Monday, June 22, 2009

Cindy Sheehan, Sandra Bullock, Ava & C.I.

"The War Party and its Faux-gressive Minions by Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan, Cindy's Soapbox):
Faux-gressives and The Daily [Toilet Scrubber] supported me, and my work, as long as it solely focused on the Bush regime and the Republicans. However, when I had a late in life epiphany and figured out that the Democrats were abusing the energy of the anti-war movement to regain power, and I started to speak out against the entire War Party, not just one-half of it, I was kicked off blogging for The Daily [Toilet Scrubber] and ostracized by the fully co-opted Nathan Diebenow of the Lonestar Iconoclast then accused me of “alienating” my friends, to add insult to injury.

First, I've changed (indicated by brackets) a site's name to the name we use in this community "The Daily Toilet Scrubber." We do not mention that site, we do not link to it. We were already hesitant about it (due to complaints from members of color about it and its broad attacks on women); however, a 14-year-old boy was targeted by professional journalists at one site. They trashed him, they threatened him and the entire time they were trying to find dirt on him. All for the crime of leaving a comment to a post praising Michelle Malkin, a comment which said, "Step out of the GOP Closet already." He was trashed by the journalist and the editor. He was told that the four sites he had told them they should have linked to before linking to (and praising) a right-winger would never be linked to again unless he begged them to forgive him.

This wasn't one e-mail, this was repeated hate mails from professional journalists (of a left site) insisting that he do this, that he do that, etc. At the end of it all, he had apologized, he had begged for forgiveness, he'd done everything and more and they still wanted him to grovel and were still telling him that the four sites would never be linked to. So he tried apologizing one more time and he copied that reply (with all the exchanges that had taken place that day below it) to the four sites he liked. They were Rebecca's site, C.I.'s site, The Daily Toilet Scrubber and I forget the fourth one (I believe it was Atrios, but I'm not sure on that).

Rebecca read it, e-mailed him and asked him to call her collect. She got the full story from him, told him never to apologize for fear that she wouldn't be linked to and asked if she could speak to one of his parents. She explained what was going on and asked for permission to alert the other three. She said she'd call C.I. (C.I., Rebecca and I all went to college together, all lived together back then, we're friends from long, long ago) because C.I. was speaking and she was sure when C.I. got done, C.I. wasn't getting online to check e-mail.

They gave her permission. She did write it. The fourth blogger, whomever he was (and it was a he), ignored the e-mail from West (the 14-year-old) and from Rebecca. The Daily Toilet Scrubber owner told Rebecca in an e-mail reply that he couldn't afford to lose such "a big link."

Now Rebecca wasn't on their "blog roll." She felt bad for bringing C.I. in because The Common Ills was on it. When Rebecca was telling C.I. (on the phone) what happened, C.I. said, "Stop the long story, give me the basics because I need to write something about this ASAP." There was never a "Oh, I might lose a link." When Rebecca brought that up, C.I. said, "I wouldn't want to be linked by any site that treated a kid like that." C.I. immediately went online and called the site out, delinked from the site and noted that in the entry about what the site had done and never looked back. Never thought twice about it.

That site, of course, immediately took C.I. off their blogroll and will never link to C.I. again. It was the next day when Rebecca got her reply from The Daily Toilet Scrubber whining that he couldn't stand by his reader who had suffered for defending him. That's among the reasons we don't link to or even promote that site by saying it's real name. (We would find out from community member Eddie about the attempt to get dirt on West. The site started e-mailing everyone that left comments asking them if they knew anything about West and if they had any dirt on him. When Eddie passed on that, others started passing on their e-mails after they read C.I. writing about it.) For C.I. (and this is typical C.I.), the issue boiled down to that site crossed a line and did so with a kid. For the Toilet Scrubber, it boiled down to, "I need that link!"

Now for Cindy's writing. I would encourage you to read the entire article. But I didn't know about some man named Nathan Diebenow. He's with The Lonestar Iconclast. I don't link to that for two reasons. 1) For the longest period, a link only worked for that week and when a new edition of the weekly paper was published, you'd get an error message. 2) C.I. hit the roof, rightly, when that paper decided to give information about an underground railroad for war resisters. Information, let me be clear, that the military and the government didn't need to know about. In other words, they risked the underground. I couldn't believe that. When I read that article, I just couldn't believe anyone would be so stupid to put details like that into print.

