Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Who thinks for you? (It should be you)

The reconstruction contracts are, hands down, the most expensive contracts in Iraq. The seven largest U.S. contracts in Iraq, excluding Halliburton's, are for reconstruction. The most recent report from the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction reveals that the United States has appropriated nearly $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds for reconstruction projects in Iraq. Not a cent of this money is required to say in Iraq as an investment in Iraq's long-term economic growth. These contracts are also the most unnecessary because they pay American firms bloated rates for work that Iraqis can and should be allowed to do themselves.
-- Antonia Juhasz, The BU$H AGENDA: Invading The World One Economy at a Time, p. 316

Yesterday, I started with a selection from Juhasz' book and I had three e-mails about that. Two said they enjoyed the excerpt and asked if it was representative? I think it is. So tonight, there's another excerpt. Read it and judge for yourself. The third e-mail was from Brenda (community member) who wrote that she'd been intending to buy Juhasz's book but it was one of those things she kept forgetting. She went out and purchased the book. If nothing else is ever accomplished at my site, I was able to help Brenda purchase the book. (I'm not minimizing that. Brenda's a big reader and she shares her books. So one copy purchased by Brenda will reach a number of people.

Are you a book reader? If not, what's the area of your influence? Sunny asked me today to share a story. She has a friend (not her best friend that she's named here when she filled in while I was on vacation) who e-mails several times a day with "Cat pictures and jokes." Sunny spoke to her and told her she was getting that sort of e-mail from everyone. She said she didn't need anymore of those. She wanted to tell her friend because, and we probably all have someone like this e-mailing us, every fifth one will contain something along the lines of "Do you want to have lunch __?" and if you just ignore those e-mails completely, the person ends up thinking, "Why didn't you let me know about lunch?"

So Sunny spoke to her friend and today she got a mass e-mailing from the friend which was actually about the war? (About the stop loss policy that's going to see thousands of troops who thought they were done and back in the United States being pulled into Iraq.)

So that really made Sunny's day (and she forwarded it through her circle).

On those mass e-mailings . . .

If they're not an issue, I don't have time for them. I'm not as to the point as C.I. who will call someone and ask, flat out, "Why are you sending me this s**t?" C.I. will do that. That was before The Common Ills started. C.I. would just say flat out, "Don't send me that s**t." That included 'jokes' about France (for those who have forgotten, France, to hear our gasbags and the administration tell it in 2002 and 2003, was basically the Satan of the Europe). And at least once a year, there's always someone who goes kooky and gets into some cult (like that "Land _" club, I can't think of the name of it). They then start sending out all their jibbersh as they try to recruit others to their psuedo-religion. You get one warning and then you're blocked.

I've never been warned -- for any wondering. I have no time to hunt down cat photos or other similar items online.

I've used e-mail the way I do letters.

That's with everyone. If you get an e-mail from me, and you're a friend, I've actually attempted to put some thought into (more so than in these posts). About mid-2004, when I joined in the chorus urging C.I. to blog, it was because the e-mails were often like blogs. They'd have these links and I'd read though and think, "Everyone's right, C.I. needs to blog." That was because of a feature on Yahoo that allowed you to add links. I miss those, to be honest. I love The Common Ills but I miss those e-mails. In "joker jeff defends his 'girl' who leaves the audience with a wrong impression," Rebecca talks about that some, the pre-online days. She talks about a great deal actually and, if you missed it, you will probably enjoy it. (If you already read it, I'm sure you enjoyed it.)

But the point that stands out to me is the fact that we do need more voices. That really is the message of the community. Her comments about Brady are typical of the community. We all do get examples and apply them to our own lives. One person's activism encourages others. In "Iraq dialogue," I mentioned a professor who stressed thinking for yourself. He felt that memorizing facts was an easy drill that denied you actual thought. I agreed with that. I still do. You've never seen (and never will see) me post a list of talking points. I don't agree with our pseudo think tanks that have sprung up thinking that if we all repeat X and B and J and S, we're 'good.' We aren't. We need to learn to think for ourselves.

