Friday, December 01, 2006

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kim Gandy, Bay Fang

Do you ever just blank on what to talk about? Tonight's the Iraq Study Group. We're going to be watching some footage we shot at the September 2005 DC protests and discussing it. I have my part of that down and am ready for it. But I've focused on it and that's really all I can think about right now.

I'm reading The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader currently. I always found her life interesting. She's an early feminist who made her mark writing about politics and economics. (She also wrote fiction. Her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is possibly her most widely known work.) The backlash years weren't kind to her. You may think I mean the late 80s; however, any time there are advances for women, that's always been followed with a backlash period in this country. She lived from 1869 until 1935 (when she killed herself). Women and Economics was her benchmark (1898) and really led to a wider audience. She wrote other books and, for seven years, put out her own magazine (The Frontrunner) for which she wrote everything each month. The backlash for Perkins Gilman began after the first World War.

So having noted an important feminist of the past, let's note one of today.

"Three Strikes by Bush (While Congress is Out!)" (Kim Gandy, Below The Belt, NOW):
In only two weeks, the Bushies have struck three times at women's rights. George W. and his minions are ever-watchful for the opportunity to roll us back a few decades, and with Congress out of session and the media busy covering the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq, the administration has thrown us some real curveballs.
Strike One! Get ready for segregated classes at a public school near you. Last Friday, Nov. 24,
new Department of Education regulations took effect, allowing U.S. public schools to establish sex-segregated classes, activities, and schools. Under the guise of "giv[ing] educators more flexibility" and giving parents more choices, the administration has effectively changed a core guarantee of Title IX, part of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That's right, back in the '70s, gender equity in education was considered a civil right and segregation was considered unacceptable. Welcome to Bush's 2006.
With the new regulations, teachers in public schools can teach more like
Regina Choi, a private school educator who recently told the Los Angeles Times that "it is sometimes more effective posing problems for girls using shopping examples and for boys using sports." (If you haven't gotten around to teaching your children by using gender stereotypes, don't worry, now their teachers can take care of it.) Of course, Choi's girl and boy students are being taught the "same course content"-it's just presented in different (read: more sexist) ways. How far is this teacher's choice of approach from that of the Livingston Parish School Board, which dropped its sex-segregation plans last summer after being sued by the ACLU because the Louisiana school wanted to teach girls "good character" and boys "heroic" behavior?
According to that ACLU lawsuit, one of the experts
cited by the Livingston school system contends that "because of biological differences in the brain, boys need to practice pursuing and killing prey, while girls need to practice taking care of babies. As a result, boys should be permitted to roughhouse during recess and play contact sports, to learn the rules of aggression. Such play is more dangerous for girls, because girls are less biologically able to manage aggression." Seems to me it's the other way 'round.
Meanwhile, U.S. public school students are still performing much worse than those in other developed nations according to
international tests-ranking, for example, 21st in math and 23rd in problem-solving. Who cares if research shows "no conclusive evidence that girls perform better academically without boys in the classroom," let's shoot in the dark when it comes to our kids' education. After all, we know how skilled the Bushies are at shooting…

All three strikes are offensive but I'm focusing on the first one because who would have thought we'd ever return to segregated education? Charlotte Perkins Gilman had many operating principles but one was that males and females had more commonalities than differences. Over a hundred years after she was making that case, we're back to sex-segregated classes?

Is there anything Bully Boy won't destroy? Any sewer he won't dip into to appease the American Taliban?

At the same time that he's cloaked his failure in Aghanistan (destined to doom from the start) in rhetoric about freedoms for women, life's gotten worse for women in that country and Bully Boy's conducted one war after another on American women.

That it could happen and with little to no outcry demonstrates, to me anyway, how fragile rights remain. Women's rights to be sure; however, the rights of all -- women have just been the canary in the coal mines.

To focus on Afghanistan for a moment, this highlight.

"School's Out: Afghan girls are losing the ground they recently gained" (Bay Fang, Ms. Magazine):
In March 2002, after the repressive Taliban government was ousted from the country, 1.5 million schoolchildren in Afghanistan went back to school. Girls in wispy white head scarves and black frocks swung their book bags alongside the boys, and the world looked on and cheered. That number grew to 5.1 million children by December 2005, of which 1.5 million were girls.
Today, however, girls’ schools are under attack. The United Nations estimates that every single day a girls' school in Afghanistan is burned down or a female teacher killed. In four southern provinces, more than 100,000 children are being denied an education because of school closures. Although the issue of Afghan women's rights has garnered plenty of international attention, an increasingly powerful insurgency and a corresponding backlash of conservatism have combined to lessen the gains that have been made. And the social and economic indicators for women in the country are still staggeringly low: U.S. charity Save the Children estimates that one in six Afghan women--about 20,000 per year--die during or just after childbirth. The female illiteracy rate is estimated at 80 percent or higher, as compared with about 50 percent for the men. Girls as young as 11 or 12 are still married off to men a few decades older. Further more, a UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) study released in August concludes that, although the practice is illegal, some girls are still forced into marriages in order to settle a family feud or to compensate for a crime.

C.I. (and Kat) is on a plane right now or I'd call for the name of someone. She was once Miss Afghanistan. There was a book that she another woman were on a book tour promoting. It was a compilation with pieces by many women (including Gloria Steinem) focusing on Afghanistan. I believe this is 2003. (I have the book but I'm at Mike's. Monday, I'll note the book title and the name of the woman.) Both women were very vocal about what was happening. I remember hearing them speak. I actually remember being worn out and thinking, "I hope this goes quickly." C.I. had really talked it up (the book and the presentation) so that, combined with the issue, meant I shouldn't miss it. But I'm remembering it being on a busy day and a rainy one. I also remember sitting and waiting for it to begin. I was telling myself I'd stay for the first part and then duck out. Then it started and there was no way I was leaving. (I bought several books for friends and strongly regretted not attempting to round up some friends to attend.)

I believe it was only supposed to last an hour but we had too many questions for the women (which they were kind enough to answer). I kept thinking it would get press attention because they really were doing a strong presentation. If it did (it got none locally or nationally from the mainstream), I didn't see or hear it. But, considering that Congress was basically ignoring them and the issue, that doesn't surprise me.

Bombs were never the answer, the country was already suffering. But there was no "answer" because Bully Boy wasn't concerned with catching Osama bin Laden (as we all know too well). Was it about the Unical pipeline? I have no idea. But it wasn't about 'freedom' or 'liberation.' I remember how the king was cleared out of the way by the US so they could install Karzi. That was just in the capital. Outside, the warlords were never held accountable and remained in power. Over two decades, the country was destroyed and Bully Boy's actions were just the latest in a long series. The fact that he cloaked them in 'liberation' may make it more offensive but it's also true that in the 90s, the US government was more than willing to look the other way repeatedly.

What was the objective in Afghanistan for the US? If you ask most people, I would assume they'd say to catch Osama. But that wasn't a high priority in actuality. The 'liberation' talk was just talk. Possibly before Bully Boy starts the next war (Iran?), he should have to clearly state the objective of the war? He should have to clearly outline how 'success' will be measured?

I think if he (or any leader) had to do that there would be far less support for war. But instead, he'll probably attempt to market it on fear again. I hope we're smart enough not to fall for it but the administration really seems to want a war. Maybe they think it will raise his popularity again?

