Friday, November 24, 2006

Mr. Whine On, Abeer, Iraq, the draft, etc.

I'm going to start by noting that I did blog before C.I. posted the entry this morning, I blogged by many hours before. I called C.I. to find out exactly who Whine On was (though I had my suspicions) and wasn't surprised to learn the name. I have a practice, I have a life, what I do online (true of everyone with a site in this community), is done for free. If some little Whine On who is paid for a living to write wants to call me out, that probably wouldn't be too difficult. But if he wants to call out C.I., he's kidding himself. Forget the columns C.I. does for Polly's Brew and the gina & krista round-robin, forgetting everything but The Common Ills, few are going to be able to hold a candle to C.I. because few have even attempted to note war resisters within the military.

If you missed C.I.'s entry, it's "NYT: Attempting to calm things in print." As someone who is usually at C.I.'s on Thanksgiving, my guess is there were probably a little under 100 people over for Thanksgiving. In addition to dinner guests, for the holidays, C.I. usually has house guests. I'm not talking about Jess, Ava, Dona, Jim and Ty who now live there. Christmas will mean even more guests. The day Whine On can entertain ten, let alone the number of people C.I. does, then he can complain. But, most importantly, C.I. continued to post. There were three entries yesterday and today and two on each day were done by C.I. I checked to see what Whine On's output was during this period and wasn't surprised to learn that it was zero.

Apparently, Whine On's 'contribution' has been to write nasty e-mails?

While Whine On wastes everyone's time, others have something worth saying.

Unless I'm mistaken, none of our 'brave' voices in 'independent media' have bothered to weigh in on Abeer, not even in light of the court confession last week. "Justice for Abeer and her family?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) dealt with something serious and something worthy of commenting on. (The illustration is from that article.)

As usual 'brave' voices were nowhere to be found. Imagine what Vietnam would have been like if when war crimes were confessed to, they hadn't been reported? That's the world we live in today. Whine On should look to what value he thinks he brings to the table? I think most people will pass over his offerings. No one should ignore the latest Ruth's Report, a must read. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Stop the War Now! Build a Fire on Main Street" (Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch):
A little more than thirty-seven years (November 14-15, 1969), the streets of Washington , DC and San Francisco, CA were filled with a million protesters against the US war in Vietnam. These protests, known as the National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, had been preceded by a national Moratorium Against the War on October 15 the same year. The politics of the protesters ran from pacifists to liberals to hardcore anti-imperialist radicals bent on revolution. According to permanent war architect and advisor Henry Kissinger, the sight of so many protesters in the streets of DC caused the Nixon White House to reconsider its pending decision to nuke Hanoi, Vietnam. Furthermore, the pitched battles between police and some ten to twenty thousand protesters intent on storming the South Vietnamese Embassy on November 14th, 1969 and the Justice Department building the following day led Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell to compare the scene to Russia's October revolution. While Mr. Mitchell was obviously exaggerating the situation, the comment itself is an indication of the level of paranoia then present among the rulers in Washington.
Another indication of the rulers' fears was also taking place in Chicago that fall. this was the conspiracy trial of the Chicago 8. Without going into too much history, let it suffice to say that this trial was an attempt by the State to destroy the antiwar and Black liberation movements in the United States. While this trial did not reach its intended goal in the courtroom--indeed, the men were not convicted of the conspiracy charges although they did get convicted for a number of other political crimes--the repression that the trial was a part of did temporarily diminish the numbers involved in those movements.
I mention this historical moment not because I believe that the US antiwar movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are operating from a similar position of strength-- indeed, today's movement is far from that. Sure, we've elected Democrats in an election that most everyone from Nancy Pelosi to General Abizaid believes was a statement against those wars, and we could even convince ourselves that it was pressure begun by certain elements among the antiwar voices that caused the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. But, that's about it. Once again, if we look back to Fall 1969, we discover that Richard Nixon dismissed General Hershey, the head of the Selective Service in September 1969 in an attempt to make it appear that he was listening to his critics. Meanwhile, here in 2006, incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Charles Rangel has stated that he will reintroduce his bill that would restart the military draft. (Of course, he says he is doing this to prevent other wars from starting using a circular reasoning that if the rich have to send their kids to war, they won't be as gung-ho about starting them. This rationale has been proven wrong in the past, since it tends to be working class soldiers that end up fighting while the rest end up elsewhere.) The war continues, much as the Vietnam war did after the aforementioned protests. In fact, George Bush recently commented during his visit to Vietnam that the basic mistake made by the United States during its murderous campaign in Vietnam was that it quit before victory was achieved.

I think Charlie Rangel is off his rocker. He talks of how there will be ways to avoid anyone getting out of the draft. Yeah, well there are supposed to be no loopholes in the tax code either, but many wealthy people are able to find them each year. That's the reality and it always will be. Laws effect people differently, are enforced differently, based upon how much you have in the bank. That's reality. As someone who grew up not having to worry about money, I am quite aware that I had breaks others did not.

