Saturday, August 19, 2006

Iraq dialogue

[August 21st note, as C.I. pointed out, it's Philip Maldari who co-hosts The Morning Show on KPFA, not "Malderi."]

Tonight, what you've got is a mini-dialogue between Betty, Elaine and Kat (alphabetical order). We watched Cedric and Wally do joint entries this week and thought not only did they get to knock out an entry on vacation that way, they also had the fun of not working in solitude.
So this is a mini-dialogue on the war.

Betty: The snapshot today covered the hearing of Ehren Watada wonderfully but I kept wondering today where independent media was? Am I the only one wondering that?

Kat: No. It's a good point. Independent media, which for me is largely KPFA and The Nation, really needs to be doing more. This was huge and the reality is that, for a change, big media showed interest. If independent media had covered it seriously, imagine how much greater the interest would have been?

Elaine: I'll go along with that and, for me, I keep dropping back to C.I.'s "Walking Through Watada (Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing)" with the joke/clue about Denis Halliday's testimony. The fact that it was ignored by every major outlet demonstrates that it was powerful. Independent media should have been working overtime to find that testimony.

Betty: I laughed at the joke, when C.I. said "Halliday's testimony was apparently delivered via mime which would explain why there's nothing from his testimony in any of the reports." And I got the point Elaine's talking about. When there's an effort to completely sidestep the step the testimony, you do have to wonder what Halliday said that had so much of the press decide they weren't going to include it? Kat wrote about her feeling of numbness regarding independent media.

Kat: Right. I just don't get it. I don't grasp why, all this time later, KPFA, a station I listen to and count on, can't make room for one program on Iraq? The war's gone on for over three years now. It requires coverage. It is a declared war, and illegal one, but the US invaded. So where is the coverage? It's not fair that it has to duke it out with whatever crisis of the week or perceived crisis, in some cases, that pops up. There's not the coverage for it that you would expect. As a KPFA listener, I've remained neutral when others have said, "Democracy Now doesn't need to air twice each morning!" I didn't care one way or the other. My alarm goes off, it's KPFA. If I've got errands in the car, KPFA's on the radio. If I'm working on a project in the studio, KPFA is on. I may put on music in addition to that, but KPFA is the background through all my waking hours. But as that show, Democracy Now, has repeatedly and consistently ignored Iraq-related issues for over five weeks now, it's become obvious to me that the second airing is grabbing an hour that could be devoted to real programming. Maybe we could have a daily Iraq show in one of those two time slots? Or maybe we could have five different shows in that time slot? I don't know. But I know it's beyond the community, the disenchatment with that program and the feeling that the war needs its own program.

Betty: Well Andrea Lewis made the joke today [on The Morning Show] that Medea Benjamin should let her know anytime she wants to be a co-host, so what about that? I think the women of CODEPINK could easily put on a once a week show about the war.

Elaine: I agree with that and think they could even rotate it out so that one week it was CODEPINK, one week United for Peace & Justice, one week ANSWER, and so on. I also like this topic because it's looking forward and if I start looking back on the week's coverage, I'm going to get very rude and nasty.

Kat: I like it when you're rude and nasty!

Elaine: I really try not to be.

Betty: Okay, we'll dream up the Iraq show we'd love to hear but before we do that, let's point out that in the case of "the Cindy Brady of the faux left" there is cause to be rude and nasty.

Elaine: Absolutely.

Kat: Okay, we'll let's work from the premise that it would be a once a week show, okay?

Betty: And rotating groups so that no one feels it's about one organization only. By using more than one organization, they'd also be allowing more points of views and more ways of looking at stopping the war on air. Theme?

Kat: There are so many great songs past and present. But I think Michael Franti and Spearhead's "Yell Fire" is a great album and Franti is someone who gives back to the community so if I were picking, I'd go with something from that.

Betty: I'd go with "Sweet Little Lies" because it's got a nice musical feel, it mentions the war and the peace movement constantly has to address the propaganda.

Elaine: Good point. So how would the show be set up?

Kat: Discussions, interviews and speeches would be the bulk of the show.

