Friday, June 23, 2006

Hillary, Bully Boy, LGBT Pride Day

Mike and I are trying to blog quickly tonight. I'm over at his house (with my boyfriend "of the moment," as Rebecca calls him) because Trina (Mike's mother) wanted to try out a recipe and he's got a wonderful family (and a wonderful girlfriend, Nina is here before any rumors get started). Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. Also, please note there is a joint collaboration between "BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX" today so please read Cedric's "White House thumbs its nose at the Supreme Court (Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix)" or Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE WHITE HOUSE THUMBS ITS NOSE AT THE SUPREME COURT!" (it's a joint entry, they're the same). We all enjoy doing joint entries -- it's more fun to work with someone else and it also makes the time go by faster.

"Senate Rejects Iraq Withdrawal" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate rejected two separate measures calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: "None of us know for sure exactly how the democratic reform in Iraq will turn out as we stay committed. But, we do know it will fail if it is abandoned prematurely by the United States. Withdrawal is not an option. Surrender is not a solution."Both measures were proposed by Democrats. A proposal calling for a withdrawal without a firm deadline was defeated 60 to 39. Another measure calling for a troop withdrawal by July of next year was defeated by an even wider margin -- 89 to 13. The measure was introduced by Massachusets Senator John Kerry. Speaking on the Senate floor, Kerry argued that a firm timetable is necessary.
Senator John Kerry: "Why on earth would senators come to the floor and argue 'Let's just stay the course and do the same old thing' when our own generals have told us the same old thing is part of the part of the problem? The same old thing is attracting terrorists. The same old thing is losing us allies. The same old thing is costing us unbelievable sums of money and lives unnecessarily."

I feel like C.I. here, noting this, but, as Donovan sang, "And the war drags on . . ." The War Hawks, of both parties, should be ashamed of themselves. Sunny showed me a photo online this afternoon of Hillary Clinton speaking to the DLC front group New Democrats or whatever they go by. The photo, Sunny hissed, "Look at her face!" It was as though she had wallnuts in her mouth, on the side, down low. Maybe we all do get the face we deserve after a certain age?

Her face looked like someone determined to hoard everything, in secret. Sadly, that reflects Hillary Clinton today more than anything else. It was as though a blonde wig had been plopped onto Madeline Albright's head. There was a time when I found Hillary Clinton inspiring but that time was long ago. Really it was the 1992 campaign. I thought she was someone who spoke her mind and stuck by her beliefs. ("What was I supposed to do? Stay home and bake cookies?" didn't enrage me. I thought it was an honest moment and respected her for it.) There's something really sad about seeing her today because this is an educated woman who has had breaks from society and made the most of them. Today, she could be as inspiring as Barbara Boxer if she wanted to be. Instead, she can't speak out against the war, she can't speak of abortion without treating it as something shameful.

That bothers me because abortion is the first thing the fundamental right has their eyes on. They hope to trash it and then move on to birth control. At which point, Hillary will probably give speeches saying, with a note of concern, how troubled she is by the use of birth control and what we need to do is move beyond support for birth control and work to make sure it's not needed.

She knows better and that's why she's so disappointing today.

"Secret Bush Admin Program Monitors International Bank Records" (Democracy Now!):
The Bush administration has been secretly monitoring thousands of international bank transactions without court-approval. The secret program was enacted shortly after the 9/11 attacks in what government officials say is a crucial weapon in tracking the financing of terrorist activity. The information has been obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. The organization helps direct trillions of dollars in daily international bank transfers. Officials told the Los Angeles Times the program has been "marginally successful" in tracking the financial activity of al Qaeda. SWIFT executives apparently tried to withdraw from the program after becoming concerned over its legality. The executives were persuaded to continue their cooperation only after the intervention of top government officials, including former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan.

It was just last weekend that I made C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy" a link on my blogroll and was writing of how important it is to read that. I expected to go a month or two without having to note it again because I honestly thought nothing could disgust me again. I was wrong. Bully Boy's spying is bigger than we know and even with the disgusting revelation today, there's still more we don't know. Maybe we'll never know -- future generations will read of it and wonder, "How could they have not known?" Forgive me if I'm doubtful of their explanation. Sunny had KPFA on at work this morning (she usually has it or WBAI on at her computer) and I was between sessions (someone was running late) so I listened to The Morning Show. I don't know who the guests were. I know Andrea Lewis was doing the interview but I came in late on the segment and was gone before it was over (when my patient showed up, we went into my office). But one of the points being made was about Mexico's economy. What is the biggest income after oil? Apparently money that people in this country send back to their families to help them out. You want to tell me that's not being watched in this program?

You can't tell me that. Why? Because you can't prove it's not being watched. The program's "secret" so we, the citizens of the United States that our government is supposed to work for, can't be told what is going on -- or that's the Bully Boy's argument.

Amy Goodman noted in another headline that the White House tried to talk the press from covering the story. Since they knew it was breaking, I have to wonder about Alberto Gonzales' dog & pony show today. From all I've been able to read and hear, a terrorist cell that was a threat to America didn't get busted up, they just nabbed The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.
The Feminist Daily News Wire has a story that I wanted to note, "Pentagon Document Classifies Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder." It's obviously not a mental disorder and the mental health care profession changed the classification on it decades ago. (After strong efforts by GLBT activists to raise awareness and confront bias -- I don't want it to appear that "it just happened" and strip people of the credit their hard worked earned them.) When I read the item, it didn't surprise me. The reason for that is while so many have buffed and shined Colin Powell's image, the truth is he was the holdover from Poppy Bush's administration fighting Bill Clinton's effort to open the military to all. Gays and lesbians (and transgendered people and bi-sexuals) serve in the military. They always have. They always will. Whether you think so or not, they are a part of every job, every profession. But the overly praised Powell had a hissy fit (He doesn't think he's attractive enough that he'd have to fend off all the fellows? If so does he fear that he might not be able to fend all off due to some unnamed temptation?)

