Friday, September 22, 2006


A number of e-mails that I read ask why I don't talk about Mike? We acknowledged our relationship in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Quick Roundtable." I'm really not into discussing specifics of my relationship. We're also attempting to respect the wishes of the woman Mike was previously involved with, but, even were that not the case, I'm not comfortable discussing my relationship. I'll try to answer a few of questions.

Yes, C.I. figured it out with no help or hints (not surprising and something that Rebecca and I have long noted, call it a gift or insight). Since the community sites have a little over a year to go, what happens if Mike and I break up? C.I. brought that up as soon as the roundtable ended, noting that no one wanted to choose sides so, since we've decided to be involved, if we break up, we'd better not drag everyone into it. I am aware of that, maybe more so than Mike because
C.I. and I have been friends for years and I know C.I. is very protective of Mike and of Wally. They truly could get away with murder in many cases. I disagreed with something Mike wrote this week (a word choice, a word I hate used in that manner). C.I.'s feelings about the word are the same as mine but C.I. defended him to the point that I finally made the point that if it wasn't
Mike, if it were, for instance, Jim, C.I. would not be so quick to offer a defense. Even Mike agreed (laughingly) with that. So if we break up before the sites end, we're both aware that it would be awkward for others if we didn't handle it responsibly. Jim and Dona are very comfortable talking about their relationship online and even making jokes about fights (that are usually a put on, a joke). Good for them, but that's not me. Ava didn't intend to talk about her relationship (with Jess) and one of the things I feel bad about in terms of my relationship is that she may have felt forced to talk about it due to comments Mike had made. (She says that's not the case.)

Mike may end up talking about. That's his business. I'd prefer he didn't but I haven't said, "You must not."

Now Kat has written another wonderful CD review. Here's the backstory, which I am happy to talk about, Kat had two that were more or less ready but she hated both. She wanted to weigh in on the Justin Timberlake CD and finally, after we all told her she should, she dashed that off late last night and it went up today. It's wonderful. "Kat's Korner: 'Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?'" will have you laughing so please read that. I'm tempted to quote some of my favorite lines from it but I fear I'd end up spoiling it. So this week, I'm just noting it but next week, I'll probably pull some from it.

Staying on music, let's turn to this highlight.

"While Nixon Campaigned, the FBI Watched Lennon" (Adam Cohen, The International Herald Tribune):
The FBI's surveillance of Lennon is a reminder of how easily domestic spying can become unmoored from any legitimate law-enforcement purpose. What is more surprising, and ultimately more unsettling, is the degree to which the surveillance turns out to have been intertwined with electoral politics. At the time of the John Sinclair rally, there was talk that Lennon would join a national concert tour aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in politics - and at defeating President Richard Nixon, who was running for re-election. There were plans to end the tour with a huge rally at the Republican National Convention.
The FBI's timing is noteworthy. Lennon had been involved in high-profile antiwar activities going back to 1969, but the bureau did not formally open its investigation until January 1972 - the year of Nixon's re-election campaign. In March, just as the presidential campaign was heating up, the Immigration and Naturalization Service refused to renew Lennon's visa and began deportation proceedings. Nixon was re-elected in November, and a month later, the FBI closed its investigation.
If Lennon was considering actively opposing Nixon's re-election, the spying and the threat of deportation had their intended effect. In May, he announced that he would not be part of any protest activities at the Republican National Convention, and he did not actively participate in the presidential campaign.

After revelations about the many domestic spying abuses of the 1960s and 1970s - including the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. - new restrictions were put in place. But these protections are being eroded today, with the president's claim of sweeping new authority to pursue the war on terror.

Let me again note that for today's illegal spying on US citizens, you really need to grasp what happened before and I'll, again, recommend C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy."
Also worth reading it a joint-post today, Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY & FRIENDS HELP MUSHARRAF PLUG BOOK!" and Cedric's "The Bully Boy Book Club (humor)." I had an e-mail wondering why I wasn't noting other sites? Mainly because I've been so busy all week. Usually after I start publishing a post, I'll remember that I forgot to note anyone else. It's not intentional, just an effort to get a post up as quickly as possible. (In the past, my "blog twin" and I discussed headlines we'd each note. Though we still talk before posting, now that we're a couple, we're usually talking couple talk which last quite a bit longer than news talk. Hence, when we finally get off the phone, I'm running late and rushing to get something posted.)

Susan e-mailed today and said she enjoyed my thing in the gina & krista round-robin (thank you, Susan) and also wondered what I was listening to while we were all in DC? I was running so behind this week that I didn't pack properly other than clothes. I brought one CD with me and that was it. What I'm listening to right now is a CD I wish I had brought but, fortunately, Kat did and I borrowed it from her, Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation. Right now, Grace Slick is singing "You want to know/ How it will be?/ Me and him/ Or you and me/ You both stand there/ Your long hair flowing/ Eyes alive/ Your minds still growing/ Saying to me, 'What can we do now? We both love you. . . '" Hopefully, some of you placed the song, it's David Crosby's "Triad" which Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young also recorded (Four Way Street). I love CSN and CSNY but I really think Grace Slick's vocals nail this song.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the 2700 mark for US military fatalities in Iraq looms ever closer (2697), the Defense Department learns (again) that the press makes the best lobbyist, and, as Democrats continue to run from Iraq, activists continue to speak out and organize.
Starting with peace news, Mima Mohammed (Los Angelse Times) reports on Helga Aguayo's statements regarding her husband, war resister Agustin Aguayo, who decided to self-check out September 2, 2006: "My husband has never broken a law and I am proud of him. He doesn't want to support the war -- he cannot do so conscientiously. He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister." Helga Aguayo was speaking Wednesday at Camp Democracy (which continues free and open to the public through October 1st) in Washington, DC. and stated that her husband will turn himself in but he will not go to Iraq.
Also reporting on war resistance and Camp Democracy, Tim Wheeler (People's World Weekly) covers war resister Ricky Clousing's speech from this past weekend where Clousing noted what he saw "an innocent Iraqi killed before my eyes by U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability" and notes some of the torture techniques he observed and how Bully Boy "is seeking legal cover. . . . He is seeking another loophole to continue what they have been doing." Ricky Clousing announced at the Seattle Veterans for Peace conference in August that he would be turning himself in after self-checking out. He did so and that military has charged him with desertion and the war drags on . . .
While the military gets all the money they can grab (that's at the top, it never flows down to the enlisted). AP reports that today $70 billion more for quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan were added to the trough "as they wrapped up talks on a $447 billion Pentagon funding bill. The additional war frunds would bring the total approved by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [. . .*] to more than $500 billion, with another installment likely to come next spring."
The bumper sticker reads: "Bully Boy illegal invaded Iraq and all I got was a mountain of debt."
"*"? AP feels the need to insert "since September 11, 2001" into the sentence for some unknown reason. Are they attempting to repeat the discredited "link" between Iraq and 9-11? Clearly Congress approved no war spending measures on September 11th. AP also notes that the Defense Department got what it wanted and AP ties it to those reports of an overstretched (economically) military. Again we ask the question of Thom Shanker and Michael R. Gordon's report (New York Times) today:"Is it news or is it fundraising?"
AP also editorializes with this: "Even opponents of the war tend to support the measure because it supports U.S. troops in harm's way." Actually, cutting off the spending would cut the war. But don't rock the conventional 'wisdom' boat, don't tip the boat over. Which is apparently the m.o. for Dems when it comes to the November elections. Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) reports that the big plan revolves around stressing the economy and ignoring Iraq: "In poll after poll, voters place Iraq well above the economy when asked which issue will most affect their vote this year. And when you combine concerns about the war with concerns about terrorism/national security, it's the economy that is 'a distant reality.' Yet Democrats keep returning to the same domestic-issues-uber-alles thinking that cost them the elections in 2002 and 2004. They can't really believe that people are more interested in raising the minimum wage, middle class tax relief, and college affordability than they are in who's going to keep them from being blown up, can they? The Dems are like a bunch of crack addicts who know that the stuff is killing them, but keep reaching for the pipe."
This as Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that James Thurman (US "Maj. Gen.") loosens his grip on reality (further?) and claims that attacks on civilians in Iraq are down. Well pay it forward, Thurman. America can't afford universal health care but can pay $500 billion (and counting) for wars? Thurman also stated that, "As we clean up the streets, we find a city capable of starting to function properly." Street cleaners? That's what US troops are being kept in Iraq for? No, they aren't street cleaners and Thurman needs to work a little harder at his illustrations (working harder at capturing reality might cause a blood vessel to explode so we'll accept the fact that he's an Operation Happy Talker and move on.)
In the real world (which Thurman is welcome to visit), Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reminds: "The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says." The torture, the UN has stated, is being committed by a variety of groups including 'government forces.' Tim Reid (Times of London) reports that the White House takes offense to the UN report and denies it. We all await Condi Rice trotting out her "No one could have guessed" line yet again.
AFP reports, that in Baghdad, two bomb detector/defusers were killed when a bomb they were attempting to defuse exploded. Reuters reports a civilian dead from a roadside bomb in Latifiyaand sixteen wounded from bombs in Baghdad.
AFP reports that four Iraqi police officers were shot dead in Baquba. AP reports that attacks on mosques and homes resulted in four shooting deaths in Baghdad. China's People's Daily notes that four houses were set on fire in the attacks. Reuters reports one civilian shot dead in Kirkuk and that Nomass Atout shot dead "near his house in Diwaniya".
KUNA reports that 48 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today. AP reports a corpse ("blindfolded . . . bound") was discovered in Musayyib. Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Mosul and a woman's corpse found in Kirkuk. That should be 64 deaths reported, counting corpses, thus far today.
Returning to peace news, Paul Hogarth (Beyond Chron) reports, " About 25 activists gathered at the Office of Supervisor Chris Daly yesterday to display the Code Pink Peace Ribbon Quilt, and to kick off the Declaration of Peace Week of Action. The Declaration, which has been endorsed by over 180 peace and justice organizations throughout the country has three basic platforms: (1) bring our troops home now, (2) establish a plan to end the war in Iraq, and (3) prevent future U.S. invasions such as Iran, Syria or North Korea."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fleetwood Mac

