Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Night Ride Home

Mike's already posted but Kat just called (she missed him) and I told her I could redo my opening and work it in. She was hoping we could note a song lyric at the top today (she and Betty had this idea). I love music, but, oh, the pressure.

Once in awhile
In a big blue moon
There comes a night like this
Like some surrealist
Invented this
4th of July
Night ride home
-- Joni Mitchell, "Night Ride Home" (off the CD of the same name)

I'm going with "Night Ride Home" because I've had the melody in my head all day and humming it in the elevator, on the way home, etc. I also think this is a night -- how long it will last, I have no idea. Whether it will be darkest before dawn or continue to darken (metaphorically), I have no idea. But we're seeing people wake up across the country. Tonight, I'll be optimistic about these surreal times. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

A 48-hour cessation of Israeli air attacks in Lebanon has been replaced by heavy bombardment of civilian areas along the southern Lebanese border. The Israeli military is preparing for what appears will be a massive ground invasion to extend as far as 18 miles into Lebanon. 3 Israeli soldiers and 6 Hezbollah guerrillas were reportedly killed today in fighting along the common border. Jackson Allers has more from Beirut.The brief cessation of violence allowed rescue workers an opportunity to get to villages in southern Lebanon to retrieve the bodies of at least 90 people killed in Israeli air strikes and artillery barrages over the last 21 days. It also allowed thousands of refugees trapped by the Israeli military offensive to stream north to relative safety -- humanitarian sources say that more than 25% of the Lebanese population has been displaced -- or about 800 thousand people. Images from BBC and Al-Jazeera television showed hundreds of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers amassed along the northern Israeli border -- a precursor to what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said would be a 10-day to 2-week ground offensive to push Hezbollah back to the Litani River -- a symbolic dividing line between north and south Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Lebanese government says that over 750 civilians have been killed since Israel launched its military offensive against Lebanon to retrieve two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a military raid on July 12. At least 52 Israeli's have been killed by Hezbollah rocket fire. Reporting from Beirut, this is Jackson Allers for Free Speech Radio News.

The birth pains of Condi. As Rebecca said on the phone today, "Maybe she should have just adopted." (Condi's referred to the war Israel's raging on Lebanon as "birth pains.") 750 dead. Maybe she should have gone for a C-section instead of attempting her unnatural birthing method?

