Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A number of topics

Click here to find out more about Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to serve in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice.

Mike and I are both posting the photo above. Make sure the people in your life know the stand he's taking and what he's up against. Also please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts, especially tonight. I'm exhausted. As soon as I got home this afternoon, I immediately hopped into the bath.

"US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians in Baquba" (Democracy Now!):
The US military is being accused of committing a new massacre of Iraqi civilians. On Tuesday, witnesses, family members and a Sunni parliamentarian said US troops killed a group of civilians near the town of Baquba. An Iraqi human rights worker said two of the dead were young boys aged ten and twelve. In a statement, the US military claimed it killed 15 "terrorists" and had captured their weapons. But an Iraqi police officer told the Washington Post no weapons were found at the scene of the attack.

Another alleges massacre. Get ready to hear about more. Not just because Ramadi's been circled and the military has set up check points, cut the power, cut the water, etc. But also because these events will happen. More and more as the war drags on. They've happened before and we haven't heard of them. But when one story breaks, it makes it that much easier for a reporter to cover the next one. (They should follow up on all of them.) In fact, today is a day with news on these sort of events (you'll see that when I end with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot").

"Disarmament Protesters Arrested After Infiltrating Silo Site" (Democracy Now!):
In North Dakota, a Catholic priest and two military veterans were arrested Tuesday for infiltrating a missile silo site. The men were able to break the locks on the site using sledgehammers and hammers. They painted the word "disarm" on a silo lid and poured some of their own blood. The men call themselves "Weapon of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares." In a statement posted on their website, the men said: "We have chosen to start the process of transformation and disarmament by hammering on and pouring our blood on components of the Minuteman Three nuclear missile system. We believe that the concrete that goes into making missile silos would be better used for building homes."

I wish I knew the names of the nun who were sentenced at the start of the illegal war for doing the same thing. I believe there were three of them. This is civil disobedience. The priest and the vets should not be sentenced for anything. Under the Bully Boy's notions of so-called justice, they probably will be. You're going to see more of these sort of actions as well. While the Senate wanted to play for the second day in a row, the country's sick of this war. C.I. and Kat have both pointed out that the resolution the Dems are fighting so hard for is "nonbinding" and it does nothing as well. They should be ashamed of themselves. I hope you also read C.I.'s "NYT: Zernike's drive-by taxi ride to nowhere" this morning. We were in the waiting room, actually, we were going back to the waiting room at the hospital when C.I. got a call yesterday from a friend. So we were in the hall. Except for the "WHAT!" -- which was rather loud -- I couldn't hear the conversation (and wasn't trying to). Afterwards, Flyboy and I got to hear how the New York Times intended to get in the Senate's business while by passing the editorial route. Kate Zernike should be ashamed of herself.

Please read Rebecca's "the point is ..." and C.I.'s post was "About that online, latter day Dylan."
We were all blogging and doing a "quick entry" at Rebecca's request. (She wanted to be sure the community understood that "life goes on.") Rebecca had hollered "done" and Flyboy and I were bringing in the popcorn, pretzels and other junk food. C.I. said, "I'm posting!" I was surprised when I saw how long it was. I thought we were doing brief entries! But C.I. said, "I didn't tag and I didn't even try to fix any typos or other spelling/grammer errors." I knew it was going to be something when C.I. grabbed the cell and started making calls. It is something you should read.

So just a few questions in the e-mails that I'll answer.

Rebecca's dealing with it. A person wrote in to offer that she might be in denial. She might be. She might not be. She wanted to get out of the house (which I didn't know until this morning when C.I. told me about Rebecca's entry from last night and asked if I was aware of it -- I wasn't). There was a vacation scheduled already (starts next month) and to get out of the house (where she miscarried, if you're coming in late), she wanted to start the vacation early. So that's what she's doing.

I don't think she's in denial but I try to treat friends as friends and not as though they're patients. But she went through a very difficult time with her last pregnancy and she hasn't forgotten that. If she's doing anything, my guess would be she's trying to balance her grief with other elements in her life. (I'm not recommending that, I'm not slamming it. She's my friend, not my patient.) I think what happened last time, and her willingness to explore it, made her stronger. There may be some efforts at putting on a brave face, but I also think some of it is coming from the strength she's acquired.