If Rangel's draft was voted into law, you can be sure that should the son or daughter of X faces military deployment, money would grease hands to allow the child to 'serve' in another way. Money might not have to grease palms, there's also the notion of taking care of their own -- that is what kept Bully Boy out of Vietnam.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, over 200 die in Baghdad on Thursday, war resister John A. Rogowskyj Jr. finds that the US military feels no obligation to follow even their own written policy, Bully Boy's meet up in Jordan comes under attack, and is Nouri al-Maliki on the way out?
Starting with resistance within the US military. Conscientious objector John A. Rogowskyj Jr. was deployed to Iraq at the start of this month. The twenty-two-year-old Marine was deployed, as the
Associated Press notes, after a Marine captain recommended he be discharged, after a major said he couldn't serve in compbat duty in June, because a D.V. Odell Jr. ("commander of the Fourth Marine Division") doesn't seem to grasp what a c.o. is the policy that the US military has on them. The AP notes that Odell, a major general, found Rogowskyj to be "theologically confused and [he] does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."
Take that, America's forefathers. The slow witted Odell Junior might also make some time to check out "
Selective Service System: Fast Facts" which notes: "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest." By the military's own guidelines, Odell Junior's statements are not only insulting but ignorant. "May be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Rogowskyj was deployed as a result of Odell Junior's failure to grasp the policies the military has set in place. There ought to be disciplinary actions for Odell (busted back down to a New Orleans post?). More likely, everyone will play stupid (well the tone is set from the Oval Office).
Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports that Rogowskyj declares in the court papers: "I see now that I must separate from the military with all due haste, or suffer without the forgiveness of grace, for defying the truth that I see plainly before me, that violence as a means or end cannot be tolerated."
To repeat for the slow witted Odell Junior, who not only fails to grasp the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution but also fails to grasp official military policy, Rogowkyj need not belong to any church or faith, need not subscribe to Odell Junior's notions of 'old time religion,' in order to be granted c.o. status.
Rogowskyj signed up for the reserves in 2002 thinking he would be helping stateside during national emergencies.
In Iraq, yesterday the violence prompted ABC to break in to their daytime lineup with a breaking news announcement by Elizabeth Vargas on what is being called the most deadly attack in Iraq since the illegal war began. For which ABC got the usual number of complaints, though nothing like the concerned and outraged comments they received in 2003 when they broke in to announce that Bully Boy was carrying a fake turkey around a base in Iraq.
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that 144 people were killed. That number is incorrect today and was wrong yesterday as well when AFP reported that 152 were already dead. Today, All Headline News reports that the death toll is now 202, that at least 250 more are injured with doctors not expecting all to live and that "Officials said that the death toll could rise, as body parts and bodies are dispersed throughout the city and could not be counted." The BBC reports that "at least three" car bombs were used in the cooridnated attacks on Thursday followed by mortar rounds and quotes photo journalist Kareem al-Rubaie on witnessing the violence, "I saw a car from a wedding party, covered in ribbons and flowers. It was burning. There were pools of blood on the street and children dead on the ground." Reuters places the number of bombs at six. CNN reported Thursday: "Thursday's attacks, launched within the course of half an hour, were part of a spasm of violence that shook two Baghdad bastions of support for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- the Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital's northeast and the Health Ministry compound, controlled by the cleric's political movement."
BBC reports that Baghdad is now under curfew and the Baghdad Airport has been closed. Reuters states that all vehicle traffic is banned in Baghdad for Saturday as well. AFP adds that the airport in Basra has been closed as well as well as "its southern seaports."
The 202 dead and counting from Thursday's attack surpasses the previous reported most violent day in Iraq. The
BBC notes September 14, 2005 as a day when there were 182 reported deaths in Baghdad.
As if the violence on Thursday wasn't bad enough, rumors floated that Dick Cheney was in Iraq on Thursday.
CBS and AP report that the White House denies those rumors. Current rumor is that Cheney was supposed to be in Baghdad and the press would be alerted after landing; however, the violence on Thursday resulted in the trip being cancelled.
Press reports continue to caution that Iraq might be on the brink of civil war which leaves one wondering how they might have reported Sherman's March to the Sea?The violence and chaos continued today.
CBS and AP report that a mortar attack was launched at the Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad leaving four guards injured. This is seen as a retaliation for Thursday's attack as are the multiple attacks, noted by Al Jazeera, in the Hurriay district of Baghdad that targeted "four Sunni Mosques with rocket-propelled grenades" and claimed the lives of at least thirty. Reuters reports one dead and two wounded from mortar attacks in Diwaniya and the bombing of "an office of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's . . . in . . . Baquba". CNN reports that a man set off a bomb "strapped to his body" and one in his car in a parking lot in Tal Afar and killed at least 22 people while wounding 30 more.
Reuters reports that at least two funeral goers are wounded in Baghdad after a US helicopter fired on a funeral.
Reuters reports that thirty corpses were discovered in Baghdad while three were discovered in Mosul. Reporting on Wednesday's UN report, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) noted that, in the September and October period studied by the UN, "Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers."They do so even when the capitol is under 'curfew' (and the never ending 'crackdown').
In addition,
AP reports: "Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of 215 people in the Sadr City slum."
BBC reports the death of a British solider in Basra and notes that 126 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The British military announces: "The soldier sustained gunshot wounds during the operation and was evacuated to a nearby military hospital. Despite the best possible medical care, the soldier later died from his injuries. The soldier was a member of the Parachute Regiment, on secondment to Headquarters Multinational Division South East, Iraq."
Thursday's attacks and today's is having ripple effects in Iraq that go beyond bombs and bullets.
Charles Wolfson (CBS) reported on next week's planned meet up in Jordan between Bully Boy and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. The meet up was quickly announced following the announcement of al-Maliki going to Tehran for a Saturday meeting with the presidents of Iran and Syria. The meet up with the Bully Boy is now in question.
CNN reports that, today, "Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc threatened to withdraw support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should he meet President Bush as planned next week" and quotes spokesperson Salih al-Aleiki stating: "We announce that if the security situation and the basic services do not improve, and if the prime minister goes ahead and meets with the criminal Bush in Amman, then we will suspend our memberships with the Iraqi parliament and the government." As Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes, it's not an idle threat: "The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite political parties, won 128 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament in December's elections." Should the al-Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member one. That's on the condition that all 98 remain behind al-Maliki -- should he find new support his bloc could increase. The second largest bloc, with 53 members, is the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan which successfully backed (with US support) Jalal Talabani for president of Iraq.
The above follows on the heels of
Tom Hayden's report (for Common Dreams) that the US is putting out feelers for new governing officials in Iraq which could include the disposing of al-Maliki.


To the left is Isaiah's "The World Today Just Nuts 'A Bully Thanksgiving'" which went up today. My Thanksgiving was better than the one depicted by Isaiah.

However, it was long. When Mike and I started dating, the only worry I had was Trina. I get along with Trina and think she's great but there's a world of difference between being a friend to her and family and dating her son. Fortunately, she wasn't bothered by the relationship or by the age difference between Mike and myself.

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving with them. Mike and I weren't in a relationship then. That should have registered but it honestly didn't until today.

That's not to say it was a bad Thanksgiving. It wasn't. Everyone was nice but there is a world of difference between attending as a friend and attending as the woman seeing Mike.

There was a whole new level of curiousity. It was like being under a microscope. At one point, I excused myself and placed an emergency call to C.I. who gave me a much needed pep talk. When I went back inside, Trina had sensed what was going on and had some sort of talk. The rest of the day went much smoother.

I want to stress that no one was ugly, mean or rude. It was more of an intense curiousity. I felt like every word I uttered was being carefully weighed.

Since I haven't dated anyone Mike's age since I was, in fact, Mike's age, I'd forgotten that feeling. The scrutiny stems from the fact that they love him and are very protective of him. When I was just a friend, it was different. For the first half of Thursday, I felt like I was auditioning repeatedly.

