Friday, April 27, 2007

Phyllis Bennis, Robert Jensen, Kevin Zeese

The cartoon to the right is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "My Cousin Maliki" and if you can't see it clearly, blame Flickr which I am not a member of. Use the link and you can see the comic in full. Isaiah does wonderful work and I always enjoy it when he does a movie parody. Here, Isaiah is casting Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, in the Marisa Tomei role in My Cousin Vinnie. I think the look on puppet Nouri's face is priceless.

"Moving Beyond Anti-War Politics" (Phyllis Bennis and Robert Jensen, CounterPunch):
As we organize against the occupation, we also must work to end U.S. support for Israeli occupation and try to prevent an aggressive war against Iran. But all of this is part of a larger obligation of U.S. citizens: We must challenge U.S. empire. The U.S. troop withdrawal and reparations should be accompanied by a declaration of a major change of course in U.S. foreign policy, especially in Iraq and the Middle East. We need a new foreign policy based on justice, relying on international law and the United Nations, rather than the assertion of might-makes-right.
This takes us beyond a critique of the mendacity of the Bush administration, to recognize that similar dreams of conquest and domination have animated every administration, albeit in different forms. From the darling of the anti-communist liberal elite (John F. Kennedy) and the champion of so-called "assertive multilateralism" (Bill Clinton), to the crude Republican realist (Richard Nixon) and the patron saint of the conservative right (Ronald Reagan), U.S. empire in the post-World War II era has been a distinctly bi-partisan effort.
In his 1980 State of the Union address, President Jimmy Carter called for domination of the Middle East: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." In other words: We run the region and control the flow of its oil.
George W. Bush took earlier administrations' power plays to new heights of reckless militarism and unilateralism, seizing the moment after 9/11 to declare to all nations: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." In other words: We demand global capitulation.
The only way to transcend this ugly history is through an honest national dialogue and a promise of a sea change in U.S. policy.

I enjoyed the above article for a number of reasons (and that's an excerpt above) but mainly because it's not accepting the myth that to discuss Iraq you discuss battlefield 'strategies.' To discuss Iraq, you need to confront the whys of the illegal war.

Bennis and Jensen take it to the historical and economic roots. Which, for the record, is something that didn't happen on the much lauded Bill Moyers' special this week -- see Rebecca's "white males on parade - at least some were hot." He did address the fact that the war was based on lies (while sidestepping issues of why anyone would bother to lie in the first place) so that puts him ahead of PBS's NOW -- see Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Pigs and Prigs on PBS' NOW." So make a point to read Bennis and Jensen's article and give it some serious thought.

"While the Congress Approved Another $95 Billion for War, With Weak Provisions for Exiting Iraq" (Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising):
While the Senate was voting 51-46 to approve $95 billion more in war funding, in a bill that included a loophole ridden withdrawal plan, inside the Hart Senate office building more than 75 anti-war demonstrators participated in a dramatic demonstration.
The demonstration was dramatic because anti-war activists are getting angrier at the congress and the president for extending the war rather than ending it. A wide range of groups came together to support the Hart demonstration and the various influences in the anti-war movement -- military families, vets, peace activists among them -- were seen in the action. The demonstration took place in the atrium of the Hart Building both on the floor and over the five floors of balconies surrounding it.
The demonstration began with the reading of letters from military families to leaders of Congress. The first letter was read by Marine Mom Tina Richards, other readers included Sue Udry of United for Peace and Justice, Linda Schade of Voters For Peace and Pete Perry of the Washington Peace Center. You can see the letters on the website of Military Families Speak Out [.]

There is a lot of activism going on in this country to end the war and most of it never gets covered. C.I. touched on the silence around student activism (the very real student activism going on today) in "And the war drags on . . ." and I just loved that entry. Sunny and I kept talking about it between sessions and during lunch today. We loved it so much we left C.I. a message that was returned at lunch. I honestly felt bad about that because between the column for the gina & krista round-robin, co-charing a roundtable for that and the entries "last night" (try this morning -- all the more so since C.I. was on the East Coast and the times given are PST). No sleep, but other than a very bad headache, C.I. reported no damage. So we made a point to say how much we enjoyed the entry on student activism and alternative media. That pretty much summed up everything that needed to be said and then some.

Sunny reads the e-mails (she loves doing it so she can have at it) and a few of you have written to ask whether she'll be guest posting anytime soon and when is she getting married? She's getting married this summer, they've pushed it back because they found a place to hold the reception that they love so much they rearranged the wedding date. She's busy with planning and is always offering to grab a guest post but I told her after the wedding. That's a job in itself and she's already running the office on top of that. She offers frequently but I think she's got more than enough on her plate. I'll also add that she is sporting a very beautiful engagement ring these days. She came in flashing it not that long ago (they'd gotten a band while deciding on the setting) and I had to stop her to take a close look.

Remember that the Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove event in NYC is this Wednesday. (C.I.'s noting it in the snapshot each day through Wednesday.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another prisoner in Iraq dies in US custody, the death of 3 US service members are announced, Riverbend and her family decide it's time to leave Iraq, students continue their activism in the US, and more.

Starting with war resisters,
Richard Brown (KXLY) profiles war resister Ryan Johnson who self-checked out in 2005 and went to Canada with his wife Jenny to seek asylum. Johnson states, "I decided that I didn't want to participate in what I preceived to be an illegal war. I have no problem serving my country. I love the United States. That's where I grew up, that's my home, that's where my family is." Death of the party Lizzie Knudson shows up to puff out her chest and strut like any macho b.s. artist while expressing her hate and rage by declaring that she hopes he's thrown in prison for life and that she knows people who have died in Iraq. Pass that rage on over to the Bully Boy, Lizzie, Ryan Johnson didn't send anyone into an illegal war to die. Had Brown spent less time offering Lizzie's rants, he might have been able to provide some actual information (and it would have pleased War Hawk Liz). He could have, for instance, noted that the Johnsons share a home in Canada with
Kyle Snyder and Maleah Friesen. The latter are now married. Of course their planned February wedding got put on hold when Canadian police -- taking orders from the US military -- showed up at the home to drag Snyder away in handcuffs (and in his boxers -- wouldn't even let him get dressed) with the intent to start immediate deportation on Snyder. That's a story that would have tickled War Hawk Lizzie even if it has Canadians outraged (whether they support war resisters or not) because (a) war resistance is not a deportable offense and (b) the Canadian police is not supposed to take orders from a foreign government. The US media continues its silence on that event and also avoids noting that US military crossed over into Canada on a search for war resister Joshua Key. Brown does note, "In the last seven years, nearly 22,500 member of the United States military have gone AWOL or deserted and every year the numbers rise."

And as the numbers rise, more and more go public and speak out. As
Courage to Resist reports war resisters Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala will be speking out from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. This will be Aguayo's first publicly speaking appearances since being released from the brig earlier this month (April 18th). The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

The are all part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others.

From the topic of courage, we turn to craven -- taking us to the halls of Congress. As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "The Senate has voted provide nearly one hundred billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a non-binding timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.". Non-bidning timetable remains one of the most left out aspects of the measure. Also usually left out is that Bully Boy can reclassify those serving in Iraq (as "military police," for example) and avoid the pleas for withdrawals. (Pleas because "calls" is too strong for what is now headed to the White House for a signature.) Marilyn Bechtel (People's Weekly World) reminds that "the Congressional Research Service said that nearly half the $94 billion earmarked in the supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would really be used for non-urgent items like sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, and funding a U.S.-established Arabic-language TV station. The CRS report also pointed out that the Pentagon has funds available to continue the war until June or July." The sense of urgency being pushed by both major parties is as much smoke and mirrors as what left Congress. Bill Van Auken (World Socialist Web) tackles the realities, noting, "While media reports on the Congressional legislation routinely refers to it as a plan for the withdrawal of US troops from occupied Iraq and ending the war, the language of the bill makes clear that what is involved is a tactical 'redeployment' that would leave tens of thousands of US soldiers and marines in Iraq for years to come. . . . The bill includes a provision for keeping US armed forces in Iraq for three purposes: 'protecting United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure; training and equipping Iraqi forces and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operation.' This language would essentially allow the occupation and war to continue indefinitely, with US troops deployed to protect a massive new embassy being constructed in Baghdad to house a virtual colonial government and to guard 'American citizens' sent by the oil companies to reap massive profits off of Iraq's oil fields."

Yes, the topic of oil. In the supposed illegal war that had nothing to do with oil. The New York Times editorial board pimped the privatization of oil this week as did
War Pornographer Michael Gordon today where he noted, "American officials" were "pressing" the passage of the law and that it's apparently so important that even General David H. Petraeus has to stick his nose in (apparently commanding the US military in Iraq allows him much free time) to share that "he considered passage of the oil law, which would distribute revenues from oil production among Iraq's regions, a priority among the so-called benchmark items that the Americans would like to see become law." It does redistribute the monies -- redistributes them right out of Iraq and into the pockets of Big Oil which, under the proposed legislation, would receive over 70% of the profits in some cases.