Elaine: Well, with speeches, there would be a wealth of things to choose from. They could provide something current like Ehren Watada's speech from last weekend, but there are also wonderful speeches by Howard Zinn, presentations in fact, and wonderful speeches by Leslie Cagan, Camilo Mejia, Medea --

Kat: Right and what would be especially interesting is the historical perspective they could offer because the movement has changed and grown. There are points that needed to be made last summer, for instance, that will be less necessary next month. There is a wonderful current history that I think many people are unaware of. A show like this could put the moments into perspective and demonstrate the growth of awareness in the country that's come, too slowly for my tastes, but it has come.

Betty: Well I think one speech that has to be played is Jessica Lange's speech from DC last September. Jim's dad recorded a lot of the speeches and that's the one my father shows everyone. You need to picture this fifty-year-old Black man talking about the war to friends his age who have already heard him discuss the war and at some point he's always saying, "Wait, let me show this."

Elaine: "Dick Cheney did not serve. And we know George W. did not serve."

Betty: Yes! It's that list she has where she goes down it. My father loves that speech and other people do too. I'm always surprised. I enjoyed the speech when we were there and she was giving it. But I don't think I really appreciated it until I saw everyone's reaction to it. We were busy and working on the '"Why Are You Here" and "What's Changed"' and it's a speech that has stayed with me and would even if my father didn't play it all the time.

Elaine: Well that's partly because of the topic and because of the way she delivers it. It's a very effective one and it points out that so many of our War Hawks were --

Kat: Chicken Hawks. Happy to sit out wars but now thrilled to send others into war. That really was an amazing speech. I can still remember it and I haven't watched it since we got back from DC. I'm not big on the television, to be clear. I'm glad Jim's father dubbed me a copy and I will watch it. Probably show it during a party when the troops finally come home. But just talking about it right now, I can hear her voice on the "And you know George did not serve" line.

Betty: What about interviews?

Elaine: Well, we're talking about KPFA which is a local station serving Kat's area. So I would assume you'd make an effort to interview local people about their events as well as noting national events.

Betty: Yeah, that would make sense and I like the fact that activists would be involved as guests. Kat tapes The Morning Show for me and when I usually listen, it's Saturday and I'm cleaning the house and pulling the jam box from room to room with me. I enjoy their local coverage during that. I'm not thinking, "Tide pools? I'm in Georgia!" I think I'd be very interested in hearing what sort of local events were going on because it would be inspiring in terms of making me think what we could do in my area.

Kat: And interviews would include activists and scholars and journalists. So you've got a show right there. Saying it's once a week and they've got an hour to fill, you go with the interview as the middle piece, the longest one, do a bit of a community bulletin board and then play ten or so minutes of a speech. That's probably 40 or 45 minutes right there.

Elaine: At the top of the show they could do news and press criticism.

Betty: Right. But the first item should always be, ___ number have died. That's easier to do with the American troops because there is an official count. With Iraqis, they might want to say something like, "There were ___ reported deaths since last week when we checked in."

Kat: We took a break because I've got a migraine and I wanted the good stuff, C.I.'s over the counter cocktail combo that wipes out anything. So we took a break and I grabbed C.I. to get that 'recipe' and the pills.

Elaine: You feel anything?

Kat: Yeah, I can feel the chord at the back of my neck disappearing.

Elaine: Well you're going to start yawning when the pain subsides.

Kat: Yeah, that's what C.I. said. That as soon as the migraine's all gone I will feel sleepy.

Betty: Are you feeling sleepy right now?

Kat: No, I'm just marveling over how quickly the pain is vanishing. I felt like my neck and head were being squeezed in a vice and that's just fading. FYI, 'over the counter.' I'd give the recipe but if I did someone might have a reaction and turn around and sue. But all the ingredients are over the counter. Betty was talking about the importance of starting with the death toll and I'd agree with that because it sets the tone right there. It gives you the consequences, immediate, of the illegal war right up front.

Betty: And I keep thinking about how we passed the 2600 mark last Saturday and the press, except AP, all seemed to ignore that. I worry that the numbers don't matter now. Am I the only one?

Elaine: No, I wonder about that too. Is 3,000, for instance, the 'magic number' for coverage next? 2,600 is a huge number -- 2,600 American troops had died as of last Saturday -- and it was shocking that so many didn't see it as noteworthy.