Thursday and a rare post from me on a Thursday. There have been many problems with computers today and I won't bore you with all of them but those who want to post are sharing two laptops and the rest are being used for the gina & krista round-robin. In fact, some members will have it e-mailed out (Friday's) Thursday (right now, it's about nine minutes until midnight EST) due to the problems that have been ongoing. So most of the laptops are being used on that and I don't know who will blog this evening and who won't. Had I, as I intended to, noted Tuesday that I'd take Thursday off, I wouldn't be blogging but when I forgot to put that up, I was committed to blogging each night this week. There's a roundtable ongoing right now and a number of people present are participating (as well as two journalist friends of C.I. -- be sure to read Friday's round-robin). I'll take part in Friday's roundtable.

I feel out of the loop completely on what's happened today. What little I do know, I know from hearing C.I. dictate (twice) the snapshot today. In the snapshot, a song by Stevie Nicks is quoted, "Fireflies." She wrote that and Fleetwood Mac preforms it on Fleetwood Mac Live. I actually prefer that CD to The Dance, their other live album. Fleetwood Mac Live came out in 1980. Tusk had come out in 1979 and underwhelmed for those expecting another mega-blockbuster like Rumors but I actually prefer Tusk to Rumors. Like Tusk, Fleetwood Mac Live was a double album -- in those days, that meant that it had two vinyl records. It probably could fit on one CD today. (Although I do have Fleetwood Mac Live on CD and it's on two CDs. I avoided buying Tusk for years, on CD, due to the fact that they decided to edit one song to fit it all on one disc. The song they elected to edit was the album's most durable hit and my personal favorite, "Sara."

"Wait a minute baby, stay with me awhile, said you give me life, but you never told me about the fire . . ." Another favorite song of mine on Tusk is "Beautiful Child." It, like most of my favorite Mac songs, was written by Stevie Nicks. I always feel her songs are the strongest. "Beautiful Child" was written for UNICEF's Year of the Child in 1979. I'll list my top ten favorite Mac songs:

"Silver Springs"
"Gold Dust Woman"
"Sisters of the Moon"
"Say You Will"
"Thrown Down"

I have many other favorites, I'm a big fan of the Mac, but those are my top ten. The last two are from the CD Say You Will, their most recent. I think some of the Lindsey Buckingham "gems" could have have been left off. But he did nail a few strong ones. (Which is more than I can say of his contributions to Tango In The Night.) But the bulk of the songs I enjoy are the ones written by Stevie Nicks. "Storms" (from Tusk) would easily make my top twenty and there are many more. Of the songs not written by Nicks, I also enjoy many of Christine McVie's. "You Make Loving Fun" and "Don't Stop" are probably my two favorites but her song on Tusk . . .

Which I couldn't remember and had to grab Kat to ask her. I can remember the piano but I'm tired and couldn't think of the title. "Never Make Me Cry" is the title. That's a hidden gem from Tusk, as far as I'm concerned, because it's so little known. Lindsey's strongest contribution? I think "Walk A Thin Line" or "The Ledge." But his lyrics are not strong on any song. That's it for me tonight and Kat said she thinks she'll write about music as well so check out her site (I'm sliding the laptop to her as soon as I post this.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, September 21st, 2006, International Peace Day established by the United Nations November 30, 1981 and Bully Boy offers 'alternative programming' as the chaos and violence continues in Iraq, as the press learns that 'suicide bomber' is an imprecise term, as those doing the torture includes 'government forces,' as the US military fatality count approaches the 2700 mark and the so-called coalition of the willing continues to shrink with the US forces left to sing,"To be the last to leave, the last to be gone, stolen from the ones who hung on to it" ("Fireflies," written by Stevie Nicks, available on Fleetwood Mac Live).
BBC reports that Manfred Nowak (anti-torture expert for the United Nations and Austrian law professor) has stated that torture is not only on the rise in Iraq but it may be happening more frequently than when Saddam Huseein was in power. Nowak's statements were based on a UN report which found that "Victims come from prisons run by US-led multinational forces as well as by the ministries of interior and defence and private militias".
This as
Reuters notes: "The Sunni religious organisation, the Muslim Scholars Association, accused unnamed militia and government forces of killing five people in the village of al-Intsar, on the northeastern outskirts of Baghdad late on Wednesday. The group said others were kidnapped and houses burned."
Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported today, in Baghdad alone, at least "5,106 people . . . died violent deathd during July and August". Which is no doubt why, as reported by Sudarsan Raghavan's (Washington Post), The Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, William Caldwell IV, US military spokesperson, announced the obvious, after the UN had, that there was "a spike in execution-style murders" and "many bodies found had clear signs of being bound, tortured and executed." Way to stay ahead of the curve, but then he wouldn't look like the third guest, the loopy, bra-less one, if he couldn't state the obvious long after it had already been noted, would he?
Reuters reports that at least 38 corpses were discovered in Baghdad with most bearing signs of torture. Bombings? Reuters reports that a rocket attack on a home in Baghdad killed four and left five wounded, while bombs killed eight in Baghdad and left eighteen wounded and, in Diwaniya, a roadside bomb took the lives of two Iraq soldiers. Shootings? Reuters reports 3 shot dead in Kerbala and three police officers in Baquba. In a combination of the two (mortar attack, followed by gunfire) AP reports the deaths of six Iraqi police officers when their Baghdad police station was attacked.
AFP reports that the so-called coalition of the willing continues to suffer from shrinkage as Italy hands over Dhi Qar to Iraqi forces and, low and behold, there are no reports the Italy's actions "embolden" terrorism or that their action prevents "democracy." Quite the contrary, a US military press release credited to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George W. Casey Jr.maintains that the handover and Italy's withdrawal predicated on the handover is "another sign of progress." Progress is possible, apparently, for all but the U.S. and England. Reuters identifies Italy as "the last major Western European ally" for England and the US and notes that an Italian soldier died just "hours" before the handover raising the total number of Italian soldiers who died in the war to 32.
The US military fatality count continues to rise and the US military announced today that a US soldier
died in Baghdad Wednesday from a roadside bomb while today a soldier died from wounds received while fighting in al Anbar province. The announcements come as the US military fatality count is at 2,693 (seven away from the 2700 mark) and as the AP reports questions remain in another Wednesday US military death in Baghdad ("Sgt. 1st Class Charles Jason Jones, 29, of Lawrenceburg", Kentucky ) which is currently classified as due to "non combat-related causes".
"Suicide bombers" and "suicide car bombers"? The
AP reports that term is far from precise and that the Iraqi Defense Ministry issued a warning today based upon the fact that people are being kidnapped, released and then used as unknowing bombers via remote control from devices planted on them or their vehicles.
In peace news,
Sue Anne Pressley Montes (Washington Post) reports "A group of ministers, veterans and peace activists attempted to deliver a 'declaration of peace' to the White House today, kicking off a week of vigils and other activities in 350 communities across the country calling for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq" and "The day's activities also featured vigils for peace in dozens of cities and towns, including Little Rock, Ark.; Tucson, Ariz.; Pasadena, Ca.; Miami, Fla.; Decatur, Ga.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Austin, Tex. In San Diego Friday, there will be a Dance Action for Peace; on Saturday in Cincinnati, a Peace Tent City will be erected. San Francisco is hosting a mass bicycle ride to protest the conflict, and Madison, Wisc., is holding community forums on the issue." The Declaration of Peace site contains aVigils Calendar that will help you find events in your area as well as more information.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Follow up to yesterday's post

Let me start by noting I haven't read all the e-mails. I've only read the top four. (The four most recently sent when I logged in minutes ago.) Three got my point, one did not. I'll assume the fault is mine.