Well, I warned at the start that I didn't have any clear idea of what to write about tonight. Let me recommend Kat's "Don't gas bag on Tower, spare us all" and "Kyle Snyder." Also please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and read the Iraq Study Group's recommendations that he, Nina and Tony wrote.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
December 1, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, early numbers for November indicate a dramatic rise (another dramatic rise) in the number of civilian deaths, does the puppet of the occupation feel the EARTH . . . MOVE . .. under his feet (nod to Carole King "I Feel The Earth Move"), and the James Baker Circle Jerk continues to raise eyebrows.
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that the Iraq Interior Ministry has released their statistics for November's death toll in Iraq, 1,850 -- and increase of 44% from their count of 1,289 for October. Macdonald reminds, "Although it does not appear to encompass all violent deaths in Iraq, the Interior Ministry's statistical series has reflected trends".
And for the living? Not much better as
Dahr Jamail discussed with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday. Dahr explained how the violence was so common, the attacks so rampant, that for fear of their safety, many Iraqis no longer sent their children off to school (approximately 30% was the number given). On the topic of the daily violence and the people effected, Isam Rasheed (Alive in Baghdad) provides a video report from a clinic in Adhamiya where Ahmed Hameed (cigarette vendor) explains how a car bombing resulted in his hand and leg being lost, "I was working and someone left a car bomb. It blew up shortly after they had left. I woke up and found myself thrown against a wall beside my friend Shukri."; Shukri Abdul (owner of the Al-Areesh restaurant) then explains being outside his restaurant speking with an ice vendor when the car bomb went off "And I can remember landing on the ground. I was blown into the air, and when I landed, everything piled on top of me, the pots & corrugated metals." Shurki Abdul also lost his arm and foot and experienced severe damage to his back. This is the daily reality and, as Dahr pointed out, the only area under US control was the Green Zone section of Baghdad but now even the Bremer walls that wall off the section do not translate as 'safe.' Dahr spoke of speaking with a US marine stationed in Ramadi where he was part of 200 US forces expected to provide order to a city of 400,000.
Dahr noted that move to pull forces out of Ramadi and the rest of the Al-Anbar Province in order to send them to Baghdad to secure the capital. Earlier this week,
Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on a Marine Corps intelligence report entitled "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar" which tagged the area "a failed province," one that was beyond US control. Also earlier this week, Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reported that, in an effort to 'secure' the capital -- 'crackdown' in any version didn't, the Pentagon is weighing pulling the 30,000 US troops out of the province and redeploying them to Baghdad.
Also addressed by Dahr was the issue of the realignmment on the ground in Iraq's parliament where new alliances are being formed with Muqtada al-Sadr's group and Dahr wondered exactly how much longer the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, would be in place?
CBS and AP report that Tariq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, has stated "he wanted to see al-Maliki's government gone and another 'understanding' for a new coalition put in place with guarantees that ensure collective decision making" while Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie (handmaiden to the puppet) has said the fault lies with the presidency (a ceremonial position) and not with the prime minister he (al-Zuabaie) serves under. If the memo Stephen Hadley penned November 8th is taken at all seriously don't be surprised to discover US monies are being tossed around right now in an attempt to ensure that new coalitions will be to the US administration's liking. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) examines the events and notes "the sudden move by al-Sadr's Shiite bloc, which pulled out of the Baghdad government over al-Maliki's meeting with Bush, provides the anti-occupation coalition with significant, perhaps decisive, power, if they choose to bring down al-Maliki's shaky coalition." [Hayden's earlier reports on the al-Maliki upset are: "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance."]
Did someone say shaky?
Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report a double car bombing claimed one life and left six family members wounded in the Sadiyah section of Baghdad; while mortar rounds "near Muqdadiya" killed three and left 14 wounded; and, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took two lives and left three wounded. CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad ("near a fruit and vegetable market") that killed two and left 16 more wounded. AFP notes, "A bomb exploded in the centre of Baghdad on the east side of the Tigris river, killing three people and wouding 16, while another car bomb killed three people on the outskirts of the capital."
Alastair Macdonald and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) report: "Machinegun fire rained from U.S. helicopters in central Baghdad . . . the Interior Ministry said one soldier had been killed and nine people wounded, including five soldiers." Reuters reports three people were killed by gunfire (two police officers, one civilian) in Samawa.
Reuters reports that 20 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and fourteen in Mosul while noting the fourteen had been kidnapped on Thursday.
Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that, Thursday, "Hadib Majhoul, chairman of the popular Talaba soccer club" was kidnapped.
In addition, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations here Nov. 30." The death brings to 2,888 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war according to ICCC's count and CNN's as well. Twelve away from the 2900 mark.
This as
Antonella Cinelli (Reuters) reports that "Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Friday, lowering the tricolour flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003."
Meanwhile, although the
Iraq Study Group has released its findings, people continue to ponder the James Baker Circle Jerk. As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today, the James Baker Circle Jerk is rumored to call for a 2008 'withdrawal' that is not, in fact, a withdrawal. It's a continuation of the air war that Norman Solomon has been describing for months now. It's also the James Baker Circle Jerk stroking themselves on the public dollar. The onanistic nonsense not only revolves around the air war, it also pushes embedding US forces with Iraqi police squads and forces.
For those who've forgotten how Patrick McCaffrey died and the battle his mother Nadia McCaffrey has had to fight to force the US government to get honest could see the 'suggestion' as worthy of suggesting. (Patrick McCaffrey and Andre Tyson, with the US National Guard, were killed in Iraq. The US government told the families that the two men were killed by 'insurgents.' In reality, they were killed, June 22, 2004, by Iraqi security forces they were training.)
Addressing the James Baker Circle Jerk on this week's CounterSpin,
Gary Younge (Guardian of London; The Nation) observed to Steve Rendall,, "The fact that this study group was necessary itself highlights a flaw in American politics. Democracy should have been able to deal with this, not an appointed study group." As Younge explained the responsibility the group was tasked with was Congress' own responsibility . . . until they outsourced it.
In peace news,
Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports that the revelations of the US government spying on peace activists is not slowly plans for the march in Washington, DC January 27th. Among the groups spied on were CODEPINK, United For Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, the War Resisters League and the American Friends Service Committee.
War Resisters League will be presenting Sir! No Sir! tomorrow (Saturday, December 2nd) at both seven pm and nine-thirty pm. This kicks off the War Resisters League and the Brecht Forum's Screenpeace: An Antiwar Film Festival that will hold screenings of other films on Fridays during January.
In other activism news,
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are asking for a National "Mandate for Peace" Call-in Day, Monday, December 4th. To sign the petition click here. To phone your rep and senators, you can dial 202-224-3121. PDA notes: "On Election Day, voters said enough is enough -- we want a new direction. Let's make sure Congress hears it again by jamming the switchboards on Dec. 4 with our pleas to bring our troops home immediately."

the washington postdafna linzerthomas e. ricks

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Well look who's showing up late to the party and without a gift

The illustration is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The Unknown War Resister" which addresses the continued lack of coverage given to war resisters. I was thinking of that when Sunny and I had lunch and she told me of various independent media outlets that are suddenly starting to discover, golly, there is a war going on.

Now they've blown month after month refusing to cover Iraq, they've bored us all with their "___ is so groovy and I'm in love" 'reporting' on an election, so I'm less than impressed with the fact that when suddenly they rediscover Iraq it's to weigh in on whether or not Iraq is a civil war. Iraq has been a civil war for some time now. But where was independent media on that?

Now they're all full of themselves as they talk about how the networks and daily papers are seeing reality finally. Exactly where do they (independent media) think they've been for the last few months?

