Friday, September 23, 2005

Take part in saying STOP THE WAR NOW

It's becoming a madhouse (in the best sense of the word) here and I'm grabbing a moment to do a quick entry that's nothing more than copying and pasting two things.

"Editorial: Stand Up and Be Counted" (Third Estate Sunday Review)
Sat., 9/24

Massive March& Rally
Peace and JusticeFestival
Operation CeasefireConcert
Sun., 9/25
Interfaith Service
Training for Grassroots LobbyDay
Trainingfor Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience
NationalMeeting for Counter Recruitment
• Other Activities Mon., 9/26
Grassroots Lobby Day
Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

What are the dates above? Are you kidding us? Are you visiting this site for the very first time?They are the dates (from the United for Peace & Justice website) for activism this coming weekend. Okay, you donated a few bucks to independent media, maybe it made you feel good after donating all the money you did to the Kerry/Edwards campaign only to later learn that the campaign didn't use it all to . . . campaign (hopefully the money was being stored for a recount that pressure from party structure ended up nixing); you took part in an e-mail campaign to stop something or save something; you've been thinking about donating a few bucks to one of the many worthy organizations; but guess what -- that's not how it should end.
Downing St. Memo. Did the press want to cover it? No. They dismissed it.
Voices saying "bring the troops home." Did the press want to cover it? No. Polling repeatedly demonstrated Americans were in favor of this for months. Only now is it an option in newsprint (one that's still dismissed).
What makes the press do their job?
You do.With your actions.
You make them stand and take notice.
Doesn't mean they won't deride. (Derision is their key quality. See the coverage of the many protests on the inauguration in the Times -- both paragraphs!)
But it sends a message. It sends a message to the Bully Boy and the administration, it sends a message to the press.
It's a chance for you to make your voice heard. To come together with other individuals who are determined to stop the killing on all sides.
Last week the GOP, yet again, shut down any hopes that the Downing Street Memos could be addressed in Congress. But you know about those memos. You know what happened.How good are you feeling about that illegal war?
This coming weekend is your chance to take action and have your voice heard.
In addition to the above activities that will be taking place in D.C., other areas (such as NYC and San Francisco) are also planning events. Is there an event in your area?
You tell us.
What are you doing to be heard and to seek out information?
People can call their local chapters of NOW to find about activities planned in their area. You could do that.
You could throw a STOP THE WAR now party this weekend, if nothing else. Get everyone to take time during the party to call your governor's hotline (provided you're not in one of the disaster areas effected by Hurricane Katrina) so that when the staff arrives the following Monday, they find nonstop messages saying "Bring the troops home now." Can your governor STOP THE WAR? Probably not. But that's an elected official and they should be feeling the heat. They should know where people stand. That goes for your state reps, your county reps and your municipal reps. They should all know that "the voters" are tired of this ongoning invasion/occupation. You can do that this weekend.
Might lead to a city council considering whether to debate a measure on the war. Might lead to a state rep standing in a state house (or outside it) and making a statement against the war. Or a governor. You never know until you try.
But if you can't take part in the scheduled activities, you need to create some of your own.
Get contact info for your reps on every level and throw a party. Provide means for the guests to contact those reps (at the party, don't take "Oh sure, I'll do something Monday"). Pass around a collection plate for your local peace group or local chapter of a deserving organization or for the national chapter of the same. Entertainment?
Have Laura Flanders playing in the background or Democracy Now! or Pacifica or any programming that's independent and airing the issues that a timid mainstream press won't. Play music by artists who are making a difference and/or who have made a difference, people who stand up and be counted.
Want a film-fest? You've got Danny Schechter's WMD, many strong films by Robert Greenwood, Michael Moore, The Control Room . . . The list is endless.
Maybe there's truly nothing going on in your area (or maybe you're not "the rally type"), that's no excuse for not starting something yourself on some level that says no to the occupation.You can make a difference this coming weekend. If you participate.
So stand up and be counted. Cindy Sheehan's the spark but only you can keep the flame of truth blazing.
[This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and myself, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of both The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review.]