Take Antonio Juhasz' book. You can read it and try to memorize all these facts or you can try to absorb the message of the book (and, in the process, you'll find that you remember more than a few facts without trying). C.I. wrote about the nonsense coverage of Saddam Hussein's trial this morning. In "NYT: Iraq coverage slips right out of the paper," C.I. wrote: "The problem isn't that Saddam's on trial, the problem is that a lot of others aren't. Something to remember ten or twenty years on down the line when the next US-backed Saddam, Pinochet, go down the list, is held accountable for their crimes but treated as though they acted in a vacuum." That really is true. That's the larger issue. When you hear of Bully Boy's plans for Cuba, think about Saddam Hussein, the man we set up and kept in power. Until we start demanding that our government respects self-rule, we're going to have an Iraq every few years. It may be 'smaller' or it may be as 'large.' But at the heart of it is this belief that we can decide for others and, for many, that we should. Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush and others need to be in Baghdad right now, standing side by side with Saddam Hussein and on trial.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and be sure to read the snapshot (included in full, below).

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 chaos and violence continue in Iraq,
Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case, a new poll by the New York Times continues to demonstrate the trend of Americans turning against the war and another witness in the military inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco blasts the way the investigation was conducted.
Today Bob Watada spoke with Philip Maldari on
KPFA's The Morning Show about his son Ehren Watada, the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Bob Watada spoke of the potential consequences that his son could face but noted that Ehren was aware of the consenquences, that there's " a real crisis in this country," and that even "knowing that he may got to jail" his son knew he had to take the stand he did an refuse to deploy. Bob Watada spoke of how his son's discovery of the lies that led a nation into an illegal war changed everything: "When he found out what was going on in Iraq, the president lying to the people, lying to Congress, lying to the military," he knew that he couldn't go to Iraq both for himself and for those who'd be serving under him.
Bob Watada spoke of the expectation that the US military will use Ehren Watada as an example in an effort clamp down on the dissent within the military. And, in answer to Maldari's question of what can be done, he spoke of the importance of public opinion in his son's case: "If the military sees that there is a large swell of public opinion on behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada, they're going to think twice about what they're doing."
The importance of public support/action was also demonstrated in the calls. One that stands out is caller Alden, WWII veteran, in The Underwater Demolition, spoke of being stationed in Hawaii and "about March of '46 the word came through that all the G.I.s were going to be sent back into China to start a war against the new Chinese government. Following this, a couple of days later, there was about 10,000 GIs in Honolulu protesting, saying 'We are going home' and about three days later another one, ten-to-twelve thousand G.I.s saying 'We are going home' and that stopped it. And that was what was going on back in those days and I'm just so supportive and feel completely what Watada is doing and the way he put it and the father and the way he puts it -- that is just outstanding."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Wed. 8/23
7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933

Thu. 8/24
noon-3pm World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408

7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.

