Friday, May 18, 2007

Sharon Smith, Antonia Zerbisias, Robert Knight

It's Friday. Late. We've done the Iraq study group tonight and I'm in the living room with my laptop to relax while Mike's father operates the stereo. He put on Bright Eyes which did surprise me because he's not a huge fan of a lot of new CDs. (Click here for Kat's review of this amazing CD.) Like most of us in the community, he has Kat to thank for turning him onto new releases.
"If I get out of California, I'm going back to my home state, to tell them all that I made a mistake . . ." That's one of my favorite lyrics on the CD. Bright Eyes really has made done something amazing on this CD so I hope you've made a point to listen. I don't know any of the song titles. I can sing along with each track, but I don't know the titles and I just grabbed the CD case and they aren't listed (unless we're supposed to use the Spectral Decoder to see them). There is a lyric booklet but it's not in the case (mine's not in my case either).

I could easily live without TV. I couldn't live without a radio or something to play music on. I'm sure I've shared this before but one of my favorite places to study in college was the rehearsal rooms in the music building. Anytime C.I. would get ready to practice, I'd holler "Hold up!" and grab some texts to go with. C.I. would do the scales on the piano, then play whatever piece was being learned at that moment. Then, the last part was fun. That was my favorite part. C.I.'d play jazz or popular songs. I never learned to play any instrument (C.I. taught me two songs on guitar and I can still play those) and I'm not one of those "Why didn't I . . .?" type people; however, if I ever had enough spare time, I'd probably attempt to learn an instrument.

I was probably intimidated by (as much as I was enthralled) C.I.'s abilities. There was a real game of one upmanship going on in those rehearsal rooms and most wouldn't bother to do the scales. The rooms weren't soundproof and you could easily hear those on both sides and, often, others as well. C.I. wouldn't play the competition game (but when you're good, you don't have to) and would do the scales and do whatever else you're supposed to warm up with. Then C.I. would break down whatever the new (classical) piece was. (C.I. isn't big on a lot of classical music and that comes from having studied it.) It would be a slow break down and there would be people in other rooms that were really trying to be on fire. (This isn't just my guess, this is really true. This is how it was and I bet it is how it still is.) Then when C.I. felt that piece was done (usually a half hour to 45 minutes) the fun began. You would hear every one else come to stop. At the start of each semester, you'd get used to people looking through the window on the door. People would come in and ask if they could sit and listen. My personal favorites were always when C.I. played something "new" (meaning something self-written). I was always surprised that C.I. was ever modest or embarrassed. But, like with the TV commentaries C.I. and Ava did, do not shower with praise. It would be too much. The best piano teacher C.I. ever had was in college because he sensed when it was just too much praise. (At which point, forget it because C.I.'s hands would shake when attempting to play.)

I also remember, each semester, someone being less than secretive about their jealousy and those people never bothered C.I. They'd attempt to figure it out, how to play it the way C.I. did and never could. I think you either have it or you don't. C.I. would hear harmonies and counter-melodies that weren't obvious and grab those. A lot of people, in those days -- I might need to add that, I'm assuming there's a thriving music department on all campuses but that may not be the case anymore -- could play by ear or play by sheet music but they really didn't feel the music.

But I do understand the ones who would pack up and leave (some did so very noisily) because C.I. was my excuse for never learning. (C.I. offered, throughout college, to teach me piano. I did learn the two songs on guitar but that was it.) When C.I. moved a piano into our college apartment, Rebecca would learn a song (I think she knows three that C.I. showed her) and would play those and "Chopsticks." I was always too intimidated to even touch the piano unless it was my turn to dust.

I'm tired and trying to keep my eyes open. So that's my excuse for telling C.I. stories. Usually Rebecca's the one who does that but I'm really tired and hearing Bright Eyes right now, that's what I was reminded of. So let me just share that because Jim Jim and Mike have both written before about how you do not praise Ava and C.I. during a writing edition before they've written the TV commentary. They will hit a wall. They'll overcome it but the bulk of the time they'll spend on the commentary will be getting to the point where they can overcome it. I could guess why Ava's that way (and might guess correctly) but I do know why C.I. is that way (and am not telling). One thing I can share is C.I.'s major. A question came in that Sunny was attempting to answer. In "Roundtable," C.I. said "poli sci major" and an e-mail came in about that. C.I. double majored for the undergraduate degree (poli sci and sociology) and has multiple masters.