"use your power this weekend" (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude):
where are you rebecca?
i am in d.c. where are you?
c.i.'s got the usual stacks of notes and passed a quote on to me because there won't be time for it this weekend more than likely so this is from amy goodman & david goodman's the exception to the rulers, p. 10:

It is absolutely critical right now to break the sound barrier when it comes to dissent. The U.S. government has used the war on terror as it's rationale for the biggest crackdwon on civil liberties since the McCarthy era of the 1950s. Right now, people are being thrown in jail without charges. Men from the Middle East and South Asia are being singled out as enemies. Lawyers defending dissidents are under attack.
These are the first warnings. You could be next.

how do you combat that?
1 way is using your voice.
refusing to be silenced.
now i'm in d.c. to take part in the protests this weekend. elaine and c.i. are here. tomorrow mike arrives along with betty, ava, jess, ty, jim and dona, kat and cedric. we're making our voices heard. will you?
i have a lot of readers in high school. i realize that not everyone will be able to visit d.c. this weekend. (i'm glad that 3 will. hope we are able to meet up saturday afternoon.) but there are things going on in many communities so you may be able to participate locally even if you are unable to come to d.c. you can check with your local chapter of now (national organization of women) or with your local peace organization.
but here's what i want from my high school readers most of all. today is friday (i'm posting late) and i want you to speak out at school. i want you to sit down at the lunch table and talk about the protests in d.c. and why they're happening. i want you to pass notes in study hall. i want you to talk about it during the breaks. if you're able to, i want you to talk about it in class. (i had some real pricks and assholes for teachers so i know you'll have to find the teacher who, regardless of whether they agree with you or not, will support free speech in order to have a real discussion on this topic. but you can bring it up even in classes taught by assholes and pricks.)
i do not want to read 1 e-mail that says 'wish i could have been there, rebecca, but i couldn't so i didn't do anything.'
we're here to participate in a mass protest. but the message isn't 'okay when you have something to say, you go to d.c. and the rest of the time you shut up.'
what you can do in your own community is as important, maybe more important, than the protests in d.c.while i was on vacation a number of you wrote in about the wedding crashers. it was funny, you thought. it was hysterical. you hoped i'd see it.
i'll try to see it on dvd. vince vaughn needs to lose some weight and i'm not real sure about his politics so i'll be slow on the drool there.
but why was that movie a hit?
critics hated it.
who made it a hit?
you did. telling people you knew about it. sending e-mails to people about it. you got the word out on that movie.
so here's the thing. are we going to let the new york times be the critic of the peace movement?are we going to let those outside the anti-war movement give us 2 thumbs down?not all of my readers are high school age. but i do have a huge number who are. to you guys and gals i say, week after week you defy conventional wisdom and make a movie, a cd, a tv show, a game a hit. mainstream media and advertising try to get ahead of you week after week and tell you what is a hit. you decide what is a hit and you get the word out on it.
you can do that with anything. you have that power.
so this weekend, i want you to get the word out.
most of you are already talking about the war and that's great but i want to hear that you talked even more this weekend. i want to hear that the friend you thought wouldn't be interested is someone you tried to reach. i'd love to hear that saturday you organized your own party or get together and you all sat around talking about the war. (or danced around talking about it. music is important to a good gathering.)
so if you've got a group of friends or only 1 good friend, i want you to be connecting. if you're someone who goes into chat rooms, i want to hear that you brought up the issue in your favorite chat rooms.
i want you to be able, come monday, to say 'well d.c. or not, i made myself heard.'
if past coverage is any indication, we're not going to be able to count on the mainstream press to talk about the mobilizations as anything serious or important to our country. we're going to need to count on each other.
i have a reader who just broke his leg in practice this week. you know i hope you get better and that having a cast on your leg in this heat is a pain in the ass. i know you're mobility is limited, greg. but i know you can get online. i want to hear from you that you did e-mails to your friends about this, that you shared your opinions and hopes on what this weekend meant with your friends.
so 'i can't come to d.c.' or 'there's nothing going on in my area' is no excuse.
you can do something. you have power that you use every day and maybe don't even realize it.
the teacher who's a pain in the ass and you avoid because of unfair grading, how did you know about it? because you got the word out. the nachos that kyla's whole school knows to avoid when the cafeteria serves them for lunch, how did you know that? kyla's older sister broke it down for her before kyla started high school this year. kyla passed it on to her friends.
that's power. that's using your power.
own your power this weekend. use it.
if you usually discuss the invasion/occupation with 2 friends, increase that.
get the word out.
there's no excuse for doing nothing this weekend. 'i'm not in d.c.' doesn't cut it.
becky shares my 1st name and my love of hot guys. she's got a big date tonight. (and she's going to look incredible.) becky says she's talking about the war. she says if this guy is a bushie, she wants nothing to do with him and she's going to find that out on date 1. sure he's hot, with a tight little butt, green eyes that are like emeralds and a smile that makes her dizzy. but she's making the issue of our invasion/occupation topic 1 on this 1st date.
what are you doing?
are you going to be silent and let the mainstream press tell this story? good god are we in trouble then.
use your power and make yourself heard.
just as i was publishing, elaine hollered 'don't forget to note c.i.'s thing.'
if you're participating in organized events you will be around a wide range of people. so please read c.i.'s 'A quick note on this weekend' and remember the larger message of this weekend and that we're all pulling together to end the war.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Roberts and the Pentagon

