Friday, October 20, 2006

Isaiah and Amara

The drawing to the left is Isaiah's "Irma La Dunce." It is one of my favorites for a number of reasons. I do enjoy the film Irma la Duce starring Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon. If you've seen the film, you probably recognize the outfit. I like the look Isaiah's drawn on the face of Barney (the dog). "National Security" is a red light and Bully Boy's stepped under it to peddle his tired wares again. I actually have the physical copy of this one because I wrote Isaiah about it to congratulate him on it and express how much I enjoyed it. Shortly after, he asked for my address. It was probably two or three weeks after and I'd forgotten all about it. He wanted to send me something and I was expecting it to be something to do with my line of work. Instead it was this comic and I took it in to get it framed. I keep it in my office. I'm always encouraging him to do more film parodies. He's done a couple and I'm sure they're a great deal of work. I do enjoy the non-movie parodies as well. If he could only do a parody of The Apartment, one of my all time favorite films, I'd be happy for life.

For those who're passing by and wondering who Isaiah is, he's a community member and the cartoonist for The Common Ills. He wanted to do something for the community and thought about what he could add. He drew when he was kid, he downplays his talent, and since there were no visuals at The Common Ills, he decided that could be something he could offer. The reason you don't find a lot of photos at the site is because C.I. worries about copyright. A lot of websites publish pictures and, hopefully, they'll never have a problem with that. The only exception I remember C.I. making was if it was a CD or DVD being discussed. Then it was justified as 'promotion.' Copyright issues are also the reason that you get excerpts and not an article in full.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. I have two highlights for tonight.

"Soldiers of Conscience" (Staughton Lynd, The Nation):
During and after the Vietnam war, United States courts and military tribunals were asked to apply the Nuremberg Principles to the conduct of individual soldiers. The civilian judicial system washed its hands of the issue and (to use another Biblical metaphor) passed by on the other side. Military tribunals were far more forthright than their civilian counterparts in facing the problem but did not succeed in resolving the dilemma.
When David Mitchell was found guilty by the trial court and the federal court of appeals, his attorneys sought a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari. Justice William Douglas dissented from the denial of certiorari. He stated in part that petitioner's ...defense was that the "war" in Vietnam was being conducted in violation of various treaties to which we were a signatory, especially the Treaty of London of August 8, 1945, declares that "waging of a war of aggression" is a "crime against peace," imposing "individual responsibility." Article 8 provides: "The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment...

This is print version of a speech that Lynd gave on war resistance. It addresses issues involving Ehren Watada, for those needing a particular, and it addresses the issue of why you must resist if you feel the war is wrong.

With what's going on in Amara, I hope people are asking themselves serious questions because, as bad as things have been in Iraq, they are getting worse.

"'We have liberated Amara from the British. Basra next' " (Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, The Guardian):
Ten days ago I sat on a mattress on the floor of a Mahdi army safe house talking to Abu Mahdi, a slim 40-year-old, bearded former Arabic teacher and low level commander in the Shia militia.
I had first encountered him in Najaf in August 2004, when the Mahdi army seized the holy city. Now he boasted of how his comrades were effectively in control of his home town, 200 miles south of Baghdad.
"As we have liberated Amara from the British, Basra is next," he said. "My men are everywhere, can you see the British anywhere? For the people in the street it's my men who rule the town."
Yesterday morning the militia loyal to the Baghdad-based cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated that fact - and the acute dillemma facing British and American military planners - in the most dramatic fashion.
Residents described how fighters stormed three police stations in this city of 900,000 and blew them up. Around 800 black-clad militiamen with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades patrolled the streets in commandeered police vehicles as others set up road blocks on routes into the town.
At least 30 policemen and 20 civilians were killed and more than 59 injured in what has become one of the most serious challenges to the authority of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
One Amara resident, Hossam Hussein, said he saw hundreds of gunmen, dressed in the Mahdi army's trademark black uniforms, swarming the city's main streets. "For the last few days, you could smell the trouble building here," he said by phone. "Amara is a battleground between the gangs the militia and the politicians. And sometimes you don't know who is who."

If you're a community member, you already knew Amara was out of control and that this was the reason the British pulled out in August. They did not "turn" their base over. They abandoned it. They gave 24 hours notice to the Iraqi authorities and got out. The base was not turned over, it was looted. Walls and doors were torn down within hours of the British driving off. There is no base, it was all looted. So when you read a report or hear or see one, if the report says that the British turned over their base, the reporter either doesn't know what he or she is addressing or doesn't think you deserve to know reality.

