Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blogger/Blogspot problems

I'm not going to try to say much tonight because Wally and Cedric did and their posts won't even show. Wally has a post three times (same post) and it won't show. Twice he e-mailed it and once he posted directly. They get a "read only" message of some form.

The rest of us who post in the evening? Rebecca says she's taking about another half-hour to try to log in (I only just was able to log in after trying for three hours) and then she's going to call it a night. I don't blame her.

Mike says he's going to try and post no matter what. Cedric's gone ahead and posted at his backup site (that's the post that he and Wally did together and can't get to show up at their Blogger/Blogspot sites). This sort of thing is getting so old and so tired. Blogger/Blogspot's problems go on and on endlessly.

Think of it as setting up a time to spend on the phone with a friend, a time when you can both really talk. Then, minutes before the time comes, the phone line goes dead. You're stuck there waiting. You keep hoping and lifting up the phone's receiver for a dial tone. You never get one and only grow more frustrated with each passing minute.

We are used to this sort of thing happening when we're all working together on the weekends -- in fact, that's generally the norm and why it takes forever to do those editions.

Rebecca just called and said she's losing her patience. I know the feeling.

"Hillary Clinton and the Israel Lobby" (Joshua Frank, CounterPunch):
George W. Bush's position on Iran is "disturbing" and "dangerous," reads a position paper written in late 2005 by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). One year ago the Bush administration accepted a Russian proposal to allow Iran to continue to develop nuclear energy under Russian supervision. Needless to say, AIPAC wasn't the least bit happy about the compromise.
In a letter to congressional allies, mostly Democrats, the pro-Israel organization admitted it was "concerned that the decision not to go to the Security Council, combined with the U.S. decision to support the 'Russian proposal,' indicates a disturbing shift in the Administration's policy on Iran and poses a danger to the U.S. and our allies."
Israel, however, continues to develop a substantial nuclear arsenal. In 2000, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Israel has likely produced enough plutonium to make up to 200 nuclear weapons. So it is safe to say that Israel's bomb-building technologies are light years ahead of Iran's budding nuclear program. Yet Israel still won't admit they have capacity to produce such deadly weapons.
Meanwhile, as AIPAC and Israel pressure the U.S. government to force the Iran issue to the UN Security Council, Israel itself stands in violation of numerous UN resolutions dealing with the occupied territories of Palestine, including UN Resolution 1402, which in part calls on Israel to withdraw its military from all Palestinian cities at once.
AIPAC's hypocrisy is nauseating. The Goliath lobbying organization wants Iran to cease to procure nukes while the crimes of Israel continue to be ignored. So who is propping up AIPAC's hypocritical position? None other than Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.
As one of the top Democratic recipients of pro-Israel funds for the 2006 election cycle, pocketing over $83,000, Clinton now has Iran in her cross hairs.
During a Hanukkah dinner speech delivered in December 2005, hosted by Yeshiva University, Clinton prattled, "I held a series of meetings with Israeli officials [last summer], including the prime minister and the foreign minister and the head of the [Israel Defense Forces], to discuss such challenges we confront. In each of these meetings, we talked at length about the dire threat posed by the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, not only to Israel, but also to Europe and Russia. Just this week, the new president of Iran made further outrageous comments that attacked Israel's right to exist that are simply beyond the pale of international discourse and acceptability. During my meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, I was reminded vividly of the threats that Israel faces every hour of every day. It became even more clear how important it is for the United States to stand with Israel."

I like Frank (and CounterPunch) and on a night when I hadn't waited three hours to just log in, I'd have a great deal to say. Instead, I'll just note it and the snapshot.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq,
Ehren Watada discusses his upcoming court-martial, another helicopter crashes in Iraq, calls for the unproduced NIE begin as the Bully Boy attempts to sell his escalation in and continued war on Iraq, and questions arise over his repeated alarmist talk of Iran.