The confusion he had over "Should The Notion be finger-pointing? " is something I'll briefly go over again.

A) I do not "hate" Liza Featherstone. I noted that I enjoyed her book. I noted that, excepting the concluding sentences, if her "notion" had been an intro to a roundtable of peace activists or to an essay on it, I wouldn't have a problem with it. While I may the lack the sharp wit of Ava and C.I., if I had been attempting to be "funny," it would have been funny. I wasn't attempting to be "funny" and the reference to Wal-Mart wasn't a backhanded compliment or dig. She wrote a book on Wal-Mart. If you're interested in the topic (I am), it's a great book. No, I did not mention the title. I honestly don't remember the title. Last night, I was attempting to blog while waiting for a call to be returned about one of my patients. I still had to pack (provided the issue could be resolved). I assumed everyone who managed to read my online post must have some sort of computer skills and, if interested in the book, would google her name. I'm not mentioning it tonight. I'm not at home and I'm not going to google it. If you managed to land on this page and you're not aware of how to locate Featherstone's book, someone must have set your default page to this site. Call a tech-knowing friend immediately.

B) Two people isn't a great loss. There I actually thought I had explained the first person's reasons but I hadn't. (That's probably when my call was returned.) With regard to the second person's reasons (for discontinuing subscriptions to The Nation), I noted he was writing about it the gina & krista round-robin. That caused tremendous anguish for the e-mailer who, after cursing me out for the bulk of his e-mail, wondered if I could send him a copy of the round-robin on Friday?

No, I can't. No, I won't. That's a community newsletter. If you're a member of the community, you've had the option to receive it. If you're not, Gina and Krista closed it for new comers. That's their newsletter and their decision. (A wise one, I'd argue.)

With both people, the point is they didn't just start subscribing in 2006 or 2005. These are people who believe in the magazine but have grown weary of the lack of coverage of Iraq. Those who do receive the round-robin will read someone explaining his choice in great detail.

Long before this site started, and before I subbed for Rebecca, I was writing pieces (on peace and the peace movement) for the round-robin. It may be a mistake to assume that people who are interested in this site are aware of it; however, it's not a mistake to note that the people this site is intended for are aware of that.

When I filled in for Rebecca in the summer of 2005, as my substituting days drew to a close, Mike began arguing that I should do my own site and started his own Draft Elaine to Blog movement. I started the site but I've never assumed that there's anything that valuable here. I'm glad people appear to enjoy it. Most of my 'harder' pieces on peace continue to run in the round-robin because I write those for the community -- not for people who stop by at this site. (The round-robin is doing special editions on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, I have a piece that will run taking on the notion of hiding behind others to make a message more 'digestable' -- inspired by the continued claim of who has a right to speak and who doesn't -- because in a democracy, there is no one that has an "automatic right" to speak out on the issues of war and peace.)

C) It was guessed that I don't subscribe to The Nation. I don't subscribe to anything. I purchase at my local bookstore. I've noted that many times. I've noted the whys on that. I may be the only one doing a site in this community that does not subscribe to The Nation (I believe I am -- though Dona and Jim do a joint subscription); however, I have purchased every issue going back beyond the current administration in DC. If it's necessary that I do a critique of every issue, please advise as to how many years I should go back in my critique.

D) If I agree with Liza Featherstone, why do I have a problem? My problem stems from the fact that The Nation doesn't cover the peace movement. A story a year, which is basically how it averages out, isn't coverage for a weekly magazine. If anyone else at the magzine (minus one, and regulars at this site know whom I mean) had written the same words, my comments would have been the same minus noting the book and, possibly, minus stating that I enjoyed the author's work. Regardless of whom, my argument would have been the same.

If The Nation wants to cover the peace movement, I'm thrilled. But that "notion" does not cut it as coverage. If it's a seed being planted, wonderful. But based on the magazine being AWOL on the fast and additional topics this summer, I'll remain skeptical until I see something (and something in print, not online).

E) Do I support independent media? Define "support." I certainly purchase independent media and have for years. I was more inclined to be favorable towards independent media prior to this summer when Iraq disappeared from the coverage. But the reality is independent media avoids certain issues. (I am defining independent media as magazines and programs. I do visit a few websites but I don't consume enough online to offer an opinion there.) (To anyone who's bothered by that fact, I have my own practice and I don't live online.)

C.I.'s supportive of independent media in the way I believe the e-mailer means. When at all possible, C.I. will find something to emphasize that's positive about it. When members demand something be noted, it gets noted. When it does, more often than not, C.I. will not the name it -- instead a nickname will be used. To avoid calling someone out or embarrassing them. You see that in "NYT: Oppel, Wong and von Zielbauer contribute strong reports" where someone writing on a popular website wrote that Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, was starting a speaking tour. No, he wasn't. He had finished, weeks ago, the speaking tour. It wasn't starting.
C.I. didn't name the person, didn't name the site -- just noted that it was wrong and was linking to a newspaper account from August which was written when the speaking tour was winding down.

Or take "Watchdog" which I may end up naming here if I listen to it and they're still wasting everyone's time with nonsense. C.I.'s covered it and we all covered it at The Third Estate Sunday Review in "Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point ."

No, I'm not supportive of bash-the-bitch. I'm a feminist. I have no problem with women being held to an equal standard, I do have a problem with women being held to higher standards than men. We can see that when people distort reality (either because they don't care about reality or because they didn't do the work required) to slam a woman. Bash-the-bitch, all this time later, allows Judith Miller to continue to be the punchline of supposed 'critics' who never got around to telling their readers, listeners, watchers about Dexter Filkins. "Post-Gazette editorializes it's time to leave, Dexy Rats Out" will go into the most recent reason that supposed press critics should be addressing Filkins. But they've given him a pass. It must be easier or more fun to haul out Judith Miller's 2003 and 2004 'reporting' one more time, in 2006, then to seriously address Dexter Filkins' propaganda. It's certainly allowed him to continue to feather his economic nest.

I saw tremendous shortcomings in independent media this summer. They had nothing to do with "money." They had a lot to do with ignoring topics and refusing to address issues. When someone wants to seriously address Dexter Filkins, I may reconsider my opinion. As it stands now, The Common Ills remains the site that's consistently addressed Dexter Filkins and C.I. doesn't ask anyone for a penny. (Granted, C.I. doesn't need money, but the point is, where is independent media on the issue of Filkins who began his worst reporting by turning the slaughter of Falluja into a rah-rah report and has continued that with his work at the New York Times?)

When the war reporting is studied years from now, you better believe critics will note Dexter Filkins. A journalist stated publicly that he cancelled an interview with the resistance in Iraq because an American military person frowned on it. The Washington Post revealed that when the US military had a story to plant, Filkins was the first reporter they went to. Filkins reported no use of white phosphorus in Falluja. When Paul Bremer's book came out, Filkins was in a tizzy because Bremer admitted things, which Filkins saw, that he wouldn't admit while he was in Iraq. But Filkins didn't write about those things. He didn't need a quote from Bremer to write about what he could see with his own eyes. I could continue but, if you're interested, you can google "The Common Ills" and "Dexter Filkins" and you should get over a hundred results. There's no excuse for the fact that the same doesn't happen if you google 'critics' asking for your money.

Now granted, I've known C.I. for years so we do know some of the people (and most people in the press, I met through C.I.) so I'm fully aware that among his mainstream peers he's been a joke since the beginning of the invasion. They laugh at his "reporting" and they ridicule the "pistol packing Dexy." But the fact that editors and reporters can, and do, ridicule him in private makes you wonder where the supposed informed 'critics' are that they can't see the same problems that his peers see?