Underground railroads are not advertised, they exit by word of mouth.

So I don't have a lot of respect for that outlet.

That said, my mouth dropped when I read the garbage the man was writing about Cindy Sheehan.

He seems to think he's funny and the problem isn't that he's not that funny, it's that he's not funny at all.

He wrote about Cindy on Sunday in a "guest column." Don't know how someone on the paper's staff qualifies as a "guest" but if the Iconclast had to make sense, they might have to balance their books, right?

In that column, he provides links to other columns he's proud of.

In one of the attacks on Cindy that he's so proud of, he suggests (in 2007) that she's blown it and if she had any brains she would be on American Idol singing John Lennon songs and that would turn people on and recruit young people to the peace movement.

Is he really that stupid?

I don't know Cindy's singing voice and it may be lovely. I know that she doesn't speak on the breath so she wouldn't have a great deal of power as a singer. (On the breath? C.I. speaks on the breath and it is the only reason she's been able to hit the road every week and never lose her voice. You use the diaphragm. Most people don't speak like that and that includes many singers. Stevie Nicks, for example, had to be taught to speak and sing on the breath because she was ripping her voice apart by not doing so. C.I.'s taught Kat -- who's written about this -- because Kat was losing her voice all the time.) Cindy has a lovely speaking voice and she may have a wonderful singing voice but it wouldn't have the power needed to win American Idol.

Cindy's not under thirty. I don't think that's shocking to anyone. But I do notice that American Idol has teenagers and contestants in their 20s.

Somehow she's going to overcome that and make it onto the show?

Once she makes it onto the show, she's going to decide she's singing John Lennon?


Is he that big of an idiot?

The contestants on American Idol are given a limited range of songs to pick from. That's due to the publishing royalties on performances. The show doesn't want to pay the big money. They work out deals with some living artists (usually a theme episode where everyone sings that artist's songs) and that's about it.

Point being, Cindy couldn't pick John Lennon due to the royalty rate alone. Point being, Murdoch and American Idol aren't going to go wild over peace songs.

Now maybe that half-baked idea was supposed to be one of the man's jokes? If so, it wasn't funny. But none of his stuff is funny and he's forever trashing Cindy (I read four columns) and the club he uses to try to beat her is always mishapen.

He's the one making his arguments, he's deciding what to say and nothing he says ever adds up. Reading it, you get the sense that he had no idea what he was going to write until half-way through, then he springs something that, if he developed it, might be of interest. But he doesn't develop it.

He's also attacking her for being the Peace Mom. He comes up with this nonsense that doesn't for one minute do anything to hide his fears of Mommy.

He also lets Cindy have it for speaking truths. Oh the horror. It's not Cindy's job to be everyone's friend. She doesn't have to be my friend. She doesn't have to like me. She has to tell the truth. That's all she has to do. For those of us who listened when she spoke back in 2005, that's all she has to do. ("Has to" doesn't mean she couldn't take time off or disappear from public life. She could do either if she wanted. But when she's in public, the only thing she owes is speaking the truth and she owes that because that's what brought her to national attention.)

It's really amazing that he wants to attack Cindy Sheehan on that issue. Is she supposed to hold everyone's hand and play hostess because she's a woman? Pig Ritter was publicly attacking Cindy for months if not years. C.I. would know because she called out Pig Ritter's attacks on Cindy in real time. Do you remember anyone else stepping up and calling out Pig Ritter?

No, because no one else did.

So Pig Ritter, busted twice of seeking sex with under age females, can attack Cindy and it's not a problem. He can mock her and say hateful things about her. They can (and were) printed. That's no concern to little Nathan Diebenow. He never writes a column saying Pig needs to work to be likeable or anything like that.

But Cindy, a woman, has to be likeable?

Nathan Diebenow is a little sexist pig. He's so immature, he can't even grow a proper beard. He's also got some serious Mommy issues that should probably prevent him from writing about women until he can get some therapy and address those issues.

