Tuesday, August 07, 2007

John Stauber, Ruth Conniff

"Coffee with the Troops at Yearly ***" (John Stauber, CounterPunch):
I've been asked how exactly this event came to be organized. A few weeks ago when I examined the schedule for Yearly *** it was clear that there would be no meaningful strategy session on the war in Iraq. I decided to create that session, and I arranged through the convention hotel for a Sunday morning event that would feature leaders of the Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The Yearly *** refused to put our event Coffee with the Troops onto their conference schedule despite the fact that no other event was scheduled at the time. Not to be deterred, I arrived at Yearly Kos with 800 flyers that I personally distributed to attendees, and I blogged about the event during the conference.
The event was a tremendous success and one of the best-attended sessions of the Yearly ***, demonstrating the hunger of the Netroots to address this issue.

I told C.I. I was grabbing this from CounterPunch and was told about another piece I can pair it with. For the record, that convention does not get promoted by this community. We've followed some of the coverage (mainstream and online) and love it, love it, love it when one White person after rushes to explain it will be more diverse next year. Why was it diverse this year? There's no excuse for it. I myself happen to enjoy the gals who toy with feminism offering their excuses for stabbing other women in the back. I've read that "I was invited!" Oh, well, if you were invited dear, be the Queen Bee. Next year the title of the convention changes and that's because the current title draws the criticism it has earned.

It is a bunch of wanna be political players (who never will be players, they aren't storming any gates, as C.I. long ago noted, they are Scrubbing The Toilets).

John Stauber I'm grabbing because he wasn't given a panel. He went there and he created his own. All this nonsense about how next year will have more women (and more women on panels!) and more people of color and more LGBTs and blah, blah, blah. It's nonsense. If you wanted more women you call up every woman going and you create your own event the way John Stauber did.

C.I. couldn't note Stauber. It was already decided that nothing about the event would go up. That's what members wanted. I understand and respect that. Since the event is now over, I hope everyone will grasp that I am not in any way promoting it even by critiquing it.

But the excuses that so offended so many (unlike most of the attendees of the convention, this community is diverse) were nonsense. They were nonsense when they were offered and they are nonsense now. John Stauber proves the hollow talk was nonsense.

Iraq didn't have a serious panel. (Serious panel's don't limit women. Serious panels don't confuse Iran with Iraq by pulling a token woman who is Iranian. Do all Middle Eastern women look alike to the ones planning the convention?) With all of the historical conflicts between Iran and Iraq, it is appalling that someone thought an Iranian woman was a way to be 'inclusive.' There are many Iraqi women in the US, there are many Iraqi-American women in the US.

This was one last chance for the little midget to get his name in the press again. But they all want to tell you the convention isn't about him. Apparently they missed the MSM coverage? He's a sexist and he's pig. He's a Republican who crossed over for whatever reason but the reasons do not appear to be any great embrace of liberalism or left-ism.

Considering his many attacks on women, you really have to be willing to crawl through the mud, if you're a woman, to attend a convention named after him. Do not give me the nonsense that "Next year the name changes!" We're talking about this year.

One woman wanted to blog that Blog-Her isn't any better! Blog-Her includes all sorts of women! That must be a very frightening thought when you're the Queen Bee designate by the White Male Bloggers. Candy Perfume Boy, at CJR's blog, long ago exposed the Cluster F**k (his term) involved online.

They ran off Maryscott of My Left Wing, they banned Cindy Sheehan. They are nothing but a Democratic Party Organ and their Meek Leader shows up today (late today) finally commenting on Congress giving Bully Boy spying powers this weekend. After everyone else -- outside the CF -- has called out the Democrats who caved (and they did cave, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi could have killed the bill in either house) to say, "Eeek. Me too."

Congratulations to John Stauber for not going-along-to-get-along and for doing something that actually matters.

C.I. suggested I pair it with Ruth Conniff. Now, I'm more than willing to highlight Conniff here when she's hitting hard on a topic; however, I was skeptical that she could do that on this. I'm glad to see I was wrong.

