Oh but California
California I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss a sunset pig
California I'm coming home
-- "California" written by Joni Mitchell (performed by her on Blue)
I'm opening with that because I love the song, I am in California and, most importantly, in "And the war drags on," C.I. quoted Marcia (whom I know from a community committee we sat on) tying in her feelings towards independent media these days to Carole King's "You Still Want Her." I'd love to say I knew the song, but I didn't. I had to dig through C.I.'s vinyl today to listen. I think it's one of Carole King's best songs. The arrangement is so simple and the vocal so straightforward. The song "You Still Want Her" is on Carole King's Touch The Sky. If you're able to, please listen to it. (I don't think you'll be disappointed.) Besides being a very movingly performed song, I could see why Marcia tied it into to her own relationship with independent media. A wonderful observation and a surprising one because while everyone on the committe was sharing song choices (numerous times), Marcia was mainly silent. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, August 14, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, we're three days away from the start of Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, the US military tries to dispute the Iraqi government and eye witnesses -- and the press plays he said/she said, and the US military is also involved in arguing with itself. (Report card reads: "Does not play well with self or others.")
Some basic facts/dates to start with. On Saturday (though few apparently noticed it), the AP announced their count put the death toll for American troops in Iraq at 2600. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) noted that the so-called crackdown in Baghdad has been going on, with no success, since June 14th. Kenneth Janda (Northwestern University) noted in The Chicago Tribune that today makred the 1,245th day that Americans have been in Iraq and contrasts that to the United States' "war against Germany [which] lasted 1,245 days, from Dec. 11, 1941, (when both nations declared war) until May 8, 1945."
And the war drags on.
Sunday's violence in Baghdad was reported (yesterday) by CNN as: " Police said the attackers used a rocket, a car bomb, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle and two other devices to attack the neighborhood between 7:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. Saturday ET) and 8:30 a.m." Sudarsan Raghaven (Washington Post) reported it: "The attacks began when a volley of rockets bombarded a residential apartment building during a nighttime curfew, witnesses and police said. Then, a roadside bomb exploded, followed minutes later by another bomb strapped to a motorcycle." The Guardian of London: "The ministry said the rockets appeared to have been fired from Dora, one of the mostly Sunni Arab districts targeted by US troops in a recent security crackdown. Residents said the assault on Zafraniya lasted for more than an hour." The US is now disputing it was an attack and blaming it on a gas explosion. From AFP: "While the US military blamed an accident on a gas main for the disaster, Iraqi authorities insisted that insurgents had fired rockets into the largely Shiite district of Zafaraniyah and had detonated at least two bombs."
The violence on Sunday came a time when the so-called crackdown has produced no results, when the capital should be as 'secure' as the occupiers can make it and when Shi'ites are calling for neighborhoods to be turned over to militias and not the occupying armies. CBS and AP note: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office said in a statement that the attack started with a number of Katyusha rockets falling on a building followed by a car bomb, more rockets on a post office, a motorcycle bomb near a public library and mortar rounds near an Armenian church." They also report that "the al-Sahaba Soldiers" have claimed responsibility for the violence saying that they used "two booby trapped cars and fired mortal shells".
Gas explosion? Possibly, we'll learn that a gas explosion penetrated the Green Zone next?
Australia's ABC reports that the four Australian troops who were wounded in the Green Zone were "injured in an early morning rocket attack". (ABC also notes of the four: "Three have been released from hospital. The fourth, a female, remains in a hospital in a stable condition after suffering lacerations and bruisings.")
When not disputing Iraqi government officials, Iraqi police and eye witnesses, the US Iraq occupation force spent today disputing itself. AFP reports that "the chief spokesman for US-led coalition forces, Major General William Caldwell" insisits at press conferences that Iran is aiding resistance fighters in Iraq by "training and providing weapons . . . in order to carry out violent attacks in the war-torn country." Caldwell uses terms like "we do know" and "verified" (though proof comes far less quickly than words). Despite these statements, Caldwell, in the same press conference that, "There is nothing that we definitively have found to say that there are any Iranians operating within the country of Iraq" which the AP headlines: "No evidence Iran active in Iraq: US general." Does it all seem like the inferences used to (falsely) link 9-11 and Iraq?
While the US military attempts to get a consistent talking point, James Hider (Times of London) reports that British troops are being pulled from "the resitve Shia city of al-Amarah" to "instead patrol the Iranian border to prevent weapons-smuggling in one of the largest redeployments the Army has undertaken in Iraq" (Hider estimates this action will result in "freeing about 1,200 British troops").
