Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Be pissed off, not silent

So the Supreme Court stabbed women in the back today and did so with a lot of help from supposed friends. C.I.'s "The Supreme Court decision didn't 'just happen'" just went up. If you're ready to scream over the verdict, I am, you should remember that reproductive rights were sold out not in one day, but in many, not by our enemies, but by our supposed friends. C.I. notes not to give a penny to NARAL. I second that. I also suggest that you do as C.I., Rebecca, Ava and myself do, don't give your donations to the Democratic Party. Give your donations to candidates you believe in. The Democratic Party sold out reproductive rights, as a party. It felt good in 2006 to open those pleas for money and just toss them in the trash.

The Democratic Party thought they could screw over their most loyal voters and get away with it. They can't. They are as much to blame for this decision as are the five Justices on the Court who voted for it.

"Group: 230 University Professors Killed So Far In Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
Two professors from Mosul University were murdered on Monday - the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting. The school's dean of political science was shot as he walked through the university gate. A second professor was killed in front of his home. The International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors estimates that over 230 university professors have been killed since the Iraq war started. 56 are reported missing and more than 3,000 others have fled the country. Schools in Iraq have also been targets of frequent attacks. In January at least 70 people died in a double suicide bombing at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University. Another suicide bomber struck the school in February killing 40 more students, faculty and staff.

Did you hear a special on that? Did the news cycle stop so we could all note this (over and over)? No. Is anyone proposing a moment of silence? No.

So what sort of attitude, what sort of mindset does one have to have in order to wring the hands over Americans only? What sort of attitude refuses to accept that the United States is responsible for these deaths? It's probably the same mindset that Harry Reid -- a foe of reproductive rights -- has when he thinks he can make political hay off the Court's decision. We're apparently all so stupid, in their eyes, that we only care about lives when it is American lives and we believe anything a corrupt and corrupted politician says.

"UN Holds Conference on Iraqi Refugees"
The United Nations is urging the international community to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Iraq. The UN is holding a two-day conference to discuss how to help the four million Iraqis who have fled their homes. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, addressed the conference.
* Antonio Guterres: "The dramatic needs of the Iraqis and the challenges faced by host countries need an urgent and meaningful expression of solidarity by the international community, so well represented here today, as well as an effective action to share the humanitarian burden. That should include financial, economic and technical support, but also expanded resettlement opportunities for the most vulnerable."
Angelo Gnaedinger, the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also spoke.
* Angelo Gnaedinger: "Bombings, suicide attacks, shootings, abductions, murders, the destruction of civilian property and forced displacements are a daily reality for millions of Iraqis. In this dreadful situation and after years of violence, one wonders if a single Iraqi family has been spared human and material loss and their accompanying physical and psychological scars."
Meanwhile Iraqi officials are now estimating the war has produced 900,000 orphans.

I didn't hear Democracy Now! today. I did, but not the episode available at the website. I listened via KPFA. Click here and you can hear Noam Chomsky. We were listening at lunch, Sunny and I, or starting to, when it became obvious this wasn't what C.I. mentioned this morning. So I called and C.I. said, "I heard it on KPFA this morning. They must have broadcast another episode elsewhere." There were apparently technical problems with the show today. So you had two episodes. The Noam Chomsky broadcast (which I highly recommend) and then the one you can hear at the site (which I recommend you skip).

900,000 orphans in Iraq. Created by the illegal war. There will be no KPFA special on that. There will be no call in for that. It's not judged "important." The children aren't important enough. By proxy, I'm not either. Thanks for clearing that up.

As someone who lost her parents when she was still a child, I say thank you to the crap-rate media and to indy media for caring so damn little about the parents that died in Iraq and the children who will grow up without parents.

Friday's moment of silence? If you're a hypocrite participate. But 900,000 children will grow up (grow up if they are lucky) without parents. It's not the time for silence, it's not the time for feel-good moments. It's a day for being pissed off, a month for it, a year for it, a time for it.