"TV: Fiction" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
That I.F. Stone was a Socialist is neither a state secret nor surprising. Yet despite CounterSpin dropping their two guest segments to stick with D.D. Guttenplan for the half-hour, they never got around to informing their audience of that.
Quota Queen Janine Jackson informed, doing an intro (Quota Queens sit passively by while the men handle the interviews, don't you know), that Stone was "a man of the left," "leftist" and a "progressive." Steve Rendall went with "progressive" as well. You could form a pretty solid drinking game if you took a sip every time Stone was called a "progressive."But never did "Socialist" come up.
It was all very laughable.
CounterSpin provided D.D. Guttenplan stating Stone "did say that you needed to be -- you needed to be honest about what your engagements were, what your political commitments were" but no one on the program can utter the word "Socialist"?
Rendall and Guttenplan were doing their best to act surprised that the right-wing might distort I.F. Stone (accuse him falsely of being a Kremlin spy) but they're the ones acting guilty and as if they have something to hide when "radical" (Guttenplan's word of choice) and "liberal" and "progressive" are used to describe a Socialist.Guttenplan blathered on about how "there's a tradition that goes back" in the US and that people like I.F. Stone "form this country's history" and, while we don't disagree, we find it rather sad that Socialist is treated as a dirty word by CounterSpin. Who's hiding the history? Talk about "fiction of the image and the image makers."

The problem's not the right-wing screaming "spy!" The problem is the left refusing to be honest and treating every living and dead Socialist or Communist as if they have something to hide. McCarthyism ended long ago. The ones doing the harm today are the ones on the left who can't be honest. It is legal to be a Socialist or a Communist. The only one having a problem is CounterSpin.

This is Isaiah's illustration of Sandra Bullock and let me encourage to see The Proposal if you're in the mood for a good summer film.

Sandra Bullock

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, June 22, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Gordon Brown can't cover for himself let alone Tony Blair, Jane Arraff reports US forces may not be pulling out of Mosul, Cindy Sheehan speaks out against both parts of the War Machine, the tag sale on Iraqi oil gets a push from the New York Times, and more.

Starting with England where Prime Minister Gordon Brown's been the topic of the week all last week. Fresh from nearly losing his prime minister post and on the heels of the
spending scandals in Parliament, Brown promised a new age of transparency only to turn around last Monday and offer the long promised inquiry into the Iraq War . . . as a back-door, hidden-from-public view song and dance. The Irish Independent observes, "Brown's reputation has been hit by his disastrous handling of the planned inquiry into the invasion of Iraq." Today John Chilcot -- appointed by Brown to lead the Iraq inquiry -- makes a statement. BBC reports that Chilcot has sent Brown a letter which includes this statement: "More broadly, I believe it will be essential to hold as much of the proceedings of the inquiry as possible in public, consistent with the need to protect national security and to ensure and enable complete candour in the oral and written evidence from witnesses." Haroon Siddique (Guardian) adds, "One reason why Brown is thought to have agreed to a private inquiry may have been pressure from the former prime minister, Tony Blair. The Observer reported that Blair pressed Brown to hold an inquiry behind closed doors because he feared he would be subjected to a 'show trial' if it were open to the public." This morning on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show, Marr spoke with Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg:

Nick Clegg: If his [Gordon Brown's] inquiry is to have any legitimacy it must first be held in public with only some exceptions made for evidence heard in secret. Andrew Marr: Do you think Tony Blair should be giving evidence in public? Nick Clegg: And second I'll be saying if the inquiry is to have any legitimacy, the prime architect of the decision to go to war in Iraq, along side George Bush, should give his evidence in public under oath. I think anything less will make people feel this is just a grand cover up for, after all, what was the biggest foreign policy mistake this country has made since has made since Suez. Andrew Marr: And what about Cabinet documents and documents that have been private before like, for instance, the one you mentioned from The Observer which suggest that there was a discussion [between Bush and Blair] about sending a plane over Iraq to see if they'd shoot it down as an excuse for starting the war? Nick Clegg: I think all of that should be made possible with, of course, some exceptions where you, for instance, endanger the lives of intelligence officers -- if you reveal through a public session where they're working how they're getting their intelligence. Just like the 9-11 inquiry in the United States. Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, some of these key players, they gave evidence in public and we should do exactly the same thing with only very small exceptions for evidence held in secret. I think, look, diplomats think it should be held in public, military figures do, the public clearly do, the families of the soldiers -- the brave service men and service women who've lost their lives, most political opinion thinks we should hold this in public. The only two people who don't are Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair because they want to cover up their tracks. We shouldn't have this inquiry determined by precisely the people who risk being most embarrassed by it.
Nick Clegg was asked of
Jamie Doward, Gaby Hinsliff and Mark Townsend (The Observer) report on a January 31, 2003 memo ("almost two months before the invasion") which is a "record of a meeting between President Bush and Tony Blair before the invasion of Iraq, outlining their intention to go to war without a second United Nations resolution". Let's drop back to June of 2005 when Michael Smith (Times of London) reported:

A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war "to put pressure on the regime" was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice. The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began "spikes of activity" designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war. The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was "not consistent with" UN law, despite American claims that it was. The decision to provoke the Iraqis emerged in leaked minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his most senior advisers -- the so-called Downing Street memo published by The Sunday Times shortly before the general election.