Quickly, here are two items from Democracy Now! that Mike and I both felt you should be aware of:

More Dems Come Out Against Roberts (Democracy Now!)
The battle continues over the confirmation of President Bush's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, as more prominent Democrats have made their voting intentions public ahead of today's vote. Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy say they will vote against Roberts, while Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy says he will support Roberts. Earlier this week, Minority Leader Harry Reid said he would vote no. Meanwhile, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, is calling on President Bush to delay nominating a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Specter said he talked to Justice O'Connor about staying on the high court and that "She's prepared to do that'' through the court's term ending in June. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he urged Bush to submit a name to the Senate right away.

GAO: Pentagon Has No Idea How Much War Costs (Democracy Now!)
A new report from the Government Accountability Office has found that the Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the so-called war on terror. The GAO says this limits Congress's ability to oversee the war spending. The Defense Department has reported spending $191 billion since the September 11th attacks. The report says , "Neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing and details of how appropriated funds are being spent."

This is "quickly" because Rebecca's here. I had to see patients today. She flew here and we're flying to D.C. together. She wants to grab something quick to eat on the way to the airport so this is a quickie. But thank you to everyone who wrote such nice e-mails about what I posted yesterday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What America needs now is some realism

I'm starting late, not by choice. I couldn't log in. Blogger was down. I ended up calling Kat and she had the same problem. She said Cedric did as well. (Betty didn't and was able to post.)

I was trying to think of what to write tonight and went for a walk. At one section of the sidewalk, I counted eleven birds and four squirrels. I ended up stopping to watch this one squirrel stop and start and stop and start across a yard on its way to a tree.

An ambulance was approaching with sirens blaring and everything scattered.

For some reason, watching them disappear around the block I'd been walking down, this reminded me of Iraq.

There are not enough troops we could send in. (I'm not in favor of sending more troops over.)
We stand out and we will always "scurry" when the blasts go off. It's not our country and we need to get out of it.

Lori e-mailed me about a post elsewhere that really upset her. It said that we broke it so we had to fix it.

Can they define fix?

There are no goals here, certainly no realistic ones.

But I'm guessing "fix" means imposing our "order" on the country. We're fixing it so great now, aren't we? Forget the Iraqis who are dying. Forget that potable water is a dream. Forget the unemployment and our attacks on the oil union. Is that when we know we've "fixed" it -- when we've destroyed the oil workers union?

Or maybe we'll have fixed it when women have no rights at all? That's our "success" so far. The new Constitution will give women less rights than they had.

The arrogance involved in thinking we can "fix" something is, honestly, disgusting.

We've created a huge mess. We've brought terrorism to Iraq. (Which the Bully Boy is quite proud of although I doubt the average Iraqi is.)

How stupid and arrogant does someone have to be to honestly believe that the Bully Boy is bringing anything of value to Iraq?

The idea that we can "fix" it militarily is an ignorant one. Military "democracies" aren't democracies. Democracies come from the people. Not the United States handing a "democracy" to a people but from the people making their own.

The idea that they need us to "fix" things is so arrogant and insists that we know better, that the Iraqis are child-like and need us to motivate them or mold them.

C.I. has offered that a lot of the non-hawks in the "fix" it and "fine tune" may not have reliable reporting. I'd argue that they also lack common sense.

The invasion/occupation was wrong, built on lies, and little pie-in-the-sky xenophobes think we can start from there and export democracy to the region.

These people are not only failing to grasp history, they're also failing to grasp humanity. I've discussed the white rug before but let me note it again.

I was making my first bits of nice money. I was redoing my place to reflect what I thought was stylish (I shudder now at those early attempts) and that included having white carpet put in the living room. The first dinner party I threw resulted in a klutz spilling red wine on the carpet.
He was going to "fix it." He comes back from the kitchen with a wet towel. I didn't want him touching my carpet. I spent a lot of money on that (too much) and it was really important to me.
I just wanted him to leave.