"An Interview with Steve Connors and Molly Bingham: Meeting the Resistance in Iraq" (Kevin Prosen, CounterPunch):
Meeting Resistance is an unprecedented new documentary that goes deep into the heart of the insurgency against American forces in Iraq. Over the course of ten months, journalists Steve Connors and Molly Bingham interviewed ten anonymous members of the resistance centered in the al-Adamiya neighborhood of Baghdad. Through candid interviews with the diverse members of the insurgency, the film calls into question many of the official myths about the Iraqi resistance promoted in the western press and lays bare the complex psychological, political, and religious motivations of the diverse groups and individuals which began organizing resistance cells almost immediately after the fall of Baghdad. I had a chance to speak with Steve Connors and Molly Bingham after the film's world premier at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival last weekend.
To begin, could you please describe how you began reporting in Iraq?Molly Bingham I was in Iraq in March during the invasion. Steve and I both got into Baghdad not long after the statue fell and worked as freelance photographers until about June of 2003 when we took a break for six weeks. We started Meeting Resistance in August 2003.
One of the stories I was working on as a freelancer was about places Saddam Hussein was seen before he disappeared. So I went to the Abu Hanifa mosque in the Adamiyeh neighborhood of Baghdad, where Saddam had reportedly been sighted. I met a gentleman who offered to show me around and I ended up chatting with him for a little while. After a while my translator told me he was in the resistance. I was surprised, like "that guy?" He was around fifty, had a paunch, mild mannered and gentle, welcoming to me as a foreigner there. I got back to the hotel and talked to Steve about it. We had started noticing small scale attacks against troops, and decided to look into it further.
What sort of dangers did you face working as "unembedded journalists" in Iraq?
Steve Conners One was that we were approaching people who were clearly involved in violence, and were pretty dangerous; we didn't know if they were going to be dangerous to us. Our main defense was actually our defenselessness; it was Molly and me and a translator and a driver. We had no bodyguards, we just were hanging out and being what we are. When we first met each of the characters in the film, we were told by them in no uncertain terms if anything went wrong, which we took to mean if we were working for the American military or intelligence services, we would be killed. They knew where we lived.
Another was just generally being around Baghdad. There were bombs going off all over the place, lots of American convoys trucking around, they didn't take to kindly to anybody walking too close to a convoy. A lot of Iraqis were shot for driving too close to the convoys. Iraq was a very dangerous place even then.
Did anything surprise you about the social and political makeup of the resistance?
MB: I think the thing we found was they were socially diverse, some had served in the military, some had not. There were some Sunni and some Shi'a, like the Traveler and the Syrian. What surprised us was in some ways how understandable, normal it was once you heard them explain what they were fighting for, their motivations. It started to make more sense. We didn't know what we would find, but that was a little bit surprising. They said "we are defending our land, we don't want to be occupied. Our honor is attacked by foreign troops on the soil."
Generally their feeling wasn't anti-American hatred, or hatred of America "because of our freedom." It was because soldiers were on the ground. It wouldn't have mattered if those troops were French or Chinese or American.
SC: In some ways we were not surprised, in some ways we were really surprised. We were always on a learning curve. There was an amazing quote by the Teacher, it didn't make the final cut of the film. He said we want to have a good relationship with America, but send us your engineers or scholars, not your warriors who shoot the place up.

While getting coffee this morning, I overheard the conversation in line, in front of me. A woman said she didn't want "to sound dumb, but if you don't ask a question, you're dumb" so she asked. She is correct, asking questions is not dumb. It's a sign of interest and it's one of the ways we learn. Sadly, she asked an idiot. Why, she wondered, were Iraqis "killing each other?" The idiot explained it was because they were promised "70 virgins when they got to heaven. They want sex with virgins." I don't butt into conversations but I was tempted. As it was, the woman saw me roll my eyes and asked me what I thought? I told her. I told her "70 virgins" surely didn't explain all the cases of female bombers who blew themselves up while blowing up others unless they were all lesbians. I told her "70 virgins" sounds like an urban myth or an attempt to wrongly link 9-11 with Iraq. I shared my opinion that the US created and encouraged the line between Shia and Sunni and then, as they did in Afghanistan, backed radical right-wing religious types who set about not only to wipe out any traces of modernity in Iraq, but also to wipe out Sunnis. The idiot shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, I just get my news from Fox."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a war resister is due to be released, former US president Bill Clinton talks Iraq,
The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild and Andrea Lewis discuss Iraq, the two day United Nations conference on Iraq draws to a close and the US military announces another death.

