Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fast on the fourth

First, to clear something up. An e-mail came in asking me if it was Jess or Ty that told Rebecca about the nightmares? It was neither. They are house guests. That weekend, they weren't C.I.'s only houseguests. If it had been Jess or Ty, I would've picked up the phone to ask either about it. This was a friend of C.I.'s that Rebecca knows and speaks with but I really don't know her. I can't find where (it was last week) I responded to an e-mail by explaining that Rebecca knew about the nightmares but I just found out, like the e-mailer, by reading Rebecca's post. But, no, it wasn't Jess or Ty that told Rebecca. Also Susan wrote in wondering what I was listening to? Right now, I've got the Beatles' Let It Be playing. "Two of Us" is the song on right now because it just started. "Dig A Pony" is my favorite song on the album. After that it's "Across the Universe." It's the 1970 version, not the one they put out a few Christmas' back with nex mixes to try and make a few more bucks. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was my favorite Beatles' album for the longest (and I still love it) but in the last few years, Abby Road's surpassed it. Least favorite? Anything before Rubber Soul. I don't have the Yellow Submarine soundtrack but I have the others. (Released up to the point of Let It Be. I don't scream, "Oh wow! A studio take that was never released! Let me rush to the store!") I have a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band lunchbox (metal) that I keep each month's bills in. When they come in, they go there until it's the day I write out checks. Susan asked what I'd most like to see in terms of merchandise and that's why I mention the Beatles' lunchbox. I'd love to have a lunchbox with the Mamas and the Papas on it. They used to have those. I think Cass was looking sideways and the others were looking forward (or maybe it's the other way around). The boxes were plastic. I always enjoyed the Mamas and the Papas but I've appreciated them a lot more due to Jess and Mike's enthusiasm and also the double disc Cass CD set that came out. I'll look that up Friday and provide a link. I always liked Cass but I really appreciated her greatness even move after getting that CD. She was one of a kind. If I'm walking for excercise, I'll grab one of those two discs to listen to. (If I'm running or power walking, the songs are not fast paced enough for my workout.)

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Sen. Specter Considers Suing Bush Over Signing Statements" (Democracy Now!):
In other news from Washington, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he is seriously considering suing the White House over President Bush's use of signing statements. Bush has maintained that he has the right to revise, interpret or disregard hundreds of laws on national security and constitutional grounds. Since his election, Bush has issued more than 750 signing statements -- more than all previous presidents combined. Senator Specter raised the possibility of suing the White House during a hearing on the legality of presidential signing statements. At the meeting Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy called the president's use of signing statements a grave threat to the nation’s constitutional system of checks and balances."

Here is how it's supposed to work: Congress debates a bill, both house sign off on it, it becomes a law. Once it's a law, it's the law of the land and we all have to follow it. Younger readers may not be aware of this but while Bill Clinton was president, he was sued by Paula Jones. (I think we all know that part.) Whether or not the case could go forward went to the Supreme Court. The Court said it could go forward because no one was above the law.

Today? Bully Boy doesn't feel bound by laws. He decides which laws he'll follow and which ones he won't. If the "checks and balances" confuses you (a godson called asking me about that, he's very young but in case someone didn't pay attention in high school civics or if they haven't had the course yet), our government, federal, has three branches. The executive branch is made up of the president and people under him. The legislative branch is made up of Congress. The judiciary is our court system with the Supreme Court having the last word. All three branches are supposed to be equal. If Congress passes a law that is in conflict with the Constitution, the Court can overrule it. If the president wants something done he has to follow the laws. He can want a new law all he wants but if Congress doesn't pass it, it's not a law. "Checks and balances" refers to how the system is set up with three equal branches. Each branch has its own powers. The executive branch is supposed to enforce the laws, the legislative (Congress) to make the laws and the Court to rule on them. They are supposed to work together -- not in harmony, there's a built in conflict. What Bully Boy is doing is saying that Congress and the Courts don't matter. That he can do what he wants. That's why he's become so dangerous. It's no longer just a really bad leader, it's someone who's destroying the very system of government that was set up.