The compromise that was worked out was "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." To his credit, Bill Clinton, in a farewell interview with Rolling Stone shortly before he left the White House (I believe the interview was done before the 2000 election and ran right after) admitted how offensive this 'workable' option was. You're asking someone to deny who they are and you're not asking that of everyone. Straights can parade around talking about their signifcant others, swapping stories, but for GLBT members of the military is either pretend to be straight or stay silent. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" only applies to those who have same-sex relations. But there's still no protection even if you live a lie or cut off a portion of your life because all it takes is someone finding out and you can, and many have been since Sept. 11th despite our supposed need for everyone the military can get to sign up, and you're out of the military.

Before, they had to live in the closet. The only thing the policy did was tell them to be silent and tell others not to ask directly. Our next president needs to address this issue immediately.

Sunday is LGBT Pride Day. (C.I. regularly scrambles the initals. I thought once that was just the dyslexia but C.I. corrected me recently and made the point that why should one always come first? Good point.) KPFA is doing some special programming on Sunday to mark the day (I heard Andrea Lewis, at another point today, the end of the show, making that point.)

One of the special programs will be:

Sunday Salon
Sunday, June 25th, 09:00a.m.
An LGBT Pride Day Special...
Hour 1: Elders in the Queer Community;
Hour 2: Coming out after 30

Sandra Lupien will be filling in on host duties for Larry Bensky. In the 90s, it seemed like everyone was making strides. Not economically. But, as a country, our awareness was being raised. Now I hear snickers and "punch lines" like, "That is so gay!" The tone is set at the top and Bully Boy's given the nation all the excuses they needed to release their inner Bully Boys.
If you're bothered by the attacks on women, the attacks upon TLGB people, the attacks upon immigrants, upon African-Americans (in this week where our Congress decided to shelve discussing the Voting Rights Act), please make a point to tune if you're able to. That's 9:00 am Pacific Time. It will be noon for me (I'm in the EST zone). If you're not able to listen, maybe there's an event going on in your area (or maybe you can do both). But, whether you're a Clintonista or not (I'm not), there's no denying that the nation seemed to be a lot more caring under Clinton. (It could have been and should have been even more caring. But I'm speaking of the huge reactionary mood the Bully Boy's inspired.) Whether you're LBGT, a person of color, a woman (or all three), take a moment in some way to realize that the attacks are on all of us. (If that's not clear, remember Pat Robertson's hate list he read from as the Twin Towers still burned.)

Please read Kat's "Bonnie interviewed Sanders Hicks Wednesday."

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Nadia McCaffrey, Julia Wright," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.The ten day old "crackdown" in Baghdad, which has had little measurable impact on stopping violence, sprouted a new development today: "State of emergency." As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted this morning, "Earlier today, insurgents set up roadblocks and opened fire on U.S. and Iraqi troops close to the US-run Green Zone." The Associated Press reports this was done as fighting forces seemed intent on breaching "the heavily fortified Green Zone." As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, amidst the violence, US troops "rushed to the area." Current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has "ordered everyone off the streets" of Baghdad, provided "broader arrest powers" and placed "a ban on carrying weapons."
last declared a state of emergency (or martial law) in November of 2004 for the entire country (exempting only Kurdish areas in the north).Then prime minister Iyad Allawi declared it when violence broke out through much of the country as US forces geared up for their attack on/slaughter of Falluja. Current prime minister al-Maliki has declared a state of emergency for Baghdad only. A state of emergency was declared for the city of Basra in May of this year. Euronews notes that the Basra state of emergency "has not deterred militants." Omar al-Ibadi and Haider Salahaddin (Reuters) report that today in Basra a car bomb went off (police say ten killed, hospital says five).
Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that "the 5 million inhabitants of the Iraqi capital [were] given just two hours notice of a curfew" (started at 2:00 pm in Baghdad, as Knight notes, but it was set to end at 5:00 pm and not, as Knight reports, on Saturday -- since Knight filed, al-Maliki shortened the curfew). Knight notes the paper's Baghdad correspondent Ned Parker terming the "extended gun battle . . . just north of the fortified Green Zone" a "free-for-all." Along with gunfire and mortars, Reuters reports that two US troops died today "when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad."
In Hibhib, the
Associated Press notes the bombing of a Sunni mosque resulted in at least ten dead and fifteen wounded. Reuters notes two police officers shot to death in Hilla. The AFP reports that five corpses were found in Mishada.
In peace news,
Will Hoover (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports on Ehren Watada's refusal to ship to Iraq when his unit left Fort Lewis, Washington yesterday (6:45 am), he refused to board. Ehren's father Bob Watada tells Hoover of the three officers that spent hours on Wednesday trying to convince Ehren to change his mind: "They put the full-court press on him. They were telling him, 'You know, you're facing 10 to 15 years in jail, and do you want to do all of that?'" The Army issued a statement saying that charges wouldn't be filed "until the commander has had a chance to review all of the facts of the case and consult with the Staff Judge Advocate." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the gag order placed on Watada has been "rescinded . . . allowing Watada to talk to anyone." As Alex Fryer (Seattle Times) notes, "Peace groups around the nation plan a day of protests and vigils in support of Watada on Tuesday." For more information, click here.
Australia's ABC reports that the Australian government "is playing down reports" of a threat to future trade arrangments with Iraq as a result of Australian troops shooting bodyguards of Abdel Falah al-Sudany (Iraqi Trade Minister) -- one died "at least three others [were] injured." Despite John Howard (prime minister of Australia) continuing to downplay the issue (he won't apologize at present), ABC notes "reports [that] the Iraqi Trade Minister is threatening to ditch all trade deals".
AFP reports that the United States Senate "unanimously approved a $707 billion defence bill for the next financial year that includes almost $70 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
In news of future wars,
Col. Dan Smith reports, for CounterPunch, on a little known development from June 20, 2006. As the 2007 Defense Department Appropriations bill was being addressed, Representative Maurice Hinchey attempted to attach the following amendment: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to initiate military operations against Iran except in accordance with Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States." Though the amendment was only underscoring the true powers of the U.S. Congress, it failed on a 215/47 vote. Unlike Michael R. Gordon, war pornographer and his "Iran Aiding Shiite Attacks Inside Iraq, General Says" (New York Times), the AFP notes of George W. Casey's allegations against Iran: "The White House and Pentagon have repeatedly accused elements in Tehran of arming Iraqi insurgent groups. But they concede they have no clear proof that the Iranian government is sponsoring the activities."