Starting with what CNN Headlines News brushed off, in all their "newsie-ness," as the "goings on" in Iraq (30 seconds sandwiched between Monday's shootings and the soap opera of a murder trial), bombs have rocked Baghdad (and possibly if they had an 'expert' to talk to Headline News might give a damn?). Today, caught off guard, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone had already tossed off the daily soundbyte before realizing what was happening in the capital.
Al Jazeera quotes Willie Caldwell stating: "We've seen both inspiring progress and too much evidence that we still face many grave challenges." Little Willie wasn't the only one caught with his pants down today, Der Spiegel notes that, earlier in the day, puppet of the illegal occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, had been bragging things were just swell and that the security of Iraq would be turned over to Iraq "by the end of the year" due to these highly effective (non)strategies. And Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reports on the master of double-speak (with a minor in understatement), US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who, in Cairo: "A political solution could come quickly, Gates said, pointing out that there are not 'thousands in the street' in Iraq trying to kill each other. The violence is mostly confined to death squads, al-Qaeda terrorists and former members of Iraq's ruling class, the Baath party."

AFP reports: "A fire incinerated human flesh, cars and vehicles after a deafening blast that sent a dense cloud of putrid black smoke spewing in the afternoon sky as rescue workers screeched through the streets to scenes of horror. Fire engines doused nearby cars and buses as dozens of ambulances and pick-up trucks ferried the wounded to hospital and civilian volunteers wrapped charred bodies in carpets for transport to the city's overflowing morgues." Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) quote eye witness Ahmed Hameed who declares, "The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood." So bad were the bombings that, AP notes, Secertary of Defense Gates called them "horrifying" (before quickly trying to make political hay by screaming, "It's al Qaeda! It's al Qaeda! I just know it is!"). Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that of the various bombs that had gone off today in Baghdad, it was the "car bomb at a market in the mainly Shiite Muslim deistrict of al-Sadriyah killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 100 others".

On February 3, 2007, a truck bombing in a market in central Baghdad market resulted in mass fatalities. In that bombing, BBC reported the fatalities at 130 ("At least 130 people"). That bombing took place in the same district (Sadriya) as today's worst bombing. Before that, in September of 2005, a bombing in Baghdad killed 114 on a day when the total fatalities from violence in Baghdad was 152. Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) list the fatalities for today at 170 people, note that 122 is the number of fatalities from the Sadriya district bombing and put the total number of bombings in Baghdad today at four. The death toll may climb (as it has done all the morning) as some wounded do not make it and some corpses are discovered. Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times) reports that there were five bombs and writes: "Victims of today's late afternoon attack included construction workers repairing damage from last month's bombing, and rush-hour commuters at a bus depot, waiting for rides home." The Australian reports that it was six bombs and notes: "The market is situated on a side-street lined with shops and vendors selling produce, meat and other staples. It is about 500m from a Sunni shrine, while the area also has a large number of Kurdish resisdents."

Yates and Tait (Reuters) note that people in Baghdad are blaming the puppet for the latest violence, that children were victims of the market attack and note one man in the street yelling, "Where's Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here." It was supposed to an easy day for the puppet who had, early in the day, declared that Iraqis would be in control of all their country by years end as part of his part in a photo op later in the day. The US military had issued their statement (credited to General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and Ambassador Asquith) early in the morning, self-stroking over the fact that the Maysan Province was being turned over to Iraqi control. As the Associated Press notes, the puppet was a no show at the photo op ceremony despite having been an announced guest. As US Senator Crazy, John McCain, could have told the puppet, "Watch out for When Photo-Ops Go Bad!" Still, as Yates and Tait report, al-Maliki's prepared speech was read, even though he himself was unable to travel the 200 miltes from Baghdad to Maysan.

The count as this completed is 170 dead in Baghdad from car bombs (Reuters) with "more than 200 wounded".

CBS and AP note another of the Baghdad bombings, where a car containing a bomb was "crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslime neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtade al-Sadr. The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 45". CNN notes two other Baghdad bombings -- in the Karrada district where 11 died from a car bombing and a roadside bombing that killed 2 people. BBC updates the attack on the checkpoint to 35 dead and notes the observation of their correspondent Jim Muir: "The bombers are proving that they can slip through thte tightened security net and defy the clapdown".

Other bombings?

Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that killed two people. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "2 farmers from Al Bo Asi Al Abagiyah village died today after [being] injured in American strike [a] few days ago."


Al Jazeera reports "two brothers were killed and a policeman was hurt in a gun battle in Baquba. The dead were believed to be civilians caught in the crossfire". AP reports four police officers were shot dead in a Baghdad attack that also left six civilians dead. Reuters reports that a police officer and Iraqi soldier were wounded in Tal Afar, a father, mother and child were wounded in Kirkuk (father is an unidentified judge) and three people ("son of Iraq's deputy interior minister and his two bodyguards") were killed in Baiji.