U.S. Military Admits Security Not Improving Much In Baghdad" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile the U.S. military has acknowledged that the security situation has barely improved in Baghdad despite a two-week-old security clampdown involving 75,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops. On Tuesday at least 18 people died in Iraq including a U.S. Marine and three U.S. soldiers."

How bad are things now? So bad that even the Happy Talkers have failure to launch re: the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk.

Cindy Sheehan and Others to Launch White House Hunger Strike" (Democracy Now!):
Code Pink, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace have announced they will launch a hunger strike on July 4th outside the White House to protest the war in Iraq. Dozens of military family members, veterans, activists and celebrities have vowed to take part in the hunger strike. The list includes Cindy Sheehan, Dolores Huerta, Willie Nelson, Danny Glover, Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. Cindy Sheehan said in a statement: "We've marched, held vigils, lobbied Congress, camped out at Bush's ranch. We've even gone to jail. Now it's time to do more."

I'll be fasting on the fourth. If you're able to do so, please consider joining the fast. I also hope you'll remember the case of Giuliana Sgrena. I haven't seen much in my paper about it (other than an item, one paragraph, about Italy wanting to prosecute Mario Lozana).

"Italian Seeks GI Shooter" (Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News via Common Dreams):
Italian journalist and former Iraq war hostage Giuliana Sgrena offered yesterday to meet face-to-face with Spec. Mario Lozano, the New York City National Guardsman who shot her in a friendly fire mistake on a deserted road to the Baghdad airport last year."I think that it would be useful for him and for me to have an exchange of opinion," Sgrena said during her first visit to the United States since the shooting.The shooting, which killed Nicola Calipari, the Italian government's second-ranking intelligence officer, just minutes after Calipari had secured Sgrena's release from Iraqi guerrillas, sparked a public furor in Italy.That uproar grew worse after a Pentagon report last year cleared the U.S. soldiers involved. Italian prosecutors, after conducting their own probe, announced plans this week to charge Lozano, a member of New York's legendary Fighting 69th, with murder and attempted murder.But Sgrena, who is still recovering from a gunshot wound that collapsed her lung, doesn't want Lozano to be made a "scapegoat.""These things happened because there is a war," she said during an extended interview with journalist Amy Goodman and myself on "Democracy Now," a daily morning news program carried by hundreds of radio and television stations."We want only the truth, me and the family of Calipari," Sgrena said. "We want only to know what happened."

What's happening in Iraq?