They sure as hell haven't been covering Iraq. Nor do they give any indication that they themselves have discovered reality since they still can't cover war resisters or the peace movement. If I'm holding back it's because Jim and C.I. have an idea for a feature for next week's The Third Estate Sunday Review. But as Sunny listed the various gas bags, my only thought was, "What do you think you've done for the last few months?"

I really don't see much of value at all. In fact, I'll allude to one example of worthless on a different topic. Someone wants to weigh in today on Tower Records. Didn't Kat do that before she went to Ireland? Yes, she did, August 22nd. But by all means, show up November 27th and make that the thing you write about. Talk about late to the party and showing up giftless.

Or maybe that should be gutless? They've wasted our time with Thomas Frank and whatever the idiot's name is that thinks he came up with "framing." Exactly why is it that in these days when information's supposed to travel faster, we're supposed to be thrilled with op-eds on topics addressed three months ago (Tower) and cheerleading for half-brains who will not make any contribution beyond this decade and only make a dent in the decade because people throw common sense and academic reality out the window to promote hula-hoops?

Where is the life in our independent media? Can anyone even detect a heartbeat from our print set? The only thing they can get excited about is candidates for Congress.

I'm sure some can't help but make themselves useless and the others started out that way.

"Torture, the Geneva Conventions and the School of the Americas" (Ann Wright, Common Dreams):
I spoke for the first time at the School of the Americas Watch protest at Fort Benning, Georgia, on Saturday, November 17, 2006. As a US Army veteran with 29 years of active and reserve duty who retired as a colonel, I felt tremendous emotions while addressing over 20,000 protesters from a stage in front of the gates of a major US military installation. We were there as witnesses to a history of involvement in torture by graduates of the US military's School of the Americas (SOA), now known by its less-notorious name, the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation.
Standing with me were seven members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, including two war resisters: Darrell Anderson, who returned from Canada in October 2006 and was discharged from the US Army, and Kyle Snyder, who also returned from Canada and attempted to turn himself in to the US Army.
School of the Americas and Torture
I had served three years in the middle 1980s with the US military's Southern Command in Panama while the School of the Americas was still located there. People in Central and South America were tortured by members of their militaries throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Terrible periods of torture in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras were conducted by members of militaries from those countries. Some of the known torturers attended the School of the Americas.
When I was in the military, I never heard from other US military personnel that SOA was training students in torture techniques. But there were rumors from non-military organizations of SOA involvement. I thought that if the rumors were true, surely we would hear about it through the informal communications network that operates very effectively in the US military. Techniques for harming others are not hard to figure out and would not need to be taught by the US military. Why would the US military train members of other militaries in torture techniques and thereby expose the US military to charges of international and domestic criminal activity?
In 1996, seven Spanish-language military manuals prepared by SOA surfaced that advocated such tactics as executions of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse and paying bounties for enemies. These documents came to light because of an investigation into the
involvement of the CIA in Guatemala. But I still thought that it wouldn't be the US military teaching such methods, but maybe the Central Intelligence Agency, using a US military installation and dressing in US military uniforms.
Torture in Iraq and Afghanistan: Who Are the Teachers and What Is Taught?
But then the US military went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Photos of the abusive treatment of prisoners in Bagram Air Base and Kandahar, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib made me question the professionalism of the US military and what was being taught in military schools. Perhaps there was a program of instruction that taught torture techniques to military intelligence, CIA and contractor interrogators. The Bush administration's "torture memos" certainly provided the environment for the military to "take off the gloves," a statement attributed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's counsel, according to a June 12, 2002, Justice Department document. We now know the sordid history of abuses and torture that occurred from 2001 through 2005 and that are probably still happening.
Questions abound concerning US military and CIA involvement in torture. What manuals are used in training US military interrogators at the US Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona? What is taught to US Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and US Army infantry troops at Fort Benning, Georgia, who initially stop and detain Afghan and Iraqi citizens? What is taught to military police at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, about custodial care of prisoners by the US military? What are the guidelines for evaluating the limits of physical and psychological abuse taught to military doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospitals in Washington, DC? When do doctors call a halt to physical and emotional abuse and torture?
Are military lawyers taught at the US Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) School at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, or at the US Navy JAG School at the US Naval base in Newport, Rhode Island, to parse regulations that prohibit torture into guidelines that provide legal cover for torture? Do Special Operations Forces of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force practice on detainees the interrogation techniques they are subjected to during their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington, and Naval Air Stations in Brunswick, Maine, and North Island, San Diego, California? What are the limits of abusive interrogation techniques taught to CIA and CIA contract interrogators in the various CIA training areas around Washington, DC, and other locations in the US?

While they bore us with hula-hoops, people like Ann Wright are doing things and writing about them. Ann Wright's done plenty this year. I couldn't even list all the things she's done; however, her list does include testifying as a witness for the defense in the Article 32 hearing the military held for Ehren Watada, the Troops Home Fast, getting arrested on a base for handing out material on the war, Camp Casey III . . . A long list and all activities that the print media didn't seem to feel was worth coverage.

With the exception of CounterPunch, my respect for independent magazines has taken a serious nose dive in the last six or so months.

The others? Where's been the coverage? Where's been the leadership? Where has the bravery been?

They've sat on the sidelines, silent, while, in the last six months alone, people like Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Agustin Aguayo, and others have stood up. They could have shown some support but, instead, they acted like lazy students who hadn't done the reading but thought, if they stared at their desks, teacher wouldn't call on them.

I won't buy that independent media is suddenly serious about Iraq until they start running some stories, in print, on the peace movement, war resistance, Abeer and a number of other topics.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wedensday, November 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; a classified US assessment, jotted down in memo form by Stephen Hadley, finds the puppet of the occupation untrustworthy; whack-a-mole continues to be the game of choice for US military heads, and the big meet up in Jordan hits a snag right out of the box.
Starting with
the memo:

We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so. Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks.Despite Maliki's reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki's government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister's office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq's most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries -- when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi's (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings -- all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.

Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) reports that author of the memo is National Securtiy Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and that Hadley wrote the memo November 8, 2006. The memo was based on conclusions Hadley drew while visiting the Green Zone on October 30th, a visit John F. Burns and David E. Sanger (New York Times) noted was spoken of "only in the vaguest of terms". The memo's distrust of Nouri al-Maliki and its suggestions fly in the face of what Geroge W. Casey Jr. was publicly pushing immediately prior to Hadley's visit. As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported the US' military commander's claims of Iraqi security forces 'success' was doubted by American troops on the ground.
The memo covers a number of topics. Mainly it attempts to chart how the puppet can be propped up if he agrees to continue to following orders from the US administration (such as "support the renewal of the UN mandate for multinational forces" -- done yesterday -- through the end of 2007 as Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News). If that is the case, US tax dollars can be used to prop up political parties that do not support Moktada al-Sadr and thereby sideline al-Sadr from the process. ("This bloc would not require a new election, but would rather involve a realignment of political actors within the Parliament.") Mainly the memo's concerned with appearances, ways to make it appear the puppet is independent and strong. Such as: "Encourage Zal [Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador] to move into the background and let Maliki take more credit for positive developments." As noted in previous snapshots, Zalmay-Take-Me-Away is on his way out. His supposed 'success' in Afghanistan began to implode in front of the world shortly after he was shipped to Iraq to create more 'success.' Reality didn't wait and Zalmay is on the way out.
The memo offers that al-Maliki can appear 'strong' if the US administration will: "Seek ways to strengthen Maliki immediately by giving him additional control over Iraq forces, although we musr tecognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces" While pushing appearances, Hadley makes it very clear that al-Maliki is extremely out of touchand that he has one self-presentation "when he talks with Americans" and another at other times. Hadley writes: "But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggest Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."
The memo reveals the doubts, all the times after, that the US administration still has of their puppet.
Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) reports that Tony Snow Job issued a statement of Bully Boy's confidence in al-Maliki which should make the puppet shudder if he's aware of "Heck of a job, Brownie." [Or of November 1st, when Bully Boy was singing Rummy's praises. As Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reported: "Rumsfeld's ouster came a week after Bush told a small group of reporters that he wanted the defense secretary to stay on the job until end of his presidency."]
Silva also speaks with a nameless administration official who states that the memo is about raising questions and it "doesn't mean you're casting judgment" which is either cover up or the nameless hasn't read the memo. The third step Hadley outlines that al-Maliki "should take" is to "Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries."
For those paying attention months ago, al-Maliki's claimed that was happening. He began saying it was happening after he finally got a cabinet semi together. He missed the Constitutional deadline as well as his own appointed deadline. When he finally had a 'cabinet' it was short three positions. As soon as those were filled, al-Maliki began making repeated noises about a 'shake up' that has still not taken place. That was telling when Hadley visited in October, it was telling when Hadley wrote the memo on November 8th and, as November draws to a close, it's even more telling.
As Tony Snow Job tries to spin the memo, the US administration still attempts to deny the reality of the civil war that has been raging in Iraq.
Shatha al-Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) registers quite clearly what she has seen in the last year in the neighborhood she lived, the neighbors who left as strangers began showing up, the talk of impending attacks, the need to build a secret passage way between her home and her parents, the night when violence was only streets away, her baby crying from the mortar rounds falling and her promise to herself to leave if they made it through tomorrow.
In the face of such reality,
the US administration continues to deny Iraq is in a civil war. James Coomarasamy (BBC) reports that Stephen Hadley, of all people, "has said the Iraqi government does not see it in those terms, while the president himself described the latest attacks as part of an ongoing campaign by al-Qaeda militants." The same Hadley who wrote "the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on"? Meanwhile, Diala Saadeh (Reuters) reports Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, has stated, "I would call it a civil war. . . I have been using it (civil war) because I like to face the reality." (Like your blot?) On CBS' The Early Show, Bob Schieffer (host of Face the Nation) offered, "This is not a memo that was leaked by some Democrat in Congress. This is something that obviously came from someone within the administration itself. It shows that the situation in Iraq is the kind of chaos that has been described by others at every level, political and military. It paints a picture that is unlike what we have been hearing from the administration. We've been hearing that things are getting better and so on and so forth, that al-Maliki is doing his best. Now this memo raises questions about those statements."
CNN reports, ahead of the Jordan meeting with Bully Boy, Nouri al-Maliki has seen "his support erode on two fronts Wednesday as a White House memo questioned his leadership and a powerful political bloc suspended participation in Iraq's government." The suspension of participation was made quite clear Friday when al-Sadr's bloc stated that if al-Maliki went to Jordan to meet with the puppet, they would be pulling their support for al-Maliki.
Thomas Wagner and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that "the 30 lawmakers and six Cabinet members" in the Sadr bloc "said their boycott was necessary because the meeting" between Bully Boy and al-Maliki "constituted a 'provocation to the feelings of the Iraqi people and a violation of their constitutional rights'." As Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now! today, the bloc announced they were boycotting because "Bush is a criminal who killed a lot of Iraqis and we do not want him to interfere in Iraq's affairs" but prefer that the puppet instead do business with the U.N. Security Council. Deb Riechmann (AP) reports that the meet up in Amman, Jordan that was due to start today (Bully Boy & puppet) has now been put off with the US administration declaring it would take place "on Thuresday."
Meanwhile the city of Baquba is "
shutdown" by violence. "Shutdown"? The sequel to 'crackdown'? (Which Baghdad is still under.) AP reports bombing raids by US aircraft while "the univeristy, public schools and many stores remained closed" and the deaths of five Iraqi police officers.
AP reports a roadside bomb in Bahgdad left three Iraqis dead and 11 more wounded and
"[t]wo mortar rounds also exploded near the Health Ministry, wounding two soliders" in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
Reuters notes: two car bombs in Iraq (one in central Baghdad, the other in southwestern Baghdad) that left two police officers dead and five Iraqis wounded;
a car bomb in Samarra that killed six police officers; a car bomb in Mosul that left one civilian dead and 23 more injured; On the car bomb in Samarra,
AP notes that it was a coordinated attack using the car bomb and guns and reports that four police officers were killed and four more wounded.
AP reports that the Green Zone in Baghdad was ringed with gunfire "for most of the morning." AFP reports that four guards of the Pensions Department in central Baghdad were shot dead while on duty.
Reuters notes that the corpse "of a teacher with gunshot wounds" was discovered in Diwaniya today.
Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday. A second Soldier from this unit was wounded and transported to a CoalitionForces' medical treatment facility."; and they also announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Al-Anbar Province? Before we move on, let's note that the count for US troops who have died in Iraq this month thus far is 65. (Which doesn't include Major Troy L. Gilbert whose plane crashed this week and who is classified as missing by the US military while other press reports report he died in the crash or following the crash.)
We're going to
flash back to the August 3rd United States Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when the following exchange took place:

Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.

Is the situation in Ramadi under control, McCain repeatedly asked?
Ramadi is in Al-Anbar and the entire province is not "under control" (nor could it be).
Edward Wong (New York Times) reported, "American troops killed five girls, including at least one baby" on Tuesday in Al-Anbar Province. Andrew Buncombe and Nick Paton Walsh (Independent of London) report that in addition to the five dead, "Fighting broke out in the city of Ramadi, considered a stronghold of the anti-US insurgency, after a US patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of the city."
This comes as
Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reports that the "Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad." Has Al-Anbar Province been 'pacified'? No (and it won't be). As the four year anniversary of the illegal war comes ever closer, the US military is still attempting to impose order on Baghdad -- the only area that's ever been 'safe,' the area that's now been under a 'crackdown' (in all its variations) since June. And nothing's stopped the chaos and violence.
So the 'answer,' for the US government, is the same 'answer' they always have, what John McCain labeled "whack-a-mole." Writing in the Guardian of London,
Dilip Hiro proposes another answer: "Now, a revived proposal should have the American and British troops withdraw in stages from Iraq and hand over the stabilization task to a combined force of Muslim countries under UN command. Stationing a Muslim stabilization force in Iraq would dispel the intense alienation that exists now between Iraqis and the Anglo-American troops. The brown-skinned Muslim troops would be seen praying in the same mosques as Iraqis, and they would have an innate understanding of the social and cultural mores of the local people since they come from societies similar to that in Iraq. Unlike the Anglo-American troops, they would not be advancing an agenda like planting a Jeffersonian model of democracy or seeking preference in exploiting Iraqi oil."
Reuters reports, the 'answer' remains to 'shift' "a couple of battalions" here and there. It hasn't worked, it won't work. But the US adminstration refuses to face reality. Which is why CNN reports that "the U.S. military plans to move at least three more battalions of American soldiers into the Iraqi captial". And which is why the illegal war continues to drag on.
Remember, the
Pacifica's Archives is on day two of a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence. It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online. The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives. (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.) Among the voices heard since yesterday MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Medea Benjamin, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis, Ruth Gordon, Malcolm X, Angela Y. Davis, and many others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Isaiah, Medea Benjamin, Sally Kohn

The illustration to the left is "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Quality Time'." I'm a big fan of Isaiah's comics period but since this is a sequel to the one I put up here last week, I really thought I should post this. Both dealt with the formal outfit Bully Boy while in Vietnam (even though most Vietnamese men have stopped wearing that outfit). It's also true that I enjoy it when "Big Babs" appears in the strip. She's kind of like Stan on Will & Grace or Vera on Cheers, you never see her face. Isaiah always draws Big Babs in a housecoat with a bad pattern on it. This time, she's also holding a can of Coors.