The bulk of the criticism that will come will probably come from the mainstream because he truly is loathed. When that happens, I guess Watchdog will interview one of them and say, "Now tell us again what he did?" Because they've never noticed it. They've never challenged his reliance on Rita Katz (it was C.I. who challenged that). They've never challenged any of his nonsense. They've looked the other way for over three years.

If, by "support," the e-mailer means donate, no, I wouldn't donate a dime to any independent media because they've refused to challenge the lousy reporting that has let America think the war is 'winnable' or a corner just got turned or you name it. There has been little-to-no reality in his 'reporting.' The press 'critics' for the left have been where?

So the criticism of Judith Miller begins to look as though it had little to do with her 'reporting' and more to do with her gender.

On the issue of Iraq itself, I firmly believe independent media failed this summer on that topic repeatedly. Whether it was Ehren Watada or Jake Kovco, whether it's Darrell Anderson or the body counts, independent media took a summer break from Iraq. People sounded alarms at the silence. Jimmy Breslin was probably the loudest sounding alarms. But you didn't see the coverage pick back up when that happened. If I say "Abeer" to a roomful of people, most won't know who she was. That's a perfect example of how independent media failed. "War as an after thought" is what Mike called it and it certainly was that.

That's as clear as I can be short of noting each publication and each program and listing, in depth, what they didn't make time to cover.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 20, 2006. Violence and chaos continue in Iraq with the
Associated Press estimating at least 45 have died and the United Nations estimating that July and August saw the death of 6.5 thousand Iraqis; a British prosecutor argues an admitted war criminal heard the sounds of torture and compared them to a a choir singing; Camp Democracy continues in Washington DC on Women's Peace day;
and Iraqi vet and war resister Darrell Anderson discusses a planned September 29th return to the United States: "
I just want to put my uniform back on and then tell them no to their face that 'I'm not going to participate in your war. Do whatever you want to me because I'm right and this is how I feel.' I've never had the chance to do that."
AFP reports that the United Nations, noting the increase in reported deaths since the start of July, has estimated that "[a]t least 6,599 civilians were killed across war-torn Iraq in the months of July and August".
And the violence goes on.
AFP notes six dead and thirty-seven wounded in Samarra "when a suicide bomber carried out the bloodiest attack by ramming his car into the house of a tribal leader" and, in Baghdad, three dead from a "suicide bomber driving a truck" in an attack on "a police station near an oil refinery". AP notes that seven were killed in the truck bombing attack on the police headquarters and that a police officer and two civilians were killed in a mortar attack in Baghdad. AP also notes that a roadside bomb claimed one life and left "two more wounded in east Baghdad".
AP reports that "a U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday by small arms fire in northeastern Baghdad" (we'll note US soldiers' death in a moment).
AP notes the "mutilated" corpse of a police officer was discovered in Kut. Reuters notes 35 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours"
Iraq in microcosm.
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) looks at the farming of dates in Iraq and speaks to Iraqi farmer Aboud Ahdim Abbas Mohammad ("whose family has grown dates here since the 18th century") and "U.S. Army Maj. Marcus Snow, a member of the State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team in Dayala, . . . stockbroker from Lancaster, PA". Mohammad states his intent to remain in Iraq despite threats on his life and Snow can't stop raving about a desire for "better accounting, production and marketing practices . . . better packaging and transportion systems" and increasing the cost of exported dates by 10 percent. As malnutrition continues throughout Iraq (the alarming increase in malnutrition among children is only one population segment effected), the US occupation sees profit-motive and the people continue to go hungry.
Larger picture?
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report on the continued destruction of Ramadi and "collective punishment of civilians in several cities across the al-Anbar province". They report on those teaching and attending the University of al-Anbar where: "Nearly every week we face raids by the Americans or their Iraqi colleagues" (a professor) and "The infrastructure destruction is huge around the governorate building in downtown Ramadi." They also quote Fayiq al-Dilaimy, an engineer "who was on the rebuilding committee set up after the November 2004 U.S.-led operation which destroyed approximately 75 percent of the city" who states:
"Infrastructure rebuilding is just a joke that nobody laughs at. People of this city could rebuild their city in six months if given a real chance. Now look at it and how sorrowful it looks under the boots of the 'liberators'."
In England, a court martial goes on against seven British soldiers. One, Donald Payne pleaded guilty to war crimes yesterday. The
BBC reports that Payne, while copping to war crimes, "denied a further charge of perverting the course of justice." Devika Bhat (Times of London) notes that the argument made today was that Payne "enjoyed beating his prisoners until they became a 'choir,' of pain". The BBC quotes prosuctor Julian Bevan telling the court martial Payne was the "conducter": "The choir consisted of Cpl Payne systematically assaulting each detainee in turn by, for instance, hitting in their stomachs, kicking them and punching them wherever on their bodies, causing them to shriek out or groan in pain, their various noises constituting the music".
As noted above, a US soldier died from "small arms fire" in Baghdad. This is in addition to ones noted earlier today. Prior to the one who died from "small arms fire," as
David Rising (AP) notes, "the US military [had] announced the deaths of four other soldiers in Iraq. On was killed Tuesday by a suicide car bombing, which also wounded two other soldiers. Antoher two soldiers were killed Sunday -- one by small arms fire and the other by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. A fourth soldier, assigned to a medical task force, died Monday of non-combat related injuries in the capital." Those four, the one who died from "small arms fire" and "an American soldier was killed by a roadside blast northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday." The current total of American fatalities since the beginning of the illegal war is 2691. Proving that he can at least recognize an increase, Giddy in the Greenzone William B. Caldwell IV has noted the obvious --- "Attacks against U.S. troops have increased".
In peace news,
Armina Ligaya (Globe & Mail) spoke with war resister Darrell Anderson who was "one of the first of about 225 U.S. soldiers to flee to Canada since 2004". Courage to Resist has noted that Anderson is planning to return to the United States. Anderson explains to Ligaya that there are options prior to his planned return to the US which could explain Canada granting him refugee status or approving his sponsorship claim (Anderson is married to Canadian citizen Gail Greer.) Anderson doesn't have hopes of either happening by September 29th.
Today is Women's Peace Day and
NOW and CODEPINK are joint-sponsoring events at Camp Democracy which is where the Troops Home Fast ends today on Day 78. An estimated 5,023 people are participating today and people have grabbed one-day only, one-day each week and longterm fasts through the 78 days. In addition, The Feminist Wire notes: "Other activities on Wednesday include a discussion on how to end violence in Iraq, an update on the violence against women in Juarez, a panel discussion by military women, and a history workshop led by Howard Zinn."
Tomorrow (Thursday Sept. 21st) is International Peace Day and
Camp Democracy notes: "We will encourage Camp Democracy participants on this day to engage in activities organized by the Declaration of Peace, including a press conference at 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. followed by an action at the White House."
Actions will be going on around the US (
Corvallis Gazette-Times notes a gathering Thursday, Sept. 21st, at the Benton County Courthouse, 120 N.W. Fourth St., Corvallis, OR) and around the world.)
A complete schedule can be found
In California,
Martin Snapp (Contra Costa Times) reports the the Berkeley City Council "unanimously passed a resolution supporting Lt. Ehren Watada, an Army officer who is facing a court martial for refusing to go to Iraq." George Coates (Berkeley Daily Planet) writes of Berkeley mayor Tom Bates: "Now Bates is up for re-election at a time when many high school-age students are learning that the U.S. military is monitoring their MySpace pages and targeting potential recruits. The plight of soldiers like Lt. Erhen Watada, the first commissioned officer to go AWOL from duty in Iraq, has also triggered fears that a national draft could be reinstated if the number of volunteer enlistments continue to decline as the war threatens to widen. Progressive Berkeley City Councilmember Dona Spring's effort to pass a resolution in support of Lt. Watada is important because if it succeeds the city will have deepened its stance against the war and candidates for mayor will have heard the message: Sanctuary for war resisters is a local issue that no serious candidate for mayor can evade."
More information on Watada can be found at
Courage to Resist and

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Should The Notion be finger-pointing?

In the post that follows (I'm doing links now, it's already written), I refer to C.I. and Mike. For anyone who stumbles by and doesn't know who they are:
Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of The Common Ills (and The Third Estate Sunday Review).