Did you make it this far? You are a dedicated reader or someone who practices self-harm. I was just about to post and I remembered two e-mails asking why I regretted linking to Ruth Conniff last week. It's been a long week, if I've forgotten anything else, please let me know. Progressive Radio, which I'm sure is a wonderful program, elected to interview professional woman hater Camile Paglia. That was on their main page all last week and why C.I. gave no links to The Progressive. If I'd known about it, I wouldn't have either. Matthew Rothschild can interview anyone he wants but I'm not doing anything to promote her. She's a non-academic academic who's launched one attack on feminism after another.

I didn't even read Ruth Conniff this week because I was still kicking myself over the link last week. He can interview whomever he wants. But I don't link to something that's promoting that interview. That's my right.

(Julie wondered if I hated Ruth Conniff? No. If I hated her, she wouldn't be on my blogroll. At another time, I'd read her and, if I disagreed, shrug my shoulders and forget about it. But there's too much playing, pretending and clowning from too many for me to stay silent.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A number of topics

Click here to find out more about Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to serve in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice.

Mike and I are both posting the photo above. Make sure the people in your life know the stand he's taking and what he's up against. Also please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts, especially tonight. I'm exhausted. As soon as I got home this afternoon, I immediately hopped into the bath.

"US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians in Baquba" (Democracy Now!):
The US military is being accused of committing a new massacre of Iraqi civilians. On Tuesday, witnesses, family members and a Sunni parliamentarian said US troops killed a group of civilians near the town of Baquba. An Iraqi human rights worker said two of the dead were young boys aged ten and twelve. In a statement, the US military claimed it killed 15 "terrorists" and had captured their weapons. But an Iraqi police officer told the Washington Post no weapons were found at the scene of the attack.

Another alleges massacre. Get ready to hear about more. Not just because Ramadi's been circled and the military has set up check points, cut the power, cut the water, etc. But also because these events will happen. More and more as the war drags on. They've happened before and we haven't heard of them. But when one story breaks, it makes it that much easier for a reporter to cover the next one. (They should follow up on all of them.) In fact, today is a day with news on these sort of events (you'll see that when I end with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot").

"Disarmament Protesters Arrested After Infiltrating Silo Site" (Democracy Now!):
In North Dakota, a Catholic priest and two military veterans were arrested Tuesday for infiltrating a missile silo site. The men were able to break the locks on the site using sledgehammers and hammers. They painted the word "disarm" on a silo lid and poured some of their own blood. The men call themselves "Weapon of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares." In a statement posted on their website, the men said: "We have chosen to start the process of transformation and disarmament by hammering on and pouring our blood on components of the Minuteman Three nuclear missile system. We believe that the concrete that goes into making missile silos would be better used for building homes."

I wish I knew the names of the nun who were sentenced at the start of the illegal war for doing the same thing. I believe there were three of them. This is civil disobedience. The priest and the vets should not be sentenced for anything. Under the Bully Boy's notions of so-called justice, they probably will be. You're going to see more of these sort of actions as well. While the Senate wanted to play for the second day in a row, the country's sick of this war. C.I. and Kat have both pointed out that the resolution the Dems are fighting so hard for is "nonbinding" and it does nothing as well. They should be ashamed of themselves. I hope you also read C.I.'s "NYT: Zernike's drive-by taxi ride to nowhere" this morning. We were in the waiting room, actually, we were going back to the waiting room at the hospital when C.I. got a call yesterday from a friend. So we were in the hall. Except for the "WHAT!" -- which was rather loud -- I couldn't hear the conversation (and wasn't trying to). Afterwards, Flyboy and I got to hear how the New York Times intended to get in the Senate's business while by passing the editorial route. Kate Zernike should be ashamed of herself.

Please read Rebecca's "the point is ..." and C.I.'s post was "About that online, latter day Dylan."
We were all blogging and doing a "quick entry" at Rebecca's request. (She wanted to be sure the community understood that "life goes on.") Rebecca had hollered "done" and Flyboy and I were bringing in the popcorn, pretzels and other junk food. C.I. said, "I'm posting!" I was surprised when I saw how long it was. I thought we were doing brief entries! But C.I. said, "I didn't tag and I didn't even try to fix any typos or other spelling/grammer errors." I knew it was going to be something when C.I. grabbed the cell and started making calls. It is something you should read.

So just a few questions in the e-mails that I'll answer.

Rebecca's dealing with it. A person wrote in to offer that she might be in denial. She might be. She might not be. She wanted to get out of the house (which I didn't know until this morning when C.I. told me about Rebecca's entry from last night and asked if I was aware of it -- I wasn't). There was a vacation scheduled already (starts next month) and to get out of the house (where she miscarried, if you're coming in late), she wanted to start the vacation early. So that's what she's doing.

