Monday, November 27, 2006

Gore Vidal, Janet Coleman, Madonna, Iraq

What are you getting tonight? Not much. Know that upfront. Everytime I go to post, I lose everything. This is my third attempt. If it doesn't post, it's also my final attempt tonight.

The illustration is Madonna and it's from Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Confessing to no talent." I didn't catch the special (but I enjoyed reading the review). Sunny did. That's the first thing I heard this morning at work. She said the special was "so bad, so very bad." They were watching it at her mother's. She was over there helping her mother cook for Thanksgiving. A number of nephews, nieces, etc. were in the living room and some adults were trying to watch the special. They figured it would be fun for all. The kids would pay attention because of dancing and music (which they did). What they didn't count on was all the "Bleep" this and "Bleep" that. It was about a half-hour in and Sunny's mother suggested they peel apples (for pies) in the living room and get the other adults to crack pecans (also for pies) while they were in there. That way, they'd all be together.

Sunny said her mother couldn't believe it. Both the fact that it really wasn't suited for holiday times and that it was so awful. Sunday, she printed up the review and took it over to her mother who read it and couldn't stop laughing.

This was much longer (and my apologies to Sunny and her mother for not trying again to type up the whole thing) but I'm moving fast to be done and posted.

In fact, I'm only going to discuss one other thing, WBAI's CAT RADIO CAFE. I was only able to grab a bit of it today but I did hear the interview with Gore Vidal. He did a convincing imitation of the Bully Boy ("I'm a war time president! I'm a war time president!") and he and Janet Coleman had a wonderful discussion about the early days of The New York Review of Books.
About the fact that they could stand up against the war in Vietnam (Vidal noted that they were all middled-aged at the time) and about the other things leading up to it. Such as the academics in charge of Partisan Review. My original plan was to go to the archives and listen after I posted. That won't be happening tonight due to all the failed attempts to post and then having to rewrite. Sunny did hear all of it and says there's a funny story Coleman tells about first meeting Vidal at an Esquire roundup of some kind. I want to hear that but tonight I just want to get away from the computer. I'm sorry this all you're getting tonight.

I wrote two full posts already that were lost and have had to start over each time. Hopefully, this posts, if not, I'm not posting tonight.

Gore Vidal talks about his new memoir, "Point-to-Point Navigation" in an interview in early November at WBAI; Sue Mingus previews an upcoming concert of the Mingus Orchestra performing Gunther Schuller's arrangements of Mingus's "Noon Night," "Half Mast Inhibition," and "Taurus in the Arena of Life." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, November 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Nouri al-Maliki feels the "love" in Baghdad, outside of the Green Zone; a US military crashes in Falluja, the press dickers over the term "civil war" and US war resister Kyle Snyder remains underground and what's really going on between the US and Iraqi resistance?

Attending funerals of some of those killed in
the Thursday slaughter (which claimed over 200 lives) in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, the puppet of the occupation was feeling the "love" or something. Mussab Al-Khairalla and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) report that Nouri al-Maliki was "pelted with stones," jeered and greeted with shouts including: "It's all your fault!" Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that he was also greeted with "Coward!" and "Collaborator!"

The puppet has no clothes on. Which is why he's gearing up for this week's meet up with Bully Boy in Jordan (Wednesday and Thursday) despite, as
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported, the Sadr bloc will pull their backing: "'If the prime minister does not give up his intention to meet Bush the criminal in Amman, we will suspend our membership at the council of representatives and government,' Salih al-Ighaeli, head of Sadr's bloc in parliament, told a solemn crowd gathered on the street in front of Sadr's headquarters". As noted Friday, should the Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance (the coalition backing al-Maliki) would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member. If others within the bloc followed the Sadr's bloc lead, the bloc could completely disintegrate (the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan currently has the second largest blog with 53 members).

Covering issues that could lead to the puppet of the occupation having his strings cut, is Tom Hayden. On Wednesday of last week, Hayden offered "
U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance" tracing efforts of the US administration to test the waters with feelers regarding other 'solutions' but "[i]t must be emphasized that there is no reason to believe that these US gestures are anything more than probes, in the historic spirit of divide-and conquer, before escalating the Iraq war in a Baghdad offensive."

Appearing on Democracy Now! today, Tom Hayden addressed the meetings, noting, "Well it's very murky and we'll know enough in a few days, I suppose. Over the past several years but especially in the past month since the election there have been contacts at a deniable level, but definate contacts, between representatives of the armed Iraqi national resistance and the US over the possible conditions of a cease fire and a change of regime in Baghdad."
Hayden mentioned the "possibility" of the US ditching the puppet with a "strongman" and also stressed the importance of the peace movement in continuing to press the issue. The most recent meetings, the post-US elections ones, are seen by Hayden as being influenced by the election results and elected officials want to move the issue off the table, out of the public eye, before the 2008 elections. On the feelers impact on the illegal war, Hayden also stated, "I don't think this is a plan to get out, I think this is a plan to reduce American casualties dramatically in order to stay in."