I've always teased C.I. on the reasons "poli sci" was selected. There are multiple reasons; however, our first semester, we were all taking one class together. I don't even remember it now. (Rebecca may.) But the professor was looking around at the empty seats and made a joke that they must be poli sci majors because poli sci majors never come to the first class. C.I. was among those missing. I've always teased that the joke gave C.I. the out to skip.

C.I. always earned the grades except in one class. I'm going to share this story because I like it. Maybe you will too? It was a very difficult sememster for a number of reasons including activism and C.I. hates math to begin with. There was a class that was required and C.I. was carrying 18 hours that semester. It was easy to skp and C.I. did. C.I. went to the first two weeks and then didn't show up again until the final. Rebecca was in that class and C.I. shows up and does awful (we're all guessing) on the final but, while turning it in, the professor says, "I understand you had a death in your family" (which wasn't true that semester) and adds not to worry about the grade. Rebecca was pissed because she busted her ass in that course and C.I. blew it off. (C.I. will admit to that. It took place at 'peak' activism hours. It was hang around for that class or get active. As the world around us got more and more active, C.I. planned to just re-take it the next semester.) But you know the nightmare where you show up for class and it's the final and you haven't studied? C.I. has that to this day. About that one class.

Rebecca's planning to blog at her site tonight. She asked what I was writing about and she said (apologies to C.I. for starting this), "Oh good, I can tell C.I. college stories!"

"The Death of Triangulation Politics?" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
A few months ago, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would have seemed the least likely Democratic presidential candidate to lead the charge to repeal the authority Congress bestowed upon George W. Bush to wage war on Iraq in 2002.
Indeed, ever since Clinton laid down residential roots in Westchester County, New York in 2000 (the first step in a calculated plan for a 2008 presidential run), she staked her reputation as a founding member of the "National Security Democrats"--a Congressional caucus including presidential rivals Joe Biden and John Edwards--that embraced the Bush Doctrine's strategy of pre-emptive warfare and the conservative legacy of Republican Ronald Reagan.
As recently as March, Clinton stubbornly refused to apologize for voting to authorize the war in 2002, in stark contrast to the now-former Senator Edwards (who apologized) and the since-elected Senator Barack Obama (who at the time was still protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a member of Illinois' state legislature).
Clinton's handlers appear to have finally recognized that the angry electorate that swept the Democrats into a Congressional majority last November is demanding opposition to the war as a litmus test for supporting 2008 candidates. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal opinion poll released on April 25 showed both Obama and Edwards closing in on Clinton's lead. While she remained 12 points ahead of Obama in March, her lead shrank to just 5 points in April, with only a 36-31 percent margin. Support for Edwards, just 15 percent in March, rose to 20 percent in April.
"Triangulation"--a strategy perfected by President Bill Clinton as he stole the Republican Party's conservative platform in the 1990s--is quickly receding into an historical anomaly for the Democratic Party. This strategy failed miserably for John Kerry in 2004, in a ridiculous attempt to straddle the pro- and anti-war camps, famously declaring, "I did vote for [the war] before I voted against it." If anything, it is astonishing that the Democratic Party establishment has taken so long to realize that pandering to conservative "swing" voters--and its open contempt toward its enormous liberal voting base--only strengthened the ideological hold of the Republican Party, itself held captive to the Christian Right on Election Day.

Sharon Smith's correct that it has killed the Democratic Party, triangulation. It's still around. It seems to be more silent and stealth these days. They seem to know they must make public noises but then they go vote and you're aware that they're still triangulating. Obama did it. He started out anti-war and stayed that way while he had competition (Jack Ryan). Then he had jokes running against him and backed off of the stance. I don't see him as against the war. Not after reading that latest book. We did "Nation Isle" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) last Sunday and there's a point "Ralph Nader" makes in that (it's fiction) that I thought summed Obama and Clinton up pretty well:

Katrina: B-but, Hillary and Obama were so much alike. Surely the party triangulated as it always does. Surely it is still alive.
Ralph: It tried to triangulate. Hillary tried to triangulate and then Obama tried to triangulate and top her. Then she'd do it again, then he'd do it again, and come November 2008, they were both running as independent Republicans. With John Edwards not receiving a majority or even plurality in the primaries, The New York Times editorialized that he was "frivolous" and that "Now is the time for all good Ameircans to come to the aid of the Republican Party."

It wouldn't surprise me tremendously if it came to that.