Another person wrote in about the test results. She can get those over the phone. There's nothing in there that's going to be new or surprising. She knew that, the doctor knew it. That's one of the many reasons why she didn't want to go to a doctor.

Why, wondered another, didn't I press my friend (the doctor she saw) to get her in sooner than Tuesday? She had already planned to discuss what happened with her grandmother on Monday. That was firm and when she's firm on something, there's no talking her out of it. (She also wouldn't go to an emergency room unless she had no choice so I knew that was out.) (She really does not like doctors if she's the patient.) Tuesday gave her time to prepare for the visit emotionally. The fact that she got through it probably helped her process.

Another e-mail wondered why I wasn't the one acting as the buffer zone since I'm a woman? That was in reference to the fact that if she has anything to say on this topic, she'll pass it on to Mike and he'll post it at his site. Rebecca and Mike are very close. Mike posts five times a week. Rebecca told me to write about it in any manner I wanted. But in terms of passing on a message, she's more comfortable with Mike. There are a number of reasons for that and all of them are valid.

The e-mailer felt I should take a personal offense to Rebecca's choice. I don't. The same e-mailer wondered if I wanted to "strangle C.I." when I arrived Tuesday morning and saw C.I. was there and had stayed over?

No. Why would I be upset about that?

People are different. C.I. is always very good at knowing what's needed in a situation. I believe that it was a last minute decision to grab the tabloids and ice cream but it's that sort of thing that C.I.'s always good at doing: sensing the mood and knowing what's needed.

By being the one who set up the appointment, an appointment Rebecca didn't want, she didn't need me around when she was already nervous about the appointment. If I'd known about C.I. planning to stay over, if I'd known ahead of time, I wouldn't have said, "Oh, I'll go too."