Kat: But, and here's why a show like we're talking about is needed, when I spoke to people about it, they did care. They'd sometimes say something like, "Are you sure?" Because they hadn't heard about it, they would have a moment of disbelief. It's like when you spoke Thursday about Nancy A. Youssef's article about how the US was keeping a body count on Iraqi civilians killed and there was that shock because people hadn't heard about it.

Betty: There was. When Elaine brought that up, there was this sort of, "Wait, how come I didn't know about that?" Because people don't know for the most part. That's one of the many stories that drives home the point that Iraq needs its own program. But, correction to Migraine Kat, Elaine gave that speech Wednesday?

Kat: She did?

Elaine: Yes.

Kat: Sorry, the whole week runs together and I'm getting the dozy effect of the cocktail combo now.

Elaine: I know, I noticed you trying to hide your yawn.

Betty: Do we need to stop?

Kat: No. I'm fine for a bit more. If I fall out just intermingle my "ZZZZ"s with your own comments.

Elaine: So, it would start with the body count. Then recent events?

Betty: Right. And I'd interject commentary on the coverage in with that. Like, if the show was already on a month ago, when Abeer's case was going on recently, they could be noting who was using Abeer's name and who was sayin "14-year-old girl" day after day.

Kat: Because that really does matter. It makes a difference if a victim has a name or a face. If they don't, it's just another incident. When they're someone you can see as a person, and you see this in court rooms, when lawyers put a face on the victim, it's more than an abstract incident, it's something that has a victim.

Elaine: Which is a great point but, using the example of Abeer, do they address the fact that the press, especially the New York Times, was happy to repeat the defense's argument over and over --

Betty: Before they'd even made it in the Article 32 hearing.

Elaine: Correct. Do you deal with that at the top?

Kat: You know what? I think you do. I don't think you just sit there and say "X dead in a bombing." That's not an insult to Sandra Lupien or anyone else doing headlines on KPFA. I listen to those, they have value. But on this program, our dream program, I think the hosts should address the headlines as they go through them. Maybe I didn't hear about every event or incident of violence, but I think the press critique is too important. I'd want that mixed in with the headlines.

Elaine: I had a professor who would agree with your point. His point was always that for the facts you could grab a book. It was more important, to him, that you learned how to process it.

Kat: Exactly. Because the events are going on until the war's over. Probably after as well. And the real value is in helping the listeners learn to see the problems with the coverage and to recognize it when they come across future coverage.

Betty: And Iraq really doesn't get critiqued. I mean, if you're offering Judith Miller in 2006, then either the press is suddenly full of high caliber professionals, ha ha, or else people are sleeping on the job when they should be critiquing.

Elaine: I really think making Judith Miller the eternal punching bag has done nothing but give everyone else coverage. Dexy is only one example.

Betty: And we're all aware of the attitude some have, no names, that just because they're over there they are above criticism.

Kat: Sense of entitlement. But no names. But yeah, Elaine's point, yeah, Judith Miller or, let's leave Iraq, Elisabeth Bumiller were held to completely different standards than our Green Zone reporters. Dexy is outed as the first-stop for military propaganda, outed by the Washington Post, and it's not news? The man who was in Falluja in November 2004 and saw only good things. Not white phosphorus. And what did they say, the mainstream, as a defense when they were first shooting down those reports that emerged this year? "Oh, it's not true. We had people there and if our reporters didn't see it . . ." Well it was used and once the military admitted ot it, mainstream media had to change their tunes. But it never led to, "Oh it is true. We had people there and why didn't our reporters see it and report on it?" That's what should have happened. They called it a lie, until the military admitted to it, and used their embeds as their evidence. When they had to admit it was true, where was the questioning of their embeds? So, yeah, we need the press criticism as much as we need to know what's going on there.

Elaine: So is ten minutes at the top of the show enough?

Kat: I'd go with fifteen.

Betty: I'd agree to that. The events need to be discussed. But I'm wondering about another aspect, phone calls?