That's going to be it for me tonight. We've got the discussion group shortly. The snapshot is below and it covers a great deal of ground.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; an area the British abandoned heats up; Rumsfeld's 'big fellow' vouches for his honor; Max Boot demonstrates he was cursed with not only porcine features but analytical challenges as well; Bully Boy's
Iraq to Vietnam comparison continues to be discussed (and will continue); another US soldier dies today in Iraq bringing the total for the month to 75; Ramadi's parade/independence statement is echoed elsewhere in Iraq today.
Starting in Amara.
On August 24th, came news that too much violence, too many attacks, led British troops to exit Amara quickly. Spinning would continue August 25th and then it was largely forgotten. Today, actions in Amara have reminded why British troops left and left so quickly. Al Jazeera reports that "overnight clashes left 15 dead" and that the fighting continued today "after police arrested a member of cleric Maqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army on suspicion of killing a local intelligence officer in a bomb attack". Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that the town has been "seized" and that it's "one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said." CNN reports that 16 people have died and 90 wounded. They also speak with British military flack Charlie Burbridge who stated that between 200 and 300 people attacked two police stations in Amara Thursday. Christine Hauser (New York Times) reports: "The nearest British troops are now stationed more than 20 miles from the city" and that other police stations and "state facilities in Amara were attacked." On the subject of British troops, AFP reports: "A British battle group of 600 troops backed by attack jets and armoured vehicles is standing by to intervene if Iraqi forces need support" according to Charlie Burbridge (so take it for what it is worth).
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that the militia have gain "control of entire neighborhoods" and notes theories that that a split between Maktada al-Sadr (whom some are linking the militias too) and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki could impact the "stability" of the puppet government. Meanwhile, James Hider (Times of London) notes: "As in Balad, militiamen set up roadblocks around the town and warned residents to stay indoors."
In some of the other violence today,
Reuters notes that one person died and three were wounded in Baghdad from a roadside bomb (Dora district). Also Reuters reports that one person was shot dead near Baiji and three others wounded. AFP reports that three people are dead and three wounded from an attack in Khalis.
It's Friday. News of violence trickles out slowly on a normal day. Events in Amara meant today wouldn't be a normal Friday.
In other news,
Frank Jordans (AP) reports that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that "914,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003". This at the same time as Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports on the increased dangers in Iraqi hospitals both from the fact that the medical "system is breaking down" and also because of claims that "hospitals are now being used by al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia as its headquarters and hospital basements are used as prisons."
But no need to be concerned about any of the above. For one thing, Peter Pace is standing by his man.
AFP reports the US general said of Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, "He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country." God responds, "Don't blame that ___ on me!"
While Pace tells the world he's fond of his fella' Rumsfeld, Tony Blair warns the world that he's the house guest from hell.
Philip Webster (Times of London) reports that is bandying around the term "progressive withdrawal" and insisting that Iraqis won't be put out by foreign forces 'staying too long.' At three years and eight months, Blair's stayed too long at the fair and then some.
AP reports that Bully Boy's poodle-in-waiting, John Howard, declares there "is no reason to for international forces to quite Iraq". Pooh-pahhing Little Willie Caldwell's use of the term "disheartening" yesterday, Howard declared, "In any military operation, you have heartening and disheartening things". Backing him was Australia's former chief of the Defence Force, Peter Cosgrove, who doesn't believe that Vietnam and Iraq are anything alike. It helps his self-serving refusal to focus on the conflict in Indochine and the Indochina War which, for the record, wasn't the question put to Bully Boy on Wednesday. Possibly Cosgrove misunderstood the question?
For those confused, the
Khaleej Times brings you up to speed: "At last, President Bush has come to acknowledge what many in and outside US have been arguing for some time. That Iraq is increasingly looking like Vietnam. In a rare confession during his interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulus, the president admitted that as in Vietnam, America faces 'a stepped-up level of violence' in Iraq. Stepped-up level of violence, Mr. President? This is an all-out and free-for-all bloody civil war, which has already claimed 655,000 Iraqi lives, as medical journal Lancet disclosed last week."
For anyone who may still be confused, from
yesterday's snapshot:
Starting with the Bully Boy. As
Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) noted, Bully Boy "drew a comparison between Iraq and the Vietnam war for the first time on Wednesday when he said Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columinst, 'could be right' in writing that the violent situation in Iraq was the 'jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive." Summarizing the interview, Ed O'Keefe (ABC) notes, "Bush said he could not imagine any circumstances under which all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of his presidency." Bully Boy doesn't seem to register of what his comparison would result in. Mark Tran (Guardian of London) walks readers through: "Mr Bush has strongly resisted comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Vietnam remains a touchy subject for America; the war deeply divided the country, ended in an ignominious retreat for the US after the loss of more than 57,000 American lives, and has become synonymous with political and military debacle. The 1968 Tet offensive was a military failure for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, but it turned American public opinion against the war and fatally damaged President Lyndon Johnson, who abandoned his re-election campaign two months later."
The 'crackdown' cracked . . . down. Up? The measure began in mid-June was supposed to secure the capital but violence not only continued in Baghdad, it increased. As
John F. Burns (New York Times) reported, Bully Boy "is now left with only a handful of tough and politically unattractive options" as a result of the cracked-up 'crackdown.' Michael Abramowitz and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported, "Senior figures in both parties are coming to the conclusion that the Bush administration will be unable to achieve its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq within a politically feasible time frame." Despite that, CNN reports that White House flack Tony Snow has stated, "There will be no change in strategy." Bully Boy would publicly agree later in the day. Steve Holland (Reuters) reports that Bully Boy, deluded or in denial, insists there will be no changes while Democratic House Representative John Murtha notes: "We've lost the hearts and minds of the people and we've become caught in a civil war." CBS and AP report that Bully Boy's pushing a teleconference tomorrow "with U.S. generals" to determine what to do next. (Those who remember the infamous Hurricane Katrina teleconference will rightly shudder.)
Though Max Boot hasn't lost his heart (can't lose what you don't have), he appears to be losing his grip on reality.
Speaking to Michelle Nichols (Reuters), the balding gas bag offered that American troops dying in Iraq has a less of an impact than Americans dying in the Vietnam conflict due to the fact that today "the impact here is more isolated because so many soldiers come from military communities which are clustered in a handful of states." Oh really?
American troop fatalties? Alabama: 47; Alaska: 10; Arizona: 66; Arkansas: 35; California: 284; Colorado: 34; Connecticut: 22; Delaware: 12; Florida: 117; Georgia: 83; Hawaii: 13; Idaho: 16; Illinois: 107; Indiana: 56; Iowa: 33; Kansas: 31; Kentucky: 46; Louisiana: 63; Maine: 12; Maryland: 52; Massachusetts: 45; Michigan: 97; Minnesota: 39; Mississippi: 35; Missouri: 48; Montana: 12; Nebraska: 29; Nevada: 24; New Hampshire: 14; New Jersey: 47; New Mexico: 21; New York: 132; North Carolina: 63; North Dakota: 13; Ohio: 125; Oklahoma: 47; Oregon: 46; Pennsylvania: 135; Rhode Island: 10; South Carolina: 39; South Dakota: 17; Tennessee: 58; Texas: 245; Utah: 14; Vermont: 18; Virginia: 83; Washington: 53; West Virginia: 18; Wisconsin: 60; Wyoming: 7.
A "handful of states"? Can we get some talcum powder for Max Boot? His desk jockeys have apparently left his brain chafed.
The Booty's foolish remarks come as the
US military announces another death: a US soldier died in Baghad today from an IED. This death brings the total US fatalities in Iraq for the month of October to 75 and the total of US troop fatalities since the start of the illegal war now stands at 2788.
The news of the death comes as
Hamza Hendwai (AP) reports that the parade/declaration of independence earlier this week in Ramadi have now been echoed today "in a string of towns west of Baghdad . . . . the latest parades -- including two less than a mile from U.S. military bases -- were staged in support of an announcement this week by a militant Sunni Arab group that it had created an Islamic state in six of Iraq's 18 provinces, including the capital, Baghdad."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