"Iraq, Hillary, and the Blogosphere" (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive):
At a "coffee with the troops" organized by Iraq Vets Against the War and the Center for Media and Democracy, Garett Reppenhagen, a former sniper in the first infantry division in Iraq talked about how he started blogging: "The stuff I didn't see on Fox News or CNN was what I wanted to express," he said, praising the democratic potential of the web. "Anybody can get on YouTube. Anybody can write a blog. But I worry because more and more people start endorsing candidates, and we become like sports enthusiasts."
"We've got to stick to the issues," Reppenhagen said. "Right now the most important issue in America is the Iraq War." He urged bloggers to talk to veterans and antiwar activists. "Look toward the groups that are really doing the grassroots work. . . . Let's work together and let's end this war."
Aaron Hughes of the Illinois National Guard, another vet against the war, seconded that point:
"We elected candidates to Congress to end this war. They used us. They said, 'We can't cut funding because that will hurt the troops.' I want to encourage the blogging community to step away from these candidates who have completely used us. . . . I ask that you start focusing on the people who can really end this war. Historically that’s the vets."
Josh Lansdale, a firefighter who returned from Iraq with PTSD, contradicted Hillary on the ability of the troops to hastily withdraw:
"As soon as you tell them 'prepare for redeployment,' they can get out of Iraq. Kuwait can handle 250,000. I don’t see why we can't get out."
To the bloggers at the conference who oppose the war, Lansdale put it the most bluntly: "I would encourage you to get off your ass and do something about it."

That's from the end of the column. It is a strong piece by Conniff and may be the best thing she's written in years. C.I. really wanted to highlight that. But the community made their decision and C.I.'s only one member. If you haven't read Conniff, I think you'll really be pleased with this column.

(I was.)

What are we doing? That's really at the heart of both columns I've highlighted. If you read this site often, you know what I do. If you're a community member, I probably know what you're doing. But do you get how many won't do anything? Or how many settle for e-activism?

I'm not knocking the power of information and being informed. But Democratic cheerleaders online aren't informing. We've seen Tina Richards and Cindy Sheehan ripped apart by Democratic cheerleaders online. We've seen a refusal to call out Barack Obama. When C.I. and I were invited to 2004 function (for big donors), we both went in excited. We knew he was against the illegal war. We were ready to write the maximum amount in our checkbooks. Then we met him and he was talking about how US troops needed to stay in Iraq. I was looking at C.I. and thinking, "Who is this guy?" I was really shocked by it. C.I., never at a loss for words, asked flat out, "How can you be against the war and for troops staying in Iraq at the same time?" Obama gave some remarks using the slogan that's intended to stop all discussion and it didn't work. (You can't 'finesse' C.I.) I finally found my own voice and we left. (That is the short version.) We didn't give a cent and we were appalled that this was the alleged anti-war voice we were all supposed to rally behind. When he went on to give that hideous speech at the 2004 DNC convention (which, C.I. always points out, Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive had the good sense to call out in real time while a lot of other left voices were too busy panting), it really wasn't surprising -- not after meeting him face to face and hearing how US troops needed to stay in Iraq.

When he got into the Senate, he confused a lot of voters. Supporters confronted him repeatedly at town halls about the way he was voting. They should have. But that's not something that really leaked into the coverage. It should have.

Now he's running for president. What we're getting, posing as political analysis, is the equivalent of "Bobby Sherman's likes include sunny days and kittens . . ."
So I do not agree that anyone's being informed.

I've avoided weighing in on Tim Howe's stupid e-mail because I think the man's a danger. I read his e-mails in 2005 that he sent to Rebecca (I was filling in for her at her site) and I couldn't believe them. I still can't. I don't want to do anything to encourage him to hang around. However, he was ripping someone apart for their attitude towards Hillary Clinton and he sent the e-mail to C.I.