Amy Gooodman also interviewed Nir Rosen who discussed the prospect (raised by King Abdullah II of Jordan on ABC's This Week Sunday) of civil wars in the Middle East and saw it unlikely that Lebanaon's on the verge of a civil war, the effects Syria and Iran could have on Iraq -- "naive" because Iraq has it's own civil war right now. Rosen: "There's no solution. We've destroyed Iraq and we've destroyed the region. The Americans need to know this. . . . We destroyed Iraq and there was no civil war in Iraq until we got there. And there was no civil war in Iraq until we took certain steps to pit Shia and Sunnis against each other."

And in Iraq . . .


CNN reports that mortar rounds claimed three lives in Iraq and left 15 wounded in Baghdad. Reuters reports: "A police major was killed while trying to dismantle a roadside bomb in the oil refinery city of Baiji" and that "Mortar bombs fired by U.S. forces at insurgents wounded four Iraqi civilians, three of them boys aged six, 13 and 16".


In Dora,
CBS and AP report that six police officers were wounded in an attack and, shortly after, "gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint, wounding four soldiers." CNN reports that, in Muqdadiya, the owner of a mobile phone store was shot dead and that, in two different areas, three police officers were shot dead in Baghdad with eleven more wounded..


Reuters reports that 39 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and five more "near Baghdad." AFP notes four corpses discovered in Haswa and four in Iskandiriyah.

CNN reports that three guards were kidnapped "outside a Baghdad municipal building" and four brothers were kidnapped (the fifth killed) in the eastern part of the capital. Reuters notes the kidnapping of Abdul-Qadir Abbas in Baghdad and, in Dujail, eight police officers have been kidnapped (originally nine, one escaped) and that another was shot dead.

In Falluja, a US fighter jet has crashed.
Reuters has the most information and that includes eye witnesses asserting that "they saw the pilot eject but that he was killed, and television footage filmed by a local journalist appeared to show the pilot dead near the crash." Earlier today the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division- Baghdad Soldiers were killed during combat operations in the Iraqi capital at approximately 9 a.m. Nov. 26.Two other Soldiers were injured in the incident." The count at Iraq Coalition Casualty Count for US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 2880.

Today in England, Des Browne, the Defence Secretary delivered his promised speech.
Devika Bhat (Times of London) reports he announced that a reduction of British troops serving in Iraq would take place by year's end. No hard numbers were given and it apparently doesn't mean all troops. This as CBS and AP report that the president of Poland has announced they will put their 900 troops from Iraq "by the end of 2007".

Civil war. Iraq's been in the midst of a civil war for some time now. The mass killings on Thursday appear to be forcing the reality. Edward Wong (New York Times) posed the issue Sunday of what to do when the US administration asserts it's not a civil war but experts in the field of civil war say that it is? The piece (billed as a "new analysis") ended with no resolution. Solomon Moore (Los Angelse Times) made it clear what reporters could do -- report what they witness: "Iraq's civil war worsended Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks after coordinated car bombings that killed 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood the day before." Also calling what his own eyes saw was CNN's Michael Ware who declared Friday: ". . . for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like. . . . I don't want to see what a civil war looks like either if this isn't one." This morning on NBC's Today show, their news analyst (and retired general) made the call "civil war."

Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, the US administration is now refusing to use the terms "hunger" and "hungry" and instead, the US Agriculture Dept. is promoting the term "very low food security." If the use of "civil war" is any indication, don't be surprised to learn of "World Very Low Food Security" from the news outlets that can't figure out what's happening right in front of them.

This morning,
WBAI's Law and Disorder wrapped up their four-part series on the police state by exploring how a democracy could exist at home and an empire abroad. Hosts Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith spoke with Anthony Arnove on the topic of Iraq. (Arnove's Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal is now available in softcover.

Arnove offered strong critiques of the Democratic party and noted that US Senator Harry Reid is pushing for an additional 75 billion dollars going to the military bill and that the Democratic majority in the US Congress has little interest in using their power of the purse
to stop funding the illegal war. Arnove's opinion is that the peace movement is in a stronger position due to the fact that so many Americans are against the war and want the troops home. If you missed the broadcast you can visit the
Law and Disorder website or at the WBAI archives. Mike will be discussing the broadcast at Mikey Like It! tonight. Ruth will probably highlight in a report this week as well. (And thanks to Ruth for providing the 'streaming audio' via telephone line.) (Ruth called and put her phone up to the radio speaker if anyone's confused.)

Arnove also spoke of the importance of keeping the pressure on the government to end the war and of the importance of resisters within the military.

Turning to news of US war resisters.
Janet McConnaughey (AP) reports that Kyle Snyder "spent Thanksgiving week gutting houses flooded more than a year ago by Hurricane Katrina" and that he was part of "two dozen volunteers from Iraq Veterans Against the War".
on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war. He is now underground and tells McConnaughey that, these days, "I just travel" while his "lawyer has tried to contact Fort Leonard Wood like 75 times -- it's documented, 75 times -- and tried to get in touch with the military. They've avoided this entire subject."

