Monday, July 31, 2006

Mainly a magazine report

"How tired were you when you posted last?" was the question in e-mails, in phone calls from friends and from Sunny this morning at work. Pretty tired. I'd done sessions all day Thursday and my night group, came home and did the "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" -- a rare Thursday post (and again, consider that a joint post and thanks to C.I. and Rebecca). I probably got three hours of sleep (I stayed on the phone with C.I. and Rebecca for quite a bit after the post went up), did my Friday sessions, went to Mike's, took part in the discussion group he, Tony and others started (on Iraq) which ended sometime around midnight, we then talked with Tony's family and helped them clean up (there were so many people, they had to move the meeting to the backyard to have room for everyone), at which point, Wally, Mike and I went back to his place, I pulled a C.I. wake up trick and took a shower, didn't even dry my hair, opened up my laptop, logged on and started that post. If Wally hadn't come in to note the time, I would have continued writing (and leaving a greater wake of typos in my wake). Later Saturday, after I had grabbed some sleep, Dona (The Third Estate Sunday Review) phoned and spoke of the post (she was very kind) and told me I hadn't put the radio interview in the post -- I generally go back and add links (and check to make sure they are in, in some cases) before posting. I had left out the interview so if you read it before Saturday afternoon:

(**Listen to Matthew Rothschild's Progressive Radio where Elizabeth DiNovella is the guest for Rothschild's interview.**)

That is a great interview. If you want to know what the mood was prior to, during and immediately after the election in Mexico, listen to that. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and The Third Estate Sunday Review has new content with:

A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Does Condi Rice understand her job duties?
Sense of Purpose
TV: What Could Be Lower Than A Cesspool?
McKinney v. Lieberman -- who you gonna root for?
Slam poetry
Non-Think Progress Plays Bash the Bitch
Recommended: Danny Schechter News Dissector

Why do I feel like I have just finished a marathon?

Maybe because I've been working harder than our Secretary of State? Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts below:

If it looks familiar, the illustration, I e-mailed Isaiah and he said I got it -- he was inspired by the cover of Carole King's Music album. "Sweet Seasons" and "Brother, Brother" were the hits off that. I loved "Sweet Seasons" and share Kat's distaste for the way King changed it -- made a joke of it -- on her latest album. That song meant a lot to me then I heard King turn it into a joke and I can't stand to hear the song now. After "Only Love Is Real," it was probably my favorite King song that didn't appear on Tapestry. To hear her laughing about how politicians didn't like to hear the word "lose" was goofy, to hear her change the line "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose" while performing it to non-politicians, change it to: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you win." Nobody won. Not fans of the song, for sure. Months later, when Kat reviewed Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun, she put her finger on the problem with Carole King's Living Room Tour. King really was the queen of the peaceful, easy vibe with one song after another and only increasing the number of those songs on each album as the years passed. But then, when the US is engaged in an illegal war against Iraq, she's got nothing to say. The Peace Queen goes silent.

Let me quote Kat from that review because she said it perfectly:

Carole King spent the 60s churning out hits for others. She didn't take a serious stab at recordings (forget "It Might As Well Rain Until September" and other one-offs) until 1968 with The City. That group's album features a New York City woman trying to act like a hippie. Which is probably why Lou Adler, of the Mamas and the Papas fame, produced it and her solo work for years. If you're hoping to find a peace song on the album, forget it. She's high . . . on the land.
For years, I'm a long time Carole King listener, she's been trashed by some critics as a "Pollyanna." I never saw it that way but understood the position that critics were trashing. I don't know that she still maintains that position. Or, in fact, if she ever really did.Yes, she made generic statements that could be read to be about Vietnam and the mood of the country on her first solo album Writer (1970). On the break-through follow up (
Tapestry), "Smack Water Jack" could be read as a statement against the bullies Nixon, et al. She campaigned for George McGovern. But 1973's Fantasy contained no real statement on the war. It did allow her to pretend to be someone else.
That's key to the type of writer King started out as. She wrote for others. (With her husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin.) They would try to figure out a way to write the next Drifters' hit based on the last hit they'd had. It was pretend time. Some great work came out of that period.But what
Living Room finally drives home is that the whole thing, the entire career, may have been pretend. That's why I hated it so much. 1975, when it would have been safe for our peaceful, easy feeling King to make a statement regarding Watergate or Vietnam, she's off doing a children's album (Really Rosie). Before that, when record buyers had turned against the war but elites and pols still hadn't in large numbers, she was offering her "Been to Canaan" type songs (toss in "Brother, Brother"). They gave the appearance of someone with beliefs. But maybe someone with real beliefs would have actually written about what was going on in the country? So the army withdrew from Vietnam and suddenly King had a lot to say. Nothing specific but more on the mark than anything she'd written (or recorded in cases where she recorded others' lyrics) while the war was raging.This is the "One to One" period. The "One Small Voice" period. The "A Time Gone By" period. She was being called Pollyanna constantly. I wonder now if I was wrong to defend her -- and think others might have been wrong to attack her as a Pollyanna for different reasons than I had thought at the time. Now it looks like it may have all been an act.
"What will the kids buy?" she and others who wrote songs in the 60s would ask and then try to write that in the style of a popular group. I'm now wondering if she wasn't doing that her entire damn career.
In 1993, when it was cool to be political for some in music, she beefed up her sound on Colour of Your Dreams and actually had some concrete statements (such as in "Friday's Tie-Dye Nightmare"). Our Queen of Peace continued her reign in song as late as July 2001 when she put out Love Makes The World ("go round," if you don't know the title track off the album).
So let's be really clear, Carole King sat out the sixties (chronological sixties) and when the seventies rolled around, there she was a solo, writing non-specific evocations of peace, brotherhood (never sisterhood) and the like. She continued that throughout her career. Stopping only after 9/11.
I guess it really did change everything. It certainly changed a Carole King recording as mealy mouth statements cancelled out anything a live version of "Peace In the Valley" might have offered (however weak). That's really it for the piece of crap, double disc
Living Room. King would be smart to figure out what happened? Was she too scared to offer one of her peace songs? (This is, after all, the woman who rarely performs songs by others but went all over California in the nineties singing Patti Smith's "People Have The Power.") Was she, not scared, but afraid it wouldn't reach her perceived market? (Don Kirshner would be so proud if she instilled that.) Did she decide war was the answer after all? Or was she pretending (and therefore wasting everyone's time) with all those musings on the state of peace and the state of man (after we withdrew from Vietnam)?

So let me use those wonderful paragraphs as a jumping off point to Ruth Conniff's book review in the latest issue of The Progressive. "The Great Liberal Debate" is the title and the thing that struck me the most about the review was how little Conniff appeared to want to enter that debate. She gives you a brief synopsis of each book (Peter Beinart's The Good Fight; George Lakoff's Whose Freedom?; Joe Klein's Politics Lost) and the closest she comes to offering an opinion on the arguments presented is this: "I can't help it, though, I enjoy reading Klein. He is funny, and full of tasty anecdotes about politicians."

I'm guessing only Frances Moore Lappe and C.I. will ever question the wisdom of this decade's hula hoop ("framing") and what happens to women's issue when a "frame" is created by men, for men and of men? I guess that's not something that will be addressed? We'll just have to live through the damage much as we live now through the damage of Reinventing Government (the previous hula hoop).

I don't find Joe Klein funny. I don't find what he's done to the left in his many TV appearances "funny." I have to wonder what Ruth Conniff thinks about that and I have to wonder partly because she fails to address it -- she's too busy telling us that he amuses her.

The Progressive is independent media so what's going on here with Conniff? Peter Beinhart's book (C.I. passed it on) should make many on the left have a very strong reaction. Not merely because he really doesn't take any accountability for The New Republic's promotion of the war and, basically, every program by the Bully Boy while he was high in the polls. He appears to be red-baiting and Conniff has nothing to say on that? Three books and nothing really to say?

I remember a review she wrote not that long ago where she addressed the issues of motherhood. Now those books weren't written by mainstream "names" and, like many in the community, I'm wondering if the "name" factor is why the books get such passing glances as opposed to real probing?

I just know that wasn't a review (of any of the three books). I don't know why The Progressive would want that review in the magazine. The magazine takes brave stands. Matthew Rothschild is the editor, he's also hosting the radio show, writing for the magazine, and he's been doing some speaking. I know about the speaking because C.I.'s spoken to some of the same people and they've been full of praise for Rothschild as a speaker.