Rebecca's never liked Hillary Clinton. She's made that clear from her first month blogging. So who is Howe yelling at in that? (I've heard the e-mail, over the phone, from Ava.) If it's C.I., Howe's really off base.

C.I. could care less who you vote for. I've known C.I. since college and I've never been asked to vote for anyone. I've never been urged to vote for anyone. When we talk about candidates, the issue is information. Rebecca will tell you, she hates going through materials. But each presidential election year, she'll try to find a shortcut. (Had she been pregnant in 2008 and not this year, C.I. might have made an exception.) C.I. will go over all the candidates with her, positives and minuses. C.I. doesn't even say, "I'm for ___" until after you've made up your own mind. I was for Howard Dean in the 2004 primaries. C.I. was for John Kerry. I never knew that until I'd made up my mind. It was never a problem between us. I could be ticked off with Dean about something he said and C.I. would be the one talking me through it (if it could be justified).

But in terms of Hillary Clinton (whom C.I. knows), Howe was really off base sending the e-mail to C.I. When Betty was for Hillary, I know for a fact that C.I. told everyone that Betty's choice was her choice and everyone needed to respect it. (Betty knows this, I'm not writing anything here she doesn't know.) When Hillary made that ridiculous statement saying if Iraq was your issue, ending the illegal war, look to another candidate, that killed Betty's support for her in the primary. But Betty will tell you, she was very nervous about saying she was behind Hillary before that. She will also tell you that she called C.I. and C.I. went over all of Hillary's good qualities with Betty and assured her that there was no problem with her decision. I have no idea who C.I. is supporting or will support. Generally, this is the time I'd find out in the election cycle but I doubt I will because there are people who will put weight behind it and C.I. will play water faucet on this (either share with everyone, or not share). But on issues other than Iraq, C.I. can and does say nice things about Hillary and Joe Biden. That's not just privately. C.I. has publicly talked about Hillary's gifts as a speaker in roundtables for The Third Estate Sunday Review.

So when Ava was reading Tim Howe's e-mail to me over the phone, I was thinking, "You don't know thing you're writing about, Howe." The focus at The Common Ills is Iraq. There's not much to praise Hillary for there. However, when C.I. felt she was right and Obama was wrong, C.I. did note that (and explain why Hillary was right) in a snapshot. Howe's obsessed with getting Hillary into the Oval Office (that was true in 2005 as well).

But his e-mail was off in every way possible but especially in terms of sending it to C.I. Members who go back to 2004 with TCI know the site's changed. C.I. is, of course, against the illegal war and that was always true at the site. But if other people were doing their jobs, C.I. wouldn't have to hit hard. When it became obvious that people were backing away from the illegal war, C.I. upped the volume and that's needed. If people would do their jobs, C.I. would just offer excerpts. That's what the entries would basically be. But left support for war resisters has pretty much vanished in independent media. Iraq was so sidelined by outlets that the community voted to have an "Iraq snapshot" Monday through Friday. This is a case of C.I. having to step up to the plate because others will not.

This is my college rooommate who walked away from the family money and instead worked two or three jobs each semester (while also getting scholarships, true) because there would be no journalism major to please the family. Had C.I. gone into the family business, college would have been paid for and then some. I can remember the day a car was delivered. I can remember C.I. refusing it. Bribe after bribe got refused. So when C.I.'s doing the things today, like writing up a report on Liam Madden's press conference because no one else has, that's really beyond stepping up to the plate. C.I. never wanted to do journalism and now has to deal with family members who are convinced that after The Common Ills wraps, C.I.'s finally going to get involved in the family business. That's probably the most irritating thing for C.I. All of this was walked away from, intentionally walked away from, and now it's -- yet again -- "Well, you're finally coming around." That irritates the hell out of C.I. who made a point to avoid journalism and built up a life outside of it.