So you're an Iraqi and your country's one big shooting range now, electricity is spotty, water is spotty, bombs go off all the time, your neighbors (male) get hauled off and maybe they come back and maybe they end up in prison, the Americans barge through your home and show little respect for your religion as they rummage around looking for guns and insurgents.

But "fine tuners" think we can still turn the corner.

We can't. We've been there three years and we've only screwed things up.

They don't want us there and somehow that, which does make the mainstream news, fails to register.

These types need to be forced to explain what we've fixed so far that allows them to hang onto false hopes that we can "turn a corner."

People like that refuse to face reality. Maybe they suffer from inflated opinions of themselves?
Maybe they suffer from extreme xenophobia that tells them it's America's job to go into a country and tell the country what they're going to do. (But then, all we've been concerned with was having a tag sale on all of Iraq's public goods as we privatized them. The oil industry has been less successful so maybe the fine tuners wants to hang around until the unions are busted and then they'll call it a "win.")

But how stupid do you have to be to think Donald Rumsfeld (who should be in prison for what happened at Abu Ghraib) and the Bully Boy and their ilk are going to improve anything?

What have they improved in this country?

This isn't our A-team. It's not even our B, C or D-team. It's our Z-team (for zeros). They've harmed everything they've touched in this country but some fools want to believe that they're able to do things differently in Iraq?

Do they not know Negroponte's history?

Iraqis and our troops suffer every day that we remain in Iraq. Our troops may be lucky and not die but they're degraded by our actions that say torture's okay, mass detainment's okay, eye scans to enter your own hometowns are okay, go down the list.

What is going on in Iraq is disgusting. These fine tuners think that we should "stay the course" and just improve our strategy.

They're living in a dream world. That may be cozy and comfy for them but the troops and the Iraqis are living in a very realistic hell.

I don't have sympathy for the fine tuners. They can't get honest with what's gone down and what we can reasonably expect to continue to go down while we're over there.

Maybe they're damaged from five years of Bully Boy? If so, that should frighten them all the more because the troops returning will have problems. We've already seen that but apparently that's another thing the fine tuners can't be bothered with. Ugly reality isn't something they want to deal with. They'd rather pretend that the Bully Boy can give democracy.

They're disgusting. But if they want fine tuning, here's a suggestion, sign up.

Quit preaching that we need to stay over there from the comfort of your computer chair. Sign up already.

I'm not one of the "we were all wrong" crowd. I wasn't wrong. I knew where this would lead and it has led there. So I don't suffer the fools easily even if they give shout outs to the troops.
They're letting people risk their lives and the question is "For what?"

As we get closer to three years of occupation, we've not seen anything to suggest things are better. They won't get better. An occupied people who want the foreigners to leave are not going to be receptive to strong arming and lectures.

They can flaunt their ignorance all they want when they choose to leave the topic of electoral politics in this country. But there statements have no grounding in human psychology.

They may think they are being "practicial." I think they are being reprehensible as they allow more Iraqis and more troops to be put in the line of fire for an occupation.

They're still willing to give the Bully Boy more troops. After all the lies, they're still willing.

You have to be incredibly ignorant to still believe in this "cake walk."

TV has given us gasbags so it shouldn't be all that surprising that some would pop up online as well. They are the Cokie Roberts of the new century. I guess it's easy to play "reasonable" with the lives of others.

I'm not surprised when Republicans make the "stay the course" or "fine tune" argument. It's their man in the oval office, they have to prop him up. They have to kid themselves that there's still salvation possible or else face the obvious fact that they voted in someone who is destorying this country.

We've got three more years of the Bully Boy (unless we get lucky and an impeachment movement takes hold). That the Republicans would rally around their Bully isn't surprising.
That people identifying themselves as progressive, liberals, etc. would is dismaying.

As we get closer to the three year mark, you really have to shove your head in the sand to remain so blind.

U.S. Invests Over $1B to Upgrade Middle East Bases (Democracy Now!)
This comes as the U.S. is investing over one billion dollars in major upgrades at military bases in Afghanistan and the region. The New York Times reports the U.S. is spending over $100 million at the Bagram Air Base near Kabul to build permanent electrical, water and sewer systems. In addition the U.S. is replacing the air base's runway and building a hospital and housing for 1,000 service members. In Iraq, the military is also spending over $100 million to upgrade its airfield near Balad, north of Baghdad. And in Qatar, the U.S. is building a 100,000-square-foot fortified state-of-the-art regional air operations center.