I like Liza Featherstone, I enjoyed her book on Wal-Mart but I'm not sure what she's attempting in "Time to Move Beyond Bush-Hating" at The Nation today. Does the peace movement need more life? Yes, I believe C.I. and I discussed that fact months ago at The Third Estate Sunday Review (in March). However, we both made the point that the peace movement's worked completely on their own. United for Peace and Justice did their work with little help. I'm reading Featherstone writing about it after the fact, but I didn't see anything leading up to the event.

Featherstone noted a column by Andrew Rosenthal. I believe Mike and C.I. covered that weeks ago. I further believe C.I. made the point that Rosenthal might be attempting to egg on the movement, to start a fire under them. That may be what Featherstone is doing as well. But over three years after the illegal war began, when The Nation has yet to do even a monthly column on the peace movement, or provide a roundtable or any of the other things that no one in independent media is doing (Featherstone has to note Rosenthal's column, that appeared in the New York Times for a reason, none of our independent magazines are covering the peace movement on a regular basis nor was independent media interested in Iraq when Rosenthal's column ran.)

The peace movement? I don't like slams on it. It would be one thing if independent media had done anything to help, but they really haven't. Featherstone's points aren't shocking to me; however, when the peace movement's had to fend for itself for some time, I don't think that The Nation, The Progressive, the embarrassing In These Times (Teen Political) or any of the magazines really have a right to scream and yell. (CounterPunch has featured reporting on the peace movement.)

If that's too hard for independent media to grasp, let me spell out for them. From the magazines to Democracy Now!, none of them went to Camp Casey to report on Cindy Sheehan this summer. They were nowhere to be found when Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing took place. The Nation did publish a column on the trip to Jordan (by Tom Hayden) but it was a 'web exclusive.' It should have been in print. (I am a print reader.)

Independent media dropped the ball all summer long on Iraq. So it just strikes me as strange that Featherstone's writing about a protest that almost didn't come off and was iffy until days ago and it's time to gripe about the peace movement?

The same words, except for the last sentence, spoken by her in a roundtable discussion with activists from various peace groups, wouldn't offend me. Nor would the words if they were written as a preface to a serious exploration of the topic. But this just strikes me as one more time someone wants to say, "Oh that peace movement!"

That peace movement that does all the work by itself. Let's be clear, when we passed the 2600 mark, AP noted it. Did indymedia? Yes, two or so weeks after someone noted it. It was already past 2600 by that point. The fact that the US military started keeping body counts on Iraqi citizens who died, where was that coverage? That story broke in June.

Here are the sentence I have a problem with: "Note to protesters and Democrats alike: W's approval ratings are back up. Running against him isn't good enough anymore." Read the next item and then I'll discuss my problem with those sentences.

"Buyer's remorse: The Bush story the press won't tell" (Media Matters):
The [Wall St.] Journal has hardly been alone in straining to push a Bush-is-back angle. On Monday, The Boston Globe published the GOP-friendly article, "
9/11 anniversary events boost White House," which cited two polls published last week that put Bush's job approval rating at 42 percent. Later in the piece, the Globe quoted pollster Andrew Kohut, president of Pew Research Center, yet the Globe noticeably omitted any reference to a new Pew poll that put Bush's rating at a dismal -- and unchanged -- 37 percent. The Globe, eager to write up Bush's' rebound, simply ignored any evidence to the contrary. (On Monday, ABC's The Note, a driving force in propping up the recent Bush-is-back press narrative, actually singled out the Globe journalist who wrote the misleading article as being "brilliant" and "ahead of the curve." That's how the press game works inside the Beltway; write something misleading that boosts Bush, and you're singled out for praise by your peers.)
Even if all the hopeful, GOP-fed chatter about a bounce were to hold true, it would mean the president would likely end the year right where he started it; around 42 percent. There's not a single White House aid or Republican campaign consultant who in January would have been happy with the president treading water for the entire year. But that's exactly what he's done and the press, unburdened by any historical context, now treats that like an emerging success story.

Why did Bully Boy bounce up? Could it be because he scared the nation again? He, Cheney and Rumsfeld tarred and feathered war critics. How did the left respond?

With history lessons. Dopey lectures about what fascism was. That's not how you combat his lies. You do it by loudly rejecting the lies. Hurricane Katrina did that. It loudly rejected the lies because you couldn't spin what was on your TVs and in your papers. Heaven help us if we'd been counting on columnists of the left (as opposed to the photos and other reporting) because he would have slid by again. We would have been left with historical lessons.

The left needs to get serious. We offered examples in "The Fear" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) but if that was too esoteric, let's take it to a basic level. You are Lover A. You are involved with Lover B. Person C comes to you and says Lover B is cheating on you. When you hear that, you don't want to hear a history of what infidelity is or a lecture on monogmay through the ages. You want to hear that it's true or not true. (Of course, in that instance, most, if not all, want to hear that it's not true.) But the left, when the administration was offering the Nazi appeasers nonsense, saw it as the time to turn in the column where they noted how much they'd learned over the years about historical events from the past.

That's not cutting it. Again, we go over this in "The Fear." When a patient comes to me, regardless of the problem, what they are hoping for, what they need before we can address the problem, is to know that no, their situation is not something that's only happened to them, that they aren't "weird" and that we can work together. Where any of the left gasbags, going back six decades for a history lesson, thought they were helping anyone, I have no idea.

But Bully Boy's up and it's because he's tarred and feathered again and the response to that had to come from the left so when the left is ineffective, the smear works a little. Now The Nation had a column calling people out for using inflammatory language. But that column didn't run when the latest smears were going on. That column ran months ago. When these smears started, where was The Nation?

Where was the column that said, "It's an insult, it's not true and it's beyond the pale"?

C.I. had the idea for "The Fear" and when that was tossed out, I understood immediately. When people come to me for their first session, they are very nervous. I see how The Fear works and I see that the left still rushes in to sport their knowledge base but can't offer the reassurance that's needed upfront.

There were a variety of ways to respond to that smear. Responding by digging back six decades to deliver a history is ineffective.

I'm glad Liza Featherstone wrote what she did if it's something that's going to be developed. But if that's all there is? It just don't cut it. The American people are against the war and independent media did nothing with that this summer. We got "Food" issues. We got wall-to-wall Israel. One laughable commentator (and remember, I condemned Israel's actions -- and took flack for it -- when they started the latest attacks on Gaza) said, near the end of the wall-to-wall coverage, that it was interrelated to Iraq and we needed to make the connections.

I don't disagree with the idea that they have connections. I do disagree, and find laughable, the idea that independent media provided viewers, listeners or readers with connections. What they demonstrated was Iraq is so unimportant that we can dump the coverage of it. People don't make connections that way. Want them to see the connections between illegal occupations, for example? Then you discuss both. You don't just shine a light on one for five or six weeks, then show up in the last week and say, "Well people should be making connections."

Independet media did a disgusting job this summer. There are exceptions. But the majority ignored Iraq, ignored the fasts, ignored the activism, ignored the trip to Jordan, ignored the Iraqi body count, ignored Ramadi, ignored the 2,600 mark, ignored Abeer, ignored prety much everything.

Back in March, C.I. and I both noted that new things were needed, that the March protests, though inspiring, needed new life. That's not slamming the peace movement. That such a huge turnout too place was a testament to everyone organizaing and participating. I'm also bothered that Featherstone's calling for something new and lively and she has to go to a candidate's rally. I'm sure any new candidate is going to have a fresh rally. That's a given. In the meantime, CODEPINK spent the summer coming up with new and novel ways to register opposition to the war. That included protesting War Hawk Hillary Clinton's speech which earned them a tut-tut (if not a mention) from The Nation's Peter Rothberg. Apparently some War Hawks must be not challenged. (Which would explain the noticeable silence that greeted a brave action on the part of Medea Benjamin.)

It that's it on the topic, no, I'm not happy with Liza Featherstone's "notion." If "more" is something I'm supposed to wait several months for, The Nation should check out their circulation figures because I know one person's already dropped it due to the lack of coverage of Iraq and I know another who's subscription runs out in November and will not be renewing because Iraq's vanished.

C.I. and I were talking about the latter because we were both surprised that the person in question had decided not to renew. While The Nation has issues it needs to cover and needs to popularize concepts, ideas and issues. Not to do so, would be to blow a moment. But not to grasp how important Iraq is to Americans at this point and how much they are looking for direction and perspective is blowing a moment. I don't know how to say that any clearer.

