Tuesday, July 18, 2006

World on Fire

The illustration above is Isaiah's latest "Song of the Bully Boy." Mike and I are both using it tonight. The world today? Just nuts and blame it on the Bully Boy. He's set the tone. I look at the illustration above and agree with it, but it also reminds me of a Sarah McLachlan's "World On Fire:"

The world's on fire it's more than I can handle
I'll tap into the water try and bring my share
Try to bring more, more then I can handle
Bring it to the table
Bring what I am able

The world's on fire. I have no idea what I can bring to the table. But I do like Afterglow (the Sarah McLachlan CD the song's from -- it's not Surfacing, but it has grown on me). Cedric suggested Mike and I attempt to use the snapshot as we would headlines. I think it's a lot of stuff to cover but am willing to try. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's comments.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
More deaths in Iraq today, the UN issues a body count for Iraqi civilians, questions emerge in the inquiry into the death of Australian soldier Jake Kovco, and news on war resisters and peace demonstrators.
Reuters reports that 59 people died after a bomber drove "his minivan into a busy market on Tuesday, lured labourers onboard with the promise of jobs and then blew himself" and those gathered up. The attack took place in Kufa and police "were pelted with rocks by angry crowds, many of whom demanded that militias loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take over security". The Associated Press skips that but does note that the explosion took place "across the street from Kufa's gold-dome mosque". Reuters reports that some chants at the police included: "You are traitors!", "Your are not doing your job!" and "American agents!"

That's a pretty important detail to leave out. The Iraqi police, who are seen as puppets and stands in for the United States, are pelted with rocks, called traitors? Including it in the AP coverage might mean letting Americans grasp how much the Iraqis hate the illegal occupation.

When even violence as the sort that took place in Kufa this morning can't get attention, one wonders how many are registering Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Don't Forget the Bloodletting in Iraq" (Editor's Cut, The Nation)? Will we grow used to that violence? Will only larger numbers register in the future? As Howard Zinn wrote (in Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal) "The only way we can stop the mass killing of civilians -- of women and children -- is to stop the war itself."

Katrina vanden Heuvel's column is one I recommend you read. She's addressing two op-eds (one in the New York Times, one in the Boston Globe) and the issue of withdrawal. I was really glad C.I. paired it up with Howard Zinn's book because the reality is that we're not that far in the peace movement. When Zinn wrote his book (highly recommended), it still took years to get out of Vietnam. When Zinn was writing the book, the press was ridiculing and ingoring withdrawl the same way they do today. I give vanden Heuvel a lot of credit for this column. There is a great deal going on but Iraq does matter.

Along with news of Kufa, other news took place as well. The BBC notes that "at least four members of a Shia militia" were killed by British troops. CBS and the AP note that, "near Hawija," a bombing took the lives of seven Iraqi police officers and left two wounded. The AFP reports "a gruesome incident, one sheep seller was killed in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, when a bomb hidden under a girl's severed head exploded as he lifted it". Reuters notes the following: in Baghdad, Abu Ali al-Garawi ("head of Badr in Diwaniya) was shot to death; in Mosul four people died and two were wounded in a bombing; in Habaniya an Iraqi soldier was killed by mortar rounds; in Falluja a "police major" was shot to death; and, in Haditha, three translators working for the US military were shot to death.In addition to the severed head noted above, Reuters reports that 14 corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya ("blindfolded . . . shot at close range").
AFP reports that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq places the Iraqi civilian death toll at 5,818 for May and June alone (with most of the victims losing their lives in Baghdad).

Tomorrow, a show, you know which one, will probably devote a segment to the deaths since it's been covered (the high numbers). The issue of course will be why it wasn't covered until then?
Do you lead on coverage or do you follow?

Speaking today with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, Ruth Rosen discussed her recent article, "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq." Rosen explained what led her to focus on the violence targeting Iraqi women and, in one example, explained: "And I also wanted to find out the story behind Abu Ghraib. We never heard. We heard many men sexually humilitaed but if they were humilitated it stood to reason that women would have been at least as humilitated if not more". Rosen and Lewis discussed many topics including women who were held in Abu Ghraib and tortured. Rosen explained, "It does appear that women have been on other bases held as prisoners."
(More on this topic can be found in CODEPINK's "Iraqi Women Under Siege" -- pdf. format.)

This is a good interview. C.I. called Sunny with a heads up and she and I listened during lunch.
Very little attention has been given to the issue of women in Iraq, we're supposed to assume, I guess, that liberation is just on the march. That's not reality but it wasn't reality for Afghanistan either.