$100 million. We're there to help?

It's time for people who think they're left to get realistic.

They can start by reading "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" which may have been too shocking for them in December but now maybe they can handle it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Iraq from Democracy Now! and The Common Ills

Mike and I are grabbing the same two headlines (from Democracy Now!). We spent too much time talking on the phone about them, however, so our comments may look similar. I'm going to try to figure out something he didn't say on the phone and something I didn't say. (We don't usually discuss them in depth but I think Mike was wanting to talk about anything other than a test he has tomorrow. Good luck on the test, Mike.)

UK Forces Attack Iraqi Jail To Free Two British Troops
New questions about Iraq's sovereignty are being raised after British forces attacked an Iraqi jail on Monday because they believed two detained British commandos were inside. British troops opened fire on the jail in Basra and used six armored vehicles to smash down the jail's walls as helicopter gunships flew overhead. The provincial governor of Basra described the British assault as "barbaric, savage and irresponsible." The Associated Press reported 150 prisoners escaped during the siege. As the British raided the prison, Iraqis started attacking the British vehicles with firebombs and rockets. One of the British armored fighting vehicles was set ablaze. Photos showed a British soldier on fire climbing out of the hatch and jumping to the ground, as a crowd pelted him. An Iraqi official said that the British soldiers were arrested after they had fired at an Iraqi police officer. At the time the British soldiers were undercover and dressed as Iraqis. After the prison was breached in Basra, the two soldiers were found not to be in the jail but in a nearby house. The British Army attempted to downplay the incident claiming that the men were released after negotiations. The government said it feared for the lives of the British commandos after discovering they had been handed to "militia elements". The British attack on the Iraqi jail came one day after British forces arrested three members of the Shiite Mahdi Army.

You hear the story above and you realize that, under Tony Blair, Britains don't have it much better off than we do. George Michael has a hilarious video called "Shoot the Dog." It came out before the invasion/occupation so I'm hopeful most of you have seen it. Blair is Bully Boy's lap dog. There's also a blond in the video that I swear has to be Ann Coulter but Rebecca always debates me on that.

I've watched it in Quick Time and with Real Player so I'm sure you can find it online very easily. If you haven't seen it, please check it out. If you like it enough, you can do what I did and buy the CD single (import) and have the video to watch on your DVD player. (It's from Patience which was really a surprise for me. I really liked George Michael. The arrest didn't change that but I wasn't really into Songs for The Last Century when he put that out -- all cover songs. This CD is one of his best ones.)

Top White House Aide Arrested
In Washington, the White House's top federal procurement officer was arrested Monday on charges of making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Until last week David Safavian was the head of Procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. He is a former official with the General Services Administration. The Justice Department accuses him of aiding an unnamed Washington D.C. lobbyist to acquire government-controlled property and that he took a golf trip to Scotland with the lobbyist. While Jack Abramoff is not mentioned by name, sources in Washington have said he is the unnamed lobbyist referenced in the criminal complaint. This marks the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

Corruption in this administration? I'm shocked.

Okay, now that I've gotten over my faux shock, isn't this a matter for Congress? Or do they not want to touch it because it involves lobbyists? When the budget is being debated and Republicans are trying to tack drilling in the Antartic on to it, seems to me that maybe they should instead be making time to discover what Safavian told them and how true it was. I won't hold my breath on that. Or pretend to suffer from faux shock when it doesn't happen. But it should.

Tomorrow night my friend Mike interviews my friend Rebecca for his site Mikey Likes It! so allow me a second to plug that. I think it may be one of his best interviews just because they have similar interests and both speak to the cold truth. They don't warm it or toss on sprinkles to make it more appetizing.

Also in the area of announcements. I wasn't intendeding to post Monday through Friday. I can't say this will continue to happen. Tonight, I'm rushing because I'm speaking to a friend's class after their break mid-class. So here's what I'm going to try to do on Mondays through Friday. If I don't have a great deal of time, I'll just put up a headline from Democracy Now! that I think we all need to take note of. I'll also try to do a peace quote.

I do have a group coming up that will be an evening session so time may be limited on one night a week. This will be a single-issue group and should last five weeks only. But it will cut into one of my nights. It won't be Wednesday because I'm always going to try to grab that for Cedric who has church on that night and really doesn't have time to blog. But I'm still not sure which night because Tuesday works best for all but two. It won't be Wednesday but as soon as I know which day it will be, I'll put it up here so you'll know.