If it helps any, the person who will drop The Nation in November will also drop The Progressive when the subscription runs out (and the person is a community member who will be writing on this topic in Friday's gina & krista round-robin). But independent media's failed. It has flat out failed and there's no way to pretty that up.

Liza Featherstone seems to feel that the peace moevement needs to move beyond what she labels Bush-bashing. First of all, people need a face. They need a face for an issue. Bully Boy is that. To move beyond that, they need coverage that links things together. There's been none from independent media for the bulk of the summer. That has nothing to do with the peace movement. Activisim has gone on. Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson and Darrel Anderson haven't been written up in The Nation this summer. That's not the fault of CODEPINK, United for Peace & Justice, A.N.S.W.E.R., Not In Our Name, or any other peace group.

If Featherstone's unhappy with the state of the movement, which she appears to be, instead of looking to some candidate's rally, she needs to look to her magazine and The Nation needs to get serious about this war. In print, there was nothing to suggest they were all summer long.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 19, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq, Bully Boy went to the United Nations and so did activists, a soldier pleads guilty to a war crime, Camp Democracy continuesin Washington, DC and, in Australia, Shelley Kovco tells the military inquiry into the Aprtil 21st Baghdad death of her husband, "'Sorry' just doesn't cut it after the first time."
Starting in Australia, on April 21, 2006, Jake Kovco became the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq. For months now, a military inquiry into his death and the problems immediately after (including the destruction of evidence and losing his body) has been ongoing.
Belinda Tasker (Herald-Sun) reports that the head of the inquiry, Group Captain Warren Cook, has stated: "It is the intenion of the board to say . . . Jake Kovco did not committ suicide. . . . I can't make it any plainer than that."
Eleanor Hall (ABC's The World Today) summarized: "It wasn't suicide. In a surprise announcement this morning, the Preisdent of the Board inquiring into the death of Private Jake Kovco in Iraq interrupted an address from one of the Kovco lawyers to say that he had already ruled out that the young soldier deliberately took his own life."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports that Colonel Leslie Young ("representing [Jake] Kovco's interests") declared that the hearing should issue a finding of accidental death or "return an open verdict" due to the destruction and loss of evidence. Box quotes Young: ""Have you ever received direct evidence that Jake was handling his weapon when it discharged? The answer is no."
This follows (see yesterday's snapshot) the statements made by Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, to Kerry O'Brien in an interview on ABC's 7:30 Report. Judy Kovco discussed her feelings regarding the inquiry, how "the evidence so far, there is no way known, no, he did not shoot himself" and that she believes the military would cover up "an accidental shooting by somebody else or a murder". Conor Duffy (ABC's The World Today) reported that the announcement of no finding of suicide came as Lieutenant Colonel Holles "was speaking for Jake Kovco's parents, Martin and Judy, and he began addressing the board and tell them why they shouldn't find suicide."
Following the announcement that the inquiry would not issue a finding of suicide, Shelly Kovco, Jake Kovco's widow, addressed the inquiry.
ABC's PM provides a recreation of some of her statements including: "I had explained to Tyie that Daddy's mates were bringing him home so that we could say goodbye. I then had to explain to my son why we weren't picking Daddy up. No mother ever wants to tell their children their Daddy has died and they won't see him again. But out on top of that, they didn't bring Daddy home, it was another man, we have to go get Daddy in a couple of days, is pretty hard and confusing on him and me."
Tyrie is the young son of Shelley and Jake Kovco (under five-years-old) and the couple also has a younger daughter, Alana (a one-year-old).
Conor Duffy reported on the statements to Eleanor Hall (ABC's The World Today), "Eleanor, so far Shelley Kovco has remained silent throught the entire three months of the inquiry, and today she was dressed in black and she gave an emotional address, and it really revealed the extent of her anger and the sense of betrayal she feels towards the Defence Force and to the Government."
Belinda Tasker (Herald-Sun) reports that it was a five-page statement and that Shelley Kovco was "[s]obbing as she read" it. The statement directly addressed Brendan Nelson's actions. Nelson is the Defense Minister and his breathless, uninformed gushing to the media helped no one (and may have tarnished his own 'rising star'). Dan Box (The Australian) reports her stating, "Brendan Nelson has said Jake was cleaning his pistol, and then he changed his story . . . These things shouldn't have been said to the media until the truth was known."
Shelley Kovco also addressed the pain caused by some of the rumors that were circulated. (We didn't note them here when they were circulating as gospel, we won't note them now but we will note that she addressed them, and the pain they caused, in her statement.) Belinda Tasker reports that Shelley Kovco stated "she did not hold either of her husband's roommates, Pt Ray Johnson and Pte Rob Shore, repsonsible for his death . . . Likewise, she said she did not believe another soldier, Pte Steve Carr, whose DNA was found on Pte Kovco's pistol, was to blame."
Also speaking was David Small, Shelley Kovco's father. Dan Box (The Australian) reports he spoke "outside the inquiry" to reporters and "said the family held Alastar Adams, the Australian consular official in Kuwait City who sealed Kovco's casket, responsible for the confusion over the body's transport." And what did Small say to the inquiry? Conor Duffy, on ABC's PM, reported: "Shelley Kovco was followed onto the stand by her father David Small, a former military man who also attacked the Defence force, saying the bungled repatriation had almost caused him to return his medals. . . He also attacked the facilities used to return Private Kovco's remains to Autralia, saying staff at the Kuwaiti morgue was illiterate and little more than fridge mechanics and cleaners." Small is quoted stating: "We have no reason to believe that Jake's death is anything but a tragic accident. However, we think that something has been withheld, perhaps with misquided good intentions. For Shelley and the kids' sake, if anyone knows anything that hasn't been said please come forward now and not in some years time as it will only increase the pain."
According to Dan Box (The Australian), it will be "about six weeks" before the board of the inquiry turns "a final report . . . [over] to the chief of the defence force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston".
Meanwhile, as noted by Aileen Alfandary on KPFA's The Morning Show, today, Bully Boy went to the United Nations (and spoke to French president Jacques Chirac, before speech making). Bully Boy went to the United Nations and so did activists "calling for an immediate end to the war in Iraq" (Alfandary). Alfandary spoke to Leslie Cagan (United for Peace and Justice) moments before the protests were to begin. Cagan: "We are out on the streets of New York because President Bush is addressing the UN General Assembly and we're here to say no to his war, it's time to end the war, bring all the troops home and no new wars."
As CBS and AP note, Bully Boy's speech included the cry "Stand up for peace." No word on whether that was greeted by UN delegates with snorts of derision or boos and hisses.
Gertrue Chavez-Dreyfuss (Reuters) reports on what took place outside with
"[t]housands of protesters including former American soldiers rallied . . . urging the U.S. government to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home." The article quotes Raed Jarrar, "People in Iraq also want to end the war. We want our country back."
From the Bully Boy to another war war criminal -- in England, Corporal Donald Payne pleaded guilty "to inhumanely treating civilians detained in Iraq between Sept 13 and Sept 16 2003 in Basra, Iraq" (Telegraph of London). The Guardian notes that Payne ("one of seven British troops who went on trial today facing charges linked to the death of an Iraqi civilian") was pleading guilty to chrages that "relate to the death of Baha Musa, 26, an Iraqi civilian in Basra". Jeremey Lovell (Reuters) reports that Musa is said to have had "93 injuries on his body, including a broken nose and ribs" and that "another detainee was so badly beaten that he nearly died of kidney failure."
This as Reuters reports British military has announced that two British soldiers died in Iraq on Monday (British Iraq fatalities now stand at 118) and the BBC reports that the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, is calling "for urgent actions from Iraqi leaders and the international community to bring Iraq back from the brink." The brink? As AFP notes, "Violence continued unabated Tuesday" in Iraq.
CBS and AP report, in Baghdad, 10 people are dead and 19 wounded as a result of a "rocket attack". A car bomb, AFP reports, claimed the lives of two more people in Baghdad. Outside Baghdad, Reuters reports one dead (two wounded) from a car bomb al-Rasheed; two dead (seven wounded) in Mahmudiya from mortar attacks; and, in Baquba, two dead from a roadside bomb.
AFP notes a police officer was shot dead in Baquba. Reuters notes that eleven people were shot dead today "across Baquba" and that two people were killed in Najaf.
Reuters reports that 11 corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya.
Meanwhile, AFP reports that John Abizaid ("US Central Command chief") told Congress that he thinks "this level probably will have to be sustained through the spring and then we'll re-evaluate". He was speaking of the fact that 140,000 US troops are currently in Iraq. Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that Abizaid also spoke of the option of adding more troops "or extending the Iraq deployments of other units if needed." Apparently no one's supposed to remember the talk at the end of 2005 -- about drawing down the numbers. In June, the number was 127,000. It's now 140,000 -- like everything else the Bully Boy attempts, it goes the wrong way.
In peace news, Camp Democracy continues its activities in Washington DC -- free and open to the public and open through October 1st. Camp Democracy's activities today revolved around media activism and tomorrow's activities focus around Women's Peace Day and is joint-sponsored by NOW and CODEPINK (among those scheduled to participate is Howard Zinn). . A complete schedule can be found here.
And, in Berkeley, Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet) reports on the agenda for this evening's city council meeting which includes a vote on the "resolution to support Lt. Ehren Watada". Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In August, an Article 32 hearing was held. Last Friday, the military tried to sneak in a new charge ("conduct unbecoming an officer" for statements made at at the Veterans for Peace conference held in Seattle -- here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout). More information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and