The two War Hawks were admitting that WMD might not be found and that they needed other ways to force the war with Iraq. Blair doesn't want to testify in private and has argued against it.
Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror) adds, "Tony Blair sparked fury yesterday over claims that he tried to 'muzzle' the Iraq War inquiry. The former PM is reported to have told Gordon Brown the probe would have become a 'show trial' unless it was kept behind closed doors." Jane Merrick and James Hanning (Independent of London) surmise, "A public appearance by Mr Blair before the Chilcot inquiry would also damage his ambitions of becoming EU president, a role that needs the support of European countries that opposed the war." The New Statesman explains, "Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, is said to have communicated Blair's anxieties to Brown. Yesterday the Northern Ireland Secretary, Shaun Woodward, confirmed that Blair had discussed the inquiry with O'Donnell." The reaction to former Prime Minister and always Bush Poodle Tony Blair attempting to circumvent the process resulted in a backlash even among Labour (Blair and Brown's party). William Hague (Daily Mail) argues, "He is the last person who should be setting the rules for an inquiry that will largely be concerned with decisions and events during his time in office." Nigel Morris (Independent of London) reports, "The Labour rebels' anger was intensified by the disclosure yesterday that Tony Blair, likely to be the key witness, had consulted with the Cabinet Secretary on the form of the inquiry. They want him to give evidence under oath."

This anger may be apparent in the increasingly public role of Education Secretary Ed Balls. Balls
backed a public inquiry last week when he was caught by surprise with the question during a live interview. James Chapman (Daily Mail) notes, "Ed Balls today signalled that the Government would perform a U-turn and hold the Iraq War inquiry in public. The Education Secretary said it would be a 'good thing' to hold some of the hearing in public after Gordon Brown faced fury from Labour backbenchers over his initial decision to keep them private." Blair's not helped by news of an upcoming interview to run in Esquire. Rachel Cooke (Daily Mail) quotes Blair saying, "I've no regrets about that decision" to start an illegal war with lies "because it was difficult to get rid of Saddam, but leaving him would also have been difficult, and when I look at the region now, I think it would be a lot more complicated [were he still there]". And would over a million Iraqis have died? Would 173 British service members have died? Would 4315 US service members have died? Tony Blair sent what members of his own family into Iraq?

In the BBC interview, Nick Clegg mentioned Alastair Campbell.
James Chapman (Daily Mail) observes, "Like ghosts at the feast, the sulphurous spirits of Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell loom large over Gordon Brown's latest political disaster. . . . Mr Campbell, who helped draw up the infamous Iraq War dossiers as Mr Blair's chief spin doctor, remains a major player behind the scenes and a conduit between the two men. He too speaks regularly to Mr Brown by phone and makes frequent visits to Downing Street." Bruce Anderson (Independent) advocates even further opening of the inquiry, "Crucial decisions were taken in the closest partnership with the Americans. Condi Rice, then the National Security Adviser, was in daily contact with David Manning, her nearest equivalent in No.10. It would be impossible to understand the UK role without the US dimension. That requires long interviews with President Bush, Secretaries Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld, plus a score of lesser names. The Chilcot report will not be complete unless it contains a chapter entitled: 'Mr Blair becomes a neo-conservative'." Lucien Rajakarunanayake (Sri Lanka's Daily News) also argues for expanding the scope:

The facts of the UK's involvement in the invasion of Iraq, it would show there is every reason to call for a fully independent and international probe into why the UK went to Iraq, what it did there and what it has left the Iraqi people with.The reasons are compelling. They went to a foreign land. They went there uninvited by its people. They went under false pretexts, having lied to their own legislature, the House of Commons, that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of acquiring WMD. They spun and twisted intelligence reports to mislead their own legislature, and even worse, together with those in Washington who misled both Houses of Congress about Iraq and WMD, also misled the UN Security Council on the same matter. They fooled the UN into endorsing the invasion of Iraq, which was in fact an illegal and criminal act. The entire invasion was a war crime of the highest order. All the bloodshed there was a humanitarian catastrophe - bloodbaths aplenty that no one in the UN warned about. But what do we have instead. Gordon Brown, David Miliband and the other pathetic caricatures of true Labour politicians, eating off the hands of a so-called Tamil Diaspora that promises them vote banks and plenty of undeclared stuffed brown paper envelopes, have announced a probe into the UK's participation in the war against Iraq, to be held in private. An international atrocity of such magnitude is to be probed in private, without even the media present to report what happens, at least to the British people, if not the world. Such is the level of transparency practised by those who demand the very extremes of public disclosure from us.

This Wednesday, the
Stop the War Coalition is rallying Wednesday. "Protest at parliament against holding Iraq enquiry in private" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports the demonstration will be "outside parliament at 2pm this Wednesday, demanding 'No Whitewash, No Cover Up', in the Iraq enquiry."
In Iraq Saturday a bombing in Kirkuk resulted in mass deaths.
Khalid al-Ansary, Mustafa Mahmoud, Waleed Ibrahim, Muhanad Mohammed, Michael Christie, Daniel Wallis and Matthew Jones (Retuers) reported on the truck bombing dubbed "the deadliest in more than a year" and Hussain Nashaat declares, "I was sitting in my house when suddenly a powerful blast shook the ground under me. I found myself covered in blood and ran outside in a daze. My lovely neighbourhood was just rubble." Ali Al Winadawi and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) added, "Witnesses said the explosion leveled more than 80 clay brick homes and partially destroyed the mosque. Rescuers dug through mounds of rubble looking for the wounded and pulling out the dead. Medical officials said at least 70 people had been killed and another 182 wounded in the bombing." The Telegraph of London noted that shortly before the Kirkuk bombing, Nouri al-Maliki was raving about the "great victory" (US troops leaving some Iraqi cities). Nada Bakri (Washington Post) quoted eye witness Qanbar Abdullah Sajjad stating, "All I could see was a fireball flying into the air followed by a thick cloud of dust and smoke. Bodies, covered with mud, were laying on the ground. People were bleeding and shouting for help." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) added, "Hours after the blast, authorities were still digging through rubble searching for possible survivors and more bodies." Sunday Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported the death toll has now risen to 80 with two-hundred-and-eleven people injured. (Reuters goes with 73.) Yaseen Taha and Mike Tharp (McClatchy Newspapers) explain, "Most of the casualties were Shia Turkoman, a large minority in Kirkuk Province where most people are Kurds. The prospect of control from Baghdad following the withdrawal of U.S. forces is deeply dismaying to many in Kirkuk who regard it as part of Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region in the north of the country. Moreover, Kirkuk, a city of 848,000, sits atop some of Iraq's richest oil fields." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) adds, "The force of the blast gouged a crater in the ground and badly damaged dozens of homes, burying victims in the rubble, people and officials at the scene said, expressing fear that the death toll would rise even more." It is the worst attack in Iraq this year (based on the death toll) and outlets are having to drop back to 2008 (specifically February 2008) to find an attack with a larger death toll.

Meanwhile, in Iraq today, violence continues.
Alice Fordham (Times of London) reports, "A spate of deadly attacks killed more than 25 people in Iraq today and left more than 60 wounded, in a worrying escalation of violence as the exit of American troops from the country's cities draws nearer."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twelve wounded, a third Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left thirty wounded, a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 5 lives and left twenty wounded, a Baghdad 'suicide car' bombing in which 7 people (plus the driver) died and thirteen were injured and a Baquba bombing which claimed 3 lives ("security members working for the ministry of oil"). Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa member (two more were wounded as they attempted to chase down two suspects who were shooting) and a Khanaqin roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman was shot dead and an assault on a Mosul checkpoint in which 2 police officers were shot dead.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.