In June
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Today, he spoke to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! about what he's facing ins February 5th court-martial at Fort Lewis. Watada explained the process by which he came to his decision: assigned to Iraq, he began doing the research required of him. (Yesterday on WBAI's Law and Disorder, Carolyn Ho walked people through her son's awakening. In addition to archived broadcasts at either link, Rebecca's written of the speech at her site.) His research provided him with information and, from that infomation, he was left the reality that the war was illegal and immoral. At which point he had to decide what to do and he tried to handle the matter privately but the military repeatedly refused to do so. Only after months of that did Watada go public. In his August Article 32 hearing (similar to a grand jury), his attornies (a military attorney and a civilian attorney) were allowed to present a defense. 'Judge' Head has disallowed that for the court-martial scheduled to be held at Fort Lewis on February 5th.

Amy Goodman asked, in light of that ruling, "what is heard in the court, that you just refused to show up?" Watada answered, "Correct. It will simply be. It will be a non-trial. It will not be a fair trial or a show of justice, in any sense. I think that they will simply say, 'Was he ordered to go? Yes. Did he go? No. Well, he’s guilty.' And that also goes for the conduct unbecoming charges: 'Did he make those statements? Can we verify that? Yes? Okay, he’s guilty.' And then it will be pretty much a disciplinary hearing -- in terms of how much punishment should we give this lieutenant." There will be strong defense offered despite the fact that Watada faces up to six years in prison if convicted of all charges. Now the military has a roll of who made the deployment and who didn't and they have transcripts and audio and video of Watada's statment. If he's not allowed to explain his reasons, it's a matter of "yes" and "no." That's really not a defense and "Judge" Head really isn't a judge. (That's me, not Watada for any 'researches' for the prosecution.)

Watada declared that "there's tremendous support out there. I think it's unfortunate that we haven't been able to get into the national media as much as we wanted to. And therefore, the more east you go, the less people know about the case. And I think, just looking at how much support I've received in Washington state and back home in my home state, in Hawaii, there are a lot of people who are coming out. And not just people on one spectrum of the political ideology, but people from the mainstream. They are all coming out -- the unions, the interfaith groups, the students, universities. They are all coming out to support. And I think that's just a testament to how people feel about the war and the policies of this administration."

There is a lot of support. There is, however, very little coverage in media big or small. There are exceptions and it's usually the same group we've learned to look for coverage of what matters. Yesterday on
Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, Martha Baskin reported on the Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq held in Tacoma, Washington last Satruday and Sunday noting that while a 'judge' had "ruled that" Watada "could not raise the legality of the war in his defense" the hearing did just that attracting experts from legal and military fields, "military families and veterans". Richard Falk was heard, in the report, testifying that, "It is our role as citizens to protect those who are brave enough . . . who refuse to participate in an illegal war."

Another issue in the court-martial of
Ehren Watada is whether or not journalists should participate in the proceedings as witnesses for the prosecution. Emily Howard spoke with journalists Sarah Olson and Norman Solomon yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints. Olson will not discuss her "legal strategy." She has stated, on air, to Laura Flanders she wouldn't testify and she has played mum on that with others. However, as noted on Sunday, she has not stated that she supported Watada 100%, she has just stated that as a journalist it is her job to cover the news and her sources are sources and neither an endorsement or a rebuke.

Speaking with Howard yesterday, Olson made her strongest case yet.

She did that by first starting with
Ehren Watada who is facing the court-martial and whose stand is what the military is interested in and wants to punish. ("The crux of this trial," as Howard pointed out.) Having established Watada's stand, Olson then connected it to other war resisters who had come forward by name (and noted that Flashpoints interviewed Ivan Brobeck -- they were the only outlet to do so when he returned to the US from Canada to turn himself on election day in November with an open letter to the Bully Boy). Why does whether she testifies or not in the court-martial matter?

As Olson and Solomon outlined it (very clearly) who are war resisters going to talk to? If they're under the impression that any reporter they tell their stories to will then be called before a court to testify against them, that will produce a chilling effect on free speech and prevent a free press from the ability to keep citizens informed. That is the purpose of the free press,
as veteran DC journalist Helen Thomas noted on yesterday's Democracy Now!, not providing with you commercials of products that will 'enhance' your life, informing citizens so that they can make their decisions and contribute within a democracy.

Norman Solomon noted that the Pentagon is "worried about people not only thinking for themselves but speaking up" so it is "trying to intimidate" people into silence and that this is "a contradicition between the myth of the military defending our 'freedoms'" and trying to supress freedoms.