I'm sure similar scenes played across the nation. For that reason, I thought I'd write about it this morning. I intended to write Thursday (it's early Friday) but there was no time. I'd love to talk about what happened in the world today but I have no idea. While under the microscope, I was aware of very little other than the fact that I was being intensely studied. After that period ended, I was pretty much exhausted.

But, if this happened to you, as my very wise friend pointed out, it only happens once.

Those are my thoughts for the night/morning.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Music, Iraq

I had intended to write about Maria, Francisco and Miguel's new newsletter but Maria called and they're adding one element which they're working on so I'll wait and write about it soon.
The illustration is of Stevie Nicks and it goes with
"Music retrospective: Stevie Nicks" (The Third Estate Sunday Review).

I am a big fan of Stevie Nicks. I know I've discussed that before. Working on this was both a chore and a delight. A chore because it took forever, we had so much to say. A delight because we had so much discussing her work.

Poor Dona got stuck with editing the typed draft down to something workable which I know wasn't easy. Ava and C.I. took notes, they usually get stuck with that task. Ty had to write it up and we didn't make our points in order so that was hard as well.

We spent three hours on the writing of the piece and by writing, I'm talking about discussing her work. There was some initial editing done by Ava, C.I. and Ty. But the thing was huge. (And ran as is in the print edition. I believe Gina and Krista are going to run the whole thing in the gina & krista round-robin.) Dona really had her work cut out for her editing this down.

Sunny read it again today to check the new part and wondered if that got edited out originally? It didn't. There was no conclusion -- only panic that it had gone on so long and wasn't even typed up. Dona was literally yelling that three hours was enough. I don't think that any of us, at that moment were really thinking about anything but, "Look at the hour!" It was the last thing we all worked on (the gang -- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. -- did the editorial themselves; the short pieces were written by the gang minus Dona who was working on editing the thing into something workable). We spent a great deal of time on Abeer as well. But that was working the feature article through several drafts.

I read it today, after Sunny mentioned it, to see what the conclusion was like? I think it's very strong and just what was needed.

Monday, Sunny had one question because she'd read it and gone to Wikipedia. I know the gang calls it "crapapedia" but I didn't get why until Sunny asked me if "Two Kinds of Love" was really a single? Wikipedia doesn't list it. Yes, it was and it made the Billboard Top 100 Singles (that may not be the name of the chart, C.I. would know). I brought in my cassette copy of it to work today. I remember buying it and it was something like 83 on the chart at the time. Cassettes, hard to believe, used to have the kind of excitement around them that CDs had a few years back (that MP3s do today). As the seventies closed and the eighties began, the recording industry was in a sales slump. What changed it? A number of things including technology.

One of the biggest techonology advances was the Walkman by Sony. There were other companies doing similar things. But the Walkman was a big thing once upon a time. You couldn't play a vinyl record album on a Walkman.

8-Tracks had made music more portable. (Actually, once upon a time, in the early life of rock, when it was all about the singles, they were on 45 discs and those could and were toted around, sometimes with a little portable player -- though I don't remember any running on batteries.)
8-Tracks? A rectangle. That's the easiest way to describe it someone who doesn't know them. They had tape inside and they did make music portable. You could listen to an album in your car, on the beach, in the park. I had the worst experience with 8-tracks. Every other week, it seemed like one was getting eaten up. I remember a Jackson 5 album that a friend loved and she brought it over on 8-Track to share. My machine ate it up.

8-Tracks and vinyl albums seemed to co-exist with most buying the vinyl because you got the album sleeve, anything inside, etc. The album cover was a label stuck to the top of an 8-Track and, usually within a few months, little bubbles developed underneath it so the "cover" was a lousy picture by then.

The Walkman provided a new way to listen. And the sales of it and casette tape players in cars, really helped the industry. Whenever Ashford & Simpson did "Count Your Blessings," the album that song was on, that's when it was obvious that cassettes and vinyl would not peacefully exist. I remember that because C.I. is a huge fan of Ashford & Simpson. I was in a record store when that album had come out (maybe just come out) and I noticed that the vinyl section was greatly reduced. The cassettes were greatly increased. Ashford & Simpson was on sale (because it was new) and part of the display with other new releases. For the new releases, they had cassettes going up and down the wall and only a few vinyl albums.

I was already buying cassettes at that point but I remembr looking at the album cover (vinyl) used in the display for all the new releases and just realizing, "Oh, they're dropping vinyl."

Cassettes reigned for the 80s. They were still popular in some of the early 90s. I had to be prodded to switch over by C.I. (who gave my a CD player as a gift and a 'starter set' of CDs). Kat kind of wrote about this period in an entry where she talked about the excitement the switch meant. In the vinyl days, you bought the album and could rush home to listen. As cassettes took over, you really were able to listen as soon as you got out of the store. (I always had to use my keys to remove the plastic. I'm not obsessive about my finger nails the way Rebecca is, but I did break a finger nail or too early on and learned to use my keys.)

With 8-Tracks, I wasliving with a guy who loved to listen to them but hated to buy them. He had a deck that you plugged into the stereo and you could tape a vinyl album on 8-Track with. So we were buying vinyl and we'd make our own portable ones from that.

The benefit of cassettes was that they were in a case. Unlike vinyl (or CD today), there was no handling the area the music was on. I remember thinking, "Nobody needs needles!" The needle on my record player was always going out. (I listened to music even more then than I do today, if you can believe that.) I stocked up like crazy on cassette, getting all the albums I had on vinyl on cassette.

The format had it's problems. Tape dropout is a term I'll never forget. (You'd be listen to the music and it would either get softer or just go out because that section of the tape had gone bad.)
I also remember my Steve Miller Band cassette that began to squeak as the wheels in the cassette turned. You could sometimes blast the music loud enough to block that out but, more often than not, you couldn't. So you bought a new one.

The thing I enjoyed most about cassettes was the fact that "albums" returned. I grew up on albums and near the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s, there weren't a lot of albums. There were a lot of things that had three good songs on it and then filler.

I never liked Hall & Oates, to use an example. But I had a friend who did. She would buy every album and, I think it was Private Eyes that she played for me once, there was so much filler.

We'd all learned to move the needle by then. When playing albums, we'd all learned how to move the needle with minimal injury to the vinyl disc.

Cassette tapes had two sides. On most players, when one side ended, you'd take it out and flip it over or put in a new tape. So unless you wanted to play with rewind and fast forward, you were really listening to the entire thing (or an entire side, at least).

With CDs, we have the option of programming (the same was with MP3s) and you're basically sampling an album more than listening to it in some cases.