Of the various stops he's made so far to speak of his son, Bob Watada said, "It's been really postive here in the Bay Area. Just about everywhere we've gone, we've had packed crowds. . . The other day I had somebody who came up before the program started and said he was a veteran and he didn't really think he could support me or my son. . . . At the end of the evening he came up to me and said 'Whatever you need, whatever your son needs, I want to help you out.'"
In other peace news, Cindy Sheehan will rejoin
Camp Casey III after "several days" reports the Associated Press. Sheehan is back in the Providence Health Center in Waco "recovering . . . after having a hysterctomy" on Tuesday. Next week, Sheehan is scheduled to be in Salt Lake City participating with the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and others in protesting Bully Boy's August 31st speech (during a trip on which Condi Rice is accompanying him).
That's how Sheehan plans to end the month, at the beginning of the month she went to Jordan with Ann Wright, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Geal Murphy, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and others to meet with Iraqi legislators.
Eric Horsting (Washington Beachcomber) reports that also on the trip was filmmaker David Rothmiller who shot footage "to create campaign material for Jeeni Criscenzo, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 49th district in California."
As the November elections approach, many get edgy and itchy. A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News continues to note the shift in public opinion of the illegal war. Summarizing the poll,
Carl Hulse and Marjorie Connelly (New York Times) note of those surveyed: 51 percent "saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort"; 53% said the "war was a mistake"; 62% agreed that things in Iraq could be rated "somewhat or very badly"; 46 percent felt the Bully Boy "had concentrated too much on Iraq". Hulse and Connelly's article also features comments from three follow up interviews. Those views worthy of being noted? Two Republicans and a self-described independent.
In Iraq, the violence and the chaos, to no one's surprise, continues.
In the Baghdad, city of so-called crackdowns, a roadside bomb (possibly targeting Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister) claimed the lives of two civilians and left others wounded
according to the Associated Press. AFP notes that a roadside bomb killed two civilians "between Basra and Nasiriyah." KUNA reports that "[a] car exploded . . . near an army special ops check-point in Dorra" and "that the explosion resulted in several deaths and injuries among the special ops troops in the area." In Mosul, the AP reports, one woman was killed and ten people were wounded by a suicide bomber while, in Falljua, a roadside bomb claimed two lives and left twelve wounded.
AP reports that "1st Lt. Hassanein Saadi al-Zerjawi . . . was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Amarah". Reuters notes that eight people were shot dead in Baquba and a police officer shot dead in al-Hay. AFP notes that, in Kut, "two civilians were shot dead" with a child and one other adult wounded.
AFP reports that six corpses were found beneath a bridge "between the two volatile cities of Mahmudiyah and Latifyah" and three were discovered in Baquba. In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues. The most recent developments revolve around Soldier 47's testimony. Australia's ABC reports that Soldier 47, "[a] military police investigator" went to Baghdad from Melbourne to investigate the death of Jake Kovco and that "he was informed on the day of Pte Kovco's death to deploy immediately to Baghdad." AAP notes that during Soldier 47 three hour, video-link testimony (from Baghdad), he "detailed a litany of miscommunication and army bungles surrounding the death of the Victorian soldier who was shot in his Baghdad barracks room on April 21." The Daily Telegraph reports of the testiomony that "he was also angerd and surprised that Pte Kovco's body had been flown from Baghdad to Kuwait agains the orgers of the military police's special investigations branch" and "frustrated that forensic evidence was lost when the body had been washed and treated while Pte Kovco's clothes had been destroyed." ABC New South Wales notes that Soldier 47 voiced his frustration over being "told he could not view notes made by Private Kovco's room-mates" and finding out that "the room-mates were in Kuwait, not Baghdad, so he could not immediately interview them." Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 47 gave up custody of Jake Kovco's body because a) he wanted to "get to the scene of the shooting" and because "certain integrites had already been compromised" (see "forensic evidence was lost" two sentences prior).
Soldier 47's testimony of frustration and anger over the investigation echoes
Major Mark Willetts testimony yesterday where he complained about being refused access to the room Kovco died in (Willetts was "the officer in charge of the immediate investigation") and feeling that Jake Kovco's two roommates were being less than fully forthcoming.
In addition,
ABC notes that Soldier 30 is asserting that "some of the claims made about his troops during the course of the inquiry are simply not true" specifically he refutes Soldier 21's claim that "quick draw" games were played with weapons. Two weeks ago, Soldier 30 (who spoke today as he spoke then -- via video-link from Baghdad) asserted that he had given orders that the death/crime scene not be preserved for morale issues Soldier 21, the section commander, is most famous for issuing a statement following the death of Jake Kovco that he heard a cry (in the barracks) of "Allah Akbar" which translates as "God is great." When Soldier 21 testified to the inquiry earlier this month, he renounced that assertion. Then, as
Sydney 2GB reported, "He told the inquiry it had become unclear whether he'd in fact heard the comment."
In other legal news, on April 26th, Hashim Ibrahim Awad died in Hamdania after being allegedly kidnapped by US troops. Charged with kidnapping and the killing were the "Pendelton Eight" -- Saul H. Lopezromo, Derek I. Lewis, Henry D. Lever, Lawrence G. Hutchins II, Trent D. Thomas, Tyler Jackson, Marshall Magincadla, and Jerry E. Schumate Jr.
Thomas Watkins (AP) reports that four of the eight want to skip the Article 32 hearing and instead "proceed straight to trial." Reportedly, John Jodka III's attorney was the one who made the request first (and did so on Friday) which isn't in the AP report. Reportedly not all involved were informed of the request when it was first made. Jerry E. Shumate was the last to join the four in making the request. Watkins reports that the military has denied the request and the Article 32 hearing could start as early as August 28th. But Gidget Fuentes (Navy Times) reports the schedule for the hearings as: September 12th: Jerry E. Shumate Jr.; September 25th: Marshall L. Magincalda, Robert B. Pennington, John J. Jodka, Melson J. Bacos; and October 18th: Lawrence G. Hutchins, Trent D. Thomas and Tyler A. Jackson.