Now if I'd known Blogger/Blogspot was going down, I wouldn't have spent an hour reading over The Third Estate Sunday Review this evening. But it's a really good edition. Ty corrects typos on Tuesday nights but he won't be able to do tonight. I wonder how long Blogger/Blogspot will be down?

Seems like every time they go down these days, there are more problems and they end up going down every day for several days in a row. I hope that's not the case.

"The Victory That Masks Defeat: Democrats Right-Leaning 'Win'" (Sally Kohn, Common Dreams)
For instance, many of the new Democrats in Congress are anti-choice. "As I read the polls showing our continuing unease with abortion," Pennsylvania's new Democratic Senator Bob Casey said, "nothing makes me more proud to call myself an American." Casey supports overturning Roe v. Wade and banning life-saving stem cell research.
Similarly, many new Democrats oppose basic gun control. In a stump speech, Missouri's new Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said, "I'm not going to take away anybody's gun. Can I repeat that? I'm not going to take away anybody's gun." To show his support for the gun lobby, North Carolina's new congressional representative Heath Shuler frequently boasts about hunting. There's a picture of Shuler on the front page of his website decked out in camouflage with patches of orange.
In Montana, Senator-elect Jon Tester vehemently opposes the estate tax. Representative-elect Brad Ellsworth from Indiana not only supports a federal, constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage but an amendment to ban flag burning as well. And notably, while many of these new Democrats campaigned against the Bush Administration's handling of the war in Iraq, few if any actually campaigned against the war itself -- against the doctrine of pre-emptive war or against the use of military might to impose America's will, whether for democracy or oil.
These aren't bold, alternative ideas for the future that break the mold of partisan ideology. These are extreme Right wing principles embraced by Democrats.
In this context, it's not surprising to learn that many of these new Democrats are actually old Republicans. Just before filing his candidacy, Jim Webb changed his party affiliation in order to run against incumbent Republican Senator George Allen in Virginia. When Democrats like Webb won based on disapproval of Bush but general approval for a host of conservative policies and values, their victory may be a loss for Republican's, but it's a gain for conservatives more broadly.

I'm glad that an outlet besides CounterPunch is telling some truth. CounterPunch really has been alone on this. I'm not excited and overjoyed with the individuals making up the 'win.' I don't see a majority opposing the war and wanting to end it, I don't see strong support for reproductive rights. Maybe other people find comfort in the stances of Casey Junior, but I don't. And I don't see this as a wonderful moment in time. If I read one more of those pieces telling me how happy I should be, I'll probably stop reading the publications. (Check out "Magazine Parody: The Elector.")

With the focus being Iraq at The Common Ills, C.I. probably won't be able to grab this next thing, so let me.

"U.S. Military Expansion vs. South Korean Farmers" (Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams):
It isn't easy getting into the South Korean village of Daechuri, a farming village that is scheduled to be razed by the end of 2007 for the expansion of a U.S. military base. Residents can only enter and exit through checkpoints set up by the South Korean military, despite the fact that the Korean National Human Rights Commission declared the checkpoints illegal and a violation of the villagers' human rights.
Visitors are often prohibited from entering Daechuri, especially "troublesome" peace activists supporting local efforts to save the village. Our U.S. delegation, organized by the Korean American group KAWAN, was met by an overwhelming force of some 200 police in riot gear! They had obviously heard that an international delegation, including well-known peace mom Cindy Sheehan, was going to attempt to enter the village and spend the night there. But perhaps because we were accompanied by a gaggle of press, after much back and forth between our Korean hosts and the police, we were eventually allowed in.
In Daechuri, we were ushered into a warehouse where over 100 villagers were holding a candlelight vigil. The most amazing thing about this vigil is that it has been going on every evening for over two years! Rain or shine, in the bitter winter nights or the sweltering summer evenings, the vigil is a constant. It's a way for the residents and their supporters to come together and renew their commitment to keep trying--despite the odds--to save their village.

The purpose of going to South Korea was to show support for people speaking out and if people in South Korea can, then people here can. Despite what everyone keeps trying to tell you, Congress didn't shift left. We're still going to have to fight. If we don't, democracy going to lose. It won't just be the war going on, it will be our rights destroyed. It will mean more illegal spying, less choice (on all levels including reproductive rights). So while some are basking and back patting, don't lose site of your goals. Don't fall for the hype.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, November 28, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy plays petulant and ignorant (well . . . maybe he's not playing), freedom of speech takes another blow in Iraq, the US Air Force asks for more money, Tony Blair takes a leak in public, and who gave what orders?

Starting with children's games, the US administration remains in denial about the civil war raging in Iraq.
Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports Bully Boy says Iraq is not in a civil war. It's not, it's not, it's not, and if you don't stop saying it is, he's going to run to Big Babs and you'll be sorry. Bully Boy pins the blame on al Qaeda. He's 'assisted' by the likes of Michael R. Gordon and Dexy-Dexy "Pads a Million" Filkins (New York Times) who take dictation very well in this morning's paper as they single-source the 'news' with an anonymous source who just happens to pin the blame on "the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah." Congratulations to Gordo and Dexy for proving that the male secretary is far from a thing of the past.

While the stenogs provide cover for the Bully Boy,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) reports: "Iraq is rending itself apart. The signs of collapse are everywhere. In Baghdad the police often pick up over 100 tortured and mutiliated bodies in a single day. Government ministries make war on each other. A new and ominoous stage in the disingration of the Iraqi state came earlier this month when police commandos from the Shia-controlled Interior Ministry kidnapped 150 people from the Sunni-run Higher Education Ministry in the hear of Baghdad. Iraq may be getting close to what Americans call 'the Saigon moment, the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring." All but the stenogs.

Sunday's stoning of and jeeering and shouting at the puppet of the occupation in the Sadr City section of Baghdad demonstrates the risks of reality intruding when Nouri al-Maliki leaves the heavily fortified Green Zone. And outside of Baghdad, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) report, things are as bad if not worse. Linzer and Ricks report on a Marine Corps intelligence report, "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar," which finds that Al-Anbar Province is beyond US control, that it's become "a failed province" and that the Sunnis in the region are fleeing.

On the subject of fleeing,
The Arizona Daily Star reports that the lifting of the cufew in Baghdad on Monday resulted in "[h]undreds of Iraqi families . . . [making] a beeline for the airport, where they handed over their savings for one-way tickets to anyplace safe. Others ran for the border, with suitcases strapped to cars bound for Syria and Jordan. Families that stayed stocked up on food, kept their children home from school and waited for another round of sectarian bloodshed." IRIN reports that Human Rights Watch is calling "on Jordan to provide a Temporary Protection Regime (TPR) for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in its territory."