To the left is Isaiah's "Bully Boy's tired little number" which I enjoyed (especially the rosy cheeks). It also made me think of how much I hate the GAP ads. Audrey Hepburn was a little too stylish to wear the CRAP from GAP, most of which is made by child labor. In it's own way, the trashy ad is perfect. The GAP uses children and other underpaid workers in sweat shops to make their clothes and to sell them they use the legacy of a dead woman. They don't do a thing themselves.

Before I forget, as I did yesterday, please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. I think there's a theme of justice for this post. There's no justice in the clothes at the GAP (or in using Audrey Hepburn's classy image to peddle their wares).

"Ex-Commander Talks at Abu Ghraib Hearing" (Associated Press via Common Dreams):
Fort Meade, Maryland - An Army Reserve officer accused of ignoring abuses of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison was a daily visitor to the "hard site," where some detainees were stripped naked as an interrogation technique, a former military police commander testified Wednesday.
Capt. Donald Reese's testimony supported government allegations that Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, as director of the prison's interrogation center, knew about the abuse and lied about it.
Reese testified on the third day of Jordan's Article 32 investigation, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing. The hearing to determine whether Jordan, the highest-ranking soldier charged in the scandal, should be court-martialed for any of the 12 charges he faces. He could face up to 42 years in prison if convicted.
Reese was commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, which guarded the hard site at Abu Ghraib in the autumn of 2003, when most of the abuses documented in photographs seen around the world occurred.
Prosecutor Lt. Col. Jon Pavlovcak asked him Wednesday how often he had seen Jordan inside the hard site, a building that housed prisoners held for interrogation.
"Every day, sir," Reese replied.

That's staying with the theme of justice. The lower level ones are the only ones who have been punished so far. It's past time that the abuses were charted on up through the chain. If you remember Lynndie England and have wondered what's up in her life (prison), you can read Tara McKelvey's "A Soldier's Tale" (Marie Claire). Have you thought about Abu Ghraib much lately? That was exposed in 2004. It's now 2006. Our elected officials decided we weren't grown up enough to see all the photos but they want to tell us that we've seen the worst of them or that there's nothing to be concerned about. Along with that, we've heard dismissals that it was just "a few bad apples," that the actions were just "fun and games" or "sex play." In fact, one of the biggest defenders of the abuses at Abu Ghraib wasn't in the Congress. Where was he?
On your TV screens if you're not smart enough to turn off CSI: NY. That is such a disgusting show (click here for Ava and C.I.'s review of it) and that has a great deal to do with the Abu Ghraib defender Gary Sinise.

"Shame on Us All" (Robert Parry, Consortium News):
History should record October 17, 2006, as the reverse of July 4, 1776.
From the noble American ideal of each human being possessing "unalienable rights" as declared by the Founders 230 years ago amid the ringing of bells in Philadelphia, the United States effectively rescinded that concept on a dreary fall day in Washington.
At a crimped ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President George W. Bush signed the
Military Commissions Act of 2006 while sitting behind a sign reading "Protecting America."
On the surface, the law sets standards for harsh interrogations, prosecutions and executions of supposed terrorists and other "unlawful combatants," including al-Qaeda members who allegedly conspired to murder nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
"It is a rare occasion when a President can sign a bill he knows will save American lives," Bush said. "I have that privilege this morning."
But the new law does much more. In effect, it creates a parallel "star chamber" system of criminal justice for anyone, including an American citizen, who is suspected of engaging in, contributing to or acting in support of violent acts directed against the U.S. government or its allies anywhere on earth.

Gary Sinise could probably defend the death of democracy, the death of rule of law. Robert Parry is right, it is a dark day and we should all be ashamed.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 18, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Wednesday begins with
the news of ten more US toops dying (on Tuesday) in Iraq; step back, Tricia, Bully Boy's now the Littlest Nixon; while Bully Boy gets cover the Poodle and the Puppet stumble; and the so-called coalition of the willing continues to dwindle.
Reuters reports that Slovakia will be leaving the coalition and taking all but 11 of their 110 troops with them and quotes Robert Fico (prime minister) stating, "Slovak soldiers can start packing their stuff because they have to be home in Feburary 2007".

Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out
And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
-- "In or Out" written by Ani DiFranco

Slovakia is out. The Poodle? He's trying to hang on as prime minister of England.
AFP reports that Tony Blair "admitted" that troops might be "exacerbating" the continued chaos and violence in Iraq and might act as "provocation" for other acts of violence. It has not been an easy time for the Poodle. As his leaked schedule pointed out, he was supposed to be glad handing and in the midst of a publicity blitz. Instead, questions dog him. The questions continue due to Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reporting British Brigadier Ed Butler's comments on the Afghanistan fighting in light of also declaring war in Iraq "meant British soldiers faced a much tougher task now." This follows on the heels of last weeks criticism by British General Richard Dannatt and Colin Brown (Independent of London) reporting yesterday that England's Home Secretary, John Reid, had admitted the wars were "radicalizing young Muslims." Reuters notes: "Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush are facing a barrage of criticism over Iraq as the death toll rises." Well at least they have each other (who else would have them), right? Or maybe not.
The puppet of the occupation? Is Nouri al-Maliki taking Bully Boy's promise that the US will not set a timetable for withdrawal of US forces too seriously? Probably so. The
BBC reports that al-Maliki "ordered the release of a senior figure in the orgainsation headed by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr." AFP observes the release is "another setback for US plans," notes that Sheikh Mazen al-Saedi was not only released but also "driven to a Sadrist office by the ministry of the interior." This at the same time that nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers have been fired for breaking the law and/or derelicition of duty and, as Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reports, on the firing of the "two most senior police commanders from their posts" following the earlier "suspension of an entire Iraqi police brigade . . . on suspicions that some members may have permitted or even participated in death squad killings".
As the puppet government's concept of '
justice' continues to be questioned, al-Maliki holds dear to Bully Boy's promise that he's not planning on pulling his government's support. The puppet would do well to grasp he's dealing with the Littlest Nixon and that it's election time in the US. Or, as Jim Lobe (IPS) puts it, "If Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki were inclined to bet his life on President George W. Bush's latest assurances that there will be no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, he should probably give it a second thought." After all, Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports the strangely time re-emergence in Iraq of CIA-puppet and former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, while Paul Reynolds (BBC) and Julian Borger (Guardian of London) attempt to cover the strangely leaked 'plan' coming out of the James Baker study group which boils down to (a) involve Syria and Iran or (b) redeploy US troops so they're stationed outside of Iraq but able to 'swoop in' in hit-and-run type actions. The feasibility of either option is doubtful but, if Baker sings "I will be your father figure" loud enough, the hope is that it will appear Bully Boy has a 'plan' or is being handed a 'plan.' It's the Nixon playbook and why, despite Baker's many statements that nothing would be released before the election, the 'plan' has been leaked. It's also why Baker drew attention to his study group in the first place -- certainly not the smartest thing to do if you're hoping to keep it quiet.
Violence and chaos continue in Iraq.
CBS and AP report that a roadisd bomb killed four body guards and Ali Qassim al-Tamimi ("head of intelligence for the Maysan provincial police force") as they traveled between Amarah and Basra. AFP reports the death of three Iraqi soldiers (with three more injured) -- victims of a bombing in Kirkuk. Reuters notes a car bombing in Iraq that left five wounded ("central Baghdad") while "[a] car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol in central Baghdad" left five people wounded.
AFP reports the shooting death, in Suweira, of "a guard escorting an electricity company repair team". Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad.
AFP reports that three corpses were discovered in Suweira. Reuters reports that a police officer's corpse was discovered "between Kerbala and Hilla."
CBS and AP report: "Local Sunni and Shiite leaders were meeting in an attempt to resolve the fate of more than 40 people missing since their 13-car convoy was waylaid at a checkpoint on Sunday outside Balad, where almost 100 people were killed in five days of sectarian fighting. The head of Iraq's security commission angrily accused the government of failing to resolve the crisis."
All the above as
IRIN notes that Iraqi children aren't able to attend school due to the violence: " . . . only 30 percent of Iraq's 3.5 million students are currently attending classes. This compares to approximately 75 percent of students attending classes the previous year, according to UK-based NGO Save the Children." Also while Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that Ramadi has been 'staked': "Dozens of al Qaeda-linked gunmen took to the streets of Ramadi on Wednesday in a show of force to announce the city was joining an Islamic state comprising Iraq's mostlly Sunni Arab provinces, Islamists and witnesses said." Doesn't sound like something the Jimmy Baker Study Group planned for -- quick, someone order them some juiceboxes and fruit rollups so they can get back to 'work.' "Secession". Someone help Condi to her feet, sounds like "civil war" just became official.
Last week,
The Lancet published the study on Iraqi deaths since the start of the illegal war and arrived at the estimate that the war had cost the lives of approximately 655,000 Iraqis. Dr. Curren Warf (at Consortium News) examines the study and notes that "the media has been unable to find a scientist critical of the study, [so] they've turned to policy wonks with literally no expertise in the health scienes." Those having questions about the study or wanting to learn more can attend The Medical Consequences of the War in Iraq: Health Challenges Beyond the Battlefield this Saturday (Oct. 21st) at the Grand Ballroom, Ackerman Union, UCLA -- registration for the conference begins at 8:30 a.m.(registration is $25) and the conference will last until 5:30 p.m. Dr. Warf will be among those attending. Also noting the study, Robert Scheer (Truthdig) concludes: "The point is that it is time for the Iraqis, like the Vietnamese, to make their own history. They can hardly make a worse mess of it."
Scheer's point is dead on but maybe it's hard to recognize reality in the Green Zone?
James Hider (Times of London) provides Green Zone in a snapshot: "In the US-protected fortress, Iraq's Government huddles, riven by sectarian splits and cut off from its terrified people. Inside their bubble ministers live in comparatively luxurious compounds, each sectarian bloc divided from the next by barricades. They are hard to reach by telephone. Some spend more time outside the country than in it."
Today, the
Washington Post reported that ten US troops died in Iraq on Tuesday (US military announced the deaths on Wednesday). The deaths are 'honored' by the US Defense Dept., Heather Wokusch (GNN) reports, which "quietly announced on Monday that mandatory anthrax vaccinations would resume for military personnel and civilians deploying to 28 countries across the globe and even for some based in the U.S." Prior to the illegal war in Iraq, one of the hottest topics within the military, for many years, had been the forced anthrax vaccinations. Don't suggest Donald Rumsfeld doesn't care . . . about screwing everyone over.
Turning to peace news,
Ehren Watada's father has now done two speaking tours to raise awareness of his son's case. reported on his Monday appearance noting that: "If he [Ehren Watada[ is found guilty of all charges, he could get eight years in prison." Pam Wight (San Gabriel Tribune) reports on Bob Watada's Thursday engagement at First Friends Church and quotes Bob Watada stating: "After the Nurember trials you can't use 'I was just following orders' as an excuse anymore. He started thinking that he would be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity for participating in an illegal and immoral war." More information on Ehren Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
And we'll close with this from
Yuri Loudon (Internationalist Magazine)'s interview with Howard Zinn, Zinn explaining the illegal war: "The government set out to present false information. Colin Powell presented a detailed account of Hussein's WMDs, probably the most compact assembly of falsehoods that have ever been uttered in front of the United Nations. They then bombarded the public, aided by an uncritical press, with information that led them to believe that the United States was somehow in imminent danger and that we had to go to war. There was a barrage of information given to the public by the government, and then repeated by the press. This is clear evidence that the government cannot depend on the public's natural instinct to go to war; they have to work very, very hard; they have to propagandize and persuade them [the public] that war is necessary."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