Olson, who faces six month in jail and/or a fine if she refuses to testify, declared, "When you look at the number of people who are taking steps to actively express their opposition to this war I think that is has become it has grown to a point it's not something that can be ignored or . . . can or should be ignored. And I think it's very important as journalists . . . that we are able to cover this perspective and this growing number of active dutry Iraq war vetrns and soldiers who are in opposition to this war. It's becoming more and more relevant as the days go by."

Olson is correct -- Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Robin Long, Ryan Johnson, Chris Teske, Tim Richard and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two car bombs in Baghdad (Sheikh Omar neighborhood and Karranda neighborhood) that killed five and left 11 wounded while, in east Baghdad, an IED wounded 3 police ofiicers; in the province of Basra an explosion killed one person, and, yesterday, two British soldiers were injured in yet another rocket attack "on the British consulate downtown Baasra city".Reuters reports three Iraqi soldiers wounded in a car bombing in Sinjar, nine injured in a car bombing in Mosul, a woman dead and two children wounded from mortar attacks in Iskandariya, and six dead from mortar attacks (nine wounded) in Suwayra.


Yesterday a school teacher (female) was gunned down on her way to work. Today,
CNN reports another attack on an educator -- a professor was gunned down on his way to work as well (northern Baghdad). The BBC reports five Iraqi police officers were shot dead in Mosul. Reuters reports that educators were attacked in Tal Afar as well -- two teachers shot dead,
that two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Falluja, and that two people were shot dead near Kirkuk (with another wounded).


Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Mussayab today and five discovered yesterday (four in Rutba and one in Iskandariya).

Also today the
US military announced: "An 89TH Military Police Brigade Soldier died Monday of wounds suffered after an improvised explosive device exploded next to his vehicle north of Baghdad" and they announced: ".One Marine assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died Sunday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in the Multi National Division-Baghdad area of operation, south of Baghdad. One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

In addition to the above five Americans, employees of the Blackwater security firm, are dead.
CBS and AP report that helicopter was shot down citing an "Iraqi defense official" who states a machine gun was used to shoot the helicopter down. This echoes the Washington Post's eye witness who stated a machine gun was used to shoot down the helicopter carrying twelve US troops, Saturday in Baghdad. The US military has presented the crashes and crash landings repeatedly as though they were mechanical failures (which some may have been) but it's also true that helicopters can be shot down -- with guns, no rockets needed. That was very clear during Vietnam and it's amazing how so many in the press corps seem to either be unaware of that point or choose to ignore it as one crash after another (until recently) resulted in press 'reports' that read like military press releases (and some were).

In news of reality versus Operation Happy Talk, the press can't contain their giddyness (with few exceptions) over the supposed 'crackdown' finally going on with militias and the people in leadership (or portrayed as such) of them being caught. As has been pointed out earlier this month, the detentions (in the past) can best be termed "catch and release" (one Republican senator even denounced them as such). Commenting on one wave of Operation Happy Talk in the press, the
BBC's Anderw North notes: "it is still not clear how significant the senior Mehdi Army figures now in custody are." And Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a US led operation in the Salah Ad Din province Monday night led to the arrest of "the chief of Tikrit local council Aarif Jabbar Motar and Sheikh Khaleel Al Ejili, a member of the Muslim Scholars Association and the imam of Omar Bin AL Khattab mosque. The two men were arrested in the house of the Iraqi army intelligence officer Captain Maeen Al Dulaimi." Hammoudi also reports that one of the two arrested as they attempted to negotiate the release of both Dr. Basim Al Jishi and Sheikh Hamid Ugab and that Ugab "had been released early morning today." Was there a point to arresting him, or any of the others, besides the giddy press 'reports' that help continue Operation Happy Talk?

If so, does it counter the fact that
the people's response was a 1,000 plus demonstration against these arrest? Or does it just further inflame the tensions?