I don't think she's in denial but I try to treat friends as friends and not as though they're patients. But she went through a very difficult time with her last pregnancy and she hasn't forgotten that. If she's doing anything, my guess would be she's trying to balance her grief with other elements in her life. (I'm not recommending that, I'm not slamming it. She's my friend, not my patient.) I think what happened last time, and her willingness to explore it, made her stronger. There may be some efforts at putting on a brave face, but I also think some of it is coming from the strength she's acquired.

Another person wrote in about the test results. She can get those over the phone. There's nothing in there that's going to be new or surprising. She knew that, the doctor knew it. That's one of the many reasons why she didn't want to go to a doctor.

Why, wondered another, didn't I press my friend (the doctor she saw) to get her in sooner than Tuesday? She had already planned to discuss what happened with her grandmother on Monday. That was firm and when she's firm on something, there's no talking her out of it. (She also wouldn't go to an emergency room unless she had no choice so I knew that was out.) (She really does not like doctors if she's the patient.) Tuesday gave her time to prepare for the visit emotionally. The fact that she got through it probably helped her process.

Another e-mail wondered why I wasn't the one acting as the buffer zone since I'm a woman? That was in reference to the fact that if she has anything to say on this topic, she'll pass it on to Mike and he'll post it at his site. Rebecca and Mike are very close. Mike posts five times a week. Rebecca told me to write about it in any manner I wanted. But in terms of passing on a message, she's more comfortable with Mike. There are a number of reasons for that and all of them are valid.

The e-mailer felt I should take a personal offense to Rebecca's choice. I don't. The same e-mailer wondered if I wanted to "strangle C.I." when I arrived Tuesday morning and saw C.I. was there and had stayed over?

No. Why would I be upset about that?

People are different. C.I. is always very good at knowing what's needed in a situation. I believe that it was a last minute decision to grab the tabloids and ice cream but it's that sort of thing that C.I.'s always good at doing: sensing the mood and knowing what's needed.

By being the one who set up the appointment, an appointment Rebecca didn't want, she didn't need me around when she was already nervous about the appointment. If I'd known about C.I. planning to stay over, if I'd known ahead of time, I wouldn't have said, "Oh, I'll go too."

She needed her mind off the appointment (or at least not staring in her face every minute of the evening before) and I would have been a reminder, no matter how light things got, that the appointment was the next day.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Eve Ensler and Kimberle Crenshaw," The Common Ills):
As chaos and violence continues on the ground in Iraq, we get posturing by those far from the daily violence.
Following yesterday's official statement that Japan would withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of this year, Australia's ABC reports that Brendan Nelson, Defense Minister in Australia, states that "he expects the Government will rethink Australia's troop commitment to Iraq at the end of the year." Australi currently has 460 troops in Iraq. As Amy Goodman noted yesterday on Democracy Now!, if announced departures take place, only England, South Korea and the United States will "have more than one thousand troops in Iraq." The AFP reports: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair has again insisted that his country's [7,200] troops will remain in Iraq depite widespread daily sectarian violence there."
Meanwhile Demetri Sevastopulo and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) report that the US administration is attempting "to distance itself from remarks by the Iraqi national security adviser that he envisaged a significant reduction in US troops in the country this year with most leaving next year." Mowaffak al-Rubbaie's, Iraq's national security adviser, remarks were that American troops stationed in Iraq would number less than 100,000 the end of the year and that "most of the remaining troops" would "return home by the end of the year". al-Rubbaie's remarks are in keeping with those of Iraq's president and vice-present. As Democracy Now! noted last week, while the Bully Boy was staging his photo-op in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Tariq al-Hashia "asked the US for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops." The AFP reports that Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has stated other foreign countries should echo Japan's decision and leave Iraq: "The withdrawal of Japanese troops is a good step and I hope that all countries with occupation forces in Iraq would follow suit in a quick and organised way that would not hurt the Iraqi people."
Meanwhile in the United States, the Senate continues to play with debating Iraq. The Associated Press notes Carl Levin saying of the plan (that he co-sponsored with Jack Reed), "It does not set a fixed timetable or an arbitrary deadline for the redeployment of our troops." No it doesn't. Nor is it in any way binding. It is posturing.
In the real world, Thom Shanker (New York Times) reports that the Pentagon will be shipping 21,000 American troops over to Iraq and that this will "keep the American presence at current levels into next year" with what's being seen as: "American troops in Iraq would be replaced on a one-for-one basis for now."
Meanwhile Julian E. Barnes and Tony Perry (Los Angelse Times) report that the investigation into the Haditha incident (where 24 Iraqis were slaughtered) argues that the various self-reports should have raised "red flags" beginning with "senior military officers in western Iraq". The reporters quote from the (unreleased) Bargewell report: "No follow-up actions regarding the civilian casualties were deemed necessary by the senior leadership of MNF-West. Initial reports of K Company and its subordinate units were untimely, inaccurate and incomplete. They were conflicted, poorly vetted and forgotten once transmitted." Noting this reporting on KPFA's The Morning Show, Brian Edwards-Tiekert summarized that there was no follow up by senior military personell.*
This as Hector Becerra and Scott Gold (Los Angeles Times) report on another investigation. In June 2004, US troops Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and Lt. Andre D. Tyson were killed near Balad. Becerra and Gold report that military spokesperson Paul Boyce "confirmed late Tuesday that a military investigation had found that the two California soldiers were killed by Iraqi security forces." The reporters quote Patrick's mother Nadia McCaffrey: "He was killed by the Iraqis that he was training. People in this country need to know that."A follow up on another incident is expected to lead to charges being announced shortly. This is the investigation into the April 26th death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad (as identified by Nancy A Youssef, writing for Knight Ridder, in the first week of June). CBS and the AP are reporting that "seven Marines and one sailor" are expected to be charged "with murder in connection" with the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad. Youssef reported the family's version: "U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist."
Along with those investigations, Italian prosecutors in Rome are attempting to try US national guard Mario Lozana in the death of Nicola Calipari. As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!: "Calipari was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena after she had been released by kidnappers. U.S. troops opened fire on their car killing Calipari and injuring Sgrena. . . . Tune in to Democracy Now on Thursday when Giuliana Sgrena joins us in the Firehouse studio." Also remember that: Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reported on another incident in which three American troops had been charged with premeditated murder as will threatening another American soldier. The BBC identifies the soldier threatened: "Army Pfc Bradley Mason [who was told] that they would kill him if he testified against them."North of Baghdad, the BBC reports a that "at least 80 factory workers from a fleet of buses" have been kidnapped. AP goes with "about 85 workers."
In Baghdad, three "bodyguards of the Iraqi Trade Minister" were shot by "Australian security guards . . . mistakenly," Australia's ABC reports -- adding that: "The incident could potentially embarrass the Australian Government, which has been trying to improve trade ties with Iraq".
Kidnappings? Police tell Reuters that "three relatives of the deputy governor of Salaheddin province" were kidnapped Tuesday. CBS and the AP note that the Mujahedeen Shura Council, which has claimed to have four Russian diplomats who were kidnapped at the start of this month, has announced that they will kill the four.
CBS and the AP note a car bomb, in Baghdad, killed "at least three people" with eight wounded. Reuters notes another car bomb that killed two and wounded six.
*Thanks to Kat for passing on the Brian Edwards-Tiekert item.