And while British troops move to the Iraq-Iran border, Solomon Moore (Los Angeles Times) reports that "[h]undreds of newly recruited police officers in Fallujah failed to show up for work Sunday after insurgents disseminated pamphlets threating officers who stayed on the job." Moore notes the estimate of 100 police officers killed in Falluja in "the last three months."
Reuters reports the following: two dead near Khalis from a roadside bomb (three wounded); eight dead in Tal Afar from a mortar round; two dead and four wounded in from two car bombs "in eastern Baghad"; while in the "central Karrada district of Baghdad," one person died and three were wounded from a car bomb; and "on the main road between Baghdad and Baquba" a roadside bomb killed one police recruit and injured ten more. (That's 14 reported dead.)
CBS and AP report that, in Mosul, "three blacksmiths" were shot dead. Reuters reports that "a tribal leader" was killed in Mosul and his son was wounded; "a tribal leader" was also shot dead in Baiji; and in Falluja "a civilian" was shot dead. (That would be six shot dead for a total of 20 reported dead today -- in addition to the rising death toll from Sunday's events in Baghdad.)
In peace news, WBAI's Law & Disorder examined the efforts to surpress and prevent the 2004 peace rallies in NYC timed to coincide with the GOP convention held there.
Heidi Boghosian (host of the program along with Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith and Michael Ratner) noted the internal documents that are only now coming out,
"In one such e-mail, the Parks Department wrote, 'It's very important that we do not permit any big or political events between August 23rd and September 6th, 2004. It's really important for us to keep track of any large events -- over a thousand people -- and any rallies or events that seem sensitive or political in nature'." Those dates were "the period of the RNC" convention in NYC, as guest Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, of the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, noted. Michael Bloomberg denied involvement but documents released demonstrate "that Mayor Bloomberg was having meetings with the Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe, specifically about denial of the permit to the National Council of Arab Americans and ANSWER coalition, that there were meetings taking place where they were talking about that their official position that there would be a ban on rallies at Central Park overall in advance of the RNC, that they were trying to get him in agreement with that position notably because the police department didn't share that position. The police department didn't have a problem with a rally on the Great Lawn of Central Park."
Click here to read the released internal documents. Important in terms of 2004, in terms of Bloomberg (whose denials in depositions are now called into question) and important with the upcoming events surrounding September 21st (International Day of Peace).
In Crawford Texas, Camp Casey III continues. KWTX reports that the Bully Boy went back to DC Sunday but that the camp continues and that Cindy Sheehan ("released from the hospital Sunday") and over 100 people are taking part in today's actions. Deborah Mathews (Lonestar Iconoclast) reports that Sheehan required "a transfusion of four units of blood" while hospitalized this weekend and that chants of "We love you, Cindy!" greeted her return Sunday. As she continues her recovery, Mathews reports, Sheehan will "be at the camp for only an hour or two each day." The Associated Press reports that Sheehan said Sunday, "Even though George Bush isn't here, it's important still to get together and not just how him but show the world that there are Americans who want the violence in the Middle East to stop." In a separate report, the Associated Press notes that Camp Casey actions are to continue in Crawford "through Sept. 3" (at which point, it moves to DC).
Prior to the hospital stay, Sheehan had been taking part in the Troops Home Fast action which is on it's 42nd day and currently has 4,549 participants. It's an ongoing action and people interested can fast for one day at any time, pick a day to fast each week or do a longer fast. (The action will last at least up to September 21st.)
In other peace news, it is three days until the Article 32 hearing begins (August 17th) for Ehren Watada -- the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th. Melissa Tanji (The Maui News) reports that Bob Watada said of his son's chances the "court of public opinion is going to weigh heavily in favor of Ehren . . . [which] could make a difference". Khurram Saeed (The Journal News) reported Sunday on some actions taking place in Rockland, New York to demonstrate support for Ehren Watada. In addition to that, Tanji reports that: "Ave Dias, of the Maui Peace Action group, said Watada supporters should send postcards, call or fax elected officials such as Rumsfeld to let them know the public's support for the soldier objecting to war in Iraq." Mailing address for Donald Rumsfeld: 1000 Defense Petnagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000 and the main number for the Defense Department is (703) 545-6700 -- say "Operator" (or press 3) to speak to an actual person.
For those wanting to demonstrate the need to for public action in support of Watada, organizations (such as ThankYouLt.org) are recommending showing films such as Sir! No Sir! (for more on the documentary, also see "DVD Must See: Sir! No! Sir!").
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. The latest development revolves around Solider 21 (all soldiers testifying are identified by number, not name -- Soldier 21 is "the section commander") who, AAP reports, now denies the statement he gave to investigators that he heard a cry of "Allah Akbar" (God is great) immediately before he heard the gun shot that killed Jake Kovco. Sydney 2GB reports: "He told the inquiry it had become unclear whether he'd in fact heard the comment."