NYT wates down reality (again)

That's Isaiah's "Bully Boy George." If you can see it in full, use the link. I'm disgusted with Blogger/Blogspot. Everyone's been having this problem with images not posting in full. Adding: Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. He's still posting. We're going to do something tonight and he needs "five more minutes." I was publishing but I see I forgot to talk about the illustration.

I loved this comic. It turns the Bully Boy into Boy George (of Culture Club) singing "Comma, Comma, Comma Quagmire . . ." (think "Karma Chameleon" -- eighties Culture Club hit). I always enjoy Isaiah's movie and song spoofs. I enoy how Isaiah gave Bully Boy facial makeup and dreds to turn him into Bully Boy George dancing around and singing. When he referred to the deaths in Iraq as a "comma," Bully Boy trivialized the illegal war and the loss of lives. So I thought it was inspired to turn that moment into a goofy song from the eighties.

Equally disgusting are the lies that Afghanistan is/was 'liberated' and that the issue of women's rights was every anything more than a marketing ploy they got Laura Bush to deliver. Below is an excerpt.

"Afghanistan Reconsidered" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
The October 7 anniversary of the war on Afghanistan passed virtually unnoticed on U.S. soil. Mainstream news outlets spared the Bush administration the embarrassment of accounting for the subsequent fate of Afghanistan's 30 million people five years after the U.S. launched the first "regime change" in its never-ending war on terror.
But an honest accounting is long overdue, not merely among those who have prosecuted this disastrous war-but also for the U.S. antiwar movement, whose sole focus on opposing the war in Iraq continues to sustain the fiction that the war on Afghanistan was a justifiable response to 9-11.
It was not.
Perhaps most damning is a BBC News report issued on Sept. 18, 2001-long ignored by the U.S. media-showing that the U.S. was planning to bomb Afghanistan well before Sept. 11. The BBC reported, "Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by mid-October."
The events of Sept. 11 provided the U.S. with an excuse to set its sights higher, using the war against Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacking Iraq, with the aim of militarily reshaping the entire Middle East to suit its own interests.
With the benefit of hindsight, even a cursory examination of Afghanistan five years on provides ample evidence that the U.S.' stated goals in Afghanistan were based upon a set of lies equivalent in scale to those used to justify the war on Iraq.

Smith's article is longer, that's just an excerpt. She exposes the lies in a precise, 1-2-3 manner.

I'm just going to talk about the snapshot for the rest of this entry. I can't believe that after the New York Times runs an article in the paper, because the military then issues a statement, they water down the report by having a writer in New York touch it up. That's disgusting and haven't we gotten far enough away from Operation Happy Talk for this sort of crap?

Balad's fatalities are now going to be reduced because the American military has issued an 'offical' number. It doesn't match reports from hospitals but it makes it seem like things are so much smoother in Iraq and especially in Balad. The New York Times should be embarrassed.