To the above, I will add that I knew it was work pulling the snapshot together but seeing it pulled together, two days in a row, it's more work than I thought. My vote was that the snapshot was too important to lose. If I'd grasped how much work it was, I might have voted for highlights by members instead. Everything included has to be read. As well as things not included. That includes checking to see if another bombing or detail is carried by someone else or more information and it also includes reading things that don't make the snapshot. It's a ton of work. I'm amazed that C.I. posted it the last few days (or the other entries). I didn't feel like blogging (and I'm sure it shows). C.I. wasn't in the mood but grabbed time when it was there and just did it.

I can share something about an entry. C.I. was on the cellphone with a friend from the paper of no record about the first entry and still on during the second entry. No one could remember the six plus Shoshanna Johnson that were rescued. (This entry "NYT: What to do when your p.r. is in conflict with facts? Dump the facts! Dexy's back" is what I'm writing about.) C.I. was asking me and I just knew Shoshanna's name. A Larry King Live transcript, where he talked to some of the parents after their capture was noted, was no help and it was that way over and over. There were seven captured and C.I. felt if Dexy was going to get it wrong, it mattered not only that Dexy was called out but that the names were also provided. C.I. got five and it was probably twenty more minutes before the sixth (plus Shoshana) was finally found. That's the sort of thing that matters at The Common Ills. C.I. could care less about a mispelled word but the names need to be noted.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's a post

This won't be much. Rebecca's doing a post and asked C.I. and to do one as well to send the message that the community doesn't need to worry about her. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts which will be more than I have to offer (I've read his post, you should as well).

"Lynne Stewarts Ask Court if Gov’t Illegally Spied On Her" (Democracy Now!):
There is an update in the case of Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart -- she is the New York attorney convicted of terror-related charges for her work representing her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Stewart filed court papers on Monday seeking to learn whether any warrantless or illegal electronic surveillance was conducted on her or anyone involved in her case. Stewart maintains that the government's case against her would be compromised if it engaged in illegal surveillance. The Bush administration has already admitted it monitored jailhouse conversations between Stewart and her client.

Stewart broke no law. She may have broken an agreement and for that she was sued (and convicted) in criminal court. Of course, Janet Reno had looked into the matter and didn't find anything worthy of prosecuting. That's right, her conviction under the Bully Boy's Justice Dept. is for an action that took place under the Clinton administration. She read a press release to a reporter. I think that's what they "got" her on. This wasn't about justice. What it looked like was attempting to silence dissent and make an example of what bullies they could be with a big name to do it in order to frighten attornies all over the country. I hope they did spy on her and that, in discovery, that and anything else her attornies learn lead to the conviction being tossed.

"U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murdering Iraqi Detainees" (Democracy Now!):
Three U.S. soldiers have been charged in connection with the killing of three Iraqi detainees last month in the town of Thar Thar Canal. The soldiers -- all members of the 101st Airborne Division -- reportedly detained the Iraqis during a raid on a former chemical factory. Then the soldiers allowed the Iraqis to flee the scene so they would have an excuse to shoot them. The men are also accused of threatening to kill another soldier if he assisted investigators.

Is there a reason that Congress isn't exploring this instead of posturing over who loves war more? Were they informed of the alleagations? (They do have oversight of the war itself though Bully Boy would prefer they not use it.)

Okay, I'm at Rebecca's. We went with her to the hospital today (Flyboy, C.I. and myself). I kept offering to come in early yesterday and stay the night and she kept saying "no." I'm not sure if I misread her or not. C.I. did come in last night (despite her saying not to, which C.I. and I both knew was her worrying about the long flight -- I'm close enough that I can drive here in about an hour). But C.I. brought ice cream and tabloids. That was something from college. There's a whole story behind that. Flyboy said Rebecca was on the phone with Kat when he and C.I. walked in and Rebecca started to gripe when C.I. waved the tabloids, then she burst out laughing.