"Making Sense of What Doesn’t Make The News" (Antonia Zerbisias, Common Dreams):
In Herman and Chomsky's
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the authors proposed their propaganda model as a way of understanding how the mass media "filter" the news through five sieves.
Stripped down for purposes of, as Chomsky would say, typical media "concision," they are: ownership interests, advertiser concerns, the nature of journalists' sources, flak (or negative feedback) and ideology.
No recent failure of the media has been more spectacular than that during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when they marched in lockstep to promote the weapons of mass destruction lie.
Few journalists ventured outside the Pentagon for their information. Those that did and dug up contrary evidence, or lack of it, were confined to back pages, marginalized or scorned.
The facts underreported because of media filters "are the inconvenient and larger truths that the Herman-Chomsky model forces us to confront and challenge," said Valerie Scatamburlo-D'Annibale, an associate professor here.
(For the record: The Star was the only major metro daily in Canada not to back the war on Iraq. It has however endorsed the Canadian "mission" in Afghanistan.)
Noting that both the New York Times and Washington Post eventually apologized for their shoddy reportage, Herman said, "The ink had hardly dried when they were doing the exact same thing with Iran."
This is why New York-based Danny Schechter of talked of media "war crimes." He cited historical examples of indictments of media -- from Tokyo Rose after World War II to radio stations in Rwanda.
Reminding his audience that the Nuremberg trials were really about "crimes against peace," he said, "We have the right to demand accountability.
"This is a story about crime, collusion and complicity between media and government."

I liked this article and it mentioned Danny Schechter, so I'm happy to note it. But I was just reminded of something I never noted. Everyone noted this last Thursday that posted then. I don't post on Thursdays. But I'm happy to note it.

"The Knight Report" (Robert Knight, KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, May 9, 2007)
In today's "Knight Report" --
VP Cheney gets another thunderous respomse to his secret visit to Iraq; and
Democrats decide to continue the War in Iraq by giving President Bush a bimonthly "allowance," rather than an annual "trust fund."
I'm Robert Knight in New York.
The man who mapped Iraq's oilfields as the payoff for the Bush administration's 2003 invasion today visited his prize territory under cover of darkness, where security required Halliburton alumnus and VP Richard Cheney to wear a massive flack-jacket under his blue blazer during yet another secret visit to Baghdad. Nevertheless, Cheney was serenaded with the percussive sound of nearby explosions, just as he was duriung his secret visit to Bagram airnbase in Afghanistan several weeks ago.
Today, mortars fired by the Iraqi patriotic resistance struck near the heavily guarded home of the Iraqi puppet parliament and prime minister inside Baghdad's US controlled Green Zone, with such force and proximity that Cheney's traveling team of reporters and mainstream media stenographers were quickly hustled from the rattling windows that framed a scheduled press conference, to the basement bunker of the US embassy compound, for their own safety.
Following the upstaging of his meeting with US "proconsul" Ryan Crocker and Iraq's de facto military governor, General David Petraeus, the surly VP terminated reporters' questions by growling that "This is just a photo spray." and grumbling that "There still are some security problems, security threats, no question about it." Later, as reporters filed into an embassy conference room for another photo-op of Cheney they overheard him tell his staff "...then we kick the press out."
Cheney's primary purpose was to pump the unratified Iraqi oil law, which was actually written by an American consultancy based near Langley, Virginia -- and which would abolish Iraqi national sovereignty over national petroleum reserves, in favor of lucrative extraction agreements with multinational oil conglomerates, whose proceeds the Bush administration had fondly hoped would help fund the 2-trillion-dollar cost of the ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The legislation would also lead to a defacto partition of Iraq by disempowering the central Baghdad government, as well as Iraq's 18 provinces, in favor of so^called "regional governments" -- of which there is currently only one: namely, the Kurdistan regional regime in northern Iraq, which has long enjoyed the favors and clandestine presence of the CIA and Mossad.
But the legitimacy of the Kurdish construct was also challenged during Cheney's visit by the Iraqi resistance, which launched a suicide truck attack in the fortified Kurdish capitol of Irbil, killing nearly 2 dozen and wounding more than 100, in the most significant attack in three years. The "Islamic State of Iraq" claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the Kurdish government's dispatch of Peshmerga troops and militias to Baghdad for the American security surge.
Cheney's secondary purpose in Iraq was to demand speedy compliance from Iraq's "plantation parliament," which has yet to rubber-stamp the Bush administration's desperate desire for the oil law giveaway. The absentee assembly seldom reaches quorum because nearly half of its members now reside in London and in neighboring countries for their own safety. Cheney (along with most of the American mainstream media) feels competent to judge the parliament's plans for a 2-month recess during the 100-degree summer days of Iraq -- just like the US Congress enjoys during its annual recesses, as do most of America's schoolteachers and students.
More than 4 years into the disastrous occupation that Cheney and the the White House said would be "welcomed with open arms," Cheney today blamed the US-constructed occupation regime for the lack of post-invasion progress, saying of the scheduled Iraqi recess that "Any undue delay would be difficult to explain," and adding that "I do believe that there is a greater sense of urgency now than I'd seen previously."
But, unfortunately for Cheney, much of that urgency is in direct opposition to his presence in Iraq.
The Mahdi Army movement led by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today announced large demonstrations in the three holy cities of Kufa, Karbala and Kadhemiyah to protest Cheney's visit. al-Sadr has also withdrawn a half-dozen Sadrist party members from the occupation cabinet of puppet PM Nouri al Maliki, over his refusal to demansd a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Yesterday the Sunni VP of the occupation, Tarek Al Hashimi, gave Maliki a one-week deadline for accomodatoing Sunni interests and ending the occupation -- or face the withdrarwal of Sunni contingents from Maliki's shaky coalition government.
There was also some back-tracking in Washington, where Democrats in Congress are adopting a new strategy to maintain the war in Iraq, while appearing to oppose it.
The latest Democratic party gambit in prolonging the bipartisan war is to not end funding for the war, but to transfer President Bush from an annual war-making "triust fund," to a bi-monthly "allowance."
The Democrats' proposal would pay for the war through July, then give Congress the option of renewing more money if conditions meet up with arbitrarily-defined "benchmarks" -- not the least of them being... passage of the oil law. The Democrats would also agree to eliminate withdrawal requirements and give Bush a blank check for a potential invasion of neighboring Iran. The bill would fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for three months, but "sequester" $48 billion until Bush made an automatic and unchallenged claim of "progress" in Iraq.
Even so, the White House said today it would still veto the new conditional House legislation -- which Democrats consider a "win-win" tactic, because it would give the impression (with renewals every few weeks) that they are "opposed" to the war and occupation that more than 2/3 of the American public wish to come to a rapid comnclusion.
Nevertheless, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq, revealed today there are NO plans to end the US escalation in Iraq anytime soon. Odierno said "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," .
And that's some of the news of this Wednesday, May 9, 2007.
From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for