If tomorrow, everyone took a page from Howard Zinn and got serious, C.I. would be writing "Joan highlights . . . Susan notes . . ." Tim Howe is one of the ones who make it hard. He wrote, at one point in that e-mail Sunday, something about us all ending up in a gulag and how people like him were keeping the left alive. I have no idea how he thinks that's happening. But he apparently meant it. Reality is that he and the other cheerleaders are the exact reason C.I. needs to speak out (and knows it is needed). They aren't doing anything. They're worshipping a candidate (any candidate) and fretting that information will destroy their candidate. They're not doing a thing to end the illegal war.

This was my point Friday, about the conversation I had over the phone with a friend from college where she was pointing out that it was (yet again) the women who were having to carry all the weight because the men were off on some macho high. The Young Lions of the '60s' never accomplished anything without women. Now they want to do their version of 'Nam stories: "I had to have a physical! It was invasive! The draft, man, that's what moved the peace movement, because all of us could be drafted!" No, women were never going to be drafted. There is not a Young Lion that didn't have a woman propping him up (even if he was gay) and soothing his ego. There are plenty of Young Lions who had their temper tantrums and were tossed out of the movement thereby needing a woman to bring them back in and make them acceptable all over again. Women had to fight the illegal war and they had to soothe the men. My friend I was speaking to is a lesbian and came out during the '60s.' Even she, never involved with a man in college, can tell you horror stories of late night hours spent assuring male 'leaders' of how 'wonderful' they were and how they could 'do it, c'mon, I believe in you.' The reality of the '60s' for most women is that we carried our weight and a lot of men's too.

I feel bad because right now I'm not remembering what C.I. had written (go to Friday's post, I mentioned it there) but it was why the friend called (we generally just exchange Christmas cards and get together about four times a year). Her point was that when everyone was in give-up mode (everyone in the Young Lions), C.I. repeatedly had to pick up the slack and that's what's happening again. I see that with other women of my generation as well. I don't find that online or in print, though. Not very often. I find a lot of women making nice. (C.I. highlighted Naomi Wolf last week and noted that Wolf was coming out swinging. Wolf is too. It's wonderful to see. Women need to use their power and I sometimes worry they are afraid to because they don't want to be called all the names those of us from the '60s' were.) If women won't come on strong right now, no one's going to. A lot of men seem to tie in 'service' with 'manhood' and that's not a construct that only applies to the right. They go soft when they should be loud and it has to do with what society preaches masculinity is. (There are exceptions. Dave Lindorff is a strong voice who hits hard.)

So what C.I.'s doing now is what C.I. did during Vietnam. If Tim Howe doesn't like that, too bad. Tim Howe didn't do anything to end that earlier war either. Candidates do not end wars. Politicians do not end wars. People end wars. Howard Zinn is one of personal heroes, yes. But he is exactly right. So when Tim Howe thinks we need silence, Tim Howe is wrong. We need voices and we need them loud and clear because this illegal war is not stopping until we all start demanding that it ends. Only then will Congress act. If we stopped playing cheerleaders and all got serious and used our power, it might not make a difference who landed in the White House because all politicians would have to start responding to the will of the people. That won't happen by playing 'nice.'

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, August 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqis are rendered invisible in their own story, the US military announces more deaths, students get active and so do parents, FAIR gets a little loose with the words, and more.

Goldie Goes To Africa. FAIR has issued a "Media Advisory" and whatever they're hoping to accomplish falls apart in the opening paragraph, in the opening sentence in fact, when they bill the overly praised Nation magazine article as an "investigation into the U.S. occupation's impact on Iraqi civilians". As Rebecca noted last night, it is no such thing. Not only is it no such thing, FAIR really flirts with xenophobia when they make that hyperbolic assertion. The Nation's bad (really, really bad) article did not present a single Iraqi voice. Iraqis can speak for themselves. Not only can they speak for themselves it is shocking that a media watchdog would ever claim that OCCUPYING FORCES in a country CAN OR SHOULD TELL the story of the people in an invaded country. The Nation's article is a piece of crap (and a journalistic laugh) but FAIR can praise (or pass on) whatever it wants. However, it cannot make XENOPHOBIC statements that betray the very reason FAIR was created without being called out.