I think it was actually Rebecca who started that. One of us was down about a break up (probably me -- I think C.I. always did the breaking up) and Rebecca knew "just the thing" that would make us all feel better. Laughing at the supposed miseries ("supposed" because it's tabloids) of others. I remember there was an alien story. (Back then, they all carried alien stories.) And we grabbed some ice cream and offered our own idea of what would happen if we met an alien. After that, it became a standard for whenever one of us was low -- go get ice cream and tabloids.

We'd laugh at the advice columns (most of them were so mean spirited) and check the conflicts in each one's horiscopes (for our signs only). Flyboy said that they were up until two laughing. Rebecca is a grouch in the morning, always. But she was in a good mood (despite being on her first cup of coffee) when I walked in this morning. She gave me a quick "greatest hits" of the tabloids. Then we went to the hospital and spent hours there. I brought a book but ended up talking with C.I. and Flyboy the whole time. I wasn't into reading today. (I'm a huge reader but not today.) Mike's written what Rebecca wants noted in his "Iraq, Watada, Rebecca and Dave Zirin."

I just asked C.I., "Aren't these supposed to be 'easy' entries?" C.I.'s making phone calls for research. C.I.'s response, "I won't do links." I'd argue that point but that means I can pass that off as official policy for our three entries.

Tonight, after we post, we're going to watch one of Rebecca's favorite movies, eat popcorn and stay up late.

I cancelled appointments for today and tomorrow in case it was needed. We're going to spend some time together until they fly out (Rebecca and Fly Boy are going back with C.I.) to do a mini-vacation before a planned one. I'll be driving home and then disappearing into the tub.

I really don't know what to say here. I told Rebecca that but she wanted everyone to realize the community's fine and for everyone "to find a new topic" to talk about. I think I'm going to wrap this up. I'll take a shower and get the popcorn and other junk food ready. (Mike e-mailed me the headlines. I haven't read a paper or watched anything today. If Bully Boy invaded Iran, I missed it.)

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: New Orleans teachers fired, Bill Quigley; TARIQ ALI on KPFA's Against the Grain," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq. Outside of Iraq?
noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, "the so-called coalition of the willing continues to shrink:" Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister of Japan, declared that Japanese troops are leaving Iraq by "year's end.". Reuters notes that, although no Japanese troops were "killed or wounded in Iraq," "six Japanese citizens, including two diplomats, have been killed by insurgents in Iraq." China's Xinhau reports that the prime ministers discussed the intended withdrawal "with leaders of the ruling coalition and opposition parties" on Tuesday morning "shortly before the announcement." As Amy Goodman reported, Japan joins Italy with the announcement of pulling troops out by year's end and that "Spain, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Nicaragua, the Philipines and Honduras have already pulled out." Noting "Japan's Kyodo news agency," the Financial Times of London states the withdrawal "process could be completed by the end of July." Xinhua notes the same possibility and credits word on it to "Japanese government officials."
While Japan prepares to remove troops from the ground in Iraq, in the United States, a watered-down, weaker version of John Kerry's call for US troops out of Iraq is allowing
for posturing. Caterwauling on the Senate floor today, Bill Frist exclaimed, "We cannot surrender. We cannot go wobbly. The price is far too high." Possibly a mantra he once repeated to himself while dissecting felines? Meanwhile, always one to run from a fight, Harry Reid's less concerned with exit plans for the US, and knowing there's no democracy in Iraq, focuses instead on a possible amnesty plan Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki. Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi was fired/resigned following his comments to the press regarding the potential plan. But it's a nice, dead-hypothetical to rage and rattle about as opposed to dealing with reality. In other news on the spineless, John Walsh (CounterPunch) reports that what recent book sales didn't get across, phone calls might have -- Baby Cries a Lot took three calls complaining about his War Hawk position on the war. Walsh does not note if Baby Cries a Lot attempted to garner sympathy by sobbing, breaking into tears or using his own children to justify an ongoing war (children who do not and have not served in Iraq or, for that matter, the military). In non-spineless news, AP reports that Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold and John Kerry "intend to push for a vote on their own proposal."
In Seattle yesterday,
Sara Jean Green reports: "Ann Wright appeared with 1st Lt. Ehren Watada and his parents at a news conference at University Lutheran Church to announce a national day of action June 27, when anti-war demonstrations will be held in cities across the country in support of Watada." Green reports that Wright, "retired army colonel and former State Department official," will appear at a "news conference today at University Lutheran Church on behalf of another Fort Lewis soldier, Suzanne Swift". Watada, whose parents joined him for yesterday's news conference, is the first commission officer to refuse deployment in Iraq. Click here to sign an online petition supporting Watada. Suzanne Swift was arrested last week after deciding she couldn't return to Iraq and going AWOL.
In Iraq, as
reported by Jonathan Finer (Washington Post), Kristian Menchaca and Thomas L. Tucker, two US soldiers who were abducted last Friday, were found dead "near a power plant in Yusifiyah." The discovered corpses are said to have signs of "barbaric" torture. Meanwhile, the Mujahedeen Shura Council is claiming credit for the deaths. The Financial Times of London concludes: "The news will tarnish the positive image US and Iraqi officials have been projecting recently of a government that is gradually getting to grips with the security situation and turning the tide against the insurgents."
Other corpses were discovered in Iraq today,
Reuters notes that two were found in Hilla ("blindfolded and hands tied") while in Baghdad, five corpses were found ("handcuffed with gunshot wounds in the head").
Bombings? Baghdad saw a series of bombings.
RTE News reports on one near "a second-hand clothes market in central Baghdad" which resulted in at least two dead and and at least 28 wounded. Al Jazeera notes that roadside bomb as well as a cra bomb "in a a crowded market in the eastern district of Jamila in Baghdad" that left seven dead and 18 wounded. The BBC reports that, in Basra, "at least one elderly woman was killed along with a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside a home for the elderly". Reuters notes that five others were wounded. Another car bomb went off in the Hurriya district of Baghdad "killing at least five people and wounding 11".
Reuters reports that while the US miliatry is saying Ramadi is not the target for a major offensive, the Red Cross has "voiced concern on difficult living conditions in Ramadi". Reporting for IPS, Dahr Jamail and Ali Fdhil write: "A week spent in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad, reveals that residents are suffering from lack of water, electricity, cooking gas and medical supplies for the hospitals. The streets are eerily empty, and it appears that many people have now left the city, althought possibly as many as 150,000 still remain in their homes, either because they are too afraid to leave or they have nowhere to go."
As noted by Sandra Lupien on
KPFA's The Morning Show the US military is claiming an exchange was aimed at insurgents with 15 dead while Iraqi witnesses disputing the official (US) account*. The exchange took place in Bushahin ("village . . . north of Baghdad") The AP reports that "AP Television News footage showed blood splattered on the ground and matresses and spent bullet casings inside a poultry farm, where residents said the civilians were killed." Reuters quotes Mohammed Jaba al-Qaduir, father of Jassem and Mazen killed in the raid, "They did not attack any Americans or Humvees. We don't have any problems with the Americans. We don't have any foreigners here." Reuters mentions that one of the corpses, according to a "police source" was that of a twelve-year-old boy."
Barbara McMahon, Michael Howard and Julian Borger report (for the Guardian of London) that four prosecutors in Rome have signed "[t]he request to charge Mario Lozano, a national guardsman from New York, with the murder of Nicola Calipari." As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!: "Calipari was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena after she had been released by kidnappers. U.S. troops opened fire on their car killing Calipari and injuring Sgrena. . . . Tune in to Democracy Now on Thursday when Giuliana Sgrena joins us in the Firehouse studio." Also remember that: Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)
*Thanks to Zach and Mia for passing on the Lupien item.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A few things