Saturday the
US military announced: "CAMP STRYKER, BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldier died as the result of a non-combat related incident June 19. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4315 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Meanwhile "Do journalist learn English grammar?" is the question that Timothy Williams and Suadad al-Salhy's "
Laws Lag in Iraq, as Patience Wears Thin" begs. The article runs in this morning New York Times and we'll let al-Salhy off the hook (although Arabic also includes basic grammar rules). We won't let Williams, the editors or the US State Dept (which wanted this piece of garbage 'report') off the hook. It's not a report. It's propaganda meant to force passage of the theft of Iraqi oil laws. The first sentence of the article tells readers that "popular support" is under strain in Iraq -- for the Parliament -- due to corruption. That's based on what? On the observations of the reporters? If so, they're not equipped to make that judgment nor does it belong in a report (it can go into a column or editorial on the op-ed pages). They insist "widespread confusion" reigns. Based on what?"Based on what?" should be the cry of readers as they work through the article.Who's making these claims? Chris Hill and the State Dept are doing a huge push thinking they have a limited window to get the theft of Iraqi oil passed. This is pressure from outside of Iraq.You're clued in that the complaints are not Iraqi based when paragraph six finally includes a "who" to hang some of the charges on: Haider Ala Hamoudi? Who is he? A professor . . . at the University of Pittsburgh.The trade offered from the US State Dept to Nouri al-Maliki is, "Push hard on the oil law and we'll push on changing the power structure." This article is a byproduct of the arrangement.Why does Nouri need the power structure changed? Because despite the press portraying him as popular (and a 'winner' in the January 2009 elections in which he wasn't a contest and in which NO political party could truly claim a majority of votes), he's not. He does appear to be more popular overall in Iraq than he is in the area that he represents.Nouri's always protected Nouri and that's why he's entered into yet another bargain with the US and why he's hoping they can help him ram through a presidential system to replace a parliamentary system. (Jalal Talabani is the president of Iraq currently. Nouri wants the sort of government the US has with himself in the position equivalent to the US presidency. What he really wants is to be the New Saddam and he's well on his way to achieving that 'honor'.)The typists type, "The country's economy is dependent almost entirely upon oil revenue, but because there is no single law regulating the industry, there is widespread confusion about investment, production and lines of authority. . . . Without rules governing the extraction of its huge oil reserves, it has been difficult for Iraq to attract foreign investment to its petroleum industry, which accounts for 95 percent of foreign exchange earnings." They really hope the readers haven't been paying attention. There's been no problem at all with business lining up for Iraqi oil. You're not supposed to know that or know that they had an auction on oil field leases last week. (Winners will be announced June 29th and 30th.) This morning Esther Nakkazi (The East African) reports that that Genel Energy International and Heritage Oil plan to merge into Heritage Oil Plc and form "an Anglo-Turkish company that would operate in Uganda and Iraq's autonomous oil-rich region of Kurdistan". Yesterday Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) observed:It is only now, six years after the American invasion, that the battle for the control of Iraqi oil production is moving to the centre of politics in Baghdad. On 29 and 30 June, the Iraqi government will award contracts under which international oil companies will take a central role in producing crude oil from Iraq's six super-giant oilfields over the next 20 to 25 years. By coincidence, 30 June is also the date on which the last American troops will be leaving Iraqi cities. On the very day that Iraq regains greater physical authority over its territory, it is ceding a measure of control over the oilfields on which the future of the country entirely depends.The contracts have been heavily criticised inside Iraq as a sell-out to the big oil companies, which are desperate to get back into Iraq – oil was nationalised here in 1972, and Iraq and Iran are the only two places in the world where immense quantities of oil might still be discovered. Several of those criticising the contracts work in the Iraqi oil industry. "The service contracts will put the Iraqi economy in chains and shackle its independence for the next 20 years," said Fayad al-Nema, head of the state-owned South Oil Company, which produces 80 per cent of Iraq's crude. "They squander Iraq's reserves." Rule of thumb for foreign countries (and Boston newspapers), when the New York Times is 'concerned' about your economy, be alarmed. And for those who were still doubting reality (and the Times' efforts to distort it) this morning, Robin Pagnamenta (Times of London) reports in tomorrow's paper on the reality about the Iraqi oil contracts and bids:

Hussain al-Shahristani, who is due to announce winners for the first round of deals next week, will defend his decision to allow international oil companies, including BP and Shell, to compete openly for the contracts, which could be worth billions of dollars in the long term.
His appearance at a parliamentary committee hearing in Baghdad this morning comes after concern from some politicians that the contracts are not in Iraq's best interests and will expose the country to exploitation by Western oil companies. "The Oil Minister must convince us why the Government should have spent $8 billion [£4.9 billion] to develop oilfields, but then offers them to foreign firms like pieces of cake," Jabir Khalifa Jabir, secretary of the parliament's oil and gas committee, said. "Today" in the excerpt is Tuesday (when the story runs). Poor little Times of New York -- not only smacked down by the Times of London but also NYT used to do state propaganda so much better. Must be the economy.