The Beatles are not available on MP3s -- yet. I can't believe that they will be, but supposedly that's happening shortly. That really saddens me. Starting with Rubber Soul, you've got albums and I doubt most people will ever experience them who are into MP3s. (I may be wrong.)

I noticed that you can buy hits now, 'classics.' I can remember when you bought the album or the best of album. I know I discovered many wonderful songs that way. Now, will it all be reduced to the artist's biggest hit? No offense to the Eagles, but the songs I like by them, they aren't usually the biggest hits. "Hotel California," it's nice, I can listen to it. But there are so many other songs . . .

But technology changes and people change with it (or get left behind).

On Stevie Nicks. I bought Bella Donna on vinyl the first time. Wild Heart was one of my first cassettes. I then got Bella Donna (and all the Mac) on cassette. I would stay with that through her greatest hits. Street Angel was the first album of her's I bought on CD. What I noticed with CDs (and I'm not talking about Street Angel which I enjoyed more than everyone else working on the essay did) was that some people didn't have it in them. 18 songs were a bit much for a lot of artists. So maybe MP3s (and whatever immediately follows them) will act as a counterweight to that?

I just know that yet again, I've built up my collection and, yet again, the format's changing. We were told, when CDs were being pushed early on, that they'd "last forever." You didn't have to worry, this was a permanent way to have your music -- forever!

Some will think, "Oh, you've got it forever!" You may have the discs forever. But most stereos today (for the home) do not come with record players. Anyone who had a problem (needles, the belt on the turntable) in the 90s is fully aware that when the format changes, it becomes very hard to maintain the equipment you play them on.

So that was the thought for tonight.

Tomorrow, I will either be blogging very late or I will blog on Thursday morning. Why? I don't want to be driving on Thanksgiving so I'll be heading out right after work. I'm already packed and my suitcase is in the trunk. So that's an FYI. I intend to blog on Friday. It may not be much, it may not be long, but I intend to.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Spoilers of the World Unite! ... Now!" (John V. Walsh, CounterPunch):
Let us start with the biggest lie of all, that the Democrats cannot end the war, are unable to do it, do not have the power to do it. Big, big, big lie. Bush is now asking for another $127 billion to "stay the course." If either the House or the Senate refuses to pass that request, the war cannot be prosecuted. It only requires a simple majority in one chamber ­ House or Senate. That is it. The power is there. In the face of this grammar school fact, it is amazing to hear the pundits prattle on about Bush being in charge, that it takes 60 votes to get things done in the Senate, etc., etc.
Let's take it one step further. Do the Democrats want to "stand up for the troops"? OK, let them hand Bush the McGovern bill or its like which provides funds only for the safe and speedy withdrawal of troops. That requires a simple majority in two Houses of Congress. Let Bush veto that. But do not expect the Democrats to take such a course. The election was rigged by Rahm Emanuel in favor of pro-war Democrats, and the beating which John Murtha took at the hands of Hoyer, Emanuel and others is evidence that the war party is firmly in control of Dem foreign policy and will do nothing to end the war. In fact Emanuel wants to raise at least 100,000 more troops.
An end to the war is what 60 per cent of the voters wanted in the election of 2006, and the desire for it grows by the day. What are we to do, then? Simple. We can work now on mounting a third party challenge to the Democrats in 2008. The platform of such a challenge would be simple. We are against war and the police state; these are the over-arching issues of the moment and we shall not compromise on them for any reason. The current test of these principles is Iraq. If all troops are out of Iraq by November, 2008, then our issue is gone and we cannot expect to win. If the U.S. remains in Iraq, then we may or may not win ­ but the Democrats will have to confront us; we may defeat them or we may spoil the election for them. But either way, we will be a force to be reckoned with.