In Iraq,
Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) reports that her family has decided to leave Iraq which, despite the Operation Happy Talk operatives, never achieved 'liberation' or 'democracy' (but then those were never the Bully Boy's intended aims. Noting the issue of the very unpopular wall in Baghdad, Riverbend writes: "It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad - let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protects' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis. . . . The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently - Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacisiou and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer - like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of 'Shia areas' and Shia out of 'Sunni areas'."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded 2, a Baghdad roadside bomb that killed 1 and left 1 wounded, a Kirkuk bombing that killed 4 police officers and left 5 more wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bomb that killed 1 person and left 3 wounded,


Reuters reports three people were shot dead in Mussayab and a "human rights activist was shot dead by gunmen near his home, 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Kirkuk".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad. and 3 corpses discovered in Kirkuk.

In addition,
Reuters reports that a prisoner at the US military operated prison Camp Bucca died "after he was apparently assaulted by other prisoners." As Damien Cave (New York Times) noted this morning of the US military controlled Camp Cropper, "Several detainees there have died mysteriously in the past year, with the most recent death occurring April 4. The causes of death for these detainees are rarely divulged." The US military reports the figure of prisoners who have died in US custody in Iraq to be six "in the past year."

In other time lag news,
AP reports that the British helicopter crash in May of 2006 that resulted in the death of five British soldiers resulted from being "shot down by a surface-to-air missile, using a man-portable air defense system, fired from the ground." The US helicopters that crashed this year? Still under investigation.

Also today, the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Multi National Force West died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." Al Anbar Province is the region that, as Anna Badkhen (San Francisco Chronicle) noted, Michael Gordon's man crush, General David Petraeus hailed as an area of progress, a "breathtaking" area of progress. Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times), reporting on Petraeus' testimony to Congress Thursday, notes Petraues' claim to be "forthright" in September when it's time to evaluate the ongong escalation. The claim was all the more laughable considering that this was the week Congress took testimony on the lies the military spread about Pat Tilman's death in Afghanistan and Jessica Lynch testified to the lies told about her service in Iraq by the US military. The escalation is generally stated as having begun in February (the latest wave of the eternal crackdown), The idea that a judgement on it cannot be rendered until September goes unquestioned although few in the US are aware of jobs that come with an eight month probationary period.
On Wednesday, the
US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Corps, Iraq, died April 24, 2007 in a non-combat related incident." Today, (AP) reports that the soldier was Jeremy Maresh (24-years-old) and quotes Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver stating he "died from an apparent suicide." To be clear, there have been other deaths that were ruled suicides by the US military and families have strongly disagreed with the ruling.

US troops will leave Iraq. No matter how long Congress sits on its collective and ass and does nothing, US troops will leave. What happens then?
Phyllis Bennis and Robert Jensen (CounterPunch) address this issue: "The first step is, of course, crucial. When 78 percent of the Iraqi people oppose the presence of U.S. troops and 61 percent support attacks on those troops, it's clear that our presence in the country is causing -- not preventing -- much of the violence. Pulling out U.S. troops (including the 100,000-plus mercenaries who back the U.S. military) won't eliminate all Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence, but it will remove the reasons many Iraqis are fighting. The would take away the protective umbrella that the widely supported anti-occupation violence currently gives the real terrorists -- those engaged in killing civilians for
political or sectarian reasons. Once U.S. forces are gone and the reason for the legitmate resistance to foreign occupation is eliminated, the ugly terrorist violence will be exposed for what it is and it will be possible for Iraqis themselves to isolate the terrorists and eliminate them as a fighting force. But what comes after a U.S. withdrawal? We clearly owe the Iraqi people massive reparations for the devastation our illegal invasion has brought. Only in the United States is that illegality questioned; in the rest of the world it's understood. Equally obvious around the world is that the decision to launch an aggressive war was rooted in the desire to expand U.S. military power in the strategically crucial-oil-rich region, and that as a result the war fails every test of moral legitimacy."

In news of student activism in the US,
Justin Horwath (Minnesota Daily) reports on Monday's meeting at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union where students who had formed a new chapter of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) met with members gathered to organize and heard Dave Biking speak of what SDS had accomplished during the 60s (when Bicking was a member). Howarth notes that today's SDS "has 148 university chapters and 58 high school chapters nationwide." Kyle Johnson tells Howarth, "SDS gives us the legitimacy to work on other issues, but the war is the No. 1 issue nationally, period." Erika Zurawski states that the new chapter is about "the issues of the day" and that "[t]here's a lot of issues to work on."

Arnie Passman (Berkeley Daily Planet) traces the history and popularization of the peace symbol noting, "In its Golden Jubilee year (right behind last 9/11's 100th anniversary of Gandhi creating the pledge of satyagraha--soul force), the peace symbol has weathered numerous wars -- and the best marketing opportunities money can buy. Facing today's horrors of Asian wars, increased nuclear disfunction, global warming, racial injustice, the irreversible military-industrial complex?. . ., it still calls from great city protests and hamlets to all Earth's colors and creeds for nonviolent resistance (peace marches between the 7 or 8 Gandhi statues--from Boston to San Francisco?) and civil disobedience (sit-ins at the largest defense contracting congressional districts?). And all from the mind of one person that deep '50s, dead winter day in grimy ol' London Town--and the pioneering march through the English countryside to mad western science's Aldermaston." Gerlad Holtom was the designer of the peace symbol.

Finally, Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC),
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci. Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.

joshua key

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Zinn, Arnove's Voices of a People's History May 2nd, Cooper Union

Please Join
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove for a special evening of readings from
their book Voices of a People's History of the United States.
With special musical performances by
Allison Moorer
Steve Earle
and readings and vocal performances by
Ally Sheedy
Brian Jones
Danny Glover
Deepa Fernandes
Erin Cherry
Harris Yulin
Kathleen Chalfant
Kerry Washington
Opal Alladin
Staceyann Chin
Stanley Tucci
Narration and introduction by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove
May 2
6:30 pm
The Great Hall, Cooper Union
Free to the public.
Sponsored by The Cooper Union.
Voices of a People's History of the United States
edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, is the companion volume to
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It features
the words of rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past -- and
The public performances of Voices are inspiring, challenging
reminders of our rich history of protest and its relevance for today.

If anyone visits this site more than once, they should know Howard Zinn is one of my personal favorites -- historian, writer, speaker. In fact we saw him speak recently with Amy Goodman.
C.I.'s noting the above on Thursday and I have group Thursday night so I'm noting it tonight. I can recommend the books (Voices and A People's History) but I only have second hand reports on the readings. I can tell you that Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. skipped Tom Hayden (whom they like) to see a reading of Voices last year. They were really torn but ending up going to see the reading instead and they really enjoyed it. They still talk about it. Deepa Fernandes hosts WakeUp Call on WBAI, Danny Glover is the actor and activist, Steve Earle wrote and sang "The Revolution Starts Now" and hosts a program on Air America Radio by that name. I wish I knew more of the names. I know the gang enjoyed Earle. He may have been the only one listed who was at the performance they saw. I know Alice Walker read at the one they saw.

But let me explain what the reading is because some people may be lost. Howard Zinn wrote the best selling (mammoth selling) A People's History of the United States. Voices of a People History of the United States was a project he and Anthony Arnove spun off from that. With A People's History, Zinn was showing us how history is made by the people. Voices presents (some of) those people in their own words. C.I. would say, "No one can love Howard Zinn as much as you do." That may be true. But C.I. had both books (and had read them) and was still amazed by the reading. So if you are in the NYC area, I would strongly urge you to attend the reading.

I hope that's captured your interest. If not, blame it on the fact that I'm thinking about how I drive to Boston all the time and they must have done a reading in Boston. How I missed that, I don't know, but I did. If you want to avoid scanning your brain for how you missed it, as I'm doing now, be sure to turn out for it.

By the way, Anthony Arnove, I have no idea what he will do in this event, but he's a wonderful speaker. We saw him in DC with Iraq Veterans Against the War. My memory is shot tonight. This was either in January of this year or March of this year. I believe it was January. It was at a place called Busboys and something. As I said, my memory is shot tonight. Today was sessions and hassles with one insurance company. Tangent warning. I strongly support nationalized health and I do not support Hillary Clinton's 90s proposal of "simply the forms and still fork over millions to insurance companies." I've noticed that she's promised some form of 'universal' healthcare . . . provided she's elected to two terms. I've also noticed that she's failed to present a plan. I hope she's not expecting us to all live through the nightmare that was her closed to the public meetings again -- if she gets voted in. (I don't support or endorse Hillary Clinton for president.)

One of my friends gave input to her taskforce . . . input that was trashed when it was time for her 'plan' to be presented. It was a wonderful plan . . . if you're big business. For a patient or provider, it didn't offer much. She was like Bono trying to take control of the G8 activism, jumping onto something real advocates were working on and providing a distraction that allowed corporations to be off the hook. I read an interview awhile back where Bono was whining that leaders didn't live up to their (empty) promises.

I once like U2 but Bono's soured me on them. I don't think you can talk about 'humanitarian' work and silence yourself on Iraq -- as he admitted that he did to Rolling Stone. I could list a ton of other reasons (actually, Kat could) including being a part of the company that designed a video 'game' where you get to 'take out' Hugo Chavez but Bono has ruined U2 for me. Fortunately, they are over. C.I. pointed that out awhile back on the phone. They're doing a Broadway show. As C.I. noted, Lieber & Stoller, John Phillips, they all see their careers crash and burn when they try to go Broadway.