That's it for me tonight.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, day 7 passes with no news of the whereabouts of the 3 missing US soldiers, the US miliarty announces more deaths, America's ABC announces the death of two of their journalists in Iraq . . .

US military announced that they were continuing the search "for three missing U.S. Soldiers who are believed to have been abducted . . . Saturday in Quarghuli Village". The soldiers remain missing. One identification that has been made is the fourth soldier killed on Saturday. CNN reports that he has been identified as Anthony J. Schober of Reno, NV.
CNN lists the three missing soldiers as being: Byron W. Fouty, Alex R. Jimenez and Joseph J. Anzack Jr. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes: "The manhunt has involved an extraordinary array of resources, including helicopters, drones, manned aircraft, forensic experts, FBI interrogators and dogs that can sniff for bombs and bobieds."
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, yesterday, "the wear was showing, not just on the soldiers obsessed with finding their comrades but also on the hamlets that dot the region southwest of Baghdad, which is blessed with groves of elegant date palms and riddled with pro-Al Qaeda insurgents. Hundreds of local men have been detained for questioning, leaving women, children and legions of ferociosly barking dogs in charge of Iraqi towns such as Rushdi Mullah, a community of 86 households under a virtual siege by troops looking for their buddies."

snapshot noted: ". . . protests take place in Baghdad, . . ." That was it (my apologies). The protests were described yesterday by Thomas Wagner (AP): "In northern Baghdad, about 200 Iraqis marched down a street in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Shaab, shouting slogans and carrying banners demanding that the thousands of US soldiers conducting a security crackdown in the capital stop creating forward operating bases in neighbourhoods and searching homes for suspected insurgents and militiamen." Thursday protest resulted from the tensions that Susman describes today. Today was day seven of the 3 US troops being missing and, only on day seven, did the New York Times decide it was front page news (Damien Cave's "Hunt for 3 G.I.'s in Iraq Slowed by False Trails"). Also in the paper is Paul von Zielbauer's report on the just revealed story (AP broke this yesterday) about the army's investigation of the June 2006 attack and kidnappings (2 US soldiers) and later deaths revealed that the dead "had been left for up to 36 hours without supervision or enough firepower or support to repel even a small group of enemy fighters." No one in the Times draws the obvious comparison from the June 2006 events and the attack last Saturday. This despite the fact that the report on the 2006 attack noted the 25 minute arrival by the "quick reaction force." Last Saturday's attack took one hour before other troops arrived. Or one hour until Wednesday when the US military changed their story and began insisting that it took 30 minutes. The report on the 2006 attack wasn't criticizing the responders -- it was noted that the distance plotted was too great -- a command issue, not an on the ground issue. The same thing appears to have happened with last Saturday's attack.