I have no problem with Walsh suggestion. I already shared my thoughts that this is make it or break time for Democrats. They either deliver over the next two year or they admit that they have little to offer. Walsh goes through this in his piece (much better than I ever could) and I agree with it 100%. Voters didn't make time to vote just so the "car" could move to a different lane. They voted to turn the car around. If Democrats don't want to drive, I have no use for them. Among other things, that means troops home.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, November 21, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Syria, Iraq and,yes, Iran prepare for a weekend summit; US war resister
Agustin Aguayo's case lands in court; a new poll finds Shia and Sunnis in Iraq agreeing: US troops out of their country; and Kofi Annan sings a little Jimmy Cliff.
Starting with Agustin Aguayo. On September 2nd, Aguayo self-checked out of the US military after his repeated attempts to obtain conscientious objector status failed (2004), after his attempts to address the matter in the US federal courts failed (August 24, 2006) and while he was about to be sent back to Iraq. While serving in Iraq, as a medic, previously, Aguayo was confronted with the realities and
decided that, due to moral and religious reasons, he could not serve in the illegal war. Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, explained to Mimi Mohammed (Los Angelest Times): "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 conscientisouly. He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister." On September 26th, less than thirty days after self-checking out, Aguayo turned himself at Fort Irwin. Though Fort Irwin is in California, Aguayo's wife and two daughters were not allowed to see him and the military quickly sent him back overseas to Germany.
On yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News, Aaron Glantz reported on Aguayo's case which landed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. -- the first "for a federal court since 1971." Glantz spoke with Vietnam war resister and author David Cortright (Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today) and Cortright noted the similarities between then and now: the "transferring . . . to other bases" and the fact that such transfers put them in contact with "other soldiers who were opposed".
Kevin Dougherty (Stars and Stripes) reported that the court schedule for today would "considst of just oral arguments. Each side has been alotted 15 minutes to articulate their case." Today, Glantz reports (at OneWorld) on the above and notes Aguayo's beliefs: "By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for 'sick-call' as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physcially better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do."
Matt Apuzzo (AP) reports: "Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of the three judges on the case, said he'd been reading up on the Vietnam appeals and asked how the case differs from those filed decades ago by people who realized their opposition to war only after receiving a draft card. Attorney Peter Goldberger said the Aguayo's beliefs evolved over time and 'crystalized' to the point that he could no longer take a life." Joel Seidman (NBC News) notes that "Aguayo has unsuccessfully fought the Pentagon for more than two years to be declared a conscientious objector and win a discharge."
In his court statement, Agustin notes: "And even if I truly had non-combatant status, I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the number one reason for refusing to deploy. But that is not correct. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation . . . When you know better you do better. Therefore, this time I will not deploy. My conscientious objection applies to all forms and aspects of war. . . I have come to believe and understand that the purpose of our existence on earth is to value, cherish and conserve the miracle that is human life. To do so one must show each and every day through actions that nothing is of greater importance than the conservation of life. . . . I have made my choice for peace, for humanity, and for a better tomorrow. Even though I understand that one of the consequences of refusing to deploy may possibly be a trial by court-martial and even my imprisonment, I cannot and will not deploy."
CNN reports: "A decoy vehicle used in a convoy of the Iraqi parlaiment speaker exploded Tuesday inside the heavily fortified Green Zone while parliament was in session, a parliament information officer said. The vehicle, part of Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's convoy, was damaged when explosives placed under the rear right side of it exploded in a parking lot, the officer said. One of the drivers was slightly wounded."
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left nine wounded and a car bomb in Baghdad that took one life and left six wounded.
A US raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad resulted in deaths.
Xinhua notes this was the third day in a row that US and Iraqi forces had "raided the Shiite slum". An early AP report by Thomas Wagner cited Mohammed Ismail ("Police Capt.") who "said a young boy and two other people were killed in the early morning raid and 15 people were wounded. Several houses were damaged." The US military has claimed that they are after a "cell [which] has more than 30 members" which apparently includes the young boy? CNN notes that "a mother and her 8-month-old child" were also killed and puts the wounded at 18.
Bassem Mroue (AP) reports that Shi'ite legislator Saleh al-Ukailli held "the body of the dead child* outside the hospital morgue and angrily condemned Iraq's government for allowing such attacks" while vowing not to "return to parliament until the occupation troops leave the country." [*When this was Thomas Wagner's article, it made sense. If you use the link, a whole chunk of it is gone. Including the paragraph that was before, the one on Mohammed Ismail.]
Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Hawija, the shooting death of of another police officer in Mosul, and the shooting death of "Ali al-Shimari, the mayor of the town of Hibhib, near Baquba".
CBS and AP report that 24 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and Dujail.
Reuters reports that the International Organisation for Migration has found (no surprise) that the at risk groups in Iraq of being left homeless and hungry are : "[s]ingle women, children and the old and sick" with "children . . . especially vulnerable to malnutrition and spread of disease." The United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that "at least 1.6 million Iraqis" are now displaced within Iraq.
This comes as the
United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports: "Heavy rains, thunderstorms and enormous mudlsides in Iraq's northern Kurdish region have submerged vast areas and made nearly 3,000 families homeless, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said on Tuesday."
For all the above and so much more, it should come as little surprise that the Iraqi people still want US forces out of their country.
Editor & Publisher notes the latest polling which "found that 74% of Shiites and 91$ of Sunnis in Iraq want us to leave within a year. The number of Shiites making this call in Baghdad where the U.S. may send more troops to bring order, is even higher (80%). In contrast, earlier this year, 57% of this same group backed an 'open-ended' U.S. stay." Of course, "earlier this year," was prior to the 'crackdown' that only increased the chaos and violence in Baghdad. From World Public Opinion's poll summary: "An analysis of two nationwide polls taken by World Public in Iraq over the past year reveals both a heightened sense of insecurity in Baghdad, which is suffering from a wave of shootings, kidnappings and bombings, and an increasing desire to place some time limit on the presence of foreign troops. Unlike Shias elsewhere, those living in the capital do not favor disarming the militias. Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only 'as the security situation improves,' a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence."
Meanwhile, a summit is expected for this weekend. As
CNN notes, "Syria cut diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1982." They have restored ties and an summit is scheduled this weekend, in Tehran, for leadership from Iraq, Syria and Iran. CBS and AP note Hoshyar Zebari (Foreign Minister of Iraq) declared, "Iraq's flag will fly in the sky of Damascus and Syria's flag will fly in the sky of Baghdad." Jonathan Steele (Guardian of London) reports that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will meet with Bashar al-Assad (president of Syria) and Jalal Talabani (president of Iraq).
At the start of the month, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, demonstrated that there was no freedom of the press (one of the points in the four-point 'plan' that the media avoided covering) by shutting down two television stations. As Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) reported, the crimes of Salahiddin and Zarwra was "showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations." And how's that working out for the puppet? Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the latter is back on air, in spite of al-Maliki: "Al-Zawraa's ability to broadcast round the clock in defiance of the government is yet another example of the increasing technological prowess of insurgents and their supporters." Now beamed in from Egypt, Mishaan al-Jubouri tells Allam, "When we were broadcasting in public from inside Iraq, we had to respect Iraqi law. But when the Iraqi government broke the law and closed the channel for no legitimate reason, they turned us into a channel that broadcasts in secrecy."
So the puppet can't improve things. Can anyone?

Seems like I've
been sleeping in
your bed too
Seems like you've
been meaning to
do me harm
But I'll teach my
eyes to see
Beyond these
walls in front of
Someday I'll walk
out of here again
Someday I'll walk
out of here again
Ooh yeah
Ooh Yeah
Ooh Yeah
Ooh Yeah