"The Rights of Children in the United States" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
The U.S. is the only United Nations member-state except Somalia that has neglected to ratify the UN's 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. In February 2001, George W. Bush explicitly objected to its "human rights-based approach"-which, among other things, prohibits prosecuting and incarcerating children as adults because their minds are too immature to form "criminal intent."
Indeed, the U.S. stands alone in its rush to sentence children to a lifetime in prison without the possibility of parole, and is home to more than 99 percent of youths serving this sentence worldwide. According to a joint 2005 study by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the U.S. had 9,400 prisoners serving life prison terms for crimes committed before the age of 18, of which 2,225 were serving life without parole. Of those, 16 percent were between 13 and 15 years old at the time they committed the crimes for which they were convicted.
More than 100,000 children are currently incarcerated in local detention and state correctional institutions across the country. "Zero tolerance" advocates would have us believe that the number has skyrocketed because our nation is overrun with teenage predators committing an unprecedented number of heinous crimes. But statistics belie this explanation. The murder conviction rate for youths fell from 2,234 in 1990 to 1,006 in 2000, a drop of almost 55 percent. Yet during that same period, the percentage of children receiving sentences of life without parole more than tripled, from 2.9 to 9 percent.

How proud does that make you feel? You can't just blame Bully Boy for the treaty. 1989? His father was president. Then came Bill Clinton. So don't read about that and think, "Damn, Bully Boy." Treaty or not, read Smith's article if you're unfamiliar with this, there's no excuse for putting children behind bars.

How did that happen? I can remember 1979 so let's start with that. That was the year of the child, declared by UNICEF. In fact, if you're a Fleetwood Mac fan, Stevie Nicks donated the proceeds of "Beautiful Child" (off Tusk) for the cause. That was still pre-Reagan. I really think Reagan, and his destructive ecnomic policies, set us on this journey where so many people today see an advance for someone else as a huge loss for themselves. Greed was supposed to be the buzzword but I think hatred was the real buzz.

Please note, I'm not saying the world, or even the country, was paradise. Nor am I saying, "There's been a coursening!" I love how Don Imus' idiotic and hateful speech is supposed to represent a coursening of our discourse. I think we've embraced hatred in the last decades more and more. I can remember being shocked, early on in Reagan's presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers -- shocked by the fact that he fired striking workers and shocked by the fact that the mainstream press played it as a "Way to put them in their place!" I see Bully Boy as the confirmation of that attitude which only got louder and louder.

I'm not fretting the death of faux civility (which I'm not remembering existing) but I am saying that the ones who hated specific groups of people learned quickly that that they didn't have to do so privately. Betty, C.I. and I were talking about this other day and how so many editorial boards enable that spewing their hate at the French or whomever. It's really easy to pin the blame on Imus but the racism coming from the mainstream press since the 80s was much more destructive than anything Imus could have said. (That's not a defense of Imus. I'm glad he's gone. I am noting that when you promote The Bell Curve, for instance, as 'science' and true, you're a lot worse off than some idiot on the radio.)

I guess I am just not going to be able to pull together anything tonight. I always feel pressure on Wednesdays due to the fact that this post stays up until Friday. Rebecca laughs about that and always points out that my Friday post stays up until Monday. That is true but it's true of most of the community sites. So I don't ever worry that someone's coming here on Sunday and thinking, "She hasn't posted! What?" But I do get e-mails still asking why I didn't post Thursday?

The only thing worse than having this feeling is realizing (after I hit "PUBLISH") that I could have added something else. Oh, one thing I do need to add. Gina and Krista's rountable tomorrow night is something I won't be able to participate in because it'll be while I'm doing group. But I could participate. C.I. noted that this morning but Krista e-mailed and asked if I'd note it here. The topic is going to be White women who have said insulting things. Now that's not Ann Coulter whom we expect to say insulting things due to her politics. This is White women who dismiss the NAACP's concerns about media portrayals of African-Americans, this is White woman who take Imus' comments and say it was sexism when it was sexism and it was racism. Gina is African-American. Krista is White. Both will be participating so you do not have to be African-American to participate. But this is becoming an issue in the community and when Gina saw that for the second day in a row, she called C.I. to get it announced because she does want input from African-American community members. If you can't participate, regardless of your race, but you have a comment or an example you want them to address, e-mail Gina or Krista and they'll grab it. Krista wrote that the following are confirmed for participating: Martha, Betty, Erika, Keesha, Cedric, Carl, Billie, Ty, Ava and C.I. They're hoping to have 20 (plus themselves -- Gina and Krista) participating and this usually fills up very quickly. They are receiving a lot of topics and questions but much less requests to participate so Krista thinks that even though C.I. made this point already, some may be thinking that it's only a roundtable for African-American members. If you're someone who's participated often and you're thinking you'll give time to others this go round, that's fine. But Krista wants to be sure that everyone understands that this is a conversation that is open to everyone.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the United Nations raises the issue of Iraqi fatalities, US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich moves to impeach Dick Cheney, the wall in Baghdad continues to be an issue, and more.

Starting with war resisters. Last Saturday, the latest public war resisters spoke in Greensboro, Terri Johnson.
jarnocan (North Carolina World Can't Wait) reports, "Terri Johnson of Greensboro was like a lot of other young people with limited options after high school who are set upon by US Army recruiters. She believed the promises of the recruiters who told her that the Army was nothing more than a good shot at a college education and a prosperous future. She discovered, as do many others who sign up, that not only wa she signing her life away, but the lives of people targeted by the illegal and immoral war on Iraq as well. So she did the right thing. She refused to fight." Jordan Green (Yes! Weekly) notes that "the granddaughter of past Gressnsboro NAACP President Gladys Shipman, deliberately failed to complete her final fitness test at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and then went AWOL on Sept. 28, 2006, the day before graduation." Speaking at a rally at Governmental Plaza, Johnson stated: "I'm not anti-war one hundred percent because some wars are worth fighting for. But this war is not worth fighting for. I really don't look at myself as a hero. I was just doing it for me because [the war] wasn't for me. There were a lot of my buddies who didn't want to drop out like me, but they didn't have have the courage to make the decision I did." On leaving during basics, Johnson stated, "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 Johnson is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is accusing the puppet government in Iraq of a different form of resistance.
Yara Bayoumy (Reuters) reports that the UN states the government is "withholding sensitive civilian casualty figures because the government fears the data would be used to paint a 'very grim' picture of a worsening humanitarian crisis." CNN reports that the refusal to supply the data has prevented the UN from calculating the numbers of Iraqis killed in the first four months of 2007. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) states that numbers the Los Angeles Times have "obtained from various ministries" puts the 2007 civilian toll at 5,509 thus far this year. The Times figures are incomplete, it should be noted, and Susman is incorrect when she claims that the US "military does not count civilian deaths that occur during its operations". The US military has kept a count -- Nancy A. Youssef broke that story right before Knight Ridder became McClatchy Newspapers. You didn't hear much about that because it was time to travel-logue in indymedia. But the US military is keeping figures, has been keeping figures. They will admit to keeping figures since June of 2005. They refuse to release those figures to the press or to the public. So when the puppet government refuses to release figures to the UN, it all has a familiar ring to it.

Al Jazeera reports, "On Wednesday, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (Unami) blamed the majority of the bloodshed on sectarian fighting, and expressed concern about the human-rights record of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister." And the response? AFP reports that the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, issued a statement: "The Iraqi government announces that is has major reservations about this report, which lack precision in its presentation of information, lasts crediblity in many of its points and lacks balance in its presentation of the human rights situation in Iraq." Around the world, chuckles were heard as the puppet questioned someone else's credibility.

The report comes as
IRIN notes that Baghdad's "infrastructure continues to deteriorate, causing more violence, health hazards and misery for its seven million inhabitants" and notes "at least 43 workers have been killed in the past few months while collecting rubbish, changing lights or repairing sewage systems in the capital, mostly in the more dangerous neighborhoods of Sadr City, Alawi, Dora, Bab al-Muadham and Adhamiyah."

Turning to United States, US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich
"introduced articles of impeachment Tuesday against Vice President Dick Cheney,"
The Post Chronicle reported noting that the "main chrages are that Cheney used manipulated intelligence to win support for the war in Iraq, and falsely claimed a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida." For many outlets it was time to put on the old 45 of Simon & Garfunkle . . . Hello darkness my old friend . . . As they "covered" the news by not covering it. The sounds of silence.

Dennis Bernstein addressed the issue of impeaching Cheney on
Flashpoints yesterday, noting that Kucinich "broke the silence in Congress . . . Kucinich's actions follow on many calls and a series of througly well constructed and researched arguments for impeachment. Among the strongest cases made for impeachment is that by a former prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega with over 2 decades as a federal prosecutor. She is the author of United States v. George W. Bush et al. She's been lecturing on the case for impeachment and following the unraveling also of the Attorney General.".

Elizabeth de la Vega: "I think it's an extremely strong case and what's beautiful about it is that it's very elegantly done and it's just very, very simple. As you mentioned Article I is manipulating the intelligence process to deceive the public and Congress by making up, essentially, a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction so that the administration could invade Iraq. . . . And the specific nature of that fabrication has to do, of course, with the weapons of mass destruction. Article II is very similar except that it relates to the same type of fabrication with regard to a link between . . . al Qaeda and Iraq and 9-11. The third one has to do with Iran. And I think, really, the case is almost irrefutable."

