Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Some great e-mails and I say thank you for them. A few apologized for seeing me as an ogre. No apology needed. I know we all get caught up in the "Independent media will save us!" mode but the reality is that independent media is no different from any other media, it's only interested in getting the word out for itself.

It will cover something if it thinks it will get them attention. The same as with the mainstream media. I especially don't expect people from generations younger than me to get that. They are confused and wondering if the coverage of the war is adequate? It's not. If you lived through Vietnam, you not only grasp that the coverage is inadequate, you also grasp that independent media is not doing a thing to end the illegal war.

Why should they? It's a money maker for them. It drives up their circulation and their audience. A lot of talk about how big media benefits from its ties to the war machine but, be honest, if little media gave a damn about the illegal war, they'd cover it seriously. They don't. They string readers and listeners along with the bare minimum (or what they hope is the bare minimum) and make a 'name' for themselves as a 'brave voice' but they aren't trying to end the war.

Take The Nation who is now exploring the concept of aetheists. They probably do need to having pushed how many religious articles off on readers after the 2004 post-election hula hoop was the mythical 'vangical voters? But that's where they're at --any topic other than Iraq.

"The Perfect (Sine) Wave" (William S. Lind, CounterPunch):
Looking idly at the front page of last Wednesday's Washington Post Express as I rode the Metro to work, I received a shock. It showed a railroad station in Iraq, recently destroyed by an American air strike. So now we are bombing the railroad stations in a country we occupy? What comes next, bombing Iraq's power plants and oil refineries? How about the Green Zone? If the Iraqi Parliament doesn't pass the legislation we want it to, we can always lay a couple of JDAMs on it.
It turns out the bombed railroad station was no fluke. An AP story by Charles J. Hanley, dated June 5, reported that
U.S. warplanes have again stepped up attacks in Iraq, dropping bombs at more than twice the rate of a year agoAnd it appears to be accomplished by a rise in Iraqi civilian casualties.
In the first 4 1/2 months of 2007, American aircraft dropped 237 bombs and missiles in support of ground forces in Iraq, already surpassing the 229 expended in all of 2006, according to Air Force figures obtained by The Associated Press.
Nothing could testify more powerfully to the failure of U.S. efforts on the ground in Iraq than a ramp-up in airstrikes. Calling in air is the last, desperate, and usually futile action of an army that is losing. If anyone still wonders whether the "surge" is working, the increase in air strikes offers a definitive answer: it isn't.

I could be wrong but I believe Lind is a conservative. If CounterPunch thinks it's worthy of note then that's good enough for me. It's also true that conservatives have often been more serious about the war (supporting it as well as opposing it) than most of the mushy left. C.I. made a similar statement about a year ago, wondering did the War Hawks want this war more than the doves wanted to end it? I think that question is still worth asking? Like C.I., I'm not referring to the people, I'm referring to our chattering class. So if Lind's a conservative (if), it doesn't really matter to me. CounterPunch has taken the illegal war very seriously and hasn't dropped it for weeks at a time.

This isn't much of a post but I'm really attempting to avoid revisiting two things from yesterday. I'll be honest, I haven't let it go. I'll add further that I am not going to. Not now, not ever. You do not screw one of my best friends over and see me ever forget it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military annouonces the deaths of more service members, the US military and government play The Al-Maliki Squeeze while the puppet babbles incoherently, the mosque bombed in Samarra in February of 2006 is bombed again, and more.

Starting with news of war resistance, Kim Johnson, Duluth's
WDIO, reports on Luke Kamunen who, like his two twin brothers Leo and Leif, self-checked out of the US military on the Christmas break and notes, "The brothers' story is not an isolated one. In fact, the Department of Defense reports desertions have risen 35 percent in the past two years -- from more than 2,400 in 2004 to about 3,300 in 2006" and notes that Luke Kamunen "was surprised" to encounter many others who had done the same "when he was detained by the military". (As noted here before, Luke is now discharged, his brothers state they will turn themselves into the US military at some point.)

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Resistance to the illegal war isn't limited to one segment of the population.
Amy Goodman (writing at Truthdig) reports on the off broadway production Voices in Conflict -- a high school production that Wilton High School (in Connecticut) decided wasn't fit for the school's theater. As disturbing as the attempted censorship of the play was, Goodman reports on equally alarming detail -- in the high schol clases, these students are not allowed to discuss Iraq even in US history whether they each have "to bring in a current-event news item" -- Jimmy Presson explains, "We are not allowed to talk about the war while discussing current events." Who teaches that class? And do they also work at The Nation? (Democracy Now!, by the way, spends the hour today with Vanessa Redgrave discussing art, politics and more.)

Turning to Iraq . . .

This morning
Damien Cave (New York Times) reported on the latest ravings of the madman installed by the US as puppet of the occupation -- al-Maliki declaring that, "We have eliminated the danger of sectarian war." Sounds like someone needs to check their Desoxyn dosage. But reality can sometimes break through even the thickest drug induced fog even if it can be processed correctely. Look at Nouri al-Maliki's statements today. AP reports he's now likening events into Iraq to the American Civil War which would seem indicate that Iraq has not "elimated the danger of sectarian war" as al-Maliki claimed yesterday.