What idiots they are for tacking on a "in New York" reporter (John O'Neil) to a story reported from Iraq -- which they do with their watered-down rewrite. Use the links and you'll be even more bothered. Well the New York Times enlisted in this illegal war before it started so I guess none of us should be surprised that it's still willing to do so. But it is disgusting.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 17, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US "officials" issue statements and watch how Balad gets rewritten, an estimated 3,000 Iraqi police officers are told "no job!", and Cindy Sheehan focuses on the numbers that matter (and unlike the big news orgs, doesnt' feel the need to rewrite them).
On the slaughter in Balad,
Al Jazeera magazine notes a "New York Times editorial". It's not an editorial, it's a report by Michael Luo. It's a report that the Times is now hiding online and have replaced with a new version. The original is entitled "Iraqis Ask Why U.S. Forces Didn't Intervene in Balad." That's the print headline and the headline if you use the link. But that story doesn't show up on the Middle East page of the website. Instead, a weaker version entitled "Fighting in Iraqi Town Killed Over 60, U.S. Says" with John O'Neil appearing in the byline and also in the end credit "in New York"! Because, surely, to report on Balad, you need O'Neil in New York.
The original, with only Luo in the byline, reported: "Killing also continued to besiege the capital on Monday with the discovery of at least 64 bodies across the city, and two car bomb attacks that appeared to kill 22 people." The white-washed attempt to suck up to "officials" opens with: "The American military said today that more than 60 people were killed in four days of sectarian fighting in Balad . . ."
If you find that disgusting, and you should, take comfort in the fact that there's griping at the paper about the watering down of a fairly straight-down-the-middle report. The original may disappear from the website so if you're interested in what alarms "officials," check it out now. The whitewash tries to reassamble the article but mainly demonstrates how idiotic the paper is. Well over 60 people have died in Balad from Friday to Monday and that was reported by other US outlets -- mainstream sources. [
Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin (Washington Post) put it at 80 in their report in today's paper -- which, please note, the Post hasn't felt the need to rewrite to appease "officials."] The original article did not ignore the opinions of the military but, such is the reality of the war, "officials" need things distorted and, such is the cowardice of the paper, that "offiicals" must be appeased.
For those still attempting to follow Balad,
CBS and AP report that "sectarian fighting in Balad . . . has killed close to 100 people" since it "began Friday with the slaying of 17 Shiite Muslim workers. Revenge-seeking Shiite death squads then killed 74 Sunnis, causing people flee across the Tigris River to the nearby Sunni-dominated city of Duluiyah." This as CNN also chases down 'official' pleasure, though they claim they're not revising earlier reporting, just noting what 'officials' say and, it is true, they do include this statement: "The number of deaths vary". Reuters harkens back to their earlier days (when they fronted for the US government as revealed during Congressional hearings in the wake of Watergate) by not even attributed their lowered figures to US "officials" or US "military." Monday, before 'official' statements, Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin (Washington Post) reported: "By Sunday afternoon, 80 bodies were stacked in the morgue of the Balad hospital". But watch as the mainstream media grabs onto "official" statement and trashes all that was previously reported. Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that "at least 91 people" have been killed since Friday in Balad. A report the Times runs online but forgets to rewrite.
Those who watch network or cable news should pay attention to see who carries water for the administration and who notes the reality that was already well established in the mainstream (US) press reports.
AFP reports that despite 'official' US claims, US forces are not in control in Balad and that, according to "Malik Laftah, the head of Balad city council," corpses are lying in the streets.
Let's note some of the reported violence but keep in mind that most outlets don't have the guts to stick with their own reporting in the face of a bold face lie from US 'officials' so who knows how the following will be rewritten?
Reuters, right now at this second because who knows how they'll cave tomorrow, reports that, in Baghdad, a car bomb killed killed two police officers and wounded nine, while a roadside bomb left five people wounded and that two different attacks with mortar rounds left a total of three people dead and and three wounded. CBS and AP report that "two Katyusha rockets" left twenty wounded in Baghdad. Al Jazeera notes a bombing in Karmah that claimed the lives of five Iraqi soldiers.
CBS and AP report that, in Hillah, one man was shot dead and five were wounded when "unidnetified gunmen attacked a facility belongint to the central Euphrates electricity distribution authority". They also note a home invasion in Balad Ruz that claimed the lives of "the mother and four dault sons" and left the father wounded; a drive by shooting in Falluja two police officers were shot dead. AFP reports that four students were shot dead in Basra and, also in Basra, "gynaecologist Dr Youssra Hashem became the latest female professional to be killed amid a rise in violence against women by conservative Muslim factions". Al Jazeera reports the shooting death of "a member of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan" in Mosul."
CBS and AP report that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("blindfolded and bound").
Now who knows what will be asserted tomorrow because some lose spines when officials' gums start flapping. Staying on those who buckle, last week,
Richard Dannatt caused a stir with criticism of the Iraq war and the suggestion that it was time to pull troops. As Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) notes, "the new chief of the Britsh army" stated troops should leave because just being there "exacerbates the security problem." He buckled quicker than a media boardroom. Despite the fact that British soldiers strongly agreed with his statements.
Lachlan Carmichael (AFP) reports that Tony Blair "has vowed to keep British troops in Iraq until their 'job is done' as her rejected claims that their presence fueled Muslim extremism at home and abroad." The report focuses on Blair and Dannat and apparently missed Colin Brown (Independent of London) reporting that: "John Reid, the Home Secretary, conceded last night for the first time that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have played a part radicalisizing young Muslims."
AFP also reports that Bully Boy went on Bloated Men & Bleached Women (aka Fox "News") to declare his opposition to dividing the nation of Iraq into three autonomous regions. Apparently, while cooing sweet nothings to Nouri al-Maliki on Monday, Bully Boy forgot to raise that issue (last week the parliament took another step in that direction). As Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) notes, predicting "the worst is yet to come," "One sign came last week when the Shia parliamentary majority rejected Sunni opposition and passed a law allowing partion into autonomous federal regions. It is but a small step from there to national disintergration."
A little noted "official" statement by "US army Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Martindale" is
covered by AFP, this is regarding the violence in Balad: "Marindale also, however, confirmed that two Iraqi police officers had been arrested for taking part in the massacre which triggered the orgy of violence." No, we're not returning to Balad -- the whole 'coverage' is too disgusting. But keep that in mind: two police officers were part of triggering "the orgy of violence." AFP reports that Iraq's interior ministry spokesperson (Abdel Karim Khalaf) held a press conference today to announce "that 1,228 [police officers] had been sacked for breaking the law while nearly 2,000 more were dismissed for derelection of duty."
The Interior minister is Jawad Bolani and, for those who've missed it, the militias are thought by some to have free reign via that ministry.
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reported, Saturday, that when reminded that his ministry has been "accused of complicity in sectarian death squad killings," Bolani denied it. Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) noted that not only did Bolani deny the accusations, he "blamed the Facilities Protection Service, or FPS, a massive but unregulated government guard force . . . . Bolani and his predecssor as interior minister, Bayan Jabr, both have minimized the possibility of any police involvement in the nightly killings."
Whether the purge,
which also includes moving three police commanders to administrative jobs, is just an attempt to stop the questions from continuing to being asked or whether it's genuine, who knows? But it's worth remembering Rick Jervis (USA Today) reported Monday on how al-Maliki refused to addres disarming militas "until later this year or early next year".
While many supposedly brave press outlets fudge the numbers to please the US administration,
Cindy Sheehan (at BuzzFlash) notes some other numbers: 4, 4, 655,000 and more. The first four is "Republican Congresspeople [who] have had to resign from scandals this past year" (Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, Tom DeLay); the second four is the number of "staff members of the corrupt adminstration [who] have resigned in disgrace this year" (Andrew Card, Scooter Libby, Susan Ralston and Snotty McClellan) while 655,000 is the estimate for the number of Iraqis who have dies since the start of the illegal war as a result of the violence. She also reminds that Gold Star Families for Peace will be holding a sit around the White House November 7th and 8th and "Also, go to Progressive Democrats of America to sign the petition to support Congressman Jim McGovern's bill, HR4232, which cuts funding for the continuing occupation. Ending the funding is what stopped Vietnam. Let's cut Iraq off before it becomes as bad as Vietnam."
Also in peace news,
Courage to Resist notes Ricky Clousing's statement to the judge in last Thursday's court-martial and sentencing: "My experiences in Iraq forced me tto reevaluate my beliefs and ethics. Ultimately, I felt like I could not serve." Clousing is a war resister and he will serve three months, be reduced in rank and then dishonorably discharged. Clousing took a brave stand and Courage to Resist notes:

Ricky is currently being held in a military brig at Camp LeJune in North Carolina and it is urgent that he receive your words of encouragement and support!
Please write to Ricky today!

More information on war resisters who have gone public can be found at
Courage to Resist.

Monday, October 16, 2006


The illustration to the left is from "Editorial: What does it say?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review and Dona, Ty, Jess and Jim did it). C.I. had mentioned it when I phoned last night (I help with the editions, but over the phone and I hadn't seen it when I called last night). When I saw it, I thought, "That really is pretty nice." I also realized how I should put some visuals up here from time to time. I'm sure I'll forget to do so but, this week, I'm going to try to include some each post. I'll be using Isaiah's comics for the rest of the week (which I really enjoy). I'm going to keep them small (click on them to make them larger) because my site already loads slow. (I believe it loads slower than any other site in the community.)

I'll talk about the illustrations at The Third Estate Sunday Review for a little bit. Photos end up going in the round-robin. That wasn't the plan originally but that's how it's worked out. But their readers really prefer the illustrations to photos so it's worked out well. Rebecca photo shops the illustrations (she says she didn't do anything with this one) and it's all part of the do-it-yourself feel. When Darrell Anderson was due to return, we wanted something for that and the decision was made to make our own. (That week, if I'm remembering right, we all worked on them because we were all together -- in DC -- but if we're not together, it's the gang in California doing the illustrations.) Besides being DIY, I think it adds something to the look of their site and also adds something to their articles.

They work in oil paints, charcoal, water colors, temper paints and I have no idea what else. They're not trying for "art," just the DIY spirit and, I know from when I worked with them on illustrations in DC, it's very relaxing and one of the few relaxing points. Someone starts something and it gets passed on down with everyone adding a detail. It's a group process and, during that, it's a chance to talk about something other than the text. So it's probably the most relaxed period of the week. Ava and C.I. didn't work on illustrations this week.

There were the usual problems and Jim asked them to expand on something they were planning to write about into a second piece so they ended up writing both "TV Review: Try to ignore the Shark in the room" and "About the TV reviews." Adding to the problems were that a number of us weren't able to participate Saturday night and the gang in California was exhausted.

By the way, I mentioned a feature last week. It's up and entitled "War Hawks Anonymous (Parody)." This is the one that I suggested to Jim he get Ava and C.I. away from everyone, encourage them to riff, and take notes. From their jokes, we created this piece.