First, the last post was begun on Friday night and posted Saturday morning. I didn't realize the time stamp was when you started. There was a time in Blogger/Blogspot where you could see the time at the bottom of your post when you were writing it. You still can but you have to click on "Post and Comment Options." There was an e-mail from someone who "could swear" he'd checked this site Friday. The post didn't go up until Saturday morning. Sorry if that confused anyone. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Pentagon Report Reveals New Iraqi Detainee Abuse" (Democracy Now!):
A newly released Pentagon study reveals that U.S. forces held Iraqi detainees for up to seven days at a time in cells so tiny that they could neither stand nor lie down. The cells measured four feet high, four feet long and twenty inches wide. One Iraqi detainee alleged his captors duct-taped his mouth and nose before placing him in the box-like cell. The Pentagon investigation also determined some Iraqi detainees were fed only bread and water for up to seventeen days during which time they were chained to the floor of their cells. Other Iraqis were stripped naked, deprived of sleep and assailed with loud music. The Pentagon report was completed in November 2004 but only made public last week in response to a Freedom of Information request from the American Civil Liberties Union. The report's author, Army Brigadier General Richard Formica, determined the troops used unauthorized interrogation methods that violated the Geneva Conventions. But he recommended that no U.S. troops be disciplined for abusing Iraqis.

Has the ACLU posted this report yet? I'm not seeing it at the website. On Saturday, I was having serious blogger problems (as was Mike). C.I. and I were on the phone and I was interested to see how the post that morning ("NYT: 'Crackdown' exploding"), on the Times' coverage of the report would read. C.I. had told me about this report and we were both waiting for it to come out. As told by the Times, it was bad but not as bad as we'd both expected. So did various people get it wrong or did the paper of record miss key details? To know that, we'd have to read the report. I'm not seeing it on the ACLU website.

I may or may not blog tomorrow, by the way. A friend's going to the doctor's and I'm going with her. If everyone seems a little off in their blogging, at the community sites, it has to do with that. If I don't blog tomorrow night, it doesn't mean that the friend got bad news. It may be good news and we'll just laugh and enjoy the evening. But that's just a head's up. (I've also cancelled appointments for tomorrow.)

"Thousands of U.S. Troops Surround Ramadi" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops have completely surrounded the Sunni city of Ramadi. New checkpoints were established on Saturday. The United Nations is reporting that nearly ten thousand residents of Ramadi have already fled the city fearing a Fallujah-like assault.

This is what we need to watching especially in Iraq. Falluja was portrayed by most corporate outlets, in real time, as a "success" -- an story of inspiration and grit. Rah! Rah! That's not reality. It was a slaughter of civilians. All the steps taken in the lead up to the attack on Falluja in November 2004 are happening in Ramadi now.

I think the work of the independent media in getting the story out on Falluja is why the corporate coverage of Ramadi right now feels the need to mention Falluja and not in the "Rah! Rah!" sense. Even the military spokespeople feel the need to tone down their remarks. For example . . .

"Other Items (Law and Disorder airs today on WBAI)" (The Common Ills):
Back to
Oppel's article, which mentions Ramadi and notes, among other things, the following:
Some Sunni Arab leaders have said they fear American forces are preparing to begin an offensive in Ramadi in an effort to wipe out insurgent groups that have taken control of much of the city, similar to the November 2004 assault on Falluja by the Marines.An American military official in Baghdad said on Sunday that no such offensive was planned. "We're trying to separate the insurgents from the rest of the people," the official said. "There are a lot of rumors flying around that people think it's another Falluja. It's not."
It's interesting that even the official spokespeople have to rush in to say it's not Falluja (I think it is). Falluja, many will remember, was something many news outlets (including the Times) pushed as a rah-rah uplifting story. (Dexy won an award for his rah-rah reporting.) What changed? Maybe awareness of what actually went on there and among the ones to thank for that are Amy Goodman and
Democracy Now! which have never let up on that story and Dahr Jamail. ("Among." There are others as well.) So remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

Yes, those are just two and there are many more. I'd add C.I. to that list (I know C.I. wouldn't). Falluja has been stressed repeatedly at The Common Ills.