Robert Naiman (The Huffington Post) addresses the press treatment of the issue and notes that "Kucinich seems to be one of the few Members of Congress aware that threatening to attack other countries is a violation of the U.N. Charter, a treaty wo which the U.S. is signatory." Dave Lindorff (who has been covering the impeachment movement across the country) writes (at CounterPunch) that, as a result of Kucinich's actions, "The mainstream corporate media, which has so far been largely ignoring the issue of impeachment, will have to go to extra lengths of censorship to block out the popular movement now, with a bill on the floor of the House, and with impeachment resolutions passing in the Vermont state legislature. It will be interesting to see how the nation's new gatekeepers handle the story now that it is breaking out into the open so forcefully." Those in and near Trenton, New Jersey this weekend, should be aware of the demonstration where "a Human Mural" will spell out "IMPEACH" at the State House in Trenton on 125 W. State Street, Saturday April 28th -- more information can be found here (AfterDowningStreet). That is not the only event across the country. Progressive Democrats of America's Marcy Winograd spoke with Lila Garrett on Connect The Dots With Lila Garrett on KPFK Monday. Winograd and others will be taking part in the California Democratic Party State Convention which will be held in the
San Diego Convention Center this weekend, 111 West Harbor Drive, Convention Center, San Diego. PDA will be mobilizing around many issues including impeachment -- "Impeachment Is On Our Table."

In addition, note this from
Impeachment Day: April 28It's time to say NO to impunity for lying, spying, and torture. George Bush and Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors demand accountability. Since Congress doesn't get it, on April 28 Americans are going to spell it out for them: I M P E A C H ! More...

A transcript of Dennis Kucinich's press conference can be found
here and, from that, we'll note this from his conference, "This goes beyond partisan terms. This is being done to defend our constitutional system of government. This is being done so that all tose of us who took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States can understand that this impeachment is one valid way in furtherance of the defense of our Constitution. I don't see this as bening distant from anyone, in any capacity in our government. Everyone must reflect on this. Years from now, people will ask, 'Why didn't the United States government respond when they saw this threat to our democracy? Why didn't people inside the government respond?' if this doesn't move forward. And so this really isn't so much, I might add, about the vice president as it is about who we are as a people. What is it that we stand for? What kind of government do the people of the United States expect and deserve? It's not appropriate for the government to lie to people. It is wrong for government officials -- you know, the vice president, in this case -- to take this nation into war based on lies."

In semi-related news, US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice has a subpoena with her name on it from the US House Judiciary Committee.
CBS News and AP report that she will be asked to testify (presumably under oath) about the lies that Iraq "was seeking uranium from Africa." On a 21-10 vote, the committee agreed to compell Rice's testimony.

From what Americans want to what Iraqis want,
CNN reports: "Shiits in Baghdad gathered Wednesday to protest a wall surrounding the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya. The U.S. and Iraqi militaries say the wall is for protection, but radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement calling the wall sectarian, racist and oppressive. He vowed to support all Iraqis -- Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians -- and called on them to unite against 'the evil will of the occupier'." Al Jazeera notes, "Moqtada al-Sadr's remarks were the first by the Mahdi Army head since the US military said last week that it was building a wall in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district." Sally Kohn (Common Dreams) shares her thoughts on the issue, "Good fences have never made good policy, just as they've never made good neighbors. Bush's embrace of wall building and secrecy reminds me of totalitarian feudal lords. But feudalism failed too, didn't it? Now that Nouri al-Maliki has poked a hole in Bush's Baghdad wall plans, can we start building some bridges instead?"

In violence today in Iraq . . .


CNN reports: "A truck loaded with chlorine detonated Wednesday at a military checkpoint on the western outskirts of Baghdad, killing one Iraqi and wounded two others". Reuters notes a Balad Ruz bombing that killed 9 and left 16 wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing ("near a petrol station") that killed 2, and a Baghdad mortar attack on the west Rashid section of Baghdad resulted one death and five wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bombing that left one person dead, a bobming near Tikrit that wounded two police officers


Reuters reports Ali al-Bayati ("Iraq's former bodybuilding champion") was shot dead in Mosul, another Mosul shooting claimed two lives and left one person wounded, a police officer shot dead in Tuz Khurmato.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Hilla.

Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) examines a number of issues (life on the ground in Iraq, scandals of the administration) and we'll zoom in on the commentary regarding the US House and Senate measures, "It is hard to know what to make of these Democratic proposals. To what extent are they designed seriously or only for political cover? The most dangerous one is the open-ended authorization to continue combat operations against 'all extremists', which should be opposed by the anti-war movement and their Democratic allies. The related problem is the resurfacing of the 'humanitarian hawks' who delude themselves into believing the US military can succeed in a more low-visibility role combining counter-insurgency and economic development. The flaw in their thinking is that American soldiers can serve as 'trainers' to an Iraqi state described as sectarian even by the Baker-Hamilton Report.

And today
Amy Goodman interviewed Bill Moyers on Democracy Now! whose Bill Moyers Journal debuts this week on PBS stations (starts tonight on some PBS stations) and the first episode focuses on the selling of the illegal war.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On the exclusion of women

In "Other Items" today, C.I. noted several thing. First:

The future of independent magazines like Ms., Mother Jones, The Nation, etc. is at risk with a massive new postage hike! The U.S. Postal Service has accepted a Time Warner proposal that would significantly increase postage rates for smaller magazines, while reducing costs for the nation's largest publishers like Hearst and, you guessed it, Time Warner.
Ms. is working with Free Press, a national non-partisan organization working to reform media, and the Media Consortium, including Mother Jones, The Nation, American Prospect, The Progressive, In These Times, and other independent media to send a massive number of letters protesting this unfair postage hike. But we must act now - we only have until April 23 to respond!Please take a minute now to cosign a letter demanding that the rules are changed.Time Warner's plan was chosen - with no public input - instead of another proposal that would have imposed a mostly equal increase (approx. 12 percent) for all magazine publishers. If implemented, the Time Warner plan could force many smaller publications out of business.
This proposal unfairly hurts smaller, cutting-edge publications like Ms., at a time when we need independent media more than ever. You can count on Ms. magazine, not "big corporate media," for the real story on the issues affecting women in the U.S. and worldwide.
Don't let Time Warner and the corporate media win - please cosign a letter demanding that Congress step in to stop the unfair postage hike and save independent media!
For A Strong Feminist Media,
Katherine Spillar
Executive Editor
Eleanor Smeal
P.S. If you are not already a member of the Ms. Community, join today and get a year of Ms. delivered to your door.

As everyone knows, I don't subscribe. I purchase one by one. C.I. noted I'd discussed why and I had e-mails from people I've never heard of (I'll assume they're visitors) asking why? Every Saturday, my father took my brother and I to the bookstore where we'd stay for several hours. That was both to have an outing with us and also to allow our mother some down time. My parents died when I was a still a kid and a bookstore, any bookstore, always reminds me of those Saturday trips. C.I. wasn't going to put that up there even though I have (it's a personal story and C.I.'s attitude would be, "It's not mine to tell"). So what I read, I buy. (Except for the offices. I do subscribe to magazines to have in the waiting room.)

Would a mail rate hike effect me? Yes, it would because of the reasons C.I. outlined. Directly, the magazines could go up in price (to cover the postal hike). Directly, the magazine could fold. Directly, the magazine could stay in business but go from monthly to bimonthly or otherwise alter its publication schedule. All of those are direct effects even though I don't subscribe.

Other direct effects? If we don't all have access to obtain information (whether we choose to or not), then we're not all equal.

It's also very true that regardless of my own situation, I should care about others in the community. I can think of six members (I'm sure C.I. can think of many more than that) who, if they didn't have their subscriptions, wouldn't be able to keep up because they don't have a store that carries publications like Harper's or anything else. So I hope you will sign on to this. Or call your Congress reps' offices. But make your voice heard.

I thought C.I. did a wonderful job explaining what was what. I thought Katrina vanden Heuvel did an awful job on Democracy Now! covering the issues. I think it's really sad when you can't mention Ms. magazine but you've got time to name check The National Review. But some women run from being associated with their gender.

Kat [Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)] will be addressing Katrina vanden Heuvel's appearance tonight, so watch for that.

In the snapshot (below), C.I. discusses a program. Like me, you may be wondering what it was? I know when we passed the 3,300 mark so that meant the program aired on Monday. I took a chance Kat had taped it. She tapes The Morning Show for Betty (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man) and called Kat. Yes, she had taped it. She had to shoot some photos that day, so she'd used her tape recorder, hand held, that has different speeds and caught most of the day. C.I. called her this afternoon to hear the show after a friend had mentioned it. I listened to it (thank you, Kat) tonight. Let me be very clear, I support United for Peace and Justice but I do not support people who have public positions in that organization and trash the peace movement nor people who say that it's not important to know how many US troops have died. The male idiot went on to add that everyone knows it within five. Then he gives the "3280-something" figure when the figure was actually, the day before he spoke, 3,301. That's more than "within five," so he obviously disproves his own point.