If it's unclear to anyone how offensive the opening statement (echoed throughout the piece) is, ask whether or not members of the Israeli army should be hailed as tellers of the Palestinians' story, or whether the slaughter and genocide of Native Americans should be told from the point of view of the US military?

That is what we're talking about. In Robert Altman's The Player, there's a pitch for a project set in a foreign country and a backforth of dialogue ensues: "Goldie Goes To Africa!" "She's found by this tribe --" "Of small people!" "She's found and they worship her." "It's like The Gods Must Be Crazy except the Coke bottle is an actress." That scene (script by Michael Tolkin) sends up the "fish out of water" concept -- travelogue movies can only hold an American audience if they have an American front and center. The story of the Iraqi people is not and will not be told by non-Iraqis.

The very bad Nation article may do many things; however, it does not and cannot tell the story of what life is like for Iraqis today. It can't because it speaks to no Iraqis. It is their story to be told, it cannot be told for them. FAIR hopefully rushed that advisory out quickly. But the reality is that the wording is offensive and it shouldn't take Rebecca or myself to point out that very obvious fact. "The Nation's investigation into the U.S. occupation's impact on Iraqi civilians" has never been published because it's never been researched. To suggest otherwise is insulting. The US didn't send the Red Cross into Iraq, it sent in a professional military (and a private one was sent also). Only Iraqis can tell their story, only they should and to suggest otherwise is a grave insult. (I'm referring to the insult to the Iraqis but it's also true that suggesting otherwise is also an insult to the fine work FAIR has consistently done for many years.)

Turning to war resistance. In April, we noted Terri Johnson who signed up and realized she couldn't support the illegal war so she droppsed out in basic training. Johnson explained, "All you got to do is leave. Throw the towel in. They cannot stop you. Stay gone for thirty-one days. Get your two-way ticket to Lousiville, Kentucky. The MPs will meet you there and pat you down. You will be there for four days and eat this horrible food. The only thing you cannot do is get a federal job. Okay, I wasn't that interested in working for the federal government anyway. The other thing you can't do is re-enlist in another branch of the military."

Terri Johson is a war resister. So is Carla Gomez. Gomez' story is told in Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq. Gomez was a 17-year-old high school student in Santa Cruz, Calif. when her new 'BFF' Sgt. Daniel Lopez entered her life. After forcing his way into the Gomez family, Lopez wants her to take a physical. Gomez was already having doubts. He takes her to San Jose for a physical but what happens is she's forced -- by one man after another -- to sign enlistment papers. A 17-year-old surrounded by adults, an hour from home, no way to get home, facing the equivalent of time-share sales people.

What saved Carla Gomez was knowledge that she didn't have to join. No matter what she signed. If you sign up on a delayed entry, you don't have to go. You can write a letter stating you've changed your mind. That should be all the contact you have with them. Gomez tells Laufer her letter stated, "My parents and I were coerced by Sergeant Lopez. The real reason why I ended up signing was because I was exhuasted. I thought the only way to go home was by signing. I feel I was not in my five senses at the time and I feel that I was pushed to sign the contract." [Gomez' story appears on pages 78-85 of Laufer's book.]

We're focusing on this aspect of war resistance today for a number of reasons including Tony Allen-Mills (Times of London) reporting Sunday that new things were being imposed by the Pentagon including that drill sgts. may no longer use the words "maggot" or "worm" as a result of what Allen-Mills describes as "a desperate bid to lower the fall-out rate among the dwindling numbers of young Americans ready to sign up". So the answer is to provide "calm authority" and not derision. Aimee Allison and David Solnit, in their book Army of None, detail the branding and marketing efforts to trick and deceive young people. They also note the success of counterrecruiting and how the military's response was to drop "Be All That You Can Be" (sounded like a lecture from a parent, polling groups determined) and go with "There's strong, and then there's Army Strong." (Which honestly sounds like one of those "Made for a man, but I like it too" advertisements.) The advretising budget for "Army Strong" is 1.35 billion over five years. (Ads began airing in Oct. 2006.) (Army of None, pages 45-66 which can be found at bookstores, online and via Courage to Resist).