Why do we need to pay attention? Now that the gung-ho sheen has been tarnished on this illegal war, maybe they know Americans are watching? The world was watching with Falluja, but the United States, largely ignored it -- or the reality of it. The generals, up to Rumsfeld, up to Bully Boy have to know they won't have free reign to plan a slaughter again. With Falluja, what happened was it was postponed until AFTER the election in 2004. They'd tried an attack in April of 2004 that didn't go quite the way they'd planned. So they planned and waited for the elections to be over and while Bully Boy was crying "MANDATE!" -- a slaughter took place in Falluja. So it's very likely that if we have any effect at all, it will just be to make them cautious and wait until after the November 2006 elections. I don't want to encourage false hopes. But right now, we can pay attention. We can let them know we are paying attention.

That's it for me. I'll note C.I.'s Iraq coverage (always excellent and I'm just really not into blogging tonight).

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Carol Williams, David Rose and Paul Krugman," The Common Ills):
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
In Baghdad, Reuters notes two bombings, a "car bomb" at "a police checkpoint" resulted in three deaths and three wounded and a "sucicide car bomber" who killed at least four others and wounded at least ten. CBS and the AP note "[a] parked car bomb" that killed five and wounded nine.
The BBC notes: "Violence is continuing in Baghdad despite the introduction of stringent new security measures last week that have seen more than 40,000 Iraqi and US forces deployed in the city." Dahr Jamail reports on the days since Bully Boy's photo-op in the Green Zone and concludes: "Each passing day only brings the people of Iraq and soldiers serving in the US military deeper into the quagmire that the brutal, despicable, tortured occupation has become."
Bombings also took place outside of Baghdad. The AP notes that three people were killed in Fallujah when a roadside bomb exploded while another roadside bomb, in Hillah, killed at least person and wounded at least four others. Reuters notes that, in Najaf, one person died from a bombing while at least five were wounded.
Reuters also reports an attack in Karbala where "a senior police officer" was shot to death and two of his bodyguards were wounded. AP identifies the man as Abdel-Shahid Saleh and notes that Saadoun Abdul-Hussein Radi, electrician, was shot to death in Amarah.
Kidnappings? Reuters reports that the Mujahideen Shura Council, which most recently claimed credit for four of the seven Saturday bombings in Baghdad, is now claiming to be holding four Russian diplomats which, Reuters notes, appears to be a reference to the June 3rd attack. The attack resulted in the death of Russian diplomat Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov and the four who were kidnapped were identified by the Russian embassy as: Feodor Zaycev, Rinat Agliulin, Anatolii Smirnov and Oleg Feodosiev. AFP reports that the Mujahideen Shura Council is also claiming that it has the two US soldiers reported to have been taken by "masked gunmen" on Friday. AFP describes it as a body that "groups eight armed factions led by Al-Qaeda."
The US military has not confirmed the abduction of the two soldiers. AFP reports that their names have been released: "Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Thomas L. Tucker, 25."
Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported that "more than 8,000" US and Iraqis are searching for Menchaca and Tucker and the AFP notes that seven US troops have been wounded since the search began Friday.
Meanwhile, CBS and AP quote Christina Menchaca, wife of Kristian, saying, "We're basically just watching the news because no one else knows anything about it, no one has heard anything about it."
On the American, Keith Maupin, who has been MIA since April 8, 2004, the AFP reports: "The Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera aired a video a week later that showed the American seated on the floor surrounded by masked gunmen. A month later it aired what it said was the execution of an American soldier, but the images were unclear and the army said it was inconclusive."
Al Jazeera is reporting that Iraq forces will be responsible for Muthanna relieving the British forces. This is the area that Japanese troops were also responsible for possibly adding creedence to the press coverage of the rumors that Japan will be announcing, prior to June 29th, that it is withdrawing all of its troops from Iraq. CBS and the AP note that Japan, England and Australia will "continue moving to "support role." The AP notes: "The decision, announced after [Nouri] al-Maliki met with Japan's ambassador, does not necessarily mean that any U.S.-led coalition forces will be withdrawn from Muthana province."
Ramadi? As noted by Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show, "major military operations" continue as "helicopters and airplanes are flying over the town." Reuters reports that "seven tanks moved along Maarif Street and July 17 Street. Two explosions were heard but the cause was not clear." Ali Hussein Mohammed is quoted as saying: "The water is totally cut off. We have to go to the river to get water. There has been no water for 24 hours and we have no gas to boil the river water to drink it."
Meanwhile, in Italy, the AFP reports that prosecutors are saying that the US marine who shot Nicola Calipari should be put on trial. Calipari had been sent to Iraq by the Italian government to rescue kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena. Though he and Sgrena made it safely to the car, while traveling to the airport to leave Iraq, their car (or "caravan" in some reports at the time) was shot at by US forces. In the attack, Calipari was killed. Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columiba University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)
Finally, Bully Boy is due to visit Vienna this week (Tuesday and Wednesday) and a group is attempting to organize a loud, if not welcoming, reception for him. "Bush Go Home" organizer Michael Proebsting tells the AAP: "The name George Bush, the name of the American president, has become a symbol for war crimes, for Abu Ghraib, for Guantanamo, for Jenin."