But that is so insulting as is blaming the peace movement for Americans not knowing how many Iraqis have died. As C.I. points out, that's a media issue. Quit trashing the peace movement for that. That show was insulting, not just that one guest but the host and the other guest as well. We plan to address it this Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review in a new feature entitled "War Pigs." Let me also echo C.I. (and Laura Flanders because she's made this point as well), where are the women? How do you have two guests on to discuss Iraq, one a math professor, and not think, "Hmm. Counting me, that's three men?" Who booked that show? Katrina vanden Heuvel?

I am getting really tired of that and I hope you are as well. I hope you're calling out this nonsense that relegates women to the sidelines. This is ridiculous -- even more so when it is independent media. We have to stop accepting this crap, we have to call it out.

If not for what's going on today then to create a bedrock for others to stand on because this is shocking. In 2007, Katrina vanden Heuvel is perfectly comfortable publishing four men for every one woman. Though she can toss out "The National Review," the magazine she is in charge of is entitled The Nation and four men for every one woman is unacceptable. Three men for every one woman would be unacceptable. What she should be striving for is equality.

If she were a company, say Proctor & Gamble, and consumers learned that for every woman P&G hired, they hired four men, there would be protests, there would be pickets. How do we expect things to change in the mainstream media when we are being stabbed in the back by independent media? What does it say when the one holding the knife is a woman?

As C.I. emphasized: "Let's repeat that, just for women to pull even, the next issue of The Nation would have to feature the bylines of 132 women." That is disgusting and we should all be raising our voices.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, April 24, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a new documentary on war resisters is making the rounds of the film festivals, Dems and Bully Boy seek out applause lines and more.

Starting with war resisters. The
AP reported on Kevin Benderman's appearance at the Atlanta Film Festival Sunday "for the world premiere of the documentary Soldiers of Conscience. The film, which later will be presented in film festivals in Seattle and Massachusetts, is about Benderman and other U.S. soldiers whose experiences in Iraq prompted them to seek out conscientious objector status." The documentary is directed by Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg of Luna Productions in Berkeley. Peter Coyote narrates the documentary which features, among others Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado, and Joshua Casteel. Benderman tells AP, "If there's anything I can get across to soldiers, it's that I'm not against them. But I am against the war." AP reports that Kevin and Monica Benderman are focusing "on 'Benderman's Bridge, Inc.,' a project to help troops returning from Iraq adjust to civilian life through job training and peer counseling."

Another war resister is Joshua Key who tells his story in the new book
The Deserter's Tale which has gotten a lot of attention. Al Cardwell, in a letter to the Sonoma Index-Tribune, writes:

It was reported in the news that President Bush was horrified when he learned of the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus that took 32 lives. Why the horror, George?
Under you "democracy at the end of a gun" - guidance, massacres like that have been occuring daily for the past five years in Iraq.
I just started reading a new book,
The Deserter's Tale by Joshua Key, the story of an American soldier who walked away from the war in Iraq. Key enlisted in the Army in 2002 and went to Iraq with the 3rd Armed Calvary Regiment. In the book, Key relates that the war he found himself participating in was not the campaign against terrorists he had expected.
Instead, he saw Iraqi citizens beaten, shot and killed or maimed for little or no provocation. Nearly every other night, he participated in destructive raids on homes he was told were harboring terrorists and never finding evidence of terrorist activity. When he returned home on leave, Key knew he coud never return to Iraq, so he went into hiding and eventually sought asylum in Canada. (A total of 3,196 active-duty soldiers deserted from the United States Army in 2006.)
Support our troops - bring them home now. And impeach the pompous, irresponsible, fascist-minded simpleton in the White House!

Kevin Benderman and Joshua Key are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

While Benderman and others are war resisters,
Natalie Storey (The New Mexican) reports on Steve Martinez who is self-checked out of the US army five months ago following the birth of his newborn daughter. Despite attempts by Paul von Zeilbauer (New York Times) to sell the myth that those self-checking out all suffer from PTSD and are not opposed to the illegal war, Martinez doesn't suffer from PTSD. Storey reports, "Tod Ensign, the director of Citizen Soldier, a New York-based group that works for the rights of soldiers and veterans, said Martinez faces three possibilities. His unit might allow him to rejoin if he goes through retraining or agrees to be deployed. He could face administrative punishment like loss of pay or rank. Or, in the worst-case scenario, Martinez could face a court-martial and, after a trial, be sentenced to time in a military prison. What happens to Martinez is largely up to his commander, Ensign said."

And what happens to Iraqis? It happens largely out of the media eye. John Stauber (
Center for Media and Democracy) appeared today on KPFA's The Morning Show where he spoke with Andrea Lewis on a variety of topics. One of which was coverage of deaths. Stauber states, "And the best study on how many people have been killed in the Iraq war since the US, uh, unecessarily, uh, you know, illegally, immorally launched it four years ago if over a half a million Iraqis have died, over 500,000 Iraqis have died. You don't hear the media mentioning that either except, if they do, they'll say, of course, the Pentagon and uh the president of the United States dispute that figure.' But that's the best figure we've got."

The count Stauber's referring to was published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, and it found that over 655,000 Iraqis had died since the start of the illegal war.
Celeste Biever (New Scientist) spoke with Gilbert Burnham who headed the team conducting the study and Burnham states: "Our intentions were not political. Our centre is for refugee and disaster studies and this is simply the kind of thing we do. Other counts, such as the Iraq Body Count, which consists of volunteer academics and activists based in the UK and the US, rely on reports of deaths in the English-language press, but the press is in the business of producing news, not statistics. The IBS uses news reports mainly written in English, by people who can't leave a very narrow area of Baghdad, while violence is worse in the Al Anbar and Diyala provinces. Mortuaries provide figures but a lot of bodies don't make it there. Also press accounts and mortuary numbers record violent deaths, but people die in a war from many cases."

As Stauber noted, big media either ignores the study or it presents qualifiers. Peter Hart (
CounterSpin) rightly noted that a poll that found few Americans knew the number of Iraqis who had died was a reflection on the media and what they cover, not on Americans. Of course, for every Peter Hart or CounterSpin, you can count on those 'helpful' types to take to the airwaves to piss on the peace movement (and "piss on" is the only term for it) via a program that once a year decides to make Iraq the topic and declare that it's the fault of the "anti-war" movement that Americans do not know how many Iraqis have died. [Note: The unnamed guest is not John Stauber, nor is the program The Morning Show.]

Most of us were unaware that the peace movement, or anti-war (men just need that "war" in there apparently) owned one of the big three networks! They must since most Americans continue to get the bulk of their news from television airwaves and since the guest pinned the public's lack of knowledge of how many Iraqis had died not on the media but on the "anti-war" movement.

Possibly, it's time to step away from the public stage when you say (as the guest did) of US troop fatalities, "This is known so well that actually people don't need to be told how many American soldiers have died. Right now it is 3280-something." Actually, the day that aired (the assumption being that is live), the 3,300 benchmark had been passed the day before. Pompous guests don't always know what they're talking about, do they?

But let's be really clear, when you say people don't need to be told how many ___ have died -- Americans, Iraqis, whatever -- you need to consider if Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling and it's time to take your ass off the stage.

The program that made time for it's yearly check in on Iraq -- a program which airs over 100 hours each year? Book better guests. And when one wants to piss on the peace movement and the American people, possibly he shouldn't cite a study (The Lancet) and note that it found "was 650,000 people" when it found over 655,000. An attentive host could have corrected the guest. But a (male) host who wants to discuss the illegal war and do so with two guests might be asked why both guests are male to begin with? Are there no female math professors to book? I mean when math professor is the credential, it's seems really strange that the gates were yet again closed on women.

While the math professor didn't think it was important to note or talk about the US service members who had died,
Mary Pitt (ICH) wonders: "Who grieves for them? While we have lost a hundred children in that conflagration for every student who fell prey to the mad gunner, the nation mourns only those who were presumably safe from harm while those who fell in service to our country are hidden from our sight and rarely mentioned by name unless they qualify as 'heroes.' They fly home under cover of night and then are treated as baggage on commecrial flights until they are taken to their home town. Their family, friends, and neighbors turn out for their funeral with none taking notice except, perhaps, Rev. Fred Phelps and his little band of ghouls. The funeral over, the families go home to deal with their own desolation as they reflect on the life that was lost and the hopes and dreams that will never come to fruition. They will forever wonder why." And find the deaths of their loved ones dismissed by a pompous "anti-war" math professor (whose field should require he know numbers but -- as witnessed by his bungling of The Lancet study numbers -- apparently doesn't).

Monday on
WBAI's Law and Disorder, co-host Michael Smith asked co-host Michael Ratner what it was like to be returning to the United States right now from Germany and France and Ratner responded, "First thing you read, 157 people were killed in Iraq. This is after the so-called escalation -- 'surge' as they call it. Things certainly don't seem to be getting better and, in fact, I think what we may see happening in Iraq is something like the Tet Offensive at some point that will eventually drive the United States out militarily and that just the American people will finally say 'We've had it.' We see the Democrats screwing around a timetable in their legislation but not linking that really to any funding, just putting it in Bush claiming to veto it and realize that people are being slaughtered every day in Iraq."