But isn't that too mean spirited to Condi? I mean we've seen how well the "birth" happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, right? Afghanistan? What was the goal? I believe there were two main ones: get Osama and bring freedom to the women. Well freedom hasn't come for the women (though I'm sure some Fox "news" viewer will beg to differ), the war lords are back in charge (three British soldiers died in Afghanistan today, by the way) but at least the US caught Osama. Wait, they didn't do that either. Well, Condi & co can point to Iraq, right?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continues today, Tuesday, August 1, 2006. The bombings continue, the shootings continue, the death continues with the estimated number of the dead jumping in the last hour and half from at least 39 to at least
63. (Possibly Damien Cave will write in tomorrow's New York Times "at least 12"?) Reuters notes that among the dead are "at least 26 soldiers" (Iraqis as well as one British soldier stationed in Basra).
A series of bombings throughout Iraq account for the largest reported fatalities.
CNN places the first as a roadside bomb that targeted "a bust carrying members of the Iraqi military". AFP notes this as "the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul". Al Jazeera places the death toll at 24 minimum. Reuters notes "[t]he charred remains" that "were scattered across the bus" and "[t]wo skulls . . . in the vehicle along an empty highway." AFP reports that in addition to those killed (they say "at least 23"), 20 more were wounded. Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note an Interior Ministry source who placed the number wounded at 40 (killed at 23).
BBC notes "at least 14 people died" in Baghdad when a car bomb ("suicide") went off "outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay." Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show noted the timing and planning involved in that attack. Jane Peel (BBC) noted the "black fumes" wafting from the bombing to the sky and that, "The security forces seem unable to stop the attacks." [C.I. says if link to Peel doesn't work, there's a link to the report on the page "BBC notes" goes to.] Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) report: "The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were withdrawing their monthly salaries." Reuters notes a child of 12-years-old "sobbing and tearing his shirt after seeing his dead mother" and kisosk owner Abu Fadhil saying: "We should carry guns to protect ourselves. If we expect Iraqi security forces to protect us we will burn, just like those innocenct people."
Reuters notes that at least seven died and fifteen were left wounded from a car bombing in Muqdadiya. Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) note that the car in question was "a Kia sedan" and that the bombing took place outside a hospital.
David Fickling, Ben Hammersley "and agencies" (Guardian of London) report the death of a British soldier today in Basra forma "mortar attack". CBS and AP note: "The infantry soldier died after being airlifted from a base in Basra to a field hospital outside the city, said the spokeswoman on customary condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy."
In addition to the above,
Reuters also notes a "roadside bomb . . . in northeastern Baghdad" that killed one civilian and left one wounded; a car bomb aimed at "an Iraqi army patrol" that left "two civilians" wounded; and that the US military announced today that a "U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Monday".
RTE News reports the an attack on a minibus carrying electricity board employees which left four dead and four wounded "when their minibus was sprayed with gunfire in central Baghdad." AP raises the numbers to "five killed and injured the other six". Reuters notes two separate shooting deaths in Mosul; in Kirkuk, "A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly . . gunned down"; and, "outskirts of Baghdad," an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint left four Iraqi soldiers wounded as well as one civilian. AFP gives Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi as the name of the ACA member gunned down and notes that he "was shot dead outside his home."
CBS and AP note that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. Reuters also notes that "[t]he body of Adel al-Mansouri, a correspondent for al-Alam television station, was found dumped with bullet holes on a street". By Reuters count, al-Mansouri is the eleventh journalist reported killed in Iraq this year. On April 14th of this year, Dahr Jamail's web site featured the Mosaic Video Stream featuring a report al-Mansouri had done for Abu Dhabi TV. Adel al-Mansouri opened with this statement: "Iraqis hope that their political leaders will be able to overcome their differences and quickly form the new government in order to deal with the problems that plague the country." Not only did that not happen quickly the rumors now float about a shake up in Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet (with the Interior Minister being mentioned most often as at least one person who will be replaced). Since that report, Baghdad has been under the so-called "crackdown" for over six weeks and now an estimated 4,000 US troops are being repositioned in the capitol.
Associated Press is reporting that Asaad Abu Kilal (governor of Najaf) has announced that six buses were "waylaid" and that "45 people from Najaf" have been kidnapped. The AP quotes an Interior Ministry flack who says the number is correct but the kidnappings have taken place "over the last two weeks" and it's "[l]ike two or three people snatched a day." Apparently that's when you panic if you serve in the Interior Ministry -- not when 45 people are kidnapped over a two week period, when they are kidnapped all at once. It doesn't change the number but apparently spreading it out over several days lessens the impact. Vijay Joshi (AP) notes: "U.S. officials estimate an average of 30-40 people are kidnapped each day in Iraq, although the real figure may be higher because few families contact the police."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
AAP reports that Kovco's former roommates (billes as "Soldier 17" and "Soldier 19") provided DNA on Saturday. The gun believed to have been utilized had Jake Kovco's DNA on it as well as unidentified DNA. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the DNA has been tested and the roommates' DNA doesn't match what is on the gun so Wayne Hayes ("Detective Inspector) is heading Iraq "to ask other soldiers in hi platoon to give DNA samples." The current developments were best summed in this exchange on Australia's The World Today -- Eleanor Hall (host) asked, "So Conor, the source of the DNA remains a mystery then?" to which Conor Duffy (reporters) responded, "That's right Eleanor, like so much of what happened in room 8 at the Australian embassy where Jake Kovco died, the source of the DNA on the gun that took his life remains a mystery."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports: "Evidence presented to a military board of inquiry into Kovco's death and failed repatriation now suggests the soldier killed himself in a tragic accident, probably without realising his pistol was loaded. But the army's decision to clean his room and wash his roommates' clothes after he died has destroyed almost all the forensic evidence and may now mean the exact cause of death will never be known." Brown notes that Soldier 19 testified "no way, sir" that Kovco would have committed suicide and AAP notes that 19 states he didn't see the shooting because "he was bending down at a bar fridge in the room". Conor Duffy noted that this would put 19 "probably about one to two meters away from Private Kovco at the time" and that both 19 and 17 are "expected to remain in Sydney for at least this week before they return to Baghdad."
In peace news,
Carol A. Clark (Los Alamos Monitor) reports that Cindy Sheehan will speak at Ashley Pond on August 6th ("this year's Hiroshima Day") for an event that will include others and last from two to nine p.m. and will include "free buttons and balloons, live music, face painting and activities for the kids" as well as "the lighting of 3,000 floating candles on Ashley Pond at dusk."
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on Day 29 with over 4,350 people participating from all over the world. David Howard (Countercurrents.org) writes about the reasons for participating in the fast including "to end the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don't end up dead, like Tony Butterfield." Tony Butterfield was Anthony E. Butterfield ("Lance Cpl.") who died on July 29th in the Anbar Province at the age of 19. In addition, as Howard notes, Butterfield was "a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High school in Clovis, California." The fast is ongoing (until September 21st) and people can pick a one-day, one-day a week, or more at any point between now and September 21st. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.

Nineteen years old. Tony Butterfield graduated last May. He died last month. Think about him, think about the twelve-year-old boy seeing his mother dead from the car bomb. If you watch the Jane Peel report (I did using the "BBC notes" link -- it's on the left hand side of that story "Watch Video"), you see so much destruction. Cars. That plume of smoke, the black smoke, it's just . . . Watch the video.

The fast is still going on. Sunni saw online that it was off. It is not off. Diane Wilson has not gone of her fast. Those headed to Jordan are off (they're meeting with members of the Iraqi parliament) the fast. But the fast continues. It's day 29 of the strike. C.I.'s still on it. The plan was to go off August 1st but then came news of Jordan and C.I. felt like since Diane Wilson (and others, but mainly Diane Wilson) was still on it and since some might think it was over (it's not over), one more week was do-able. 29 days. I couldn't do 29. I couldn't do 3 probably. (Unless forced to due to circumstances like being ship wrecked.) I can't believe C.I. has stayed on it. It wasn't supposed to last this long. But there were members who were doing it and they'd see out the month if C.I. would. My fear now, since August 1st is today and C.I.'s extended it another week, is that there will be another reason to extend it. I hope not. Sunny and I are both doing one day a week. I think most people can give up one day a week and hope you'll consider that if you're not already. Picture Diane Wilson (that's what C.I. does) and the fact that she's drawn up a will in case anything happens to her. She's very serious about this hunger strike. With that kind of dedication, if nothing else, I hope you'll honor Wilson by at least grabbing a one-day, one time only fast.

Diane Wilson isn't going off it on September 21st. She's going to attempt to stay on it until the troops come home. This is a very brave stance (and should she give it up, I won't think any less of her, I really wish she'd go off it on the 21st of September) and when someone does something like that, you can look away or you can ask, "Okay, how can I do something to demonstrate that I am a witness to what she's doing?"

To end the war, that's what it's going to take, people taking strong stands and others bearing witness. You may be a driver on the "Night Ride Home" or just a passenger but you take the ride.