Kat: I'm completely against them. When it was live, there was a point. Now, due to the absurd, reactionary ruling by the FCC, there's a delay. I have no problem with a listener being a guest but the calls don't feel real to me anymore due to the delay. That's not slamming KPFA for doing the delay. I wish someone would refuse and take it to court but one fine alone could wipe out KPFA.

Betty: I remember that discussion Andrea Lewis and Philip Malderi did on the topic. It's just ridiculous. And a huge overreaction. But not surprising when you consider that the right-wing has been screaming about the issue for years. It has nothing to do with Janet Jackson. If her top had been ripped off by Justin Timberlake on radio, it wouldn't have mattered. You don't have a visual on radio. But it's part of a climate of cracking down and it has nothing to do with obsecenity, my opinion, as much as it does with censorship.

Kat: Good point. There's also the issue that not everyone can handle calls. Andrea and Philip can. Larry Benksy's a pro at it. But the reality is that if it's a new show with hosts who aren't experienced in dealing with calls, you're going to end up with a lot of being polite and allowing someone to go on way longer than they need to. I wouldn't object to KPFA doing a strictly call in show. WBAI does one, I think.

Elaine: Hugh Hamilton hosts it.

Kat: That's the one. I listened when we were in NYC. I wouldn't have a problem with that. But with one hour and I'd be thinking, "Oh shut up already, someone else has a point and you've just gone goofy."

Elaine: Do you want to eleborate on that?

Kat: Well the woman who made her point about the propaganda efforts of the administration made her point long before she started going into mass hypnosis. In that case, a guest extended her comments and I felt she ended up undercutting her earlier remarks the longer she spoke. I'm coming at it from a differnt place than many would because I listen to KPFA a lot and I know, for instance, Philip's often having to deal with things on air that he shouldn't have to. I'm not for screening calls, put them on. But he's been acused of saying things, "You just said," that he didn't say. I don't have any use for that kind of nonsense and I don't think he did either from his response. And you get the people who, let's say Larry Benksy's talking about cats, okay? He's doing an hour on cats. You'd have someone calling in saying, "Great show, really enjoying it. Now about potatoes . . ." If we're dreaming up a show about Iraq, I don't want callers calling in to use up time by defocusing from the topic. There are actually a lot of smart listeners who call in. But sometimes I hear a call and think, "They must be listening for the first time." If so, great, maybe they'll stick around and really grow to appreciate the station but with so little time, I'm not willing to endure their growing pains.

Elaine: Have you ever called in?

Kat: Yeah. Years ago. I think it was to one of Kris Welch's shows. Not Living Room because this was before Living Room. And I made my point and was one of those people who then hang up so I can hear the response. But there were more calls back then. Calls don't really get a great deal of time now and when they do get air time, it's usually at the last ten or less minutes. So when I'm listening to a caller who doesn't grasp that they made their point and that there are other people waiting to make a point, I just get irritated.

Betty: What if on one show every now and then, they had a segment that was just phone calls?

Kat: I wouldn't mind that. C.I. said to mention that Matthew Rothschild was going to be on Monday's The Morning Show --

Elaine: The pay off for the cocktail combo?

Kat: Yeah. We're joking by the way. But Matt Rothschild is a guest pretty frequently. Sometimes they have calls and that usually goes well. But if it doesn't, my thought is always, "Well what did I miss because someone didn't grasp the discussion and didn't grasp it after the question was answered but instead decided to stay on the line?" He's going to be on discussing the federal judge's ruling that Wally and Cedric have covered the last two days. And I just have this nightmare that someone's going to be calling in and saying something like, "Well the world court isn't something I'm in favor of and . . ." There are good callers and sometimes they need to stay on the line. There was a caller on a segment Andrea did with a friend of C.I.'s --

Elaine: I know the one you mean.

Kat: And the caller was making the point of the genocide of Native Americans and the nature of American wars. It was a solid point and the guest didn't care for it all. Too bad. It needed to be said and I loved that man who called in for saying it. But his comments were on topic. I don't mind if someone agrees or disagrees with the guests for the most part, I do mind when they can't even grasp what the topic is. There was a comedian Philip interviewed a while back and the name's escaping me but on something like that, fine, there are going to be people who are calling in to talk about anything. It was an older man and I'm sure he touched many lives. And I remember enjoying the calls, especially one that mentioned where he first saw the comedian -- can you tell how many hours I've logged with KPFA? -- but that's different from when there's Phyllis Bennis or Matt Rothschild or someone coming on to discuss an issue and a caller wants to ignore the issue and change the topic.