But I know after Conniff appeared on Kris Welch's Living Room (not Carole King's!), a lot of people were scratching their heads over her comments about the war. I know Nader supporters (from 2004) who feel her coverage of Ralph Nader was insulting. So the question becomes, is she trying to be a Beltway pundit?

The Nation (rightly) panned Beinart's book. I guess Andrew J. Bacevich and myself read another book than Conniff did? Here's a taste of what Bacevich wrote:

Beinart devotes much of The Good Fight to constructing this narrative of an anti-totalitarian crusade running from World War II to the present. In his telling of the tale, as long as steely liberals like Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy were at the helm, heeding the counsel of tough-minded liberal intellectuals like Reinhold Niebuhr and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the crusade proceeded swimmingly. When liberals lost their nerve, however, and conservatives came to power, things went awry.
Sustaining this thesis requires an extraordinary combination of omissions and contortions on Beinart's part. Readers will learn, for example, that Kennedy was a visionary statesman who instituted the Alliance for Progress and created the Peace Corps. They won't learn anything about the Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose, or U.S. complicity in the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. Nor will they get any assessment of what Kennedy's ostensibly progressive foreign policy initiatives actually accomplished. (Answer: not much.)
Readers will learn further about the unfortunate tendency of conservatives -- in contrast to sophisticated, worldly liberals -- to see things in terms of black and white. Beinart offers up John Foster Dulles, who "painted the cold war as a quasi-religious struggle between good and evil," as a prime offender. Yet he ignores a mountain of evidence, starting with the Truman administration's NSC-68, suggesting that liberals were equally susceptible to Manichean -- indeed, apocalyptic -- views. As for Dulles, Beinart rather conveniently overlooks the fact that the very pragmatic Dwight Eisenhower kept his Secretary of State on a short leash. Dulles preached good and evil; more often than not, Ike discounted the preaching and opted for prudence.
According to the Republican version of the American Century, Ronald Reagan all but single-handedly brought about the collapse of Communism. Not so, insists Beinart. Just as liberals framed the cold war in the 1940s, so too they saved the day in the 1980s by preventing reckless right-wingers from abandoning that frame. Credit for turning back the forces of totalitarianism in Central America goes to those hardheaded liberal Democrats in Congress who repaired the flaws in the Reagan Doctrine, thereby subverting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and keeping El Salvador from slipping into the Communist orbit.
This imaginative, if largely spurious, depiction of postwar history serves Beinart's larger purpose in two ways. First, by revalidating antitotalitarianism as the era's overarching theme, Beinart promotes it as the idea that ought to define U.S. policy in the aftermath of 9/11 as well. Second, by portraying hawkish liberals as heroes, doves as fools, and conservatives as knaves, he suggests that restoring the fortunes of today's Democratic Party ought to be a piece of cake: All liberals need to do is to reject the wimpy anti-imperialism of Howard Dean and Michael Moore and embrace the muscular principles that inspired the Americans for Democratic Action back in the late 1940s.
To legitimate this fraud and to wrap anti-totalitarian liberalism in a mantle of moral superiority, Beinart shanghais Reinhold Niebuhr and subjects the great Protestant theologian to ritual abuse. In essence, he uses Niebuhr much as Jerry Falwell uses Jesus Christ, and just as shamelessly: citing him as an unimpeachable authority and claiming his endorsement, thereby pre-empting any further discussion.

Do yourself a favor and skip Beinart's book (if you've already read it, I feel your pain). C.I. warned me against it but I thought I'd be fair and see if a War Cheerleader had learned anything? I wasn't so fair that I'd buy it and I knew C.I. had been sent a copy so no money exchanged hands (I'd hate to feather a War Hawk's nest). That is just a horrendous book and for The Progressive, which stood against the Iraq war and still does, to review (or "review") the book and not take on it's premise is just disgusting to me.

I don't think Conniff's putting on her thinking cap much these days. Claiming the war really wasn't reaching people -- despite polls then and immediately after her appearance -- make me wonder. I think we're seeing some really superficial thinking in thought pieces. In this review, she's reviewing a book by a War Hawk (Beinart), a book by a fad promoter (Lakoff) and a book by someone who amuses her but really doesn't amuse me (Klein) with his constant attacks on the left or his efforts to reposition himself as a voice Democrats can turn to.