Turning to the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement which doesn't mean what many appeared to think it meant.
Khalid al-Ansary, Mustafa Mahmoud, Waleed Ibrahim, Muhanad Mohammed, Michael Christie, Daniel Wallis and Matthew Jones (Retuers) noted on Saturday "Almost all U.S. soldiers will leave urban centres by June 30 under a bilateral security pact signed last year and the entire force that invaded the country in 2003 must be gone by 2012." Got to love that "almost." The Status Of Forces Agreement did not allow for "almost" -- outside of horse shoes, it's difficult to think of anything where "almost" counts. Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reports today that Lt Col Shawn "Reed and his soldiers won't be going too far away -- the security agreement reached last winter with the Iraqi government stipulates only that U.S. combat troops leave cities, towns and villages by the June 30 deadline." Meanwhile Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports US forces in Mosul may not be withdrawing from Mosul and cites Col Gary Volesky explaining, "We're waiting for a final decision, and we're prepared to execute whatever they tell us to execute." The link also contains audio from Arraf: "As the deadline for US troops to be out of Iraqi cities approaches the main thing it's fostered is confusion. The security agreement signed by Iraq and the United States last year is quite clear: All US combat troops will withdraw from cities and other populated areas no later than June 30th. But since the agreement also seeks the temporary help of the US in combatting terrorism there's quite a bit of leeway."

In the US,
Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan observes how strangely silent so many are as the war machine grinds on and notes how she was kicked to the curb and lied about when she refused to support the more 'populist' war party by cheering it on blindly:

I think that I have unfortunately been vindicated by almost every single action that the Democratic Party has taken since 2006 when impeachment was taken "off the table," but "blank-check" war funding was served up to the Military Industrial Complex on a bloody platter dripping with the flesh and blood of real human beings. Our politicians have no integrity partly because the organizations in the movements that have the largest emailing lists have no integrity. Wars that were wrong under Bush become acceptable under Obama and the stain of torture fades into the woodwork or is hidden from sight like a demented relation because a Senator has an affair. As I understand it, was founded to oppose the impeachment of Bill Clinton for the same thing Ensign did. . . now the gatekeepers of the War Party are going to crucify Ensign to distract their subscribers from real issues? sent this out in April 2008 in a fundraising email to its 5 million person list: No matter what happens in Iraq, the Bush Administration and John McCain always have the same answer: 6 more months. They're at it again this week, asking for six more months. But six months won't change anything -- except the body count and the price tag. They were not talking about the Democratic war funding this week. Apparently it's fine to fund wars if we have a Democratic Despotism, but dangerous for our troops if we have a Republican Regime.
Jeremy Scahill (Rebel Reports) explored the Despotism noting Barack Obama's expanding (and undeclared) war in Pakistan which began with drone attacks January 23, 2009 and has continued and escalated since. Jeremy notes an interview Barack gave with Dawn where he claimed US troops would not be sent into Pakistan . . . despite the fact that they already are in Pakistan and he observes:

First, the only difference between using these attack drones and using actual US soldiers on the ground is that the soldiers are living beings. These drones sanitize war and reduce the US death toll while still unleashing military hell disproportionately on civilians. The bottom line is that the use of drones inside the borders of Pakistan amounts to the same violation of sovereignty that would result from sending US soldiers inside the country.

And finally from Third's "
Summer reads," we'll note: "Tuesday MASTER OF WAR: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War by Suzanne Simons is published. You can read an excerpt from the hardcover book here. The book is based upon Simons' interviews with Prince and various Blackwater employees, research Simons did in Afghanistan and the Middle East, government contacts, employees' families and much more."

iraqbbc newsthe andrew marr showandrew marrlucien rajakarunanayakerachel cookejason beattiethe socialist workerjamie dowardgaby hinsliffmark townsend
nigel morris
khalid al-ansarythe los angeles timesali al winadawined parkerthe washington postnada bakrimohammed tawfeeqcnn
jane arraf
the new york timestimothy williamssuadad al-salhypatrick cockburnesther nakkazi
cindy sheehan
jeremy scahill
suzanne simons