What semi-snapped out of his drugged stupor? A bombing in Samara.
BBC calls the site "one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, the al-Askari shrine in Samarra." The Scotsman notes that bombing "was a repeat of last year's bombing that shattered the Askariya shrine's dome" while Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) explains that bombing "destroyed the minarets of the Askariya shrine." Minarets? Those are the two towers or columns that previously stod on either side of the mosque. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports, "It wasn't clear how the attackers evaded the shrine's guards to mount the stunning operation, detonating the blasts aound 9 a.m., and bringing down the two slender golden minarets that flanked the dome's ruins at the century-old mosque." Sam Knight (Times of London) notes two reactions -- the puppet "declared a curfew in Baghdad and asked for American reinforcements to be sent to the mainly Sunni town, which has been under a military blockade in recent weeks, to contain any violence" and Moqtadr al-Sadr "called for restraint, declaring three days of mourning and peacful demonstrations." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes the reaction of some Iraqis in Baghdad -- shop keeper Shiras Assem decalres, "We are preparing for any attack by the Mahdi Army. We closed the street and we expect to be attacked. Maybe they will hit the local Sunni mosque. We have set up a night watch until this morning. We will not sleep tonight."; and broker Marwan Faled who declares, "We have gather together the young me[n] in our street, each one has a weapon. We told them to be ready if anyone attacks us we will all open fire. We expect an attack during the curfew because we don't trust the checkpoint at end of our road. I plan to stay at home over the next few days because I believe more people will be killed." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the Iraqi police have stated the columns were brought down by "mortar rounds fired by unknown fighters" while "witnesses said the explosions seems to have come from inside the church" and that despite appeals "for calm" already "five Sunni mosques in the southern port city of Basra were attacked, apparently in reprisal, and Sunni mosques were also struck in Zaiyuna and south of Baghdad." AFP reports that yesterday "there had been a row between the security forces" with two different groups (one from Baghdad, the other from Tikrit) present and saying they were in charge of security as well "some exchange of [gun] fire too" before the Baghdad contingent assumed security responsibilities and they quote an eye witness who states, "I was near the shrine when I heard big explosions that sent a thick cloud of dust in the sky covering the entire area. I quickly ran to the street from where I could see the shrine clearly. I saw one of the minarets was down. Seven minutes later as I was watching the shrine, another explosion occured and the second minaret came crumbling down." Al Jazeera notes that al-Maliki announced that the security team guarding the mosque (that would be the forces sent from Baghdad) would be arrested. Along with the curfew, ban on public demonstrations and driving in Samarra that has been imposed, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times and the link also contains an AP Television clip) adds that Moqtada al-Sadr's 30 member parliament bloc has walked out in protest and this "could present a major challenge to Maliki, who is under intense pressure to deliver political and economic reforms aimed at appeasing the Sunni Arab minority". In addition to the Samarra curfew and bans, Mariam Karouny (Reuters) details the "three-day curfew in Baghdad" that has resulted from the Samarra attack though how a capital under crackdown for over a year can be further 'cracked down' may be open to question. Since Moqtada al-Sadr is calling for public, peaceful demonstrations, al-Maliki's "three-day curfew" may be an attempt to circumvent al-Sadr.

Zavis noted the "intense pressure" al-Maliki was facing from non-Iraqis.
War Pornographer Michael Gordon (New York Times) noted yesterday that he accompanied US ambassador Ryan Crocker and Admiral William J. Fallon to a face-to-face with puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the point of the meeting was to pressure on the 'benchmark' of getting the oil legislation privatized (turning over as much as 70% of the profits to foreign corporations) passed in July.
Damien Cave (New York Times) reported that the deputy US Secretary of State John D. Negroponte showed up out of the blue in Baghdad yesterday to pressure al-Maliki who released a statement following the meeting attesting that he would use all of his limited power "to persuade Parliament to approve several proposals that the Americans had identified as benchmarks, including an oil law". The law, like 'liberation' has always been just around the corner and you can drop back a year ago when al-Maliki was first 'rolling up the sleeves' to push through the US written oil law that would then be imposed upon the allegedly soveign nation of Iraq. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) observes that the privatization "seems to be in real trouble" and notes Tariq Shaif telling "a news conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank" some unpleasant realities while Rowell notes that al-Maliki's cabinet's Happy Talk of 'give us one month' is vaguely familiar: "If my memory serves me right, that's what he said about three months ago." Which is true and, again, al-Maliki was installed claiming the theft of Iraqi oil was top of his list but he's still 'trying', all this time later.


Reuters reports a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 4 lives (10 more wounded), a Taji bombing that killed an Iraqi soldier (4 more wounded), a Mandili bombing that killed three (five more wounded), and a Ramadi car bombing that killed 4 Iraqi police officers (11 more wounded).


Reuters reports one college student shot dead

Meanwhile, on the heels of yesterday's news from IRIN that Iraqi children are having to work to support families comes
Tina Susman and Zeena Kareem (Los Angeles Times) report on the rise of cholera in Iraqi children with five reported case "in the last three weeks, a worrying sign as summer sets in and the war leaves sewage and sanitation systems a shambles. All of the cases were among children younger than 12 in the southern city of Najaf and were reported by medical officials on alert for signs of the potentially lethal ailment, Claire Hajaj of the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, said Tuesday."

In addition, the
US military announced today: "One Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated during combat operations in an eastern section of Baghdad June 11." And they announced: "One Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated during combat operations in an easter section of Baghdad June 11." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed June 12 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC's current count for the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 3513.

In media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "
Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at
Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email" From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email" The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.