You can see photos from Camp Casey at David Swanson's site. Ehren Watada is going to need all the help he can get. If you haven't seen Sir! No Sir!, you really need to. That's a very powerful documentary and it will explain the importance of support both for an individual (like Ehren Watada) and for the movement itself. This Sunday's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on Iraq. That decision was made on Friday evening and meant some juggling (in terms of the TV commentary) but everyone's really pleased with it -- both those who participated as well as the sites readers (according to Ty). At a time when Iraq's fallen off the map, it was thought that devoting the full edition to it would be our way of stemming the tide. Right now the plan is for this coming Sunday's edition to focus on Iraq (though Ava and C.I. will probably be exempt for the TV commentary -- they ditched their already written commentary to do "TV: Psyche?" to fit the theme this week). There's already a feature planned and we'll probably brainstorm this week since we're all in California. I was going to be at a seminar but I cancelled that when other things came up and used that week to join everyone out here. Which, by the way, is a lot of fun. There are various groups on Iraq all week and I'll attend as many as I can. Rebecca's out at the pool right now reading a book. Ty's taking off three days from his intern job (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) to hang out with everyone. (A sacrifice because he loves his internship.)
It's just really nice to be around everyone -- we'll be doing that in September for the demonstrations but this is a laid back thing.
It's also a needed 'lay back' because everyone's so busy. (C.I. is busy regardless. But the rest of us, minus Ty until Wednesday, are kicking back.) It is strange to realize how much time has passed. Cedric, Betty, Dona and Jim were talking about that this morning, how much time has passed so quickly. Last Septemember doesn't feel like it was a year ago. I think when you're focused on something (Iraq, in our case), time doesn't move slowly. Most days I'm exhausted and don't seem to have enough to sleep, let alone relax so . . .
I can't imagine what it's been like for Cindy Sheehan. I'm glad she's out of the hospital but not surprised she was in there. She did the fast, went to Jordan, went to Crawford, went to Venezuela, went to conferences, you name it. She has made her entire life about bringing the troops home.
So, a point, if you're feeling like your days are aimlessly drifting (I'm jealous, if that's the case) and you want a sense of purpose, start figuring out what you can do to keep the focus on Iraq. "DVD Must See: Sir! No! Sir!" is a piece we all worked on for the Sunday edition that I love because it addresses the documentary and it also ties it into today.
Remember that events are coming up in September.
"Declaration of Peace: Take Action to End the US War in Iraq!" (United for Peace and Justice):
The Declaration of Peace is a nationwide campaign to establish by September 21, 2006 a concrete and rapid plan for peace in Iraq, including:
a prompt timetable for withdrawal of troops and closure of bases
a peace process for security, reconstruction, and reconciliation
and the shift of funding for war to meeting human needs.
If this plan for peace is not created and activated by Congress by September 21, the International Day of Peace, Declaration signers across the U.S. will engage in nonviolent action in Washington, D.C. and in communities throughout the nation.
A National Call for Congressional Visits
Week of Action Plan: September 21-28
From September 21-28, just days before Congress adjourns for the fall elections, Declaration signers will take action -- and support a comprehensive peace process -- by taking part in nonviolent action, marches, rallies, demonstrations, interfaith services, candlelight vigils and other creative ways to declare peace at the U.S. Capitol and in cities and towns across the country.
The Declaration of Peace campaign will continue after the September actions if no comprehensive plan to end the war is in place. Nationally coordinated nonviolent activities will continue until the United States withdraws from Iraq and supports a comprehensive peace process.
More than 180 antiwar, peace, and justice organizations are participating in the Declaration of Peace movement. Sign The Declaration of Peace -- and take tangible, nonviolent action to end this war and to declare a new era of peace and justice.
Join the Campaign!
Connect with The Declaration of Peace in Your Area
Find groups organizing The Declaration in your community
Attend or Organize Declaration of Peace Signing Events
Join with others in publicly signing The Declaration.
Call on Congress to Sign the Congressional Declaration of Peace
Urge your Senators and Representative to commit to co-sign legislation supporting a comprehensive plan for peace.
Prepare for Action -- Take Nonviolent Action Training
Learn about the power and practicalities of nonviolent action.
Take Action!Act now for a comprehensive peace plan in September and beyond.
For More Information: http://www.declarationofpeace.org/
2501 Harrison St., Oakland, CA 94612
That's it for me. For a "vacation" today's been very busy. But read the above and see if there's not something for you. Also read Trina's "Squash Soup in the Kitchen" which Tracey, Jayson and I plan on making tomorrow.