Reuters reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Ramadi (and that 17 were found in Ramadi yesterday) and 8 in Mosul. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."

Along with the photo op of the turnover, other plans also went up in flames as chaos and violence reigned in the capitol. Lebananon's
The Daily Star reports that the puppet had talks with "some insurgent groups," that al-Maliki confirmed that on Tuesday, and stated, "We are having meetings with groups that are not part of the political process . . . They asked us not to reveal their name. The talks are still going and they are part of the national reconciliations."

In news of another talk,
Daphne Barak (Asharq Alawsat) interviewed former president Bill Clinton and, in the discussion on Iraq, Clinton responded, "I don't have an answer for it . . . . There will always be consequences to whatever decision we take. There is no guarantee. . . . I don't know any paniless altermatives. . . If we stay in Iraq - there are bad consequences, if we leave in a hurry there are consequences too! Really there are no good alternatives. . . . I think Hillary has it right that we have to make " Barak later asks, "Back to Iraq, are there any other dangers which we are not aware of?" Clinton responds, "We have to reposition some troops in Kurdistan or outside nearby. We have to protect the Kurds, and prevent Turkey to go into Kurdistan. That's the biggest danger in the area right now. We have to watch out if Sunni Iraqis will become a beachhead. Although Turkey is our long time ally -- and Turkey and Israel have a good relationship -- we can't allow Turkey to enter Iraq! What Hillary is fighting for is, that no one should go into a preemptive war again."

Also noting Iraq is US House Representative and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich who writes, "Remember four years ago, the Administration told the American people, 'We have no choice but to attack Iraq, because they had weapons of mass destruction.' Well, they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. But what they did have is $6 trillion worth of oil. And so now we're being told that we absolutely have to get ready to go to war against Iran; and, in fact, the Administration is preparing for such a war. We're being told they have the capacity to strike at American or other nations with nuclear weapons some day. Uh . . . well, not really. But they do have have $6 trillion worth of oil. It's really time that we ended this corrupt politics that we have in this country, where all these politicians are saying, 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran,' meaning even a nuclear attack. And yet, apparently, diplomacy is not one of those options that's on the table. Why is it that Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator Edwards would all mimic the same speech that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have given: 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran'."?

Addressing Iraq and Congress today was
Matthew Rothschild who spoke with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today.

Andrea Lewis: Certainly the Democrats have made a lot of gestures and talk about getting the troops out sooner and cutting off the funding. It seems to me to be kind of stalled -- the whole plan. What do you think about what's going on on that front?

Matthew Rothschild: Well, first of all, news today in Iraq, terrible day, in Baghdad, 127 people killed in a series of blasts in Baghdad so this idea that Baghdad is becoming a nice, safe, quiet place to visit according to John McCain, clearly not the case. I do think that the Democrats are not doing enough to demand withdrawal within 6 months or, max, a year and not having loopholes where even if that thing passed and even if Bush were to sign it, Bush would still be able to stay in Iraq for years and years because even the Democrats' legislation allows the president to keep training Iraqi security, keep going after al Qaeda and, you know, helping out patrolling Iraq in defense of US personnel which could be Haliburton. It could be US contractors over there. So with those loopholes even in the best of bills this war could go on under Bush -- or under Bush's sucessor if it be Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama. None of the Democrats are demanding withdrawal without conditions and that's what's going to have to happen at some point because otherwise, you know Bush is going to keep this going and I think the Democrats are going to capitulate. I think Harry Reid, not only has he capitulated on gun control, but he's going to capitulate on this, he's going to take even the kind of fake deadline the Democrats have in that legislation and he's going to take those away. And so Bush will get his funding and this war will go on and it's going to go on until the 11th hour on January 20, 2009 when Bush leaves office and then the Democratic president, if it be a Democratic president, or the Republican successor is going to continue to wage that war unless we really raise the stakes that people of this county, not just Democrats, but the people across party lines are way ahead of the politicians on this. They want the troops to come out within a year. And, at some point, we've got to raise our voices a little bit louder.

[Note -- I've smoothed over Rothschild's response by removing "uh" and "you know"s. I have no problem with them and think it's better to include to reflect speaking styles; however, I was in the middle of something else and had to lose the flavor to keep the context.]