Today, Prensa Latina reports: "Sectors from the Puerto Rican society will start a campaign next week against military recruitment in schools to enter the US Army, said activists from the Independentista Party of Puerto Rico (PIP) Monday." You can't vote in the presidential elections, the US won't allow you your independence but your children can die in an illegal war started by the US. And it's not just Puerto Rico and the US fighting military recruiters. Matthew Holehouse (New Statesman) reports on Students Against the War's protest in Camden at the Kids Connections' offices last week. What were they protesting Kids Connection was creating classroom modules (paid for by the UK Ministry of Defence) that propagandize about the illegal war. Matthew Holehouse notes that, in the United Kingdom, the failure to meet targets "was forcing the military recruiters to target children as young as 14". Returning to the US where, as Jorge Mariscal (Black Agenda Report) notes, "8,000 premanent resident aliens already enlist in the U.S. military every year". In the land where 'bi-partisanship' so frequently translates as "screwed twice over," US Senators Edward Kennedy and Arlen Specter can reach across the aisle and, as Mariscal points out, use the DREAM Act of 2007 to tie documented residency in the US with military service.

And as students return to classes in Phoeniz, Arizona, activists are there to inform. KVOA reports the citizens "are part of the Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation, the Arizona Counter Recruitment Coalition, Parents Against Violence in Education and the End the War Coalition" who fan out with postcards that the student and the parent can complete to opt out of the automatic data mining done by military recruiters (thanks to the "bi-partasian" nonsense that was the so-called No Child Left Behind). Andy Harvey (KPNX) gives the background on this and also a report on the protests (link contains text as well as streaming video). Adam Loveless, military recruiter, looks ridiculous in the new military uniform (everyone does) and attempts to liken targeting high schoolers with targeting college students. As Donna Winchester (St. Petersburg Times) points out, the opt-out forms must be filled out at the start of each school year. The Vallejo Times-Herald notes that high schoolers Aliesha Balde, Doris Le, Perla Pasayes and Shamar Theus are on the road through next Sunday working with the ACLU and other students "to scrutinize the military's recruitment campaign aimed at youth". The student activists have entitled their project "The Truth Behind the Camouflage: A Youth Investigation into the Myths & Truths of Military Recruitment & Military Service."

Those are only some of the stories of resistance with war. Carla Gomez is a war resister and there is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin 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 Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

On July 31, 2007, the snapshot included this:"In Baghdad a small number (tiny) remains. They are all elderly. The last study estimated that they numbered 19." There is an update and a chuckle via AP which reports that 9 Jews remain in Baghdad and cite the same War Hawk (Andrew White) posing as a do-gooder who back on July 19th claimed there were no Jews in Iraq. He testified "I know every single one of the Jews left." Which was a LIE and why we noted the last study showed 19 Jews remaining in Baghdad. Here's the chuckle, AP today tries to bill the War Hawk and Liar as someone "who watches over the tiny Jewish group". Well watch a little closer, War Hawk White. End of July you were testifying they were gone and now you want credit for the 8 that still remain? This is all the more important when you read White telling the AP that he gives the Jewish residents money. Uh, you really aren't supposed to brag about charity. We won't quote White -- a man of the cloth shouldn't lie so frequently in public. We will note AP cites Jewish Agency in Jerusalem's Michael Jankelowitz as stating the 8 remaining do not want to leave. This does sound reasonable because, long before the number dropped to 19, efforts were being made and the ones then choosing to stay felt Baghdad had been their whole lives. Jankelowitz also says 4 are over 80 while 4 "are of working age". The Hague's Israeli Embassy spokesperson echoes that and states they are "in weekly contact" with one of the eight remaining. AP notes: "The eight Jews, belonging to four families, are all that is left in Iraq from the world's oldest Jewish community, dating to the 6th century B.C. when the Babylonians conquered ancient Palestine and exiled its people as slaves. Over the centuries the Jews flourished, and Baghdad became a center of Jewish culture and learning."