As the war drags on, some work to end it.
Judith Scherr (The Berkeley Daily Planet) reports US war resister Agustin Aguayo took part in "a gathering Tuesday morning outside City Hall sponsored by the city's Peace and Justice Commission, Courage to Resist and the Ehren Watada support committee. The event was to celebrate the city's first Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters Day, an event to be observed annually every May 15." Monday, pre-trial motions begin for Ehren Watada -- the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the first officer to be court-martialed (in February, it ended in a mistrial and double jeopardy should prevent him from being court-martialed again). Also on Monday, airs Questioning War-Organizing Resistance from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST and will address the issue of war resistance with guests including Pablo Paredes, Michael Wong, Jeff Paterson and Camilo Mejia. More information can be found in Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC).

Camilo Mejia's just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) traces his journey. From pages 224-225:

Through media contacts from before I went underground, I had gotten the contact information for a man named Steve Robinson, a retired Special Forces veteran who led an organization called the National Gulf War Resource Center, which provides support to veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Steve in turn put me in touch with Tod Ensign, the director of the soldiers' rights organization called
Citizen Soldier.
Thus a couple of weeks after the end of my leave I found myself on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue outside the address that Tod had given me over the phone. Looking at the building from the street, I thought at first I had arrived at the fancy headquarters of a well-funded organization. Once inside, however, I found that the
Citizen Soldier offices were quite modest. Furthermore, far from the uptight, heartless image I'd always had of attorneys, Tod turned out to be a down-to-earth kind of guy, with a big smile and a physical resemblance to Christopher Walken -- a similarity only enhanced by his heavy New York City accent. As a young attorney in the sixties and seventies, Tod had been involved in the Vietnam GI resistance movement, and had helped underground soldiers living abroad with safe passage back to the United States, a legal defense, and the means to get their stories out to the media.
As soon as I spoke with Tod the door to a new world opend up before my eyes. I went from feeling powerless and alone to realizing that there was a whole network of people and groups, from women's rights organizations and antiwar veterans to military families and religious groups, who all felt as I did about the war.
Tod and I discussed how I was going to handle my absence from the military. We agreed that I should do everything I could to avoid getting arrested and then give myself up voluntarily while insisting in court on my right to be legally discharged from the service. This strategy of surrendering myself would defeat the charge of desertion, which is roughtly defined as unauthorized absence from the military with the intent to remain permanently away.

Mejia has been taking part in a speaking tour that wraps up today:

Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Tod Ensign, who Camilo Mejia wrote of, also started up the
Different Drummer Cafe where a group of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke in March. Eric Ruder (ISR) provides a transcript and we'll note Matt Hrutkay today:

About a week and a half ago I was browsing through the VA Web site. They have a section in there devoted to PTSD. It has a guide for VA medical providers, doctors, psychologists, etc. that are dealing with people coming back from Iraq having these issues. And they have in there an encouragment to physicians to diagnose people with "adjustment disorder," "anxiety disorder," and "personality disorder." The reason they're doing that is so they can claim that there was a pre-existing condition before I joined the army and my issues have nothing to do with being blown up twenty-one times.
According to statistics, 18 percent of soldiers coming back from Iraq suffer some form, mild or severe, of PTSD. That's 18 percent according to an army physician at the VA. Of those, add to that people like me who have multiple symptoms of this but still get diagnosed as it being "my own problem." Add to that, people who are scared to go to mental health clinics because of their chain of command, because they're scared they won't get promoted. Because they're scared their buddies will make fun of them. I think you can then see how much prevalent that issue is and what the numbers are probably more likely to be. I'm not going to say what percentage really have PTSD coming back because it would be a guess. But I think it's clear from my own experience that this issue is probably the most prevalent issue facing returning soldiers and it's being compltely ignored.