Meanwhile, same topic (Operation Happy Talk versus reality), the usual War Hawks among the press have passed off escalation as the answer (see Michael R. Gordon) and few questions have been asked by others whether this was a 'strategy,' a 'technique,' or just sop tossed out to try fool the public?
David Morgan (Reuters) reports: The Bush administration came under fire on Tuesday for its failure to produce a key intelligence report that casts doubt on whether the Iraqi government is capable of taking steps to ensure the success of President George W. Bush's strategy. The classified document, known as a national intelligence estimate, would represent the 16-agency espionage community's consensus views on the stability of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government and prospects for controlling sectarian violence in Iraq. U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte's office was ordered by Congress to produce the document in late September, but is not expected to do so until after the Senate takes up two measures opposing Bush's plan to send another 21,500 troops to Iraq to try to quell the violence." That would be the report that former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (writing at Consortium News) noted: "So the White House is playing it safe, avoiding like the plague any estimate that would raise doubts about the wisdom of the decision to surge. And that is precisely what an honest estimate would do. With 'sham-dunk' former CIA director George Tenet and his accomplices no longer in place as intelligence enablers, the White House clearly prefers no NIE to one that would inevitably highlight the fecklessness of throwing 21,500 more troops into harm’s way for the dubious purpose of holding off defeat for two more years. The Old Mushroom Cloud The NIE, which leaned so far forward to support the White House’s warnings of a made-in-Iraq 'mushroom cloud,' remains the negative example par excellence of corrupted intelligence. The good news is that Tenet and his lackeys were replaced by officers who, by all indications, take their job of speaking truth to power seriously."

Finally on this topic, the Bully Boy gives his State of the Union speech tonight. In it, he is again expected to sound the alrams on Iran. But
Alexandra Zavis and Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times) report that there are claims but little proof: "But there has been little sign of more advanced weaponry crossing the border, and no Iranian agents have been found. In his speech this month outlining the new U.S. strategy in Iraq, President Bush promised to "seek out and destroy" Iranian networks that he said were providing "advanced weaponry and training to our enemies." He is expected to strike a similar note in tonight's State of the Union speech. For all the aggressive rhetoric, however, the Bush administration hasprovided scant evidence to support these claims. Nor have reporters traveling with U.S. troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement."

In DC, the Senate Armed Services Committee went through the motions of a hearing on whether or not to confirm David Petraeus, nominated by the Bully Boy, the Lt. general would become the new commander of US troops (and Iraqis, be honest) in Iraq.
BBC reports that he told the committee: "None of this will be rapid. The way ahead will be neither quick nor easy. There undoubtedly will be tough days. . . . The situation in Iraq is dire. The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard. . . But hard is not hopeless." Hard does not mean hopeless, Petraeus declares. (Gordo gets giddy at the thought.) And soft doesn't mean happiness, as many women could explain. He did and a song and dance and the senators acted as though they were doing a probing examination. Or maybe it was supposed to pass for 'symbolic.' The senators occassionaly asked a difficult question (Ted Kennedy) but after almost four years of a war that continues to kill Iraqis, Americans, British, . . . that just didn't cut it anymore than the 'symbolic' measure Senators Carl Levin, Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel are pushing. The most obvious question went unasked: "Why is the US in Iraq? What pupose does the US presence serve?"

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, US Congress Representative Maxine Waters will be attending the demonstration in DC this weekend and is urging other members of Congress to do likewise. Informations on these demonstrations in DC this weekend can be found at CODEPINK's Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! activities will also be taking place in communities around the country. Saturday, Laura Flanders will be broadcasting live from DC to cover the demonstrations on RadioNation with Laura Flanders.

In addition
Anthony Arnove, author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking in DC this weekend on Saturday the 27th at Busboys and Poets at 5:00 pm while those in the NYC area might want to check out this Sunday event -- from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Joan Mellen lecture on JFK assasination 1-28-07" which I meant to note last week but didn't have time (we will be noting it, Monday through Friday, in the week leading up to the Sunday event):We'll be noting this again in January, but we'll note it right now.
Joan Mellen will be speaking Sunday, January 28th at 7:30 p.m. in NYC at the 92nd Street Y (92nd Street and Lesington Avenue). Mellan, a professor at Temple University and the author of seventeen books, will be presenting a lecture on the JFK assasination . . . and beyond. Tickets are $25.Mellen's latest book is A Farewell to Justice which probes the assasination of JFK. She was a guest on Law and Disorder November 7, 2005. And the March 15, 2006 broadcast of KPFA's Guns and Butter featured her speech "How the Failure to Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led to Today's Crisis of Democracy." You can also read a transcript of that speech here.
Again, that's Sunday, January 28th, 7:30 p.m. the 92nd Street Y in NYC.