Now let me note something from C.I. on how reality is one thing and reporting in the New York Times another.

NYT: Narrows the frame & events in "British Army Storms Basra Jail . . ." (The Common Ills)

Two British soldiers working under cover were arrested Monday in the southern
city of Basra and then freed as a British armored vehicle blasted through the
wall of their jail after an angry crowd began rioting outside, an Interior
Ministry official said. The official said that the soldiers were undercover
officers dressed as Iraqis and that Iraqi police officers had arrested them
after the men fired at a traffic police officer.
A British military spokesman
in Basra confirmed that "two U.K. military personnel" had been detained early on
Monday "in a shooting incident" and that troops had used an armored fighting
vehicle "to gain entry" to the police station to release them. He said that more
than one vehicle had been in the area and that the police inside the station had
refused to obey orders from the Interior Ministry to release the men.
incident came a day after British forces in Basra arrested three members of the
Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to the rebellious Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr,
on suspicion of terrorism.

Sabrina Tavernise's "
British Army Storms Basra Jail to Free 2 Soldiers From Arrest" from this morning's New York Times.
Some questions. Why aren't the rescued "military personnel" identified by the British government? They're rescued, surely their families would want to know. Why are British "military personnel" undercover to begin with?
Why are they identified, by their government, as "military personnel." What was their mission and should we be worried about that?
Anyone else wondering any of that? Why is the military undercover? Usually when it's "undercover," there's a 'reason' for that. As Central America in the eighties could attest.
What's not being told here?
From Terri Judd and Colin Brown's "
Under fire: British soldiers attacked in Basra:Army used tanks and helicopters to storm jail and free captured troops, say Iraqis" (from The Independent, and we noted it here last night if it looks familiar):
British troops were struggling to maintain control in Basra last night after the
city exploded into bloody violence following the alleged killing of an Iraqi
policeman by a British soldier.
Two British servicemen, dressed in
civilian clothes, were held at Basra's main police station after the incident.
Outside, rioting began as the city threatened to descend into anarchy.

The events themselves are big news in England. They're one story in the Times.
Gareth, who's read the Times article and calls it "laughable," e-mails to note Helen McCormack's "
The day that Iraqi anger exploded in the face of the British occupiers" (The Independent):

The dramatic events began to unfold just before dawn yesterday, when two British
nationals were detained by Iraqi authorities. It emerged later that they were
British soldiers. Dressed in plain clothes - according to some they were wearing
traditional Arab dress - the two men had been driving in an unmarked car when
they arrived at a checkpoint in the city.
In the confrontation that followed,
shots were fired, and two Iraqi policemen were shot, one of whom later died. The
Iraqi authorities blamed the men, reported to be undercover commandos, and
arrested them.

The British government issues "official statements" -- from "official sources," and naturally an anonymice at that -- and the Times can't tell you what happened. But some "official sources" carry greater weight than other "official sources" apparently. Which is why you have to read
McCormack's article to come across this sort of statement:

The British military action was condemned as "barbaric, savage and
irresponsible" by Mohammed al-Waili, the governor of the province. "A British
force of more than 10 tanks backed by helicopters attacked the central jail and
destroyed it. This is an irresponsible act," the governor said.

The governor of the province? Surely he mentions merit in the Times "official sources" loving paper of record, no? No. No, he's not fitting the narrative of this story. And while it's true that any story will have a narrative, the one imposed on this article isn't interested in reality.
A skeptic might respond, "Oh, that's The Independent. The Times doesn't care what they say."
The BBC then? Polly e-mails to note "
UK soldiers 'freed from militia:'"

Basra governor Mohammed al-Waili said more than 10 vehicles and helicopters had
been used in an operation that was a "barbaric act of aggression".