In the face of reality, Bully Boy turns a blind eye.
CBS and AP quote him stating, "There's one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." Ask him what the mission is and prepare for vague statements with no concrete markers. As Bully Boy gets pouty, Tony Blair takes a leak on Des Browne and the British public. Yesterday, England's Defense Secretary Des Browne stated, "I can tell you that by the end of next year I expect numbers of British forces in Iraq to be significantly lower -- by a matter of thousands”. Reuters reports today that Blair has declared, "We will remain there (in Iraq) in significant numbers even if there is . . . an adjustment to our role, there will still be a requirement." The promised handover of Basra will apparently change nothing. Meanwhile, AFP reports that South Korea has decided "to extend the mission for another year" in Iraq but will be cutting it's troops from 2,3000 "to around 1,200".

Andy Sullivan (Reuters) reports Bill Keller has issued a statement stating that the New York Times will call Iraq what it is, a civil war. Keller is quoted: "It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war." The article notes LA Times has been doing so since October and that McClatchy Newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Sacremento Bee have called it a civil war. Yesterday, NBC became the first network to officially call it what it was.]

Meanwhile, in Australia, Peter Tinley, former Australian soldier who served in Iraq and declared the illegal war "morally bankrupt,"
tells ABC's Lateline that Australian forces are maxed out: "I'm not talking about the number of troops on the ground . . . I'm talking about the span of command, the span by which the Defence Force can operate and manage the number of operations."

Can Baghdad be 'managed'?
Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (Times of London) report that
"In the war for Baghdad, mosques serve as garrisons. Sunnis use religious sanctuaries as strongholds to fight for mixed neighbourhoods. Shia extremists covert their mosques and prayer rooms, called husseiniyas, into execution chambers. As Iraq falls apart, people like [Hassan] Mahmoud are now terrified by Baghdad's places of worship, which they regard as potential gulags and gallows in the Sunni-Shiar war."

But the problem? The media. Apparently. As Sandra Lupien reported onn yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News, "Iraq's parliament speaker implemented new rules banning reporters from the legislative building and imposed a thirty minute delay on broadcast of sessions This in an apparent bid to hide from the public what are increasingly bitter debates between Shi'ite and Sunni lawmakers." "Freedom" still doesn't include a free press in Iraq.


BBC reports the deaths of at least four in Baghdad with at least seven wounded as a results of car bombs outside Yarmouk hospital. Reuters raises the wounded from those bombings to 40 and notes a home in Tal Afar which had been "booby-trapped with explosives" and left two police officers wounded while another two police officers were wounded in Mosul from a roadside bomb. Peter Walker (Guardian of London) reports that Kirkuk was the site of an assassination attempt on the governor of the province -- "The attacker, wearing a hidden explosives belt, tried to get inside the governor's car, but when he found the door locked he detonated his explosives, killing one civilian and wounding 17 other people, police said." AP notes three dead from a roadside bomb in Baladrooz (four more were reported wounded). And Reuters reports mortars injured 23 people in Baghdad.


AFP notes the shooting deaths of five in Mahmudiyah and seven people shot dead in Baquba.


Reuters reports thirty-six corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today, "One Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Nov. 27 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The announcement comes as Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reports on "a new study by the Caresey Institute" which finds that "[t]he mortality rate for soldiers from rural America is about 60 percent higher than the mortality rate for soliders from metropolitan areas." Glantz notes that the study finds that those "from rural Vermont have the highest death rate in the nation followed by Delaware, South Dakota, and Arizona."

Andrea Shalal-Esa (Reuters) reports that the United States Air Force says it needs "$33.4 billion in extra funding for fiscal 2007 to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and costs related to the 'longer war on terror'."

Current cost of the illegal war,
via counter on Tom Hayden's website, $346,000,000,000.

And all the money going to support the illegal war couldn't be used in a better way, right?
New Orleans?

Kyle Snyder: There are over 20 engineering units, there's more than 20 engineering units in the U.S. military. I was part of an engineering unit. And to see places that look worse than Iraq in my own country makes me sick, it makes me disgusted, that they're not doing any rebuilding effort for the poor, for the African-American community. It's like they just left it there. They're not even cleaning it up. It's a disaster area. It's, logistically, it's the most horrible thing I've seen because we have engineering units in Iraq when they should be here. . . . This should be first priority. . . . Start pulling troops from Iraq and rebuilding in New Orleans.

US war resister Kyle Snyder spent Thanksgiving week by joining with
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Col. Ann Wright, war resister Darrell Anderson and others to protest the School of Americas in Georgia and then going to New Orleans with Iraq Veterans Against the War to work on the rebuilding. Video clips are available at Soldier Say No! and the one quoted from is also available at Google Video. Snyder self-checked out of the US military in April of 2005, moved to Canada and then returned to the US and turned himself in at Fort Knox on October 31st, only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Snyder is now underground and on the road.

Also traveling is
CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin who was recently in South Korea and spoke with Christopher Brown (OhmyNews International): ". . . the job of the peace movement is going to be not [to] put down its guard, to really be forcing the Congress to carry out what is a mandate for radical change, and the radical change is to bring the troops home, to stop allocating money for this war and to have no permanent bases in Iraq. And I think the issue of more money for the war will come up very soon in January when the new Congress reconvenes because they are going to be asked for over a hundred billion dollars more for this war."

Benjamin and others were in South Korea to support the people objecting to US base being expanded and asking that South Korea's troops be brought home from Iraq. Other activists on the trip included Cindy Sheehan who was interviewed about it by Jennifer Veale (Time magazine). In her latest column (BuzzFlash), Sheehan considers the proposal of returning to the draft and is "100% categorically opposed to forced conscription" and outlines her reasons which include that the draft didn't stop earlier wars, the "draft will never be fair and balanced," and that "a draft will only give the war maching more of our children to consume to generate its wealth."

The peace movement includes Cindy Sheehan (who sparked it back to life), Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Camilo Mejia,
Alice Walker, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Parades, Missy Comley-Beattie, Agustin Aguayo, Stephen Funk, Carl Webb, Stan Goff, David Swanson (who examines war resistance here), . . . and many more (hopefully including you).

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Hayden notes that "the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq" and, noting the failure of media to cover the movement: "the only recourse is to prepare widespread demonstrations and ground organizing in the key presidential primary states, to make it impossible for any candidate to become president in 2008 without pledging to end the war and occupation. If there is no peace movement, there will be no peace."

What would there be instead? More abuses, probably done more openly. On Saturday,
Reuters reported Janis Karpinski's statement about the letter "signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation." (Karpinski wrote about that in her book, spoke about it with Amy Goodman and Dennis Bernstein.) We can pair that with The Socialist Worker's report on British major Antony Royce's statements in the court-martial for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners where he testified that he was instructed "by Major Mark Robinson, a brigade intelligence adviser, to 'condition' prisoners. Royce said that he then checked with Major Russel Clifton, the brigade's legal adviser, and was again told that 'conditioning' and hooding were acceptable."
[Pru highlighted the article on Royce.]

Lastly, the
Pacifica's Archives is presenting a two-day special: Pacifica Radio Archives Presents Voices For Peace And Non-Violence. It is airing on all Pacifica stations (KPFA, KFCF, KPFT, WBAI, KPFK, WPFW), many affiliates and online. The special started today and pulls from the fifty plus years of archives. (Donations made during this two day period go to preserve the archives.) Among the voices heard today were MLK, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Camilo Mejia, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Fonda, and many others.

tom hayden
kyle snyder
the new york timesdexter filkinsthe washington postdafna linzerthomas e. ricksdavid swanson
aaron glantzthe kpfa evening news
sandra lupien
cindy sheehan
medea benjamincodepink
the socialist worker

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gore Vidal, Janet Coleman, Madonna, Iraq

What are you getting tonight? Not much. Know that upfront. Everytime I go to post, I lose everything. This is my third attempt. If it doesn't post, it's also my final attempt tonight.