Who knew Kofi Annan (UN Secretary General) was a Jimmy Cliff fan? He might as well have been singing Jimmy Cliff's song when asked today what he thought of Tony Blair's agreement to the description of "disaster" applied to Iraq?
Kofi Annan: The US in a way is trapped in Iraq, trapped in the sense that it cannot stay and it cannot leave. There are those who maintain that its presence is a problem, and there are those who say that if they leave precipitously, the situation would get worse, and that they should stay on to help calm and stabilize the situation before they leave. I think the US obviously will have to think through this very, very carefully, but the timing of its departure will have to be optimal in the sense that it should not lead to further deterioration of the situation but try and get it into a level that when it leaves, when it withdraws, the Iraqis themselves will be able to continue to maintain a situation that would ensure a reasonable secure environment.
Meanwhile, in legal news from the United States, the
Pendleton Eight is now four-to-four. The eight (one sailor, seven marines) are accused in the April 26th death of Iraqi Hashim Ibrhaim Awad in Hamdania. They are alleged to have kidnapped him from his home (when, supposedly, they couldn't find the person they -- not the military, they -- were after), killing him and then attempting to paint the grandfather as an "insurgent." AP reports that Jerry E. Shumate Jr. "has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges . . . of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice". Mark Walker (North County Times) notes that the other three to plead guilty Tyler Jackson, John Jodka III and Melson Bacos. The remaining four are Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Trent D. Thomas and Marshall L. Magincalda.
Also in the US,
Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) report on "an anti-terrorist database used by the Defense Department" that was used to track and spy on peace "meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations".
Mike noted yesterday (Mikey Likes It!), WBAI's Law and Disorder is doing a four-part series on the police state and, in the most recent installment, they spoke with Konstanty Hordynski of Students Against the War (UC Santa Cruz) whose group was among those spied on by the government. The illegal spying hasn't stopped others from speaking out against the war (or stopped Hordynski or Students Against the War). David H. Price (CounterPunch) reports on the most recent group to approve "resolutions condemning the occupation of Iraq and the use of torture": the American Anthropological Association.
As the calls for the war to end increase all over the world, the dangerous at any location, Bully Boy was in Hawaii today.
CNN notes that "three poplice motorcycles excorting his motorcade crashed on slick pavement and rolled onto a grassy median" -- one is in serious condition, one in stable condition and no word on the third. Wait, there's more. AP reports that Greg Pitts ("acting director of the White House Travel Office") left Bobby G's Dance Club (Waikiki) at two a.m. (just when the Tru Rebels were winding down) and "was robbed and beaten". Dawg House and Coconut Willie's are so close by. But they do have the Monday night jello shots for a buck.
Turning to news of passings. The
BBC reports on the funeral for Walid Hassan, sketch comedy star of the Iraqi TV show Caricature, who was shot dead Monday in Baghdad: "Mr Hassan's coffin was tied to the top of a taxi for the 160km (100 mile) journey from Baghdad to the Shia holy city of Najaf." Meanwhile director Robert Altman (Nashville, M*A*S*H, Short Cuts, The Player, Gosford Park, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, and more) passed away Monday. The 81-year-old Altman was a vocal opponent of the illegal war singing on to the Not In Our Name petition in the fall of 2002 and continuing to speak his mind including while up for an Oscar (Best Director) for Gosford Park in 2003 when he stated "This present government in America I just find disgusting, the idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully -- he can't even speak!"

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Abeer, Iraq

Ty, Jess and Ava filled in for me Friday with the wonderful ng in for Elaine with "Ty, Jess and Ava filling in for Elaine" which I read Saturday night before we all started working on the latest edition of the The Third Estate Sunday Review.
Trina and Rebecca told me about it Saturday morning and I was more than happy someone had grabbed Friday to post here. I figured something was going on when C.I. asked me for my password. My only question was, "You aren't filling in for me, are you?" I was told no and if I hadn't been, I wouldn't have given my password.
C.I. could do a wonderful job, better than me, but
C.I. already has a site to post at, was filling in for
Kat (on Fridays), working with the gang at Third (and doing the TV reviews with Ava), doing a column for Polly's Brew and the gina & krista round-robin (and about to start doing one for Maria, Francisco and Miguel's newsletter -- which I'll talk about tomorrow) and everything else which includes, last week, hitting four states in three days to speak. I love C.I. too much to shove my responsiblities off.

Ty, Jess and Ava did a fantastic post. It was wonderful. While they were doing that, Jim did
"A talking post by Jim (Third Estate Sunday Review)" -- the title is an inside joke because C.I. loves the talking posts and Jim didn't. It took Jim forever to grasp how popular those were with members. They love them. They like the, "Let's just talk" approach. They don't need a "lead sentence" or anything like that. It's a conversation (which is what The Common Ills really is, a conversation) and I kidded Jim about how the first time he does a solo thing, he went with a "talking post." He was filling in for Mike and please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

Remember Abeer? The illustration above is one of three for The Third Estate Sunday Review's
"Justice for Abeer and her family?" which addresses the latest: there is no "alleged" -- US soldier James Barker has confessed, in court, to his part in the rape and murder of Abeer and the murder of her parents and her five-year-old sister. The artilce is a must read, but I wanted to talk about the illustrations. I think they've captured something in the illustrations. In the one I posted, Barker is raping Abeer while Cortez holds down her hands. You can see her hands. Where is Abeer? The point of the illustration is how small the fourteen-year-old is, how grown, adult males are raping her. Note the way they make Cortez' back so large and Barker's as well. There were men, men who damn well knew you didn't rape anyone. Men who damn well knew a fourteen-year-old was underage for sex but leered at her, frightened her to the point that she went to her parents and they arranged for her to stay elsewhere (it would have taken the place the next day if she hadn't been raped and murdered). The hearts on the boxers? Just a visual? No. Part of the color scheme. The same reason Rebecca went with red (also for blood) when she put the frame around it.

Where is the outrage? Barker's confessed (and named the others in his court confession). We now know that she was raped and murdered, no "alleged." No "alleged" to the three family members who were also murdered. A five-year-old. This isn't "hearts and minds" and Americans should be outraged that these crimes were committed.

"Here Come the Armani Democrats: America's Progressive Nightmare" (Joe Mowrey, CounterPunch):
We are already beginning to see the results of the "blue wave" which occurred in our recent elections. Lobbyists are retooling to accommodate their favorite Democratic politicians. Harry Reid has promised to increase the military budget by $75 billion. Impeachment is "off the table," not to mention trials for war crimes. And Democrats have pledged to raise the minimum wage to a whopping $7.25 an hour. That's a total income of $15,080 a year, before taxes. Members of Congress will give themselves that much in automatic cost of living increases alone over the next five years. Let's face it, the power elite have successfully executed a changing of the guard.
The "progressive" community wasted the last two years and countless resources sponsoring corporate lackeys for election to a fascist system of government. (Fascism was originally defined by Benito Mussolini as a partnership between government and corporations.) Congratulations. There still is no serious anti-war or anti-militarism movement in this country. The corporatists won-peace and social justice lost, again. With progress like this, who needs habeas corpus?
As I did before this recent lemming vote-fest, I suggest we spit out the electronic pacifier of the masses and begin a program of vaccination for "chronic voter's syndrome." We should recognize the corrupt system of electoral madness for the farce that it is and implement a boycott of elections, local as well as national. As long as we agree to participate in an Alice-in-Wonderland system of governance we will continue to be ruled by corporations. We will continue to see unlimited manufacture and exportation of arms around the globe. We will continue to witness the wanton destruction of our planet by sociopaths in Armani suits with sound-bite smiles. (Yes, that was an Armani Nancy Pelosi was wearing at her first press conference following the election. No kidding.)
Whether for federal, state or local ballot items, which ad campaigns did you like the best? Did you vote for Captain Crunch or Count Chocula? How about that myriad of candidates' forums and policy discussions? Who could keep up with the avalanche of meaningful information we were given about these politicos and their agendas. It was tough deciding whether to vote for "a new direction" or "a positive change." There were so many clever and inspiring slogans, one was hard pressed to choose among them.