Yeah, the BBC could note al-Waili's remarks. And they did. It's just in this country that we need to coat half-realities in sugar for them to go down easy.
That's why you get one "fact" after another that's contradicted in reporting elsewhere. That's why you get anonymous claims and on apparent concern as to why the British officers were undercover to begin with. Why we're told, anonymously, that the tank (one) apparently rolls in due to "100 to 200 people" of "rioters." When eye witness reports (naturally not in the Times) report quite differently. A dozen or so is key to the other reporting on this incident. Then the tanks come. And it is tanks from eye witness reports, plural. And helicopters. The Times misses that.
"More than one" had been in the area, the Times tells us. They don't even use the term "tanks." "Armored vehicle" and "armored fighting vehicle" are popular with the Times today.
To read the Times narrative, two British troops were taken to a jail after being stopped at a check point and reportedly fighting, once in the jail, "100 to 200" people gathered, an "armored vehicle" shot through a wall, and they were released. A soldier lept from an "armored vehicle" that had flames arising from it.
The soldier, as reported elsewhere, jumped with his own uniform on fire. (BBC reports soldiers,
one is visible in their photo.) (The same BBC report also reports two tanks "set alight in clashes.") Reports outside the Times have the number of people estimated as a dozen more or less until the tanks and helicopters rolled in.
Basra has not been "subdued." (See
earlier entry this morning.)
The incident, though you wouldn't know it from the Times, is a big topic in England. And, again, though you wouldn't know it from the Times happy talk version of the incident, it's leading to public comments from "official sources." From
the BBC:

But Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: "It is
hard to see how relations between the British military and the civilian Iraqi
authorities in Basra will ever be the same again.
"This is bound to be seen
as a humiliation by many Iraqis - something the insurgents will use to their

From The Independent:

Calling for Mr Blair to set an exit date, Labour MPs said the scenes from Basra
had echoes of the killing of two British soldiers who were murdered by a mob in
Northern Ireland during the Troubles after driving into a republican funeral
cort├Ęge in March 1988.
Clare Short, the former international development
secretary, who resigned over the war, said: "We should negotiate an end to the
occupation. They are all saying 'no' because it's such a mess we cannot leave
now. But the occupation is the major problem now.

Note to UK members, I've read all the articles you sent. I'm going with the BBC and The Independent for this entry because they were the articles sent in repeatedly. But the overall view all of the articles painted were and are helpful. From Anthony Loyd's "Army storms jail to free seized soldiers" (Times of London), we'll note the following:

The British military sent a small force to rescue the soldiers, but it was
beaten off by an angry mob which set fire to two Warrior armoured fighting
vehicles. One soldier was seen tumbling from the vehicle in flames, another
being pelted with rocks.The second attempt last night was more organised. Before
the prison was attacked nearby roads were sealed and reinforcements surrounded
the police station. “We are not leaving without our men," said a British
commander. The former Iraq commander, Tim Collins, said it was "not a good turn
of events", but added that he believed the events did not represent a breakdown
of law and order in Basra.British diplomats had demanded the release of the men,
reminding the Iraqi authorities that British troops in Iraq were answerable only
to British military justice. But the Government in Baghdad had appeared unable
to impose its will on the authorities in Basra.
The incident presents an
acute problem for Tony Blair. More than 8,000 British troops are deployed to
maintain order and to train the very police that were holding the two soldiers
prisoner. The coalition’s entire exit strategy depends on Iraqi security forces
being able to take over.
There is a wider fear that yesterday’s developments
could herald an unravelling of the fragile peace that has prevailed to date in
southern Iraq. In the past two months six British soldiers and two British
security guards have been killed as Islamic fundamentalists, backed by Iran,
have tightened their grip on the region. There was a strong suspicion that the
police in Basra were acting in collusion with followers of the populist Shia
cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who wants British and American troops out of Iraq and
has been increasingly fomenting unrest in the south.

Paints a different story than does the Times of New York. It's some sort of incident that doesn't really matter all that much in the Times of New York. If it did, they'd tell us what the reaction in England was, but they don't . . .
We'll also note Abbas Fayadh, Lucy Bannerman, and Ian Bruce's "
British soldiers freed after tanks 'smashed jail wall'" (Scotland's The Herald):