The illustration is Madonna and it's from Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Confessing to no talent." I didn't catch the special (but I enjoyed reading the review). Sunny did. That's the first thing I heard this morning at work. She said the special was "so bad, so very bad." They were watching it at her mother's. She was over there helping her mother cook for Thanksgiving. A number of nephews, nieces, etc. were in the living room and some adults were trying to watch the special. They figured it would be fun for all. The kids would pay attention because of dancing and music (which they did). What they didn't count on was all the "Bleep" this and "Bleep" that. It was about a half-hour in and Sunny's mother suggested they peel apples (for pies) in the living room and get the other adults to crack pecans (also for pies) while they were in there. That way, they'd all be together.

Sunny said her mother couldn't believe it. Both the fact that it really wasn't suited for holiday times and that it was so awful. Sunday, she printed up the review and took it over to her mother who read it and couldn't stop laughing.

This was much longer (and my apologies to Sunny and her mother for not trying again to type up the whole thing) but I'm moving fast to be done and posted.

In fact, I'm only going to discuss one other thing, WBAI's CAT RADIO CAFE. I was only able to grab a bit of it today but I did hear the interview with Gore Vidal. He did a convincing imitation of the Bully Boy ("I'm a war time president! I'm a war time president!") and he and Janet Coleman had a wonderful discussion about the early days of The New York Review of Books.
About the fact that they could stand up against the war in Vietnam (Vidal noted that they were all middled-aged at the time) and about the other things leading up to it. Such as the academics in charge of Partisan Review. My original plan was to go to the archives and listen after I posted. That won't be happening tonight due to all the failed attempts to post and then having to rewrite. Sunny did hear all of it and says there's a funny story Coleman tells about first meeting Vidal at an Esquire roundup of some kind. I want to hear that but tonight I just want to get away from the computer. I'm sorry this all you're getting tonight.

I wrote two full posts already that were lost and have had to start over each time. Hopefully, this posts, if not, I'm not posting tonight.

Gore Vidal talks about his new memoir, "Point-to-Point Navigation" in an interview in early November at WBAI; Sue Mingus previews an upcoming concert of the Mingus Orchestra performing Gunther Schuller's arrangements of Mingus's "Noon Night," "Half Mast Inhibition," and "Taurus in the Arena of Life." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, November 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Nouri al-Maliki feels the "love" in Baghdad, outside of the Green Zone; a US military crashes in Falluja, the press dickers over the term "civil war" and US war resister Kyle Snyder remains underground and what's really going on between the US and Iraqi resistance?

Attending funerals of some of those killed in
the Thursday slaughter (which claimed over 200 lives) in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, the puppet of the occupation was feeling the "love" or something. Mussab Al-Khairalla and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) report that Nouri al-Maliki was "pelted with stones," jeered and greeted with shouts including: "It's all your fault!" Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that he was also greeted with "Coward!" and "Collaborator!"

The puppet has no clothes on. Which is why he's gearing up for this week's meet up with Bully Boy in Jordan (Wednesday and Thursday) despite, as
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported, the Sadr bloc will pull their backing: "'If the prime minister does not give up his intention to meet Bush the criminal in Amman, we will suspend our membership at the council of representatives and government,' Salih al-Ighaeli, head of Sadr's bloc in parliament, told a solemn crowd gathered on the street in front of Sadr's headquarters". As noted Friday, should the Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance (the coalition backing al-Maliki) would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member. If others within the bloc followed the Sadr's bloc lead, the bloc could completely disintegrate (the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan currently has the second largest blog with 53 members).

Covering issues that could lead to the puppet of the occupation having his strings cut, is Tom Hayden. On Wednesday of last week, Hayden offered "
U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance" tracing efforts of the US administration to test the waters with feelers regarding other 'solutions' but "[i]t must be emphasized that there is no reason to believe that these US gestures are anything more than probes, in the historic spirit of divide-and conquer, before escalating the Iraq war in a Baghdad offensive."

Appearing on Democracy Now! today, Tom Hayden addressed the meetings, noting, "Well it's very murky and we'll know enough in a few days, I suppose. Over the past several years but especially in the past month since the election there have been contacts at a deniable level, but definate contacts, between representatives of the armed Iraqi national resistance and the US over the possible conditions of a cease fire and a change of regime in Baghdad."
Hayden mentioned the "possibility" of the US ditching the puppet with a "strongman" and also stressed the importance of the peace movement in continuing to press the issue. The most recent meetings, the post-US elections ones, are seen by Hayden as being influenced by the election results and elected officials want to move the issue off the table, out of the public eye, before the 2008 elections. On the feelers impact on the illegal war, Hayden also stated, "I don't think this is a plan to get out, I think this is a plan to reduce American casualties dramatically in order to stay in."

Amy Gooodman also interviewed Nir Rosen who discussed the prospect (raised by King Abdullah II of Jordan on ABC's This Week Sunday) of civil wars in the Middle East and saw it unlikely that Lebanaon's on the verge of a civil war, the effects Syria and Iran could have on Iraq -- "naive" because Iraq has it's own civil war right now. Rosen: "There's no solution. We've destroyed Iraq and we've destroyed the region. The Americans need to know this. . . . We destroyed Iraq and there was no civil war in Iraq until we got there. And there was no civil war in Iraq until we took certain steps to pit Shia and Sunnis against each other."

And in Iraq . . .


CNN reports that mortar rounds claimed three lives in Iraq and left 15 wounded in Baghdad. Reuters reports: "A police major was killed while trying to dismantle a roadside bomb in the oil refinery city of Baiji" and that "Mortar bombs fired by U.S. forces at insurgents wounded four Iraqi civilians, three of them boys aged six, 13 and 16".


In Dora,
CBS and AP report that six police officers were wounded in an attack and, shortly after, "gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint, wounding four soldiers." CNN reports that, in Muqdadiya, the owner of a mobile phone store was shot dead and that, in two different areas, three police officers were shot dead in Baghdad with eleven more wounded..


Reuters reports that 39 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and five more "near Baghdad." AFP notes four corpses discovered in Haswa and four in Iskandiriyah.

CNN reports that three guards were kidnapped "outside a Baghdad municipal building" and four brothers were kidnapped (the fifth killed) in the eastern part of the capital. Reuters notes the kidnapping of Abdul-Qadir Abbas in Baghdad and, in Dujail, eight police officers have been kidnapped (originally nine, one escaped) and that another was shot dead.

In Falluja, a US fighter jet has crashed.
Reuters has the most information and that includes eye witnesses asserting that "they saw the pilot eject but that he was killed, and television footage filmed by a local journalist appeared to show the pilot dead near the crash." Earlier today the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division- Baghdad Soldiers were killed during combat operations in the Iraqi capital at approximately 9 a.m. Nov. 26.Two other Soldiers were injured in the incident." The count at Iraq Coalition Casualty Count for US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 2880.

Today in England, Des Browne, the Defence Secretary delivered his promised speech.
Devika Bhat (Times of London) reports he announced that a reduction of British troops serving in Iraq would take place by year's end. No hard numbers were given and it apparently doesn't mean all troops. This as CBS and AP report that the president of Poland has announced they will put their 900 troops from Iraq "by the end of 2007".