The review was superficial and a waste of three pages that the magazine doesn't have to waste. After her appearance on Living Room and this review, I have no idea where she stands on the war and, honestly, would be surprised if she had any thoughts more expansive than what could fit on a bumper sticker.

We were in Mexico, for Rebecca's wedding, when this arrived in the mail for subscribers, this issue. Members who subscribe were e-mailing C.I. The review wasn't available online (it shouldn't be now -- they only make a few features available online each issue and there are worthy pieces in the magazine to note, this is not one). C.I. was attempting to track down the issue and finally got ahold of a friend who had received it. The call was lost as it was being read and there just wasn't time to call back so I said I'd take it, I'd review it, forget about it.

I know Rothschild apparently looked (to some) at an appearance like he was under the weather (C.I. was told that by a group that had earlier heard Rothschild speak) and C.I.'s big concern was how much Rothschild was doing already and not wanting to add a headache to anyone who is already carrying their load and several others. I respect that. I respect that and I respect Rothschild dedication and drive. But I have no problem critizing Conniff (negatively or postively) and my criticism of Conniff is not intended as a reflection of Matthew Rothschild.

The magazine has printed the views of those who support the war. If this had been a guest review, I would've thought, "Please, never again from this writer." This isn't a guest writer, it's Conniff and it's hard to argue that she's making a point that needs to be in the issue to give all sides since no point in her review strikes me as being deeper than her sharing that she finds Joe Klein amusing.

Does she know Klein, Beinart or Lakoff? I wouldn't be surprised but if she knows them, she probably should have disclosed that in her review. Her first sentence left me recoiling: "As the midterm elections draw near, the debate over how to win back the government and recapture the hearts and minds of voters is heating up." Forget the superficial nature of that writing -- it's flat and you can practically hear Tim Russert repeating it as the theme music to Meet the Press plays. It's a pedestrian mainstream sentence.

The election isn't the be all for me that it sounds like it is for Conniff. My interest isn't inside the beltway and I'm bothered that this review reads like it's a beltway report because the title of the magazine I paid money for was The Progressive and not Washington Monthly. This is horse race reviewing about the politicians and the people (we the people) really don't fit into this review. I think it's disappointing. Lloyd used the word "disgusting" in an e-mail to C.I. -- when I said I'd grab the review here, C.I. e-mailed Lloyd to note it would be addressed and Lloyd e-mailed me to explain that this is his favorite magazine (it's one of my favorites as well) but that he found the review "disgusting." I don't think "disgusting" is too strong of a word. Lloyd and I exchanged e-mails on this topic and it goes beyond Conniff to a "rave" (Lloyd's term) over JAG.

Now JAG does deserve credit for their work re: Guantanamo. In 2002, C.I. invited me to lunch with a JAG attorney. I made a note after that, in my own conversations, to note the work JAG was doing. That was 2002. In 2006, last week, there's a "rave" over JAG. Excuse me, I think The Center for Constitutional Rights is the one to rave over right now. JAG? Did strong work. No question. In 2002 and 2003, they would have been my top choice. But I really have no idea why in 2006, when CCR has done such strong work, if someone's being noted by The Progressive, it's not them but JAG. Lloyd cited Jane Mayer's strong work in The New Yorker (it has been strong work, no question) and wondered why, if JAG needed to be noted, it wasn't when Mayer was covering the issue "years ago"?

You've got Conniff coming off like a mainstream pundit and you've got the "rave" that Lloyd feels read like "Hide behind the flag and the military when a strong statement is needed." I don't know. I just don't know.

I know I won't spend money on The Progressive again without flipping through it first. My reaction to the review was as strong as Lloyd but, and this may be the same thing Lloyd was thinking but didn't word it this way, I don't buy Washington Monthly, I don't buy The American Prospect. If those magazines speak to you, wonderful. Buy them. But to me they read like organs for the Democratic Party. I don't need that and I don't want it. I don't spend my money on that sort of thing. While Molly Ivins, Matthew Rothschild and Howard Zinn are questioning Democratic positions, I don't need to then flip to something that reads like "Dateline: DNC."