That's going to be it for me tonight. I've got some work I brought home and I wanted to knock that out. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and he's trying to get the word out on Informed Dissent (which is in the snapshot below). Also Betty's latest chapter is "The Queen Bee Gets Stung" and Trina's latest recipes are "Halloween in the Kitchen."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, October 16, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Lynndie England speaks, Iraq's health care system continues to 'collapse,' Iraqi school children offer their opinions, Bully Boy makes another pledge that others will have to back up and, related note, two more US troops die in Iraq as
CNN reports that the death count for 'coalition' forces has reached 3,000.
Starting with some of the reported violence in the continued chaos that is the illegal war.
Ibon Villelabetia (Reuters) reports that tweny people died in Baghdad as a result of two car bombings. CBS and AP note two more bombs, in Baghdad, that took the life of one police officer. Reuters reports three roadside bombs left three dead in Baghdad, while two security guards were wounded elsewhere (in Basra by "rocket-propelled grenades" and in Najaf by a roadside bomb). AFP reports a car bomb in Suweira left 15 dead and 35 wounded.
AFP reports that four people were shot dead in Khalis "near a bus terminal". Al Jazeera reports that Emad al-Farron ("brother of Munqith al-Faroon, the chief prosecutor in the genocide trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein") was shot dead in Baghdad. CNN reports that three poeple were shot dead in Muqdadiya. Reuters reports that a police officer was shot dead in Madaen and "two bodyguards of former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari" were shot dead in Khalis.
Reuters reports that two corpses were discovered in Mosul. Al Jazeera notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. CNN reports that 26 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.
CNN noted, the death toll for those serving in the 'coalition' has now hit the 3,000 mark and that includes: "119 British, 32 Italians, 18 Ukrainians, 17 Poles, 13 Bulgarians, and 11 Spaniards, as well as service members from Australia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Holland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lativa, Romania, Salvador, Slovakia, and Thailand." US? Busy day for the US military as they issued three statements on deaths (all were announced today): two soldiers died Sunday in Salah Ad Din Province, two others also died Sunday in Kirkuk, and one died in Baghdad Sunday night. The toll for the month of October (US military fatalities) now stands at 58 with 2771 being the total since the start of the illegal war.
As the
Anchorage Daily News notes five soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team have died "since the unit's deployment was extended in August". AP reports that the fifth to die was Nicholas Sowinksi, a twenty-five year old from Tempe arizona who died Wednesday. As the AP notes: "Member of the Fort Wainwright-based brigade were told just days before they were preparing to return to Alaska that their one-year tour in Iraq would be extended. Some soldiers had already returned to Alaska and were sent back to Iraq." They died, to be clear, after they were backdoor drafted by completing their tour only to learn, at the last minute, that their tour was being extended. Also on the topic of Alaska, Charlie LeDuff (New York Times) reports on the burial of Billy Brown of North Slope, Alaska. Brown died during "training maneuvers at Camp Shelby in Missippi" so will not be included in the count of those who have died in Iraq -- he was fifty-four-years-old.
Despite all the above, Bully Boy apparently woke up this morning feeling groovy and wanted to share that "No April rain, No flowers bloom, No wedding Saturday within the month of June, But what it is, Is something true, Made up of these three words that I must say to you, I just called to say I love you . . ." And who better to share that with than the puppet of the occupation?
Daniela Deane (Washington Post) reports that Bully Boy called Nouri al-Maliki who'd heard rumors that he might be ditched in two months ("I put out for you!") and that Bully Boy explained he had no intention of leaving (while he leered at Iran and gave North Korea the once over). Deane reports the news came from Miss Rona -- Tony Snow who gushed over the call at today's press briefing.
Snow Job plays yenta while
Rick Jervis (USA Today) reports that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki "will not force militias to disarm until later this year" and that he explained the importance of patience from "his expansive, marble-and-gold-trimmed residence, a former palace of deposed leader Saddam Hussein located inside the tightly guarded Green Zone."
Outside the safety of the Green Zone,
Charles J. Hanley (AP) reports, the reality is that "reconstruction funds are drying up and they're [contractors] are pulling out" despite the fact that "[f]ewer than half the electricity and oil projects planned have been completed".
On the same issue,
David Wilson (CounterPunch) reports that that a little under a third of all Iraqis "live on less than $1 per day," that "[m]ore than 500,000 residents of Baghdad can only get water for a few hours a day due to leaking pipes and the inability of the city's water purifying plant to meet demand," "Iraq's power generation and supply grid is in a state of collapse," that a quarter of all Iraqi doctors have left the country since 2003, and that doctors practice at the risk of death squads, US snipers and more. [On the topic of fleeing, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that the continued fighting in Balad, which has claimed at least 91 lives since Friday, has led "Sunni Muslims" to flee "across the Tigris River today."]
Reconstruction isn't the only thing being cancelled.
Michael Howard (Guardian of London) reports that the Iraqi reconciliation converence that was to have been held this coming Saturday has been cancelled and that "emergency reasons" are cited. If that seems strangely familiar, drop back to June 14th when the Arab League conference was yet again postponed because of 'instability.' The so-called 'crackdown' in Baghdad was about to start back then. It's been ongoing ever since with no real results.
Though the reconcialition conference is once again shoved back,
Stephen Negus (Financial Times of London) reports that a group calling itself the Mutayibeen Coalition is calling "for the creation of a separate Sunni Islamic state in the country."
As the illegal war continues,
Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail (IPS) report on the mood in Iraq among school children in Khaldiya. One tells them, "Americans are bad. They killed my family" and another states, "God will send all Americans to hellfire."
Mike noted Pacifica's new program Informed Dissent which is a thirty minute, weekly program covering the national election. The September 23rd broadcast focused on the Iraq war and featured many discussions and reports. On the war, Jodie Evans (CODEPINK) declared, "This issue is effecting every other" and listed concrete examples of what isn't being funded as the illegal war is. Evans also noted that, "It's baffling to look at the Democratic Party and see how spineless and lacking in leadership they are." Informed Dissent airs once a week, a half-hour show, looking at the 2006 US elections, hosted by Mitch Jeserich and featuring contributions from many Pacifica broadcasters.
On the topic of elections,
Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) explains why No-Momentum may overtake Ned Lamont and urges Lamont to free himself of his handlers and find his own voice.
Tara McKelvey reports on Lynndie England who (a) has learned, via her lawyer, to say "I heard . . ." when speaking of incidents to avoid further charges, (b) is an animal lover who enjoyed, in Iraq, the corpses of goats and cats being used for 'fun,' (c) has not placed Charles Graner on the birth certificate or asked for a blood test because she does not want him to have any legal rights to her two-year-old son Carter. Janis Karpinsky offers that England chose to go along with Graner in abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib (as directed from above) because: "In situations like Iraq, the first thing some young female soldiers look for is a protector -- a senior male, let's say, who's sitting in a vehicle with her. She says, 'I'm really afraid.' And he says, 'Don't worry.' A closeness develops. It's intentional on his part. And naive on hers. Graner is a big, hunky guy. He can probably put his arms around England and still touch his shoulders. Does she feel safe with him? Yes. And all she has to do is be sexually wild with him." McKelvey reports that for . . . Marie Claire. Let's repeat that, McKelvey reported it for Marie Claire. Translation, where is independent media? Good for Marie Claire, but where is independent media?
In peace news,
Ehren Watada is the first US military officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. His father, Bob Watada, is completing his second speaking tour to raise awareness on his son:
Mon. 10/16 4:30-5:30 pm National Lawyers Guild of San DiegoRoom 300, Thomas Jefferson Law School, 2120 San Diego Ave, San Diego

Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reports Bob Watada explaining that his son "heard the father of an injured soldier lament on a radio show: 'Why can't anyone stand up and stop all of this?'" and decided he had to stand up.
More information on Ehren Watada can be found at and more information on him and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.