Carolyn Thompson (AP) reports that US war resister Patrick Hart has stated he has "no desire to go back." Back being the United States. Hart is among the thirty plus war resisters who are attempting to seek refugee status in Iraq. Hart tells Thompson, "Every day I wake up with my son [Rian], it just assures me I did the right thing."

Hart and Snyder are a part of war resistance within the military that also includes, among others,
Ehren Watada , Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Joshua Casteel, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. And those are only some of the names of those resisting who have gone public.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Soldier Say No!, the War Resisters Support Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January (on MLK day). (Jonathan Hutto was also interviewed on Law and Disorder today. Hutto is one of the organizers of Appel for Redress.)

Al Jazeera reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is now in Tehran where he was supposed to be this weekend to meet with the presidents of Syria and Iran. Thursday's events led to the closing of Baghdad International and the airport in Basra. Basra's airport reopened Sunday, Baghdad's today.

Turning to Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco is back in the news. The inquriy lasted much of the summer, as
Conor Duffy reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today, Australia's ABC), by September 18th, it had "been sitting for three months". On September 19th, the inquiry began wrapping up and issued a statement Eleanor Hall (ABC's The World Today) summarized as: "It wasn't suicide. In a surprise announcement this morning, the President of the Board inquiring into the death of Private Jake Kovco in Iraq interrupted an address from one of the Kovco lawyers to say that he had already ruled out that the young soldier deliberately took his own life."
Dan Box (The Australian) reported then that the results would be known within six weeks. He was off by about two weeks.

First up was a bit of news of the report.
As October drew to a close, it was reported the inquiry board had turned their report to Angus Houston (Air Chief Marshal of Australia's military). On November 1st, while refusing to discuss other aspects of the report, Houston stated that the board had included Jake Kovco wasn't rushed home (that would actually be Juso Sinaovic, the Bosnian carpenter whose body was mixed up with Kovco's, that got rushed to Australia). Today, as Peter Cave noted on AM (Australia's ABC), The Australian was reporting on a leaked copy of the report.

If that seems strangely familiar, you may be remembering the report by Australia's Defence Department into the mix up of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinavoic's bodies. That report showed up in the press in May when somene left a confidiential copy on a CD-ROM in a public computer at a public airport. If you remember that, you probably remember that no one was at fault. No one was at fault for the mix up in that text equivalent of a shrug.

No one is at fault again. That's what the report from the military board of inquiry appears to 'find.' And once again, Jake Kovco's survivors learn of the findings (in this case Angus Houston has had the report for some time, Brendan Nelso got his copy last week), not from the government, but from the press. The government appears to have made a habit of avoiding the family.

The report finds that Jake Kovco shot himself and that the shooting was accidental. No one is at fault. And if you think closely about
the statements made on September 19th, the board apparently knew that was their finding months ago. Conor Duffy (for AM) spoke with Judy Kovco, mother of Jake, and she responded, "Nothing surprises me with them, absolutely nothing. This was the army investigating the army. I would like to know how they came to that finding. There is no evidence that my son shot himself. There is a lot of evidence the other way but, you know, I would like to know how they came to that finding."

Interviewed by Kerry O'Brien for the 7:30 Report (ABC) in September, Judy Kovco shared her beliefs that her son did not kill himself and that she would not be surprised to find the military covering up "an accidental shooting by somebody else or a murder." Today, she told Conor Duffy that she had "applied for the Coroner's Court" and she intends to keep fighting for the truth. The Coroner's Court?

Dan Box (The Australian) reports that: "Earlier this month, staff from the military board of inquiry into Kovco's death told the NSW Coroner's Court that its policy was to dispose of evidence" but police are now requesting that this not occur. Box quotes Judy Kovco, "They (the army) want this to go away and I am not going to go away."

Box also notes that the roommates of Jake Kovco "suggested he may have placed the gun to his head as a joke, but said they did not see the fatal shot." They didn't see too damn much, did they? They offered speculation of what might have happened or what someone said probably happened or this or that but they really think the world believes that if you're in a small room with someone who is shot, you don't notice. You don't notice when the gun goes off, you don't turn around and think, "Where did that come from?"

Was the gun on the bed, on the computer, where? No one knows because apparently a gun goes off and you ignore it as you dig through the fridge thinking, "Hmm. Pepsi or Coke?" You do, however, meet up with the person whose DNA later turns up on Jake Kovco's gun (the gun that killed him) and discuss things, and when Steven Carr tells you Jake Kovco was a 'cowboy' with his gun, always playing with it, you testify to that as fact -- not that Carr told you. No, you refuse to tell where you heard it. But you slip that into your testimony.

Steven Carr is not just the one whose DNA was found on Kovco's gun, he's also a scientific genius. Or was for many days as he 'theorized' about how his DNA transferred to Jake Kovco's gun even though Carr maintains he never touched Kovco's gun. There was something really sad as that made it into print repeatedly when it was laughable on its very face. It would take expert testimony before the
DNA transfer was refuted by expert witness (Michelle Franco of the NSW Department of Health's Analytical Laboratories).

No questions were answered in the laughable inquiry ("Keystone Cops," Judy Kovco's term for one witness, applies to the entire proceedings).

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