Democrats screwing around? Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, Robert Knight's "The Knight Report" summed it up as follows:

A Congressional conference committee debated today the best way to not require President Bush to bring an end to the war in Iraq. Throughout the afternoon, legislators quibbled over the non-binding bills enacted earlier this month by both houses. Neither bill would eliminate the US military presence in Iraq nor eliminate the 14 permanent military bases now under construction outside Baghdad and along the Syrian and Iranian borders. Both the House and Senate bills refer only to so-called combat troops which comprise less than a third of the total US presence of more than 150,000 American soldiers, sailors and marines. And even if those provisions were enacted and signed, President George W. Bush would still be allowed to exempt himself from meven their partial withdrawal provisions by citing imaginary benchmarks or invoking national security rendering the legislation moot even if it did survive the veto that is promised by the White House.

Following the report, Dennis Bernstein noted, "It is crystal clear now that the Democrats have no intention of taking the president on regarding the cut off of aid for the occupation and continuing bloody and expanding war in Iraq." Bernstein gave Carl Levin as an example and then interviewed Ray McGovern about McGovern's recent article ("
Levin Gives Cheney Reason To Smirk"). Staying on the topic of what Congress is doing, John Stauber, speaking with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, also noted that:

We see now the war drifiting into the political election of 2008 and now we see the Democrats, who came to power in the House and Senate on the revulsion that the American public feels towards Bush and the war, rather than stepping it up and showing the backbone necessary to really do what I think the public wants -- is force an end to this war -- posing and posturing and trying to have it both ways. So they're about to send a bill to the president. The president says he'll definitely veto it. And we hear you know the bill referred to as, uh, legislation to end the war but in fact There's nothing binding at all in the legislation and so you know I think you've got Democrats going, "Hey, you know the war would well for us last time around, it's going to work well for us next time around." And here I am being cynical but I think this is an accrate assesment, the politically safe thing for the Democrats is to make sure they don't get pegged as the party that lost Iraq and one year and 6 months from now use the ongoing war to bloody and beat the Republicans if you will politically and seize the White House and elect more Democrats.

CBS and AP report that Bully Boy, no surprise, is maintaining he will veto and that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is comparing Bully Boy to LBJ. While they both search for applause lines, violence continues in Iraq.


AP reports that yesterday's attack on the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad was followed with another attack today where two car bombings left at least six wounded.Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two civilians in the Mansour district, a student killed by a locker bomb at the Denistry College, 2 dead from a mini-bus bomb (9 wounded), a mortar attack that killed 4 and left 10 wounded and, outside Baghdad, a Hilla car bombing that killed 3. Reuters reports a truck bombing in Ramadi that took 25 lives (44 wounded), a Numaniya roadside bombing that killed one "police officer and two of his family members, including a child" and three Iraqi soldiers "near Kerbala" from a roadside bomb. Shootings?
AP reports, "Police . . . said gunmen disguised as Iraqi soldiers killed six Iraqis and burned five homes Tuesday . . . South of the capital, a family of seven was shot to death in their beds at dawn by masked gunmen, neighbors and police said."Corpses?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes two corpses discovered in Numaniya and five coprses in Mosul. Today, the US military announced that 9 US service members had died in a bombing on Monday. AFP notes that the deaths brought their count to 3330. Reuters notes that three wounded Australian soldiers from a bombing in Nasiriya.

Staying with Australia and turning to the topic of Jake Kovco. April 21, 2006, Jake Kovco died in Baghdad. This summer we repeatedly noted the whitewash that was the military inquiry into his death. At the end of last month, new developments came out. Judy Kovco, rightly, feels she has not gotten answers to her son's death. Briefly, Kovco died in his room. The gun that allegedly killed him had another soldier's DNA on it (and a laughable defense was offered for that -- and run with -- but the coroner's office shot holes through that nonsense). Both of Kovco's roommates were present in the room, they admit to that. They also deny knowing what happened. No one knows anything. And the military inquiry decided the thing to do was to pin the blame on Jake Kovco and say he must have been playing around with his gun when it discharged (even though he wasn't holding it by the evidence presented).
Eleanor Hall (The World Today), "Back home again, and the finding that Private Jake Kovco shot himself while skylarking in his Baghdad barracks was always controversial. Now a report commissioned by New South Wales Police, and leaked to The Australian newspaper, has cast fresh doubt on that version of events. A military board inquiry last year ruled the soldier shot himself, but the new report says there is insufficient evidence to determine whether the trigger was pulled accidentally. And the Australian Defense Association says a coronial inquest is now inevitable." We'll note this more tomorrow.

joshua key

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ray McGovern, Remi Kanazi

Monday and I'm in the middle of a book (psych book) and also tired so this will probably be a rushed post.

"Levin Gives Cheney Reason To Smirk" (Ray McGovern, Common Dreams):
Never before have I felt such irk from a Cheney smirk -- the one with which he confidently assured CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday's "Face the Nation" that the Democrats will continue to vote to fund the war without including serious restrictions.
Cheney referred approvingly to the fact that "Carl Levin, who’s chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has indicated that they definitely do want to pass funding for the troops.”
Cheney expressed confidence that the Democrats will "not leave America's fighting forces in harm's way without the resources they need to defend themselves." And yes, the vice president went on to reassure viewers, against all evidence to the contrary: "We are making progress."
The administration's main objective could hardly be clearer, even to mainstream pundits allergic to spelling it out. By waving the flag of patriotism, the White House is confident it can continue to intimidate enough Democrats to get the only thing it really wants: enough money to stave off defeat in Iraq until President George W. Bush and Cheney are safely out of office. That, of course, also explains the foredoomed "surge" in troop strength.
But how is it that Cheney can enlist the likes of Carl Levin in a policy built on the backs of American troops? Based on recent casualty rates, some 1,500 American troops already "in harm's way" will die, and several times that number will be wounded before Cheney and Bush leave office -- not to mention the ever mounting casualties among Iraqis.

McGovern goes on to explain where the donations to Carl Levin's campaigns come from and, to no big surprise, he gets a healthy chunk of AIPAC monies. While I certainly support our elected officials being interested in the world around us, I do think it's a tragedy when someone's loyalities are compromised and I feel that Levin's are in this instance. The war is illegal, the war is lost. Keeping US service members in Iraq doesn't help them and doesn't help Iraqis. So why stay? McGovern makes the case it's out of concern for what's best for Israel. I really don't think a US Senator should be wasting the lives of American citizens and Iraqis to please Israel.
This is actually a theme for this post in a way.

"Bill Maher's 'Towel-Headed Hos'" (Remi Kanazi, CounterPunch):
For all his chauvinistic, misogynistic and racist drivel, old man Imus finally got the boot. I can't say I feel particularly bad, considering his confederate-style punditry and his perpetuation of negative imagery of the non-white males our society, but I still think people are missing the point. Racism, bigotry and sexism are alive and well, and generally accepted in this great country-well it depends on who you're talking about.
Unsurprisingly, one important question has not been asked since Imus' downward spiral: what if those "nappy headed hos" were Arab or Muslim? Regrettably, we have a plethora of examples to point to post-911, but we don't need to rehash all of it, one can just watch a nightly episode of Fox News's Bill O'Reilly or CNN's Glenn Beck. Yet, my bone to pick is not with the establishment neocons, Fox News, or Ms. Malnourished herself, Ann Coulter, but rather those "peaceful" and "all-accepting liberals" who complain so frequently about Imus and those like him. To see how anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bigotry is accepted and applauded in America, one has to look no further than HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, hosted by "left-wing" comedian and political commentator Bill Maher. "Liberal" pundits like Maher pass off their anti-Arab/anti-Muslim rhetoric as an innocent invocation of Samuel P. Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations." Yet, Maher's vitriolic diatribes are no different than one saying, "black people are ruthless, welfare grubbing criminals." Nonetheless, to a "liberal," the previous comment is racist and wrong, because black people, unlike the days of slavery, are now "like us," meaning white Anglo-American society, whereas Arabs and Muslims (as if they are a unitary, monolithic people), can still be labeled wholly as "backwards, ruthless, Jew-hating animals."
In Maher's program, he regularly brings on guests that espouse anti-Arab/anti-Muslim views, some of them being supposed "self-critical" Muslims. These guests, however, principally serve to support Maher's own bias against Muslims and Arabs, bolstering his pro-Israel feelings. These guests include conservative Israeli politician, and former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Lebanese-born neocon and political hack Fouad Ajami, putative introspective Muslim moderate Irshad Manji, and former Muslim, now professed atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, among many others.
Showcasing the "tolerance of liberalism," Maher brought on his claimed "hero," Ayaan Hirsi Ali, of the hawkish American Enterprise Institute, to help him explain to HBO viewers just what was wrong with Islam. Like a fat kid in a candy store, Maher looked to Hirsi Ali on his panel this season and stated, "[I] s Islam a religion of peace? You are one of the brave people who say it's not really a religion of peace." More than happy to respond, Hirsi Ali proclaimed, "It's not a religion of peace. Immediately after 9/11 they should have said, it's not a religion of peace, we're up against Islam." That's right because Pat Robertson speaks for all Christians and the list of disgruntled students that have gunned down their schoolmates since Columbine speak for all people under the age of 25. What if Hirsi Ali said, "Immediately after the black thug robbed the liquor store, they should have said, black people are criminals, we're up against black people." After her enlightening comments, while she went on to trash Saudi Arabia for a moment, Hirsi Ali received a huge applause from the audience. Even Steven Weber, an actor who stars on TVs Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, had to jump in and beg the question of whether it was right to characterize a whole religion and the beliefs of 1.3 billion people this way. Apparently it is because Maher, educating the naive Weber (who was talking of moderate Islam), asserted that "no, [religions are] not all alikeno [Islam] was extremist to begin with. Mohammed was a warrior." Maher's lesson on the malady of Islam followed up on his earlier comments in which he said that the West is not only better, but "superior" to the rest of world. Huh, I wonder why they don't like us.