Civil war. Iraq's been in the midst of a civil war for some time now. The mass killings on Thursday appear to be forcing the reality. Edward Wong (New York Times) posed the issue Sunday of what to do when the US administration asserts it's not a civil war but experts in the field of civil war say that it is? The piece (billed as a "new analysis") ended with no resolution. Solomon Moore (Los Angelse Times) made it clear what reporters could do -- report what they witness: "Iraq's civil war worsended Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks after coordinated car bombings that killed 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood the day before." Also calling what his own eyes saw was CNN's Michael Ware who declared Friday: ". . . for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like. . . . I don't want to see what a civil war looks like either if this isn't one." This morning on NBC's Today show, their news analyst (and retired general) made the call "civil war."

Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, the US administration is now refusing to use the terms "hunger" and "hungry" and instead, the US Agriculture Dept. is promoting the term "very low food security." If the use of "civil war" is any indication, don't be surprised to learn of "World Very Low Food Security" from the news outlets that can't figure out what's happening right in front of them.

This morning,
WBAI's Law and Disorder wrapped up their four-part series on the police state by exploring how a democracy could exist at home and an empire abroad. Hosts Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith spoke with Anthony Arnove on the topic of Iraq. (Arnove's Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal is now available in softcover.

Arnove offered strong critiques of the Democratic party and noted that US Senator Harry Reid is pushing for an additional 75 billion dollars going to the military bill and that the Democratic majority in the US Congress has little interest in using their power of the purse
to stop funding the illegal war. Arnove's opinion is that the peace movement is in a stronger position due to the fact that so many Americans are against the war and want the troops home. If you missed the broadcast you can visit the
Law and Disorder website or at the WBAI archives. Mike will be discussing the broadcast at Mikey Like It! tonight. Ruth will probably highlight in a report this week as well. (And thanks to Ruth for providing the 'streaming audio' via telephone line.) (Ruth called and put her phone up to the radio speaker if anyone's confused.)

Arnove also spoke of the importance of keeping the pressure on the government to end the war and of the importance of resisters within the military.

Turning to news of US war resisters.
Janet McConnaughey (AP) reports that Kyle Snyder "spent Thanksgiving week gutting houses flooded more than a year ago by Hurricane Katrina" and that he was part of "two dozen volunteers from Iraq Veterans Against the War".
on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war. He is now underground and tells McConnaughey that, these days, "I just travel" while his "lawyer has tried to contact Fort Leonard Wood like 75 times -- it's documented, 75 times -- and tried to get in touch with the military. They've avoided this entire subject."

Carolyn Thompson (AP) reports that US war resister Patrick Hart has stated he has "no desire to go back." Back being the United States. Hart is among the thirty plus war resisters who are attempting to seek refugee status in Iraq. Hart tells Thompson, "Every day I wake up with my son [Rian], it just assures me I did the right thing."

Hart and Snyder are a part of war resistance within the military that also includes, among others,
Ehren Watada , Joshua Key, 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, 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.

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!, the War Resisters Support Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. 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). (Jonathan Hutto was also interviewed on Law and Disorder today. Hutto is one of the organizers of Appel for Redress.)

Al Jazeera reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is now in Tehran where he was supposed to be this weekend to meet with the presidents of Syria and Iran. Thursday's events led to the closing of Baghdad International and the airport in Basra. Basra's airport reopened Sunday, Baghdad's today.

Turning to Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco is back in the news. The inquriy lasted much of the summer, as
Conor Duffy reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today, Australia's ABC), by September 18th, it had "been sitting for three months". On September 19th, the inquiry began wrapping up and issued a statement Eleanor Hall (ABC's The World Today) summarized as: "It wasn't suicide. In a surprise announcement this morning, the President of the Board inquiring into the death of Private Jake Kovco in Iraq interrupted an address from one of the Kovco lawyers to say that he had already ruled out that the young soldier deliberately took his own life."
Dan Box (The Australian) reported then that the results would be known within six weeks. He was off by about two weeks.

First up was a bit of news of the report.
As October drew to a close, it was reported the inquiry board had turned their report to Angus Houston (Air Chief Marshal of Australia's military). On November 1st, while refusing to discuss other aspects of the report, Houston stated that the board had included Jake Kovco wasn't rushed home (that would actually be Juso Sinaovic, the Bosnian carpenter whose body was mixed up with Kovco's, that got rushed to Australia). Today, as Peter Cave noted on AM (Australia's ABC), The Australian was reporting on a leaked copy of the report.

If that seems strangely familiar, you may be remembering the report by Australia's Defence Department into the mix up of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinavoic's bodies. That report showed up in the press in May when somene left a confidiential copy on a CD-ROM in a public computer at a public airport. If you remember that, you probably remember that no one was at fault. No one was at fault for the mix up in that text equivalent of a shrug.

No one is at fault again. That's what the report from the military board of inquiry appears to 'find.' And once again, Jake Kovco's survivors learn of the findings (in this case Angus Houston has had the report for some time, Brendan Nelso got his copy last week), not from the government, but from the press. The government appears to have made a habit of avoiding the family.

The report finds that Jake Kovco shot himself and that the shooting was accidental. No one is at fault. And if you think closely about
the statements made on September 19th, the board apparently knew that was their finding months ago. Conor Duffy (for AM) spoke with Judy Kovco, mother of Jake, and she responded, "Nothing surprises me with them, absolutely nothing. This was the army investigating the army. I would like to know how they came to that finding. There is no evidence that my son shot himself. There is a lot of evidence the other way but, you know, I would like to know how they came to that finding."

Interviewed by Kerry O'Brien for the 7:30 Report (ABC) in September, Judy Kovco shared her beliefs that her son did not kill himself and that she would not be surprised to find the military covering up "an accidental shooting by somebody else or a murder." Today, she told Conor Duffy that she had "applied for the Coroner's Court" and she intends to keep fighting for the truth. The Coroner's Court?

Dan Box (The Australian) reports that: "Earlier this month, staff from the military board of inquiry into Kovco's death told the NSW Coroner's Court that its policy was to dispose of evidence" but police are now requesting that this not occur. Box quotes Judy Kovco, "They (the army) want this to go away and I am not going to go away."

Box also notes that the roommates of Jake Kovco "suggested he may have placed the gun to his head as a joke, but said they did not see the fatal shot." They didn't see too damn much, did they? They offered speculation of what might have happened or what someone said probably happened or this or that but they really think the world believes that if you're in a small room with someone who is shot, you don't notice. You don't notice when the gun goes off, you don't turn around and think, "Where did that come from?"

Was the gun on the bed, on the computer, where? No one knows because apparently a gun goes off and you ignore it as you dig through the fridge thinking, "Hmm. Pepsi or Coke?" You do, however, meet up with the person whose DNA later turns up on Jake Kovco's gun (the gun that killed him) and discuss things, and when Steven Carr tells you Jake Kovco was a 'cowboy' with his gun, always playing with it, you testify to that as fact -- not that Carr told you. No, you refuse to tell where you heard it. But you slip that into your testimony.

Steven Carr is not just the one whose DNA was found on Kovco's gun, he's also a scientific genius. Or was for many days as he 'theorized' about how his DNA transferred to Jake Kovco's gun even though Carr maintains he never touched Kovco's gun. There was something really sad as that made it into print repeatedly when it was laughable on its very face. It would take expert testimony before the
DNA transfer was refuted by expert witness (Michelle Franco of the NSW Department of Health's Analytical Laboratories).

No questions were answered in the laughable inquiry ("Keystone Cops," Judy Kovco's term for one witness, applies to the entire proceedings).

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