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Dr. Mona El-Farra, Ali Abunimah, Shlomo Ben Ami, Christian Parenti and Ahmed Rashid," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.
Five corpses were
found in Baghdad on Tuesday. Other incidents included, in Mahaweel, a roadside bomb took the life of a police officer and three were wounded amd, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took the lives of three and wounded 17. In all, the New York Times estimates that 21 Iraqis died Tuesday and forty-one were wounded.
Today bombs continued. CNN notes a carbomb in Baquba "near a coffee shop" that took at least one life and wounded at least fourteen more. Reuters notes that bombing as well as nother in Baquba which "seriously wounded two" police officers. Reuters also notes a bomb that went off in a Baghdad market and resulted in one death and eight wounded. CNN notes "a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military convoy detonated" taking the lives of "one civilian and wounding two." The Associated Press notes that Riyad Abdul-Majid Zuaini ("customs director for Central Baghdad") was shot dead by assailants (as was his driver) and that, in Mosul, a clash "between gunmen and police . . . broke out" with one police officer left wounded.
As Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, Russia's lower house of parliament has "criticized the occupying countries in Iraq for losing control in the country." Xinhua reports Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister of Germany, noted, on behalf of the ministery, that they were "outraged and shocked over the terrible fater of our Russian colleagues." KUNA notes that Kuwait has "condmended . . . the killing of Russian diplomats by a terrorist group in Iraq."
There were four diplomats kidnapped on June 3rd in Baghdad after their car was attacked by unknown assailants. During the attack a fifth diplomat,Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov , was killed. On Sunday, a videotape was released which showed what appear to be three of the four being killed. The Mujahedeen Shur Council have proclaimed that they are responsible for the murders.
Reuters reports that Russia experienced "a roadblock" today when it the United States and England "objected to parts of a draft Russian statement on the killings, arguing the text amounted to a slap at the U.S.-led multinational force, which includes 127,000 U.S. troops and 7,000 British soliders". This as another official 'response' is reported: Russian president Vladimir Putin, according to the Associated Press, has sent "special services to hunt down and 'destroy' the killers." Possibly this is what Bully Boy saw when he looked Putin in the eye? Pavel Felgenhauer dismisses the news as "a public relations excercise" to AFP and dubs it "an obvious imititation of those of Bush after September 11."
Meanwhile,[the] Japanese government feels they met their "objectives" in Iraq. Japan's chief of defense, Fukushiro Nukaga, termed the venture "a success" while speaking to the Associated Press and noted that, "The Iraqis are ready to resume control."
But are the bits and pieces of the so-called coalition willing to leave? Reuters reports that Austraila's Brendan Nelson (defense minister) is making noises about not being held 'hostage' by a deadline and comparing his government's position to that of the United States' government.
In other news, apparently there was a poll of so-called insurgents. The Associated Press is all over the so-called news (anonymice, of course) that "insurgents" are pushing for a withdrawal of US forces within two years. Does anyone believe that? Nouri al-Maliki may be meeting with representatives for resistance groups but, despite what an unnamed "senior Iraqi government" official says, it doesn't seem logical that the resistance would propose a two-year timetable. It will be all over the news but to buy into it, you have to suspend all disbelief and then some. (For any who are confused, people -- from various groups -- are willing to risk their lives, give their lives, resort to various acts of violence and they're going to send envoys to tell occupation puppet al-Maliki, "Hey, we're good. Two more years? Sure." Call it the resistance or call it the "insurgency," it's not about a two-year time-line. This very obvious propanganda is American made, my opinion.)
On the issue of "a media feeding frenzy," Dahr Jamail takes a look at the so-called "plan" offered by al-Maliki and notes that resistance groups have "rejected the 'plan' because they do not recognize the Iraqi 'government' as a legitmate entity. These same resistance groups understand that under international law, the current Iraqi 'government' controls nothing outside of the 'green zone,' and its existence violates the Geneva Conventions."
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces have Yousri Fakher Moahmmed Ali in custody and allege that he is the one who blew up the Shi'ite shrine in February. As Amy Goodman noted, the Samarra bombing was followed by "increased fighting" which has resulted in the displacement of at least 150,000 Iraqis. Yusri Fakhir Muhammad Ali is also known as Abu Qudama and Al Jazeera quotes Iraq's national security adviser (Mouwafak al-Rubaie) reports that he "is also wanted for the murder of Atwar Bajhat, a television correspondent for Al-Arabiya news channel who was shot dead along with two of her colleagues hours after the shrine bombing". China's People's Daily notes: "The shrine of Ali al-Hadi, or the al-Hadhrah al-Askariyah, contains two tombs of Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D. The two were the 10th and 11th of Shiite's twelve most revered Imams. Shiite pilgrims visit the shrine from all over the world."
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq estimates a total of 1.3 million are displaced. One of the refugee camps is Baladiyat Refugee Camp set up for the Palestinian refugees. This camp was attacked Sunday June 25th and Omar interviews residents of the camp at Alive in Baghdad.
And finally, the ICRC is noting that "public services have almost ground to a halt" in Ramadi which "has been without power since 22 May." That's when US forces began the seige of Ramadi and power, water and phone services were cut.