I love this article. It's well written and it took courage to write because, in case you missed it, we're all supposed to cheer Bill Maher -- The Nation, for instance, has treated him like he was Our Lord Lenny Bruce. BuzzFlash and others shower praise on the repugnant man who slams all women (he really hates women) and slams Muslims. I think he's offensive because he's such a liar and so full of hatred for various groups of people. I applaud this article because it takes real courage to say the emperor has no clothes on. Maher is rarely criticized by the left.

"Don Imus" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Similarly, the ultimate pig, Bill Maher, has repeatedly gotten fluff from the so-called left.
When that happens, if you're not one of the targets, you may be able to laugh or ignore it. But what does that really say about your beliefs in inclusion that the feelings of Asian-Americans, or women, or African-Americans, or any group (any non-White Straight Male group) matters so little to you that you're going to endorse and promote such a person?

I'm sure, like Ava and C.I. did, Kanazi will get hate mail and mail explaining how "you're missing it." Nothing's being missed by those calling Maher out. The only ones "missing" something are the ones rushing to defend Maher. Let me also take a moment to recommend Ava and C.I.'s
"TV: Pigs and Prigs on PBS' NOW" because it does take courage to say: The emperor has no clothes on. (Or to flip off Dick Cheney -- one of my favorite memories of this decade, when C.I. gave Cheney the bird and the look of shock, quickly followed by rage on the Dickster's face.) I ended up reading both of those commentaries and lost even more time tonight so that's really it except to note Trina's "Make your own kind of salad in the Kitchen" where she also notes Dennis Kucinich's thoughts on media reform and she explains why that is important on several levels.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, April 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki attempts to revoke a 'building permit,' War Crimes get reported but does anyone notice, and Santa Cruz students win a victory.

Starting with construction -- non-reconstruction.
Friday the US military announced a 'new idea' they'd build a three mile wall to divide one neighborhood from another. As Elaine noted: "'Balkanizatin' may be the accepted term in use but what's going on, like so much of the 'security measures' in Iraq reflect what the Israeli government does to the Palestinians." To no one's suprise but the US military, Iraqis noticed it too. Dean Yates and Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reported yesterday that Nouri al-Maliki was halting the construction "around the district of Adhamiya" and that some of the resident of the neighborhood "have compared the wall to barriers erected by Israel in the occupied West Bank." Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports today that al-Maliki, announcing the stoppage, comapred the walls to "other walls" but "did not specify in his remarks what other walls he referred to. However, the separation barrier in the West Bank being erected by Israel, which is Israel says is for protection but greatly angers Palestinians, is a particularly delicate issue among Arabs."

Rubin notes that the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Little Willie Caldwell, declared that the US military has no "strategy of building walls or creating 'gated communities'" and Rubin goes on to note that, despite this piece of fluff, "American military officials said last week in a statement that the Adhamiya wall was 'one of the centerpieces of a new strategy'." Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) reports that this "walling off at least 10 of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods and using biometric technology to track some of their residents" is "creating what officers call 'gated communities'". Officers are calling it "gated communities" now, US military officers, and despite what Little Willie says, they were doing so last week. Construction began on April 10th and only began to be reported last week. Brulliard draws this comparison: "The gated communities concept has produced mixed results in previous wars -- including failure in Vietnam, where peasants were forcibly moved to fortified hamlets only to become sympathizers of the insurgency." Reuters offers three other comparisons: the Berlin War, Israeli West Bank Barrier and the Northern Ireland Peacelines. Danny Schechter (News Dissector writing at Common Dreams) notes, "That's what the war for Iraqi Freedom has come to. The US is now emulating the Israelis by building a wall to separate two neighborhoods in Baghdad. It's apartheid time in Mesopotamia. Any and all pretense to promoting freedom and human rights is off the agenda as a desperate Administration uses all necessary means -- and not in the Malcolm X sense -- to prevent the inevitable and secure as much of the oil that it can." [Danny Schechter's documentary In Debt We Trust will be shown at Ithaca College tomorrow, April 24th, the even is free, starts at 7:30 p.m. and Schechter will be present at Park Hall Auditorium to discuss the film.]

IRIN reports, "Baghdad specialists and citizens have hit out against the US strategy of building walls around Sunnie districts that are surrounded by Shia areas. They say such barriers would worsen the lives of thousands of Iraqis and would increase violence." They also note al-Maliki's Sunday announcement that the construction of the wall would stop but "it appears his statement has been ignored as locals say the walls continue to be built by US troops."

Nouri al-Maliki is the puppet of the occupation, he is prime minister in title only because the US government continues to call the shots.
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that "hundreds of Adhamiya residents marched in the neighborhood today to demand that the partially completed structure be taken down. 'No to the sectarian wall' read some of the banners they carried." CNN cites police estimates of 7,000 Iraqis participating in the march. Alissa J. Rubin, with NYC help from Jon Elsen, reports (at the International Herald Tribune -- owned by the Times) that "American and Iraqi officials appeared Monday to be moving away from" the wall. It should be noted that though Ryan Crocker (US ambassador to Iraq) says that al-Maliki's order will be respected. Multiple outlets (including AFP) note Brigadier General Qassim Atta who, time and again, mocks Iraqi politicians and states that the walls will go up, that the press has misreported them and implies the puppet has no power. While the last isn't news, that the head of the Iraqi military would show such disdain is rather amazing considering that al-Maliki is supposed to command them. It may remind some of the August 2006 reports that the military was planning a coup against al-Maliki.

Despiate Atta's disdain, foreign press, such as the BBC, is much more likely to note the wall is a US project while domestic press tries to dance around the issue (hard to do when the nominal prime minister has called for the construction to cease and it continues). The
BBC notes that the "US military, which is behind the project" and that's pretty clear as is the noting of the fact that the US military is working around the clock ["US troops, protected by heavily-armed vehicles, have been working at night to build the 3.6m (12ft) wall."] which sort of exposes the lie that the lack of electricity, potable water, et al couldn't be fixed because (a) it takes time and (b) it's just so darn dangerous. Clearly, when the US administration wants something, the US military does it. So what's going on? The wall isn't about safety for Iraqis. It's about walling them in. The biometric devices were used in Falluja as well (after the November 2004 slaughter of Falluja reduced the modern city to rubble and turned inhabitants into refugees -- many of whom still live in tent cities to this day). Those devices haven't done a damn thing to stop the violence there.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "In Fallujah, the chair of the City Council was assassinated on Saturday. Sami Abdul-Amir al-Jumaili is the fourth chair of the Fallujah city council to be killed in the past 14 months. He took the job a month ago." China's People's Daily has photos of the funeral and notes that Abdul-Amir al-Jumaili "was gunned down . . . as he was walking outside his home in central Falluja".

Last week, the deadliest day in Iraq took place (Wednesday) with very little attention. Certainly it received not even half the attention that the Virginia Tech shootings (last Monday) did. This is
Naomi Klein:

When I was twenty-three, I had my first media job as a copy editor at a newspaper. The newspaper closed at 11 P.M., but two people stayed until 1 A.M. in case a news story broke that was so significant it was worth reopening the front page. On the first night that it was my turn to stay late, a tornado in a southern U.S. state killed three people, and the senior editor on duty decided to reopen the front page. On my second night, I read on the wires that 114 people had just been killed in Afghanistan, so I dutifully flagged down the senior editor. Remember, I was young, and it seemed to me that if three people warranted reopening the front page, then 114 people would surely classify as a major news event. I will never forget what the editor told me. "Don't worry," he said, "those people kill each other all the time."
Since Septemeber 11, I've been thinking again about that incident, about how we in the media participate in a process that confirms and reconfirms the idea that death and murder are tragic, extraordinary and intolerable in some places and banal, ordinary, unavoidable, even expected in others.
Because, frankly, I still have some of that naive twenty-three-year-old in me. And I still think the idea that some blood is precious, some blood is cheap is not just morally wrong but has helped to bring us to this bloody moment in our history.

From a speech given by Klein included in Fences and Windows (
Picardor, 2002), a collection of many of her columns which have appeared in the Guardian of London and Canada's Globe & Mail. Klein's next book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, will be released September 8, 2007. We saw the same thing play out last week. Cindy Sheean (writing at AfterDowningStreet) noted that Bully Boy decided that he needed to skip the yucks at the White House Correspondent's Dinner this weekend . . . out of respect for the 30+ who died at Virginia Tech. The deaths of Iraqis and US service members didn't bother him. In fact, he was yucking it up at the February 24, 2004 Correspondents Dinner. "Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere," he joked as slides of himself were displayed looking throughout the White House. Ha-ha-ha, the press responded, soiling their own reputations if not their drawers. That must be the an example of how Bully Boy is a "man who can be very funny when he wants to". So writes Docker Boy and Don Imus Apologist David Carr in today's New York Times (C1 -- no link, we don't link to trash) who explains that his sweet Bully Boy "was in no mood" for yucks "after the massacre at Virginia Tech". (Docker Boy, it bears noting, also seems unaware that Todd S. Purdum wrote for the New York Times before moving on to better pastures in the form of Vanity Fair.) So the Bully Boy -- sensing which way the media looks and grasping that David Carr isn't just the Media Village Idiot, he's also the unwashed's crowd's chronicler -- postures and poses over the Virginia Tech shootings while the lives of Iraqis and US troops matter as little to the mainstream press as they do to the Bully Boy.