Many are leaving. In fact, many are leaving Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet. Yesterday, 5 more decided to do just that. Alexandra Zavis and Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) report that Salim Abudllah Jabouri (of the Sadr bloc that walked out last week) said the puppet was now on his "last chance to show goodwill" and if that doesn't happen there will be a move "to bring a vote of of no confidence" against the puppet. But though they have walked out, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that they maintain they will "continue to run their ministries but not attend any cabinet meetings. They cited as reasons for their action a lack of progress on issues such as the status of Iraqi detainees, the repatriation of displaced Iraqis and the return of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to government jobs." The BBC notes that their Baghdad correspondent, Andy Gallacher, feels "the latest events leave the administration of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki looking more fragile than ever."

While the puppet's cabinet crumbles, Nouri hot foots it over to Turkey. Turkish Daily News reported today that al-Maliki and Turkey's prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, would sign an agreement; however, "Turkey will await implementation and wants to see concrete steps against the PKK". Selcuk Gokoluk (Reuters) reports that al-Maliki swore he would "crack down on Kurdish rebels" in northern Iraq; however, "Turkish officials said they knew Maliki had little clout in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq and that he had also been weakened both by Iraq's dire security situation and by fresh turmoil in his crumbling government in Baghdad." And in other not-waiting-for-Maliki news, CBS and AP announce, "Iraq's autonomous Kurdish government approved a regional oil law on Tuesday, officials said, paving the way for foreign investment in their northern oil and gas fields while U.S.-backed federal legislation remained stalled. The measure gives the regional government the right to administer its oil wealth in the three northern governates -- Irbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dahuk --- as well as what it called 'disputed territories,' referring to Kirkuk, one of Iraq's largest crude production hubs."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad mortar attacks climed 7 lives (nine wounded), 1 Iraqi soldier died in a bombing outside Baquba.Reuters notes a Samarra mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 women and 2 children while a roadside bombing in Hilla left four police officers wounded.

Also, yesterday, on the Tal Afar bombing, this appeared: "CBS and AP note Brig. Gen Rahim al-Jibouri (Tal Afar police) states the death toll will most likely rise and that 9 are dead in a Baghdad roadside bombing (eight wounded)." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) informs, "The police chief of Tal Afar MG Wathiq Al Hamdani said that the final result of the explosion of Tal Afar town increased into 30 killed and 32 injured."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman was wounded during a home invasion in Hawija. DPA reports a police officer "opened fire Tuesday on a crowd of civilians queuing outside an ice factory in Karbala, killing three people and wounding seven others in an apparently random shooting".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 16 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 7 corpses were turned over to the Mosul morgue, 1 corpse was discovered outside Baquba, and 1 discovered in Kirkuk (cab driver).

Today, the UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep sorrow that the Ministry of Defense must confirm the death of a British soldier from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh as a result of a small arms fire attack during an operation in Basra, southern Iraq, last night, Monday 6 August 2007." As Nico Hines (Times of London) notes, this was the 165th British soldier to die in the illegal war since it began.

Today, the US military announced: "Three Task Force Marne Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device struck their convoy August 4, south of Baghdad." For those not near a a calendar, those 3 died on Saturday. But no one's supposed to notice that. The US military also announced: "One Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed and another wounded when an explosively-formed penetrator detonated targeting their vehicle during combat operations in a western section of the Iraq capital Aug. 6." ICCC's total is 20 US service membres have died in Iraq for the month of August thus far; however, CBS and AP note, "The U.S. military tells CBSNews.com that 26 American service members have been killed in action in Iraq in the past week alone". That count apparently includes the last 3 days of July. A number that is firm is 162,000. AFP reports that's approximately how many US troops are currently on the ground in Iraq topping the previous high of January 2005 (about 161,000).