Betty: I get what you're saying. I will hit the fast forward button sometimes when a caller is talking about something like that. I'll just do a quick fast foward because it's obvious that nothing's being added. That's your point, right?

Kat: Right. But I do like your idea of a scheduled time for callers.

Elaine: A "Next week, we'll be taking your calls for twenty minutes"?

Kat: Right. Just don't make me miss out on a great guest because someone wants to hijack the topic by arguing about what's been discussed -- claiming something's been said that wasn't -- or by ignoring the topic to push your pet issue.

Elaine: Biggest story of Iraq this week?

Betty: Ehren Watada. To me that was huge and I can't believe how little coverage it received.

Kat: I'm going to take a pass because C.I. jotted down some thoughts today for an editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I think that's the biggest topic and that it hasn't been addressed. I don't want to steal the thunder. After that, Ehren Watada absolutely.

Elaine: I know Jim was really excited about that, about what C.I. made some notes on. I'm really curious now. Ehren Watada would be my choice as well. His hearing did put the war on trial. It would have to because the reason he refuses to deploy to Iraq is that he feels the war is illegal. If we don't have coverage on that, the dialogue doesn't get started. It's easy to say, "Oh, the war is illegal." It obviously is, obvious to me. But when you've got Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and Ann Wright testifying to why they believe it is illegal, you've got some strong voices making points that America needs to hear. If you're not covering it, you're doing a disservice. I'd also add that when someone takes a stand and it is supposedly a stand that independent media supports, if you're not there covering it and exploring it, you're sending a message that your support only comes at certain times.

Betty: Right. If I was serving and considering taking a stand, I would probably look at the coverage he got, or didn't get, and weigh that into my decision. "Will I get support? Or will I be left standing on my own?" I think he was left to stand on his own.

Elaine: Okay, Kat's yawning. So what's the point of this? I was asked ahead of time to do the wrap up, in case anyone's wondering. Do we think KPFA will air this program? Probably not. But until we can dream of better things, we can't have them. So this was our way of addressing the war coverage and Betty and I worked up the wrap up when Kat took a break to get some medicine for her migraine. Betty, closing thought?

Betty: We have to dream it to get to it. Otherwise we're just zooming down the road wondering if we should stop for directions. Dream the destination.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, August 18, 2006, the so-called 'crackdown' continues (and early childhood experts may note the engaged-in-a-power-struggle nature of it all as well as the increasing futility), Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing started and concluded Thursday, Ricky Clousing returned to North Carolina and DNA on Jake Kovco's pistol is thought to have been indentified.
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy in Bully Boy's illegal war. Yesterday, the military held an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there was reason/cause to take the matter to a court martial. Ehren Watada's attorneys were Eric Seitz and Cap. Mark Kim (of the US Army). While the prosecution called only one witness (to confirm that, as Watada had stated would be the case, Watada did not deploy) and spent the rest of its time showing excerpts o a speech Watada gave this weekend at the Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech).
Watada's side called three witnesses Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and retired Amry Colonel Ann Wight. Boyle testified as the nature of the war noting that the lie that Bully Boy pressed (for Congressional and public approval) of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11 "
constitutes . . . a conspiracy to defraud the United States government." Ann Wright testified: "I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council . . . falls into the category of a war of agrression, which is by international law a war crime. So by a persaon saying 'Yes, I'm gong to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime.'"
As Eric Seitz had expected/predicted, the hearing lasted one day. Watada could find that the hearing determined there were no grounds for proceeding to a court-martial or a court-martial could be the next step. That call will be made by
Lt. Colonel Mark Keith who presided over the hearing. A court-martial could mean as many as seven years imprisonment.
Ehren's father Bob Watada will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on a speaking tour that starts tomorrow and ends August 27th. A full list of scheduled appearances can be
found here. A sample of upcoming events includes:

Saturday 8/19
Vigil for Abeer Hamza (14-year old girl who was raped & killed with her family by 5 US troops) Willard Park (Telegraph & Derby), Berkeley Contact: Not in Our Name 510-601-8000
Sunday 8/20
American Muslim Voice Foundation Convention
12:45-1 pm Bob Watada speaks 5748 Mowry School Rd., Newark Contact: Samina F. Sundas 650-387-1994
Monday 8/21
Press Conference SF Japantown (Peace Plaza or NJAHS Gallery) Contact: Grace Morizawa
gmorizawa [at] 510-289-1285
Monday 8/21
Reception & Event in SF Japantown Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC (JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007
Tuesday 8/22
1-3 pm
brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902
Wednesday 8/23
UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026 noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711
Thursday 8/24
World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
Friday 8/25
7-10pm "
Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Again, a full list can be found by clicking
here (Indybay IMC).
Once again,
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In addition
Howie Hawkins (Green Party candidate for US Senate from NY) is urging "the peace movement to provide financial support to soldiers who are punished for refusing to participate in the war." And, as many community members have noted, while there's been a "How Can They!" attitude regarding Hillary Clinton's Democratic opponent not being invited to a TV debate, the Green Party candidate is shut out as well -- despite the lack of op-eds, news segments, et al. (The Green Party candidate would be Howie Hawkins.)
Another war resister, Ricky Clousing, is back at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The
AP reports that he arrived back this morning. Clousing self-checked out of the army in June of last year. Last week, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) had the scoop that the 24-year-old Clousing would be holding a news conference to announce he was turning himself in. Estes Thompson reports that after turning himself in at Fort Lewis in Washington, he was ordered "to report to a unit at Fort Bragg that handles absent soldiers."
Turning to diplomacy issues, as trade talks went on in Jordan this week, talks
which Petra noted were "co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the [Jordan] Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Masshadani," Jordan's Ahmed al-Lozi became "the first fully accredited Arab ambassador in Iraq."
Meanwhile in the United States,
Free Speech Radio News reported Thursday that "twenty-one former generals and high ranking national security officials called on President Bush to reverse course . . . and embrace a new area of negotiation with Iraqn, Iraq and North Korea." Speaking with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Medea Benjamin noted that while the US administration makes no efforts to reach out to the Iraqi parliament, "we at the grass roots [level] have." Benjamin was referring to the CODEPINK & Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan where she and others met with Iraqis including the "members of the largest Shia coalition, the largest Sunni block in their parliament, the largest secular coalition, torture victims from Abu Ghraib."
Benjamin observed, "It was quite an amazing coming together of people who, from all different perspectives, wanted to see an end to the US occupation, an end to the violence in Iraq, the reconstruction of their country and we came awy from there, Andrea, with a lot of ideas about how to get the voices of the Iraqi people out in the US so that when we hear that same old excuse here 'We can't leave the Iraqi people now!' we can hear the voice of Iraqis telling us precisely how they want to see an end to the occupation and a broader reconciliation plan."
This comes as
Robert Reid (AP) reports that: "Key U.S. senators complain it's time to tell Iraqis that American troops won't stay indefinitely and to make political compromises to avoid all-out civil war." This as a Dick Cheney stump speech/plea for cash turned into an event. Jesse Harlan Alderman (AP) reports that a Boise, Idaho fund raiser included protestors in "orange [hunting] vests handing out leaflets on hunter safety"; "[p]eace activists silently lining a major downtown arterial with tombstones to mark the mounting death toll in Iraq"; and a "Dick Cheney look-alike contest" with an award of "$22 in free gas and a box of shotgun shells" (and hopefully a list of qualified plastic surgeons).
In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue. Despite 'crackdown' 6.0 which now means that all vehicles are banned for two-days in the capital.
Reuters reports that this ban has been imposed due to the one-year anniversary of the stampeded that killed almost "1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims . . . in a stampede . . . when a crowd . . . was panicked by rumours of a suicide bomber." Al Jazeera notes that the ban is in place until Monday morning. The BBC reports that, in addition to the vehicle ban, there are "[c]heckpoints, [and] body searches". Exactly how vehicle bans, checkpoints or body searches will stop rumors (the stated cause of last year's stampeded) remains unclear.