Monday, September 18, 2006

A grab bag

Sunny asked me this morning about "Community note from The Third Estate Sunday Review" and then there were e-mails as well so I'll start with that. I don't know yet when I'll be blogging at the end of the week. I'll try to do something in some form on Thursday and Friday but I'm not sure about Wednesday. I'll try to figure that out by tomorrow and have something up here.
(If you haven't read "Community note from The Third Estate Sunday Review," Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. are noting that there will be a Sunday edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review and that there will be a minimum of three posts per day at The Common Ills. The question arises due to the fact that we're all traveling to take part in demonstrations against the war.) Two things that will cheer you up if you're feeling down, Betty's "The Colleague Heist" and Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Call the coroner." Please visit Mikey Likes It! to read Mike's thoughts.

"Bush Appointees Attempt to Brow Beat Senior US Military Officers" (Ann Wright, Common Dreams):
In defining U.S. obligations under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions, Bush’s proposal is that to fulfill U.S. obligations under the Geneva Convention, only detainee treatment that “shocks the conscience” should be barred (and would allow degrading acts that do not shock the conscience of someone chosen by the Bush administration).
The Senate Armed Services committee bill is silent on what constitutes compliance with Common Article 3 and thereby would force CIA officers to treat detainees humanely and to avoid degrading acts, under common understandings of international law. (CIA officers involved in the Bush administration’s secret prisons program have consulted lawyers after being warned that they could face prosecution for illegally detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects and new CIA recruits are advised to take out private liability insurance against the risk of lawsuits as CIA officers will have to pay for their own defense according to the Washington Times (September 10, 2006).
The second key provision of the bill is on access to classified information during military commission trials of terrorism suspects. The Bush administration advocates classified information could be withheld from a defendant if a military judge approves the withholding and if the judge determines that the withholding of classified information would not obstruct a fair trial.
The Senate Armed Services committee bill would give defendant declassified information or substitute summaries when possible. A military judge can dismiss charges if the government objects to a judge’s order that sensitive information be provided to a defendant.
The Bush administration’s violation of international law has severely damaged the reputation of the United States in the international community and has put our military personnel at risk throughout the world.
The browbeating for political ends of our senior military lawyers by the administration is degrading to our professional, volunteer military and calls into question again, the actions of the civilian leadership of this nation. The administration policy approved by Donald Rumsfeld and William Haynes condoning torture and now the silencing of professional views of proposed policies concerning the rules for military commissions trying terrorism suspects undermine the "good order and discipline" of the military and are dangerous for our country.

As noted in "Editorial: Call Us Dixie Chicks -- We're not ready to make nice," Ann Wright spoke early this summer about the need to up the ante and she has all summer long. She has not been silent and she has not lived in fear so, as events take place this week throughout the country, if you're in doubt of your ability to stand up or you're wondering if you have it in you, think of Ann Wright and dig deeper. If you're not able to participate in an organized activity, or maybe you're not into whatever's organized in your area, organize one yourself. Invite friends over, have a house party, whatever works for you, do it.

Two Sundays ago, in "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," C.I. noted that the FBI still had not released all of the files on John Lennon. Like many people, I am a big fan of John Lennon's work and C.I. passed this on just as FYI, but I think I'll share it here.

We all know that a key to preventing future terrorist attacks is sharing intelligence with foreign governments. When Justice Department attorneys urge courts not to release national security information provided by a foreign government under a Freedom of Information Act suit, they argue that the courts should defer to the experts in the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.
But what if such intelligence isn't about today's terrorist threats? What if it's about the anti-war activities of a British rock star during the Vietnam War?
That's precisely what's at issue in a Freedom of Information Act suit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case of John Lennon's FBI files illustrates the federal government's obsession with secrecy, which it justifies with appeals to national security.
Lennon's story, told in the documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon,'' opening this week in Los Angeles, revolves around his plans to help register young people to vote in the 1972 presidential election, when President Nixon was running for re-election and the war in Vietnam was the issue of the day. Lennon wanted to organize a national concert tour that would combine rock music with anti-war protests and voter registration. Nixon found out about the plan, and the White House began deportation proceedings against Lennon.
It worked: Lennon never did the tour, and Nixon was re-elected.
Along the way, the FBI spied on and harassed Lennon -- and kept detailed files of its work. The bulk of them were released in 1997 under the Freedom of Information Act after 15 years of litigation. I was the plaintiff.
But the agency continues to withhold 10 documents in Lennon's FBI file on grounds that they contain "national security information provided by a foreign government.'' The name of the foreign government remains classified, though it's probably not Afghanistan. The FBI has argued that "disclosure of this information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the national security, as it would reveal a foreign government and information provided in confidence by that government.''
U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi rejected this argument in 2004 and ordered the documents released. The FBI is appealing that decision.
The Lennon FBI files vividly illustrate the administration's problem. "Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government'' -- those are the words of President Bush in his 2003 executive order on classified information. And he is right.
The Freedom of Information Act is necessary because Democrats and Republicans alike have secrets they want to keep -- secrets about corruption and the abuse of power. But now the White House wants to shield information with a new rationale for secrecy -- protecting the homeland from terrorists.

A national security claim on John Lennon's files? Are any of us really buying that?