TWO undercover soldiers seized by Iraqi forces were freed last night when
British tanks breached their prison walls, according to reports.
About 10
Warrior armoured vehicles were said to have been involved in the operation,
before troops stormed in to release the special forces servicemen.
[. .
Dramatic images showed one soldier scrambling out of a burning vehicle,
engulfed by flames. Gun battles broke out between the two sides, leaving two
civilians dead and 15 injured.
Mohammed al Waili, the governor of the
province, said the British jail raid was "barbaric, savage and irresponsible".
He said: "A British force of more than 10 tanks backed by helicopters attacked
the central jail and destroyed it. This is an irresponsible act."
[. .
Sir Menzies Campbell, LibDem deputy leader, condemned the force shown by
the army, warning the decision to break into the prison would fuel the
insurgency. He said: "It is hard to see how relations between the British
military and the civilian Iraqi authorities in Basra will ever be the same
again. This is bound to be seen as a humiliation by many Iraqis, something the
insurgents will use to their advantage."An operation of this kind must have gone
to the highest level. I would be surprised if the prime minister had not been
[. . .]
Sources say the British soldiers, possibly members of
the new Special Reconnaissance Regiment formed earlier this month to provide
intelligence for SAS operations, were looking at infiltration of the city's
police by the followers of the outspoken Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al Sadr.
In all, I'm reading through over sixty different articles sent in by UK members (I'd guess it's sixty-three but don't make me swear to it, that's sixty-three different articles -- as often happens, members sometimes note an article that others have noted as well -- The Independent and the BBC were noted repeatedly, I've credited the first person who sent them in according to the time on the e-mails). And when you read the coverage from outside the New York Timid, you get a different view.
Which is why Gareth asks if this is how they honour the journalist who died? On the same day as they note his death, they're also printing a narrow, limited scope of the events that relies on select "official sources" and seems unable to find any eye witnesses at all.
That's the New York Timid. And that's the problem with the Iraq coverage. This isn't an isolated incident that just flared up (Basra) and if the Times wants to report reality, they're going to have to work a great deal harder. I'm saying the Times because we don't know what was in the original draft of this article and what was removed from it. (Note to ____, I did read your e-mail. We've noted that before but thanks for the reminder.)
Does the paper of record set out to censor the news for fear of offending Americans? Or is this part of the problem it has with covering Iraq (which combines their love of "official sources" -- even when not named -- with
'reported live from the Green Zone')?
Whatever the problem is, Basra reported in the Times today is reported differently outside the Times. In England, this is a huge issue. In the Times, it's one article, one very weak article that leaves out key points and only finds "happy talkers" to quote. Even the anonymous ones are part of Operation Happy Talk.
Is the Times? If so, the article on
Fakher Haider was a waste of time this morning. Don't tell us of the realities in Basra in one story and, in another, deny basic reality reported elsewhere (all over the place -- "reported all over the place" might be the better way to put that).
There are quotes in the Times article that aren't presented as having been told to the Times one on one. Which is probably good because those quotes pop up in most of the other reporting. What doesn't pop up in the Times is the non-Happy Talkers. Other news sources report "Happy Talker said this and ___ said this." The Times gives you one view of the events and one view of the impact. Both are limited and both fail to allow readers to grasp what actually happened and what it's impact has been.
Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for
Democracy Now!:
Hugo Chavez: We broadcast the rest of our exclusive interview with the Venezuelan president. An in-studio on the state of African with 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winning Wangari Maathai, of Kenya; and human rights activist and journalist KenWiwa, of Nigeria.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?
St. Augustine

Monday, September 19, 2005


For Mike, here are two things from Democracy Now! that we need to know about.

Non-Violent Anti-War Activists Face Conspiracy Charges (Democracy Now!)
Here in this country, Four anti-war activists go on trial today in Binghamton New York on federal conspiracy charges for taking part in a non-violent act of civil disobedience protesting the Iraq war. The activists - known as the Saint Patrick's Day Four - face up to six years in prison, a period of probation and $275,000 in fines. It marks the first federal conspiracy trial of antiwar protesters since the Vietnam War. On March 17, 2003, two days before the Iraq invasion, Daniel Burns, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady and Peter De Mott, were arrested inside the Army recruiting station in Lansing New York after they had poured vials of blood on the walls, windows and American flags. They were originally charged in state court with criminal mischief but the judge declared a hung jury after 9 of the 12 jurors voted for acquittal. The federal government then upped the charges to conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States "by force, intimidation and threat" as well as three lesser charges. Law Professor Bill Quigley, who is advising the four protesters, said there is concern that this case will set a precedent for nonviolent protesters across the country to be charged with federal conspiracy. To coincide with the trial, activists in Binghamton are staging A Citizens' Tribunal on Iraq.

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Tops 1900 (Democracy Now!)
Meanwhile the U.S. death toll since the invasion has now topped 1,900

So what we have is violence continuing in Iraq (as it will, check out C.I.'s "Other Items" from Saturday and read the part on Iraq) while at the same time our government tries peace activists. The wrong people are standing trial. Our priorities are out of tune with our beliefs. 1900. Official count. We don't count the Iraqis. Why? Because they don't count to the administration?

Our priorities are out of tune with our beliefs.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
Peace begins when the hungry are fed.