CBS and the Associated Press report that in Balad Ruz, a roadside bomb claimed killed at least one person. KUNA reports that today it was announced that a "multi-national force (MNF) soldier" died in southern Baghdad on Thursday from a roadside bomb. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the "British military base near Amarah" was under mortar attack "Friday morning." [In the United States, Amy Bartner (Indianapolis Star) reports on a "new 11-bed unit . . . at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center where the most seriously wounded soldiers in the Iraq war will be able to recover" and notes that while body armor is credited with saving the lives of American troops, "that protection can't prevent potentially debilitating injuries to arms and legs".] Australia's notes that a mortar attack on a city council member in Baquba wounded "[f]our bodyguards."
In Taji, a convoy ("civilian trucks") was attacked leaving one person wounded and a 'guard' dead
the AP reports. Australia's reports that the truck went up in flames and had been carrying "kerosene" while also noting that a grocer was shot dead in Yarmuk. (Other press outlets do not identify what the truck was carrying.) Australia's The Advertiser reports that seven Shi'ite pilgrmins were shot dead by "gunmen" in Baghdad. KUNA reports that "two civilians" were shot dead in Mosul.
AP reports five were discovered in Mahmoudiya ("gunshot wounds"). The Canadian Press notes the five and adds that six more were discovered "in the Tigris River" ("bullet-riddled and tortured").
CBS and AP report that journalist Saif Abdul-Jabbar al-Tamimi was kidnapped Wednesday and that "[t]here has been no claim of responsibility". Reporters Without Borders notes that he was kidnapped in Baghdad as were journalists Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal who "have been hostages for more than six months" now while journalist Salah Jali al-Gharrawi has not been seen since his April 4th kidnapping. Reporters Without Borders notes: "A total of 49 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Instead of being afforded a degree of security by the fact that they work for the media, journalists have been singled out as targets."
AFP reports that Father Saad Syrop was kidnapped, also from Baghdad, Tuesday evening after he had finished Mass (at St. James Church) and was heading home.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco resumed. Following Wednesday's hypnosis shocker, an unscheduled day-off was taken due to reported delays with DNA test that might reveal the 'owner' of the DNA found on Kovco's gun. As
Michael Edwards reports on PM (Australia's ABC) Michelle Franco ("DNA expert") testified that the DNA belongs to Soldier 14. Reporting on The World Today (ABC), Edwards noted that "Soldier's 14's DNA was found on the gun's slide, trigger, base plate, and magazine."
Soldier 14 previously testified to the hearing
on August 9th and dropped a bombshell when he testified that the (written) statements provided to the military investigation were not reflective of his (verbal) statements -- specifically, as Peter Charlton (Courier-Mail) noted this included the claim that there was a standard procedure (the so-called 'buddy system') in operation "where a pair of soldiers check each other's weapons to ensure they were unloaded."
Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches.") Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 14 testified, after the DNA results, that he had no memory of handling Jake Kovco's gun and that his attorney ("Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Green") cross-examined Franco who noted that skin celles "could be transferred through a handshake or carried in sweat."
AAP calls the DNA "[s]ensational new evidence," notes that "Soldier 14 has refused to be interviewed by police about the tests" and reports that "Monday . . . Soldier 14 will be cross-examined by lawyers representing Private Kovco's widow, Shelley, and his parents" Judy and Martin Kovco.
Daily Telegraph notes that Soldier 14 believes "that both he and Pte Kovco had probably used the same megaphone at the embassy on the day of the shooting" and that's where any DNA swap would have most likely taken place.
Finally, in peace news,
Camp Casey III is ongoing in Crawford, Texas until September 2nd -- on September 5th it switches locations and becomes Camp DC. AFP reports that it "will be located near the National Mall, the blocks-long expanse of lawn between the US Congress building and the White House". While it's still located in Crawford, upcoming events include the following: August 18th forum on peaceful solutions moderated by Carroll Boone and an August 21st War Crimes Tribunal. Actress and activist Mimi Kennedy, of Progressive Democrats of America, will be there on August 20th along with Carolyn Wonderland who will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.