CODEPINK is in DC for the summer of activism and Rae Abileah shares, "Today when I was at Congress for a meeting I stopped by the underground subway between the House buildings and the Capitol as many Congressmembers were walking through to vote on something. Though I didn't have a specific bill to ask them about, I did shake many of their hands, and to every one I asked the question, 'Have you done something today to staop the war in Iraq?' 'Help us bring our troops home!' Because it is possible to walk these halls of Congress and feel very distant from the mere idea of war, it felt very effective be a constant voice about the conflict outside the passageway to the Capitol. Imagine if every time there was any vote in Congress, every member going from their office to the Capitol was confronted with the message that it is time to bring our troops home and get out of Iraq.
Our Congresspeople are for the most part behind the times in terms of public opinion about the war. Not only do we have to 'push' them to do the right thing, support key legislation, stop the war... we have to 'pull' them, by leading them towards the right direction. I envision hundreds of people here on a daily basis helping to pull Congress away from the Bush Agenda and towards peace. To increase our numbers from a dozen to a hundred... we need YOU! Click on the links to the right to find out how to join us in DC! Or raise a ruckus at your Congressperson's nearest office!" The links she was referencing are:

Apply to Join Us in DC
DC Pink House Info
DC Sumer Trainings
CODEPINK Women for Peace
Cindy Sheehan and a number of other individuals and organizations are working to make this summer one of activism and volume so that Congress not only grasps that the people have turned on the illegal war but that it is time to end it.

United for Peace & Justice notes:

Peace activists are surging on Washington DC -- to bear witness as Congress again takes up Iraq War funding and the Pentagon budget, and continues to hold hearings on civil liberties, torture, and more.
Click here for the latest legislative information.
May 15-July 31: SWARM on Congress
June and July: CODEPINK DC Activist House
UFPJ hopes you will get the word out: There is plenty to do in Washington, and a steady flow of people into the nation's capital will have a tremendous impact in the coming months. UFPJ endorses these efforts, and encourages other creative actions and projects, both in DC and around the country. (If you are organizing an action,
please post it on our events calendar.)

Turning to Iraq, two journalists who worked for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) were killed in Iraq yesterday: Alaa Uldeen Aziz and Saif Laith Yousuf.
AFP reports they were "ambushed and killed as they returned hom from work at their Baghdad office" and notes: "At least 170 journalists and media professionals have been killed in the fighting that has gripped Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion, according to the watchdog Reporters without Borders." AP quotes Terry McCarthy (ABC correspondent in Baghdad) stating: "They are really our eyes and ears in Iraq. Many places in Baghdad are just too dangerous for foreigners to go now, so we have Iraqi camera crews who very bravely go out. . . . . Without them, we are blind, we cannot see what's going on." ABC notes:

Aziz is survived by his wife, his two daughters and his mother. Yousuf leaves behind his fiancee, his mother and brothers and sisters. Mike Tuggle, an ABC News producer who worked with Aziz, remembers a game of pool they played on his first trip to Baghdad.
"I had some down time and got into a game of pool with Alaa. He beat me badly. Just before he hit the last ball in he looked up at me and said, 'My name is Alaa Uldeen, but you can call me Aladdin, because I have his magic on the pool table," Tuggle wrote in an e-mail message.
"The balls they just disappear," Tuggle continued, "And his face lit up with that big smile of his."

In Iraq today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack at Abu Dhaba killing one ("5 were injured including children"). Reuters reports: "A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at an Iraqi police checkpoint in the town of Mussayab, south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding four police said."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad, a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, that following an explosion in Baghdad's Al Hurriyah, two people were killed (6 wounded), two police officers were shot dead in Al Wajihiya (2 more wounded) and Bku Shukr Saber ("Kurdish Iraqi army officer") was shot dead in Kirkuk.


Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports five corpses discovered in the Babil province. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 15 corpses in Baquba.

Today the
US military announced: "While conducting operations two MND-B Soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in separate attacks in the southern section of the Iraqi capital May 17. Three soldiers have been returned to duty." And they announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province, Friday when an explosion occurred near their vehicle."

IRIN reports on the educational crisis in Iraq and quotes Baghdad University's Professor Fua'ad Abdel-Razak, "Violence and lack of resources have undermined the education sector in Iraq. No student will graduate this year with sufficient competence to perform his or her job, and pupils will end the year with less than 60 percent of the knowledge that was supposed to have been imparted to them."