Though it received little attention (and certainly didn't result in op-eds being commissioned or hours of cable TV),
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports that last week's slaughter in Iraq is being dubbed "Bloody Wednesday" and -- STOP THE PRESSES -- he manages to speak with a woman. If you missed it, the few stories that were filed on the bombings may have noted that women (and children) were among the dead, but from the Times of New York to the smallest of the dailies, they couldn't seem to find a single woman in Iraq. The woman tells al-Fadhily, "I do not believe it is al-Qaeda any more. I do not care any more, I am just losing my loved ones. The last explosion hit my husband now he is disabled, and this one took my son's life." "I do not believe in al-Qaeda any more" is not to be read as implying she once supported the organization -- the woman is stating she doesn't believe the easy answers always provided as to who is responsible. While she doesn't care, "many people around Baghdad are blaming the occupation forces and the U.S.-backed government." Not for failure to prevent the slaughter, but for the bombings themselves. Are they responsible?
Well it's not unheard of (see Latin American) but what it says without question is that Iraqis are turning more and more against the illegal war and the occupation of their country by foreign forces. And who would have thought that could happen? Increasing his unfavorables yet again, the only polling trick the Bully Boy's ever been able to pull off in the long term.

Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) reports that "As Iraqis bury the 230 people killed or found dead on Wednesday, ominous signs are appearing that the Shia militas have resumed their tit-for-tat killings. There is a sharp increase in the number of dead bodies found bearing signs of torture, with 67 corpses discovered dumped in Baghdad in the first three days of the week. People in Baghdad, both Shia and Sunni, do not dare move bodies left lying in the rubbish outside their doors though they sometimes cover them with a blanket. One corpse was left lying for days in the centre of a main commercial street in the Sunni bastion of al-Adhamiyah in east Baghdad. He was believed to be a victim of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which has been killing Sunni who belong to other guerilla groups or are associated with the government. Local people say that US and Iraqi forces stationed in a newly renovated police station in al-Adhamiyah as part of the security plan seem unaware of what is happening around them."

The violence continues.
Amy Goodman noted that "at least 60 people" died in Iraq Sunday. That includes the 23 Yazidis shot dead in Mosul (covered here). IRIN notes, "Members of the Yazidi religious minoirty have asked the Iraqi government and international NGOs to protect them after gunmen on Sunday killed 23 Yazidis in Mosul, northern Iraq. . . . Yazidis are members of a culturally Kurdish, syncretistic religious group, which is neither Christian nor Muslim, who worship an angelic figures considered by some Muslims and Christians to be the devil. The group is pre-Islamic." Put that together with Alissa J. Rubin on the topic and myself on the topic earlier this morning and you still don't have a comprehensive overview of the religion. But note that it is not just Shias and Sunnis.

Rubin (New York Times) reported Sunday on the US military's complicity in torture in Iraq noting Captain Darren Fowler's praise for Iraqi soldiers' actions -- the actions included torture -- and when the torture became known, Fowler told Rubin, "What I don't see, I don't know, I can't see. The detainees are deathly afrid of being sent to the Iraqi justice system, because this is the kind of thing they do. But this is their culture." No, it's not. But rewarding that behavior -- this isn't just a case of looking the other way -- does popularize it and that's exactly what the US has done. Complicity in torture leaves one open to charges of war crimes; however, the US military has their own actions to worry about as well. As reported by The Socialist Worker, Ahmad Fadil al-Jumayli, a 9-year-old boy, is being held by the US military because they suspect his father belongs to the resistance. Due to that belief, "the soldiers seized the boy and told the headmaster that the father had to turn himself in if he wanted his son to be freed." To be clear, no ifs, no ands, no buts, that is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, that is a War Crime. As even Alberto Gonzales had to admit (New York Times, "The Rule of Law," May 15, 2004, A27): "Both the United States and Iraq are parties to the Geneva Conventions. The United States recognizes that these treaties are binding in the war for the liberation of Iraq. There has never been any suggestion by out government that the conventions do not apply in the conflict." The Fourth Geneva Conventions makes clear that civilians cannot be used as hostages. Holding a nine-year-old boy in attempt to 'smoke out' his father is in violation and it is a War Crime.


BBC reports on a car bombing "outside an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party" in Tal Uskuf killed at least 10. Reuters notes an additional 20 were wounded. BBC notes "residents were in deep shock as it was the first time it had been hit in the four years of Iraq's anti-US insurgency." AFP reports, "A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Al-Yasmin restaurant near the capital's fortified Green Zone, killing seven people and wounding 14, a security official said. The walled zone houses the US embassy and the Iraqi parliament where a suicide bomber triggered his explosive vest on April 12, killing one lawmaker. Two more car bombs exploed in a parking lot a short distance from the Green Zone, immediately opposite the Iranian embassy and also close to the Iraqi defence ministry building." Reuters notes that one of the two car bombs resulted in the death of one person and left four wounded. In addition, Reuters notes a roadside bombing near Mahaweel that left three injured and a Ramadi bombing the left 20 dead and 35 wounded. CBS and AP note that Ramadi bombing as well as another one where 7 ("including a child") were injured.
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports a bombing in Baquba where "a car blew up in the middle of a crowd of policement. The gathering included the police chief, Safa Atimimi, who was among the 10 people killed."


Reuters notes police Colonel Abdul Muhsin Hassan was shot dead in Mosul and a Baghdad attack in Ur where US troops were fired upon "trying to emplace cement barriers" (that would be the walls), a police officer shot dead in Iskandariya (another was wounded),


In Baghdad, 11 were reported discovered on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. Monday's count?
No word on Baghdad but
Reuters reports the corpses of 3 police officers were discovered in Shirqat.

the US military announced: "An MNC-I Soldier died at approximately 12:45 pm Monday after an improvised explosive device exploded near his location in Muqudadiyah."

In activism news, as
Indybay Media notes, the USCS Students Against War had a strong victory last week when they suceeded in forcing the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine corps recruiters out of the UC Santa Cruz job fair to be held tomorrow. Natalaie McaIntyre states, We've upheld our community's values of tolerance and nonviolence despite federal attempts to impose militarism on our daily lives. If every school prevented recruitment, if every port stopped shipping weapons, if every community refused to accept war profiteers as neighbors, war would be impossible."

Meanwhile, in Will They Cave News,
Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that veto threat or not, Congress will put forward "a war funding bill setting March 31 as the goal for pulling most U.S. troops out of Iraq." This follows Garrett Reppenhagen, Michael T. McPhearson and Kevin Martin's open letter (at Truthout) noting that the Bully Boy "is playing a game of political chicken with Democratic Congressional leaders over nearly $100 billion to fund his war policies ina supplemental appropriations bill. The president threatens to veto the bill after a House-Senate conference committe reconciles the differences in their separate bills, passes the reconciled version in both Houses and then sends it to the White House. Bush predictably opposes any and all challenges by Congress to his warmaking authority, and the conference report will likely retain some mix of benchmarks, timelines for partial troop withdrawal in 2008 and other conditions from the House and Senate versions of the supplemental." They note that should Bully Boy respond with a veto, Congress should "use it as an opportunity to end the war and bring our troops home now, not in 2008. They should not bother attempting to override Bush's veto (which requires a 2/3 majority in both Houses and has next to no chance of occuring), nor should they come back with a weaker bill -- it is already too weak and full of loopholes that could leave tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq indefinitely -- nor a bill for short-term funding of the war."

Garett Reppenhagen is with
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Michael McPhearson with Veterans for Peace and Kevin Martin with Peace Action.

Finally, in news of war resisters,
The Deserter's Tale continues to be awarded strong review. The book, written by US war resister Joshua Key with Lawrence Hill, has most recently been review by John Wright (Australia's Courier-Mail) who writes: "So, what can be going on in Iraq for someone by then already used to mayhem, fights and automatic weapons to flee? Unfortunately, this 'disturbing' to say the least, impossible-to-put-down-adults-only book tells you. . . I wasn't prepared for Key's graphic descriptions of what actually seems to be going on there." Home from Iraq on leave in December 2003, Joshua Key self-checked out of the US military after witnessing war crimes and realizing that the war was based on lies. The Deserter's Tale is the story of what he saw while serving in Iraq and how he came to the decision that the right from wrong he was taught was more important than simply following orders. Joshua, Brandi key and their children went underground after he self-checked out before Key learned of Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman and other war resisters who had self-checked out and moved to Canada. The Keys moved to Canada and Joshua Key is currently appealing the supposed (and laughable) refugee committee's decision as to whether or not he will be granted asylum. Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia by Camilo Mejia is the next book out of the gates by a war resister --- The New Press will publish it May 1st.

Joshua Key and Camilo Mejia are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

joshua key