The war drags on. Some, wisely, leave the so-called coaliton. Others get called back in. While Japan has withdrawn troops, the BBC reports that Scotland's The Black Watch will be deploying for Iraq for the third time since the start of the illegal war.
Turning to Australia, there are more developments in the case of Jake Kovco who died on April 21st while serving in Iraq. Conor Duffy discussed with Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC) the fact that "the military officer is Sergeant Stephen Hession. . . . And he's told the board of inquiry that the pistol that show Private Kovco was in a different postion to what it was just before the room was sealed." Dan Box (The Australian) notes the testimony of two military police officers which revealed: "The room where Jake Kovco died was cleaned, stripped of equipment and repeatedly traisped through by fellow soldiers before inverstigators could gather evidence that might have proved crucial in determing the cause of his death." Belindea Tasker (The Courier-Mail) notes that, in addition to the above, "his clothes [were] destroyed before forensic experts could carry out any tests". Reporting on the program PM (Australia's ABC) Conor Duffy reported more events from the inquiry including the fact that including the fact that a letter from Jake Kovco's wife Shelley and two short stories by Jake Kovco were read to the board for "a glimpse into Private Kovco's state of mind". As noted yesterday, Judy and Martin Kovco, Jake's parents, want soldiers serving with their late son to be called to testify before the inquiry.

This went up after lunch. I walked into Sunny's area to grab a file and I thought someone had died in her family. You just have to say "Jake Kovco" and Sunny tears up. (I'm not making fun of her.) After I found out why she'd been crying (she wasn't crying when I walked through but her eyes were blood red), I told her to take a break and wondered why more people can't show the compassion that Sunny does? If we could, the war might be over now.

On Monday's The KPFA Evening News, Wendell Harper reported on the peace movement. Demonstrators, CODEPINK activists, Daneil Ellsberg, labor activists and others came together in Oakland to make their voices heard, many taking part in the Troops Home Fast. What follows are some of the voices (selected by Zach, Marisa and myself) featured in Harper's report:
Protestor 1: "Ehren Watada needs support finacially, because of legal fees, and, of course, the rallies like we're having today."
Protestor 2: "If you're familiar with Suzanne Swift, she's the 21-year-old who just turned 22 on Saturday who was abused by her commanding officer in Iraq, came over here and then refused to go back when she found out she would have to go back to her old unit. She was arrested, put in the brig and is currently in the brig, and her mother is started a campaign to get an honorable discharge for her."
Labor activist: "Two-thirds of the American people say get the troops out now. 80% of the Iraqi people say get the troops out now. 72% of our troops in Iraq say they want to be home by the end of the year and 29% of those say: 'Out now.' What part of 'out now' doesn't this Congress understand."
"I'm Sara and I'm participating in a fast because I'm hoping that it will speak loud enough to people that it will stop this war and stop violence."
"I'm Jane Jackson and I'm hungry for peace."
"I'm Sam Joi and I'm with CODEPINK Women for Peace and we have to be determined that this war is going to end by the end of 2006 no matter what anybody says."
Kurdish-Iraqi woman: "I've been fasting in San Francisco actually for our homeless. These wars are causing refugess around the world. I personally know what it is to stay in refugee camp and not have a meal, to be infected with a meal, they give it to you. I have had that experience, my friends dying, because they gave them wrong food to eat."
Those were some of the voices featured in Wendell Harper's report. (Brian Edwards-Tiekert highlighted some of the voices on KPFA's The Morning Show second hour news break this morning.)
Troops Home Fast reports that "4,117 people are engaging in solidarity fasts around the nation and in 22 other countries" today.

I listened to the report while I was working on the earlier part of this post. It's so rare that the voices of peace are provided. Hearing each other speak and listening will help end this illegal war.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii, KHNL reports a protest in support of Ehren Watada which drew "[a]bout two dozen people rallied in Honolulu" yesterday for 90 minutes on behalf of "a half dozen organizations and churches that believe the war in Iraq is illegal." Watada has refused to deploy to Iraq and engage in the illegal war. Watada has stated: "I felt that going into a war waged out of decption, the administration had lied by manipulating intelligence and deceiving the people, I thought there could be no greater crime."
Another Hawaian, Maui's Chris Magaoay, is interviewed by Ana Radelat (Gannett News Service) who takes a look at war resistors who leave the armed service. Magaoay enlisted in 2004 and "[l]ess than two years later, Magaoay became on of thousands of military deserters who have chosen a lifetime of exile or possible court-martial rather than fight in Iraq or Afghanistan." Magaoay, who went to Candad this year, tells Radelat, "It wasn't something I did on the spur of the moment. It took me a long time to realize what was going on. The war is illegal."
Turning to Canada, we noted war reister Patrick Hart for the first time on March 9th when Lewis steered us to Peter Koch's "Brave Hart." Koch has provided an update noting that, the first week of this month, Patrick & Jill Hart (along with their son Rian) appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. There has been no verdict yet but, as Koch notes, "everyone who has received a decision has been denied."

If the New York Times covered Ehren Watada's case (they never have -- not with a report written by someone working for the paper), think of what a difference that could make? It's the sort of thing that could jump start the discussion to another level, the way Cindy Sheehan did last year. But they're not interested in increasing the public dialogue. That was obvious with Gail Collins' nonsense of "I've learned . . . nothing" in Editor & Publisher.