In war resistance news,
Agustín Aguayo was to be released today from the brig in Germany he had been sentenced to since his March 6th court-martial for refusing to deploy to an illegal war. AP reports that he was released: "With credit for time already served, he spent less than six weeks behind bars before being released, said US European Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner." Aguayo was repeatedly denied Conscientious Objector status. First by the military and then by the civilian court system (he will be appealing). The Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress for COs: "Our voices together are magnified when we gather and organize to lobby congress for the sake of rights for the conscientious objector. It is important to support servicements who become conscientious objectors, to lobby for a place for conscience in an inherently violent organization suffering from a dire lack of it. A law to protect the rights of conscientious objectors (CO) in the military is needed. With no end in sight to the brutal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the globe, the number of COs in the military is increasing. The GI Rights Hotline has experienced a sharp increase in the number of calls from those seeking a CO discharge. The current military policy for COs is not working: they face harassment, they are forced to violate their beliefs and they are denied CO status for arbitrary reasons. A law passed by Congress is needed to fix the broken system and to put specific procedures in place for the CO discharge process. May 16th will be a day for voters to make their voices heard for the proposed bill, the Military CO Act." Links:

Come and lobby in Washington, DC or lobby your member of Congress at their local office near your home.
Click here to sign up for lobby day.
Click here for information on the Military CO Act
Information on subway access, directions and parking.
Map of the Area Driving Directions Metro Access Parking -->

On May 15th, International CO Day, CCW is participating in 2 events:
Congressional Briefing: 9:00 am - 12:00 pmAn Aspect of Religious Freedom: Conscience in the Military,sponsored by FCNL, Peace Tax Fund, and John Lewis
Advisory Council, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm @ Church of the Brethren (tentatively)
Church of the Brethren337 North Carolina Ave. SE Washington, DC 20003

Today, in Geneva, the two day, United Nations organized, "International Conference on Addressing the Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq and in Neighbouring Countries" concluded. The
UN notes that 60 nations participated in the conference on "the nearly 4 million Iraqis who have fled their homes" and that UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, hopes that Iraqis will return to Iraq and that he "voiced hope that international gratitude for the burden assumed by receiving countries -- with Syria hosting 1.2 million Iraqis and Jordan another 750,000 -- would soon translate into financial support. He also sought an increased amount of resettlement to third countries, considered necessary for the most vulnerable refugees." BBC reports that the puppet government of Iraq is willing to give $25 million to Syria and Jordan for housing some of the displaced. By contrast, the US offered $18 million. If you don't grasp the difference, Iraq is a client state of the US at present, a client state that still guarantee basic services (let alone security) to Iraqis. But it has promised $25 million while no-big-spender Bully Boy has okayed $18 million -- to pay for the crisis he created. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has declared that:

1) The Iraqi Government, in [consultation] with the countries hosting large numbers of displaced Iraqis, will establish offices to address the issue. These offices will work closely with the host countries, the UNHCR and non-governmental organisations.

2) The Iraqi Government has allocated 25 million US dollars to fund the work of these offices.

3) The large numbers of displaced Iraqi people are straining the infrastructures of hosting countries. The Iraqi Government will extend financial assistance to host governments, and its relevant ministries, to support their infrastructure.

Dahr Jamail (IPS) reports that Baquba's displaced who have sought refuge in Damascus refer to Baquba with the term "dead city" and notes that "armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns" and quotes Aziz Abudlla (who was a professor in Baquba) stating, "I think well over half of our city has left, and those who remain never leave their homes. Those who are left sit in their homes and wait for their death. They may take their fate from a terrorist entering their house, or a car bomb, or a shooting."

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) interviews Caitlin Esworthy (Port Militarization Resistance of Olympia) about actions to end the illegal war and the attacks peaceful activists suffered from the Tacoma police. Zeese asks about the "police reaction" and Esworthy responds: "In sum: force, intimidation and erasure of numerous constitutionally protected rights. Over the course of the two weeks (from March 2nd to the 17th) the police chose to daily escalate their tactics in response to the large groups of people voicing their opposition to the occupation of Iraq and in favor of keeping the 4th Brigade home. There were pedestrians and drivers that resulted in disorientation and intimidation, use of "less-than-lethal" (read: sometimes lethal) weapons on non-violent protestors, RAMPANT violation of citizens' right to not be videotaped by public officials without probable cause, officers refusing to identify themselves, restriction of the right to wear backpacks on a public street and the repeated restriction of citizens' rights to assemble within reasonable proximity to that which they are protesting so that the nature of their protest is not fundamentally altered (both of which are supported by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions), vehicles being searched without cause or warrant, the list goes on." A video clips are provided.

iraqagustin aguayo