In Iraq, the corpses continue to turn up in Baghdad as they did all last week. I belive on the radio yesterday, NPR estimated that, from Wednesday to Sunday, over 150 corpses had been discovered in Baghdad and that most bore signs of torture.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, September 18, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the
AFP counting "[a]t least 62 people" dead, Camp Democracy continues (and extends) in Washington, D.C., in Germany: "Wife of War Profiteer Down!" and Judy Kovco, the mother of Jake Kovco, registers her opinion of the inept hearing into her son's death.
Starting in Australia, photos taken by Australian soldiers serving in Iraq have turned up online.
Rory Callinan (Time) interviewed Angus Houston ("head of the ADF, Air Chief Marshal") about the photos who stated he first learned of the photos from Callinan and that "The way people have mishandled those weapons, that offends me." The Townsville Bulletin deems the photos "offensive and unprofessionl" and states that they feature "mostly from the Darwin-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the Brisbane-based 5/7 infantry battalion". [Houston is the witness in the Jake Kovco inquiry who strongly disagreed with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson's 'explanation' for the various reports Nelson gave the press as to Kovco's death. Houston stated Nelson was warned that nothing was known and Nelson was warned of that from the start.]
Though there's no indication that the photos feature Jake Kovco, the prospect that they might is speculated everywhere. Jake Kovco died in Baghdad on April 21st and issues surrounding his death and what happened after have been the subject of an ongoing military inquiry.
Dan Box (The Australian) reports that the "inquiry . . . has warned it may find that the soldier [Jake Kovco] broke army regulations and should bear some responsibility for the circustances of his own shooting." And the inquiry, the Herald-Sun reports, has "requested the pictures and video footage showing soldiers waving the pistols."
Leigh Sales walked viewers through the latest on The 7:30 Report (Australia's ABC) and got reactions from Dan Box ("I don't think the board can deliver any other finding except for an open finding") and a criminologist at Sydney University, Mark Findlay. Findlay told Sales: "This is not just one example of incompetence, this is an example of the conscious interference with relevant evidence and in some situations that interference is almost inexplicable. . . . This wasn't a situation where one piece of evidence was lost or perhaps a minor piece of evidence had been despolied. There are many, many examples of where the evidence hs either been ruined or been put into a situation where, in fact, it's no longer useful to an investigation." Box tells Sales, "There is evidence to support the theory that it was murder. There is evidence to support the theory that it was suicide and there is evidence to support the theory that it was an accident. From what I've seen, there isn't evidence to say conclusively it was any one of those."
Dan Box reports in print (The Australian): "Any adverse finding is expected to rely largely on the evidence from Private Steve Carr, a soldier who served with Kovco in Baghdad." Carr is "Soldier 14," the person whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's gun, the person who offered his theories to the inquiry on how his DNA ended up on Kovco's gun, and the person whose guesses on DNA transfer were refuted by expert witness (Michelle Franco of the NSW Department of Health's Analytical Laboratories).
Belinda Tasker (The Age) reported: "The lawyer representing Private Kovco's parents, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Holles, asked Ms Franco whethere the fact that Soldier 14's DNA was found on the gun indicated he had touched it. Ms Franco replied: 'It is consistent with that.'"
Meanwhile Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, and Ben Kovco, his step-brother,
granted an interview to Kerry O'Brien (7:30 Report). In the interview, Judy Kovco rejects the notion that her son played with guns (a behavior 'heard of' but not seen by anyone testifying in the hearing -- what is known as "hearsay") and notes that her son grew up around guns. Box's conclusion of an the inquiry reaching an opening finding (unable to determine what happened) is something she is prepared for and also prepared that the inquiry might find that her son committed suicide "[b]ut the evidence so far, there is no way known, no, he did not shoot himself. I know what you're saying, but I'm not prepared to go along with that, because there is no way known Jake shot himself purposely."
Kerry O'Brien: That really only leaves two other possibilites, an accidental shooting by somebody else or a murder, both of which it seems to me would involve a major cover-up, a major cover-up. Do you really think that's possible?
Judy Kovco: I certainly do, yes, without a doubt.
Kerry O'Brien: Do you really think that the army would go along with that?
Judy Kovco: They've done it in the past, they have done that in the past.
the interview is getting coverage. Ben Doherty (The Age) has a piece entitled "Someone shot my son: Judy Kovco" which notes that she believes Jake Kovco was either "accidentally shot . . . or murdered". Australia's ABC leads their report with her belief that the military "would go along with a cover-up over her son's death." The Townsville Bulletin closes with Judy Kovco's statements regarding the lack of acountability and emphasizing the fact that as they waited the arrival of Jake Kovco's body, they learned that instead, somehow, Juso Sinanovic had been sent to Australia instead (a problem for Sinanovic's family in Bosnia as well): "The whole thing is just wrong to me, that these are all just acceptable. It is all just acceptable as far as they are concerned."
Box notes that Shelley Kovco (Jake Kovco's widow) is expected to provide provide a statement and that Soldier 14/Steve Carr's "credibility . . . is now expected to come under attack from lawyers representing Kovco and his family." The inquiry was thought to be winding down but, as Conor Duffy reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today, Australia's ABC), "It's been sitting for three months, and now it seems it's going to have run a little longer. . . . It had been scheduled this week to begin wrapping up."
In Iraq, the talk of the waterless moat (or ditch) continues. The 'crackdown' hasn't worked since it started in June but apparently the moat passes for a new 'toy' or 'gadget' and we're all supposed to be excited. In the real world, the chaos and violence continued.
Al Jazeera reports "a suicide bomber blew himself up at a market in the north-western Iraqi city of Tal Afar".
Al Jazeera also reports that a car bomb "exploded at a police recruitment centre in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi" and killed at least thirteen. CBS and AP note that the Interior Ministry is stating it was two but that al-Arabiya is also noting 13. (Al Jazeera went with what the Ramadi police stated about the Ramadi explosion, not the Ministry back in Baghdad. Reuters also goes with 13.)
AFP notes four women were shot dead in Mosul and four police officers were shot dead near the Syrian border. Reuters notes that four family members were shot dead (with five more wounded) in Baquba while, in Hibhib, two family members were shot dead (two others wounded).
BBC reports that fourteen corpses were discovered in Baghdad, AFP notes three discovered and Babil and two severed heads discovered in Baiji. CBS and AP note that Lt. Col. Fawzi Abdul Karim al-Mousawi was kidnapped Sunday and his corpse was discovered in Basra today.
Turning from the corpses to the morgue,
NBC posts a report by a journalist in Baghdad, whose name is withheld, about reporting and attempting to report from the capital -- the journalist requests permission from the Minister of Health, meets a camera operator at the morgue, have the paperwork checked by an officer and . . . "gunfire erupted all around us."
Lara Logan (CBS) takes a look at life in Baghdad and reports: "This is how it works. Iraqis say: 'If they haven't found the body, then they are probably still alive. Then you can still hope.' That's the only way most people have any idea about the fate of their disapeared loved ones and friends. Sometimes they know immediately. When the lock is broken in the middle of the night and they walk into your home, through the rooms where your children sleep, and drag your sons from their beds and tear your husband out of your arms -- then, even before the bodies are found, you know the men you love most likely are never coming back. Many say the men wear uniforms -- police uniformas. The police say these uniforms are stolen or bought and have nothing to do with them. It doesn't matter anymore. The damage is done."
In Germany,
Melissa Eddy (AP) reports that Jaqueline Battles "has been arrested on suspicion of laundering her husban'd ill-gotten gains after investigators seized about $1 million from her accounts". Eddy notes Battles is a German citizen married to US citizen Mike Battles, of Custer Battles, who, along with partner Scott Custer, was ordered by jury in the United States "to pay $10 million for swindling the U.S. government over Iraqi rebuilding projects in connection with their Middletown, R.I.-based company, Custer Battles LLC."
In peace news,
Camp Democracy continues its activities in Washington DC and has extended the date for the camp to October 1st. Camp Democracy is free and open to the public. John Nichols (The Nation) took part in Sunday events focusing on the issue of impeachment and notes: "Polls and practices suggest that the citizenry well understands the necessity of holding this administration to account -- not to punish Bush or Cheney but to restore the system of checks and balances that has been so warped in this ear of executive whim and lawlessness. And 219 years into this American experiment, as we honor the Constitution that is its foundation, the message from Camp Democracy is clear: It is time to remind politicians and the pundits that: 'This Magistrate is not the King. . . The people are the King.'"
David Lindorff also participated and he notes (Baltimore Chronicle): "It was [Elizabeth] Holtzman who stole the show, with the former member of the House impeachment panel that drew up impeachment articles against Richard Nixon noting that one of those three articles was for spying on American citizens. Holtzman, who has a new book out on impeachment herself -- (The Impeachment of George W. Bush), said that when she and the others on that committee -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- unanimously voted out those articles which led to Nixon's resignation from office, 'I thought we had protected the Constitution for generations to come."
At the start of the year, Elizabeth Holtzman contributed "
The Impeachment of George W. Bush" for The Nation. Lewis Lapham's "The Case for Impeachment" (Harper's) would quickly follow, as would the Center for Constitutional Rights's Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, David Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky's The Case for Impeachment (Olshansky is an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights), Holtzman's The Impeachment of George W. Bush and John Nichols' The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism will be published next month. (And there are other books and articles, that's only some of the ones that have come out in 2006.) Today's events have included discussions on Iraq, tomorrow Ray McGovern and Jeff Cohen are among those taking part in Take on the Media Day (And Sherry Glaser will also do some of her standup and hold a workshop on comedy.), Wednesday's activites focus around Women's Peace Day and is joint-sponsored by NOW and CODEPINK (among those scheduled to participate is Howard Zinn). And, to repeat, the camp has extended their schedule, they will not be ending this week but will continue to October 1st -- free and open to the public. A complete schedule can be found here
Remember Take on the Media Day?
Jeff Cohen reports (Consortium News) that the Washington "Post's inexcusable coverage before the war, and its ongoing pro-war editorial bias" is why he will be taking part in the forum on the media at Camp Democracy and that "[t]here will also be a protest march to the Washington Post headquarters that eveing." A lot of people participating and, though donations are welcome, Camp Democracy is free and open to the public. Olshansky, Lindorff, Cohen, Nichols, Holtzman, Zinn, McGovern, Elizabeth de la Vega . . . And that's just a few of the people participating. If you are in the DC area or are planning to be there, David Swanson's Camp Democracy is something to check out.