It's Monday and it's hot and muggy. I usually don't mind the heat but today seems unreasonably warm for May -- maybe it's just me? Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and the news items we're noting.
"Report: Iraq Is 'Disintegrating as Ethnic Cleansing Takes Hold'" (Democracy Now!):
British journalist Patrick Cockburn says Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold on a massive scale. On Sunday at least 24 people died including 13 at a Baghdad restaurant that was attacked by a suicide bomber.
He, Patrick Cockburn, compared it to Bosnia. This is very scary and it's really sad that the strongest reporting on Iraq continues to come outside the United States. Cockburn, last week, was one of the few reporters to note the UNICEF study on the overwhelming rates of malnutrition for children in Iraq. He's also related to Laura Flanders in some way. Flanders is the host of Air America Radio's RadioNation with Laura Flanders and her uncle, if I remember correctly, is Alexander Cockburn who is one of the two founders of CounterPunch magazine. (The other is Jeffery St. Clair.) Patrick Cockburn is Alexander Cockburn's brother, I think.
I'm a big fan of CounterPunch and noted that in a discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review which I can't find now. C.I. was talking about something and I think the value of The Common Ills and I noted it had been valuable to me and provided the example that I didn't even know CounterPunch before The Common Ills but now it's probably my favorite magazine. Though I couldn't find the discussion, I did notice that here, I don't have a link to CounterPunch. That's because I snap that up eagerly at the bookstore and avoid it online (so as not to spoil something -- though online has additional stories and the print version has articles exclusive to it). I'll add a link to CounterPunch on my permalinks/blogroll. If you've never read the magazine, visit the website or, better yet, buy the print edition.
"U.S.-Air Strike Kills 76 in Afghanistan; Up to 30 Civilians Killed" (Democracy Now!):
In Afghanistan, a U.S.-led air strike has killed at least 76 people. The BBC reports the dead included as many as 30 civilians including children. The bombing raid in Southern Afghanistan occurred shortly after midnight today. The U.S. military has denied reports of civilian casualties and claimed that all of the dead were members of the Taliban. The air strike occurred in a region which has recently seen some of the country's fiercest fighting since the fall of the Taliban nearly five years ago.
Five years ago? I wasn't on board for the bombing of Afghanistan in 2001. I loathed the way Laura Bush attempted to jump on the back of feminists to get everyone on board for her husband's war. It wasn't going to make life better for women in Iraq -- and feminists knew about Afghanistan long before the mainstream media found some interest. In fact, the mainstream media in this country spent much of the 90s white-washing the realities of Afghanistan. The country was already damaged from the battle with the then-Soviet Union.
For those who don't remember or forgot, the US told Afghanistan to turn over Osama bin Laden. Afghanistan's response was to say "Show us proof" of his involvement in 9/11. Lot of blustering by the administration as they asserted they had proof.
But they wouldn't show it. We don't make it a policy in the United States to extradite people just because another government makes an accusation, we ask for proof (and if you're a terrorist who attacked Cubans, the Bushes always find an excuse not to turn over the person). Is Osama bin Laden the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks?
I don't know. Like Afghanistan, the American people were never shown the government's proof.
So Bully Boy did his war dance and that country suffered. Then, Bully Boy was bored and needing to hit Iraq to satisfy his blood lust, so Afghanistan was allowed to revert back -- all the nonsense out of Laura Bush's mouth about how we were going in to liberate Afghanistan women was forgotten and the war lords began controlling the areas they'd controlled before.
By the way, England's plan was to deploy from Iraq to Afghanistan, but if you caught today's news, you know Tony Blair, prime minister of England, is saying now that British troops will be in Iraq until 2010.
"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: James Yee & Guantanamo," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue -- despite the new cabinet.
In fact, despite the new cabinet, Australia's ABC reports that new cabinet or not, John Howard, prime minister of Australia, "says the new Government in Baghdad will not affect any decision Australia will make about its troops and forces in Iraq." Australia's ABC also reports the Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister of Japan, is making noises about expanding the role of Japanese troops in Iraq. In what only the reality challenged could see as 'good news,' Tony Blair says that maybe, sort of, if everything's just right, British troops might, maybe, leave Iraq by the year 2010. As Blair was grand standing in Iraq, Canada's CBC notes that 108 British troops have died in Iraq. And on the new cabinet, Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) notes "US Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad . . . exerted strong pressure on Nouri al-Maliki" which continues the "muscular" thread John F. Burns noted Sunday.
Far from the myth of democracy and self-rule, as Reuters reported Friday, Hussain al-Shahristani did become the oil minister. You'd think Operation Happy Talk would trumpet the news but they probably don't want to draw too much attention to al-Shahristani's exile period (including the cheerleading of war) or, for that matter, his new post. As the Guardian notes "Another new day in Iraq: Events are stubbornly refusing to conform to the sunny scenarios Bush and Blair are so desperate to paint."
In Baghdad, bombs continued to be a regular feature. Reuters notes a car bomb "in southeastern Baghdad" as well as one "in the capital's New Baghdad district." The Associated Press counts the toll from the two bombing as at least nine dead and at least thirteen wounded while estimating that, on Monday, before "parlimaent met for its first session" 17 Iraqis had died from either car bombs or shootings. Killed by gunfire, the Associated Press reports, was "the general director of the youth ministry." KUNA notes a roadside bomb which killed four Iraqi police officers.
In Samarra, the Associated Press reports that "a police colonel" was shot to death. Reuters notes three killed in Baquba. The Associated Press notes, also in Baquba, that "an employee of a cell phone company" was killed. In Jbela, Reuters notes a roadside bomb took the life of at least three and wounded at least six. And a the corpse of a police officer was found, the Associated Press notes, "in the Aziziya area, south of Baghdad." In Baghdad, CNN reports, nine corpses were found.
That's the sad reality of Iraq on Monday. Tony Blair can visit and chatter away, it doesn't change a thing. Last night, C.I. noted ("And the war drags on") a radio program that I wanted to talk about. KPFA's Radio Chronicles for Sunday, May 21st, 2006 which was a documentary that I believe was entitled John Ono Lennon. We could certainly use someone with his bravery and committment today. If you're nodding your head and thinking, "Yes, we could," but you didn't catch the program, consider listening. (There's no charge and the broadcast is archived so you can listen to it right now if you missed it.) It provided a look at Lennon's actions and music via interviews with him and clips of him performing (both his songs from his solo career and his songs with the Beatles -- some were done acoustic). It just brought home something I felt I already knew, how important John Lennon was to the times.
He wasn't afraid to speak out. He wasn't hesitant to use his voice. This while he was a target of the FBI and on Nixon's enemies list. That alone is amazing but when you also consider that using his voice meant risking deportation from the United States (where he and Yoko Ono wanted to make their home), you really grasp his bravery. There was a very funny moment (actually many) when he was speaking (I'd guess in 1979 or 1980) about the withdrawal of so many in music from activism and participation in the world around them. He compared them to angry, small children whining that they didn't get their way so they'd just withdraw.
There was also a moment that I won't be able to capture or do justice to; however, a very young Sean Ono Lennon is singing his favorite song. What was it? The Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends." He had the words to one section down pat but needed help from his father on the second part.
Lennon and Ono discussed the bed-ins and why they did them so maybe that will interest someone? If you're a John Lennon fan, you should make a point to check out the program.