The next thing needs no comment from me, it makes the case quite strongly.
"NYT: A columnist can tell it's news -- why can't the reporting section?" (The Common Ills):
It's news. That's what Clyde Haberman tell us via "What Did You Do In The War, Grandma" in this morning's New York Times. It's news that the Granny Peace Brigade got busted in October. He paints a visual of grandmothers in the court room yesterday, photos hanging from their necks of grandchildren and great grandchildren, but his news judgement is about the arrest, about the women being hauled off in a paddy wagon:Grandmothers being hauled away in a police wagon is what we in the news business call a story.
I'm not disagreeing with his call. He's correct, it was a news story. Where was the Times? The arrest was in October. If it was big news (and it was news, we agree on that), why didn't the Times have a story on it when the arrest happened? It took place in Time Square, so where was the Times?
It was a one pargraph brief . . . on March 3, 2006. That was the arraignment. Eighteen women, ranging in age from fifty to in their nineties. Arrested on October 17, 2005. The brief appears, what, over sixteen weeks after the arrest? (Do the math, I'm too tired this morning to even try.)So Haberman and I can both agree it was news then. I'd assume we'd agree it was news today (I could be wrong). Haberman's a local columnist for the paper. Why is the he the only one covering it?
Wally's tackling free speech tonight with "THIS JUST IN! FREE SPEECH DIED TODAY!" He was having trouble coming up with a topic today. He and Betty have to work harder than I ever do because they're offering commentary and trying to do it in a humorous manner. "When friends are awarded, Thomas Friedman goes fugue" is Betty's most recent chapter (up last night), so I hope you'll read it as well. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's commentaries.