I wasn't aware, until the guest post, that I had an "unofficial style manual" (I'm laughing) but I do appreciate they're noting CounterPunch. I really do think that it's worth reading and, if you doubt it, read the above over and ask yourself where else you could read it? Isn't everyone else cheerleading the Democrats?

That's it for me tonight.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, November 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial gets a start date, talk of returning to a draft in the United States, the US military announces more deaths, Bully Boy finds that he's as unpopular in in Indonesia as he is elsewhere, a new military review quickly dispenses any hopes of the illegal war coming to an end, and the November death toll for Iraqis has already surpassed October's toll.

Starting with US war resister Ehren Watada. In June, Lt. Watada went public with his decision to refuse to deploy to Iraq thereby becoming the first commissioned officer to publicly say no to the illegal war. In August, an Article 32 hearing was held. The US military announced August 24th that the recommandation by the hearing's presiding officer, Lt. Colonel Mark Keith, was to court-martial Watada. Thursday, November 9th, as noted on that day's broadcast of The KPFA Evening News, the Army announced it would court-martial Watada. As Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported then, no date had been set but Eric Seitz, the civilian attorney representing Watada, expected the court-martial would be held in 2007. Today, Robert Shikina (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports "that Watada's pretrial hering is set for Jan. 4, with the court-martial beginning Feb. 5."

Sunday, the Japanese American Citizens League, Honolulu Chapter, held an symposium
at the University of Hawaii on Watada's decision to refuse to fight in an illegal war. Bob Watada, father of Ehrne, Jon Van Dyke (of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law) and attorney Eric Seitz. Robert Shikina reports that letter from Carolyn Ho, Ehren's mother, was read to those attending: "For some elected officials to claim that this is beyond their purview and Lt. Watada is courageous but should take the consequences for his decision is an outright evasion of responsibility and lack of moral courage." On the same event, Derrick DePledge (Honolulu Advertiser) reports: "Van Dyke and Seitz say the war is illegal under United Nations charter and that Watada was right not to deploy on moral grounds. The U.S., in its justification for war, alleged that Iraq had failed to comply with U. N. disarmament resolutions. The U.S. and its allies discussed a new resolution on the war with the other nations on the U.N. Security Council, but when diplomacy stalled, determined that a new resolution was not required before the 2003 invasion. 'This war cannot be justified -- logically or factually or legally,' Seitz said." Shikina notes 83-year-old John Masunaga's impressions: "'Ehren's standing up for something we all should have stood up for,' he said, noting the internment of Japanese Americans. 'The Time World War II started, we were trying to prove ourselves good loyal citizens. Sometimes you have to speak up and try to right some of the wrongs."

At the gathering, Seitz spoke of the efforts to silence Watada. Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9 a.m., Ehren Watada will be participating in a "Tele-news Call" along with Seitz and Bob Watada. More information can be found here. As The Honolulu Advertiser notes, Ehren Watada could be sentenced to up to six years if convicted in the court martial -- six years in a military prison.

Watada is part of a growing resistance to the war within the military. Along with Watada, others standing up publicly include Joshua Key, Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Joshua Casteel, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. And those are only some of the names of those resisting who have gone public. In addition, over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized. It is a movement regardless of how it is covered (or, more often, not covered) and regardless of what the likes of Mommy's Pantyhose may think.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Soldier Say No! and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January (on MLK day). One of those organizing Appeal to Redress, Jonathan Hutto, was interviewed by John Catalinotto (Workers World) and explained, noting the MLK memorial, "I am moved by this, by King taking a place where there are memorials to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. Theirs were dedicated to presidents. King's is dedicated to justice and peace. That's the vein in which we want to present this appeal."

In Iraq the violence and the chaos continues.


Reuters reports a car bomb in Ramadi that took two lives (plus the occupant of the car) and left six wounded, three more were wounded in Ramadi from a mortar round, in Mosul three Iraqi soliders were killed and four wounded from a car bomb, a roadside bomb in Iskandariya killed two, a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed three (five more wounded), and a second roadside bomb in Baghdad resulted in no known deaths but left two wounded.


Xinhua reports that two professors were shot dead: Ahmed Hamid al-Taie of the Mosul University (killed in Mosul) and Fulayeh al-Ghurabi of the Babil University (killed in Babil).
Over 155 educators have been targeted in killed in Iraq since the illegal war began. Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) reported on recent attacks and spoke with "an administration manager of a large university in Baghdad" who told them: "Iraqi universities have turned into militia and death squad headquarters. . . Pictures of clerics and sectarian flags all over are not the only problem, but there is the interference of clerics and their followers in everything [and that clerics can] sack teachers and students, forbid certain texts, impose certain uniforms and ever arrest and kill those who belong to other sects or those who object to their behavior."

In other shootings, AFP notes that Baquba was the location for where a police officer was shot dead in front of his house, where another police officer "and his personal driver" were shot dead, where "[s]ix civilians were killed in random gunfire" and where an attack on a police patrol resulted in one death and three injured. CBS and AP report that Walid Hassan was shot to death in Baghdad: "a famous comedian on al-Sharquiya TV . . . had performed in a comedy series called 'Caricature,' which mocked coalition forces and the Iraqi government since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq." Reuters notes that he was shot three times in the head.


Reuters reports that sixty corpses were found in Baghdad, eight in Tikrit and fourteen "south of Baghdad."

Kidnappings?AFP reports that, yesterday in Baghdad, "a health official" was abducted and that the kidnapping was confirmed today. BBC notes that it is Ammar Al-Saffar who is Iraq's Deputy Health Minister and: "The Iraqi police say several vehicles pulled up outside Mr Al-Saffar's house in a Sunni neighbourhood of northern Baghdad. Eyewitnesses say they were a mixture of pick-up trucks and police cars. Mr Al-Saffar was taken away by six men wearing military uniforms and three men in suits." Al Jazeera notes that Hakim al-Zamily was targeted (al-Zalimy is also a deputy health minister) and reports he stated: "We as health officials have become a target."

On KPFA's The Morning Show today, Alieen Alfandary noted that there have been more than 100 Iraqi deaths since Sunday morning and that toll for November (1370) thus far has already surpassed October's toll (1,216).

The US military announced this morning "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Sunday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province" and they announced "A Soldier from 89th Military Police Brigade was killed by injuries sustained when his vehicle struck an Improvised Explosive Device southeastern Baghdad at approximately 8 p.m. Nov. 18."