She needed her mind off the appointment (or at least not staring in her face every minute of the evening before) and I would have been a reminder, no matter how light things got, that the appointment was the next day.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Eve Ensler and Kimberle Crenshaw," The Common Ills):
As chaos and violence continues on the ground in Iraq, we get posturing by those far from the daily violence.
Following yesterday's official statement that Japan would withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of this year, Australia's ABC reports that Brendan Nelson, Defense Minister in Australia, states that "he expects the Government will rethink Australia's troop commitment to Iraq at the end of the year." Australi currently has 460 troops in Iraq. As Amy Goodman noted yesterday on Democracy Now!, if announced departures take place, only England, South Korea and the United States will "have more than one thousand troops in Iraq." The AFP reports: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair has again insisted that his country's [7,200] troops will remain in Iraq depite widespread daily sectarian violence there."
Meanwhile Demetri Sevastopulo and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) report that the US administration is attempting "to distance itself from remarks by the Iraqi national security adviser that he envisaged a significant reduction in US troops in the country this year with most leaving next year." Mowaffak al-Rubbaie's, Iraq's national security adviser, remarks were that American troops stationed in Iraq would number less than 100,000 the end of the year and that "most of the remaining troops" would "return home by the end of the year". al-Rubbaie's remarks are in keeping with those of Iraq's president and vice-present. As Democracy Now! noted last week, while the Bully Boy was staging his photo-op in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Tariq al-Hashia "asked the US for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops." The AFP reports that Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has stated other foreign countries should echo Japan's decision and leave Iraq: "The withdrawal of Japanese troops is a good step and I hope that all countries with occupation forces in Iraq would follow suit in a quick and organised way that would not hurt the Iraqi people."
Meanwhile in the United States, the Senate continues to play with debating Iraq. The Associated Press notes Carl Levin saying of the plan (that he co-sponsored with Jack Reed), "It does not set a fixed timetable or an arbitrary deadline for the redeployment of our troops." No it doesn't. Nor is it in any way binding. It is posturing.
In the real world, Thom Shanker (New York Times) reports that the Pentagon will be shipping 21,000 American troops over to Iraq and that this will "keep the American presence at current levels into next year" with what's being seen as: "American troops in Iraq would be replaced on a one-for-one basis for now."
Meanwhile Julian E. Barnes and Tony Perry (Los Angelse Times) report that the investigation into the Haditha incident (where 24 Iraqis were slaughtered) argues that the various self-reports should have raised "red flags" beginning with "senior military officers in western Iraq". The reporters quote from the (unreleased) Bargewell report: "No follow-up actions regarding the civilian casualties were deemed necessary by the senior leadership of MNF-West. Initial reports of K Company and its subordinate units were untimely, inaccurate and incomplete. They were conflicted, poorly vetted and forgotten once transmitted." Noting this reporting on KPFA's The Morning Show, Brian Edwards-Tiekert summarized that there was no follow up by senior military personell.*
This as Hector Becerra and Scott Gold (Los Angeles Times) report on another investigation. In June 2004, US troops Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and Lt. Andre D. Tyson were killed near Balad. Becerra and Gold report that military spokesperson Paul Boyce "confirmed late Tuesday that a military investigation had found that the two California soldiers were killed by Iraqi security forces." The reporters quote Patrick's mother Nadia McCaffrey: "He was killed by the Iraqis that he was training. People in this country need to know that."A follow up on another incident is expected to lead to charges being announced shortly. This is the investigation into the April 26th death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad (as identified by Nancy A Youssef, writing for Knight Ridder, in the first week of June). CBS and the AP are reporting that "seven Marines and one sailor" are expected to be charged "with murder in connection" with the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad. Youssef reported the family's version: "U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist."
Along with those investigations, Italian prosecutors in Rome are attempting to try US national guard Mario Lozana in the death of Nicola Calipari. As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!: "Calipari was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena after she had been released by kidnappers. U.S. troops opened fire on their car killing Calipari and injuring Sgrena. . . . Tune in to Democracy Now on Thursday when Giuliana Sgrena joins us in the Firehouse studio." Also remember that: Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reported on another incident in which three American troops had been charged with premeditated murder as will threatening another American soldier. The BBC identifies the soldier threatened: "Army Pfc Bradley Mason [who was told] that they would kill him if he testified against them."North of Baghdad, the BBC reports a that "at least 80 factory workers from a fleet of buses" have been kidnapped. AP goes with "about 85 workers."
In Baghdad, three "bodyguards of the Iraqi Trade Minister" were shot by "Australian security guards . . . mistakenly," Australia's ABC reports -- adding that: "The incident could potentially embarrass the Australian Government, which has been trying to improve trade ties with Iraq".
Kidnappings? Police tell Reuters that "three relatives of the deputy governor of Salaheddin province" were kidnapped Tuesday. CBS and the AP note that the Mujahedeen Shura Council, which has claimed to have four Russian diplomats who were kidnapped at the start of this month, has announced that they will kill the four.
CBS and the AP note a car bomb, in Baghdad, killed "at least three people" with eight wounded. Reuters notes another car bomb that killed two and wounded six.
*Thanks to Kat for passing on the Brian Edwards-Tiekert item.

To the above, I will add that I knew it was work pulling the snapshot together but seeing it pulled together, two days in a row, it's more work than I thought. My vote was that the snapshot was too important to lose. If I'd grasped how much work it was, I might have voted for highlights by members instead. Everything included has to be read. As well as things not included. That includes checking to see if another bombing or detail is carried by someone else or more information and it also includes reading things that don't make the snapshot. It's a ton of work. I'm amazed that C.I. posted it the last few days (or the other entries). I didn't feel like blogging (and I'm sure it shows). C.I. wasn't in the mood but grabbed time when it was there and just did it.

I can share something about an entry. C.I. was on the cellphone with a friend from the paper of no record about the first entry and still on during the second entry. No one could remember the six plus Shoshanna Johnson that were rescued. (This entry "NYT: What to do when your p.r. is in conflict with facts? Dump the facts! Dexy's back" is what I'm writing about.) C.I. was asking me and I just knew Shoshanna's name. A Larry King Live transcript, where he talked to some of the parents after their capture was noted, was no help and it was that way over and over. There were seven captured and C.I. felt if Dexy was going to get it wrong, it mattered not only that Dexy was called out but that the names were also provided. C.I. got five and it was probably twenty more minutes before the sixth (plus Shoshana) was finally found. That's the sort of thing that matters at The Common Ills. C.I. could care less about a mispelled word but the names need to be noted.