If you can get past Conniff's article, Ivins has a great column, Stephen Elliott provides the second best look at the Vegas embarrassment (CounterPunch remains in first place for me). . . There's a Gore Vidal interview. Judith Davidoff has a strong article (same-sex marriage). Barbara Ehrenreich is her usual strong self. Matthew Rothschild has a strong McCarthyism Watch and, I believe, "Comment" (though that's unsigned).

But to me, the Conniff piece killed the issue. Again, I'm not interested in Washington Monthly. Like Lloyd, I believe the review was embarrassing. It is so shallow and it reads like it could have appeared in any center-left or mainstream publication. In the future, I'll check the contents first. If Zinn's in the issue, I'll probably purchase it regardless. If he's not, I'll probably flip to Conniff and see if she's offering a text version of the Sunday chat & chews. If she is, I probably won't purchase the issue.

I'm just incredibly tired of people acting like everything's fine or it's just another year. The times we live in are not "interesting." They are tragic times and I really think if you're pretending otherwise, you're talking down to me. I can't pay for that.

That's really the issue of the whole JAG thing for Lloyd and I. We don't need 'happy times are here.' We don't need happy talk. Lloyd and I both wondered if, in a month or two, we'll forget Conniff's review? But it's not just that review. There's just so much going on in the world and when the eye turns to DC or the military, it needs to be probing. It needs to go deep. It doesn't need to be cheerleading for those in office. I don't find anything "progressive" about Conniff's superficial writing in the review (or in other pieces I have negatively criticized -- I have also positively criticized her writing here).

I read something like that and it just leaves me feeling wounded because it's just so "insider" and so oblivious to the what's going on around us. There's a line in The Russia House (C.I. always quotes it) and I think that really applies to how I feel about this, "I hope you aren't being frivilous with me, Barley. I only have time now in my life for the truth." (I've probably bungled that line, inverted a word. Rent the movie. It's one of my favorites.)

I don't have time for frivilous and when it confronts me in something I count on, it just really does more than surprise me, it brings me down and makes me wonder exactly how anything ever changes when that's invading my world? Will Durst has a hilarious column. He makes me laugh (Wally loves, loves his work). He can be humorous and tackle the world we're living in. So it's not "Oh, we have to be serious and there is no room for humor." There is plenty of room for humor. But there's no room for something that reads like it's written by someone who's trying to fit in with pundits and elected officials. I don't have time for those providing "cover" and, I am someone who votes with their money, I don't feel comfortable using my money in any way to support that sort of action.

There have been albums I've bought without listening to them first (Carole King's The Living Room Tour) and just been so angry with myself for supporing via my purchase. I have bought many bad, bad CDs in the last few years. Bad music, I can live with that and learn from it. But I purchase something by someone who is providing cover (altering lyrics for politicians and then throwing out crumbs to "the masses" while destroying their song) and it just leaves me feeling bad for days. That's what Conniff's review did to me. (I'll assume it did the same to Lloyd.) There's just too much going on in the world to be providing cover.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glatz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (, by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitors) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."

Read that and then wonder how Conniff can provide cover to someone (Beinart) preaching American imperalism? It just leaves me wounded and makes me feel like, by puchasing the issue, I've supported that.

Although a 48-hour halt on airstrikes against Lebanon is in effect, the Israeli army continues its attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Air strikes and shelling have killed at least seven residents of the Gaza Strip over the last three days and many others have sustained injuries. Manar Jibrin reports.
An Israeli Apache helicopter today fired two missiles into a governmental ministries compound in Sheikh Radwan in the central Gaza Strip, causing structural damage. Two people were injured in a separate missile attack on the two-storey home in Al Sheikh Radwan area today Three Palestinians died today of wounds they sustained a week earlier during the Israeli invasion of areas in the Gaza Strip. A sixteen year old boy was killed after sustaining shrapnel today by the Israeli artillery fired at homes of Biet Hanoun east of the Gaza Strip. Over one hundred Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks in the past four weeks. Saturday, in the West Bank city of Nablus an Israeli undercover unit backed by armored vehicles invaded the city and killed two resistance fighters of Al Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who started a regional tour met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarek on Friday during which they discussed the situation in both Palestine and Lebanon.

Tragedy is what Palestinians live with. Tragedy is what is going on in Lebanaon. You don't hear that point of view from Congress and you probably won't hear it from Ruth Conniff because it's beyond the beltway and the conventional wisdom. Since I was grabbing Conniff already, Mike's going to grab another column.