In Bogor, Indonesia, the BBC reports, Bully Boy's photo op with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the greeting was "[h]undreds of protestors" voicing their objection the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and carrying wanted posters of the Bully Boy. The day prior, similar protests took place in Jakarta. Alexandre Da Silva (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that Bully Boy's next stop is Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii this evening and "Motorists are warned to avoid any side roads near Hickam and Camp Smith 6 [p.m.] and 8 a.m. tomorrow because of possible delays from road closures".

In other peace news, Karen Dolan (via The Black Agenda Report) reports on the Cities for Peace success in this month's elections where "162 communities in Wisconsin, Illionis and Massachusetts voted on ballot measures calling for the U.S. to end the Iraq war. In every one of those communities, the measures swept to victory."

That option, ending the war, was considered and dismissed by the Pentagon. Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reports that the Pentagon has a "closley guarded review" with "three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out". Ricks notes that 'send more' option isn't an option "the study group . . . concluded that there are not enough troops in the U.S. military and not enough effective Iraqi forces".

Flashback to November 16th:

The total number of US troops in Iraq? According to CBS' David Martin, not enough and never will be based upon John Abizaid's remarks to the Senate yesterday "But when you look at the overall American force poll that's available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps." Let that sink in. According to Abizaid, a War Hawk who never met a battlefield he didn't go weak-kneed over, there are not enough available foot soldiers in the US army or members of the Marines to do what Abizaid feels needs to be done in Iraq.

Ricks reports the group favors an approach which "calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said."

And the withdrawal option? Off the table. As Reuters notes, "Mr Bush has adamantly opposed setting a specific timetable for withdrawal" or, one could safely note, withdrawal at all since he's bragged that US troops would still be in Iraq after he was out of the White House.

Meanwhile, Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that Walid al-Moallem, Syria's foreign minister, stated "Sunday that his government was prepared to help stabilize Iraq, and uring a visit . . . [in Iraq] called for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops, saying that it would help reduce the violence." As the BBC notes, "Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, recently urged US President Georg W Bush to involve Iraq's neighbours, Syria and Iran, in an effort to stabilise the country."

Blair made headlines this weekend as a result of an interview with David Frost for Al Jazeera TV. Tim Shipman (Daily Mail) reported: "Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has 'so far been pretty much of a disaster,' Mr. Blair said: 'It has'." Despite that admission, Blair doesn't believe in withdrawal. Philip Webster (Times of London) notes the admission and ties it with British MP and Blair ally Margaret Hodge's statements last week. As the Guardian of London noted last week, Hodge stated the illegal war was Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs" that it was exporting "moral imperialism".

From the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sunday, John Howard, who holds the position of prime minister in Australia and also fills in as "joke of the country" just for kicks, weighed in. Reuters reports that Howard does not agree it's been a "disaster," "tougher," but not a "disaster." Reuters notes that the "tougher" no "disaster" call by Howard came "on a day [Sunday] in which 50 people have been killed in attacks across Iraq." Tougher, says Howard, not a disaster.

He might consider speaking to person Ali Jasim did. Jasim (Reuters) reports on Abd al-Sattar Obeid who states, "I'm alone now. I have no sons. . . . Yesterday there was a mourning procession for my son and my brother and his two songs who were killed 40 days ago. In the evening, during the rites, some gunmen arrived, about 20 of them. They didn't bother to mask their faces. They were carrying Kalashnikovs and pistols. I begged them. I told them: 'Please don't kill anyone. We have done nothing. What have we done to deserve this?' But they didn't listen to me. They killed my two other sons and ran."

"Tougher" says John Howard, not "disaster."

Meanwhile, in the United States, AP reports that War Hawk/War Criminal Henry Kissinger has stated (on the BBC) of the illegal war, "If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose write runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that's possible." For any who fell alseep, Kissinger said "no" to military victory in Iraq. Australia's ABC reports that Kissinger "says it is now time to start talking to Iran and Syria to find a way out of Iraq."

Does it feel like we just went in a circle? Back to Iraq and Syria, the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, and the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem are meeting and, as Xinhua reports, "discussing a range of issues" And Reuters reports that Iraq's president, Jabal Talabani, is due in Tehran to meet with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, this weekend. Though Reuters says there's no word on Syria being included, Al Jazeera reports that Syria's president has been invited and quotes Ali al-Adeeb ("legistlator from the governing Dawa party of Nuri al-Maliki") as saying: "All three countries intend to hold a three-way summit among Iraq, Iran and Syria to discuss the security situation and the repercussions for stability of the region." CNN also reports that the upcoming summit is expected to include Syria.

In US Congressional news, Charles Bibington (Washington Post) reports that Republican Senator John McCain wants "more U.S. troops in Iraq," while Democratic Senator Carl Levin believes "troop withdrawals must begin within four to six months," and Democratic House Rep. Charles Rangel is calling for a return of the draft and told Face the Nation Sunday, "I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session." On CBS' Face the Nation, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham rejected such a notion but stated "I am willing to send more American troops". Rangel, as host Bob Schieffer pointed out, will chair the House Ways and Means Committee in January. Schieffer asked Rangel, noting that he had called for it before, if he was serious about bringing back the draft?

Rangel: You bet your life, underscore serious. There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft. And if members of Congress and the administration thought their kids from their communties would be placed in harm's way. . . . I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session.

Schieffer: You will, you will introduce that bill?

Rangel: You can depend on that. I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft. To do so would be hypocritical.

The AP notes that the incoming (in Jan.) House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, knows nothing about the draft proposal and would not support it according to incoming (in Jan.) House Majority Leader, Democrat Steny Hoyer.

Finally, on the topic of 'friendly fire,' on October 6th, an inquest was underway in London into the death of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd in Iraq with witness Nicholas Walshe testifying to seeing Lloyd "shot in the head by US troops as he was driven away from a gunfight." Walshe was only one of many witnesses. No US troops participated. The coroner, Andrew Alker, ruled on October 13th that "Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming" (CNN). Terry Lloyd's daughter Chelsey was quoted by CNN stating: "They did not come to this inquist to explain their actions. Let them do so in our criminal courts where they are guaranteed to get a fair trial." David Johnson is the deputy US ambassador to England. He is apparently overtaxed and heavily burdened. All the above was over a month ago. The Guardian of London reports that Johnson has stated that he will pass on "[g]overnment concerns about the failure of US soldiers to attend the inquest of British service personnel killed by so-called friendly fire in Iraq". Again, one month after the Lloyd inquest issued its findings, the deput US ambassador to England intends to pass on concerns, weeks after the inquest into the deaths of British soldiers Kevin Main and David Williams.

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